From old favorites to premieres, Madison’s season bustles
Like Milwaukee, Madison also has a packed season of theater in store for 2016–2017.
Forward Theater Company
Forward Theater Company kicks off its season this month with Someone’s Gotta Do It (Sept. 22–24), its fourth annual monologue festival. A dozen playwrights have contributed monologues about the impact of jobs on their lives.
Next up, 4000 Miles (Nov. 3–20), a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist for playwright Amy Herzog, examines estrangement and acceptance among family members. Then John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar (Jan. 26–Feb. 12) offers a humorous and poignant look at two feuding families in rural Ireland.
Forward’s season ends with the world premiere of Learning to Stay (March 23–April 9), a newly commissioned work from American Players Theatre actor and playwright James DeVita. The play examines the personality and relationship challenges faced by a returning Iraq War vet.
Forward Theater Company performs at The Playhouse at Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. 608-258-4141; forwardtheater.com
StageQ, Madison’s LGBT theater troupe, opened July 22 with Casa Valentina, author Harvey Fierstein’s opus about cross-dressing in the Catskills. The play served as prelude to the 2016–17 season, according to artistic director Michael Bruno.
Next up is Commander (Oct. 7–22), the story of a gay Rhode Island governor who finds himself running for president. Following on its heels will be Queer Short 2.1: Queer Love (Feb. 10–18), StageQ’s annual and highly popular short play festival.
Onstage next spring is Perfect Arrangement (April 28–May 13), a comedy about two U.S. State Department employees — one gay and one lesbian — who married each other to avoid suspicion about their sexual orientation. The two are given the task of identifying sexual deviants in their ranks in 1950s America.
The season ends with Charles Busch’s Die, Mommie, Die (June 16–July 1), a campy comedy thriller that recalls the trashy “grand guignol” Hollywood films of the 1960s featuring Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and other aging stars.
StageQ performs at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., Madison. 608-661-9696; stageq.com
Children’s Theater of Madison
Children’s Theater of Madison is holding auditions for The American Girls Revue (Oct. 7–23), which is based on the popular doll series. Other shows on CTM’s schedule include A Christmas Carol (Dec. 10–23); Seussical (Feb. 25–March 12), the musical based on Dr. Seuss characters; To the Promised Land (April 22–May 3); and the musical A Year with Frog and Toad (May 13–25).
Children’s Theater of Madison is a resident company at Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. 608-258-4141; ctmtheater.org
Madison Theatre Guild
Madison Theatre Guild deserves a hand for its new season, particularly the season opener. The black comedy A Behanding in Spokane (Sept. 9–24) concerns a man who has been searching for his missing left hand for 27 years. Next up is Alice (Oct. 27–Nov. 5), a hard-rock take on the Lewis Carroll characters by local writers Dan Myers and Meghan Rose.
The new year opens with Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still (Jan. 13–28), a drama about disaffected war correspondents. Following is Mathew Lopez’s The Whipping Man (March 3–18), concerning a Jewish Confederate soldier and two former slaves in the Civil War’s aftermath. The season ends with Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance (April 28–May 13), the story of 1930s burlesque theater and gay performer Chauncey Miles.
The Madison Theatre Guild performs at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., Madison. 608-258-4141; madisontheatreguild.org
Strollers Theatre Ltd. is revisiting its favorite past productions for a “60th Season Retrospectacular.” Four well-known shows have made the cut.
The Neil Simon comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Sept. 9–24) opens the season, followed by Prelude to a Kiss (Feb. 3–18) and Steel Magnolias (March 31–April 15). The season ends with Peter Schaeffer’s powerful play about Mozart, Amadeus (June 2–17.)
Strollers Theatre Ltd. performs at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., Madison. 608-258-4141; strollerstheatre.org
Mercury Players Theatre
Mercury Players Theatre, another Bartell Theatre resident company, has scheduled four productions for its 2016–17 season.
The season opens with what might be called Nick Schweitzer’s “Wisconsification” of the Wizard of Oz. The show borrows elements of British “panto” — shows in which men dress as women and women dress as men. In this production, everyone dresses as animals with a decidedly Badger State flavor.
New Year’s Eve sees the one-time performance of Ball Drop Blitz 3, a series of sketches and one-act plays that are derived from 24 hours of creative mayhem among teams of actors, directors and writers. A fundraiser for the Bartell Theatre, the third annual Blitz is a joint production by Mercury Players, OUT!Cast Theatre and KnowBetter Productions.
Next up is August: Osage County (March 10–25), the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by playwright and actor Tracy Letts. According to The New York Times, the play is “fiercely funny and bitingly sad.” Letts is married to actress Carrie Coon, whom some may remember from her days in the UW-Madison theater department.
The season ends with Of Dice and Men (March 10–25), a humorous but brutally honest look at the lives of gamers and gamblers.
Mercury Players Theatre performs at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., Madison. 608-258-4141; mercuryplayerstheatre.com
Four Seasons Theatre
Four Seasons Theatre recently concluded its production of Monty Python’s Spamalot at Shannon Hall in the UW Memorial Union. Upcoming will be a production of Big Fish (Dec. 2–11) in partnership with Theatre LILA at The Playhouse at Overture Center. The troupe will close its season with Man of La Mancha (Aug. 4–6) at Shannon Hall.