Arts-related events are back in full swing around Southern Wisconsin. And the warmer temps of summer allow for several to take place outside on large patios, in city parks and betwixt sprawling country hills. Catch a free show or splurge on an extravagant evening under the stars to savor a live entertainment experience sure to be remembered for years to come.
The stage lights are shining again at American Players Theatre (APT) in Spring Green. The theater is offering nine plays this season, though the usual rotating repertory structure is taking a year off. Now playing: Tom Stoppard’s comedy Rough Crossing in the 1,089-seat Hill Theatre, and An Iliad, adapted from Homer’s epic by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare in the 200-seat Touchstone Theatre. Tickets will then go on sale to the general public on July 19 for the next two plays to open—an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and Christopher Fry’s A Phoenix Too Frequent. While APT doesn’t expect to return to full houses this year, capacity caps have been increased. Audience members can find tickets and information, including the most current COVID protocols online or by calling the box office at 608.588.2361.
Jazz at Five begins its 25th season in a new venue in Fitchburg—allowing more patrons to spread out and enjoy the event at McKee Farms Park. While the venue may be different, the same great quality and mission of “providing live jazz events free to the public, promoting awareness of the jazz art form and increasing local community culture with performer diversity, enhanced visibility for our local jazz artists and public performance opportunities for youth musical groups” remain the same. Food, beer and wine from local vendors is available onsite for purchase. Attendees are also welcome bring their own picnics to shows as well. The 2021 Performance Series dates are; August 11, August 18 and August 25 in addition to Sept. 1 and Sept. 8.
The 2021 Concerts on the Square series will be unlike any other. While not on the Capitol steps, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s (WCO) home for 37 years, the WCO is thrilled to play for an in-person audience on Madison’s near EastSide at Breese Stevens Field—and on wcoconcerts.org’s livestreams for thousands more. “While the venue and the crowd size are different this summer, what hasn’t changed is how this iconic Madison tradition brings our community and families together year after year. It has become integral to the fabric and lifestyle of our city,” says CEO Joe Loehnis. The concerts take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through August 4.
Opera in the Park 2021 stars an amazing set of artists: Amanda Majeski, Rehanna Thelwell, Andrew Stenson and Kyle Ketelsen and will be conducted by Stephanie Rhodes Russell. They are joined by an ensemble of 15 solo instrumentalists, rather than a full orchestra and chorus like in previous years, to allow for more spacing on stage. The repertoire takes advantage of this slightly changed format by including art songs and chamber music along with opera and Broadway. Audiences will hear music by Mozart, Gounod, Puccini, Schubert, Elgar, Gershwin and more—plus as always, a light stick number. The free event takes place July 24 at Garner Park.
Garver Events has a full music lineup underway at Garver Feed Mill in Madison. All patio programming features regional musicians in an effort to support local talent in a unique space. Bluegrass Brunch almost always sells out so reservations are needed. Garver Lounge offers a full bar and a locally sourced brunch menu while guests can also enjoy Ledger Coffee and Ian’s Pizza. Acoustic Happy Hour happens on Thursday evenings; BlueStem Jazz on Friday night; and Bluegrass Brunch takes place once or twice a month on Sundays, beginning at 11 a.m. Other special events on tap there this summer are ArtBash on August 14 (an art market with free live music)—and Extra Sessions (a two-day music festival on Sept. 11 to Sept. 12).