Olbrich Botanical Gardens, through March 23
Olbrich's spring-flower show features blooming forsythia and cherry-tree branches in a rooftop-garden setting. Now if only spring would follow.
Grace Chosy Gallery, through March 29
The artist features 20 encaustic collages, embedding typography into intriguing abstract images.
American College Dance Festival
Wisconsin Union Theater, March 13-16
The UW Dance Program hosts this regional dance conference, featuring 500 students and faculty from around the Midwest. The public is invited to the seven free performances, including adjudication concerts on Thursday (11 am, 5 pm), Friday (10:45 am, 4:30 pm) and Saturday (11:15 am). The Global Concert (Friday, 8 pm) features Chinese classical dance, Taiwanese folk dance, Afro-Caribbean dance, ballet and modern dance performed by visiting students from Taiwan and UW dancers. The Gala Concert (Sunday, 2 pm) showcases dances selected by the conference's adjudicators.
High Noon Saloon, 5:30 pm
Thanks to vocalist Erika Zar, the Runners Up's garage-incubated jangling sometimes recalls the Pixies. They also have a mellow, psychedelic folk-rock side that's apt to provoke lots of wistful swaying down on the dance floor during this CD-release gig. The Shabelles kick off the musical happy hour.
Reed Farrel Coleman
Booked for Murder, 6 pm
The mystery writer is loaded down with Shamus, Anthony and Edgar awards. He'll read from his latest Moe Prager book, Empty Ever After, in which the private eye tries to solve the mystery of his dead brother-in-law.
The Bluest Eye
Mitchell Theatre in UW Vilas Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, March 13 & 15, 7:30 pm
Lydia Diamond adapts Toni Morrison's poetic novel about an African American girl tragically obsessed with the idea that having blue eyes would make her beautiful. University Theatre's moving production features tenderly expressive performances.
My Name Is Rachel Corrie
Overture Center, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, March 15, 7:30 pm
Corrie is the young American woman killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while serving as a human shield in Rafah. Actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katharine Viner have used Corrie's emails and other writings to create an affecting one-woman play, produced here with an impressive UW actress as Rachel.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
Guest violinist Chee-Yun performs Prokofiev's radiant "Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor." Shostakovich's "Prelude and Scherzo" will test the orchestra's stamina, and Beethoven's modest "Symphony No. 4" should calm things down.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (4 & 8 pm), March 13 & 15
Strollers Theatre presents Martin McDonagh's most outrageous play to date. It's a blood-soaked satire of political violence about an Irish Republican Army soldier run amok.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Thursday (7:30 pm), March 15 & 20
StageQ presents a musical comedy satirizing lesbian stereotypes in lurid 1950s pulp novels. The production shines when the cast surrenders to the campiness.
Mother Fool's, 8 pm
The omni-talented musician from the Gomers and Reptile Palace Orchestra grapples with an array of digital devices as portions of Metropolis and other robot imagery flicker in the background and musical mini 'bots burble and whirr on the stage.
Run Side Down
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Couldn't afford the ticket to Cancún? Run Side Down stretch out on funky, Dead-friendly jams that'll transport you a little deeper into a paradise of the mind. Herman Price and Eugene Smiles Project open.
Glass Nickel Pizza Atwood, 10 pm
A slice of pie should go pretty well with the Treats' lip-smacking mix of bent blues-rock, pop and psychedelia. Blackout Jack opens.
Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, 9 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, March 16, 11 am-4 pm
The expo features hundreds of exhibitors representing services for children. While parents browse the booths, kids can keep busy with performances and activities.
Kids in the Rotunda
Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30 am, 11 am & 1 pm
Madison's Stuart Stotts sings and tells stories in this free performance, showcasing his strong rapport with kids.
Metropolitan Opera: Live in High Definition
Point Cinemas, 12:30 pm
You can sit here in Madison and watch the Met's live performance of Peter Grimes, Benjamin Britten's opera about a fisherman suspected of murdering his apprentice. With high definition, it's the next best thing to being there.
Urban Spoken-Word Slam
Genna's Lounge, 7 pm
Madison poets compete, hoping to get to the next round in the competition for the city's national slam team. The special guest is Rhode Island's politically passionate Jared Paul, a World Poetry Slam Individual Finalist in 2006 and '07.
I Love a Piano
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm. Also Sunday, March 16, 2 pm
This touring revue showcases the work of songwriter extraordinaire Irving Berlin, the Russian immigrant who set the American spirit to music. Singers and dancers take us on a 70-year journey, from "White Christmas" to "God Bless America" to "There's No Business Like Show Business."
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
This driving 12-piece Milwaukee-based salsa machine fires up a rhythmically intense repertoire that's aimed squarely at the dance floor. The cover also buys a free salsa lesson.
Eddie Butts Band
Club Tavern, 9:30 pm
Sparkplug Eddie Butts and his two female singers can fire up just about any funky R&B or pop tune you can name. With the thermometer finally inching into the 40s, it's time to crack open the cabin door and join the springtime party.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The thoroughly professional contemporary country outfit is sure draw a nice chunk of the local hat-and-boots audience.
Tate & the Million Dollar Blues Band
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Tate spent years traveling the world as the late Luther Allison's sound man and factotum, but his own Chicago-style band is a tad closer to the old school than his late mentor's flashier outfits. He's also one of the most affable frontmen around.
Crystal Corner Bar, 10 pm
After a lineup change, a renewed Motor Primitives work up a heavier backing for smoky-voiced singer/guitarist Pam Barrett's passionate take on Stiff Records-era rocking. Goat Radio and Sigourney Weavers open.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Capitol Square, 1:30 pm
It's about time we saw a little green around here. The annual parade gets a boost from grand marshal Melanie Conklin, full-time journalist and part-time booster of all things Celtic. Kids can make flags and wands at the Madison Children's Museum beginning at 12:30 pm.
St. Patrick's Day Eve Party
High Noon Saloon, 3 pm
This lively mix of Irish dancing and music features Rising Gael, Tairis, dancers from the Trinity Academy of Irish dance, the step-dancing family band Greenfyre, and more.
Spin Cycle Improv
Harmony Bar, 7 pm
The local comedy troupe performs improv games on the subject of luck.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Canada's sweat-provoking Ladyhawk warm up the final week of winter with guitar-based indie-rock that's thoughtful and emotional and, well, actually rocks. Shazy Hade and the Cowboy & the Frenchman open.