Spring feels like it's just around the corner in Madison this weekend. The calendar includes: the International Festival at Overture; productions of Going to St. Ives, The Rocky Horror Show, The Mercy Seat, Riverwest: A Rhapsody, The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs, and Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead; performances by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Portland Cello Project, Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus, and Con Vivo; more live music from the Del McCoury Band, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, United Sons of Toil, Lou & Peter Berryman, Designer Drugs, Pepper Rabbit, Dayn & Daladubz, and Bill Evans; a reading by Kevin Henkes, a screening of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold & a Land Ethic for Our Time; and stand-up by Jeff Dunham.
NOTEWORTHY: John Lennon suggests Beatles "are more popular than Jesus," 1966.
Going to St. Ives
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 3, 5 & 6
Forward Theater Company presents Lee Blessing's two-character political drama about a British ophthalmologist and the African dictator's mother who sees her for treatment. American Players Theatre stalwart Colleen Madden performs with Olivia Dawson.
Del McCoury Band
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Bluegrass trailblazer and jam-band inspiration McCoury got his start as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in the early 1960s, but full-fledged fame didn't arrive until he added his sons, banjo whiz Rob and mandolin man Ronnie, to his act in the 1980s. Come help him celebrate the lifetime achievement award he recently received from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Rocky Horror Show
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm & midnight. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (7:30 pm & midnight), March 3 & 5
In Richard O'Brien's musical - famous, thanks to the once-inescapable film version - a nerdy couple wanders into a house of freaks, whereupon sexual activity and line dancing commence. University Theatre stages this for one weekend only.
The Mercy Seat
827 E. Washington Ave., 8 pm. Also Thursday (8 pm), Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (5 pm), March 3, 5 & 6 The Bricks Theatre presents Neil LaBute's charged play about a World Trade Center worker who, on Sept. 12, 2001, considers using the calamity as cover for fleeing with his mistress, who is his boss.
Riverwest: A Rhapsody
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 5 & 6
The east-side troupe stages this original musical, by Eric Theis, about a Milwaukee neighborhood that's struggling with racial integration and other urban phenomena.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
With guest string trio Time for Three, music director Andrew Sewell's ensemble performs Jennifer Higdon's "Concert 4-3," a bluegrass-inflected piece inspired by the composer's native Great Smoky Mountains. Works by Holst and Darius Milhaud are also on the program (see Music).
The Portland Cello Project
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
With 15 cellists, one percussionist and tons of chutzpah, this group of classically trained musicians make music so stirring that it's landed them on the roster of the Kill Rock Stars record label and led to collaborations with Thao, Musee Mechanique and other indie-folk movers and shakers. With Laura Gibson.
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Slide guitarist Lil' Ed Williams, nephew of Chicago blues great J.B. Hutto, has been performing the Windy City's signature music since the 1970s, and his ferocious playing and raspy singing do the city, and his uncle, proud.
BIRTHDAY: Magician Penn Jillette, 1955.
Overture Center, 11 am-5 pm
Overture stages its wondrous, free annual event, which celebrates Madison's diverse cultures with food, a craft bazaar, workshops and performances by 35 -- count 'em, 35 -- acts representing world traditions, from Swiss Alphorn Group to Roots of Brazil.
The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs
Overture Center's Playhouse, 6:30 pm. Also Sunday, March 6, 2:30 pm
Children's Theater of Madison presents this play by Linda Daugherty, which takes three favorite tales -- "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and those titular pigs -- then turns them on their heads with amusing what-if scenarios.
Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus
West Side Club, 7 pm
The gay men's choral ensemble performs a program called "A Night at the Moulin Rouge."
United Sons of Toil
Project Lodge, 7 pm
If you haven't heard United Sons of Toil, now is the time: These face-melting social-justice warriors are unveiling their newest album, When The Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful, which will fit neatly into almost any collection of awesome Dischord and Touch and Go releases from the 1990s. With Control.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 7:30 pm
John DeMain directs the local classical ensemble in a performance of Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale," a Faustian yarn that's told by actors from American Players Theatre: James Ridge, David Daniel and Susan Sweeney.
Lou & Peter Berryman
First Unitarian Society Auditorium, 8 pm
These funny folkies have organized a special show to raise money for Madison Teachers Inc., the local educators' union. Have a laugh, sing along and help classrooms fight for their bargaining rights from the comfort of the Unitarian Society's beautiful performance space.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
This NYC DJ-and-production duo hit Madison to show off their dark, industrial-leaning new album, Hardcore/Softcore. Watch how seamlessly they fuse rap, Swedish house, Italian shoegaze and shards of punk with electro grooves, and you'll be calling yourself an addict by show's end. With Nick Nice.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
This Cali two-piece describe their sound as psychedelic pop, but these songs are likely to find a lasting home among albums by Neutral Milk Hotel, Beirut and other indie musicians with a soft spot for folk-pop and lush instrumental arrangements. Get to know their newest album, Beauregard, at this show. With Jeremiah Nelson.
Dayn & Daladubz
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
This pair of dubsteppin' Swedes will rock your body and your soul, especially if they perform the masterful mix of samples from Disney's Dumbo that BoingBoing raved about in February. With sMILOdon & Toffler.
NOTEWORTHY: Former Bush aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr., convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, 2007.
University Book Store-Hilldale, 1 pm
Madison's acclaimed children's author reads Little White Rabbit, his beautifully crafted new picture book featuring yet another classic character: a bunny with an overactive imagination.
Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead
Overture Hall, 4 pm
The kids' author wrote the text of this musical work, in which various instruments are the suspects in a dastardly whodunit. The show introduces children to various orchestral instruments while hooking them with a good story.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 5 pm
The comic is a ventriloquism superstar, thanks in part to his signature Achmed the Dead Terrorist routine. Representative gag: "How do you spell your name?" "A...C...phlegm..." So funny we forgot to email the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Actually, you might temporarily forget about the terrorist shtick when he's mocking gays and Jews.
Green Fire: Aldo Leopold & a Land Ethic for Our Time
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm