Madison's stages are blooming this early spring weekend with theater, opera, dance, radio drama, and variety productions, including Rumors, The Real Divas of Dane County, Superhero Boogie, Lobby Hero, Coppélia, The Intergalactic Nemesis, and the Darke Carnival. The calendar also includes: a book reading by Audrey Edmunds; performances by the WCO, David Briggs, and Martin Kasik; the electroLUST party; more live music by The English Beat, Marty Finkel, The Color Pharmacy, Electric Six with Mark Mallman, Martha Wainright, Karla Bonoff, Paul Geremia, Dessa, Kevin Van Ess & the Talk of the Town, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, The Saw Doctors, and The View; and, the Maple Syrup Fest.
NOTEWORTHY: Anne Hutchinson expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent, 1638.
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday & Thursday, March 23 & 28, 7:30 pm
Madison Theatre Guild presents Neil Simon's farcical murder mystery, with wisecracks for the ages. A dinner party spins out of control after New York City's deputy mayor is discovered dead.
The Real Divas of Dane County
Overture Center Playhouse, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 23 & 24
Madison's Fresco Opera Theatre aims to make opera accessible to local audiences. Thus we get this reality series parody, in which opera singers live in a house and have their interactions taped, Real World-style.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday & Thursday, March 23 & 28, 8 pm
Rob Matsushita's new play wallows in 1970s superheroes, with actors lip-syncing children's records from the era.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
Guest artist Shai Wosner will solo on Mozart's immortal Concerto No. 24 for Piano in C minor before the orchestra presents Bruckner's Symphony in D Minor, a work filled with dramatic scherzos and stately brass chorales.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Thursday (7:30 pm), March 23 & 28
Strollers Theatre presents Kenneth Lonergan's philosophical comedy-drama about a Manhattan doorman, the cop he loves, and the other cop she loves. The New York Times hailed it as the best play of the century to date.
The English Beat
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The band responsible for 1980's dark, anxious "Mirror in the Bathroom" want to make Two Tone hip again, or perhaps they're just looking for a good time in an era of glowsticks and Auto-Tune. Either way, this version of the group, led by original singer Dave Wakeling, is as tight as ever. With T.U.G.G.
Frequency, 9 pm
"I Ain't Been Sleeping at All," a track from this local folk-rocker's self-titled album, was a finalist in SongOfTheYear.com's songwriting contest. See what you think of his latest album, Might Be Found.
The Color Pharmacy
Come Back In, 9:30 pm
You may find yourself seeing red at this show, but not because you're angry. According to frontman Jake Dilley, this band's music is designed to induce something similar to synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that causes some people to sense colors when they hear certain musical notes.
Electric Six, Mark Mallman
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Detroit's Electric Six are known for their 2003 single "Danger! High Voltage" and for an animated video that features their song "Gay Bar" along with guitar-playing puppies. Mallman, a piano-playing alt-rocker from Minnesota, will perform tunes from his 2012 release, Double Silhouette. With Bes Monde.
NOTEWORTHY: Pakistan becomes world's first Islamic republic, 1956.
Barnes & Noble-West Towne, noon
Edmunds was a Madison-area childcare provider charged with first-degree reckless homicide in 1993 after a baby in her care suddenly died. She served 11 years in prison before her sentence was overturned. Edmunds discusses her new book, It Happened to Audrey: A Terrifying Journey from Loving Mom to Accused Baby Killer.
Madison College-Truax's Mitby Theater, 2 pm. Also Sunday, March 24, 2 pm
Dance Wisconsin performs the comic classical ballet about a life-size dancing doll. It will appeal to both ballet-loving adults and kids who might be interested in the art form.
The Intergalactic Nemesis
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 3 & 8 pm
This extravaganza made a splash at Overture last season and even got some exposure on Conan O'Brien's show. It's back for a sequel, "Robot Planet Rising," using voice actors and hundreds of comic-book slides to generate a live-action graphic novel (see Radio).
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
The Canadian folk-rocker's powerful voice has no trouble reaching the back of the room, even when the crowd gets boisterous. Her set will most likely center on 2012's Come Home to Mama, which earned a thumbs-up from both Pitchfork and The Quietus.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
The artist-in-residence at Toronto's St. James Cathedral will play works by Bach and Haydn on the Madison Symphony Orchestra's magnificent concert organ.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Though Bonoff's best known for writing songs, which have been recorded by the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt, you may recognize her voice from "Somebody's Eyes," a tune from the Footloose soundtrack.
Farley's House of Pianos, 7:30 pm
The celebrated Czech pianist will present works from his sprawling repertoire, which includes Liszt's stormy Malédiction and Beethoven's riveting "Emperor" concerto.
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
Don't expect this artist to plug in his instruments when he visits Madison. It's about staying true to the rural blues tradition that inspired him to take up guitar and harmonica.
Inferno, 9 pm
The steampunk extravaganza features belly dancing, carnival games, a fashion show, fortune telling and music by Pressure Valve. Throw on your best Victorian duds and join the fun.
High Noon Saloon, 9:45 pm
See if the singer, rapper and spoken-word artist drops any hints about her third solo album. One thing's for sure: It'll be hard to top her second album, 2011's Castor, the Twin, which led URB to name her "one of the most diverse and talented artists in indie rap." With Taj Raj.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
Local DJ Wyatt Agard will pull out all the stops at this electronic-music extravaganza, featuring a provocative light show and tunes that range from classic house to trendy trap. With DJs TEKNiCURCUS, Psyc0tr0n and Dub Borski.
NOTEWORTHY: Elvis Presley drafted into Army, 1958.
Maple Syrup Fest
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 1 pm
It's an afternoon of hikes, historical reenactments and hand-on activities. Trees will be tapped, sap will be boiled over a campfire, and the maple syrup will be put to the best possible use -- namely, poured over ice cream.
Kevin Van Ess & the Talk of the Town
Coliseum Bar, 1 pm
This band's leader grew up practicing clarinet to records by New Orleans jazz artist Pete Fountain. Louisiana flavors infuse Van Ess' sound to this day, especially when he plays Fountain's "A Closer Walk With Thee."
Spires That in the Sunset Rise
Broom Street Theater, 7 pm
Time magazine named this local psych-folk group one of the top acts to see at SXSW earlier this month. Welcome them home from Austin at this show. With Jivas.
The Saw Doctors
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Brits sometimes compare this Irish rock band's fan base to that of the Grateful Dead. Though the act's sound is more rootsy than psychedelic, some of their followers have seen them perform dozens, if not hundreds, of times. With Sean Michael Dargan.
Frequency, 9 pm
This isn't a live filming of Barbara Walters' morning chatfest with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar. The band named the View may be the talk show's polar opposite, with four post-punk-loving Scotsmen and albums with titles like Which Bitch? With the Living Statues.