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Tuesday, November 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 22.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

THEATER

Broom Street Theater's Not the Artist pits love against creativity

Artists are often portrayed as flaky, eccentric or even lazy people who care more about their work than their relationships. If you read a lot of fiction, you've seen these kinds of characters in supporting roles. Don't expect that from the Broom Street Theater production of Not the Artist (through March 9). Here, self-centered artists take center stage. >More
 Drama Queen: Rebecca Jallings has built a showbiz empire at West High

At a signal from the teacher, the kids scurry into a circle formation. They put various appendages in, put them out, shake them all about. They hop up and down, singing, "La la la la la!" This is not my toddler's preschool. This is Rebecca Jallings' Theater 2 class at Madison West High School. >More
 Madison Theatre Guild's The Road to Mecca is a deep, complex portrait of an aging artist

Set in 1970s South Africa, the Madison Theatre Guild production of The Road to Mecca is a rich narrative that unfolds completely within the unusually decorated walls of an elderly Afrikaner woman's home. This play by Athol Fugard is based loosely on the life and work of self-taught artist Helen Martins, who filled her yard with concrete statues and transformed the inside of her home ("The Owl House") with crushed glass and bright paint. >More
 In Overture Hall, West Side Story brims with guts, grit and gorgeous dancing

West Side Story broke numerous rules when it debuted on Broadway in 1957. Opening with an emotionally charged dance number was unheard of, and closing on a somber note was almost as unconventional. Troika Entertainment's revival (through Feb. 17 at Overture Hall) pushes the envelope even further. >More
 StageQ's love story Gertrude Stein and a Companion is alluring but lacks nuance

Gertrude Stein once wrote, "Your identity [is] not a thing that exists but something you do or do not remember." The StageQ production of Win Wells' Gertrude Stein and a Companion (through March 7 at the Bartell Theatre) portrays exactly that. The play examines the relationship between Stein and her companion, Alice B. Toklas, the woman Ernest Hemingway aptly called Stein's wife long before anyone had heard of marriage equality. >More
 The Acting Company's As You Like It is as bold as the Bard himself

The "All the world's a stage" monologue from Shakespeare's As You Like It is a roadmap of sorts for a globetrotting repertory troupe called the Acting Company. Since launching in 1972, it has trained several stars of the stage and screen, including Broadway luminary Patti LuPone and Academy Award winner Kevin Kline. Over time the limelight fades for many performers, but these actors' careers have endured several of the life stages the speech describes, from lustful young adulthood to wisdom-rich middle age. >More
 Mercury Players Theatre plays uncomfortable acting games in Circle Mirror Transformation

Mercury Players Theatre's Circle Mirror Transformation might feel familiar to anyone who's taken an enrichment acting course at a community center. Complete with an overly enthusiastic instructor, abundant awkward silences, and uncomfortably personal acting games, the play takes you within the walls of an adult drama class. >More
 Encore Studio's Going to Temple is a weird, witty tale about a woman's search for Temple Grandin

It's the journey, not the destination, as the old saying goes. As long as something is gained along the way, the end goal is largely irrelevant. This is the outlook Encore Studio embraces in Going to Temple, but the opposite seems to be true as well: Though there are some bumps in this production, the aim is both noble and relevant. The play runs through Feb. 9. >More
 Forward Theater's Collected Stories is a smart, topical look at the complicated relationship between two writers

One of the things I admire about Collected Stories, the latest production by Forward Theater Company, is that even though it has only two characters and takes place almost completely in one apartment, it never feels sparse or claustrophobic. On the contrary, it brims with thorny questions and sharp, believable dialogue. The production runs through Feb. 3 at Overture Center's Playhouse. >More
 Broom Street Theater's Class is an interesting but heavy-handed examination of segregation

Over the years, I've seen a few Broom Street Theater shows that were inspired by really intriguing premises, like their look at Vogue Records' picture records in Vogue and the Anthology of American Folk Music in Minglewood Blues. Class, written by Coleman and directed by Tyler Falco Schott, looks at Jane Elliott's famous segregation "experiment." The show runs through Feb. 2 at the Bartell Theatre. >More
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