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The Daily

THEATER

Madison Theatre Guild's Next to Normal analyzes mental illness through music

Next to Normal tells the story of a woman struggling with mental illness and explores how her struggles affect her family. Madison Theatre Guild stages this contemporary rock musical at the Bartell Theatre through Dec. 15, donating a portion of the proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). >More
 American Players Theatre's The Gift of the Magi pairs splendid music with a touching holiday story about love and sacrifice

It's impossible to see a play you've seen before without making comparisons. Last night in the small Touchstone Theatre at American Players Theatre, I was eager to see how The Gift of the Magi stacked up against the debut version I saw in 2010. While a few of the show's inherent limitations remain, I found it stronger overall. In its third annual run (through Dec. 22), The Gift of the Magi is truly special for its organic melding of storytelling and music and its just-right holiday message. >More
 University Theatre's revival of The Cradle Will Rock is an intriguing artifact of the New Deal era

On the face of it, the Liberty Committee in Marc Blitzstein's musical The Cradle Will Rock sounds pretty innocuous. Who's against liberty, right? But with a twisting of words similar to today's hard-right groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth, you might want to think twice about what the Liberty Committee stands for. University Theatre's production revival of this 1937 musical runs through Dec. 8 at Vilas Hall's Mitchell Theatre. >More
 High-energy Jersey Boys strings together the Four Seasons' hits at Overture Hall

Jukebox musicals seem to be all the rage these days; they certainly are at Overture Center as Jersey Boys launched its fall Broadway season this week, with Rock of Ages set to follow in December. I saw Jersey Boys at Overture Hall last night. The show runs through Sunday, Nov. 25. >More
 American Players Theatre unveils a 2013 season filled with Shakespearean classics

American Players Theatre, the 34-year-old repertory company based in Spring Green, has announced the lineup of its next season, which starts June 8, 2013. >More
 Children's Theater of Madison's Charlotte's Web teems with stellar performances by local kids

Perhaps one of the most beloved children's stories of all time, Charlotte's Web makes an excellent opener for the 2012-13 season at Children's Theater of Madison. E.B. White's tale about the friendship between a pig and a spider has charmed readers for more than half a century, and Joseph Robinette's adaptation brings its magic to the stage. Rich in lessons about friendship, love and the circle of life, this play is complex enough for audience members of all ages. >More
 University Theatre's I Can't Go On. I'll Go On. challenges actors and audience alike with short plays by Beckett

Avant-garde theater is not easy. At times, it's loud and unintelligible. Sometimes it's supposed to feel interminable. The University Theatre staging of I Can't Go On. I'll Go On. -- a collection of short plays from late in Samuel Beckett's career -- must have seemed endless to Thursday night's dwindling audience. That's just part of its obtuse charm. >More
 In Mercury Players Theatre's The Opiate of the Missus, the voice of God wreaks havoc on a 1950s election

Playwright Doug Reed is a local-theater hero. His wildly popular comedy The Lamentable Tragedie of Scott Walker has sold out the Bartell Theatre on several occasions. The venue was packed Friday night when Mercury Players Theatre performed his latest work, The Opiate of the Missus. The production runs through Oct. 27. >More
 Encore Studio explores marginalization with humor and heart in Acts to Grind V

A "theater company for those with disabilities" can be dismissed with a patronizing air, but perspective is hard to ignore, especially when framed by a personal story. To that end, Encore Studio aims to bring an alternative perspective to the local theater community. In Acts to Grind V -- their latest show of short plays, running through Oct. 20 -- the experiences of the overlooked, from surreal moments to joyous triumphs, are fleshed out and made relatable. >More
 Forward Theater's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents is a fun, experimental look at the Executive Branch

When you're a kid, presidents seem distant and heroic. Godlike, even. Then you grow up and realize they're just people, as flawed as anyone else. The Forward Theater Company staging of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, the opener for its fourth season, takes that notion to the hilt. >More
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