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Arts 2014: Isthmus critics rate the art performances of the year

Madison's cultural scene just keeps growing and getting better. So much so, in fact, that it's hard to keep up with it all. But we give it our best. Now it's time for retrospection. Five Isthmus critics look back on the year in theater, classical music, dance and comedy. >More
 Strollers Theatre explores the strangeness of loss with The Baltimore Waltz

I can't quite figure out the Strollers Theatre production of The Baltimore Waltz (through Nov. 1 at the Bartell Theatre), but that's okay. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, The Baltimore Waltz creates a strange and sometimes funny dreamscape where things don't make sense and aren't supposed to. >More
 American Players Theatre delivers a modern yet timeless Alcestis, Euripides' tale of love and fate

Despite being 2,500 years old, Alcestis fits naturally on the contemporary stage. Themes like love, death, and fate are universal; the story is easy to follow; and director David Frank offers some entertaining twists in an American Players Theatre production of Euripides' classic before stepping out of his role as the Spring Green company's producing artistic director. >More
 Theatre LILA makes magic in the ethereal The Suitcase Dreams

The Suitcase Dreams by Theatre LILA is so good, I don't want you to read this review. Instead, I'd rather you go see it, like I did, without knowing too much. I want you to sit down in the slightly uncomfortable seats of Overture Center's Promenade Hall without having any idea what you're about to experience. >More
 Madison Fall Arts Preview 2014: Theater and dance

When copious amounts of television are making you feel like a zombie, trekking to Spring Green's American Players Theatre for a classical Greek tragedy is the perfect remedy. High-art performances can engage your brain in restorative ways, and seeing them onstage has a visceral impact most TV shows can't replicate. >More
 American Players Theatre nails Chekhov's dark humor in The Seagull

The Seagull is not some boring old Russian play. Anton Chekhov's 1895 piece is stunningly relevant in 2014. The excellent production by American Players Theatre production (through Sept. 20) makes for a satisfying time at the Up-the-Hill Theatre in Spring Green; it's a show that will linger in audience members' minds for a long time. >More
 In Dead Man's Cell Phone, Madison Theatre Guild explores the discomfort that comes with adopting new technology

Remember when cell phones were still called "cell phones," not "smartphones" or just "phones"? Madison Theatre Guild takes us back to those not-so-long-ago days with Dead Man's Cell Phone (through March 15 at the Bartell Theatre), directed by L.M. Attea. >More
 Four Seasons Theatre's splendid singing elevates The Fantasticks' tale of young lovers and meddling fathers

I first encountered The Fantasticks when I was a teenager. Listening to the cast recording over and over, I was charmed and a touch confused. It was so different from the other musicals I knew: dreamlike and a little strange. The excellent production by Four Seasons Theatre (through Dec. 22 at Overture Center's Playhouse) would have met the approval of 16-year-old me. And on opening night, the 30-something me was pleased, too. >More
 In University Theatre's Summer and Smoke, a minister's daughter and a libertine doctor explore the body-soul divide

I caught the University Theatre production of Summer and Smoke on a wintry night. A small audience occupied the center section of the UW's Mitchell Theatre, a mix of students and older folks perhaps looking to escape the cold with some Tennessee Williams. >More
 Sparks fly in 18th-century France in American Players Theatre's Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Beneath chandeliers draped in jewels, in the intimate Touchstone Theatre, plays out what is likely the steamiest production American Players Theatre has ever done: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (through Nov. 24). >More
 Playtime! Madison theater troupes offer all sorts of fun in 2013-14

Madison's 2013-14 theater season offers an incredibly diverse selection of shows. It's impossible to describe them all in a single phrase, but one thing is clear: This art form continues to thrive in Madison. >More
 American Players Theatre questions the American dream with All My Sons

Spending an evening at American Players Theatre each summer is a beloved tradition for many, including me. I love arriving well before the show starts to have a leisurely dinner as the sky gradually goes dark. Recorded trumpets call the audience to their seats and then, as bats fly overhead and whippoorwill and crickets sing, the lights come up. This is what we've been waiting for. Many of the characters in APT's production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons (through Sept. 28) are waiting, too. >More
 Madison Theatre Guild's zany Rumors brims with laughs and topnotch performances

The plot of Rumors could be the start of a joke: a lawyer, a shrink, and a politician walk into a dinner party. Then, of course, everything goes wrong. Hilariously wrong. Madison Theatre Guild gets everything right in its production of Neil Simon's classic comedy (through April 6 at the Bartell Theatre). >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
 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
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