Wisconsinites enjoy entertainment at many levels, prices and places. This year’s preview of the 2016–17 performing arts season focuses on the largest and best-known performing arts groups and venues in Milwaukee and Madison, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg in a state with a remarkable array of options, from Racine to Bayfield, La Crosse to Door County. In addition, UWM and UW-Madison feature a host of quality performances on campus.
We begin with some of the mega venues in the metro Milwaukee area.
The home of the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette Golden Eagles also doubles as a concert and performance arena. This season’s calendar includes: Toruk the First Flight, a Cirque de Soleil performance inspired by the James Cameron film Avatar (Sept. 22–25); alt-rockers Maroon 5 with special guests Tove Lo and R. City (Oct. 1); country artist Carrie Underwood with guests Easton Corbin and The Swon Brothers (Oct. 5); country heartthrob Keith Urban with Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris (Nov. 4); and country singer Eric Church (April 14).
BMO Harris Bradley Center is at 1001 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee; 414-227-0797; bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.
Always eclectic, the Milwaukee Theatre is featuring a broad cross-section of musical acts including: Christian music artists Steven Curtis Chapman, Mac Powell and Brandon Heath with the Songs and Stories Tour (Sept. 21); Irish music group Celtic Thunder presents Legacy (Sept. 25); Love Jones The Musical, a tuneful takeoff on the film of the same name (Sept. 29); and Spend the Night with Alice Cooper, the original shock rocker (Oct. 6).
The season continues with Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound — Dance Reimagined, a title that says it all for the Emmy-winning choreographer (Oct. 15); English art-rockers The Moody Blues Fly Me High Tour 2016 (Nov. 5); Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the original Jersey Boys (Nov. 17); and The Oakridge Boys’ Christmas Celebration (Nov. 30).
Milwaukee Theatre is at 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., Milwaukee; 414-745-3000; milwaukeetheatre.com.
A full calendar awaits, including: jazz artists the Branford Marsalis Quartet with vocalist Kurt Elling (Sept. 30); alt-country artist Robbie Fulks (Oct. 7); Straighten Up and Fly Right! A Tribute to Nat King Cole with singer Maurice Jacox (Oct. 12); Opera in October: An Afternoon with Alyson Cambridge, part of the Metropolitan Opera auditions, and Ailey II: The Next Generation of Dance (Oct. 21).
The season continues with Joan Curto Sings Cole Porter — From Major to Minor (Nov. 9); jazz artists the Peter Martin Trio (Nov. 11); jazz guitarist and singer Madeleine Peyroux (Nov. 12); Wisconsin’s own Tom Wopat and Linda Purl — Home for the Holidays (Dec. 7–8); The King’s Singers (Dec. 9); and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops (Dec. 11).
The new year begins with the Venice Baroque Orchestra (Feb. 17); the Dukes of Dixieland (Feb. 22–23); Southern songwriter and troubadour Nate Currin and his Band (Feb. 24); Rise Up and Sing! with Ruthie Foster and the Heritage Blues Orchestra Quintet (March 10); the We Six celebrate the 100th birthdays of jazz artists Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron and Thelonious Monk (March 18); O Sole Trio — From Pavarotti to Pop, featuring soprano Erin Shields, baritone Giuseppe Spoletini and pianist/violinist David Shenton (March 22); and Interlocking Rhythms — Taikoproject + Ryutaro Kaneko, a performance by the first American troupe to win Tokyo’s International Taiko Contest with a blend of choreography, music and storytelling (March 25).
The season winds down with LTD featuring Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin and Eva, humor and harmony with the brothers of James Taylor and the late Harry Chapin (April 8); singer/songwriter Polly Gibbons (April 21); My Fair Audrey and Cheek to Cheek with Fascinating Rhythms, featuring the music of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin; and the Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 12).
Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts is at 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield; 262-781-9520; wilson-center.com.
Affiliated with the School District of South Milwaukee, the SMPAC offers a variety of performances open to the public, including: Simply Swing, featuring Chris Mariani and the Radio Rosies (Sept. 30); the Sardarabad Dance Ensemble of Chicago, also featuring Detroit’s Ajax Dance Group (Oct. 8); the Travis Tritt Acoustic Show (Oct. 11); a performance by the Donny McCaslin Group, who accompanied David Bowie on his final album, Blackstar (Oct. 13); Aquila Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile (Oct. 20); and Knightwind Ensemble’s fall concert, (Oct. 30).
The season continues with dance company Step Afrika! (Nov. 18); men’s vocal ensemble Cantus performing We All Will Be Together (Dec. 8); Momentum MBII@SMPAC, featuring company members of Milwaukee Ballet II (Jan. 28); Broadway’s Next H!t Musical, a blend of the Tony Awards and Whose Line Is It Anyway (Feb. 17); Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, a reimagining of American roots music (March 25); and Robert Post and the Post Comedy Theater, a one-man variety show full of humor and physical antics.
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is at 901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee; 414-766-5049; southmilwaukeepac.org.