15 Spring Arts Events You Won’t Want to Miss This Season

Winter continues, but in terms of culture, the spring season is in full bloom. So bundle up and explore the art exhibits, concerts, plays, dance performances and readings popping up around town.

By Allison Garcia, Rob Hullum, Steven Potter, Adam Rogan and Lauren Warnecke

Music

Elton John

Tuesday, April 28 | Fiserv Forum

Elton John will make his way to the Fiserv Forum for the second Milwaukee stop of the iconic piano man’s seemingly never-ending Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour. Fork out the dough to see him now, as John has said that this will be his final final tour.

Kevin Morby

Wednesday, April 22 | Turner Hall Ballroom

Ambitious production and religious overtones encompass indie rocker Kevin Morby’s 2019 album Oh My God, with these elements featured most prominently on the standout track “No Halo.” Morby and his Oh My God band will bring the album to life at Turner Hall Ballroom with special guest Sam Cohen.

Bikini Kill 

Sunday, May 24 | The Riverside Theater

Bikini Kill is best known for pioneering the riot grrrl movement in the early 1990s, opening doors for women in the male-dominated punk rock scene across the nation. After breaking up in 1997, the band reunited for seven U.S. shows in 2019, paving the way for a 24-date tour this year.


Art

Reconstructing Reality

Through Feb. 21 | LATINO ARTS INC. 

Artist Brianna Lynn Hernández Baurichter is looking at all the angles. She aims to represent recognizable “psychological landscapes” through massive charcoal drawings resembling dreamed environments. She calls them “hybrids of reality and imagination” that shift depending on your perspective.

On the Nature of Wisconsin

Through March 20 | THE WAREHOUSE

This 4,000-square-foot always-free-to-enter gallery in the Menomonee Valley started life as a literal warehouse in 1924. Since opening less than two years ago, the displays have been taken from the private collection of Wisconsinite-curators Jan Serr and John Shannon. “On the Nature of Wisconsin” is the first exhibit exclusively featuring artists who are from or have spent significant time in the Badger State.

Quilts of Pauline Parker

March 20-July 19 | MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM

Parker, who died in 2013, didn’t begin working with quilts until she retired to Wisconsin. She’d been a painter who often focused on women in her work. Her quilts portray the same subject matter, while also exploring storytelling through current events, biblical characters and autobiography.


Literature

Tracey S. Phillips Spills Secrets at Boswell

Feb. 4 | Boswell book Co.

Madison-based crime novelist Tracey S. Phillips chats with retired Madison Police Detective Marianne Flynn Statz at this Thrillwaukee event. Her book, Best Kept Secrets, follows a detective whose latest case brings to light a childhood trauma.

Women’s Speaker Series: Mary Kubica, author of The Other Mrs.

Feb. 25 | Lynden SCULPTURE GARDEN

Tickets include an autographed copy of The Other Mrs., Mary Kubica’s latest psychological thriller, refreshments and admission to the picturesque sculpture garden.

Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat 

May 17 – May 23  | Cedar Valley

Call it a bookcamp bootcamp. The six-day retreat near West Bend is focused on helping authors finish work on long-form writing. It’s an opportunity to meet and work with published novelists, editors and literary agents.


Theater

Eclipsed

March 3-29 | The Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Playwright and actor Danai Gurira (you might remember her as the most badass Wakandan warrior in Black Panther) received six Tony nominations for this riveting drama. It follows five Liberian women who help each other negotiate the turmoil of their country’s bloody
civil war. 

Gently Down the Stream

April 24-May 17 | Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

MCT artistic director C. Michael Wright stars in this poignant rom-com about a world-weary pianist who meets an eccentric lawyer full of youthful optimism. Wright, who’s retiring after the show wraps, says that the play – which should appeal to hopeless romantics of all ages and backgrounds – has long been on his bucket list. 

9 Circles

April 2-26 | Next Act Theatre

Based on a true story, this disturbing drama tells the story of  Daniel E. Reeves, an American soldier who committed horrific crimes against Iraqi civilians. Playwright and Jesuit priest Bill Cain chose to portray Reeves as a flawed but not entirely unsympathetic protagonist whose journey through the criminal justice system parallels 
Dante Alighieri’s descent into the nine circles of hell. The result is a bleak but unforgettable 90-minute tour de force. 


Dance

Mala Mala!

Feb. 23 | Wisconsin Lutheran College

This free concert named for a West African word meaning “to shine” is one of Ko-Thi’s fi rst major showings since DeMar Walker became artistic director.Following in founder Ferne Caulker’s footsteps, audience members will be treated to the energetic, enthralling dances they’ve come to expect from this top-shelf African diasporic dance company.

Off the Page

March 12-14 | Boswell Book Co.

Choreographer Debra Loewen’s newest foray into lost, forgotten or otherwise unconventional spaces takes audiences to an East Side book store. Here, the Wild Space Dance Company offers musings on classic works of literature in a dance about the joy of reading.

Push

March 26-29 | Marcus Center

Milwaukee Ballet’s spring mixed-rep program boasts contemporary works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Darrell Grand Moultrie and Aleix Mañé, winner of last year’s choreography competition. From Cerrudo, once the
resident choreographer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, comes “Extremely Close,” a sumptuous morsel set to meditative music by Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran, last seen in Milwaukee in 2012.


For More Local Events, Check Out Our Milwaukee Events Calendar

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue. 

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