Madison is set to pulse with energy on both street and stage this weekend, one that's set to be among the busiest of the year. The calendar includes: the Wisconsin Film Festival, Science Expeditions, and a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout; productions of Eurydice, Dead Certain, and Women and Their Callings; performances by Li Chiao-Ping Dance and the Peking Acrobats; concerts by Michael Feinstein and His Big Band and the Wisconsin Chamber Choir; more live music from Susan Werner, Cameron McGill & What Army, Old 97's, State Radio, Ami Saraiya & the Outcome, Iris DeMent, Jesse Cook, Matt Wertz, and Dark Dark Dark; and, a Wisconsin Wave fundraiser, Forward Wisconsin Fest, the Funk for Japan benefit.
APRIL FOOL'S DAY
BIRTHDAY: MSNBC'S Rachel Maddow, 1973.
Wisconsin Film Festival
The annual movie-lovers' confab runs through April 3 and features the usual staggering array of films foreign and domestic, scripted and documentary. Visit wifilmfest.org for the schedule.
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, April 2, 7:30 pm
University Theatre presents playwright Sarah Ruhl's reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In a twist, Eurydice encounters her father in the underworld.
Brink Lounge, 7:30 pm
Werner started out as an aspiring opera singer at the University of Iowa but took the folk route once she saw Nanci Griffith perform, becoming a star of the coffeehouse circuit in the 1990s. Enjoy songs from her new album, Kicking the Beehive, at this concert.
Li Chiao-Ping Dance
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), April 2 & 3
UW professor Li's company presents Take 2: Multimedia Dance Performances and Screen Dance. For this program Li collaborated with video artists Daniel Feiler and Douglas Rosenberg, among others, on works that combine her choreography with projections, original music and inventive lighting.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (5 pm), April 2 & 3
Mercury Players Theatre presents British playwright Marcus Lloyd's two-person thriller. A wheelchair-bound writer hires an actor to read her play.
Michael Feinstein and His Big Band
Overture Hall, 8 pm
The crooner and pianist has made his name performing and curating iconic mid-century American pop, and this show is a tribute to a master of that form: Frank Sinatra. Do be do be do.
Cameron McGill & What Army
Project Lodge, 8 pm
You may know this singing, songwriting, guitar-playing Chicagoan as the keyboard player for Margot & the Nuclear So and So's. He'll appear with his other band, What Army, at this show, previewing their new album, Is a Beast, which hits stores April 12. With Miles Nielsen and Paul Otteson.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The Old 97's have come a long way from their bar-band beginnings, flaunting tip-top pop songwriting and gritty, alt-country rocker anthems over the past decade. Get to know their cool two-volume project The Grande Theatre at this performance. With Teddy Thompson.
Women and Their Callings: Jobs, Avocations, Passions
TAPIT/New Works, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), April 2 & 3
Kathie Rasmussen Women's Theatre stages this collection of short plays and monologues about women and the stuff they do. The selections were chosen from dozens submitted by writers nationwide.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Mixing ska, punk and a bit of reggae, State Radio eschew the jam-band past of their songwriter, Chad Urmston, a former member of the Phish-influenced band Dispatch. They're likely to find some new fans among the protester crowd thanks to their recent human-rights campaigns, which include rocking against injustice with Rage Against the Machine and raising money for Oxfam. With the Golden Dogs.
Wisconsin Wave benefit
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Four excellent local acts are teaming up to support Wisconsinites' efforts to get Gov. Walker to break ties with ethically challenged cronies. Superstar Fantastico will get protesters moving with danceable beats, United Sons of Toil will share a rock-fueled rally for revolution, Squarewave will add some moody ambiance, and El Valiente will remind Scotty that Wisconsin is not a Texas dude ranch -- or his personal fiefdom -- with some spaghetti-western post-rock.
Ami Saraiya & the Outcome
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
Earning comparisons to two rarely compared artists -- Billie Holliday and Tom Waits -- this Chicago singer has a voice to be reckoned with and some mad accordion skills to boot. Enjoy dark pop gems from her new EP, Archaeologist. With Painted Saints, and Nick Whetro & Jentri Colello.
BIRTHDAYS: Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris, 1947.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and other campus venues, noon-4 pm
The UW invites budding scientists of all ages to a free afternoon of hands-on activities and demonstrations. Programs include "The Wonders of Physics" and "Dinosauria." See science.wisc.edu for details.
Overture Hall, 3 pm
The troupe of gymnasts, jugglers, clowns and cyclists return to amaze us with feats of balance and dexterity, accompanied by a Chinese orchestra.
Mad Rollin' Dolls
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 6 pm
The athleticism of roller derby is exciting, and so are the provocative pseudonyms and the fishnet stockings.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
The Grammy-nominated country and folk artist often appears on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and she composed the music for the closing credits of the 2010 film True Grit, which she's likely to play at this show.
Wisconsin Chamber Choir
Masonic Center, 7:30 pm
Soloists, the Stoughton Chamber Singers and members of the Madison Symphony and Wisconsin Chamber orchestras join the choir for this performance of Haydn's oratorio The Creation, which celebrates, yes, the creation of the world as described by the Bible and John Milton. What a week that was.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The Canadian guitarist, trained in flamenco, pays a visit in support of his most recent release, The Rumba Foundation.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Wertz is an amiable, good-looking singer-songwriter with a knack for delivering the same brand of chill music that made Jack Johnson a star. With Ben Rector.
Oak Street Ramblers
Alchemy Cafe, 9 pm
The local bluegrass group will unveil its debut album for the beer guzzlers and french-fry nibblers at Alchemy, bringing along some chicken pie to honor the disc's first track.
Dark Dark Dark
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
The buzzed-about chamber-pop quartet made lots of Madison friends when they opened for Cloud Cult last year. Now they're back to share the beauty of their newest album, Wild Go, at a free show. Learn more about the band in this week's Tour Stop. With Pillars and Tongues.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Sporting a trifecta of synthesizers, plus lots of samples and loops, this Chicago trio makes dance music for the new millennium, mixing songs by Black Moth Super Rainbow and Death from Above 1979 onstage. With Sub Swara.
NOTEWORTHY: Lindbergh baby kidnapping/murder convict Bruno Hauptmann electrocuted, 1936.
Forward Wisconsin Fest
Barrymore Theatre, 1 pm
The local stagehands union presents this musical protest of union busting. With the Kissers, the Apologists, Yid Vicious, Cork 'n Bottle String Band and more.
Funk for Japan
High Noon Saloon, 6 pm
Clyde Stubblefield, Madison's (and James Brown's) funky drummer, headlines this benefit for disaster-ravaged Japan. With Funky Gomeroke Allstars, Rob Dz and the Mustache.