July 2021 ArtsScene Magazine

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July 2021

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JULY 2021

Volume 1, Number 7



BRING ON THE SUMMER | with Madison Americana and Beyond


AMERICAN MYTHOLOGIES | How we depict and celebrate America on the stage is changing


SUGAR MAPLE MUSIC FESTIVAL | An Immersive Experience in American-Roots Music

34 36 42

By Amanda Finn

By Mike Fischer

By Shari Gasper

NEW GALLERY OPENS IN GREENDALE OH SAY CAN YOU SING... | The Power of the National Anthem By Ryan Albrechtson


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STAFF Steve Marcus Greg Widener ART DIRECTOR Nicolette Bealhen VENUE RELATIONS/EDITOR Cathryn Jakicic






ArtsScene is published by Marcus Promotions, Inc. The content of any article in this publication is based solely on the opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Marcus Promotions, Inc., or its staff.

www.footlights.com | www.marcuspromotions.com COVER PHOTO: Elijah Malcomb, Joseph Morales, Kyle Scatliffe, Fergie L. Philippe and Company 4 | arts scene HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2018 (1)

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EDITORS LETTE 6 | artsscene

I think that when you’re able to make a living working with what gives you joy, you reached a whole new level of lucky. So, it’s not surprising that, as I wrap up my first issue of ArtsScene as editor, I consider myself a very lucky girl. While I am celebrating my good fortune, this issue of ArtsScene is looking what it means to celebrate America: • Mike Fischer examines how what that celebration looks like in theaters – and how that look has changed. • Shari Gasper tunes into Madison’s Sugar Maple Festival, an independent music festival that’s focuses on traditional music including a deep Americana tradition. • But that’s not the only way Madison is celebrating. Amanda Finn rounds up some of the ways the Capital is flying its red, white and blue (”Hamilton” is coming back!) • Now, please stand for the National Anthem! Ryan Albrechtson looks at THE patriotic song through the eyes (and voice) of Ben Tajnai, who begins every Bucks game on an inspiring note. And while we’re on our feet, let’s give Ryan a standing ovation for his work as editor of ArtsScene. He has left big shoes to fill, but thankfully he’ll still be here writing for us – yay! I hope you enjoy the issue – and subscribe if you aven’t already. And while I’m getting my feet into those big editor shoes, please feel free to reach out to me with your ideas. I’m very excited about ArtsScene’s new chapter. Cathryn Jakicic








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CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! More than 130 artists are expected to be part of Wisconsin Craft’s Morning Glory Art Fair on August 14 – 15. The juried show is one of many art festivals that are making a comeback after being cancelled last year. The event has a 46-year history of showcasing ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, mixed media, photography, wood, and more. The fair will take place on and adjacent to the new plaza alongside Fiserv Forum, in downtown Milwaukee. CLICK HERE for more information! July2021 | 7

Bring on the summer with Madison Americana and beyond By: Amanda Finn

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Jon Patrick Walker - HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2018

Last summer’s Independence Day celebration went into high gear when a film version of “Hamilton” went on to Disney+ on July 3. It caused a major spike in the streaming platform’s subscriptions and viewerships unlike anything it had seen since its 2019 debut. Even if you’ve watched the show on your big screen a dozen times, there’s nothing like seeing the show in person. So it was good news when Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts announced the August 2022 return of the “Hamilton” tour to the fanfare of Hamilfans all over Wisconsin. The “Hamilton” tour was last in Madison in the fall of 2019. Single tickets are not yet available for “Hamilton,” but current or renewing subscribers will be able to secure their tickets first. The tour will be in Madison from August 9 - 21, 2022. Single tickets will be available at a later, unannounced date. (Hamilton will return to Milwaukee’s Uihlein Theatre at the Marcus Center for the Arts in October of 2021) Plus, to paraphrase Hamilton’s King George - “They’ll be back!” They being many of the concerts and festivals that were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic. It has become safer for folks to come together again, so this summer’s schedule includes many more events and activities than last year. Just a sampling of the ways Madison celebrates summer 2021 are listed below. (Events are subject to change as the public health situations develop.) The Monona Community Festival, complete with activities, music, food and July 4th fireworks filled Winnequah Park in Monona from July 2-4 Also, kicking off Independence Day weekend with a bang on July 3, Festival Foods Lights the Isthmus included a fireworks display with live music at Breese Stevens Field, 917 E Mifflin St, Madison. Also located at Breese Stevens Field this summer are the traditional Concerts of the Square series from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. On Wednesday evenings starting at 7 p.m. on July 7 with Summon the Heroes, an Independence Day Celebration. The limited capacity concerts return with tickets as low as $5. They will also be live streamed for free for those unable to attend in person.

July2021 | 9

Joseph Morales and Company - HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2018

The rest of the summer series is as follows (and is subject to change): July 14: Bringing Us Together - Put A Little Love in Your Heart, featuring Leotha Stanley and Friends July 21: Shakespeare in Love, featuring Xavier Foley, bass soloist Young Concert Artist July 28: Disco Inferno, featuring Jeans ‘n Classics August 4: Tchaikovsky Rocks, with Maxim Lando, piano, 2020 Gilmore Young Artist

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Neighborhood festivals Many neighborhood festivals that were put on pause last year are back for 2021. For instance, AtwoodFest will be back for one day July 24th, from 2 pm to 10 pm. The fest will include performances by VO5, Steely Dane, The Rousers and Natty Nation Madison Early Music Festival The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF) will be held July 10–17. Postponed from last year, this year’s series theme is “The Good, the Bold, and the Fearless: Musical Life at the Burgundian Court” and will feature Franco-Flemish composers.

July2021 | 11

Opera in the Park Another Madisonian summer tradition returns with the July 24 performance of Opera in the Park by Madison Opera in Garner Park, 333 S Rosa Rd, Madison. This year’s performances feature soprano Amanda Majeski, mezzo Rehanna Thelwell, tenor Andrew Stenson, and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen. The quartet of singers will perform alongside a small group of Madison-area soloists led by Madison Symphony’s John DeMain. Fireside Theatre If you’re in the mood to escape the summer heat, be sure to head over to the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson. Opening July 22 comes “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” which runs through September 5. The Fireside’s ever-changing menu will include a summery salad, chicken kona kai and a pecan treasure pie. American Players Theatre This summer also welcomes audiences back in a limited capacity to American Players Theatre in Spring Green. Audiences can finally return to The Hill or The Touchstone for performances of “Rough Crossing,” “An Iliad,” “Cymbeline,” and “A Phoenix Too Frequent.” Both “An Improbable Fiction” and “The Mountaintop” have finished their runs for the summer. “Cymbeline” and “A Phoenix Too Frequent” both run partway into the fall and tickets for each of the shows go on sale 3-4 weeks before they open.

12 | artsscene Shoba Narayan, Ta'Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre - HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2018





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While the pyrotechnic main event of the summer, the Milwaukee County’s July 3rd fireworks — as well as the fireworks that generally accompany the lakefront festivals —were missing this past year. But, a number of smaller local bursts keep the sky lit up. The city of Milwaukee launched its own fireworks on July 5, Sun Prairie and Madison’s Monona Festival Art had July 4th displays and a number of smaller Milwaukee- and Madison-area communities kept their smaller-scale fireworks traditions going.

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American Mythologies How we depict and celebrate America on the stage is changing By Mike Fischer

16 | artsscene 1776 | Photo Credit: Mark Frohna

Company - HAMILTON National Tour - (c) Joan Marcus 2018.jpg

“This is our Hamilton.” So said Milwaukee theater legend Ruth Schudson to me, on what remains my most memorable night of Wisconsin theater during my 15 years as a critic with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It was Monday, May 23, 2016; Schudson was speaking to me in Milwaukee’s historic Turner Hall, during intermission of Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s most glorious one-night stand: its sold-out, singleperformance concert rendition of 1776, the Tony-winning 1969 musical by Sherman Edwards (music and lyrics) and Peter Stone (book) about the crucial weeks in Philadelphia culminating in the Declaration of Independence. Between the cast of Milwaukee theater luminaries and the scores of Milwaukee theater artists who’d come to watch them, it felt as though the entire Milwaukee theater establishment was on hand. Led by Matt Daniels’ galvanic performance as John Adams, a cast of more than two dozen gave a show which, I wrote in my review, ensured them “a permanent place in the annals of Milwaukee theater history.” True to the spirit of Hamilton – in which the story of the Founding Fathers was presented by BIPOC actors – part of what made MOT’s 1776 memorable was its casting. Going far beyond the modest steps toward non-traditional casting taken in New York’s Encores! production of 1776 two months earlier, MOT director Paula Suozzi’s purposeful multiracial casting aggressively advanced a more inclusive version of the American story. July2021 | 17

Some illustrative examples: A Latinx woman (Rána Roman) presided over Congress as John Hancock. The delegate from the most northern colony and the most southern colony were played, respectively, by a Black man (James Carrington) and a Black woman (Marti Gobel). A Black woman (Cynthia Cobb) played the delegate who gave up most: Delaware’s Caesar Rodney forfeited the prospect of effective treatment in Britain for his skin cancer when he signed the Declaration and thereby committed treason (his cancer would kill him). Most significantly, a Black man (Nathaniel Stampley) played the tortured Jefferson – who, as Lin-Manuel Miranda pointedly stated in his book Hamilton: The Revolution, “articulated liberty so clearly” while being “an active participant in the brutal system of slavery.” Two years later, director Jen Uphoff Gray would take a similar tack in directing a concert production of 1776 for Four Seasons Theatre in Madison. All but two of the 26 actors in the original Broadway cast had been men. Nearly half of the Four Seasons cast were women, in a genderbending production that featured Clare Arena Haden as John Adams and her real-life husband Scott as John’s wife, Abigail. Franklin, Jefferson, and Edward Rutledge were all played by women. Going further still, director Diane Paulus’ much-anticipated, pandemic-delayed production of 1776 at American Repertory Theater will open next May with a racially diverse cast in which every actor identifies as female, non-binary, trans or genderqueer; the production will transfer to Broadway in September 2022 in advance of a national tour beginning in February 2023.

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Prisoners of the American Dream Above and beyond how effective such casting choices can be in redressing the disproportionate representation of white men on our nation’s stages, such casting also aims to change the way we see and hear this country’s origin myth. “Even though we’re playing the Founding Fathers, if a woman is speaking those lines, you can’t help but hear them a little bit differently,” noted Four Seasons’ Producing Artistic Director Sarah Marty, in a 2018 interview. “It’s also a chance to think about who was there, who was in the room, and who wasn’t and what that meant, and what that means for our country now, and the conversations and struggles we have today.” “As percussionist Michael Lorenz sounded a pealing Liberty Bell,” I wrote in my review of the MOT 1776, “the delegates signed the Declaration and then stood within and behind the audience, creating a final iconic image of an inclusive America enfolding everyone – and endowing each of us with the inalienable right to all the Declaration promised.” “The diversity of the casting quickly became inextricable from the show itself,” wrote Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones about Hamilton, in his 2019 book on Broadway and American society. “Here was a musical that declared that America’s benefits are fully open to and achievable by all.” Well, maybe. I acknowledge the power of such arguments, which echo my own experience upon watching the MOT 1776 and on first seeing Hamilton. But I’m also wary of effusive political claims made for musicals that can win accolades from both Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon (1776) and from both Dick Cheney and Barack Obama (Hamilton). In making us swoon for the dream of a more inclusive America, might not a recast 1776 or Hamilton tempt us to ignore all that’s ugly and regressive in our country’s foundation story? Both musicals ultimately prop up myths of American exceptionalism. July2021 | 19

Both subscribe to old-fashioned and top-down views of how our revolution was made; similarly, both champion longstanding myths of isolating American individualism, in which our understanding of liberty flirts with reactionary libertarianism. Both musicals downplay the presence and role of women. Both musicals ignore our Founding Fathers’ genocidal policies toward indigenous peoples. Finally, Hamilton in particular sidesteps the issue of slavery, despite its glancing references to the horrific conditions of Caribbean sugar plantations, Jeffersonian hypocrisy, and abolition; as Ishmael Reed in particular has repeatedly noted, Miranda’s musical also simplifies Hamilton’s own tangled and sometimes troubled relationship to slavery. By including songs like “Molasses to Rum” and highlighting the signers’ deletion of Jefferson’s proposed anti-slavery clause from the Declaration, the older 1776 actually does more than the feelgood Hamilton to underscore how fully America’s white liberty was predicated on the perpetuation of Black slavery. “In Hamilton,” wrote UW-Madison Professor James McMaster in a 2016 essay (when he was an NYU graduate student), “the fact that the white men who founded the United States – colonizers all, slaveholders some – are played by men of color actually obfuscates histories of racialized violence in the United States,” thereby “enabling a (largely white) audience to forget the degree to which they are implicated in the violent, anti-Black histories of the United States.” I’m one of those white audience members, and I flat-out love both 1776 and Hamilton. I agree with Miranda’s own assessment that the book to 1776 is “one of the best – if not the best – ever written for musical theater.” And I agree with the legion of Hamilton fans who rightly see its score as one of the best – if not the best – ever written for musical theater. But McMaster is right. No matter who embodies the roles in these two musicals, those actors necessarily move within constrictive frames that largely reinforce this country’s whitewashing, neoliberal myths of American 20 | artsscene

freedom, achieved by the heroic few because they were self-starters who worked a lot harder and were a lot smarter. Miranda’s music is revolutionary; his romanticized politics are not. Or as Miranda’s own co-author writes in the epilogue to their Hamilton book, Miranda’s musical is “traditional.” He doesn’t “reinvent the American character,” Jeremy McCarter observes in that book’s Epilogue. He “renew[s] it.” If we want to better understand how our country came to be, such renewal and return won’t get the job done. In our art and our politics as well as our classrooms and our board rooms, we need to deconstruct these old stories, writing new ones so that we might build back better, on stronger and more inclusive foundations. Two innovative 2021 productions made in Madison suggest possible paths forward. 46 New Ways to Tell an Old Story As its title suggests, 46 Plays for America’s First Ladies – which received its world stage premiere courtesy of Madison’s Forward Theater in May – offers 46 plays for the price of one, with a single playlet dedicated to each of the women (in some cases, multiple women) saddled with the dubious distinction of being recognized as First Lady to a U.S. President. Brainchild of Chicago’s Neo-Futurists – whose 44 Plays for 44 Presidents had been staged by Forward in 2012 – the women in 46 Plays were embodied at Forward by a racially diverse and multigendered cast of five. Under Jen Uphoff Gray’s direction, each actor repeatedly played against type, thereby underscoring that every public persona is a performance – while simultaneously driving home the role we each play in choosing the stories we tell. Because each of these 46 plays is so short, they underscore the Neos’ long-held belief that no story is ever truly comprehensive or complete; one obviously can’t summarize anyone’s life in just a few pages of script. By highlighting the inevitable holes at the center of every story, the Neos challenge us to think about what’s allowed to remain – and why. About how we frame every story – and why. About what gets left out – and why. July2021 | 21

Nadja Simmonds, Matt Daniels, Elyse Edelman, Jamal James, Phoebe González - 46 Plays PC: Ross Zentner

Because the role of First Lady remains so undefined, the women holding that position have necessarily had a great deal to say about its texture and shape. Inheriting a nebulous and continually evolving role, they’ve had to dress it up and fill it out. As 46 Plays makes clear, some of them have done so as slaveholders, racists, and advocates for imperial expansion. But others have done so as champions of women’s rights and racial justice; still others have been genderqueer or otherwise expanded our understanding of what it means to be human. Nearly all the women featured in 46 Plays are seen chafing against the inherent limitations in their role; many express discomfort regarding the roles played (and decisions made) by the men they supported and served. The First Ladies perform 46 Plays in a broad spectrum of genres and styles: Cabaret and vaudeville. Mockumentaries and reenactments. Realism and surrealism. Agitprop and melodrama. Poetry and prose. Tragedy and farce. 22 | artsscene

Gleefully imploding genre distinctions and deconstructing any notion of a unified and comprehensive history, 46 Plays flaunts its status as a variety show that’s as messy and conflicted as the nation within which it unfolds. And that’s the point. If no story or style dominates, the meaning and presentation of every story is up for grabs. Because an audience sees each of these stories being built, because each story is patently partial and incomplete, and because the stories are presented in so many styles, audience members can more readily see themselves as active storytellers – challenged to choose which stories they like, while imagining how they might tell the stories of themselves, their community, and their country. 46 Plays consequently challenges each of us to embrace our multiplicity, recognizing that there are many ways to tell the American story – while suggesting that we’ll be most united in the years to come if we make room for each of them, in all their magnificent difference.

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America, Revised Such difference is front and center in An American Mythology, Music Theatre of Madison’s eleven-track concept album featuring BIPOC writers and artists from Milwaukee and Madison. Collectively, they sing a very different and much more inclusive song than the one unfolding in 1776 and Hamilton. Those two musicals’ more traditional foundation story is present and accounted for on the MTM album through “Motherland,” a five-part epic through which Autumn Maria Reed and Kailea Saplan tell the story of a colonizer who wins her liberty through genocide, slavery, and imperialism, while covering her tracks through the myth of American exceptionalism. True to Reed and Saplan’s title and their aversion to simplistic stories, their colonizer is a woman; sisterhood, here, isn’t powerful enough to trump race, class, and ethnicity. While “Motherland” presents as a pastiche of various stylistically recognizable moments in the history of the American musical, it is framed and continually interrupted by stylistically diverse stories from the many peoples its colonizing protagonist seeks to marginalize.

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1776 | Photo Credit: Mark Frohna

In the rap-inflected hip-hop of “Here Comes the Fire,” composer L.E.X. invokes James Baldwin while connecting the dots between antebellum slave rebellions and the uprisings following George Floyd’s murder. In the haunting “Dreamcatcher,” Shayne Steliga and Hayley San Fillippo include Native American instruments and rituals in telling the story of what happens when outsiders’ greed threatens indigenous traditions and communitarian values of love and solidarity. Even as they catalogue atrocities endured, the narrators of both “Here Comes the Fire” and “Dreamcatcher” conclude by suggesting that they’ll not only survive, but thrive; the remainder of the album makes good on this dream of a new day. In a moving personal variation on the broad themes outlined in “Here Comes the Fire,” Camille Hunt, Clara Adams, and Chris Adams’ “Nightmare” draws on hip hop, R&B, and gospel to rise above the long night of history, refusing to lose sight of the big picture by getting “caught up listening to what the haters say.” Similarly, both Maaz Ahmed’s meditation on the lure and dangers of assimilation (“Disgraced”) and Anthony Cao’s lyrical ballad on discovering his superpower (“The Man in the Sky”) involve silencing the voices playing in the narrators’ heads and mandating their conformity to white norms. All of which sets the table for Jackey Boelkow’s “Star-Reader,” a gorgeous folk anthem which concludes the album by rejecting all mythologies that categorize people through stories that “don’t speak my truth.” Rather than continually “telling myths and legends that we don’t believe,” Boelkow insists one must learn to “make your own destiny” and “make your own life.” As smartly arranged by directors Adam Qutaishat and Nathan Fosbinder, An American Mythology traces a discernible dramatic arc that begins with genocide, slavery and extractive colonialism; moves through neocolonialism, assimilation and cooptation; and ends with a liberating freedom that’s as hard-won as anything in 1776 or Hamilton – all while covering an even broader and more inclusive canvas.

July2021 | 25

True to its modest title, An American Mythology also tacitly rejects the notion that its story is the only story – or the only way to think about our collective history. It’s no accident that the monological, myth-making colonizer on this album loses her way, while everyone else is gradually finding theirs. That’s as it should be: The alternative pluralisms comprising our many American stories are still being written, one day and one selfdiscovery at a time, on a never-ending journey. America contains multitudes, Walt Whitman joyously insisted. How lucky we are to be alive right now, when so many among those multitudes are singing their songs in new keys that unlock onceclosed doors, so that we might someday inhabit every room in the many-storied house we share. A Milwaukee-based writer and dramaturg, Mike Fischer is a member of the Advisory Company of Artists for Forward Theater Company in Madison and Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay. On behalf of Forward, he also co-hosts Theater Forward, a bimonthly podcast. You can reach him directly at mjfischer1985@gmail.com.

26 | artsscene Jamal James - 46 Plays PC: Ross Zentner

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SUGAR MAPLE MUSIC F An immersive experience By Shari Gasper

Music aficionados sit in lawn chairs tapping their toes to the beat. The young-at-heart dance in front of the stage. Children laugh and play amidst the crowd and on the playground. Artists strum their instruments together, sharing tips and stories. Mouth-watering aromas waft across the park from the food carts. Tents and campers fill the campground. Long-time friends embrace and catch up on the past year.

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FESTIVAL: in American-roots music These scenes are part of what make up the annual Sugar Maple Music Festival, a two-day outdoor festival in Madison established in 2004 by the Four Lakes Traditional Music Collective. The festival celebrates traditional music and dance through performances, educational workshops and interactive jam sessions. The 18th annual Sugar Maple Music Festival is Friday and Saturday, August 6-7.

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Festival overview While the nationally-recognized entertainers draw people from around the region, the setting at William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park, nestled along the shore of Lake Waubesa within the Capital Springs Recreation Area along the Lower Yahara River Trail, sets it apart from other Dane County festivals. “The park creates a beautiful setting with a lot of green space, including a playground and campground,” said Stephanie Ramer, who has attended the festival since its second year and has served on the board of Four Lakes Traditional Music Collective for the past 11 years, the last eight years as marketing director. Ramer says the festival is family-friendly and welcoming, and it gives people a chance to explore American roots music, which includes bluegrass, Cajun, old-time, country, western, swing, blues, rockabilly and Americana genres. “On the mainstage, we feature at least one bluegrass and one Cajun artist, and then a mix of other genres over the course of the weekend,” she said. “We craft a new lineup with fresh energy every year.” On the nearby Roots & Reasons Stage, artists present workshops and participate in interviews. For example, a group of fiddlers may compare Cajun, old-time and bluegrass styles with the audience or a blues guitarist will conduct a slide guitar workshop. These sessions are popular and thrive on audience participation. “Artists will talk about their music influences, their background and where they’re from, helping the audience get to know them better and creating a broader understanding of their music,” said Ramer. “Some of my best festival memories include talking, singing and playing with artists at the Roots & Reasons Stage.” Festivalgoers can learn about traditional music and the touring artists at the Roots & Reasons stage, and they have the opportunity to practice their instruments and learn from each other during beginner and intermediate-level jam sessions in the Jam Tent, a festival favorite. In addition to enjoying music, guests can indulge in tasty treats from a variety of food carts, including El Grito Taqueria, Bloom Bake Shop and Sugar River Kettle Corn along with beverages from Tyranena 30 | artsscene

Brewing Company, the Sugar Maple Music Festival beer sponsor since the festival’s inception, and BOS Meadery. Proceeds from the beer sales go toward hiring bands for next year’s festival. Featured musicians This year’s festival kicks off with rockabilly/country legends Bill Kirchen & Redd Volkaert followed by the bluegrass quintet Appalachian Roadshow on Friday evening. Saturday’s lineup includes country singer/songwriter Mary Battiata & Little Pink, Canadian blues and roots performer Ray Bonneville, the Gina Furtado Project performing bluegrass, swing and gypsy jazz, and Jourdan Thibodeaux et les Rôdailleurs performing Louisiana French music. The festival usually features four mainstage performances on Friday and 6-8 performances on Saturday as well as entertainment on the Roots & Reasons stage, including kids’ musician David Landau and guitarist/songwriter Louise Kirchen. Jeff Kunkle of Madison has been attending Sugar Maple Music Festival for more than a decade. For Kunkle and his family, the festival is a summer staple. “People come back year after year, so it feels like a big reunion,” he said. Kunkle began volunteering at the festival in 2012 and now, as a board member and chair of the music committee, is responsible for booking performers. His team reaches out to bands and builds the entertainment schedule. “It’s a year-round process,” said Kunkle. “We work hard to bring in music that may not often be performed in Madison and schedule a whole weekend of programming that fits in our budget.” Planning this year’s festival was challenging in new ways for Kunkle and the music committee. Normally for the 2021 festival, they’d begin booking in fall of 2020, but they got a late start due to the COVID-19 pandemic and not knowing which bands would be traveling. This spring they were busy confirming additional performers for this summer’s festival and are already talking to artists for 2022.

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According to Kunkle, it takes a team effort to coordinate a musical lineup that represents a diversity of styles and artists. “There are so many styles and genres of music we want to share with our audiences,” said Kunkle, “and we really focus on bringing in performers of different genders, races and cultural backgrounds to truly represent the rich and varied music traditions out there.” In general, organizers try to get as many new bands as possible, from all over the country and world. Only a few bands have been repeated, including The Tillers from Cincinnati, which is always popular with the attendees. Kunkle says he is grateful and privileged to meet so many great musicians and see them perform. “There are so many wonderful, unscripted moments that develop through crowd participation, especially in the Roots & Reasons shelter, that make this festival magical,” he said.

Family fun Kids musician David Landau of Madison agrees. Landau has played an integral role in the festival every year– entertaining the kids! He puts on one 30-minute show on the Roots & Reasons stage on Friday evening and two shows on Saturday.

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“The best part of performing is seeing the laughter when the kids are enjoying my show,” said Landau. He sings kid favorites like “The Wheels on the Bus” (substituting “elephants and cows” for “wheels”) and “Macaroni & Cheese” (replacing “cheese” with “fleas, keys and bees”) to make the kids laugh. “I sing really silly songs with obvious mistakes,” said Landau. “There’s a lot of moving around and dancing, and the songs really hold the kids’ attention.” In one song, “The Peanut that Sat on the Railroad Tracks,” the kids are the peanuts, and when they get squished, they lay down flat, spread eagle, sparking uproarious laughter from the little nuts. In another, he pretends he’s a mama duck and the kids are the baby ducks and they “quack, quack, quack” around the shelter. Landau has enjoyed watching the kids grow up over the years and loves being recognized by children and their parents as he walks around the park. He and his wife stay at the campground all weekend. “The festival is a highlight of our year,” he said. “It’s different than other big musical festivals around town. Lunney Lake Park is about a 12-minute drive from downtown Madison, but it feels like you’re far out of town. It has a really country feel. You don’t see any buildings, just tents and food carts.” Landau, Ramer and Kunkle look forward to meeting up with longstanding friends at Sugar Maple Music Festival next month for some dancing, jamming and laughter. “Sugar Maple Music Festival presents you with a rich, varied overview of American music traditions and interaction with artists you won’t get at other festivals,” said Kunkle. It’s an immersive, family-friendly, inclusive, positive experience.” Tickets are available at the east, west and north Willy Street locations, Orange Tree Imports and Spruce Tree Music as well as at the gate. Kids 17 and under get in for free with a ticketed adult. “There is no better setting to hear this music than under the big tent at the Sugar Maple Music Festival,” said Ramer. “It’s really something special.”

CLICK HERE for more information! July2021 | 33

New gallery opens in Greendale Galleria Greendale, new art gallery is the Historic Downtown Greendale is opening July 6. The gallery will feature a collection of original, handmade art created by more than 50 artists from Wisconsin and across the U.S. Galleria Greendale, 5640 Parking St., is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Barb Caprile and Bruce Krajcir. The pair has curated a collection of work in jewelry, fiber, ceramics, leather, wood, painting, sculpture, glass and mixed media that is both functional and decorative. Milwaukee-area artists represented in the gallery’s connection include: Nancy Crawford, Greenfield (mixed-media wall pieces); Ann Wydeven, Milwaukee (ceramics/mosaics); James Steeno, Wauwatosa (illustrated notecards and prints); Deb Radke, Franksville (copper garden sculptures) and Dagmara Costello, Greendale (jewelry). Artists from across the U.S. include: Gretchen LimaWood, Vail, Arizona (spirit dolls), Keith Lewis, New Paltz, N.Y. (jewelry); Char Behrens, Mount 34 | artsscene

Carroll, Ill. (glass) and Nana Schowalter, Blanchardville, Wis., (garden sculptures). The collection will also include Reborn Glass recycled night lights from Cape Coral, Fla. and Pandemonium faux fur apparel from Seattle, Wash. “Galleria Greendale has been a dream of mine for years. Finding a perfect location in Historic Greendale made it that much easier to make this dream a reality. The collection of original, handmade art that I have curated cannot be found anywhere else in the Milwaukee area,” Caprile said. During July, Galleria Greendale vistors can receive a free gift with any purchase (while supplies last), and enjoy live music on the patio each Saturday afternoon. A grand opening celebration is planned for later this summer. For more information and gallery hours, contact info@galleriagreendale.com

CLICK HERE to visit GalleriaGreendale.com July2021 | 35

Ben Tajnai

Oh Say Can You Sing… The Power of the National Anthem By Ryan Albrechtson A poem written in 1814. Later set to music written in 1773. Sung at every school, parade, sporting event, and more across the country for hundreds of years. Still timeless. Yes, I’m talking about The Star Spangled Banner. “The first time I ever sang the National Anthem was for the morning announcements in high school,” said Ben Tajnai, who has recently gotten some publicity for being the “good luck charm” of the Milwaukee Bucks singing their way through victory in the playoffs. “I’d sing into the phone in the office and it would be broadcast across the school. That’s where I got my start.” Since these early performances, Tajnai has become a staple Anthem performer in the Milwaukee area, having now performed at Bucks games over 50 times. 36 | artsscene

“About six years ago I auditioned for the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Tajnai. “They had an open call where you could go down to the stadium and sing, kind of like “American Idol” style. I got the call, and I did it for a game and that was already six years ago now.” “To get that gig doing the Bucks National Anthem was like sort of a dream come true,” said Tajnai. “I was able to combine the two loves of my life: sports and singing.” Tajnai is no stranger to performing. From his popular vocal coaching at Hartland Music, to acclaimed community theater performances at Waukesha Civic Theatre and Lake Country Playhouse, to professional stage credits at theaters like Skylight Music Theatre, his talent is spread all across the Greater Milwaukee Area. However, there’s a difference between dressing up on stage in character and the vulnerability of being yourself singing a song dedicated to our country. “I consider the National Anthem important to me,” said Tajnai. “I know a lot of people who have been involved in wars and that sort of thing. I like the honor of it. I like the respect that people give to it… It’s the only time at a sporting event that everyone has to be quiet, and they do. It’s cool to have that moment to honor America.”

Oldest Surviving sheet of music

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“The idea is that you are yourself and vulnerable when performing the National Anthem,” said Tajnai. “It’s just you. When you are doing theater you can put yourself into a character and pretend to be somebody else. When you are doing the National Anthem it’s your authentic voice. No character.” While Tajnai likes to put his own personal spin on the song (which you can see in the video below) he knows it’s important to pay tribute to the history of the anthem. “Sometimes I want to just do it the way that I want to do it... people know I add a couple little riffs and things like that, people don’t like that,” said Tajnai. “They get offended by it, they want to hear it the way it was written. Other people love it, they think you are honoring America more by doing something a little more epic and unique. You have to toe that line a little bit.” Tajnai’s powerful voice and performance continue to set the scene for a beautiful moment at these games. And while he continues to share his talent with fans, he hopes to inspire young performers to find their voice as well. “I didn’t start doing the anthem at professional sports games,” said Tajnai. “I did them at high school soccer games and things like that. It wasn’t that epic back then. But I got my training through that. I did events where 10 people were there. I just think getting experience is the name of the game.”


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For decades Milwaukee fireworks have been linked to the name Bartolotta, Jeff Bartolotta, manager at Wolverine Fireworks Display Co. (which absorbed the Bartolotta Fireworks Co. in 2017). Bartolotta celebrated his 50th year in the pyrotechnics art in 2019. According to an article in Milwaukee Magazine 2019, Jeff set off his first firework at age 9 during a show in Sheboygan.

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A NEW BEGINNING IS ON THE HORIZON Our 21/22 symphony season is scheduled to begin in September 2021 — a joyous celebration of Beethoven that will feature many of the artists and programs we had anticipated experiencing throughout this season.


We are planning to open 21/22 season renewals and new subscriptions in the Spring. We’re excited to be together with you again feeling the thrill of live music with our orchestra and John DeMain in beautiful Overture Hall.

madison symphony.org/21-22

The Great Circus Parade, which began in 1963, and was first held in Milwaukee in 1963. It continued annually in Milwaukee until 1973. Between 1980 and 2005, it was held in Milwaukee, Chicago or Baraboo, Wisconsin. [No parade was held between 2006 and 2008. The parade resumed in 2009, returning to Milwaukee after a six-year break, after organizers raised $1.5 million. The 2009 parade, which turned out to be the last, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Circus World Museum.] A much smaller version of the parade “ a parade of elephants” will be part of the Circus Celebration in Baraboo the weekend of July 10. Covid-19 safety protocols continue to prevent Baraboo from holding its traditional parade. July2021 | 39

Milwaukee has a long tradition of parades, starting with the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in March of 1843 before Wisconsin was a state. The tradition continued in the area nearly nonstop until the pandemic put the brakes on the floats in 2020.While many Independence Day parades were cancelled again in 2021, many smaller communities brought them back in 2021. For example, the Oconomowoc Rotary Independence Day Parade was held on July 3. Germantown, West Bend, Sussex, Glendale, Grafton were also among the communities that held parades.

It is believed that parade floats have their origins in religious-themed theater. They may have been first introduced as far back as the Middle Ages when churches used pageant wagons as movable scenery for passion plays. Artisan guilds were responsible for building the pageant wagons for their specified craft. 40 | artsscene




The Badger Chordhawks Chorus from Rock County presented its annual Wisconsin’s annual Patriotic Concert on June 25 and 26 The program of all-American music performed by a melting pot of local musicians will be available for streaming ($15) until the end of August at www.PatrioticConcert.com.

The Oconomowoc American Legion Band, established in 1924, is the community band of the City of Oconomowoc and has been designated the official Legion Band of the State of Wisconsin. As well as many parade performances, the band performs weekly outdoor concerts Wednesdays, June through August at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhodee Memorial Band Shell located on the shore of Lac La Belle at City Beach.

CLICK HERE for more information!

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E VE N T L I ST I NGS Check out some of Southern Wisconsin's best upcoming virtual and in-person arts offerings! Want to see your event in an upcoming issue? Click here!

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WEDNESDAY CONCERTS Lake Country Playhouse Hartland, WI Pewaukee Lake Through July 2 Pewaukee, WI Anthony and Rosemary are two introverted Through August 18 misfits straddling 40. Anthony has spent his Listen to this weekly musical series along the entire life on a cattle farm in rural Ireland, beachfront of Pewaukee Lake or dine al fresco a state of affairs that—due to his painful across the street; genres include rock, blues, shyness—suits him well. Rosemary lives right reggae, and party music. next door, determined to have him, watching the years slip away. MUSIC UNDER THE STARS


Through August 23 Museum of Wisconsin Art It’s again time to grab your lawn chairs or West Bend, WI blankets for those fabulous Monday evening Through July 3 “Music Under The Stars” band concerts. OR AT Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel MUSIC ON THE LAKE Milwaukee, WI East Side Club Through August 1 Madison, WI The exhibition is a testament to the Through September diversity—of backgrounds, interests, and styles—that is representative of Wisconsin art Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the casual, backyard setting. The lineup features today. national touring acts paired with some of Madison’s best local bands. VULNERABLE BODIES:


Garver Feed Mill Madison, WI Through July 24 Vulnerable Bodies features six artists — Erica Hess, Masako Onodera, Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Demitra Copoulos, J. Myska Lewis, and Valaria Tatera — whose work speaks to the paradox of fragility and resilience.


American Players Theatre Spring Green, WI Through August 15 This is a story you may think you know; a grand classic borne on the backs of gods and warriors.


Old Settlers Park West Bend, WI Through September 2 Weekly, free, live music summer street festival in beautiful downtown West Bend.


Downtown Waukesha Waukesha, WI Through September 3 Friday Night Live outdoor music event takes place every summer Friday night in downtown Waukesha.



Milwaukee County Zoo Milwaukee, WI Through September 6 The larger-than-life sculptures and exhibits in Animal Super Powers invite visitors to explore the evolutionary, biological, and environmental reasons for these adaptations and asks Zoo visitors to imagine themselves with the same abilities.


West Allis Downtown West Allis, WI Through September 11 Arts and Crafts lovers, rejoice! Every second Saturday this Summer, West Allis Downtown will be hosting our Summer Crafternoons, a series of art and craft fairs on the side streets.


Wisconsin State Fair Park West Allis, WI Through September 22 Wednesday Night Live is a unique, FREE, weekly summer concert series held exclusively at the Bud Pavilion.


Lake Country Playhouse Hartland, WI July 2 This group of Milwaukee area musicians has been performing traditional Irish music since the spring of 1989.

DON'T MESS WITH CUPID Memorial Union Madison, WI July 2 Enjoy an Otis Redding and James Brown dance party. Don’t Mess With Cupid is an eight-piece soul group based out of Madison, Wis., led by Kevin Willmott.


Winnequah Park Monona, WI July 2 – 4 The Monona Community Festival is one of the largest and longest running July 4th celebrations in southern Wisconsin.



Breese Stevens Field Madison, WI Museum of Wisconsin Art July 3 West Bend, WI Festival Foods Lights The Isthmus will be a Through October 17 ticketed event featuring four local bands, Carey Watter’s painstakingly and delicately food and beverage, and fireworks launched cuts cast-off printed materials into thousands from Breese Stevens Field and the top of a of tiny pieces that begin a new life as part of neighboring building. her paper reliefs.




Lime Kiln Park American Players Theatre Grafton, WI Spring Green, WI July 3 July 1 – August 7 What’s more patriotic than live music and Here we have a play that hits all the notes fireworks over the Lime Kilns?! with equal glee – a screwball comedy written by one of the smartest playwrights of our INDEPENDENCE DAY time. FIREWORKS

Village of Menomonee Falls Menomonee Falls, WI July 3 The village is hosting the traditional fireworks display on the evening of Saturday, July 3, 2021 near the Menomonee Falls High School.






Pewaukee Lake Pewaukee, WI July 4 Rogue is bringing the party to Pewaukee lakefront! Come party with us before the fireworks!

West Bend Community Band West Bend, WI July 4 Come celebrate with us!

Oconomowoc Rotary Oconomowoc, WI July 3 We will be back in action this year with a full blown parade that will knock your socks off!



Kiwanis of Germantown Germantown, WI July 4 Germantown’s 4th of July Parade returns! Join us!



Concerts on the Square – Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra City of Waukesha Madison, WI Waukesha, WI July 7 July 4 We kick off our 2021 season with the WCO’s Join the Holiday celebration with a parade annual Independence Day celebration, that kicks off at 11:00am. At dusk head over featuring John Williams and the 1812 to the Waukesha County Expo Grounds to get Overture. ready for a great fireworks celebration, with the show beginning at 9:30pm SOMETHING ROTTEN!


Hart Park Wauwatosa, WI July 4 Bring your family to the Wauwatosa Independence Day Celebration at Hart Park (7300 W. Chestnut Street). Family fun will continue before the fireworks at Hart Park.

Hartford Players Hartford, WI July 9 – 17 The award-winning Hartford Players bring you this uproarious musical comedy, just released for Broadway!


Circus World Baraboo, WI July 10 – 11 FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION This weekend full of circus-themed fun will feature big top shows at Circus World, trolley Kletzsch Park tours of historic sites, live entertainment, a car Glendale, WI show and an inspired “parade” of artistically July 4 The Glendale Fourth of July Celebration is one enhanced elephants. of the largest holiday events in the MetroMilwaukee area.




Fireside Dinner Theatre Fort Atkinson, WI July 10 – 11 This multimedia production is a tribute to some of the greatest music produced in the 70’s and 80’s including monster hits such as “Waterloo,” “Fernando,” “Honey Honey,” “Dancing Queen” and countless others.

Lake Country Playhouse Hartland, WI July 16 – 18 Now and Then is a heartfelt romantic comedy about the costs of the choices we make, and the people who make them with us.


Fireside Dinner Theatre Fort Atkinson, WI July 17 – 18 his young group has been taking the country by storm with their amped-up renditions of classic hit songs from legends like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Shirley Ellis, The Beatles, Ritchie Valens, Jerry Lee Lewis, and more.

Sunset Playhouse Elm Grove, WI July 11 Kerry Hart Bieneman brings the amazing talents of Shawn Holmes, Cynthia Cobb, & Ryan Charles to this celebration in song. With many of the biggest hits of Motown & Soul, it will be hard to stay seated for this one!



Mead Witter School of Music Elm Grove, WI Madison, WI July 19-20 July 10 - 17 We head to Music Row in Nashville where Postponed from last year, this year’s series we’ll pay homage to the Man in Black and theme is “The Good, the Bold, and the the dozens of singers who spent time on Fearless: stage (and off ) with one of country’s most Musical Life at the Burgundian Court” and will successful and beloved artists. feature Franco-Flemish composers.


Concerts on the Square – Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Madison, WI July 14 Bringing Us Together - Put a Little Love in Your Heart features local singer-songwriter, composer, and arranger Leotha Stanley and Friends gospel choir.



Concerts on the Square – Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Madison, WI July 21 A tour of classical repertoire inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, tonight’s concert features special guest, Xavier Foley, an award-winning young double bassist representing the next generation of great classical performers.


Summerstage of Delafield HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA Delafield, WI July 15 – 31 Fireside Dinner Theatre Willum Cubbert has often told his friends Fort Atkinson, WI about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a July 22 – September 5 fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who Fresh from the success of OKLAHOMA, SOUTH saved his life. PACIFIC, and THE KING AND I, Broadway’s greatest composing team wrote an original musical comedy – the first of its kind – to be performed live on TV in 1957.




Atwood Avenue Madison, WI July 24 Atwood Fest is an eastside Madison, Wisconsin music festival happening on the last weekend in July on Atwood Avenue.

Lake Country Playhouse Hartland, WI July 30 – August 15 The Revolutionists is a new play about four very real women who lived boldly in France during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.




Garner Park Madison, WI July 24 We are delighted to announce that Opera in the Park 2021 will take place in person in Garner Park. As always, it is free to attend, thanks to generous sponsors.

DISCO DIVAS Sunset Playhouse Elm Grove, WI July 25 Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Freda Payne, and other fiery divas started a Disco Inferno that lit up the ‘80s with songs like RESCUE ME, I WILL SURVIVE, and HOT STUFF. Grab your platform shoes and get ready to get down!


Sunset Playhouse Elm Grove, WI August 1 Billy Joel and Elton John are two of the most famous piano men in rock history. Sunset’s favorite piano man, JOHNNY RODGERS, pays tribute to these Grammy-award winning superstars in a concert featuring many of their greatest hits.


Concerts on the Square – Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Madison, WI August 4 Our finale program features Maxim Lando, winner of the 2020 Young Gilmore Artist Award.


W.G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park Fireside Dinner Theatre Madison, WI Fort Atkinson, WI August 6-7 July 27 The setting at William G. Lunney Lake Farm Since 2006, multi-award winning and multiCounty Park, nestled along the shore of Dove Award nominated recording artist Lake Waubesa within the Capital Springs Tribute Quartet has become one of the country’s most dynamic, beloved, and sought Recreation Area along the Lower Yahara River Trail, sets it apart from other Dane County after male quartets in all of Gospel Music. festivals.


Concerts on the Square – Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Madison, WI July 28 Canadian collaborators Jeans ‘n Classics join us for their 8th Concert on the Square.



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