Happy New Year! Start out the Twenty-teens out right this weekend with: a New Year's Day Fashion Show; the Nicola Lopez show at the Chazen; productions of Random Harvest and Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them; comedy by the Atlas Improv Company and Collin Moulton; live music by Rising Gael, Dead Man's Carnival, Pat McCurdy, Oak Street Ramblers, The Nod, Subatomic with Underculture, UW-Whitewater Music Faculty, Madison Skylights, and Fragile Utopia; and, a farewell to Holiday Fantasy in Lights.
NEW YEAR'S DAY
NOTEWORTHY: Global Y2K computer disaster fails to materialize, 2000.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor/prankster/Saturday Night Live alumnus Don Novello, 1943; filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, 1970.
Olin Park, through Jan. 3
Here's your last chance, this holidays at least, to see the big Olin Park show. It's a Madison tradition, and it's courtesy of the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159. Thanks, union members.
Chazen Museum of Art, through Jan. 3
Lopez makes drawings, prints and installations that are fascinating cityscapes -- the architectural elements twist and undulate to a degree verging on abstraction. The exhibit closes this weekend. While you're there, check out James Gill's striking photography collection "Back in the World: Portraits of Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans," which also is coming down.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, Dec. 31 & Jan. 2, 8 pm
StageQ presents Richard Willett's redemptive play about a dramatist who, having been nominated for a major award, fears actually winning. The local cast has really made this play its own (see preview).
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Local dub-'n'-reggae troupe Taki Allstars will get the dance party started as models show off the naughty, frilly frocks of Silversärk, tough and sultry duds from local rockabilly/burlesque outfitters Hoi Polloi and original designs by local Etsy superstar ClaireAnn (a.k.a. Gypsy Couture).
NOTEWORTHY: Sago mine disaster kills 12 West Virginia coal miners, 2006.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Diane Lane, 1965; Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., 1968.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 8 pm. Also Sunday, Jan. 3, 2 & 6 pm
A hastily married woman thinks her husband might be a terrorist in Christopher Durang's acclaimed satire. It's the first multi-night production by the new troupe Forward Theater, and it features local theater superstars like American Players Theatre's Colleen Madden and Sarah Day. (See article.)
Electric Earth Cafe, 8 & 10 pm
At 8 pm, Madison's insanely witty improv troupe stages its TheatreSports show, in which teams face off in games and scenes. At 10 pm comes some free-form stuff. Improv can be not only funny but also quite moving, as the performers tap that mysterious improvisational force.
Comedy Club, 8 & 10:30 pm. Also Thursday, Dec. 31, 8 & 10:30 pm
The L.A.-based comic's material sometimes touches on gentle topics like domestic living, but he also works political in a way that ought to satisfy many Madison clubgoers (Ann Coulter: "neo-Nazi Skeletor chick"). With Thommy Thompson.
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
This quartet, which blend traditional Celtic music with modern Irish folk-rock, have opened for big names such as Gaelic Storm. But they haven't forgotten their Madison roots. They're also at work on a new album, even though they released one just a year ago. Catch them before they hit the big time.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
It's not just a concert; it's an old-time circus, complete with juggling, stunts, gymnastics, magic, sideshow attractions and costumes that will shock, awe and bewilder. The roster of performers includes Foxy Tann and Sweet LillyBee (burlesque babes) and Sir Pinkerton & the Magnificents (a retro blues and boogie band). Over-the-top costumes -- from pearls to peacock feathers -- are strongly encouraged. See Tour Stop.
Club Tavern, 9 pm
The charismatic singer-guitarist offers a one-man music and comedy show. He plays originals like "Sex and Beer," revises pop songs from the '80s and '90s, and interacts with the crowd. He boasts a 900-song repertoire and a quick wit.
Alchemy Cafe, 9 pm
To say that this collective of bluegrass pickers is a bunch of Americana enthusiasts is an understatement. They're fanatics, infusing old-time tunes with newfound passion and getting stool bums more excited about mountain music than their next round of suds.
Come Back In, 9:30 pm
The band's less than two years old, and its debut EP (Shoddy Heart) has been around just six months, but this quartet of rockin' UW kids has made a splash big enough to share a bill last Freakfest with Cage the Elephant, Third Eye Blind, Locksley and Maritime.
Frequency, 10 pm
Two local bands join forces to release two CDs. Subatomic's is built upon heavy, funky bass lines and lots of guitar riffs, while Underculture's smashes together punk, psychobilly and a bit of garage to rattle your bones and your eardrums. Also playing: Soul Shaker.
NOTEWORTHY: Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 1987.
BIRTHDAYS: Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, 1946; actress Helena Bonham Carter, 1967.
Chazen Museum of Art, 12:30 pm
Cellist Benjamin Whitcomb, flutist Robin Fellows and pianist Myung Hee Chung perform on Wisconsin Public Radio's weekly "Live From the Chazen" broadcast. On the docket: Samuel Barber's "Sonata for Violoncello and Piano," Otar Taktakishvili's "Sonata for Flute and Piano" and Sergei Prokofieff's "Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major."
Frequency, 8 pm
The Auto-Tuned vocals on these Missourians' recordings may drive you nuts, but their infectious electropop melodies will make you crazy in a good way -- they're the kind that get you singing in the library and dancing on the city bus. With Counterfeit I.
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
This Madison foursome have channeled their appreciation of Tool and Sevendust into a growing catalogue of hard-hitting rockers and even a few ballads. Their new CD, which will be unveiled at the show, touches on both sides of the band's oeuvre and is bound to please at least a few fans of heavy grooves and headbanging. With Droids Attack and Lords of the Trident.