Spring officially begins this weekend, and none too soon. Celebrate the changing season with: the Launchpad Battle of the Bands regionals and the Wis-Kino Spring Kabaret; productions of Degas' Little Dancer, The Drowsy Chaperone, Spirit Horse, and Butterfly: The Story of a Life Cycle and performances by Kanopy Dance Company, Dance Wisconsin, and The Spencers: Theatre of Illusion; and live music by the Del McCoury Band, Faces for Radio, Lucy Kaplansky, Daryle Singletary, Anne Hills, Michael Morris, Raffi Besalyan, Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo, and The Vanishing Art.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. Marines invade Nicaragua, 1896.
BIRTHDAYS: Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, 1828; filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Theresa Russell, 1957.
Waunakee High School, 4 pm
It's the Madison regional competition for the high school band contest, whose winner in the June finals picks up some free studio time and a Summerfest slot. Appearing are 15 bands from the area.
Stoughton Opera House, 7 pm
Though the five-piece bluegrass sensation and 2006 Grammy winner's Saturday-night show is sold out, you can still catch their string-picking jamboree this Friday night.
Sundance Cinemas, 7 pm. Also Sunday, March 22, 7 pm
Check out the short films at this open screening and learn the "secret ingredient." What's that? It's the motif of the short film you'll have 48 hours to make if you want to show it at the Sunday event.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday & Sunday, March 21 & 22, 2 pm
Children's Theater of Madison presents this dance-themed play, which sees a modern-day teen transported back to 19th-century France and enlisted as the ballerina model for the Impressionist painter Edgar Degas. And here's a generous gesture: If you're holding tickets for plays at now-defunct Madison Repertory Theatre, CTM will exchange them for seats at this production.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), March 21 & 22
Kanopy appears with the African dance company Wadoma. On the bill is "Creation," a collaborative new work; the premiere of "One Spirit, One Voice," a tribute to recently deceased singer and activist Miriam Makeba; and pieces in traditional West African and modern styles.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1:30 & 7 pm), March 21 & 22
In 2006 the Tony gods smiled on this plucky Broadway musical tribute to plucky Broadway musicals. In his living room, a world-weary narrator reminisces about a fictitious, splashy 1920s show called, yes, The Drowsy Chaperone.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
There are quite a few bands out there called Faces for Radio, but Madison's is probably the only one being compared to Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. With a handful of new tunes under their belts, it's prime time to see these four guys rock the High Noon. Cudasigh and Rivalry open.
NOTEWORTHY: President Jimmy Carter announces U.S. boycott of Moscow Olympics due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 1980.
BIRTHDAYS: Nervy actor Gary Oldman, 1958; comedian/actress/talk show host/litigant Rosie O'Donnell, 1962.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 11:00 am
Toronto's Roseneath Theatre Company presents this play about two First Nations kids whose grandfather brings the titular spirit horse to their Calgary apartment. The youngsters try to keep it there, no easy feat.
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
A clinical psychologist by day, the daughter of a famous mathematician and one-third of the folk group Cry Cry Cry, Lucy Kaplansky's also an accomplished solo folk artist who's collaborated extensively with Suzanne Vega, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin. Ellery opens.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, March 22, 2 pm
Dance Wisconsin, Jo Jean Retrum's well-oiled pre-professional troupe, presents the comic ballet about a young girl infatuated with a peasant boy who doesn't pass muster with her mother. Expect an exceptionally fun show, featuring maypole dances, clogging dances and lots of ribbons. (See preview.)
Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm
Daryle Singletary started out singing gospel, but he's a bona fide country-music star and has been for nearly 14 years, beginning with his self-titled debut, which produced the Billboard hits "I Let Her Lie" and "Too Much Fun." This performance is a benefit for Cops for Kids, a nationwide nonprofit that helps build bridges between the law enforcers and the less fortunate in the community.
Wil-Mar Center, 8 pm
Hills came out of the old Chicago folk-music scene that also produced the likes of Tom Paxton and Bob Gibson. You've never heard anything resembling the fierce vulnerability of her soprano.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The husband-and-wife team Kevin and Cindy Spencer are illusionists who make people seem to walk through walls, vanish, etc. Now if only they could make economic uncertainty disappear.
Café Montmartre, 10 pm
Minneapolis-by-way-of-Washington folk artist Michael Morris joins two talented local favorites for a night of sonic treats in an intimate venue.
NOTEWORTHY: Gusty winds knock high-wire icon Karl Wallenda off the wire to his death, 1978.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor/song-lyric reciter William Shatner, 1931; art-house film actress Lena Olin, 1955.
Chazen Museum of Art, 12:30 pm
In this Wisconsin Public Radio presentation of Sunday Afternoon Live, the pianist and UW-Stevens Point assistant prof performs a slate of music including Mozart, Gershwin and Chopin.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 1 pm
Blauvelt, N.Y.-based Hudson Vagabond Puppets presents a stage version of the monarch butterfly's life, from egg to vacation in Mexico.
High Noon Saloon, 3 pm
Susan Masino and John "Clownboy" Freel are filming a TV pilot called Live, Local & Loud this Sunday at the High Noon. It's about Wisconsin's local live-music scene, and Sunday's subjects include the crowd-pleasing blues of Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo and Madison-area bands 20 Reasons Taken, Blue Olives, Gladstone and Sand.
Frequency, 9:30 pm
Milwaukee's the Vanishing Art is rallying for a slot on the Vans Warped Tour, while Madison's the Selfish Gene unfurls a wave of melodic indie pop -- think Spoon, Cloud Cult and Okkervil River -- that's sure to light up the stage. Also playing: Porcupine.