Holiday Art Fair
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, noon-6 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-5 pm) & Sunday (11 am-3 pm), Nov. 17 & 18
A Room of One's Own, 6 pm
Kamen discusses Finding Iris Chang, a book about the author of the bestselling Rape of Nanking. She explores Chang's mental illness and suicide.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 17 & 18
Soprano Dawn Upshaw brings a girl-next-door charm to her MSO debut. She performs Osvaldo Golijov's "Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra," which weaves Yiddish lullabies with arias; and Joseph Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne." Guest conductor Carl St. Clair also leads the MSO in Richard Strauss' tone-poem "Don Juan" and Ravel's hypnotic "Bolero."
Kanopy Dance Company
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 17 & 18
The local dance troupe's "Winter Joy" concert salutes the season with a snow queen, mythical creatures and stunning costumes by New York City designer David Quinn. The program includes the playful "Day in the Life of a Who" and Kerry Parker's new "Garden of Light."
Break a Leg
Overture Center's Wisconsin Studio, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (4 & 8 pm), Nov. 15 & 17
Madison's TAPIT/new works presents "a cabaret of comedy and luck," featuring guest theater troupes from New York City, Rhode Island and Champaign-Urbana. Performances include a comic monologue with tap dance from TAPIT's Donna Peckett; and a look at luck in airports, written by TAPIT's Danielle Dresden.
UW Faculty Dance Concert
UW Lathrop Hall, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, Nov. 15 & 17, 8 pm
UW faculty members show present their choreography, including Li Chiao-Ping's hyperkinetic "Turnaround" and Jin-Wen Yu's "Tiktaalik" and "Reflecting," set to live music. New York-based guest-artists-in-residence Jeremy Nelson and Luis Lara Malvacias also present a new work for 10 student dancers.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
The indie-pop chanteuse's show has sold out, but extra tickets may be released the day of the performance.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Former members of arena-rockers Creed animate Alter Bridge, so it's no surprise that their swelling anthems are crammed with climaxing guitars and throaty vocals. Another Animal opens.
God-des and She
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The country's best-known queer hip-hop duo got its start here in Madison before gaining wide exposure through Showtime's The L Word and Logo. They visit their old stomping grounds to celebrate the release of a new CD. The Real Jaguar, DJ Pain 1 and the Fall Guys also appear.
Mickey's Tavern, 9:30 pm
Indie psychedelians Cement Pond help out Mickey's booker Joe Lambert with some unexpected health-care expenses. The August Teens and the Low Czars also appear.
Plane Mistaken for Stars
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
The hardcore/screamo vets give their Madison fans a chance to moon over old favorites before hitting the hangar for good.
Madison Women's Expo
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 18, 10 am-4 pm
The annual event features hundreds of exhibits that focus on fashion, health and beauty. Special guests Jenny McCarthy (Saturday, 1 pm) and Naomi Judd (Sunday, 1 pm) pass on their secrets as well.
Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative, 2 pm
The lefty sportswriter discusses his book Welcome to the Terrordome, a meaty look at the sports world that considers issues of race and class.
The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 2 pm
A touring musical based on the book series is geared at kids from pre-school through fifth grade. It's a fun introduction to geography as the 2-D title character is mailed around the world.
Feel the Beat
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 6 pm. Producers showcase (3 pm) and music-industry panel discussion (4:30 pm), UW Red Gym
Streets of Gold Productions is behind this face-off between area beat masters. The competition also includes a performance by Big Quarters & DJ Weej.
Orpheum Theatre, 7 pm
The comedian's fame has spread through HBO specials and the Comedy Central series Mind of Mencia. He's proudly raunchy and un-PC, with a particular animus toward stupid people -- though that's not the term he prefers.
Yellowman/A Nervous Smile
Hemsley Theatre in UW Vilas Hall. Yellowman: Nov. 17 & 21, 7:30 pm. A Nervous Smile: Nov. 18 & 20, 7:30 pm
University Theatre presents two intriguing plays in repertory. John Belluso's devastatingly honest A Nervous Smile is about parents caring for disabled children. Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman offers an unflinching look at American racism.
Williams & Ree
Mitby Theater at MATC-Truax, 7:30 pm
The veteran duo combine music and comedy, playing off stereotypes of Native Americans.
Cirque du Soleil
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 18, 1 & 5 pm
The masters of psychedelic spectacle come to town with one of their dreamlike, acrobatic, modern-circus shows. "Saltimbanco" explores the hustle and bustle of the urban experience.
Juliette & the Licks
Majestic Theatre, 7:30 pm
Freaky Hollywood actress Juliette Lewis fronts this entertaining - although utterly unoriginal -- neo-glam act with the requisite chutzpah. Scissors for Lefty and Suffrajett open.
Loft in the Lussier Teen Center, 7:30 pm
Following in the footsteps of Sublime and the Long Beach All Stars, SoCal's RX Bandits drift easily through rock, ska and reggae hybrids.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
The Isthmus Jazz Series opens with one of the world's great reed players. The Cuban master appears with a super-tight quintet.
John Butler Trio
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The indie-pop chanteuse's show has sold out, but extra tickets may be released the day of the show. The Australian jam band's show has sold out, but extra tickets may be released the day of the performance.
First United Methodist Church, 8 pm
Thirty years on, the amiable Michigan folk duo keep things fresh and fun with an array of poetic ballads and wonderful stories.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Michael Brandmeier, Clear Blue Betty, Mark Croft, Marques Bovre, Aimless Blades, German Art Students and many more Wisconsin artists fete the music of Neil Young and also raise money for the Bridge School, an educational program for kids with severe speech and physical impairments. Admission includes a download of the new Young tribute CD, More Barn.
King Club, 9 pm
The Australian-born, locally based Alima celebrates a CD featuring her hip-hop-flavored R&B.
Annex, 9:30 pm
The club-ready industrial-metal groovists grimace and moan to toast the release of new DVD.
Russ Phillips & the Windy City All-Stars
Coliseum Bar, 2 pm
The traditional jazz band offers an object lesson in Chicago-style swing.
Ensemble La Rota
Luther Memorial Church, 3 pm
The Canadian ensemble, winners of the Early Music America competition, bring you closer to 13th century France than you've ever been in your life.
Annex, 6:30 pm
Diecast's melodic speed metal is "classic" in the sense that the aggressive Bostonians' could have filled clubs and theaters with it in the 1980s. Double guitar leads, thundering percussion, half-yodeled vocals - it's as if Ozzy and Anthrax never grew old.
Spin Cycle Improv
Harmony Bar, 7 pm
The local improv troupe says farewell to member Eric Stein. Time for a last glimpse of his Screamin' Louie, the blues singer who never rhymes.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Hopewell's emotive psychedelia and folk-rock owe a debt to the Beatles, the Doors and leader Jason Russo's hyper-creative old crew Mercury Rev. But the unbound New Yorkers also have plenty of their own quirks. Spindrift opens.