Overture Center for the Arts has plugged the programming hole left by the defunct Madison Repertory Theatre. Its first-ever Playhouse performance series, announced June 11, will feature Milwaukee Repertory Theater and other troupes.
"We've never programmed the Playhouse before," says Overture spokesman Robert Chappell. There was no need to because local resident companies, especially Madison Rep, kept it from being dark. Then, in March, the Rep died.
"First we had to decide if we could do it," says Chappell. "This all happened while we were trying to book our regular season, too, and it happened with relatively little notice."
Scheduling was difficult, but Overture felt the need to provide the level of professional, Equity theater that the Madison Rep did.
A favorite of Madison audiences, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, will perform The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) in December. In March, New York's Aquila Theater will mount Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. In April, following its own run at home, Milwaukee Rep will open Almost, Maine, by John Cariani. The story follows residents and visitors in a small northern town as they fall in and out of love.
Each two-and-a-half week run will consist of 21 performances, including matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Overture's resident companies will fill out the Playhouse calendar with their own productions.
Overture president and CEO Tom Carto says, "There's no way to replace the Rep, but this series will go a long way toward filling the gap they left in bringing the highest-quality professional theater to Madison."
Coincidentally, 2009-10 will be the last season for Milwaukee Rep artistic director Joseph Hanreddy, who served as Madison Rep's artistic director from 1986 to 1992.
Milwaukee Rep spokeswoman Cindy Moran says the troupe is eager to form a relationship with the Overture Center. "Milwaukee Repertory Theater has always had an interest - besides being a theater for Milwaukee - in being a theater for the state," she says.
Subscriptions to all three Overture-produced shows are on sale as of June 11. Single tickets will be available Aug. 15. A three-show subscription will cost $69 for Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee performances, and $99 for all other shows. Single tickets for each of the three shows will cost $26 for Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee performances, and $36 for all other shows. For more information, contact the box office at 608-258-4141 or visit