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Friday, September 29, 2023

Downtown Madison awaits new stage productions

I’ll be honest, while I originally wanted to attend UW-Madison for its academics, throughout my last year and a half on campus I’ve become increasingly interested with the surrounding city, specifically the dozens of concert venues just down State Street. From the Orpheum to the Majestic, branching out to the Frequency and bars like High Noon Saloon, there’s live music nearly every night in Madison. I’ve had the chance to see some of my favorite bands perform just around the corner from my apartment, making me grateful that the campus and city life are so intertwined. While I’ll probably always spend too much of my (non-existent) income on these concerts, I also think it’s important to spread some of my time to another form of art throughout the city: theater.

While I’ve always been a fan of musicals, I’ve never fully taken advantage of all the stage plays right in Madison; the most theatrical thing I’ve done on campus is belt out songs from “Les Miserables” with friends. The great thing is you don’t have to be a theater buff or watch the Tony Awards every year to attend the upcoming plays in Madison. Both set in smaller venues, “Confessions of A Wannabe Soccer Mom” and “The 800th Annual Salvation Swing-Off” are coming to Madison this January.

Students can celebrate the lack of homework during syllabus week on Thursday by attending “Confessions of A Wannabe Soccer Mom,” set at The Brink Lounge on East Washington. The one-woman show features Dina Nina Martinez, a transgender woman who shares stories of her youth in small-town Texas and the events and relationships that brought her to Madison. Described as “a quinceañera on a city bus” on Martinez’s website, the show is returning to Madison for the second time, featuring new anecdotes and produced by Laugh Out Loud Comedy. Martinez is known for her work as a stand up comedian, actor, speaker, writer and producer, and previously performed at LA Pride and Chicago’s Zanies Comedy Club.

I’ll try not to sound like an annoying infomercial when I say “but wait, there’s more!” If you’re still building up your theater appreciation and the Overture Center for the Arts is still a bit intimidating, check out “The 800th Annual Salvation Swing-Off” Jan. 30 at the Broom Street Theater. The play, written and directed by Malissa Petterson, looks at the Catholic religion and the idea of purgatory, the state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners before going to heaven. However, Petterson puts a creative twist on and takes a jab at Catholic traditions by placing the sinners into a purgatory set in a laundromat. While the characters try to clean their clothes of stains and their lives of sin, they look forward to the Salvation Swing-Off, a dance competition where the winners get a one-way ticket to heaven.

The humorous and progressive themes of both “Confessions of A Wannabe Soccer Mom” and “The 800th Annual Salvation Swing-Off” seem to cater to the Madison audience. Take some time this semester to spread the love for all the arts right here in Madison. With relatively cheap ticket prices, you might as well throw it onto your bucket list, or rather your Bucky list, of things to do before graduation; I promise you’ll still have time to go skinny dipping in Lake Mendota or dare to run the field at Camp Randall. While I’ll always consider concert venues like the Majestic my second home in Madison, I think it’s about time to spend my last year and a half also visiting some stage play venues.

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