From Wisconsin's northernmost county to its southern border cities, the state offers an incredible variety of nationally and internationally acclaimed performing arts, including original musical theater, touring Broadway productions, opera, symphony, Shakespeare and African dance. In addition, as a part of a growing trend of urban renewal, many historic theaters are finding new life as performing arts centers, made possible by the dedicated efforts of the community.
With a wide array of venues and theater companies, Milwaukee is rich in the performing arts. The Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee is a 100-year-old landmark that has raised its golden curtain on 25,000 performances. A National Historic Landmark, it is the fourth-oldest continuously operating theater in the United States, having hosted luminaries of every discipline from Lunt and Fontanne to Hepburn and Bernhardt to Lucinda Williams and Jeff Tweedy, as well as U.S. presidents and foreign statesmen such as Sir Winston Churchill. Built in 1895 by brewing magnate Captain Frederick Pabst from a plan by architect Otto Strack, the theater continues the tradition of the great European opera houses, with an opulent Baroque interior that includes an Austrian crystal chandelier, a staircase crafted from white Italian Carrera marble, and a proscenium arch—highlighted in gold leaf—framing the stage. The theater was extensively renovated in 1928, then restored to its original style in 1976, making it one of the most beautiful theaters in the United States.
The Florentine Opera, Milwaukee's grand opera company, features international casts and conductors, spectacular sets and costumes, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
The Milwaukee Ballet presents works that speak to our passions and emotions by choreographers who have fashioned ballets in the classical and contemporary style. When the curtain rises on the new season, you can expect to be swept off your feet by pure dance pieces and world famous stories, planned and shaped through artistic director Michael Pink's vision
A community rich in arts and culture, Madison offers a potpourri of performing arts options ranging from opera and live theater to ballet and the symphony.
The city's only professional theater, the Madison Repertory Theater commissions and develops original plays and re-imagined classics catering to a diverse audience.
Awaken your senses and send your soul soaring with classical and pops concerts by the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The resident orchestra of Overture Hall, performances are held September thru May.
Providing teaching and performance opportunities, the Madison Ballet offers top notch productions and educational initiatives aimed at providing access and promoting appreciation of ballet.
The Madison Opera explores innovative and culturally diverse works while focusing on widening the appreciation and awakening young audiences to the excitement of opera.
Already well steeped in venues ranging from quaint to exquisite, the city is growing its civic appeal thanks to the development of the Overture Center for the Arts. The new mecca of Madison's Performing Arts offerings, the Overture Center for the Arts showcases internationally acclaimed jazz, classical, opera, musicals, dance, world music, family entertainment and much more.
Still more offerings include bluegrass music with the Southern Wisconsin Bluegrass Music Association, the best in world and classical music, dance and travel films at the Wisconsin Union Theater or chamber orchestra performances year-round at the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
The Ko-Thi Dance Company is Wisconsin's only professional African dance company. Founded in 1969 by Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, a native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, Ko-Thi uses traditional instruments, authentic costumes, exhilarating music and awe inspiring dance to educate and bridge the gap between cultures. While their specialty is wowing audiences with the power of their performances, Ko-Thi also offers everyone the chance to actually participate in the excitement of African dance in a unique setting.
In 1889, Captain Frederick Pabst commissioned Milwaukee architect George Bowman Ferry to design a substantial mansion in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style on a large piece of property that Pabst had acquired some years earlier.