Overture Center for the Arts in Madison
Updated: 10/29/19 3:17am
11/1-3 Madison Opera: La Traviata
11/4 Straight No Chaser
11/13 Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis
11/15 Ballet Revolución
11/16 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
12/13-15 Kanopy Dance Company: Winter Fantasia
12/20-28 Madison Ballet: The Nutcracker
11/1 Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors
11/2-3 The Golden Girls Show: A Puppet Parody
11/5 Dream Theater
11/8-9 Wisconsin Singers
11/10 The Little Mermaid
11/12 Jay Owenhouse “The Authentic Illusionist”
11/14 Duck Soup Cinema: Hypocrites
11/15 Classic Albums Live performs Pink Floyd’s The Wall
11/22 Thompson Square
12/7-22 CTM: A Christmas Carol
Madison Symphony Orchestra:
11/8-10 Joyce Yang plays Prokofiev
11/9 Free Community Hymn Sing (11am)
12/13-15 Madison Symphony Christmas
11/13 Wisconsin Jazz Orchestra w/ Darren Sterud
11/7 Forward Theater Company: Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday
12-6-15 All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
12/18 George Winston
Kids In The Rotunda:
11/2 Mark Hayward
11/9 Madison Ballet
11/29 Cash Box Kings
11/30 Madison Mystery Tour
12/7 Kalaanjali School of Dance
12/14 Yid Vicious
Overture Center History:
The First Incarnation
In 1928, the Capitol Theatre opened its doors on State Street. Designed by the renowned Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp, the Capitol was a marvelous example of the type of opulent movie houses that were built back in the silent film age. Seating 2,500, the theater’s decor had a Moorish/Spanish theme. Uniformed ushers escorted moviegoers to their seats to watch features starring luminaries such as Harold Lloyd and Maurice Chevalier, as well as vaudeville acts like Mae West and Al Jolson. The state of the art building boasted the latest in modern conveniences and, perhaps most wonderful, a Grand Barton theater organ constructed by the Barton Musical Instrument Company of Oshkosh.
Over the years, as vaudeville disappeared and television and multiplexes proliferated, the theater entered a long decline. In 1974, Mayor Paul Soglin set the wheels in motion to open a new performing arts center in Madison.
The Capitol Theater was part of extensive construction and renovation on the 200 block of State Street. Equipped with the latest in theater technology and renamed the Oscar Mayer Theatre, it was the main venue in a complex that also included the smaller Isthmus Playhouse, meeting rooms, and a Crossroads lobby connecting the performing arts venues with the Madison Art Museum under the same roof. Opening in 1980, the Madison Civic Center was Madison’s home for great arts and entertainment for 23 seasons. Dane County residents were treated to a range of experiences from luminaries like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Itzhak Perlman, to performances by local arts groups including the Madison Repertory Theatre and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, to free festivals and kids shows in the Crossroads, to the silent film series in which the Grand Barton organ continued to play.
In 1998, local businessman W. Jerome Frautschi made the breathtaking gift of $50 million for the development of a cultural arts district in downtown Madison. He established the Overture Foundation to solve the space needs of the city’s major arts organizations. Eleven months later, he made the decision that he would donate another $50 million more. At the completion of Phase 1 of construction, the announcement was made that Mr. Frautschi had spent an astonishing $205 million to build this state of the art facility.
Internationally famous architect Cesar Pelli was engaged to design the project. It was a challenge to design and construct the facilities within the constraints of a city block in the center of town, but the team has been up to it.
Now complete, the facility contains the fabulous Overture Hall, the intimate Playhouse, three black box spaces, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Wisconsin Academy’s James Watrous Gallery, three community galleries, a soaring glass lobby, and the Capitol Theater, returned to its original name.