CrossFit Games, through Aug. 6, Alliant Energy Center: Just like the World Dairy Expo isn’t just for dairy farmers, the CrossFit Games are not just for the fit. If you can get there (maybe ride your electric bike, or better yet, have an Uber drop you right at the entrance gate) you can watch top athletes compete to become the fittest person on earth through combinations of running, biking, rowing, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, handstands, “odd-object lifts,” and who knows, maybe unjamming old office copy machines. There are outdoor and indoor events; if you’re not sufficiently motivated to move between those arenas, there will be video screens in the, yes, wait for it, beer garden. More info about ticket packages at ticketmaster.com.
Young at Art, through Aug. 6, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: There’s nothing more joyous and exuberant than “Young at Art,” a recurring showcase featuring the inventive talents of Madison Metropolitan School District student artists starting in kindergarten all the way through senior year in high school. Various media, including drawing, painting, photography, collage, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, fiber, found objects, and mixed-media art, will make you remember when you too created as if there were no rules. It’s the final weekend of the exhibit, and regular gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
National Night Out events, Aug. 3, various locations: An event designed to give the public a chance to meet representatives of local safety agencies (police, fire, EMTs) and other community organizations, National Night Out happens around the country on or near the first Tuesday in August each summer. Local happenings still to come on Aug. 3 include a pair of events by the Madison Police Department’s Central District from 5-8 p.m. at both Peace Park and Orton Park; West Madison Good Neighbor Project hosts from 5-8 p.m. at Westmorland Park; and the Sun Prairie Police Department’s annual event is 6-8 p.m. at Cannery Square.
Whitney Mann + Paul Otteson, Thursday, Aug. 3, Bur Oak, 7 p.m.: When Whitney Mann moved out to a Fort Atkinson farm in 2016, her many Madison fans feared that would be the last time they’d hear her Loretta Lynn-inspired country music making. Sure enough, the years between then and the post-pandemic world were focused on raising children, chickens and ducks, in that order. Thing is, that hard work has served to pour knowledge and inspiration into her music, now that she is ready to perform again. With a set by Faux Fawn’s Paul Otteson. Tickets at seetickets.us.
SIX, through Aug. 6, Overture Hall: A musical telling the story of the six wives of English King Henry VIII, pop concert-style, SIX debuted in 2017 at a fringe festival, soon moved to the West End, and then Broadway…right before the pandemic. Its official re-opening in 2021 was a massive success and garnered a pile of awards, including the Tony for Best Original Music Score. Shows at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 3; 8 p.m. Aug. 4; 2 and 8 p.m., Aug. 5; and 1 and 6:30 pm., Aug. 6. Tickets were mostly sold out in advance, but limited seats may become available; check overture.org.
Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson-Apt. 2B, through Aug. 6, UW Vilas Hall-Mitchell Theatre: What is it with the post-pandemic mystery-solving? From Only Murders in the Building to the true crime podcast onslaught, everybody is a sleuth these days, it seems. Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson-Apt. 2B grows from that premise, with two roommates solving mysteries as a contempo-feminist Holmes and Watson pairing. This University Theatre production is absorbing summer escapism, but it comes back for a second run in the fall. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, July 27-Aug. 6; the production runs again Sept. 14-24. Tickets at artsticketing.wisc.edu (or at the theater box office one hour prior to performances).
Sarah Sherman, Aug. 3-5, Comedy on State: If anything really freaked you out during the last two seasons of Saturday Night Live, there’s a good chance it was from the brain of, or featuring, Sarah Sherman. If your mind has blocked seeing the sketch of a woman covered in living, barfing meatballs, you may have retained Sherman’s recurring “Weekend Update” visits, mostly roasting Colin Jost relentlessly and hilariously. Sherman got started doing stand-up in Chicago as Sarah Squirm, and returns to the Midwest for a weekend stand at Comedy on State. Shows at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 7:30 and 10 p.m., Aug. 4-5; tickets at madisoncomedy.com.
RuPaul’s Werq the World Tour, Thursday, Aug. 3, The Sylvee, 8 p.m.: This year’s Drag Race tour follows a diverse cast of divas who are trapped in the Netwerq, an alternate reality inspired by The Matrix. Watch as drag queens journey through this mesmerizing virtual realm, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy with their electrifying performances. Scheduled to appear: Daya Betty, Lady Camden, Mistress Isabelle, Kandy Muse, Asia O’Hara, Rosé, Naomi Smalls and more finalists from Season 15. Tickets at ticketmaster.com.
Blooming Butterflies, through Aug. 6, Olbrich Gardens-Bolz Conservatory, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: No matter the season, the exotic plants, birds, and burbling pools of Olbrich Gardens’ indoor Bolz Conservatory are magical. Each summer, it’s extra special when the butterflies take up residence for a few fleeting, fluttering weeks. Almost 20 different species can be observed, including sometimes right at hatching inside two chrysalis cases. Kids can follow up a conservatory visit with a pollinator-themed scavenger hunt in the outdoor gardens. Find out more at olbrich.org.
Hirt Alpert, Friday, Aug. 4, Madison Children’s Museum, 5 p.m.: There was a time back in the mid-1960s where one arm of pop music sounded like elevator music crossed with the soundtrack to a wife-swapping pic — lots of verve and brass, no lyrics or singing. These were tunes for swinging, or at least contemplating it — though few ventured to say that aloud. That music returns in retro form with the cleverly named Hirt Alpert, a Madison Al Hirt and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass tribute band. In this free Live from the Wonderground outdoor concert, get into a mid-century/Mad Men/Jackie/Twiggy/A-line/Laugh-In vibe with adult bevvies and snacks available for purchase. You’re welcome to bring the kiddos, but they’re not the star of the show. Whipped cream dress also optional. With Active Percussion Duo.
Dane Dances, Fridays, Aug. 4-25, Monona Terrace, 5-9:30 p.m.: August in Madison means the return of everyone’s favorite rooftop community dance party: Dane Dances. After a pair of rain cancellations in 2022, an indoor location is secured this year (most weeks at Monona Terrace, with Aug. 18 moving to the Alliant Center if rain; for weather updates, call 608-261-4094). Each week features DJ Francis Medrano at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. along with free dance lessons, which will be put to immediate use thanks to the band lineup: Mike Dangeroux Orchestra and The Associates Band, Aug. 4; international salsa star Luisito Rosario and Orquesta SalSoul del Mad, Aug. 11; VO5 and BBI, Aug. 18; and Aurra and Slave and Angel Melendez & 911 Mambo Orchestra, Aug. 25. Food and drink will be available at 5 p.m. from Lake Vista Cafe, La Taguara, Melly Mell’s Soul Food and TLC Catering. Watch for updates at danedances.org.
Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival, Aug. 4-5, Lunney Lake Farm County Park: This folk and roots music celebration always features a stellar lineup, and for the 20th anniversary fest, organizers at the Four Lakes Traditional Music Collective have really brought their A game. Rising stars to catch include new generation bluegrassers The Wildmans; Big Richard, a group of four women who came together for a one-off festival set in 2021 and found instant musical magic; and Pony Bradshaw, playing the Lollapalooza and Hinterland festivals on either side of Sugar Maple. The lineup also includes such longtime favorites as former Madisonian Katie Powderly, kids’ music master David Landau, zydeco stars Joe Hall & the Louisiana Cane Cutters, and rocker JD McPherson. Find the full schedule and tickets at sugarmaplefest.org (including info on a post-fest concert by Kristin Andreassen and Chris Eldridge, Aug. 6 at North Street Cabaret).
Ann Garvin, Friday, Aug. 4, Mystery to Me, 6 p.m.: Madison author Ann Garvin’s latest, There’s No Coming Back from This, is a charming, laugh-out-loud story that was named an Amazon First Reads selection for July ahead of its Aug. 8 publication. A single mother bilked out of her life savings decamps to Hollywood for an odd job — a truly odd job — and soon discovers mystery on the set. Garvin is a vivacious presence and this reading is sure to be a good time. (Read Michael Popke’s interview with Garvin at isthmus.com.) Tickets are required to attend, or join in on Crowdcast.
The Pirates of Penzance, Aug. 4-13, Bartell Theatre: With swashbuckling silliness and frothy fun throughout, The Pirates of Penzance is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most produced operettas. The Madison Savoyards should do well with hummable tunes like “Poor Wand’ring One” and the tongue-twisting “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.” Who says the Victorians didn’t know how to have fun? Shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday; also, a free program for kids takes place at 1 p.m. on Aug. 6. Find tickets at madisonsavoyards.org.
Our Home States, through Aug. 12, Broom Street Theater, 8 p.m.: Broom Street Theater, where local playwrights usually rule, presents the start of one of its long-term projects. Our Home States is a series of short plays that the theater solicited from each of our fabulous 50 states (though of course some are a little less fabulous than others — the states, that is, not the plays!). Broom Street begins what will be four years of productions with a compilation of plays from the Midwest. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (no show Aug. 3); advance tickets at bstonline.org.
National Mustard Day, Saturday, Aug. 5, Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Mustard has its day in the sun every year at the National Mustard Museum. But for National Mustard Day, a roster of both music and mustards are on hand: Blue Accordion (10 a.m.), the John Masino Band (11 a.m.), and Frank Martin Busch & the Names (1 p.m.) headline the Main Mustard Stage. There will be many mustards to taste, and grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and sausages that are the base for the tangy condiment. And speaking of playing, there are plenty of games, contests, a raffle and more. Rain or shine. Info at mustardmuseum.org.
Stoughton Chamber Music Festival, Aug. 5-6, 11-12 and 20-21, various Stoughton venues: The Stoughton Chamber Music Festival returns with programs based on familiar friends in the sky: the moon and sun. The “Moon” concerts revolve around Verklärte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg, at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 4 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Stoughton Opera House. The “Sun” rises to Thirty-Thousand Days, a clarinet quartet by Chris Rogerson, at 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 21 at Chorus Public House. Both programs feature new works by Micah Behr and other short pieces. The first weekend in August features stories and music for kids at 10 a.m. and noon, Aug. 5, Christ Lutheran Church; and a preview of the two concert programs at 5 p.m., Aug. 6, Grand Inspired. Find tickets and more info at stoughtonchambermusicfestival.com.
You Shine: 10 Years of Find Your Light, Saturday, Aug. 5, Overture Center-Capitol Theater, 2 & 7 p.m.: Along with musical theater productions, Capital City Theatre also is training the next generation of artists in its Conservatory program. The company celebrates a decade of the summer intensive training program for young performers, Find Your Light, with this concert featuring current students and alumni, faculty members, and guest artists. Find tickets at tickets.overture.org.
South Side Slow Roll, Saturday, Aug. 5, 354 Coyier Lane, 3 p.m.: Never participated in a group bike ride before? Want to learn more about bike-friendly routes on the south side of Madison? The South Side Slow Roll will meet both those goals, and provide an afternoon of fun for all bicycling experience levels. If your bike needs a bit of TLC, safety checks and basic repairs are available starting at 2 p.m. at the Free Bikes 4 Kidz warehouse, 354 Coyier Lane. The three-mile ride departs at 3 p.m. and ends at The Village on Park for a community celebration with activity tents, food carts, art workshops by Dani RAD and TuWilê and DJ Mr. Alexis. Find registration and more info at fb4kmadison.org.
Park Street Music Fest, Saturday, Aug. 5, Madison Labor Temple, 3-8 p.m.: This annual free and family-friendly outdoor Next Level Showcase event features an afternoon of top-notch local music. Park Street Music Fest features blues/hip-hop/rock mixologist Adem Tesfaye, salsa, soul and more from Orquesta SalSoul del Mad, rapper Protege the Pro, keyboardist-singer Rick Flowers & Amalgam X, funk-jazz fusionists Soul Company featuring CJ Parker, and DJ Ace. Food trucks and vendors will also be on the grounds, as well as free health screenings from 3-5 p.m. Also: Come out early for a 5K run/walk, starting at 9 a.m.
Rush Hour, Saturday, Aug. 5, Cafe Coda, 8 p.m.: Cheshire Cat Comedy has struck gold again with a new concept: Rush Hour, a night of comedy dedicated to showcasing Black and Asian voices from throughout the Midwest. Marz Timms, the headliner, is a successful Chicago-based voiceover artist, actor and comedian. Stand-up performances from Timms, Hannah Roeschlein, Eric Smith and Darrell Cochran will be intermingled with piano music by Madison’s own Noah Mailloux. Hosted by Josh Glen. Find tickets at eventbrite.com.
Madison Comedy Week, ug. 6-13, various venues: From the kickoff show on Aug. 6 to a roast of Samara Suomi on Aug. 13 (both 7 p.m. at the Bur Oak), Madison Comedy Week packs in more than 25 events around the city. Headliner Mary Mack performs during a pair of free showcases closing the Sessions at McPike Park on Aug. 11-12; Comedy on State welcomes touring comics Felonious Munk (Aug. 10) and Bob the Drag Queen (Aug. 11); and you can find many more shows and ticket info at madisoncomedyweek.net.
Find the individual Picks collected here, and as part of the full calendar of events.