There’s so much to do in our region! Here’s a look at what’s coming up this season at some of the many arts venues near you.
Through Oct. 29, see website for times. The fabulous record-breaking musical tribute to the ’50s, with duck-tailed, hot-rodding, gum-snapping high schoolers. Fireside Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, Wis., (800) 477-9505, firesidetheatre.com.
If You Only Knew
Through Nov. 3, Tue.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m. Have you ever looked at a piece of art and wished you could talk to the artist to better understand what you were seeing? Through letters written by each artist, visitors may discover what lies behind the art on display. Freeport Art Museum (FAM), 121 N. Harlem Ave., Freeport, (815) 235-9755, freeportartmuseum.org.
“Inherit the Wind”
Oct. 12-21, Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. In the 1920s, a Tennessee schoolteacher is put on trial for violating the Butler Act, a state law that prohibits public school teachers from teaching evolution instead of creationism. Two of the nation’s leading lawyers go head-to-head as the case draws intense media attention. Stage One, Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC), 408 S. Main St., Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
Oct. 18-Nov. 10, Thu.-Sat., see website for times. When conservative candidate Therm Pooley’s criticism of Kerr’s government-sponsored performance art lands him a Senate seat, Kerr seeks revenge. [usual]Suspects, Nordlof Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford. Tickets/Info: rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. Mr. Lindhorst presents “The Ukulele-100 Years of Smiles,” the history of the ukulele through song. MPAC, Mendelssohn Hall, 406 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 964-9713, mendelssohnpac.org.
Get the Led Out
Oct. 19, 8 p.m. A high-energy Zepplin tribute concert that offers a strong focus on the early years. Coronado Performing Arts Center (Coronado PAC), 314 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
Musical Storytime with Mauro
Oct. 20, 11 a.m. Artist, author and musician Mauro Magellan entertains with a musical storytime based on his latest children’s book, “Felicia & the Rat.” Louie the rat wants to play with the band of cats who come out to play at night, but the cats are thwarting his dream. Monroe Arts Center (MAC), 1315 11th St., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-5700, monroeartscenter.org.
Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. The legendary musician (Loggins & Messina, Buffalo Springfield) performs his greatest hits with a full band. Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater, 930 W. Main St., Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
The Stranger: A Tribute to Billy Joel
Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. Mike Santoro and his group bring the energy and stage presence of the original Billy Joel band. Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. 2nd St., DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1215, egyptiantheatre.org.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. One of Shakespeare’s most beloved and witty comedies, full of memorable characters and the “play within a play,” that deals with the universal theme of love and its related complications. Aquila Theatre Company, Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. A bold and thrilling production of this timeless classic that pays homage to the original, frightening writing of Mary Shelly. Aquila Theatre Company, Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper
Oct. 24, 8 p.m. The architect of “shock rock” brings to the stage dark and horror-themed theatrics. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
“Jekyll & Hyde”
Oct. 24-Nov. 3, see website for times. Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of a London lawyer who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. Stage Coach Players, 126 S. 5th St., DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1940, stagecoachers.com.
Oct. 27, 1 p.m. Eight-year old Devon is having a terrible day and is on the outs with just about everyone, including his best friend. The Hurt bursts out of his closet to help Devon understand the nature of feelings and deal with bullying, resolving conflicts and becoming a friend. Barnett Theatre, UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
Oct. 27 & Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m. Two baby grand pianos, two professional rocking entertainers and audience requests make for an evening of clapping, dancing and singing along. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
RSO: “Romeo & Juliet”
Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. Featuring pianist David Syme, with music from Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Tippett and Paul Ben-Haim. Rockford Symphony Orchestra (RSO), Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 965-0049, rockfordsymphony.com.
Rockford Wind Ensemble
Oct. 28 & Dec. 16, 3 p.m. Family-friendly concerts include popular favorites and concert band standards. Nordlof Center, Rockford. Info: rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
KSO: Halloween Concerts
Oct. 30, 5:30 & 7:30 p.m. This annual family-friendly Halloween-themed concert includes trick-or-treating at 5 p.m. KSO, Boutell Concert Hall, DeKalb, Ill., (815) 756-3728, kishorchestra.org.
“War of the Worlds”
Oct. 31, 7 p.m. Originally performed in 1938, the radio drama simulates a live broadcast, with news flashes and eyewitness accounts of the alarming invasion by Martians, first in New Jersey and then across the U.S. and the world. Stage One, JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
Nov. 1-Dec. 23, see website for times. Raised by Santa and his elves at the North Pole, the human-sized elf Buddy journeys to New York City to meet his birth father, who is on the naughty list. Buddy’s job is to win over his father and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Fireside, Fort Atkinson, Wis., (800) 477-9505, firesidetheatre.com.
Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. Winner of 6 Tony awards, the Broadway musical is a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
“Two Witches, No Waiting”
Nov. 2-4 & 8-10, Fri.-Sat. 7 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. When the housekeeper of Elzbeth and Arlene Marcus disappears, these well-known friendly and eccentric witches in south Texas enlist the help of the sheriff to find her. In the meanwhile, closets fly open, barn owls spy through the windows and the house itself seems alive. Janesville Little Theatre, 906 W. Racine St., Janesville, (608) 756-4172, janesvillelittletheatre.org.
The Ten Tenors
Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. Australia’s premier classical-crossover group’s repertoire includes songs by classical composers and contemporary artists, such as Queen, Bowie and Lennon. Egyptian Theatre, DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1215, egyptiantheatre.org.
Avalon String Quartet
Nov. 4, 3 p.m. Lecture at 2 p.m. Returning for their eighth season, the quartet features works by Mendelssohn. MPAC, Mendelssohn Hall, Rockford, (815) 964-9713, mendelssohnpac.org.
Nov. 5, 2 p.m. A longtime Monroe tradition, this program features an afternoon of Green County’s finest Swiss folk choirs and performers. Turner Hall of Monroe, 1217 17th Ave., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-3461, turnerhallofmonroe.org.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” & “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”
Nov. 9-11 & 16-18, Fri.-Sat. 7 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Join Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang for a special Christmas celebration; then see the story of a newspaper writer who must answer a young girl’s question about Santa Claus. Main Street Players, Community Building Complex of Boone County, 111 W. 1st St., Belvidere, (800) 741-2963, mainstreetplayersofboonecounty.com.
John Denver Tribute
Nov. 10, 7 p.m. Chip Messiner’s vocals are a remarkable match for the legendary singer/songwriter. Spring Creek United Church of Christ, 4500 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 877-2576, springcreekucc.org.
Nov. 10, 7 p.m. Based on the Disney film, this one-act musical is a celebration of culture, honor and the fighting spirit. Children’s Theater Project/Youth Theater Project. Nordlof Center, Rockford. Info: rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
RSO: Old War Poems
Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. John Borling, Maj. Gen., USAF (ret.) narrates to the music of Copland and Hyden; with the Mendelssohn Chorale. RSO, Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 965-0049, rockfordsymphony.com.
Straight No Chaser
Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. This 10-member male a cappella group, which originated at Indiana University, performs classics, movie themes and more. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
Nov. 15, 7 p.m. The Great Russian Nutcracker: Dove of Peace tour brings the Christmas spirit to life with world-class Russian artists, hand-painted sets and a dove with a 20-foot wingspan. Rockford Theatre at Rockford Woman’s Club, 323 Park Ave., Rockford, (800) 320-1733, rockfordtheater.com.
AE: “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”
Nov. 15-18, Thur.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Having survived an elaborate wedding ceremony, five bridesmaids seek refuge from the ostentatious reception, spending the afternoon in a bedroom on the bride’s estate; a funny and touching exploration of the nature of sisterhood and men. Artists’ Ensemble (AE), Cheek Theatre, Rockford University, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 226-4100, artistsensemble.org.
Big Church Night Out
Nov. 16, 7 p.m. Crowder, Jordan Feliz and Sarah Reeves are featured in this show, a time of worship, ministry and unity. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
Nov. 16, 8 p.m. From his debut on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” in 2005, Janesville native Lee has made a name for himself on “Last Comic Standing,” “New York Minute: 30” and VH1’s “Best Week Ever.” JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
“Nuncrackers: A Nunsense Christmas Musical”
Nov. 16-Dec. 2, Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 2 p.m. Presented as the first TV special taped in the convent’s new basement studio, the show is filled with Nunsense humor, your favorite carols and “secret Santa” audience participation. Pec Playhouse Theatre, 314 Main St., Pecatonica, Ill., (815) 239-1210, pecplayhouse.org.
Hank and my Honky Tonk Heroes
Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m. A nostalgic look at Hank Williams and his influence on country music, performed by singer/actor Jason Petty, who pays tribute to artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb and The Carter Family. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
Branson on the Road – Christmas Style
Nov. 23 & 24, Nov. 26-28, see website for times. Direct from Branson, Mo., comes Christmas music, old country favorites and comedy for the family. White Pines Inn, 6712 W. Pines Road, Mt. Morris, Ill., (815) 946-3817, whitepinesinn.com.
Nov. 24-25, 3 p.m. The Rockford Choral Union’s annual gift to the community. Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 920 3rd Ave., Rockford, rockfordchoralunion.com.
“A Christmas Carol”
Nov. 29-Dec. 9, Thu.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Charles Dickens’ story of a bitter old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, and his transformation into a more gentle, kind man after being visited by several spirits on Christmas Eve. Stage Coach Players Theatre, DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1940, stagecoachers.com.
AE: “A Picasso”
Nov. 29-Dec. 9, Thu.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 4 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. In occupied Paris, Picasso has been summoned and taken to a storage vault for interrogation by a woman from the German Ministry of Culture. The painter engages in a desperate negotiation to save three of his paintings confiscated by the Nazis from their Jewish owners. AE, Cheek Theatre, Rockford University, (815) 394-5004, artistsensemble.org.
Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m. This up-and-coming bass-baritone from Stillman Valley, Ill., was a national semifinalist at the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. MPAC, Mendelssohn Hall, Rockford, (815) 964-9713, mendelssohnpac.org.
Nov. 30-Dec. 9, Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 1 & Sun. 2 p.m. Annie is chosen to leave the mean Miss Hannigan’s orphanage and live with wealthy “Daddy” Warbucks, to promote his image. She convinces him to search for her real parents, which brings many imposters out of the woodwork. Stage One, JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
Nov. 30-Dec. 21, see website for times. Wacky audience participation offers a different take on the Dickens classic. White Pines Inn, Mt. Morris, Ill., (815) 946-3817, whitepinesinn.com.
RSO: “The Nutcracker”
Dec. 1-2, Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. The Rockford Dance Company performs this holiday classic to the music of Tchaikovsky. RSO, Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 965-0049, rockfordsymphony.com.
Jazz for the Holidays
Dec. 2, 3 p.m. A selection of holiday classics with a jazz twist, performed by vocalists and instrumentalists. MPAC, Starr Center, Rockford, (815) 964-9713, mendelssohnpac.org.
Sweet Reminders of Christmas
Dec. 4-5, see website for times. Singers Nancy Baumet and Dia Madden celebrate the sounds of the season with their renditions of many holiday classics delivered in their signature playful style. White Pines, Mt. Morris, Ill., (815) 946-3817, whitepinesinn.com.
Dec. 4-7, Tue.-Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. Ibsen’s play is the story of how the sins of the father haunt a family long after his death. Adult subject matter. UW-Whitewater, Greenhill Center of the Arts-Hicklin Studio Theatre, 950 W. Main St., Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472- 2222, uww.edu.
Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. The Regent Singers, Vocal Collective, Women’s Ensemble and Gospel Choir perform a variety of music, from classical choral repertoire and contemporary a cappella to jazz and musical theater. Maddox Theatre, Rockford University, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 226-4100, rockford.edu.
Dec. 7, 7 p.m. A Lucia concert with traditional Swedish songs and candlelit processional; followed by refreshments at the Nordic Cultural Center, 327 S. 3rd St. First Lutheran Church, 225 S. 3rd St., Rockford, (815) 963-5559, swedishhistorical.org.
KSO: Winter Wonderland
Dec. 7-8, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. Many holiday favorites are part of this traditional family concert. KSO, Boutell Concert Hall, DeKalb, Ill., (815) 756-3728, kishorchestra.org.
“A Nice Family Gathering”
Dec. 7-8 & 14-15, Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. The first Thanksgiving after the family’s patriarch dies, he returns as a ghost to tell his wife that he loved her, something he neglected to tell her during 41 years of marriage. The trouble begins when Mom invites a date for dinner. Winneshiek Players Theatre, 28 W. Clark St., Freeport, (815) 232-7023, winneshiekplayers.org.
Northern Illinois Bell Choir
Dec. 10, 5:30 p.m. The bell choirs of Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Roscoe, Ill., and the Trinity Lutheran Church in Mt. Morris, Ill., present a concert of sacred and secular holiday favorites. MPAC, Mendelssohn Hall, Rockford, (815) 964-9713, mendelssohnpac.org.
AE: “A Christmas Carol” Radio Play
Dec. 14-16, Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 4 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. Notoriously temperamental Everett Kane is playing Scrooge on the annual broadcast of “A Christmas Carol.” If he shows up. And if things go according to plan. AE, Cheek Theatre, Rockford University, (815) 394-5004, artistsensemble.org.
Byron Civic Theatre Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 14-16, Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 2 p.m. Surround yourself with the sights and sounds of a magical Christmas. This production features favorite classics, as the area’s finest talent celebrates the season in style. Byron Civic Theater, Byron Middle School, 850 N. Colfax St., Byron, Ill., (815) 312-3000, bctmagic.com.
“Yes, Virginia: The Musical”
Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Based on the story of eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who wrote a letter in 1897 to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper asking about the existence of Santa Claus. The answer has become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial. CTP/YTP, Nordlof Center, Rockford. Info: rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
Tinsel & Twang: A Merry-Cana Christmas
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Enjoy spirited renditions of holiday music with a touch of Nashville and Branson twang as Tom Waselchuk, Jami Lampkins and their band deliver an energetic Christmas concert. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
RSO: Holiday Pops
Dec. 15-16, Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Lift your spirits with seasonal songs and traditional carols performed by the RSO and the Mendelssohn Chorale. RSO, Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 965-0049, rockfordsymphony.com.
BJSO: A Holiday Extravaganza
Dec. 16, 2 p.m. Featuring the Badger Chordhawks and the jolly man in red. Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra (BJSO), JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-029. Tickets/Info: (608) 313-1200, beloitjanesvillesymphony.org.
A Choral Christmas
Dec. 16, 7 p.m. The Bel Canto singers are known for their beautiful harmonies and lush interpretations of Christmas music; featuring organist Deborah Krauss Smith. St. Victor Catholic Church, 1760 14th St., Monroe, Wis., (608) 214-0331, monroeartscenter.com.
Christmas at the Armory
Dec. 21-22, 7 p.m. The area’s finest performers entertain with a family evening of Christmas songs. Surprise visit by you-know-who. Cocktails and buffet available prior to show. Janesville
Armory, 10 S. High St., Janesville, (608) 741-7400, janesvillearmory.com.
A Christmas Carol Radio Show
Dec. 24 & 25, see website for broadcast times. Gather the family to listen to this radio drama, which tells the tale of tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge as he learns the true meaning of Christmas. MAC, Monroe, (608) 325-5700, monroeartscenter.org.
Legends of Country
Dec. 31-Feb. 17, see website for times. A stage full of country superstars re-created in one performance: Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn, Shania Twain and Johnny Cash. Fireside, Fort Atkinson, Wis., (800) 477-9505, firesidetheatre.com.
Young Artists Concerto Competition
Jan. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. In this annual competition, instrumentalists up to the age of 18 play a piece written for orchestral accompaniment; the winner performs as a soloist with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 23. KSO, Boutell Concert Hall, DeKalb, Ill., (815) 756-3728, kishorchestra.org.
JPAC Improv Comedy
Jan. 11, 8 p.m. Improvisors pick suggestions from the audience and create off-the-cuff comedy and music. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.
Jan. 12, 11 a.m. Family fun with storytelling, juggling and magic. MAC, Monroe, (608) 325-5700, monroeartscenter.org.
Jan. 12, 8 p.m. Ron “Tater Salad” White, of the “Blue Collar Comedy” series, returns to Rockford with a new stand-up show. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
“Million Dollar Quartet”
Jan. 17-18, Thu. 7:30 p.m., Fri. 8 p.m. The place is Sun Recording Studio in Memphis; the date is Dec. 4, 1956. Up-and-comer Jerry Lee Lewis and rockabilly king Carl Perkins are recording together. Elvis and Johnny Cash stop by the studio and voilà! The four musicians make history as they record together for the first and only time. Coronado PAC, Rockford, (815) 968-0595, coronadopac.org.
JPAC’s One Act Festival
Jan. 17-19, 7:30 p.m. Showcasing a variety of short plays produced by local playwrights, directors and actors. JPAC, Janesville, (608) 758-0297, janesvillepac.org.