The arts are alive and well in Northeast Wisconsin, and it’s attracting some shining stars to local venues. Over the next couple months, several big names in comedy and music will perform in the area, including Rita Rudner, John Mellencamp and Audra McDonald.
Rudner, best known for her sassy and clever standup comedy, will be performing “An Evening with Rita Rudner” at the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc on April 24.
“She is truly a comedy legend,” says Lori Kirby, marketing director of the Capitol Civic Centre. Rudner has been a Las Vegas staple for more than 10 years and is sure to have audiences rolling in the aisles.
If dancing in the aisles is more your style, the Weidner Center in Green Bay will play host to John Mellencamp for the second time in the last five years. On Feb. 9, Mellencamp will command the stage as part of his 2015 Plain Spoken Tour. The concert, scheduled for the night after the Grammy Awards, could be one of triumph for the Grammy-winner who is nominated again in 2015.
“If he ends up winning a Grammy, it might be a long night in Green Bay,” says Kate Green, executive director of the Weidner Center. Mellencamp is expected to play tunes from his four decades of hits, as well as songs from his new album, “Plain Spoken.”
For more theatrical tastes, the Kohler Foundation, which has been bringing big names to the area as part of its Distinguished Guests series for more than 60 years, welcomes one of the most distinguished actors of our time. A season lineup that has already featured renowned cellist Yo-Yo-Ma will continue to impress with star of stage and screen, Audra McDonald, on Feb. 27.
“Audra has a completely engaging personality that will win over even those who don’t know her voice,” says Carolynn Lee, program director of the Kohler Foundation.
McDonald is known for her incredible soprano and just finished a run on Broadway where she portrayed Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” for which she won her sixth Tony Award; more than any actor in the award’s history.
After her time on the grand stages of Broadway, McDonald still enjoys the atmosphere of a smaller concert.
“During my concert, I want my audience to feel as though they are sitting in my living room, so performing in a small venue like the Kohler Memorial Theatre is great because of the intimacy it creates,” says McDonald.
Tickets are still available for all performances, but they are selling quickly. Catch these visiting stars while they are performing in our backyard.
Six-time Tony Award winning soprano Audra McDonald will give a concert as part of the Kohler Foundation’s Distinguished Guests series on Feb. 27. In this interview with FOX CITIES Magazine, she discusses her career and what patrons can expect from her February concert.
Q: Is a small concert like this a nice break while working on film projects and Broadway?
A: I actually really like the variety. All of us have multiple interests; it’s what brings us fulfillment on a human level. One nourishes and feeds into the other.
Q: What will your concert repertoire consist of?
A: It will be a mix. I’ll be performing a few fan favorites, some songs from my most recent release on Nonesuch, “Go Back Home,” and several new songs that I recently added to my repertoire. There should definitely be something for everyone.
Q: What do you enjoy most about performing?
A: You get a kind of immediate feedback when performing in front of a live audience that you don’t get shooting for television or film. Whether on the concert or Broadway stage, there really is nothing quite like the experience of live performance — there’s a visceral thrill that you can’t get anywhere else.