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History of the Overture Center and 2022/23 season announcement

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Overture Hall circa 1928 and today. | Photo 1 from the Wisconsin History Society + Photo 2 by Glenn Nagel Photography

Table of Contents

The 2022/23 season of the Overture Center was announced last night. In honor of the upcoming season, let’s take a look at the history of the theater + what’s coming for this next year. No lines to rehearse here.

🎭 Act One

The Capitol Theater — Overture Center’s first rendition — opened in 1928 on State Street. The opulent movie house entertained locals with vaudeville acts and feature-length films + the space hosted concerts with acts like the Beach Boys and Perry Como.


State Street was just as popular in 1937. | Photo from the Wisconsin Historical Society

🎭 Act Two

The theater rebranded in 1974 as it became the anchor of the new Madison Civic Center. With a large donation from the Oscar Mayer Foundation, the theater was renamed the Oscar Mayer Theater. The addition included the Isthmus Playhouse, an art gallery called the Madison Art Center, and the Crossroads Lobby.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the center set the stage for Broadway shows and became home to the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Ballet + other local groups. As the theater was originally built for silent moviesnot ideal for large musical performances — ideas for a new, modern center began.

🎭 Act Three

In 1997, Jerry Frautschi pledged $205 million over the course of several gifts to redesign the space, making it the single largest gift in Americans for the Arts history.

Overture Hall officially opened its doors in September 2004. The Oscar Mayer Theater was restored to the Capitol Theater, the Isthmus Playhouse to The Playhouse, and the Madison Art Center to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art — all completed in 2006.

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A staple of the Madison arts community. | Photo by Martin Jenich Photography

Martin Jenich Photography

🎭 Curtain Call

The 2022/23 season of shows at the Overture Center will feature 40+ masterpieces including its Broadway series:

🎭 Pretty Woman: The Musical | Oct. 18-23, 2202
🎭 Hadestown | Jan. 24-29, 2023
🎭 Jesus Christ Superstar | Feb. 21-26, 2023
🎭 Chicago | March 21-26, 2023
🎭 Disney’s The Lion King | May 11-28, 2023
🎭 Tootsie | June 13-18, 2023
🎭 Six | Aug. 1-6, 2023

New to the Overture’s lineup is the Up Close Series — an intimate night of music with cocktails on the Capitol Theater Stage.
Pro tip: Series subscribers get first access to single tickets for Broadway.