By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Apr 03, 2024 at 11:01 AM

This article is in partnership with the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. For tickets and subscriptions for the upcoming season, click here.

A new unpredictable year brings yet another new unpredictable collection of performances to town, as the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts today revealed its 2024-25 season. And whether you're a seasoned spectator at the Brookfield arts hub or a relative newcomer to the sprawling, multi-faceted, art-filled performance venue, found at 3270 Mitchell Park Dr., there's something truly for everyone in this season's slate – from beloved local favorites to national and global-renowned icons, from traditional performances to one-of-a-kind dance groups, from returning holiday classics to first-time visits, and from established Rock & Roll Hall of Famers to outstanding acts on the rise. 

No matter your taste in music, art, performance or beyond, there's something exciting for all to experience and discover inside the Wilson Center's warm walls this upcoming year. 

Sharon Lynne Wilson CenterX

So why the suspense!? With no further ado, here's the complete lineup of shows coming to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts this 2024-25 season, from the spacious Jorgensen Stage in the Harris Theater main auditorium to its cozy black box Dawes Studio Theater, from excellent evenings to marvelous matinees:

  • Saturday, Aug. 17 – Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 25 – Live From Laurel Canyon, 7:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30 – Milwaukee Jazz Institute: A Celebration of Duke Ellington, 2 p.m. (matinee series)
  • Friday, Nov. 8 – The Travis Anderson Trio: The Music of Vince Guaraldi & Friends, 7:30 p.m. (studio series)
  • Friday, Nov. 15 – Mummenschanz: 50 Years, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 13 – Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 19 – Milwaukee Jazz Institute: Big Band Holiday Concert, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 20 – A Winter Gathering with Kathy Mattea: Good News and Other Favorites, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 17 – Stephen Hull Duo, 7:30 p.m. (studio series)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 29 – A Band Called Honalee, 2 p.m. (matinee series)
  • Saturday, Feb. 1 – Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19 – The Malpass Brothers, 2 p.m. (matinee series)
  • Saturday, Feb. 22 – Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 8 – Goitse with special guest athas, 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 12 – Cantus: What a Wonderful World, 2 p.m. (matinee series)
  • Friday, March 14 – Good Morning Bedlam, 7:30 p.m. (studio series)
  • Saturday, March 15 – Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society presents Berta Rojas, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 29 – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, April 4 – Derek Hartman, 7:30 p.m. (studio series)
  • Wednesday, April 16 – Kat Edmonson As Time Goes By: Songs From the Silver Screen, 2 p.m. (matinee series)
  • Friday, May 2 – The Wildwoods, 7:30 p.m. (studio series)
  • Saturday, May 10 – Paul Taylor Dance Company, 7:30 p.m.

It's a season so strong that, while the Wilson Center's slate technically begins in October, the shows simply must start early, with the venue welcoming Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Jeff "Skunk" Baxter to its main stage for a special pre-season performance on Saturday, Aug. 17. From sitting in with a young Jimi Hendrix during his Jimmy James & The Blue Flames days to playing an integral role with beloved bands like Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, Baxter will bring an incredible career filled with songs and stories (not even including his work as a missile defense consultant for the government) to the Brookfield stage this upcoming summer, serving as the perfect all-star appetizer for the full season to come in fall. 

"He's got a great pedigree and a ton of great stories, a super interesting guy who's got some iconic riffs on the studio version of 'China Grove' and 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number.' I'm really excited for him this year," said Wilson Center events and ticketing coordinator Tyler Nikolas, while previewing the season.

The season itself will kick off properly with some more classic rock courtesy of Live From Laurel Canyon, bringing the throwback sunny California sound of the '60s and '70s – including the timeless likes of The Mamas and The Papas, The Byrds, The Doors, CSNY, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and many more – to Wisconsin on Oct. 25. A perfect sonic balm for all of the election season shenanigans and screaming, the late fall show will serve as Live From Laurel Canyon's Milwaukee premiere. 

That season-opening show is far from the only Brew City debut on the Wilson Center slate this season. In early 2025, Grammy-winner Arturo O'Farrill will bring his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble to Milwaukee for the first time, a show – presented in collaboration with Latino Arts, Inc. – sure to bring some heat and color to Wisconsin's traditionally frosty and grey February. The Wilson Center's matinee series will also welcome some remarkable talent to Milwaukee, serving as the local debut of Kat Edmonson and her Hollywood tribute show in April, singing some of the most iconic songs of the big screen. 

Ladysmith Black MambazoX

And while they've perhaps played Milwaukee before, if you want to see iconic Grammy-winning African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo or the whimsically inventive musical arrangements of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, you'll have to stop by the Wilson Center as their shows will stand as their only Brew City appearances this season. 

Those are all vocal performances as well; the Wilson Center's 2024-25 season will also shine a spotlight on some dynamite dance this year. For instance, the season closer will come from the renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company, which will jump and jive to the music of the Andrews Sisters and more to cap the venue's slate on Saturday, May 10. And for something completely different, at the front end of the Wilson Center's season is the globally recognized Swiss troupe Mummenschanz, celebrating a half-century as one of the most unique and undefinable art shows to hit stages. Meaning "the musicians of silence," Mummenschanz plays like the playful origins of the Blue Man Group (but without the gaudy blue makeup paint budget), combining comedy, physical movement and more into a wholly unconventional evening of whimsical entertainment for all. 


For some local love in the lineup, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts will feature traditional favorites such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Jazz Institute around the holiday season – and speaking of holidays, Milwaukee-based Celtic group athas will take the stage alongside Irish standout Goitse for the venue's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration of song.

And as for something significantly less traditional, due to the construction going on at their Downtown center, the Milwaukee Rep will come out to the Wilson Center, who will share its stage for the theater company's world premiere rom-com musical adaptation of "Prelude to a Kiss" running Sept. 10 through Oct. 20. Call it some extra love courtesy of the Wilson Center before you start swooning over the actual season beginning Oct. 25.

For more information on all the shows coming to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts this upcoming season – and, most importantly, how to buy tickets and packages – visit the venue's website.

Starry Nights shines in the summer

Starry NightsX

Once again, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts' upcoming year of art simply can't be contained inside the space's doors, kicking things off outside with its Starry Nights summer series. Hosted for free on Friday nights at the Gerlach/Haack Outdoor Theater, the all-ages open air music sessions will bring a remarkable collection of local talent and iconic performers – ranging across all sorts of genres, from brass bands to oldies classics to Irish music and more – under the stars for a tantalizing taste of the full season to come. (And speaking of tastes, food trucks and a full bar will be found around the gorgeous green space.)

Here's the lineup coming to the Wilson Center's Starry Nights series, hitting the stage Fridays throughout the summer on 6:30 p.m.:

  • June 28 – Cold Sweat & the Brew City Horns
  • July 5 – Wisconsin Philharmonic
  • July 12 – Rockin' Robins
  • July 26 – B.D. Greer & the Gents
  • Aug. 2 – 5 Card Studs
  • Aug. 9 – Irish Fest sampler featuring Reilly

In case that somehow doesn't rev your engines enough, during the July 12 evening with the Rockin' Robins, the Starry Nights showcase will also feature the return of its free classic car show, bringing some extra timeless old-school flair to the night of retro rock 'n' roll legends. The vintage vehicles can begin pulling in at 4 p.m., with the first 300 cars earning a spot in the auto show. For more information on this year's edition of Starry Nights and the classic vehicle show, click here

Claim your spot today!

Season package subscriptions are now available at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts’ website, while the renewal deadline for past ticket holders is Wednesday, May 8. For more information on tickets, events and beyond, visit their website

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.