Feb 13 2016
When in doubt about how to structure your next big date night, start with dinner and a show. Sometimes you can even park just once and not worry about driving again until the next morning, which is especially convenient when wintry weather turns wily. For example:
Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee: Inside Potawatomi Bingo Casino are touring musicians and Saturday night comedy shows. We saw “Saturday Night Live” alums Norm MacDonald and Kevin Nealon a couple of months ago, ate Asian fare at Ruyi restaurant and spent a night at the casino’s hotel. No need for a coat: All stops are attached. Feeling flush? Order kobe beef at Dream Dance Steak. Strapped? Head for The Buffet for all you can eat, usually $15.
Coming up: Jennifer Nettles and the Next Women of Country Tour, $80-$90, March 11-12; Bill Engvall, $75-$85, March 13. paysbig.com, 800-729-7244
Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee: Acrobatic dog troupes, nationally known musicians, comedians and others take the stage at this National Historic Landmark, built in 1895 by brewer Frederick Pabst to resemble a grand European opera house. Add a room at the Intercontinental Hotel – a walkway attaches it to the theater – but take a two-block walk for fun at the spy-themed Safe House, 779 N. Front St., for burgers and (if you time it right) a magic show. The Safe House reopens in March, under new ownership but the same spy theme. intercontinentalmilwaukee.com, 414-276-8686; safe-house.com, 414-271-2007
Coming up: comedian Bob Saget, $30, March 11; oldie rockster Rick Springfield, $40-$60, March 16; Celtic band Gaelic Storm, $30, March 17. pabsttheater.org, 414-286-3663
County Clare Inn and Pub, 1234 N. Astor St., Milwaukee – A homey and friendly bed and breakfast inn, near Lake Michigan, includes a restaurant with Irish stew, cottage pie, corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash. Irish ballads are sung in the cozy pub on Thursday nights, Irish jam sessions are Fridays and a wider array of music is booked Saturdays. Or stay overnight on a Sunday for as little at $90, which includes two drinks, breakfast and parking.
Coming up: Irish music and dance are booked morning to night on St. Patrick’s Day. Tuesdays are Trivia Night. countyclare-inn.com, 414-272-5273
Fireside Theatre, Fort Atkinson – The much-loved dinner theater complex, with a quartet of fun shops, opened in 1964 and is under a third generation of Klopic family ownership. The destination remains open while under renovation this year. Tickets include a beautiful meal, usually three courses that end with a pecan turtle ball sundae. Rock River Inn, 1.5 miles away, has three upstairs guest rooms with Asian, African and Indian décor. Guests may borrow a tandem bike, canoe or kayak at the riverfront lodging. An overnight stay includes breakfast; owners donate what you pay to charities. rockriverinn.com, 920-563-6987
Coming up: “Peter Pan” opens Feb. 25, “Sister Act” opens April 14. Tickets start at $46. firesidetheatre.com, 800-477-9505
Memories Ballroom, Port Washington – Five miles north of downtown is a business that began in 1934 as Weiler’s dance hall; the hardwood maple suspension floor remains and the log cabin structure has hosted dinner theater for 25 years. Matinee meals are plated, and evening meals are served buffet style. Entrees might include a fish fry or broasted chicken. Eight miles north is two guest rooms at Library Farm Bed and Breakfast, near Cedar Grove. The innkeepers encourage quilters and other crafters to make this their base, too. Those who visit for the day pay $12 for breakfast and room to work. thelibraryfarm.com, 920-668-6238
Coming up: “Amused” opens March 4 and “Buying the Moose” opens April 8. Both are comedies. Tickets are $35-$42; for only the show, it’s $25-$27. Monthly “Chicken Comedy” shows by comedians are Feb. 27, March 19 and April 2. Tickets are $27-$32. memoriesballroom.com, 262-284-6850
St. Croix Off Broadway, 1616 Crest View Dr., Hudson – A part of the 100-room Hudson House Grand Hotel, which overlooks the St. Croix Valley, is reserved for wacky dinner theaters. One price includes a plated dinner (pot roast to roasted salmon), the show, tip and tax. Alcohol, appetizers and desserts are extra. Overnight rates include a hot breakfast at the hotel’s Crest View Café.
Coming up: “Unnecessary Farce: A Comedy of Two Cops, Three Crooks and Eight Doors,” $60, opens March 11. stcroixoffbroadway.com, 715-386-2394
Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison – It is not unusual for more than one event to happen the same night at this popular downtown venue, which accommodates big-name celebrities, edgy performance troupes, local theater groups and shows for children. Two blocks away is the newly renovated Madison Concourse Hotel; book a Governor’s Club room to add excellent views and a private lounge with complimentary cocktails, nibbles and breakfast. CIRC, the hotel restaurant, whips up a compact but delicious soup-salad-dessert buffet for lunch. concoursehotel.com, 800-356-8293
Coming up: “Motown: the Musical,” $40-$165, March 1-6; pianist Emanuel Ax with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, $16-$85, March 11-13; “The Wizard of Oz” by Children’s Theater of Madison, $23-$35, March 11-26. overturecenter.org, 608-258-4141
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, 400 W. College Ave., Appleton – One of the best things about downtown College Avenue is easy access to so much that is good. That includes this performance venue, a mere block from the classy but affordable CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel. Between the endpoints is Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse, for savoring a porterhouse while surrounded by artifacts from the estate of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach. copperleafhotel.com, 920-749-0303; vincelombardisteakhouse.com, 920-380-9390
Coming up: “The Price is Right Live,” $40-$50, Feb. 26; “Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” $46-$101, March 8-13; Jethro Tull tribute, $55-$95, April 2; foxcitiespac.org, 920-730-3760
Grand Theater, 401 N. Fourth St., Wausau – The hub for performing arts is in the heart of downtown, where touring Broadway shows and community theater draw enthusiastic crowds. Two blocks away is Jefferson Street Inn, where most guest rooms have fireplaces. Add dinner at the hotel’s City Grill Bistro, which serves walleye to ribs. jeffersonstreetinn.com, 715-845-6500
Coming up: “Once,” touring Broadway musical, $69-$90, Feb. 24; “Get the Led Out,” Led Zepplin tribute, $38-$48, March 2; “The Music Man” by Wausau Community Theatre, $22-$25, March 10-12. grandtheater.org, 715-842-0988
Upper Dells Ballroom, Ho-Chunk Gaming, S3214 Hwy. BD, Baraboo – Instead of heading to Wisconsin Dells for the waterparks with the kids, settle into lodging at this casino complex and make a reservation at Copper Oak Steakhouse, then take in a show or linger at the fireplace in the lounge, where piano music plays.
Coming up: Comedian Tracy Morgan, $45-$60, March 5; country musicians Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt, $25-$45, April 23. ho-chunkgaming.com, 800-746-2486