Arts Fuse critics select the best in theater, visual arts, film, music, author events, and dance for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Busby Berkeley Babylon
Through January 23
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA
Berkeley understood that film choreography was about more than just fixed viewpoints — the camera had to move with the movement of dancers. He set his cameras into motion on custom built booms and monorails. Warner Brothers gave him the leeway to film numbers on a grand scale: sweeping views, geometrically arranged dancers, kaleidoscopic patterns of uniformly costumed chorus girls, elaborate sets. The result generated bizarre touches that were often blatantly erotic and always fascinating. Berkeley was wild well before the MTV style. Here is a great opportunity to experience a wealth of Berkeley’s work as it should be seen. Arts Fuse Feature
The Films of Pierre Étaix
through January 18
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Another major cinematic loss in 2016; the death of Pierre Étaix at the age 87. Jerry Lewis once said that he had encountered genius twice in his lifetime; once when he looked up the definition of the word in the dictionary, the second time when he met Pierre Étaix. For decades, Étaix was involved in complicated legal rows with distribution companies, and his films were not screened or transferred to DVD. In 2010 that changed after 50,000 people, including Woody Allen, David Lynch, and Jean-Luc Godard, signed a petition demanding their release. Like another French great, Jacques Tati, Étaix was meticulous in his attention to all aspects of writing and directing. He made only five films, all of which will be presented in this MFA series. (source: The Telegraph)
The Suitor, preceded by Rupture: Thursday, January 12, 8 p.m.
Obsessed by his scientific research, a kindhearted young Parisian from a good family bows to his parents’ insistence that the give up studying the stars and find a wife. He studies the techniques of various Casanovas, and the suitor tries to mimic their approaches, but the results of his hunt are not what he hoped for.
Yoyo preceded by Happy Anniversary: Sunday, January 8, 12:30 p.m., Saturday, January 14, 1 p.m. Wednesday, January 18, 5 p.m.
The son of a ruined millionaire tries to restore his family fortune by traveling the country and performing in circus acts. Similar to the Academy Award-winning film The Artist, “Yoyo celebrates true love and creative freedom. It’s also a valentine to cinema, incorporating allusions to the work of artists ranging from Groucho Marx to Federico Fellini.” (The Wall Street Journal). Happy Anniversary won the 1963 Academy Award for Best Short Film.
Land of Milk and Honey: Wednesday, January 11, 4:30 p.m., Sunday, January 15, 3 p.m.
Just after the events of May, 1968, Étaix trades in narrative gags for documentary film, capturing French vacationers lounging on the beach, singing karaoke, and camping. Despite his use of a strikingly different style, Étaix remains true to his earlier work, exposing the absurdities of everyday life, examining topics ranging from eroticism to war.
As Long As You’re Healthy preceded by Feeling Good: Thursday, January 12, 6 p.m.
Saturday, January 14, 1 p.m.
Étaix’s third feature, co-written by Jean-Claude Carrière, comprises four creative and playful vignettes that explore, though comedy, the anxieties of 20th-century life. First released in 1966, the film revolved around a protagonist who stumbles from one situation into another. Five years later, Étaix reedited the film, restoring it to how he had initially conceived it, divided into four distinct episodes.
(Some Of) The Best of 2016
January 11 through 15
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
It was a great year for films in a variety of genres. The Brattle continues its tradition of pairing some of the year’s best films into single admission double features. This year’s couplings are all terrific. Each pair has a brief description; single films are linked to their respective pages. Check for exact times.
Wednesday January 11: young women and mystical experience
The Fits (Fuse review)
Thursday January 12 : ethnographic and the otherworldly
Embrace of the Serpent (Fuse review)
Friday January 13: well-made and unique horror stories with great soundtracks!
10 Cloverfield Lane
Sunday January 15: excellent animation you may have missed
Kubo and the Two Strings
24 Weeks (24 Wochen)
January 15 at 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA
Astrid is a newly pregnant stand-up comic who likes to talk trash about her home life, poking fun onstage at her longtime boyfriend/manager, Markus. In truth the pair seem to be genuinely in love, living it up with their young daughter (Emilia Pieske) in a modern suburban cottage where they’re often visited by Astrid’s chain-smoking and helpful mom. When their unborn baby is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and another more fatal condition, obliging them to ask the kind of questions that any expecting parents would hope to avoid. (source: Hollywood Reporter) Presented in partnership with The Goethe-Institut Boston.
Belmont World Film’s 14th Annual Family Festival
January 14 through 16
Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge, MA
Here is a listing of all the films featured in this unique children’s festival. Many are New England premieres. For full descriptions and tickets go to go to the festival website.
Friday 13: Opening Night Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Saturday 14 at the Studio Cinema
Weston Woods Studios featuring new animated picture books at 10:30 p.m.
75th Anniversary of Make Way for Ducklings and Other Caldecott Medal Winners: Where the Wild Things Are, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Officer Buckle and Gloria, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, and This Is Not My Hat at 12 p.m. (Ages 3-8).
Molly Monster, based on Ted Sieger’s bestselling Dutch children’s book at 1:30 p.m., (ages 3-7).
The World of Us from South Korea about a 10 year-old girl who befriends a new girl in town during the summer only to be shunned when school begins at 3:15 p.m. (ages 8+)
Sunday 15 at the Studio Cinema and Regent Theater
Laugh Out Loud with Mo Willems, featuring animated versions of the author’s most popular books at 10:30 a.m. (Ages 3-8).
Mr. Frog, a live action film based on the bestselling Dutch novel at 11:45 a.m.
Fortune Favors the Brave (2 p.m.).
Opposite Field, a documentary filmed over three years that captures the Ugandan Little League Baseball at 4 p.m. (ages 7+)
Monday 16 at the Brattle Theater
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. featuring the US premiere of Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins, plus Martin’s Big Words, March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Dr. Christina King Farris, and Rosa (10:30 a.m., age 5+).
Heidi, a new film version of the classic novel (11:45 a.m., age 5+).
Little Mountain Boy, a film version of the Swiss children’s book Schellen Ursli at 2 p.m. (ages 7+)).
Breaking a Monster, a documentary about three 12-year-old boys from Brooklyn who form a heavy metal band and get signed to a $1.8 million record deal with Sony at 4 p.m. (ages 7+)
– Tim Jackson
Dorrance Dance In Concert
January 13 & 14 at 8 p.m.; January 15 at 3 p.m.
Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston MA
World Music/CRASHarts presents Michelle Dorrance –”The most exciting and original choreographer in tap today” (The New York Times). Dorrance Dance In Concert includes award-winning tap pieces SOUNDspace and Myelination, a performance that brings considerable rhythmic drive to a range of work, from solo to ensemble choreography.
Dance Complex, Cambridge, MA
Enjoy tap, modern, and flamenco at the latest Catalysts performance presentation. Artists Ryan Casey, Lorraine Chapman, Junichi Fukuda, Yosi Karahashi, and Doppelgänger Dance Collective grace the stage as the 2016-17 featured artists.
Running in Stillness
January 16 at 3:30 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
If you missed Danza Orgánica’s debut of Running in Stillness, here’s another opportunity to see it. The performance was created to bring exposure to issues faced by incarcerated women. This event is free and open to the public.
– Merli V. Guerra
The Scottsboro Boys, music and lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb. Book by David Thompson. Directed by Paul Daigneault. Music direction by Matthew Stern. Choreography by Ilyse Robbins. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through January 22.
“In this, their final collaboration, legendary songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) bring to light one of the most infamous events in American history: the shocking true story of nine African American boys jailed in Alabama in 1931 for a crime they did not commit.” Arts Fuse review
Fingersmith, written by Alexa Junge. Based on the novel by Sarah Waters. Directed by Bill Rauch. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through January 8.
The New England premiere of what sounds like an exercise in Victorian escapism: “The job seems simple at first: all pickpocket Sue Trinder has to do is help a con man cheat a gullible young heiress out of her fortune. But nothing is quite what it seems in this mystery set in the shadows of Victorian England. Spiraling through London streets, madhouses, and a stifling mansion with a shocking secret, Sue finds herself in the most dangerous landscape of all: awakening sexuality, love, and betrayal.” Arts Fuse review
The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Directed by Allyn Burrows. Staged by the Actors Shakespeare Project at the Willet Hall at United Parish, Brookline, MA, through January 8.
One of my favorite lines from this great play: “My foot my tutor?” German dramatist Peter Handke used it for the title of one of his scripts. Arts Fuse review
The Making of a Great Moment, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Directed by Sean Daniels. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theater, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell MA, through January 29.
World premiere of a new show-biz comedy: “Actors Mona and Terry are on an ambitious quest: tour their play Great Moments in Human Achievement across the country… by bicycle. Surely they’ll bring inspiration to millions! But as they pedal across the nation reenacting history’s high points, finding laundry facilities proves just as tough as their unruly audiences.”
Brilliant Adventures by Alistair McDowall. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Staged by by Apollinaire Theatre Company at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA, through January 21.
This is billed as “a darkly comic sci-fi thriller of brotherhood, addiction and breaking the laws of physics.”
Imogen Says Nothing, by Aditi Brennan Kapil. Directed by Laurie Woolery. Staged by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, January 20 through February 11.
World premiere of an intriguing attempt to deal with Shakespeare and gender:”All the world’s a stage, but in Elizabethan England, all the roles are given to men. Enter Imogen, who seizes a wordless walk-on in Shakespeare’s new comedy and recasts herself in a ferocious real-life leading role.” Yale Rep claims the script “is the wildly theatrical and subversively funny tale of an unforgettable creature refusing to let history erase her part.”
A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen. adapted by Bryony Lavery. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Stage Company at the B.U.Theatre, Avenue of the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 5.
Another version of Ibsen’s great 19th century barn burner about the dehumanizing constraints of marriage: “Nora and Torvald Helmer are living their dream life: happily married with children and security. When Nora risks her reputation to save her husband’s life, the consequences test the limits of their love. In an acclaimed new translation by Bryony Lavery, Ibsen’s powerful, groundbreaking classic about marriage, money, and equality remains as compelling and relevant as ever.”
Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller. Directed by Hatem Adell and Daniel Boudreau. Staged by Praxis Stage at Inner Sanctum, 1127 Harrison Ave, Roxbury, MA, January 19 through 26.
This is new theater company “formed on 11/9, 2016, as a response to the disaster of Trump’s election. Our vision is to link theater with activism, producing plays that enter contemporary political crisis points and ongoing cultural conversations in the service of inciting dialogue to foment change.” This adaptation of Miller’s script focuses on “the need to stand up to fascism and the challenge of finding the courage in repressive times to affirm the commonalities of all people and to fight for them and against those seeking to destroy the Othered.”
Hand to God by Robert Askins. Directed by David R. Gammons. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, MA, through Feb. 4.
Nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play, this comedy “tells the story of an awkward Texas teen named Jason, who spends his afternoons at his local church, practicing for the Christian Puppet Ministry run by his widowed mother. All hell literally breaks loose, however, when Jason’s puppet Tyrone takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own. The New England premiere of a script that “explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind.”
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Directed by Scott Edmunson. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, January 13 through February 12.
A very timely reminder of the brilliance of the late Edward Albee. The cast features Steven Barkhimer as George and Paula Plum as Martha.
Winter Panto 2017: The Princess & the Pea Staged by imaginary beasts at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, January 14 through February 4.
This playful production turns “Hans Andersen’s fairy tale right on its ear. A prince seeking the perfect wife, a maid fighting for her very life, and a forgetful vegetable sprite, who can’t seem to do anything right – not to mention one very nasty woman – these are just a few of the magical characters you will meet.”
Thurgood by George Stevens, Jr. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush Staged by the New Repertory Company at the Black Box Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through February 5.
No surprises here, dramatically speaking, but a chance to see actor Johnny Lee Davenport strut his stuff as Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court.
Great Small Works, presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel at Midway Studios, 15 Channel Center Street, Boston, MA, on January 15.
This free evening offers the work of Trudi Cohen and John Bell, theater makers, puppeteers, festival organizers, musicians, and founding members of Great Small Works, a terrifically imaginative visual theater collective. On the program: A Short Entertaining History of Toy Theater, in which resident singing professor Dr. John Bell, accompanied by toy piano, tells the history of Toy Theater (also known as paper theater or model theater) and its importance for 21st century world citizens; Living Newspaper, Episode 2: Sidewalk Ballet, a Toy Theater production, in which Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses, and a burning bush battle over the right to public space; Ode to Common Things, a cranky (paper movie) based on the poem by Pablo Neruda.
– Bill Marx
Eric Rosenthal Quartet + Stereoscope
January 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Drummer Eric Rosenthal presents another in his .01% series double-bills. Openers are Stereoscope — pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, saxophonist Seth Meicht, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Curt Newton. Rosenthal’s quartet — with sax and Lyricon player Jorrit Dijkstra, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and bassist Bruno Råberg — follows at 8:45.
January 12 at 8 and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The charismatic Hammond B3 organist — and occasional trumpeter — brings the heavy grooves to Scullers with his trio.
Club d’Elf begins its barnstorming tour in support of its latest release, the double-CD “Live at Club Helsinki,” with a show in Providence. On this trip, the “Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective” will include keyboardist John Medeski, guitarist Duke Levine, oud player Brahim Fribgane, turntablist Mister Rourke, and drummer Dean Johnston along with Club d’Elf bassist-sintir player-ringmaster Mike Rivard. (The mini-tour concludes in Boston on January 27 at Berklee’s Cafe 939.)
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
January 13 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The word you’re likely to run across in descriptions of Adjuah’s music is “urgent” – and so it is, from the socially and politically informed themes to the intensity and dense weave of the rock-like grooves. The 33-year-old New Orleans trumpeter and composer (and star Berklee grad) always helms a like-minded eager, well-schooled young band. Here’s hoping that his Stretch Music crew still includes the virtuoso flutist Elena Pinderhughes.
– Jon Garelick
Terry Riley’s At the Royal Majestic
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 10-12, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
The BSO follows in the footsteps of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, bringing Minimalism guru Terry Riley’s organ concerto (written for the behemoth at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall) to town with superstar organist Cameron Carpenter in tow. Also on the docket is Barber’s granitic Toccata festiva and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Mendelssohn with a Twist
Presented by Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
January 14, 8 p.m.
First Baptist Church, Newton Centre, MA
Dana Russian and Greg Whitaker are the soloists in Vivaldi’s C-major Concerto for Two Trumpets and Kevin Rhodes conducts two favorite symphonies – Beethoven’s “Pastorale” and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” – in Pro Arte’s first concert of the new year.
– Jonathan Blumhofer
MIRROR: Am Immersive Song Cycle Experience
At the Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
Boston Opera Collaborative presents “two stunning song cycles in an immersive performance that pairs Schumann’s beloved Frauenliebe und -leben with Argento’s From the Diary of Virginia Woolf – a physical and musical journey through the lives of two women separated by a century of changing expectations and aspirations.”
Court to Countryside
January 8 at 3 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church Brookline, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
Boston Artists Ensemble presented a program that includes Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 in F, K. 590 (King of Prussia); Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9, Opus 59, No. 3 in C; Bartók’s String Quartet No. 3.
The Bartók & Schumann Project, Part 1 of 2
January 8 at 1:30 p.m.
At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA
Violinist Miriam Fried and pianist Jonathan Biss present a program of Schumann’s Sonata No. 1 and Three Romances; Bartók’s Sonata No. 1.
New Gallery Concert Series: Revealing the Internal–Exploring the External
January 14 at 7 p.m.
At New School of Music, 25 Lowell Street, Cambridge, MA
The evening will feature artwork by ceramic sculptor Elissa Freud as well as painters/multimedia artists Kay Hartung and Dayna Talbot. The program will include Avoidance Tactics #1 for piano and percussion; the world premiere of Suite No. 1 from “Vestibulations for Solo Piano by Curtis K. Hughes; Parts for a Floating Space by Lei Liang; medi+aTion by Emily Koh and the Boston premiere of Crónico by New Gallery’s first annual composition competition winner, Vicente Hansen Atria with saxophonist Philipp A. Staudlin, pianist Sarah Bob, and percussionist Aaron Trant.
The Bartók & Schumann Project, Part 2 of 2
January 15 at 1:30 p.m.
At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA
Violinist Miriam Fried and pianist Jonathan Biss present a program of Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe; Bartók’s Sonata No. 2; Schumann’s Sonata No. 2.
Summer Past and Future
January 15 at 8 p.m. (pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.)
At Pickman Hall/Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
On the program for this College New Music concert, featuring soprano Janet Brown: Gordon Beeferman’s Rites of Summer, East Coast Version (2015) (First Boston performance); Daniel Strong Godfrey’s Juliet at her Window (2004) (First Boston performance); Marjorie Merryman’s Elegiac Songs (2015) (First Boston performance); Seymour Shifrin’s The Nick of Time (1978); Carl Schimmel’s rite. apotheosis (2007) (First Boston performance).
– Susan Miron
Rock, Pop, and Folk
This is not the first time that I have plugged one of Steve Gunn’s visits to town, and it will surely not be the last. Unlike such past and (most likely) future visits, his one to Somerville next Tuesday will be with Lee Ranaldo, who was a member of a tiny little band that you may have heard of called Sonic Youth. Two generations of guitar heroes in the same conveniently located low-key space at an early start time should be ample motivation to get anyone out on a work night.
The two beloved David Lowery-fronted bands return to the Middle East Downstairs for the eighth consecutive January on Saturday the 14th. The January 2015 show got a fine review by Brett Milano in The Arts Fuse, and my bet is that this year’s performance will be at least as good.
I had somewhat embarrassingly never heard of Sidewalk Driver when they headlined a killer quadruple bill at ONCE Ballroom last March. However, I was pretty sure that one particular moment of the Boston quintet’s time on stage would prove to be the most memorable of 2016 when it threw in a wholly unexpected cover mid-set. Maybe that wasn’t anything new to erstwhile concertgoers, but those who don’t know what I am talking about have the chance to find out at Great Scott on January 14.
– Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Songwriter and guitarist Gunn received plenty of well-deserved attention in 2016. Now he’s embarking on an acoustic tour with former Sonic Youth axeman Lee Ranaldo.
Boston’s Celtic Music Festival
January 14 and 15
Club Passim & other venues
Typically festivals have to import touring talent, but that’s not the case when you’re staging a Celtic music shindig in Boston, as has been proven by the fact that this all-locals fest is now in its 14th year. Events include concerts, dances, and workshops.
At the Twin River Casino, Lincoln, Rhode Island
After the seemingly endless passing of music legends in 2016, some listeners have resolved to see classic artists while they still can. Here’s your first chance in 2017. Expect lead singer Ron and guitar god Ernie to mostly focus on the band’s ’70s output, including tunes such as “Who’s That Lady” and their powerful cover of the schmaltzy “Summer Breeze.” But there will be plenty of nods to their early hits, like “Twist and Shout.”
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA
The eclectic Journeys in Sound series is back for another season. This date presents the debut performance by the trio of Swedish accoridonist and singer Sunniva Brynnel, Indian pianist Utsav Lal, and American double bassist Dan Klingsberg. Cannary Islands violinist Tania Mesa opens.
– Noah Schaffer
Belichick and Brady: Two Men, The Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football
January 10 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
It’s no secret that the Patriots are one of the most controversial teams in all of football. The pride of the Bay State, they are widely hated by football fans outside of new England — both for their winning streaks and controversial game play chicanery. The co-host of WEEI’s Dale and Holley Show comes to Cambridge to talk sports, legacy, and deflated balls.
Jason Diamond in conversation with Isaac Fitzgerald
Searching for John Hughes: Or, Everything I Thought I Needed To Know About Life I Learned From Watching 80′s Movies
A post-screening discussion of The Breakfast Club
January 12 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
Free, tickets to film are $12
John Hughes movies ruled the ’80s teen drama genre, combining adolescent angst and a subtle take on social status with a strong eye for character. Jason Diamond has been a Hughes fan ever since he fell in love with the director’s films as a way to survive his broken childhood home. His new book explores his personal obsession with Hughes movies. He will sit down with author Issac Fitzgerald following a special screening of Hughes’ masterpiece The Breakfast Club at the Coolidge Corner Theater.
– Matt Hanson