Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Frederick Wiseman at the MFA
through April 21
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA
Wiseman’s films are back at the MFA — leading up to his sold-out appearance. This is a rare opportunity to sample rarely screened films from the master of observational documentary cinema. Still to come:
Public Housing, Sunday, April 16, 2:30 p.m. – 5:55 p.m.
Ballet Wednesday, April 19, 3:30 p.m. – 6:25 p.m.
Central Park, Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
High School 2, Thursday, April 20, 3:30 p.m. – 7:10 p.m.
Missile Thursday, April 20, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Aspen Friday, April 21, 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Zoo Friday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.
Public Housing Saturday, April 22, 10:30 a.m. – 1:55 p.m.
– Tim Jackson
GSS Concert: Ballet
April 21 & 22 at 8pm; April 23 at 6 p.m.
Green Street Studios, Cambridge, MA
Green Street Studios’ new “Genre Specific Shared Concerts” provides audiences an opportunity to widen their familiarity with local companies who do work in a particular genre. This upcoming ballet-focused performance features such notable artists and groups as Tony Williams Ballet Company, Kevin Jenkins, Boston Ballet II, Tai Jimenez, D SunDanceX, and Island Moving Company.
April 21 & 22 at 8 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art
World Music/CRASHarts presents Maureen Fleming, whose work is described as “surreal movement poetry,” at the ICA next week. Fleming performs her own interpretation of butoh through her work B. Madonna, which first debuted in New York four years ago. Note: This performance contains nudity.
– Merli V. Guerra
Chill by Eleanor Burgess. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theater at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through April 16.
The world premiere of a “new bittersweet drama about all life throws you between 18 and 28. The play follows four Massachusetts teens across a decade of change in America, and is inspired by the real-life experiences of playwright (and Brookline, MA native) Eleanor Burgess.” Arts Fuse review
Everyman by Carol Anne Duffy. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Staged by Apollinaire Theatre at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA, through May 6.
“One of the great primal, spiritual myths, Everyman asks whether it is only in death that we can understand our lives. A cornerstone of English drama since the 15th century, this new adaptation was presented by the National Theatre in London in 2015.”
Paradise by Laura Maria Censabella. Directed by Shana Gozansky. Staged by the Underground Railway Theater, a Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production, at the Central Square Theater, through May 7.
The world premiere of a new play “about a Muslim-American teenager in the Bronx who wishes to pursue her passion for science and her mentor Dr. Royston, a mysterious scientist forced to teach high school biology.” Starring Barlow Adamson and Caitlin Nasema Cassidy.
Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. Directed by Summer L. Williams. Produced by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through May 7.
A comedy that deals with the members of the O’Mallery family as it gathers “in their local park to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister. They are the kind of family that comes to an intervention armed with a Taser, even though their own downward spirals rival hers. But that’s only the beginning as familial and cultural stereotypes are stripped away.”
The Who and the What by Ayad Akhtar. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, through May 7.
In this drama from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Akbar, “the brilliant novelist Zarina is writing about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gap between her modern life and traditional heritage. When her conservative father discovers her controversial manuscript, they all must confront the beliefs that define them.” Arts Fuse review
17 Border Crossings, created, designed, and performed by Thaddeus Phillips. Directed by Tatiano Mallarino. The Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental production is presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson/Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, located at 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, through April 29.
“The production explores one man’s many world-wide travel adventures through Hungary, Serbia, Morocco, Columbia, Holland, Mexico, and more. The history of passports, smuggling Kentucky Fried Chicken into other countries and the peculiarities of airline security — it’s all covered in this miraculous, one-man saga that unpacks how the mundane details that govern global travel become the actual journey.”
Homebody by Tony Kushner. Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner. Staged by Underground Railway Theatre at Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, April 20 through May 7.
“Holding only an outdated guidebook of Kabul, an eccentric and agoraphobic British housewife proclaims her unconsummated passion for the world. She grapples with the rich and turbulent history of Afghanistan, muses about living in the Middle East, confides to us her desire to divorce herself from the complacency of her safe life in London.” Debra Wise stars.
Every Piece of Me by Mary Conroy. Directed by by Zohar Fuller. A BU New Play Initiative production, produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, April 20 through 30.
Another family dysfunction play: “When Aine returns home to Ireland to introduce her American fiancé to her family, finding her younger sister pregnant, her mother still over-controlling, and her father suffering from a bad heart.”
Faithful Cheaters by Deborah Salem Smith. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI, April 20 through May 21.
The world premiere of “an uproarious modern comedy for modern marriages. Poppy and Theo are always working. Neither has time to pay attention to their marriage. Luckily, now there’s a nose spray for fidelity! One dose daily and presto: enhanced monogamy! Or so Theo hopes…With the future of their marriage on the line, will a weekend getaway with Poppy’s meddling mothers, spotty cell service, and a bizarre interloper go so wrong it ultimately goes right?” The cast includes Rebecca Gibel, Mauro Hantman, Anne Scurria, Stephen Thorne, and Charlie Thurston with Guest Actor Karen MacDonald.
BODY & SOLD, A Documentary Play, written by Deborah Lake Fortson. Directed by Jacqui Parker. A Roxbury Youthworks Inc. and Tempest Productions stating, with sponsorship by Department of Children and Families (MA) in the McDonough Room at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 551 Main Street, Worcester, MA on April 20 at 1:15.
Winner of a 2005 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Award, this play revolves around a selection of ‘real life’ stories of teen sex trafficking, dramatizing the experiences (drawn from interviews) of eight young survivors while it explores the raw realities of life on the margins in five American cities, including Boston.Arts Fuse interview with Deborah Lake Fortson.
The Gift Horse by Lydia R. Diamond. Directed by Jim Petosa. Staged by the New Repertory Theatre on the Main Stage at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, April 22 through May 14.
“A humorous and introspective Boston-area premiere.” The script “follows Ruth, a successful teacher and artist, whose quick and easy wit masks a painful childhood. With the support of her best friend Ernesto and therapist Brian she finally confronts her tumultuous past.”
– Bill Marx
Mark Shilansky/Rich Greenblatt
April 18 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
The learned and remarkably fluent pianist Mark Shilansky (i.e., he listens to everything, across genres, and can play pretty much anything, beautifully; see April 25, with Patrice Williamson) joins forces with the equally adventurous vibist Rich Greenblatt.
Jacob William’s Para Quintet
April 19 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Jacob William’s Para Quintet convenes some of the heaviest of the heavy cats from Boston’s jazz and free-improv scene: bassist William along with trumpeter Forbes Graham, alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, pianist Steve Lantner, and drummer Laurence Cook.
Jason Palmer Quartet
April 20 at 7 p.m.
All Saints Church, Dorchester, MA.
More and more, Jason Palmer is becoming the go-to trumpet player for composers who need someone who can play some really hard shit, understand it, and express it with the beauty that the writer intended (Jamie Baum, Greg Osby, Noah Preminger). His own music, on last hearing, was a forward-looking adaptation of hard bop (Minnie Riperton was the subject of a Palmer tribute). For this show, Palmer will be joined by Max Light on guitar, Jared Henderson on bass and Lee Fish on drums.
Jeremy Pelt Quintet
April 21 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Trumpeter Pelt’s latest album is Make Noise!, featuring pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Jonathan Barber, and percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo. Expect some version of that band tonight, working the Latin-tinged post-bop.
Cécile McLorin Salvant
April 22 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Having been featured as part of her longtime pianist Aaron Diehl’s “Jelly & George” show last month, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant returns to Boston, this time with just pianist Sullivan Fortner. Which means more McLorin Salvant. Which is good. (And, really, if you haven’t seen her yet, you’re overdue.)
April 23 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Legendary free-jazz brass player Joe McPhee (pocket cornet, valve trombone, saxes) makes a Boston appearance in this cooperative venture with trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Damon Smith, and drummer Ra-Kalam Bob Moses. McPhee’s relationship with transplanted Chicagoan Bishop (formerly with Ken Vandermark) goes back to the ’90s, when they recorded as the duo Brass City.
April 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The fine Boston singer Patrice Williamson celebrates “Ella at 100,” honoring the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald. Williamson’s new album, Comes Love, is a duo collaboration with guitarist Jon Wheatley, a tribute to Fitzgerald’s work with Joe Pass (which included six albums). The show will feature Williamson and Wheatley plus pianist Mark Shilansky, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and drummer Ron Savage.
– Jon Garelick
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
April 20-22, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Radu Lupu joins the BSO for the only Mozart piano concerto that starts and ends in a minor key (no. 24) and Andris Nelsons conducts the Requiem.
As the Spirit Moves
Presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project
April 22, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
Andrew Clark conducts BMOP and the Harvard Choruses in Michael Tippett’s still-too-apt oratorio, A Child of Our Time. Trevor Weston’s Griot Legacies is also on the program.
Presented by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
April 23, 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
– Jonathan Blumhofer
Manha de Carnaval! A Feast of Brazilian Music
April 16 at 4 p.m.
At the Wilson Chapel/Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Road, Newton, MA
Walden Chamber Players presents a program that includes: Gomes’s Sonata for Strings; Villa-Lobos’s Prelude No.2, Two Floresta Songs, Two Choros for violin and cello, Bachiannas Brazilieras No. 5, String Quartet No 3; Baden-Powell’s Samba em Preludio; Clarice Assad’s Bluezilian, and popular songs by Jobim/Chopin/Moreira.
The Bach Trios
April 21 at 8 p.m.
At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA
The Celebrity Series presents Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile: “MacArthur Grant winners, world-renowned stars, supremely gifted artists — think of them however you like, this concert is about witnessing three master musicians at the peak of their powers.”
April 21 at 8 p.m.
At Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA
April 23 at 3 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
The Boston Artists Ensemble explores “Messiaen’s ethereally beautiful meditation on war and paradise Quartet for the End of Time. Schubert’s Trout quintet — an eternal favorite — brings us to the joyful present: a veritable fountain of wonderful tunes, dancing rhythms, and amazing surprises.
proud music of the storm
April 22 at 8 p.m.
April 23 at 4 p.m.
At First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
Chameleon Arts Ensemble asks “why is it that some of the most life-affirming art emerges from suffering or tragedy? The vital, energetic “gumboot dancing” of South Africa arose from the brutal conditions of apartheid-era gold mines, and Finzi’s buoyant Bagatelles raised the spirits of weary Londoners during World War II. Composed even as he struggled with increasing deafness, Beethoven’s rarely-heard string quintet (C Major, Op. 29 The Storm) shines with optimism and joy.”
– Susan Miron
According to the influential British DJ John Peel, “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era. You may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong!” Peel was referring to David Gedge of The Wedding Present, who emerged in late 1987 to immediately fill the void left by the disintegration of The Smiths. The Wedding Present’s latest offering is 2016’s Going, Going…, a 20-track collection on which each song includes an accompanying video filmed on Gedge’s 2014 trip across the United States.
If my memory and online sources are correct, PJ Harvey’s visits to Boston are rarer than her only slightly less frequent US tours. This is all the more reason to be the House of Blues on April 17, as it might be your last opportunity for the next five years or so to see her ‘round these parts.
Unsurprisingly, Richard Thompson’s Sanders Theatre show on April 18 is sold out. Thankfully, Cambridge has plenty else to offer that same night, including the unlikely but damn cool pairing of veteran power popper Tommy Keene (click for my 2014 Arts Fuse interview) and journeyman bassist/guitarist Ivan Julian, who has recorded and performed with—among others—Richard Hell & the Voidoids, The Clash, The Fleshtones, and Matthew Sweet.
There probably isn’t a great deal of overlap among the audiences of Richard Thompson, Tommy Keene, and singer-songwriter Alynda Segarra, aka Hurray for the Riff Raff. However, it is probably just as well that Segarra will be at The Sinclair on both April 18 and 19. The two dates are part of a six-month international tour supporting The Navigator, this year’s follow-up to the 2014 breakthrough Small Town Heroes.
Those without tickets to Aimee Mann’s sold-out April 23 show at The Wilbur have two equally attractive options. One is Juliana Hatfield’s performance at The Sinclair, where she will be previewing selections from her upcoming (April 28) album Pussycat, revisiting her extensive back catalogue, and maybe even busting out something by Blake Babies and/or The Lemonheads.
On-and-off (currently off) Guided By Voices guitarist, visual artist, and children’s author Tobin Sprout (click for my 2014 Arts Fuse interview) released his latest solo album, The Universe and Me, in January. With several other albums of his own to draw from and numerous songs that he wrote for GBV at his disposal, Sprout’s April 23 appearance at Brighton Music Hall will be fine way to bring the curtain down on the weekend.
Canada’s The New Pornographers—whose name comes from either a Jimmy Swaggart quote about rock ‘n’ roll or a line in the Woody Allen movie Manhattan—released its debut Mass Romantic 17 years ago. Since then, the group has recorded six more stellar albums and seen the profiles of members Neko Case and Dan Bejar rise exponentially. Their new album, Whiteout Conditions, is the first to not include contributions from the latter, but one hardly needs to worry as long as A.C. Newman is in charge.
– Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Danny Barnes Trio
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
Barnes and his old band the Bad Livers were purveyors of Americana’s weirder side long before it was cool. Now the banjo player has teamed up with two bluegrass virtuosos, guitarist Grant Gordy and mandolinst Joe Walsh.
Del and Dawg: Del McCoury and David Grisman
Cary Hall, 1600 Mass Ave, Lexington, MA
Two bluegrass legends team up for a duo show. When they played Connecticut last year the old friends put on a relaxed but heartfelt night of both their own material and bluegrass classics. An especially interesting touch — when Grisman added some Jewish melodies to one of Del’s gospel numbers. If you can’t make it to Lexington, the two will be back in the fall for the FreshGrass festival at MassMOCA.
Dance Complex and Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
Hawaiian musician, singer, and dancer Alfiche tours around the world offering classes and concerts. His quick trip to Boston includes a hula workshop at the Dance Complex followed by a live show at the Lily Pad.
– Noah Schaffer
Peter Gizzi and Fanny Howe
Archeophonics and The Needle’s Eye: Passing Through Youth
April 19 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
As part of the popular continuing series Poets and Pints, two leading contemporary poets will read in Porter Square. Gizzi’s book is his first new work in five years. In it, he continues to develop his mastery of experimental forms, syntax, and imagery. Howe’s ambitious volume arranges its essays, short fiction, and lyrics into distinctive visual patterns. Her text aims to change our ideas about narrative chronology, telling a story that revolves around the perils and pleasures of youth.
This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class
April 20 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6)
Old South Church, Boylston St, Boston, MA
Tickets are $28.75, include pre-signed copy of the book
Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the leading lights of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The populist firebrand is a passionate advocate for economic justice and equality. She will read from her latest book, which chronicles her story of growing up in Oklahoma, part of a struggling family. That forms the basis of her analysis of how to keep the middle class afloat in difficult times.
Tough Enough: Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil
April 20 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, MA
A book that focuses on six no-nonsense, highly respected women writer-and-artists, including intellectual icons Susan Sontag and Simone Weil. Nelson tells the stories of their works and lives, focusing on their inspiring resilience in the face of indifference, ignorance, scandal, and impending death.
Somebody with A Little Hammer: Essays
April 25 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
Gaitskill is the author of a number of groundbreaking, transgressive novels and story collections, including Veronica and Two Girls, Fat and Thin. Her latest book is a series of essays that takes a counter-intuitive look at fiction writers like Updike, Gillian Flynn, and the tumultuous career of Norman Mailer. She also examines the career of porn queen Linda Lovelace and examines the ways in which friendship can be complicated by issues of power and race.
– Matt Hanson