Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
The National Center for Jewish Film 20th Annual Festival
through May 21
The National Center for Jewish Film’s festival is an outgrowth of the organization’s work as an independent nonprofit film archive, distributor & exhibitor. Their screenings proffer a vibrant slate of independent films and classic cinematic treasures from around the world. The venues are varied; a complete schedule at a glance can be found here.
through May 19
Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
A pitch-black comedy from Bulgaria that presents an engrossing image of a fractured nation: a poor middle-aged man named Petrov has worked as a linesman for the national railway company for 25 years. One day, the man finds piles of banknotes on the rails and, although he’s poor and hasn’t received his small salary for two months, he decides to hand all the money over to the police. The Transport Minister, whose ministry has recently been accused of corruption in the media, takes advantage of Petrov’s good deed and turns him, for PR purposes, into a hero, organizing a media event especially for the occasion. Things go downhill from there — no good deed goes unpunished.
May 15 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA
The Archives presents the 1962 adaption of the Melville short story produced, directed by, and starring Peter Ustinov. The great cast includes a transcendent young Terence Stamp in the title role and Robert Ryan as the ship’s demonic Master of Arms, John Claggart. There will be an introduction by Harvard historian and Melville scholar, Dennis Marnon.
David Lynch: The Art Life
through May 17
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
“The film reconstructs Lynch’s story using clips from three years’ worth of recorded interviews, archival family photos and footage, and shots of Lynch thinking, smoking, hanging with toddler daughter Lula, and creating unexamined, head-scratching art around his Hollywood Hills home. En route, he recollects his relatively happy, itinerant childhood; youthful creative leanings, friendship with mentor-painter Bushnell Keeler, time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, marriage to first wife Peggy (with whom he had a daughter, future filmmaker Jennifer), first short films, and the American Film Institute grant that helped fund Eraserhead, a movie that took five years to finish but paved the way for Lynch’s celebrated career.” (LA Times)
May 14 at 2 p.m.
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA
The Silents Please series presents a 35mm print of one of the great silent films. It is based on Frank Harris’ novel McTeague. Erich von Stroheim directed. This a lurid American story is filled with illicit passion, jealously, wild emotions, and, of course, lots and lots of greed. With live music by Jeff Rapsis.
– Tim Jackson
The Sleeping Beauty
through May 27
Boston Opera House
Now through the end of the month, Boston Ballet performs Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty, an iconic and traditional ballet whose narrative has something for both new and well versed ballet-goers. Arts Fuse review
Brand New Sidewalk
May 13 at 8 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art
Three-time Bessie Award winner Beth Gill makes her Boston debut this weekend. She presents Brand New Sidewalk at the ICA — “a sparse and elegant diptych born of questioning the value of formalism in dance” — created in collaboration with composer Jon Moniaci and lighting designer Thomas Dunn.
L.A. Dance Project
Boch Center Shubert Theatre
The Celebrity Series of Boston presents the Boston debut of Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project. Known for its multidisciplinary works, the company will perform three collaborations: Murder Ballades, Harbor Me, and On the Other Side.
SEEDS Choreographer Showcase
May 19 & 20 at 8 p.m.
Green Street Studios
SEEDS proffers a collection of works by many of Boston’s emerging choreographers in a number of genres, ranging from contemporary ballet to performance art. The performance serves as a culmination of 12 weeks’ studio and community support provided by Green Street Studios.
– Merli V. Guerra
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, 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.” Arts Fuse review
Faithful Cheaters by Deborah Salem Smith. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI, 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. Arts Fuse review
Peerless by Jiehae Park. Directed by Steven Bogart. Staged by Company One in collaboration with the Boston Public Library at the Rabb Hall, Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston St., Boston, MA, through May 27.
The Boston premiere of Park’s acclaimed black comedy: “Twin high school seniors L and M are dead-set on attending not just an Ivy League school, but the Ivy League school. With their perfect SAT scores, perfect hair, and “perfect” minority status, they think acceptance should be guaranteed. When a rival student emerges with a personal tragedy to make an admissions officer weep, however, the twins will do anything to knock out the competition.” Arts Fuse review of the 2016 Barrington Stage production of the script.
Gabriel by Moira Buffini, Directed by Weylin Symes. Staged by Stoneham Theatre at 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA, through May 14.
The New England premiere of a “riveting” tale of wartime intrigue and romance: “WWII. German occupied Guernsey Island. When a mysterious man washes up on shore with no memory of who he is, 10-year-old Estelle and her family must decide — shelter this lost stranger or turn him over to the Nazis.” The cast features Thomas Derrah, Georgia Lyman, Cheryl McMahon, Alexander Molina, and Josephine Moshiri Elwood.
Songs for a New World, Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Kyler Taustin. A Brown Box Theater Project production performed at various outdoor venues in Massachusetts, through May 14 (check website for times and locations)
This “breathtaking song cycle, weaves together the stories and voices of a diverse cast of characters in a musical journey that transcends time and space.” Performances are free.
Mary Jane by Amy Herzog. Directed by Anne Kaufmann. Staged by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through May 20.
The world premiere of a new play that celebrates reaching out to others: “Mary Jane navigates both the mundane and the unfathomable realities of caring for Alex, her chronically ill young son, she finds herself building a community of women from many walks of life. Mary Jane is Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog’s remarkably powerful and compassionate portrait of a contemporary American woman striving for grace.”
Desire, plays based on six short stories by Tennessee Williams. Directed by David J. Miller. Staged by Zeitgeist Stage at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theater, 539 Tremont St in Boston’s South End, through May 20.
The short plays, based on stories by Tennessee Williams, include: The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin by Beth Henley, The Field of Blue Children by Rebecca Gilman, Tent Worms by Elizabeth Egloff, Oriflamme by David Grimm, Desire Quenched by Touch by Marcus Gardley, and You Lied To Me About Centralia by John Guare.
My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend, Conceived and Performed by Charissa Bertels. Book and Lyrics by Christian Duhamel. Music and Lyrics by Edward Bell. Directed by Sean Daniels. At the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, through May 21.
The world premiere of a new musical that promises be an inspiration for senior citizens. The plot: “Charissa, a quirky, twenty-something actress, meets Milton, a quick-witted, eighty-something millionaire who loves Schubert, Shakespeare, and Dallas BBQ. From a chance encounter to the unlikeliest of friendships, Charissa discovers there’s much she can learn from her surprising new companion.” The show is based on the true story of performer Charissa Bertels. Arts Fuse review
The Bridges of Madison County by Marsha Norman (book) and Jason Robert Brown (music & lyrics). Based on the novel by Robert James Waller. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End, through June 3.
Was this musical really necessary? Somebody thinks so. Winner of two 2014 Tony Awards including Best Original Score, the show “tells the story of Francesca Johnson, a beautiful Italian woman who married an American soldier to escape the war, and now leads a simple but dispassionate life on an Iowa farm. On the day her family departs for a trip to the 1965 State Fair, she is surprised by Robert Kincaid, a ruggedly handsome National Geographic photographer who randomly pulls into her driveway seeking directions. A quick ride to photograph one of the famed covered bridges of Madison County sparks a soul-stirring affair for the couple, whose lives are forever altered by this chance meeting.”
The Cabinet of Curiosities — A Festival of New and Experimental works created and adapted by Boston-based Artists and Companies. Presented by Charlestown Working Theater and Theatre on Fire the Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown, MA, through May 27.
A smorgasbord of local performers strut their stuff in “a genre-defying festival of theatre, movement, music, puppetry and more, united under one theme: take a risk.” The line-up: one-act and full-length pieces from Imaginary Beasts, Anthem Theatre, Sleeping Weazel, The American Family Happily Institute, Heart & Dagger Productions, Alley Cat Theater, Exiled Theatre, Mass. Theater Experiment, Ingrid Oslund, Fool’s Journey, Travis Amiel & Riley Fox Hillyer, Laura Detwiler, Daniel Morris, and Libby Schap & Caitlin Brzezinski.
Camelot, Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Frederick Loewe Original Production Directed & Staged by Moss Hart Based on The Once and Future King by T. H. White. Adapted by David Lee. New Orchestrations by Steve Orich. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Music Director, Catherine Stornetta. Choreography by Rachel Bertone. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, May 19 through June 25.
“Spiro Veloudos closes the season with a fresh new adaptation of this beloved, classic musical. he romantic yet ultimately tragic tale of King Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table is brought into sharper focus, bursting with some of greatest songs written for the musical stage, including “If Ever I Would Leave You”, “I Loved You Once in Silence”, and the title song “Camelot.””
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Directed by Patrick Swanson. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Multicultural Arts Centers, Cambridge, MA, through June 4.
Another serving of Bottom’s dream coming up — this one with a strong local cast that includes Steven Barkhimer, Paula Plum, and Sarah Newhouse.
Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Directed by Dayenne C B Walters and Daniel Boudreau. Staged by Praxis Stage at the Dorchester Art Project, 1486 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA, through May 21.
“This five-character play centers on Angel Cruz’s decent into a harsh and hopeless criminal justice system as he awaits trial for his rash act of shooting a religious cult leader in the rear end, in a muddled effort to right the unjust way he sees the cult “steal people,” particularly his best friend, now a convert.”
Like Sheep to Water, or Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega. Directed by Mark Valdez. Translated and adapted by Curt Columbus. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at The Chace Theater, Providence, Rhode Island, through June 11.
“A modern, music-infused retelling of the classic Spanish story of tyranny overthrown. In 15th-century Spain, a menacing Commander terrorizes a small town’s citizens—especially the women. Pushed to their limit, the people of Fuente Ovejuna rise up against their oppressor in a fierce act of unity and bravery.” Lope de Vega’s masterpiece gets a contemporary facelift — sounds intriguing, if dangerous.
Dead Man’s Diary: A Theatrical Novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Avenue, Needham, MA, through June 4.
The script is based on “Bulgakov’s own experiences at the famous Moscow Art Theatre of the 1920s and 30s, and reaches its comic height in a merciless lampooning of Konstantin Stanislavsky’s fashionable stage techniques. Full of affectionately drawn characters, it is a brilliant, absurdist tale of the exhilaration and black desperation wrought on one man by his turbulent love affair with the theatre.”
Bold Moves, four one-act plays by Tricia Elam Walker. Directed by Dillon Bustin. At Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Roxbury, MA, May 19 through 21.
“This quartet of contemporary short plays about friendship, race, intimacy and responsibility contains haunting themes and a kaleidoscope of human stories. The people we meet in Walker’s one-act plays captivate us as they navigate and try to make sense of their complex worlds. Plays include: Bold Moves, The Widows’ Club, Mani-Pedi, and Maternity Ward.”
How to be a Rock Critic, co-written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. Based on the writings of Lester Bangs. Directed by Jessica Blank. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Paramount Center, Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, Boston, MA, through May 21.
“Part Gonzo rock performance, part mental breakdown — all thrillingly theatrical” this show pulls the greatest hits from Lester Bangs’ own legendary words to imagine a single night of his turbulent life.” Erik Jensen stars in this one-man show.
Boston Theater Marathon XIX and the Warm-Up Laps, presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion in the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, on May 14.
“Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT) presents the 19th annual Boston Theater Marathon and the ninth year of The Warm-Up Laps. This year’s Boston Theater Marathon features 50 ten-minute plays, written by 53 New England playwrights, and produced by 50 New England theatres in ten hours.” I hope you have been working out — this can be an endurance test for the audience.
Arrabal Book by John Weidman. Music by Gustavo Santaolalla / Bajofondo. Choreographed by Julio Zurita. Directed and co-choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through June 17.
“A new tango-infused dance theater piece,” this musical “follows one woman’s quest to understand the violence that took her father and disrupted a nation. Told through dance and propulsive music, the show features an ensemble and band, Orquesta Bajofonderos, direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina.”
La Llorona by Cecelia Raker. Directed by Stephanie Lebolt. Staged by Fresh Ink Theatre at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston, MA, through May 20.
We are promised a “scary good story.” “When Maria, Rachel, and Molly got thrown together on a school project about the local urban legend, they didn’t quite bargain for some horrifying teary murderess ghost lady to start messing with their lives. La Llorona, with her irreverent, haunting advice and constantly changing faces, seems intent on steering them away from her fate–or is she just luring them to a watery, weeping demise?”
– Bill Marx
Jason Anick and Jason Yeager
Wednesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
Jason A. (on violin and mandolin) and pianist Jason Y. have been venturing across genres together since they were teenagers. This release event for their new album United finds them in the company of frequent collaborators Greg Loughman (on bass) and Mike Connors (on drums), joined by guest saxophonist Clay Lyons and maybe a few surprise visitors.
Thursday, May 18, 8 p.m.
Scullers, Boston, MA
Riding the zeitgeist with his recent Meditations on Freedom, saxophonist Preminger comes to Scullers to celebrate the album’s release with (we think) trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman.
Friday, May 19, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
In a big week for album releases, the pianist and her trio (with bassist Brad Barrett and drummer Scott Goulding) launch her new recording of originals and modern standards, Pathways, at the Regattabar.
Makanda Project featuring Oliver Lake
Saturday, May 20, 7 p.m.
Boston Public Library Dudley Branch, Boston, MA
Saxophone master Oliver Lake joins the eponymous Roxbury-based ensemble in a program mingling Lake’s compositions with those of Makanda Ken McIntyre.
– J.R. Carroll
La Rondine – Remix
Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
May 17, 19, and 21, 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MNA
BOC reworks and resets Puccini’s classic to 1950s Paris.
Presented by Back Bay Chorale
May 14, 3 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
Scott Allen Jarrett and the BBC perform Haydn’s brilliant, inventive score with the Orchestra of the Back Bay Chorale and soloists Jacquelyn Stucker, William Hite, and Philip Cutlip.
Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
May 14, 18, and 20, 7:30 p.m. (4 p.m. on Sunday)
Central Square Theater, Cambridge
BOC offers three different presentations that showcase the depth and versatility of the company: Sigourney Tanner’s “What am I doing here” (on the 14th); Sophie Michaux and Adam Simon in various French, Argentine, and Yiddish songs, et al. (on the 18th); and Lee Hoiby’s Julia Child-inspired Bon Apetit! (on the 20th).
Rubinstein’s The Demon
Presented by Commonwealth Lyric Theater
May 18 and 20, 8 p.m.
Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston, MA
CLT brings Anton Rubinstein’s supernatural thriller to Boston. Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts.
No Texting Please
Presented by WordSong
May 19, 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s Church, Brookline
The Arneis Quartet plays music by Howard Frazin, Tom Schnauber, and Andy Vores, plus Leos Janáček’s String Quartet no. 1.
– Jonathan Blumhofer
Boston Chamber Music Society
May 14 at 7:30 p.m.
At the Sanders Theatre/Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
On the program: Gustav Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A minor; Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s String Sextet in D major, Op. 10 (1915); Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in A major, Op. 2.
Boston Choral Ensemble: Cosmos
May 14 at 6:30 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
At the Museum of Science/Hayden Planetarium, 1 Science Park, Boston, MA
On the program: Music of Ēriks Ešenvalds, Randall Stroope, Robert Schumann, others.
May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
At the Second Church in Newton, 60 Highland Street, West Newton, MA
The title of the program: Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe and other 19th Century Lieder. The concert features “a stunning piano from 1870s Vienna.”
Members of A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra & Triple Helix Piano Trio
May 21 at 3 p.m.
At the Rivers School Conservatory/A. Ramon Rivera Recital Hall, 333 Winter Street, Weston, MA
This program –Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Brahms’ Piano Quintet — features two of Vienna’s “favorite sons” in their most beloved quintets. Listening across the musical landscape of 19th century Eastern-European culture, we celebrate these composers who were influential in shaping and transforming the language of music. Pre-concert talk at 2:15 p.m.
– Susan Miron
Tommy Stinson’s (click for my Arts Fuse interview) return to the band Bash & Pop after 25 years was way too successful to be limited to one tour, which included a stop at Great Scott earlier this year. Luckily for those for whom there wasn’t room in that 240-person venue, Bash & Pop will visit the Middle East Downstairs on May 16. Its capacity of 575 will surely accommodate many who missed them before. Opening acts: Goddamn Draculas and Me In Capris.
Several North Shore venues have succeeded grandly in not only attracting major talent to the area, but in bringing them back. On April 20, 2016, blues legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy enraptured a sold-out crowd at The Cabot. (Click here for my review.) On May 18, just more than a year later, the 80-year-old multiple-Grammy winner will return to the same spot and likely to an audience of equal magnitude.
9 Wallis is the newest listening room in the somewhat unlikely live performance Mecca of Beverly, MA. The venue has hosted or will be hosting stand-up comics, writers (including Carter Alan, author of The Decibel Diaries, which The Arts Fuse’s Jason M. Rubin recently reviewed), and music acts of myriad genres. On May 18, Nirvanish will offer up a faithful interpretation of Nirvana’s immortal 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
English singer-songwriter Laura Marling turned 18 in 2008. That year, she released her first album (Alas, I Cannot Swim), played on the debut by Noah and the Whale (of which she was a member at the time), and received her first Mercury Prize nomination. Since then, Marling has released five more albums, including this year’s Semper Femina, and has been nominated for or received one British music award after another. (And Suzanne Vega is a fan.) Boston-area folks will be lucky enough to see her live on Tuesday night when the Paradise Rock Club has the good fortune of hosting her.
– Blake Maddux
Roots and World Music
Journeys in Sound presents “Hindustani & Ottoman Music Explorations”
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA
You don’t have to play the sitar and tablas to be a master of Hindustani Indian classical music. Take pianist Utsav Lal, who’ll be showcasing his ragas on a bill that also includes Ottoman music masters the Cesni Duo and a short set from saxophonist Sylvie Leys.
Skippy White’s 56th Gospel Anniversary
Charles St. AME Church, Dorchester, MA
Legendary Boston record store owner and radio host Skippy White celebrates his anniversary with Atlanta’s excellent Walt Beasley and the Gospel Explosions, plus many of Boston’s own stars, such as Bishop Harold Branch and the Spiritual Encouragers. And there’s an extra special treat: Nonagenarian Deacon Randy Green is slated to sing with his a cappella Silver Leaf Gospel Singers.
– Noah Schaffer
Since We Fell
May 15 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
$28.75 with book, $5 without
The author of Boston classics such as Mystic River comes to Cambridge to read from his latest novel, which concerns a journalist who has become a shut-in after an on-air mental breakdown. Kirkus reviews calls the book “a crafty, ingenious tale of murder and deception” Lehane is known as a great public reader, so better get your tickets before they sell out.
May 17 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
The literary world is abuzz over Ko’s debut novel, which won the 2016 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The main character’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, inexplicably goes missing from her job at a nail salon. The narrator, a suddenly orphaned 11-year-old, is adopted by a white family and given a new name and, ostensibly, a new life. Mother and son alternately tell their stories in what has already been called, by some critics, one of the best books of the year.
– Matt Hanson