Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual arts, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Belmont World Film (BWF)
All screenings are on Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA, through May 14.
This 17th Annual International Film Series promotes cross-cultural cultural performances as well as ethnic cuisine via Monday screenings of international feature films, documentaries, animation, and shorts. The line-up features (mostly) premieres of some of the best in international film. Check the schedule for further dining and cultural opportunities brought to you by this unique organization. Schedule of films and events.
through April 27
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Abbas Kiarostami’s final film is a minimalist hymn to the capturing of images.
“In each of 24 Frames’ shots, a motionless picture comes alive, functioning like an artful screensaver. Aside from the first entry, the frames are inspired by photographs that Kiarostami himself took and then embellished upon, adding sound, movement (often animals wandering around), and weather, creating a miniature environment from a perfectly composed still image. Each one’s four-and-a-half-minute running time is long enough to encourage the viewer to pick specific details out of the picture, or to simply let it wash over them.” (The Atlantic) Arts Fuse review
What Will People Say
April 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Studio Cinema, Belmont, MA
Based extensively on the director’s experience as a teenage daughter of Pakistani immigrants in Norway, the film represents a doomed quest to reconcile worldviews and cultures that stand in fundamental opposition to each other. Pakistani immigrants living in Norway send their 16 year-old daughter away to live with relatives in Pakistan after she is caught kissing her secret Norwegian boyfriend, only to return to Norway after innocently bringing shame to the family yet again. Co-presented by the Scandinavian Cultural Center. Speaker: Dr. Naheed Usmani, Professor of Pediatric Oncology at UMass Medical Center who founded a number of Pakistani organizations in the US and Pakistan.
April 25 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA
Tom McCarthy’s moving 2007 drama will be followed by a discussion about undocumented immigration. Part of the Wide Lens film series, which provides a forum for community conversation on pressing social issues and underrepresented perspectives.
Apr 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
Once a month TRASH NIGHT selects one F-grade, sub-cult cinematic wonder and unleashes it on an unsuspecting audience – with original video weirdness seeded throughout. This is one of the rare times at the Brattle when audience participation is not only encouraged, it’s required!
Independent Film Festival Boston
April 25–May 2
Somerville, Brattle, and Coolidge Corner Theaters
The festival opens this year with Eighth Grade, written and directed by Bo Burnham, who will make an appearance. “Burnham shows a sociolinguist’s ear for the cadence and flow of 21st-century girl-speak, and [Elsie] Fisher delivers his dialogue so naturally, you’d swear she’s making it up as she goes along.” In addition to some excellent shorts, here are a few suggestions to start your week. All films screen at the Somerville Theatre if not otherwise indicated:
Madeline’s Madeline at 9:45 explores the line between being in a performance and being yourself in what has been called a “bold and most invigorating film.”
Leave No Trace at 7 p.m. Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) directs Ben Foster as father who is living in a park with his 13-year-old daughter when the authorities are tipped off of a small mistake and it changes their lives forever. Based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock.
Intelligent Lives at 7:30 | This documentary with strong Boston-area ties stars three young American adults with intellectual disabilities who challenge perceptions of ‘intelligence’ as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. The film unpacks the shameful, ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of the film’s central characters by chronicling the emotional story of his son Jesse.
Boom for Real at 9:45 explores the early years of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, looking at his extraordinary breadth of creative influences, from graffiti to bebop jazz to Hollywood cinema.
Three Identical Strangers at 7:15 is a wild documentary that tracks our obsession with twins and triplets, the nature vs. nurture debate, and our notions of what it means to be separated at birth. The film infuses its narrative with plenty of darkness; it will send a frigid chill up the spine of anyone who thought they were in for a jaunty documentary version of The Parent Trap (Sundance).
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda at 4:15. Sakamoto has had a prolific career that spans over four decades. From techno-pop stardom to Oscar-winning film composer, the evolution of his music has coincided with stops on his life journeys With the Yellow Magic Orchestra, he inspired the sound of hip-hop, electro, and techno.
Don’t Leave Home at 9:15. Independent film mainstay, writer, critic, actor and filmmaker Michael Tully (Septian, Ping Pong Summer) tries his hand at a slow burn horror film set on the crumbling estate of a reclusive painter in Ireland.
The Godfathers of Hardcore at 9:30. In this film, Vinnie Stigma asks “You’re a band, you know what that means? Once you’re in, you can’t get out.” Is he talking about a band or a gang? The separation between the two has been pretty thin for legendary New York hardcore band Agnostic Front, which played a key role in defining, shaping, and establishing the sound and cultural code of conduct for the hardcore movement.
Life Without Basketball at 12:45 p.m. Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir broke records and barriers on her way to becoming the first Division I basketball player to be in the game while wearing a hijab. When a controversial ruling ends her chances at playing professionally, she re-examines her faith and identity as a Muslim American. From local filmmakers Jon Mercer and Tim O’Donnell.
On Chesil Beach at 4:30 p.m. Adapted by Ian McEwan from his novel, which revolves around an act of masturbation. The film explores the parts that sex and social pressure play in physical intimacy. The drama centers on an awkward and fateful wedding night between a young couple of drastically different backgrounds in the summer of 1962. Saoirse Ronan stars.
First Reformed at 6 p.m. A pastor (Ethan Hawke) starts to spiral out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried) in the latest thriller by Paul Schrader.
Hearts Beat Loud at 7:30 p.m. In Brett Haley’s film, which stars Nick Offerman, a father and daughter become an unlikely songwriting duo during the summer before the girl leaves for college.
Nico 1988 at Brattle Theatre at 9:45 p.m. Exploring the German singer’s life after her ’60s fame had waned, writer/director Susanna Nicchiarelli and star Trine Dyrholm craft a late-career biopic that is not only as a portrait of a complex figure, but examines the considerable toll on an artist when he or she dares not to conform.
Disobedience at 7 p.m. at Coolidge Corner Theatre. Director Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman) explores the boundaries of faith and sexuality when a woman (Rachel Weisz,) returns to the Jewish community that shunned her years earlier because of her attraction to a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams).
Damsel at 9:30 p.m. at Coolidge Corner Theatre. An affluent pioneer ventures across the American frontier to marry the love of his life. As his group traverses the west, the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain, and heroine. Starring Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska.
Lovesick at 2:45 p.m. In 1986, Dr. Suniti Solomon discovered India’s first case of HIV. 25 years later, India has learned how to produce its own anti-retroviral medications. At 72, and in the twilight of her career, Dr. Solomon has now taken on a new role: marriage matchmaker. Directed by local filmmakers Ann S. Kim & Priya Giri Desai.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor at 7:30 p.m. at Coolidge Corner Theatre. Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, and his beloved television show changed the face of children’s programming. This is a touching and insightful survey of Rogers’ career and his capacity to explore complex themes through the lens of a kid’s program — one that took a dead-serious approach to his young viewers’ needs. From Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom).
Modern Life is Rubbish
April 27 through May 3
Regent Theater in Arlington, MA
To celebrate Record Store Day, the Regent Theater presents for one week this charming film about an anti-corporate London rock guitarist Liam (Josh Whitehouse) who refuses to use a cellphone or stoop to social media lest he contaminate his high ideals. He is rewinding from a painful breakup and meets a new love, but tensions develop as Liam and his two bandmates struggle to develop a signature sound and land a manager for their group, Headcleaner. Director Daniel Jerome Gill structures the nonlinear film as a series of flashbacks intercut with a contemporary timeline. Selected tracks include performances from The Smiths, Oasis, Radiohead. and other ’80s and ’90s bands. The tunes lend the plot a cool sense of nostalgia.
April 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Studio Cinema, Belmont, MA
Belmont World Film 2018: An unmarried teenage couple spend an interminable evening roaming from one Tehran hospital to another and one med school friend to another in an effort to find a surgeon who will perform surgery after a botched abortion, which was gotten without the girl’s father’s permission. Speaker: Dr. Zahra Lotfi, a Middle Eastern Studies scholar who focuses on women’s issues, originally from Afghanistan who completed her studies in Iran.
The National Center for Jewish Film’s Annual Film Festival
May 2 – May 13
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The NCJF annual festival is a vibrant program of new independent films and restored classics from around the world, with visiting filmmakers and scholars.
May 2, 7 p.m.
A look at the life and work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The quiet warrior’s rise to the nation’s highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring Ginsburg’s exceptional life and career.
May 3 at 6:30 p.m.
A lyrical new documentary showcasing the world behind the scenes at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Across The Waters (Fuglene over Sundet) (Denmark, 2017)
May 5 at 4 p.m.
Unsure of whom they can trust, a Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark: a gripping story of survival and rescue.
The Cakemaker (Germany/Israel, 2017)
May 5 at 6:30 p.m.
A German pastry maker travels to Jerusalem in a search for the wife and son of his dead lover.
The Prince And The Dybbuk (Poland/Germany, 2017)
May 6 at 2 p.m.
“He is remembered as a Polish aristocrat, Hollywood producer, a reprobate and liar, an open homosexual and husband to an Italian countess, and director of The Dybbuk, one of the most important Jewish films of all time. But who, really, was Michał Waszyński?”
The Dybbuk (Poland, 1937)
May 6 at 4 p.m.
Restored. A mystical tale of star-crossed lovers and supernatural possession
The Last Suit (El Último Traje) (Argentina/Spain, 2017, 86 min.).
May 6 at 7:30 p.m.
In this bittersweet road movie, an aging Jewish tailor leaves his life in Argentina to embark on a journey back through time and halfway around the world.,
The Invisibles (Die Unsichtbaren) (Germany, 2017)
May 10 at 5 p.m.
A suspenseful true drama tracing the machinations of four young Jews hiding in plain sight in Berlin during WWII.
Shelter (Israel/Germany/France, 2017)
May 10, 7:30 – 9:15 p.m.
A Mossad agent is sent on a mission to protect a Lebanese informer while she recovers from plastic surgery. What should be an easy assignment quickly turns into a labyrinth of espionage and intrigue inside a safe house. With Golshifteh Farahanis from Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson.
The Cakemaker (Germany/Israel, 2017)
May 11, 2 p.m.
Thomas, a young German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who has frequent business visits in Berlin. When Oren dies in a car crash in Israel, Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking for answers regarding his death.
An Act Of Defiance (Netherlands/South Africa, 2017)
May 11, 7 p.m.
Balancing a political thriller with courtroom intrigue the film pays tribute to the legendary figures who fought to end segregation and corruption during a dark period in South Africa’s recent history.
Heading Home (USA, 2018)
May 13, 2 p.m.
A stirring story of sports, patriotism ,and personal growth, the film charts the underdog struggles of Israel’s national baseball team when it competed, for the first time, in the World Baseball Classic. After years of defeat, Team Israel finally ranked among the world’s best in 2017.
Smile Til It Hurts, The Up With People Story
May 4 at 8 p.m.
Somerville Theater Micro Cinema, Somerville, MA
Lee Storey examines the story of the music group Up With People, the relentlessly upbeat bulwark of TV variety shows in the ’60s & ’70s. Seemingly perpetually on tour, this peppy youth choir was embraced by everyone from Billy Graham to Richard Nixon. It was a Super Bowl Half-Time mainstay! But, behind the scenes, cult-like conditions are alleged! Arranged marriages! Shady corporate sponsors & weird politics! See the documentary that dares to tell the whole truth behind Up With People!
— Tim Jackson
Through April 29
Sanctuary Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Moving Violations is a pivotal production for Cambridge staple José Mateo Ballet Theatre. The production marks the final performances by JMBT’s repertory company before going on hiatus for the 2018-19 season, as the organization searches for a new artistic director. Moving Violations includes three original works by Mateo, including his final ballet premiere. Viewers are invited to a special talk back with Mateo following the April 20th performance.
The Harvard Dance Project
Three world premieres by noteworthy choreographers Chanel DaSilva, Shamel Pitts, and Peter Chu created for, and performed by, the Harvard Dance Project student dancers. The evening includes “WILL” by Shamel Pitts, “PUBLIC/private” by Chanel DaSilva, and “Fitting Out” by Peter Chu. Viewers should be aware that DaSilva’s work contains “sensitive material addressing sexual harassment and assault which may bring up varied emotions.” HDP encourages everyone in the audience to take care of themselves and step out if needed.
Every Body Dances
April 27 at 8 p.m., and April 28 at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Longtime Boston choreographer Lynn Modell presents Every Body Dances — an evening the examines social conventions and expectations along with the musicality of movement. The concert encourages laughter, emotional response, and the opportunity for audience members to participate, physically. Modell’s 16 dancers include both local dance veterans and some new to Boston, demonstrating that “everyone can and should dance.” Brooklyn-based musician and artist Eli Sundae makes a guest appearance.
Baby’s First Show
April 27 & 28 at 8 p.m., and April 29 at 7 p.m.
The Dance Complex
Ruckus Dance presents its first evening-length production after over two years of appearances in local festivals and split bills. Directed by self-defined “anti-choreographer” Michael Figueroa, Baby’s First Show consists of group works, duets, and solos that deal with topics ranging from the end of the world to physical prowess. Note to viewers: this production contains nudity and loud noises.
And further afield...
The Dance Collective
May 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Hog River Brewing Company
The Dance Collective returns to Hog River Brewing Company with another casual evening of dance. Viewers are invited to enjoy a drink while watching contemporary dance works unfold in this nontraditional setting. The performance highlights female choreographers and dancers from across the United States; the brewery serves as the stage for the exploration themes of empowerment and strength, as told through dance.
— Merli V. Guerra
Lived Space: Humans and Architecture
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA
Through September 30
About this show, deCordova Curatorial Assistant Scout Hutchinson states that “from its humblest manifestation as a source of shelter to an art form that activates the imagination, architecture permeates our daily lives.” This fascinating exhibition of photography, painting, and drawings explores the harmonious, or sometimes contradictory, relationship of humans to architectural spaces. The perspective moves from the psychological charge given off by wallpapered interiors to dramatizing the artistic imagination’s response to the limits of reality.
Daniel Feldman – Specific Gravity
Bromfield Gallery, 450 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA
Through April 29
Feldman’s pictures set out to generate sensations of sublimity. “I like that feeling,” he has said. “Decision-making floats on a raft of intuition.” Each step and choice in his creative process is chronicled in his heavily nuanced abstractions; the artist digitally ‘paints’ while combining and manipulating his images in Photoshop. The work could be easily mistaken for oil paintings.
Self Made: Kate Shepherd
Krakow Witkin Gallery, 10 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Through May 5
New York based artist Kate Shepherd’s artistic practice has undergone a shift, at least that is the impression left by her third solo exhibition at this small, prestigious gallery. Regarding her creative process, Shepard first applies a glossy reflective enamel in linear strokes on canvases. She then places these mirror-like pictures around her studio, capturing, with painted enamel ink, the ghost-like reflections of the room’s light fixtures. Her curious work, with its filmic qualities, will capture yet another layer of reflections once it is placed in the gallery space. These pieces are accompanied by two minimalist bronze sculptures that show the diversity of her vision and talent.
33° at Bell Gallery, List Art Building, Brown University, 64 College Street, Providence, RI, through May 27.
This exhibition, accompanied by public artworks, explores ice melt and climate change featuring the work of a group of international artists including sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard and photographers Olaf Otto Becker, Camille Seaman, James Balog, Jean de Pomereu, and Iain Brownlie Roy. Visitors can encounter Kirkegaard’s forty-minute soundspace “Isfald” (Icefall), a recording made at the Illulisat ice fjord in Greenland that will allow visitors to hear the variety of sounds produced by melting, cracking glaciers. Photomurals by Becker, Seaman, Balog, de Pomereu, and Roy will be displayed on the exterior of buildings across Brown’s campus.
Landscapes and Streetscapes of Jamaica Plain
Through April 30
Massachusetts State House, Room 243, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
Intimately capturing the pulse of her lively community, Robin Radin has been taking photographs of her neighborhood for over 35 years. This local exhibit is hung proudly on the walls of State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez’s office. The public is welcome to call and schedule a viewing of this intimate and dynamic display. Images vary from picturesque landscapes, such as the Arnold Arboretum and the Emerald Necklace parklands, to sights of vibrant community gathering places and the diverse street life of the commercial districts.
Sculptors on Paper
May 3 through August 19
Childs Gallery, 169 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Offering a taste of the unexpected, this gallery exhibition presents lesser known, two-dimensional works from several respected artists who are have been recognized for their brilliance in sculpture. The works range from Alexander Calder’s whimsical compositions of playful shapes and color to Louise Nevelson’s dark monochromatic prints: it is fascinating to see how their ideas transfer onto paper.
SKINS: Work by Marsha Nouritza Odabashian
April 24 through June 3
The Armenian Museum of America, 65 Main Street, Watertown, MA
As a child, artist Marsha Nouritza Odabashian listened closely to her grandmother’s stories of the Armenian Genocide. Driven by this spirit of replenishing memory, she creates works that dramatize the hidden marks and bruises that come when applying traditional onion skin dyes to textured paper. In this show she also includes pieces from her Reliquaries series – these are poetic, low relief sculptures inspired by “the stone carvings on the 10th century Armenian cathedral of Aght’amar and the magical drawings of Armenian illuminated manuscripts.” This is monumental,yet, fragile work, dedicated to the Armenia genocide’s victims and survivors.
Through May 5
The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, Cambridge, MA
‘Reimagining the Black Body’ through a deconstruction of its histories and representations, this highly anticipated, ground breaking multi-media exhibition is a reinterpretation of a show that was initially presented at New York University’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy. Curated by Awam Amkpa, the exhibition “links classical and popular representations of African bodies in European art, culture, and history as it interprets and interrogates the “Blackamoor” trope in Western culture that emerged at the intersection of cross-cultural encounters shaped by centuries of migration, exchange, conquest, servitude, and exile.”
Through May 6
Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main Street, Hartford, CT
“I am inspired by anything visual or verbal – or even real life.”- Edward Gorey
This unique and curious exhibition focuses on the personal collection (gifted to the Wadsworth Atheneum) of the highly acclaimed and prolific artist. Gorey’s dark and gothic, yet witty and playful, illustrations take on new resonance when seen in the context of this vast collection of 73 works on paper by Édouard Manet, Charles Meryon, Eugène Atget, Albert York and others as well as anonymous folk art. Arts Fuse review
– Aimee Cotnoir
Pathways to Freedom Installation
Boston Common, April 25 through May 2.
Internationally-acclaimed social sculptor Julia Vogli is the force behind JArts’ ambitious public art project. The work will be inspired by the universal themes of the Passover Exodus story. The artist will engage with a broad multi-cultural audience from across the city in a community-wide dialogue focusing on issues of freedom and immigration.
“Julia’s artwork will reflect the hundreds of conversations she will have in the Greater Boston area, asking people from all backgrounds about their journeys to freedom. Drawing inspiration from these stories, and the symbolism within a Passover seder, Vogli will create a larger than life visual representation on the Boston Common.”
— Bill Marx
McMullen Museum of Art, Daley Family and Monan Galleries
Boston College, 2101 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA
Through June 3
Jun is a Chinese painter from the Shandong Province (near the sacred Mount Tai), a place historically associated with such religious traditions as Taoism and Confucianism. Jun’s aesthetic approach is firmly rooted in traditional Chinese aesthetics, but it also takes considerable inspiration from the painters of the New York School, such as Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler. Jun’s painting isn’t just dedicated to depicting nature — it embodies it through the stroke of a brush or a swirl of color. As the Boston Globe put it in a rave review of the show: “his stance insists he be awake to nature twice: imbibing it, and expressing it.”
— Matt Hanson
Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill. Adapted and directed by Scott Edmiston. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through May 5.
The Lyric Stage production of Anna Christie does right by Eugene O’Neill’s brilliance. Arts Fuse review
Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías. Directed by Christie Vela. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at 201 Washington St. in Providence, RI, through May 6.
A excursion into feuding next-door-neighbor genre comedy: “Pablo and Tania are new to the neighborhood. Virginia and Frank have been fixtures in the area for decades. They all agree that the chain link fence separating their yards has got to go! A quick replacement with a stately wooden fence will arrive just in time to impress both Pablo’s bosses and the judges viewing Frank’s elaborate English garden. Everyone starts off on the right foot, but [then] the truth about that old fence is revealed and Tania’s vision of native plants and wild flowers doesn’t align with Frank’s pesticide-dependent masterpiece.”
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, through May 6.
Another outing for one of the Bard’s most popular romantic comedies. “Benedick is never getting married. Not ever. And Beatrice can’t imagine loving a man she can’t tolerate! They might just be the perfect couple. While the villain Don Jon sows seeds of rumor and discord, the success of two noble marriages hinges on the hilarious efforts of local constables.”
Top Girls by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Liesl Tommy. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, through May 20.
Yet another revival of Churchill’s venerable 1982 play. It will be interested to see if the script holds up today. “Career-driven Marlene has just landed the top job at a London employment agency” in a play about “the sacrifices required to be a ‘top girl’ in a man’s world.” Arts Fuse review
The Women Who Mapped the Stars by Joyce Van Dyke. Directed by Jessica Ernst. Staged by the Nora Theatre Company (the inaugural production in The Brit d’Arbeloff Women in Science Production Series. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production) at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through May 20.
The world premiere of a script (part of what seems to be a series of similar stage narratives) that tells “the untold story of brave women in science who paved the way for previously impossible advances in astronomy.” “Late 1800s, Harvard College Observatory. ‘Computers’ – women employed for half a man’s salary to analyze astronomic data — show us that the universe is larger than we ever dreamed. The thrilling story of five women who changed the way astronomers saw the universe – from scientist to scientist and generation to generation.”
The Age of Innocence, adapted from the Edith Wharton novel by Douglas McGrath. Directed by Doug Hughes. Staged by Hartford Stage Company at 50 Church Street, Hartford CT, through May 6.
The world premiere of a stage version of Wharton’s classic, somewhat nostalgic, yarn about a not-to-be romance. Franky, given the rise of #MeToo, the writer’s House of Mirth, her story of a gifted young woman’s downwardly mobile journey through Gilded Age corruption, abuse, and indifference would be more appropriate.
The Tour by Alice Abracen. Directed by Lelaina Vogel, with voice and text Coaching by Daniel Thomas Blackwell. Staged by The Underlings Theatre Co at the Chelsea Theatre Works Black Box, 89 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea, MA, May 3 through 12.
The script follows a Canadian tourist and a local tour guide as they explore desert ruins on the Iraq-Syria border, one week before ISIS is expected to lay siege to the area.
Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally. Directed by David Miller. Staged by Zeitgeist Stage Company at the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts April 27 through May 19.
A revival of the 1995 Tony Award winner for Best Play: “at a beautiful Dutchess County farmhouse, eight gay male friends hash out their passions, resentments, and fears over the course of thee summer weekends.”
Sex and Other Disturbances by Marisa Smith. Directed by Nadia Tass. Staged by Portland Stage, 25A Forest Ave, Portland, ME, May 1 through 20.
The world premiere of a script that promises to add a new twist to your standard comic sex romp: “Instead of a strong male gaze aimed at a female ingénue, we see Sarah, a woman in middle age, gazing at a younger man in her acting classes and dishing about it with her best friend Ruth. As Sarah contemplates an affair, she and Ruth must negotiate how this will affect their relationship. When your friendship has been through it all: school, boyfriends, husbands, children, the works— what happens when a little fling threatens to change everything?”
Allegiance Book by Mark Acito, Jay Kuo & Lorenzo Thione. Music and Lyrics by Jay Kuo. 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, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, May 4 through June 2.
“Inspired by the true childhood experience of TV/film actor and social media icon George Takei (Mr. Sulu on Star Trek), this musical tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor.”
Berlin; or, The Part of You That Wants It: A Musical Comedy Love Story (Written by Accident) by Shaoul Rick Chason. Staged by O.W.I. (Bureau of Theatre) at Central Square Theatre, 450, Cambridge, MA, through May 12.
The world premiere of what sounds like an unusual evening of theater: “An irreverent vaudeville about an American rapist who goes to Berlin and inadvertently starts a genderfucked feminist revolution of anarchy and turmoil.” The piece is also described as “a timely look at sexual predation told in a Brechtian burlesque of epic theatre.” Brecht is used to parody himself? Ok … I think. Arts Fuse review
Two Jews Walk into a War… by Seth Rozin. Directed by Will LeBow. (Music consultation by Hankus Netsky, Klezmer Conservatory Band) Staged by the New Repertory Theatre in the Mainstage at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, April 28 through May 20.
“What do you do if you’re the last two Jews in Afghanistan? You re-write the Torah, of course! Ishaq and Zeblyan are on a mission to save Judaism in Kabul by rebuilding their synagogue and keeping the faith alive, but only if they don’t kill each other first.” A two-man show starring Jeremiah Kissel and Joel Colodner.
The Villains’ Supper Club by Lila Rose Kaplan. Directed by Sean Daniels. Staged by Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through May 20.
The comic book inspired plot stars “Galactic Girl, the world’s last living superhero—who is on her first day back from maternity leave.” “Kapow! Galactic Girl fights off multiple dastardly villains, including their tiny vicious leader, The Boss. Woosh! She’s home in time to feed her baby and maybe even feed herself. When the last superhero on earth is also a new mom, there’s no time to lose! Can she save the planet and call back the pediatrician? Or will she fall victim to her arch rival’s nefarious schemes? In a twist, the first half of the play is told from a traditional male comic book perspective with high heels and suggestive clothing; in the second act, Galactic Girl takes control of her own story, choosing her no-nonsense pediatrician as the narrator.” Arts Fuse review
Kiss by Guillermo Calderón. Directed by Evan Yionoulis. Staged by Yale Rep at 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, April 27 through May 19.
“A standing double date in Damascus quickly escalates into farce as four friends unburden their hearts and reveal their secret passions. But as civil war wages outside, nothing is really what it seems to be.”
Jagged Little Pill Music by Alanis Morissette & Glen Ballard. Lyrics by Alanis Morissette. Book by Diablo Cody. Music Supervision, Orchestrations, and Arrangements by Tom Kitt. Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA, May 5 through July 15.
This world premiere musical features “an original story inspired by the themes and emotions laid bare in Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning album that introduced beloved anthems, including “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Hand In My Pocket.” The narrative follows a family grappling with uncomfortable truths about many of the urgent issues deeply affecting our communities and our world today.” Book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno).
Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Directed by Summer L. Williams. An American Repertory Theater production presented in collaboration with Company One Theatre at Oberon 2 Arrow St. Cambridge, MA, April 26 through May 13.
From the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight,” this show “is the catwalk showdown of the year! When the House of Light is challenged to a surprise ball by the rival House of Di’abolique, they’ve got to leave it all on the floor to defend their family’s Legendary status. Fueled by a sizzling R&B playlist,” the production is proffered as ” a divine exploration of drag ball culture, chosen family, and the desire to be desired.”
True West by Sam Shepard. Directed by Daniel Bourque. Staged by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston at First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA, through April 26.
A revival of one of the late Sam Shepard’s most popular scripts, one of his most visceral exercise in flipping yin and yang: “Austin, an ambitious and accomplished screenwriter, and his older brother Lee, a beer-swilling, cunning drifter find themselves face to face in their mother’s kitchen after years apart. However, instead of brotherly love, it’s all-out war as their sibling rivalry explodes to reveal their secret envy of each other’s lives. In an unexpected and ironic twist of fate, roles get reversed when Lee sells a screenplay and Austin hits the bottle as a petty thief. The brothers then struggle to prove they can successfully walk a mile in the other’s shoes. Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
Arlington Jazz Festival
Various locations, Arlington, MA.
The seventh annual Arlington Jazz Festival will feature distinguished area musicians like Peter Cicco, Kevin Harris, Steve Langone, Yulia Musayelyan, Jesse Williams, and many more, at various venues around town, including a “headliner concert,” on April 29, with bassist John Patitucci and his daughter, the singer-songwriter Grei (see below). For full listings, go to arlingtonjazz.org.
April 27 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman comes to town with his Expansions group, including bassist Tony Marino and drummer Alex Ritz.
Jared Sims Quartet
April 28 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio, Somerville, MA.
A longtime polymath on the Boston scene, reed-and-flute man Jared Sims, now director of jazz studies at West Virginia University, last year released the multifaceted Change of Address on Ropeadope. He returns to town with a new batch of tunes, some written expressly for this line-up: guitarist Steve Fell, bassist Chris Lopes and drummer Luther Gray.
April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Arlington Town Hall, Arlington, MA.
For this Arlington Jazz Festival finale, bassist John Patitucci (Wayne Shorter Quartet, Chick Corea, and a million other ensembles) is joined by his daughter, the singer-songwriter and guitarist Grei, along with guitarist Jay Azzolina and drummer Nate Winn. Openers include the Arlington High School Jazz Band and the duo of pianist Kevin Harris and drummer Steve Langone.
May 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Bassist and composer Molinari had to reschedule this show from one of those nor’easter snow days (remember?). It celebrates volume 2 of Lello’s Italian Job, with Marco Pignataro on saxes, clarinet, flute, and Ewi; Sal Difusco on guitars; and Marcello Pellitteri on drums and percussion. Arts Fuse review of Lello’s Italian Job
Anthony Coleman “Streams”
May 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA.
Anthony Coleman was early on influenced by Ellington and, so the story goes, skipped school in Brooklyn to ride Duke’s tour bus. Coleman went on to become a charter member of New York’s ’80s Downtown New York scene, collaborating with the likes of Glenn Branca and John Zorn. A New England Conservatory Faculty member since 2006, he’s presenting “Streams,” commissioned in honor of NEC’s 150th anniversary, and drawing on six different ensembles, including the Jewish Music Ensemble, American Roots Ensemble, and Contemporary Rock Ensemble.
May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.
Percussionist Zakir Hussain and bassist Dave Holland are at the center of this extravaganza exploring the ongoing crosscurrents between jazz and Indian music. The show also features Bollywood star vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, guitarist Sanjay Divecha, pianist Louiz Banks, saxophonist Chris Potter, and drummer Gino Banks.
Vijay Iyer Trio
May 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Piano trios seem to be in the forefront of jazz’s R&D department (see also Brad Mehldau and Dan Tepfer). Pianist and composer Iyer recently changed up the format of his own trio, now with bassist Nick Dunston and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.
May 3 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio
Percussionists Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph have been running buddies since they met as teenagers in a downtown Chicago drum shop. Their duo, Karuna, is named for the Sanskrit word for “compassionate action.”
Kevin Sun Trio + Jacob Shulman Trio
May 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
When Kevin Sun got into Lester Young, he went deep — way deep, not only studying the recordings but also acquiring a tenor sax like the one Young played with Basie: a gold-plated Conn New Wonder with a vintage metal Otto Link mouthpiece. He also acquired the oddball C-melody saxophone because that was what one of Young’s own heroes, Frankie Trumbauer, played. As for Sun’s own playing (on clarinet as well) and writing — with Great on Paper, Earprint, and, now, his debut as a leader, Trio — it’s fully modern, working through inventive forms and meter combinations, lyrical, swinging, inspired as much by Jimmy Giuffre and Mark Turner as by Prez. For this show, Sun’s trio-mates from the album will be joining him: bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Matt Honor. Another saxophonist, L.A. native and New England Conservatory grad student Jacob Shulman, joins Sun with his own trio.
Joey Alexander Trio
May 5 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.
The boy wonder from Bali is now 14, but who’s counting? He and his trio are on tour with a new album Joey.Monk.Live!
May 6th at 7 p.m.
City Winery, Boston, MA.
Through a half-dozen albums or so, the singer and songwriter Kat Edmonson has shown a wily grasp of blues, swing, early jazz, and especially the Great American Songbook standards that are as likely to have come through movies of the ’40s and ’50s as through musical theater. Her latest album, Old Fashioned Gal, released April 27, shows her songwriting skill on a par with her taste. That’s a high bar. You can hear Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen in songs like “Sparkle and Shine,” “I’d Be Fool,” “Canoe,” and the title track. And, okay, there’s one song that nods to contemporary pop, too. The singing — in a small-bore, girlish voice — is jewel-faceted, startlingly controlled and expressive, especially when Edmonson is wrapping it around one of her tickling rhymes.
Jeff Robinson Trio, “Getting Fixed”
May 8 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Saxophonist and actor Jeff Robinson along with his trio-mates (bassist Blake Newman and drummer Phil Neighbors) perform “Getting Fixed,” written with the poet Marc Goldfinger. “Based on a true story about heroin addiction and motorcycles, this music and spoken word mashup will make you laugh, cry and curl your toes all at the same time! There will be a Q&A with author Marc Goldfinger and the Jeff Robinson Trio after the performance.”
— Jon Garelick
Roots and World Music
Martin Carthy and John Doyle
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
The importance of 76 year old Carthy on both the British and American folk scenes can’t be overstated. Whether reviving traditional ballads, writing his own songs, or simply playing guitar, Carthy has inspired generations of folkies. For this rare U.S. tour he’s joined by John Doyle, a younger but also highly influential guitarist, making this show a can’t-miss for fans of traditional English and Celtic song.
Ibibio Sound Machine
Brighton Music Hall, Brighton, MA
London has long been a major center for African music. Lead singer Eno Williams is of Nigerian descent he and his bandmates are also influenced by dub and the UK dance music scene, creating an exceptionally danceable sound.
PoC Folk Fest
Aeronaut Brewery, Somerville, MA
Let’s face it — when the phrase “folk singer” is uttered the image that comes to mind is likely a white guy or gal strumming a guitar. People of color have been a vital part of the folk scene since before it was called folk music, and now this Weird Folk Fest-sponsored afternoon event celebrates a quartet of local acts who add some diversity to the singer/songwriter scene: Cathartic Conundrum, electronic leaning Nnux, and two queer-identified acts: trans singer/songwriter Anjimile and the hip-hop of Billy Dean Thomas.
Atwoods, Cambridge, MA
One of the better and least appreciated songwriters from the late ’70s UK punk movement, the “Whole Wide World” songwriter digs into his deep catalog as well as his new LP Construction Time & Demolition.
Ryan Lee Crosby/Danny Mekonnen Duo with guest Koushik Chakrabarty
Charles River Museum of Industry, Waltham, MA
Two of the Boston music scene’s most valuable and adventurous musicians — blues/trance guitarist Ryan Lee Crosby and Debo band leader and saxophonist Danny Mekonnen — mark their first ever collaborative performance. They’ll be joined by Chakrabarty, the excellent Indian percussionist who is in Crosby’s band.
— Noah Schaffer
Finale & Premiere
April 22 at 3 p.m.
St. Paul’s Church Brookline, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, MA
On the Boston Artists Ensemble’s program: Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, Wheeler’s Songs Without Words, and Dvorak’s Piano Trio in F Minor, Opus 65.
Darers and Dreamers
April 22 at 4 p.m.
At the First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
The Chameleon Arts Ensemble’s program includes: Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola & harp; Bartok’s Contrasts for clarinet, violin & piano, Sz. 111, BB 116; Bruce’s Steampunk for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello & bass; Schoenberg’s Phantasy for violin & piano, and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1 “Ghost.”
Emerson String Quartet and pianist Evgeny Kissin
April 22 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA
On the program: Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K.478; Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15; and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81.
The Little Match Girl Passion with Boston Dance Theater
April 27 on 8 and 10 p.m.
At Emmanuel Church/Parish Hall, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Emmanuel Music presents Late Night at Emmanuel: “David Lang’s Pulitzer-Prize-Winning the little match girl passion tells an everyday story in a hauntingly simple way. The human story of a starving girl freezing to death is framed within, and brilliantly juxtaposed with the divine St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.”
Mendelssohn/Wolf Chamber Series, Year IV/Hugo Wolf Spanisches Liederbuch
April 29 at 4 p.m.
Emmanuel Church/Parish Hall, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
On the Emmanuel Music program: composed in an astonishing eight weeks in the fall of 1889, the 44 songs of the Spanisches Liederbuch initiate a change of style in Hugo Wolf’s lieder writing.
Schubert’s Vienna/Our Boston
April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
At Williams Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
Music for Food presents the following program: Franz Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, D.821; Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque in g minor, Op. 1; Daniel Strong Godfrey’s Paginula; W. A. Mozart, Serenade no. 11 in E-flat for wind octet, K.375.
All proceeds benefit The Women’s Lunch Place.
Salamone Rossi: Songs of Shabbat for a 17th C. Mantuan Synagogue
April 30 at 8 p.m.
First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
On the Eudaimonia Period Band program: “a recreated sabbath service with the music of Salamone Rossi blended with ancient chant from Italian synagogues.”
May 5 at 8 p.m.
First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
The Metropolitan Chorale program features “Northern Lights” by Ēriks Ešenvalds and compositions from Iceland, Scandinavia and North America.
— Susan Miron
Rock, Pop, and Folk Events
Jen de la Osa and Henry Beguiristain moved to Boston in 2001 in search of greater musical opportunities than their hometown of Miami offered. They lived here for 16 years before decamping to Los Angeles in 2017. During that time, they formed Aloud, recorded four LPs, and got married. This year has already seen the release of a new single (“Falling Out of Love” b/w “Empty House”), a cover of a Rolling Stones song (“Dead Flowers”), and the inclusion of two of their songs in a new movie called All These Small Moments, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24. Join Beguiristain, de la Rosa, and bandmates Charles Murphy and Chris Jago for a homecoming show–of sorts, as the couple never actually lived in Somerville–on Saturday.
Alumni of the fecund folk scenes of Cambridge and Greenwich Village, respectively, Tom Rush and John Sebastian each have more than a half century in the music profession to his credit. In fact, the latter played on the former’s eponymous 1965 album. Throughout their individual careers, Rush has been highly influential and admired by peers while Sebastian found greater commercial success as the leader of The Lovin’ Spoonful and a solo artist. The two American music legends will perform a matinee at Cary Memorial Hall on April 29, two days after Rush’s new album, Voices. (Here is the interview that I did with Tom Rush in 2015.)
Soccer Mommy is the somewhat unlikely stage name for a 20-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist named Sophie Allison. Allison was born in Switzerland, raised in Nashville, and studied–until recently–at NYU. She describes her lo-fi sound as “chill but kinda sad.” Allison’s vocal style is very 90s, so it makes sense that she will be opening Liz Phair’s sold-out show at The Sinclair on June 6. Before that, however, ticket sales for her May 1 appearance at Great Scott are sure to benefit from the write-ups about her that have appeared in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, New York Times, Billboard, Village Voice, Nashville Scene, Paste, NPR, etc.
It is appropriate that Wreckless Eric’s new album, Construction Time & Demolition, includes a song called “40 Years.” That is how long it has been since his self-titled debut was released (although his first single, the timeless “Whole Wide World,” appeared the year before). Eric’s wife, singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, showcased material from her own new album (The Old Guys) in March at Atwood’s Tavern. He will do so from his at the same venue on May 1.
Formed in Spokane in 1986 and based in Nashville, Too Slim and the Taildraggers have been recording since 1988. All five of the albums that they have released since 2007 have reached the top 10 on Billboard’s blues albums chart. With High Desert Heat set to hit stores on April 27, they may have another such entry when they perform in Beverly on May 5. This is why we need venues like 9 Wallis: so that practitioners of non-pop genres can have a place to entertain their many–though not millions–of fans.
With each of their new releases, which come every three or four years, Sloan manages to directly hit that sweet spot where rock and pop overlap. They have done so once again this year with 12, the follow-up to 2014’s ambitious Commonwealth (click for my Arts Fuse review). Although Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson (click for my 2016 Arts Fuse interview) have contributed more songs than Patrick Pentland or Andrew Scott on most of the band’s records, the songwriting chores were divided equally among the four members of the never-changing line-up this time around. The result is another splendidly consistent collection in a 25-year career that is full of them. Hopefully they will give generously from the album at their May 7 Brighton Music Hall show.
— Blake Maddux
Barbara K Lipska
The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery
April 23 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Neuroscience is an incredibly complex topic, which means it’s not terribly shocking that studying it occasionally drives people mad. Lipska is a renowned scientist who, while fighting brain cancer, descended into madness. She recovered, miraculously, several weeks later with her memory of the harrowing experience completely intact. She will tell this fascinating story at Harvard Book Store, as only an expert and a survivor of this ordeal can.
Terry Ann Knopf
The Golden Age of Boston Television
April 24 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA
In the seventies, Boston TV let its freak flag fly. Instead of the staid old programming of yesteryear, the airwaves were filled with experimental programming that turned traditional TV inside-out. Knopf explains the real-life responses to this advance in local programming and tells the history of Boston TV at its most creative.
National Independent Bookstore Day
As a friend of mine once Tweeted, someday there will be a bookstore that names itself “Page Against the Machine.” Standing up for the good old fashioned brick and mortar bookstores isn’t just a great way to stick it to the online Amazon leviathan, it’s also about supporting the community by participating in a local business that keeps the joy of reading physical books alive. Bookstores all over the city are celebrating with one-time-only offers, special editions, gift items and more!
May 1 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
“Journalism is in crisis, with traditional sources of news under siege, a sputtering business model, a resurgence of partisanship, and a persistent expectation that information should be free. In Covering America, Christopher B. Daly places the current crisis within historical context, showing how it is only the latest challenge for journalists to overcome.”
Miss Subways: A Novel
May 2 at 4 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28, including copy of the book
Not all celebrities who try their hand at fiction are equally talented — Tom Hanks and Ethan Hawke’s books are instantly forgettable, while Steve Martin and Carrie Fisher’s have some real insight. David Duchovny made his name as Mulder on the beloved show The X Files and as the dissolute bad boy novelist on Californication. Before making it big as an actor, he attended Yale and received a degree in English, with a thesis on Samuel Beckett. His debut novel is described as “a darkly comic fantasy love story set in New York City.”
H Jon Benjamin
Failure is an Option
May 3 at 6 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
Tickets are $26
It might come as a surprise that the lead voice behind Archer and Bob’s Burgers wasn’t always a success. Our society takes a very binary approach to being successful — either you are, and you should be emulated, or you’re a loser. Benjamin begs to differ, telling uproarious tales of failing at his first jobs, his love life, his family life, and still making out ok.
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics
May 9 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $23.75 with book, $5 without
Aside from what skeptics of the Bard such as George Bernard Shaw had to say, Shakespeare is perpetually relevant. In his own time he closely observed the last years of the reign of Elizabeth I, an aging and seemingly indomitable monarch. He wrote quite a bit about the various ways and means of power — its uses and misuses, its attractions and repulsions, and its relationship to tyranny. Greenblatt is the renowned author of The Swerve and Will in the World and he trains his masterfully interpretive eye on figures such as Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, and Coriolanus in order to understand the complex attractions of political tyranny. (Editor’s eccentric note: If only Greenblatt would extend his eye to other eagle-eyed playwrights of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period who made incisive observations about authoritarianism and politics. Ben Jonson’s Sejanus, where is your champion?)
May 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline MA
Tickets are $26.95 with book, $5 without
The Pulitzer Prize winning author of The English Patient will discuss his new novel with Teju Cole, author of Open City. “In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself—shadowed and luminous at once—we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth.”
— Matt Hanson