Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, dance, film, theater, and author readings for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Tuesday, Dec 9 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA
Come meet some fellow artists and filmmakers and watch original short films, which change very month. Formats accepted are: DVD, Blu-Ray, & Flash drive with a file with an H.264 compression. Sign up begins at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, December 9, 7:30 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The Independent Film Festival Boston Fall Focus Series presents an “eye-catching pulse-pounding drama about high-risk young offender Eric (Jack O’Connell), who is moved up to an adult prison where he has to fend for himself among hardened cons. Poet/psychotherapist-turned-screenwriter Jonathan Asser brings insider knowledge to his first feature, demonstrating a fine ear for the nuances of macho verbal sparring, scratching away at the surface to reveal weaknesses and insecurities lurking just under the skin. (The Guardian)
Wednesday, December 10 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
This winner for Best Documentary at the Provincetown Film Festival testifies to music’s ability to reawaken the soul and spirit in elderly patients who are suffering from numerous afflictions, from schizophrenia to dementia. This is not your standard “affliction” movie, but an uplifting film that engages the mind, the emotion, and the conscience. Presented by AlzTogether of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire Alzheimer’s Association, the screening will include special guests who specialize in Music and Memory therapy programs. Highly recommended. Arts Fuse review
Through December 12
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
This highly acclaimed film chronicles the life of nine-year-old Junior, who lives in a bustling Caracas tenement with his widowed mother. Junior fears he has pelo malo – bad hair. For his school photo, he wants to iron his stubbornly curly mane straight so he will look like one of his pop star idols. His mother, unemployed and frazzled from the pressures of raising two children in an unforgiving city, has serious misgivings about this idea: she suspects her son is gay. Grandma is more accepting and teaches Junior to dance to one of her favorite ’60s rock ‘n’ roll tunes. Writer-director Mariana Rondón grounds her film in two remarkable performances as well as the cultural realities of working-class Venezuela. (Film Forum)
Burroughs: The Movie
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA
This one-of-a-kind portrait of the great American writer began as director Howard Brookner’s Senior Thesis at NYU. Shooting and post-production took five years, during which Brookner accumulated multiple hours with Burroughs, who visited old hangouts where he spoke with unusual candor. He also interviewed many of the writer’s friends, including Allen Ginsberg, Terry Southern, John Giorno, and Brion Gysin. Brookner would make only two more films before his death from AIDS in 1989, three days short of his 35th birthday. In the years since, Burroughs: The Movie was thought to be lost. (Film Society of Lincoln Center)
— Tim Jackson
MM&W have always given more value for your jam-band dollar than other outfits lumped into that category, and guitarist John Scofield is their perfect foil. Coming off Juice, the quartet’s fourth album in 17 years of collaborating, the group should set your body moving and your brain cells firing.
The peerless Mexican-American jazz singer, songwriter, and Berklee prof Mili Bermejo fronts her quartet — pianist Jiri Nedoma, bassist Dan Greenspan, and drummer Bertram Lehman. Expect a soulful take on the pan-American experience, from Brazil and Argentina to Mexico and Cambridgeport.
Marty Ehrlich and Ned Rothenberg
December 11, 7 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA.
The ICA presents this can’t-miss double bill of genre-blurring jazz. Reedman Marty Ehrlich convenes his Dark Wood Ensemble (cellist Erik Friedlander, bassist John Hébert, and drummer Richie Barshay) for a program of “Songs and Fables.” Ned Rothenberg’s Inner Diaspora explores various cross-cultural musical drifts, with the leader on clarinet, saxophone, and shakuhachi, plus Friedlander, Barshay, violinist Mark Feldman, and guitarist Jerome Harris.
Math/physics major Emy Tseng began studying classical voice while pursuing a graduate degree at MIT, but don’t hold that against her. The singer has an uncommonly authoritative touch with Brazilian samba and bossa standards — sure of pitch and phrasing, with a relaxed, plush sound. And she can make modern pop like “California Dreamin’” sound as jazzy as “I Thought About You.” After some time in New York getting her feet under her as a jazz singer (and releasing a CD), she returns to Cambridge to make her local performing debut with some of the best in town: flutist Fernando Brandão, guitarist Leandro Pellegrino, bassist Jason Davis, and drummer Bertram Lehmann.
Brad Mehldau Trio
December 13, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
One of the most influential pianists of his generation, Brad Mehldau has ventured into all manner of cross-genre experimentation with the likes of keyboardist Kevin Hays and new-bluegrass mandolinist Chris Thile. Tonight he returns to the format that established his reputation among jazz fans — the piano trio, with longtime collaborators Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums.
— Jon Garelick
Theaster Gates with Bill T. Jones: The Artist and Cultural Spaces
Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts
Another waitlist only opportunity, a conversation between two fiery African-American men known for art (ceramics and urban planning; dance and experimental media works) that speaks of history’s challenges and ongoing political engagement. Why the MFA doesn’t hold such events in a larger space is known only to the institution…
Third Life Studio Choreographer Series
Third Life Studio
The informal performance series curated by Kelley Donovan routinely offers interesting under-the-radar and emerging dance artists in this intimate Union Square venue.
REVERBdance Echoes Tour Boston
Boston University Dance Theater
Vote for your favorites when this New York-based showcase of ten emerging choreographers including Bryn Cohn, Yung-Li Chen, and Alenka Cizmesija takes the stage.
Mariah Steele/Quicksilver Dance Informal Showing
Simmons Hall at MIT
Whitney Cover facilitates the feedback session after a showing of Mariah Steele’s work in progress, a collaboration with visual artist Anne Loyer. Free, but reservations required.
Swan Lake Legends
Sun, Dec. 14
Coolidge Corner Theatre
In 1966, the English ballerina Margot Fonteyn was 47. Rudolph Nureyev was 28 and had been in the West for five years after his headline-generating defection from the Soviet Union. Their onstage partnership became legend. See it for yourself in a never-before-seen HD restoration of Swan Lake, performed at the Vienna State Opera House under the baton of Royal Ballet conductor John Lanchbery.
and further afield…
Ring In The Rhythm! At Duke’s Place
The Dance Hall
This cabaret features many of the hoofers Drika Overton brought together seasons past for Clara’s Dream including the irrepressible Brenda Bufalino, debonair Dean Diggins, and a younger generation of tap artists represented by Ryan Casey and Ayan Imai-Hall. The live jazz sextet is under the direction Paul Arslanian.
— Debra Cash
Distant Neighbors by Patrick Gabridge. Directed by Liz Fenstermaker. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Boston Playwrights’ Theater, Boston, MA, through December 13.
An unusual choice for the holidays — a (heart-warming?) show about how a visit from extraterrestrials brings us together. “A group of suburban neighbors are strangers to each other until an alien space ship crashes into their back yards. After its arrival, they get to know each other a lot better, and faster, than they ever expected (or wanted).”
Necessary Monsters by John Kuntz. Directed by David R. Gammons. Staged by Speakeasy Stage Company in the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through January 3, 2015.
“Sex, mystery, and terrible danger lurk just around the corner” in this world premiere production of a script by award-winning local playwright John Kuntz. There is not much about the plot in the press release, just that the audience will be taken “into the labyrinth of the human psyche for a darkly hilarious and dream-like look at the ways we do violence and the stories we create to keep us up at night.” The “all-star Boston ensemble includes Thomas Derrah, McCaela Donovan, Stacy Fischer, Evelyn Howe, Georgia Lyman, Greg Maraio, and Michael Underhill.”
The Light Princess by Lila Rose Kaplan. Directed by Allegra Libonati. Music by Mike Pettry. Choreography by Jeff and Rick Kuperman. Presented by the A.R.T. /MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through January 4, 2015.
A holiday show that would seem to push all the right inspirational buttons: “Based on George MacDonald’s fairy tale, this delightful musical tells the story of a young princess cursed to live without gravity. She floats through life unburdened by cares or sorrow, constantly soaring through high winds and avoiding low trees. If her parents, the King and Queen, don’t help her come back to earth by her 16th birthday, the curse will be permanent.”
O.P.C. by Eve Ensler. Directed by Pesha Rudnick. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through January 4, 2015.
The world premiere of a political satire from the author of The Vagina Monologues. The script is billed as “a wildly funny exploration of consumption and politics that asks, “How are we to survive as a species if we insist on destroying the world we love?”‘ The cast includes Kate Mulligan and Olivia Thirlby.
The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife by Charles Busch. Directed by Larry Coen. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through December 20.
A revival of Busch’s mainstream hit about “a middle-aged Upper-West-Side doctor’s wife who is devoted to mornings at the Whitney, afternoons at MOMA, and evenings at BAM. Plunged into a mid-life crisis of Medea-like proportions, she’s shaken out of her lethargy by the reappearance of a fascinating and somewhat mysterious childhood friend.” The production marks the 30th anniversary of the Off-Broadway debut of Busch (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom in 1985) as well as the 15th anniversary of his Broadway debut (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife in 2000). The Lyric cast includes Marina Re, Ellen Colton, and Joel Colodner.
The Little Prince, adapted from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Book and lyrics by John Scoullar. Music by Rick Cummins. Directed by Ilyse Robbins. Musical Direction by Todd C. Gordon. Staged by New Rep Theatre at the Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, through December 21.
A musical adaptation of the classic tale that, according to the Chicago Sun Times, not only clearly captures “the tale of a man whose creativity was crushed in childhood only to re-emerge at a moment of great stress, but it deftly illuminates Saint-Exupery’s themes of the meaning of love, the opposing pulls of solitude and companionship, and man’s relationship to the universe itself.” Arts Fuse review
The Christmas Revels: A Victorian Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Directed by Patrick Swanson. Music direction by George Emlen. At Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA, December 12 through 17.
This year the 80-member ensemble is revving up its way-back machine to “sally forth (or sally back, as it were) to Victorian London, and more specifically, the “Crystal Palace,” the remarkable glass building erected for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Inside you’ll find a colorful cast of characters, including a harried producer, cheeky street performers, and even composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, all caught up in a scheme to produce a whirlwind Christmas performance fit for a Prince.”
War by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. At the Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, through December 13.
The world premiere production of a script commissioned by the Yale Repertory Theatre. The drama “is a wildly provocative, bracingly funny, and all-too-human portrait of a family navigating the landmines of the past as they try to broker peace with each other—and themselves—in the present.” Jacobs-Jenkins’s dramas An Octoroon and Appropriate were honored together with the 2014 OBIE Award for Best New American Play.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin, an adaptation for the stage based upon the Paramount Pictures film written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Book by David Ives and Paul Blake. Direction and choreography by Randy Skinner. Musical direction by Michael Horsely. Presented by Work Light Productions at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, December 16 through 28.
“Bring your loved ones for a heart-warming celebration of Americana.” This stage adaptation of the venerable film “tells the story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn, and finding their perfect mates in the bargain. Full of dancing, romance, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, including “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Happy Holiday,” “Sisters,” “Blue Skies,” and the unforgettable title song.”
13 Things About Ed Carpolotti, a one-woman musical with book, music, and lyrics by Barry Kleinbort, based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher. Directed by Kleinbort. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through December 21.
Based on one of the segments in Hatcher’s Three Viewings, this musical was written for actress Penny Fuller, who stars in the MRT production,. The evening focuses on “Virginia Carpolotti, a devoted widow with loving memories of her recently-deceased husband. Though her love endures, her confidence in him flounders as one shady character after another comes calling for the debt that Ed put in her name, and things really heat up when a mysterious $1 million ransom note appears.”
— Bill Marx
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera
December 7, 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
Consider it the capstone to a tremendously fruitful year for Boston’s newest opera company: Tobias Picker’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel receives a concert performance, courtesy of Odyssey Opera and BMOP. Jon Brancy sings the title role and the cast includes Krista River and Elizabeth Futral, among many others. The Boston Children’s Chorus is also featured.
Die Walküre: Act 3
Presented by New England Conservatory
December 10, 7 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Jane Eaglen headlines NEC’s gala performance of the final act of Die Walküre. Proceeds from the performance go towards the construction of NEC’s new Student Life and Performance Center, to be opened in 2017. Robert Spano conducts the NEC Philharmonia.
Presented by Boston Baroque
December 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. (12th and 13th) and 2 p.m. (14th)
Jordan Hall, Boston (12th and 13th) and the Strand Theater, Dorchester (14th), MA
Boston Baroque’s annual Messiah performances include a pair of performances at Jordan Hall, plus a free community concert of excerpts from the oratorio in Dorchester. The latter still requires tickets, which can be reserved here.
More Haydn (& Hyunah)
Presented by the Boston Classical Orchestra
December 14, 3 p.m.
Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA
The BCO’s 35th-anniversary season continues its parade of star soloists with Hyunah Park performing Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major. Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony, plus an overture by Gluck and a Mozart violin concerto are also on the docket.
Presented by the New England Philharmonic
December 14, 3 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA
The NEP’s annual Family Concert has a train theme this year. Michael Gandolfi’s Night Train to Perugia receives its local premiere, Honegger’s classic Pacific 231 gets a rare outing, as does the Little Train from Caipira & Toccata from Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras no. 2. David Kravitz and the Newton Public Schools All City Treble Singers join the orchestra for Ron Kapilow’s Chris van Allsburg’s Polar Express and Austin Kwoun, the NEP’s Young Artist Competition winner, performs the Cadenza and Burlesque from Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto no. 1. Afterwards, there’s an instrument petting zoo for the kids. Quite the afternoon, indeed!
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Trio Cleonice and Friends: “Celebrating Wild Tonalities!”
Tuesday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m.
United Parish, 210 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA
Trio Cleonice and guest artists violinist Laurie Smukler and violist Jinsun Hong perform the following program: Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20 No. 2; Bartok’s Rhapsody No. 1, Sz. 87; Richard Wernick’s 2nd Trio; and Bartok’s String Quartet No. 1, Sz. 40.
Wednesday, December 10 at 8 p.m.
At Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music, 27 Garden St., Cambridge, MA
Celebrity Series of Boston presents the acclaimed pianist performing the following program: Bach’s Toccata in E minor, BWV 914; Franck’s Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue; Barber’s Sonata in E-flat minor, Opus 26; Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D. 959.
Friday, December 12 at 8 p.m.
At St. Paul’s Church, 29 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA
Boston Early Music Festival presents the highly respected group performing virtuosic vocal music of the late 15th and 16th centuries, from Josquin’s Missa Gaudeamus to a selection of miniature masterpieces by Byrd including his famous “Lullaby” and a trio of motets. The evening concludes with an astonishing Magnificat by Turges found in the Eton Choirbook.
An American Christmas
Saturday, December 13 at 7 p.m.
At First Church, Cambridge, MA
Musica Sacra presents spirituals, Appalachian carols, pieces from the American ‘shape note’ tradition, and contemporary works, including Martin Lauridsen’s O magnum mysterium and Boston native Daniel Pinkham’s brilliant Nativity Carols. There will also be a spirited sing-along of traditional carols and a post-concert reception, open to audience members, follows the performance.
— Susan Miron
Keep Safe Boston (Benefit for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts)
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA
Keep Safe Boston was founded by one of the city’s greatest music ambassadors — the radio host and event producer Anngelle Wood — to honor the women killed in the December 1994 shootings at the Planned Parenthood in Brookline, MA. November brought the release of the organization’s 50-song digital compilation and December sees this concert at Brighton Music Hall featuring Jass Bianchi, Parlour Bells, the Color and Sound, and more. Proceeds from the show and the compilation will go to the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Upcoming and On Sale…
Future Islands (1/7/2015, Royale); The Vaselines (1/17/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Gang of Four (3/6/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Swervedriver (3/28/2015, The Sinclair); Belle and Sebastian (3/30/2015, House of Blues); The Who (5/24/2015, Mohegan Sun Arena); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden).
— Adam Ellsworth
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
December 9 at 7 p.m.
The award-winning journalist discusses his immersive look at the mad world of Russian television. His book delves deep into the surreal media world that policed by a dictatorship but flush with quick cash and newfound power. His roundup incorporates everyone from hallucinating holy warriors to oligarchical revolutionaries in smoke-filled back rooms, where the world’s ultra-wealthy cut the checks.
The Pilgrim Magazine
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
December 10 at 7 p.m.
The Atlantic columnist (and former Phoenix writer) hosts a release party for The Pilgrim, the ten-times-a-year literary magazine of the Boston homeless community. The Pilgrim publishes out of Cathedral Church in St Paul on Tremont St and features work by more than sixty homeless, transitional or recently housed writers.
New Directions: The Life and Poetry of James Laughlin
“Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
and The Collected Poems of James Laughlin
Panel Discussion featuring Ian S McNiven and Peter Glassgold, moderated by David Barber
Houghton Library, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA
December 10 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Beloved by readers everywhere, the legendary New Directions press published major works by Ezra Pound and W.C. Williams, brought writers like Jorge Luis Borges and Herman Hesse to an American audience, and could boast of the best typefaces in the business. Co-sponsored by Harvard Square Books and Harvard’s Houghton Library, McNiven (his biographer) and Glassgold (his colleague) will discuss the life and work of the charismatic and talented James Laughlin. Laughlin’s publishing chops will be explored along with his other, more personal gift, which was his poetry.
Christ Actually: Jesus in the 21st Century
First Parish Church, Cambridge, MA
December 10 at 7 p.m.
The author speaks about the meaning of Jesus for the 21st Century secularists among us. The Christmas season is a especially frigid time for non-believers, but Carroll explores how Christ’s essential message can still effectively address today’s world and transcend centuries of Christian dogma.
Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation
Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA
December 18th at 8 p.m.
Tickets available here
In an event co- sponsored by Brookline Booksmith, the bow-tied host of popular science television discusses his latest book. Nye enthusiastically argues that evolution isn’t just a rebuttal to creationism — it’s also a key way of examining a variety of issues. Nye’s topics include the perils and possibilities of genetically modified foods, the search for alien life, how new species are born, and how race does not really exist.
— Matt Hanson