Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, dance, film, and theater for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
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)
Tuesday December 16
Brattle Theatre Cambridge
The Trash Night film at the Brattle Theatre stars Marjoe Gortner, who was ordained as a preacher at age four and was the subject of the Best Documentary Academy Award in 1972. By 1978 he was starring with Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff in this inconceivably awful movie. According to BadMovies.org, here are some things you will learn while watching this film:
The most powerful weapon in the galaxy is a lava lamp.
It is possible to swim through space.
You can build a model spaceship out of almost anything, even golf balls.
Men with perms are immune to deadly lasers.
Being frozen and then thawed out will not smear a woman’s mascara.
Through a Lens Darkly
December 18 at 7 p.m.
December 21, 27 & 28 at 3 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
“A rich and lyrical tapestry that is both personal and epic in scope, Thomas Allen Harris’s extraordinary documentary examines how black photographers—and their subjects—have used the camera as a tool for social change from the invention of photography through the present.” (ICA) A New England premiere.
Another Kuchar Christmas
December 20, 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
George Kuchar had over 60 films and 100 videos to his credit when he passed away in 2011. The man who inspired John Waters and David Lynch with his uncompromisingly low budget aesthetic was also teacher, a tireless dispenser of wit and wisdom on the craft of shooting movies. He was the subject of a 2009 film called It Came from Kuchar. The HFA presents a rare program of his holiday short films: “Xmas 1987 New Years” (13 min), “Pilgrimage” (29 min), “Cat House” (24 min), and “Lumps of Joy: A holiday treat” (14 min).
The Films of Catherine Breillat
Through December 21
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Cineaste magazine describes this always surprising, often controversial filmmaker as “reimagining the much-celebrated rites of passage often reserved, in literature and cinema, for boys. Her protagonists take to the road and slay the dragons of girlhood confinement. They find a guy, relinquish their virginity, and liberate themselves from the superannuated chivalric traditions for honoring women. Their reward is that they give birth to themselves, but that hard-won prize is tenuous; the battle for identity continues into adolescence and adulthood.” Still to screen in this series: the magical and hypnotic Bluebeard; Fat Girl, “a portrayal of female adolescent sexuality and the complicated bond between siblings but also a shocking assertion that violent oppression exists at the core of the male-female relation”; and Isabel Huppert in the semi-autobiographical Abuse of Weakness.
— Tim Jackson
Jacques Demy Double Feature (Bay of Angels and A Room in Town)
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA
Two from the agilely eccentric French filmmaker. Filmed in magnificent black and white, 1962’s Bay of Angels “is mostly contained within the closed world of the casino, through which Claude Mann’s disillusioned bank clerk follows Jeanne Moreau’s gambling demimondaine.” Moreau makes for a spectacularly sultry blonde. 1982’s A Room in Town is “Demy’s only other film in which all the dialogue is sung,” which makes it a companion piece to the better-known The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). It is much more political than the earlier film. Dominique Sanda is among the performers.
— Bill Marx
Charlie Kohlhase Explorer’s Club
December 18, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Redoubtable reedman Charlie Kohlhase convenes his Explorer’s Club, with trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal, trombonist Jeff Galindo, tubist Josiah Reibstein, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Aaron Darrell, drummer Curt Newton, and special guest guitarist Garrison Fewell.
Veteran New York City saxophonist Ras Moshe lists as his initial inspirations John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and John Gilmore. Good enough for us! He makes a rare Boston-area visit joined by vibist John Pietaro, bassist Kit Demos, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and trumpeter Forbes Graham.
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra
December 20, 7:30 p.m.
Emmanuel Church, Boston, MA.
The progressive Aarkvark Jazz Orchestra offers its 42nd annual Christmas benefit concert (for the Poor People’s United Fund), this one entitled “An American Christmas,” with traditional American spirituals and carols as well as William Billings’s “Shepherd’s Carol,” selection’s from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” and Aardvark leader Mark Harvey’s “Bethlehem Counterpoint.” Expect the usual superb Aarkvark crew, including saxophonists Arnie Cheatham, Phil Scarff, Peter Bloom, and Dan Zupan; trombonists Bill Lowe and Bob Pilkington, and vocalists Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes.
— Jon Garelick
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.
The Dream Project
Green Street Studios
Taiwanese choreographer Chunjou “Dream” Tsai, who has danced with Urbanity and Penumbra:Exchange while here in Boston, blends the traditional art of Chinese longsleeves dance with Western improvisational dance techniques to explore the state of being where a striver feels “like a plum blossom breaking through the first snow of winter.”
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
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.” Arts Fuse review
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. Arts Fuse review
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, through December 28.
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.”
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
Presented by Boston Baroque
December 14 at 2 p.m.
The Strand Theater, Dorchester , 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!
A Bach Christmas
Presented by the Handel & Haydn Society
December 18 (and 7:30 p.m.) and 21 (at 3 p.m.)
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Back Bay Chorale director Scott Allen Jarrett takes the H&H podium for the ensemble’s last program of 2014, a concert made up of two Bach cantatas, plus Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and pieces by Schütz, Vulpius, and Sweelinck. If you haven’t yet heard the country’s oldest (and one of its best) ensembles during its bicentennial season, now’s the time.
Composer Focus Concerts: Alfred Schnittke
Presented by Composer Focus
December 21, 7 p.m.
The Lilypad, Cambridge, MA
Some of the eclectic (and prolific) Soviet composer’s chamber music gets a rare local survey at The Lilypad. His String Quartet no. 3, Cello Sonata, and Suite in the Old Style are all on the program.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Boston Camerata: An American Christmas
December 18, 8 p.m.
First Parish Church of Newbury, Newbury, MA
December 19, 8 p.m.
Hancock United Church of Christ, Lexington, MA
December 20, 8 p.m.
First Church in Cambridge, Cambridge, MA
Music from the early years of the American republic, including a wide range of early tune books and manuscripts, a generous selection of carols, New England anthems, Southern folk hymns, and seasonal religious ballads.
Blue Heron: Christmas in 15th-century France & Burgundy
December 18 through 20
First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
The ambitious holiday program includes works by Jacob Obrecht (“Factor orbis”), Josquin Desprez (“O virgo virginum”), Antoine Brumel (“Nato canunt omnia”), and Johannes Ciconi (“Gloria Spiritus et alme”). There will also be Christmas sequences and hymns by Guillaume Du Fay and a “bouquet of New Year’s Day songs by Gilles Binchois, Baude Cordier, Nicolas Grenon and others.”
— Susan Miron