Coming Attractions: December 17 through January 2 — What Will Light Your Fire

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


GRRL HAUS CINEMA Dec. 2017 Trailer from GRRL HAUS CINEMA on Vimeo.

Grrl House Cinema
December 18 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

The Brattle Theatre presents a program of short films, art, and music made by women.

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library
December 22 and 23 at 6 p.m.
At the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

Over the course of roughly three hours, Frederick Wiseman’s latest film looks at the vital role that the New York Public Library and its 92 offshoot branches play in civic and cultural life. Besides examining the complex bureaucratic web of board members, staff, and trustees responsible for sustaining the library, the documentary displays Wiseman’s uncanny talent for taking notice of the idiosyncratic moments in the daily life of even an institution this sprawling.

A scene from "Death Watch."

A scene from “Death Watch.”

Death Watch
December 23 at noon and December 28 at 5 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, Death Watch (1980) features Romy Schneider and Harvey Keitel in the cast. Roddy (Keitel) has a camera implanted in his brain. He is hired by a television producer to film, without her knowledge, a documentary about the terminally ill Katherine. His footage be run on the popular television series “Death Watch.” This one of the films — see Paris, Texas below, that is part of the MFA’s excellent retrospective on the work of Harry Dean Stanton.

— Tim Jackson

Paris, Texas, directed by Wim Wenders. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, screening on December 20 and 21.

Ironically, both screenwriter Sam Shepard and star Harry Dean Stanton died this year, the former of ALS. (The Pulitzer prize-winning playwright’s final book, Spy of the First Person, was written after he had been diagnosed with the disease.) A powerful (if self-consciously gaunt and lengthy) exploration of Western archetypes, this 1984 film “follows the mysterious, nearly mute drifter Travis (Stanton) as he tries to reconnect with his young son, who has been living with his brother (Dean Stockwell) in Los Angeles, and track down his missing wife (Nastassja Kinski).”

— Bill Marx


"The Urban Nutcracker" is on view now through the end of December. Photo: Peter Paradise Photography.

“The Urban Nutcracker” is on view now through the end of December. Photo: Peter Paradise Photography.

Urban Nutcracker
Through December 28
At John Hancock Hall, Boston, MA

Tony Williams presents the 17th annual Urban Nutcracker–Boston’s hit alternative to the traditional Nutcracker. The work highlights quintessential Boston scenes, and 150 performers who cover the gamut from classical ballet to flamenco to hip hop.

José Mateo’s “The Nutcracker”
Through December 24
Strand Theatre
Dorchester, MA

For a more traditional take on The Nutcracker, head to the historic Strand Theatre, where José Mateo Ballet Theatre celebrates the 30th anniversary of their original version. Specifically crafted for children of all ages to enjoy, JMBT’s Nutcracker glides across the state with “a spirit of humor and quiet elegance.”

Winter Wonder Dance Festival
December 29 at 8 p.m.
The Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

The Dance Complex presents its 5th annual Winter Wonder Dance Festival, which features a special performance of Guest Artists on Stage. Viewers will be treated to works by Pam Pietro, David Parker, Levi Marsman, Boyko Dossev, Peter DiMuro, and Sean Bjerke, including the ever-popular holiday-themed Gumdrops & the Funny Uncle by Public Displays of Motion.

Boston Ballet’s Special New Year’s Eve “The Nutcracker”
December 31 with pre-show concert at 6:30 p.m. and performance at 7 p.m.
Boston Opera House
Boston, MA

Boston Ballet continues its six-year tradition of presenting a special one-night-only version of Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker. The celebration kicks off with a brass quintet from Boston Ballet Orchestra—playing popular holiday tunes and New Year’s Eve favorites in a pre-show concert—and is followed by a triumphant performance featuring a “supersized cast of Company all-stars,” as well as unique twists and turns to this age-old classic. Confetti canons end the performance while ringing in the new year.

— Merli V. Guerra

Visual Arts

Screens: Virtual Material
Through March 18, 2018
3rd Floor Galleries, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA

Thoughtfully curated by Associate Curator Sarah Montross, this exhibit explores the virtual screens that have come to dominate our daily lives. We are asked to put them away and engage with large scale works from six very talented contemporary artists. Upon first entering the show, you would expect to walk in upon a large projection; instead, you find a sinister, glittering fence-like sculpture – “Maximum Security” by Liza Lou. A comment on the conditions at Guantanamo Bay, this arresting screen-inspired work has been meticulously covered in tiny glass beads by a team of women (employed by the artist) in South Africa.

Seeking Stillness
Through July 1, 2018
At the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

Adjacent to the new Rothko exhibit, the Linde Family contemporary wing hosts a new series of installations that invites a slow and contemplative passage across three galleries. The display includes a broad range of contemporary work placed next to material carefully selected from the museum’s rich collection, such as Chinese paintings and fake rocks. For over a 1000 years, Chinese thinkers have considered the mountains a place of meditation and self-improvement. Large rocks were brought into the cities that inspired artists, new and old. Other enticing works in this show include Hiroshi Sugimoto’s haunting imagery of empty movie theaters and the abstract cave inspired paintings of Indian painter and poet Gulam Rasool Santosh.

Paige Jiyoung Moon – Recent Paintings
Steven Zevitas Gallery
450 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA
Through January 13, 2018

These dreamlike, playful depictions of the everyday will resonate with viewers long after they have left the small and trendy South End gallery. The artist’s perspective is one of someone gently floating above their daily existence: a family feast of Korean fare served on a living room coffee table, a dutiful visit to the city laundromat, and the time spent patiently waiting at the airport. These experiences are colorfully rendered in fine detail by this up and coming Korean artist, born in Seoul now living in California.

Rose Video 11: John Akomfrah
Rose Video Gallery
Through January 21, 2018
At the Rose Art Museum, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA

The eleventh iteration of the museum’s video series features John Akomfrah’s “Auto Da Fé” (2016), which, in translation, means “Acts of Faith.” The poignant lyrical imagery contained in this two-channel video investigates eight historic migrations driven by religious persecution – Sephardic Jews from Catholic Brazil to Barbados in 1654 to present-day jihadist-driven migrations from Mosul, Iraq, and Hombori, Mali. This will be his first solo show in New England; Akromfrah, a highly revered Ghanaian artist based out of Britain, was the winner of the 2017 Artes Mundi, the UK’s most prestigious award for contemporary art.

Tribute to the American Working People, Farm Scene, 1946–51 Oil on composition board, 11 3/8 × 16¾ in. (28.91 × 42.55 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation

Honoré Sharrer, “Tribute to the American Working People, Farm Scene, 1946–51.” Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation.

A Dangerous Woman: The Art of Honoré Sharrer
Through January 7
At the Smith College Museum of Art, 20 Elm Street at Bedford Terrace, Northampton, MA

In 1949, the representational painter Honoré Sharrer (1920-2009) was declared “Woman Artist of the Year” by Mademoiselle and by the age of 31 was represented by a prestigious New York gallery. She garnered her fame quickly; her renown was overwhelmed by the powerful, male-driven whirlwind of abstraction that took over after World War II. Upholding marginalized progressive ideals, her surrealist poetic subversions wittily respond to an oppressive social and political climate. This timely exhibition is the first substantial showing of her life’s work, in which she uses equal parts of “wit, seduction, and bite.”

Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now
Through January 7
RISD Museum, 20 North Main Street, Providence, RI

Drawing is the most immediate and effective medium an artist can make use of to, instantaneously, explore ideas in each and every line. This show focuses on selected works from the British Museum’s expansive Print and Drawings collection: the chosen artists span from the contemporary to fifteenth and sixteenth century masters, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The result is a rare and curious delight, an exhibition that is distinctively arranged — not by period or style, but a display of varying types of thought processes, drawing records, and stimulating ideas.

Afterglow, Friend, 2012, pigment-print. Photo: courtesy of

“Afterglow,” Amy Friend, 2012, pigment-print. Photo: courtesy of Panopticon Gallery.

Alchemists: Amy Friend and Diana H. Bloomfield
Through December 30
Panopticon Gallery, 502c Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

Creating “works of art that imbue the world with a little bit of magic” – these two artists transform their subjects through mysterious photographic techniques. The goal is to “create works of art that imbue the world with a little bit of magic.” Toronto based photographer Amy Friend presents her series Dare alla Luce, in which, with a series of pinpricks, she punctures vintage photographs. She then re-shoots them, filtering light through the holes to create layers of scintillating constellations, creating what are now ethereal portraits. Working out of North Carolina, Diana H. Bloomfield “employs pinpricks as a method of capture.” She prints in a 19th century process that combines chemistry and watercolor; the results are otherworldly soft and dreamy photographs of the female figure.

Nicholas Nixon: Persistence of Vision
Through April 22
Fotene Demoulas Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA

“Maybe you remember a few years ago when a series of photos took the internet by storm: four sisters, rendered in black and white, aging incrementally…” Artist Nicholas Nixon has been taking pictures of people since 1976. The Brown Sisters is a series of 41 photographs of the artist’s wife and three sisters standing in the same order, taken every year with the same camera for 41 years. His groundbreaking work revels in the transformations of physicality and intimacy witnessed over the passing of time.

– Aimee Cotnoir


Maurice Emmanuel Parent (left) and Ute Gfrerer (right) in the New Rep production of “Man of La Mancha.” Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Maurice Emmanuel Parent (left) and Ute Gfrerer (right) in the New Rep production of “Man of La Mancha.” Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Man of La Mancha. By Dale Wasserman. Music by Mitch Leigh; lyrics by Joe Darion. Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman. Staged by New Rep Theatre at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown, MA., through December 31.

A fresh interpretation does wonders for this stirring production of a venerable musical. Arts Fuse review

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Directed by Bryn Boice. Staged by Actors’ Shakespeare Project at Studio 210 at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, through December 31.

So many stagings of this play nowadays? Wonder why? “An all-female cast explores the ebb and flow of power and the consequences of politically motivated assassination. Set in a futuristic parallel universe where women hold absolute power, the race to claim the empire spirals out of control!” Arts Fuse review

Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush. Choreography by Jubilith Moore. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through December 31.

The play “is the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the American son of Japanese immigrants, who resisted internment during World War II, a policy which continues to be cited and debated today.” “Theatrical magic will be created by the use of three kurogos, ‘invisible’ stage manipulators/dancers in the Kabuki theatrical tradition.” Arts Fuse review

Nurse Play by James Wilkinson. Directed by Joe Juknievich. Staged by Exiled Theater at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA through December 17.

A black comedy that seems to really mean it: “Tucked away in a boarding house at the edge of the world, Nurse sits in a dark room caring for her patient, Joe. Her eyes were gouged out years ago, but she won’t let a little thing like that slow her down. Joe has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease that keeps him bed bound, out of the light and doped up. He also appears to be missing a limb or two.” Please note: this production contains graphic depictions of violence and audience discretion is advised.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo. Directed by James Peter Sotis. Staged by Praxis Stage at the First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA, through December 17.

The time has come back for this political comedy, which was staged often back in the late’70s and early ’80s. The script, by a Nobel Prize-winning author, is a “hilarious farce about deadly serious topics. The play’s action depicts a “maniac” infiltrating a police department during an internal investigation/cover-up into why a suspect was thrown from a fourth story window.” Arts Fuse review

She Loves Me Book by Joe Masteroff. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Based on a play by Miklos Laszio (the basis of films The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail). Directed and Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins. Staged by the Greater Boston Stage Company at the Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA, through December 23.

A fabled musical based on the classic film Little Shop Around the Corner. “Direct from a hugely successful Broadway revival, this delightful, romantic Tony-Award winning Broadway musical tells the story of Amalia and Georg, co-workers in a department store, who fall in love without knowing it through anonymous lonely heart letters.”

Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility By Kate Hamill. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Eric Tucker. Presented by The American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through January 14, 2018.

This no doubt wild staging of Jane Austen’s classic novel follows the adventures (and misadventures) of the Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne—after their sudden loss of fortune.

Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston MA, on December 19 and 20.

A collaboration by Rithy Panh and Him Sophy, survivors of the Khmer Rouge, that fuses music, film, voice and movement to address the traumas that occurred in Cambodia. Part of Cambodian Art, Culture, and History, a month-long series of events in Boston and Lowell celebrating Cambodian culture including film, workshops, conversations, and more.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Debra Wise. Staged by Underground Railway Theater & The Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA through December 31.

“A new incarnation of Dicken’s classic tale of the miserly Scrooge, set in a city suspended between Victorian London and the vibrantly diverse London of today. Delight in puppetry, live music, dancing and intimate storytelling.” With the talented Wise at the helm, this production promises to be an invigorating refurbishment of the old chestnut.

— Bill Marx


Jerry Bergonzi Quartet/The Fringe
December 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

The best double-bill in town continues, with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and his quartet (trumpeter Phil Grenadier, drummer Luther Gray, and a bassist TBA) followed by the Fringe (saxophonist George Garzone, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Bob Gullotti). Bergonzi goes on at 8, the Fringe at around 10:30. Stick around, contrast and compare.

Dave Bryant Quartet
December 18 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA

Veteran of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, keyboardist Dave Bryant returns to Outpost 186 with guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Jacob William, and drummer Miki Matsuki.

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club
December 21 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Fusical award-winner Charlie Kohlhase brings different versions of his venerable Explorers Club to two different venues this week (see December 27). Tonight it’s Kohlhase (on alto, tenor, and baritone saxes), Seth Meicht on tenor, trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal, tubist Josiah Reibstein, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Aaron Darrell, and drummer Curt Newton. Like I said: contrast and compare.

James Merenda and Tickle Juice
December 22 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Irrepressible alto saxophonist and conceptualist James Merenda convenes his longstanding band Tickle Juice, with cornettist Tom Duprey, pianist Vanessa Morris, guitarists Paul Dilley and Scott Sandvik, bassist Jon Dreyer, and drummer Miki Matsuki.

Forbes Graham in action. He performs

Forbes Graham in action. He performs with The Home Front at the Lilypad this week.

The Home Front
December 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Subtitled simply “an evening of improvised music,” this is the most exciting stealth booking of the waning year. The Home Front is trumpeter Forbes Graham, alto saxophonist Dave Rempis, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Luther Gray, with “special guests” Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Mary Halvoroson on guitar, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club
December 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Here’s the second gig of the week from Fusical award-winner Charlie Kohlhase (see December 21), with his long-running Explorers Club. Tonight’s edition of the band features saxophonist/composer Kohlhase with longtime collaborator and original Explorers Club member Matt Langley on soprano sax and tenor. The rest of the band is saxophonist Seth Meicht, trumpeter Bobby Spellman, tubist Josiah Reibstein, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Joe Musacchia.

— Jon Garelick

Roots and World Music

At the City Winery: GE Smith of Roger Waters band, Bob Dylan & SNL band, Jim Weider of The Band & Levon Helm Band, and Jon Herington of Steely Dan.

At the City Winery: GE Smith of Roger Waters band, Bob Dylan & SNL band, Jim Weider of The Band & Levon Helm Band, and Jon Herington of Steely Dan.

Masters of the Telecaster
December 22
City Winery

Current guitar heroes who emphasize taste and tone seem to sling a Tele more than any other axe. This show combines three of them with a rhythm section. GE Smith is best known as the former bandleader for Bob Dylan and Saturday Night Live. He raised a few eyebrows when he did the same at last few Republican Conventions, a move he justified by noting that it gave him the opportunity him to hire some excellent sidemen at a high pay rate. Jim Weider first came to prominence as a member of the reconfigured Band in the ’90s, and Jon Harrington has had a long association with Steely Dan.

Ronnie Spector
December 23
Mohegan Sun Wolf Den, Uncasville, CT

Darlene Love just completed a string of high-energy holiday shows around the region. Her co-star on Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift to You” is only doing one area appearance this year, and it’s at her usual stomping ground: the large cocktail lounge inside of the Mohegan Sun Casino. There’s no admission charge, but seating is very limited.

Twisted Pine
December 23
City Winery, Boston, MA

2017 was a very good year for the Boston bluegrass quartet Twisted Pine, thanks to their well-received debut LP. They’ll celebrate with a holiday show featuring many of their friends including representatives of the local folk, blues, and old-time scenes.

Djakout #1
December 30
Wonderland Ballroom, Revere, MA

True guardians of Haiti’s kompas groove, Djakout have been one of Haiti’s top attractions for the better part of three decades.

First Night Boston
December 31 and January 1
Copley Square, Boston, MA

While it may be a sliver of its former self, the current free incarnation of First Night remains a family friendly, bona fide alternative to the overpriced club scene on New Year’s. Brookline-reared soul man Eli Paperboy Reed tops the bill on what will no doubt be the chilly Copley Square stage, and he will also have some New Year’s Day sets.

— Noah Schaffer

Classical Music

New Year’s Eve/Day Concerts
Presented by Boston Baroque
December 31 (at 8 p.m.) and January 1 (at 3 p.m.)
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Boston Baroque sends out the old year and rings in the new with music by Bach and Handel: the former’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 1, plus the latter’s Water Music and recently-discovered Gloria (with soprano Mary Wilson).

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Music for Food presents:
Schubert’s Vienna / Our Boston
Kathryn Salfelder, (composition for 4 trombones)
Elena Ruehr, Lucy
Franz Schubert, “Trout” Quintet in A Major, D.667
December 17 at 7:30 p.m.
At Northeastern University/Fenway Center, Boston, MA

“Poor Franz Schubert. Writing some of the greatest compositions of all time, the poverty-laden composer died shockingly young, leaving behind a repertoire that rivals the likes of what Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart had written by his age. Music For Food, a nationwide charity that fights hunger through performances, will donate all proceeds of this Schubert recital to The Women’s Lunch Place of Boston.”

Carols at Midnight: French Christmas Music 1550-1700
December 18 at 8 p.m.
First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

On the Boston Camerata program: “A cornucopia of French Christmas music for voices, viols, harp and organ. Serene liturgies from the Burgundian court mingle with late Renaissance and early Baroque carols and dances. A candlelit performance of Charpentier’s beloved Messe de Minuit.

A Skylark Christmas
December 19 through 22
Various locations (see website)

On the Skylark Ensemble program: “Select excerpts of the Christmas story from the King James Bible, enhanced and celebrated through timeless carols. This concert series will mark the release of Skylark’s debut Christmas album!”

Christmas in Medieval England
December 22 at 8 p.m.
December 23 at 2:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational
11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

On the Blue Heron Renaissance Choir program: A “very popular program of music for Advent and Christmas from 15th-century England, including motets by Leonel Power and John Dunstaple, English carols, and Sarum plainchant.”

A French Christmas
December 22 at 8 p.m. at the RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island
December 23 at 8 p.m.
At First Lutheran Church, Boston
299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

On the Schola Cantorum Boston program: A French Christmas — Music of Josquin, Mouton, Couperin and Charpentier.

Elizabethan Songs of Sadness, Satire, and Seduction
January 2 at 12:15 p.m.
At King’s Chapel, Tremont & School Streets, Boston, MA

A program featuring countertenor and guitarist David William Hughes.

— Susan Miron

Rock, Pop, & Folk

Samantha Fish with Louie Fontaine and the Starlight Searchers
December 17 (doors at 7, show at 8)
The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA​

Three years winning the Best Artist Debut honor at the 2012 Blues Music Awards ceremony, Fish topped Billboard Top Blues Albums chart with her third album, Wild At Heart. Belle of the West, which came out last month, is the 28-year-old Kansas City, MO native’s second LP of 2017.

– Blake Maddux

Author Events

Harvard Book Store Gives Back
December 17 from 10 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

From the opening of the store to close, the Harvard Book Store will donate a portion of their sales to various charitable programs across the city. 826 Boston is dedicated to supporting middle school and high school students in their love of reading and writing. Community Cooks organizes several different groups to provide home-cooked meals for vulnerable populations in the greater Boston area. On the Rise offers support for women to be able to move out of homelessness. It’s a wonderful chance to let your compulsive book buying benefit others.


Caroline Preston
The War Bride’s Scrapbook: A Novel in Pictures
January 3 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Preston’s novel takes an innovative approach to traditional narrative. Protagonist Lila Jerome is a woman who has never been lucky in love; then she finds a charismatic army engineer to elope with, though the specter of WWII looms over their relationship. What makes the novel interesting is that it tells its story through vintage memorabilia and real-life artifacts (including photographs and images from the period) to tell its story.

Sam Graham- Felsen
Green: A Novel
January 4 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

The highly acclaimed debut novel tells a painful but hilarious story of adolescence set in early ’90s Boston. The storyline pits an optimistic but underachieving white kid into conflict with his laid-back black best friend, who reminds him that not everyone’s ambitions are meant to be fulfilled.

— Matt Hanson

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts