Coming Attractions: January 28 through February 13 — 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


"Sons of the Desert" -- one of the greatest Laurel and Hardy comedies -- will be screened at the MFA.

“Sons of the Desert” — one of the greatest Laurel and Hardy comedies — will be screened at the MFA.

UCLA Festival of Preservation
through January 31
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

Produced by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the series showcases films that have been rescued from extinction. This year’s festival includes newly restored gems from classic Hollywood, rare silents accompanied by live music, the films of Laurel and Hardy (the immortal Sons of the Desert!), 1960s television specials, timely independent features, documentaries, and more. The museum recommends Martin Gabel’s sumptuously gothic The Lost Moment (1947), Juleen Compton’s supernatural fairy tale The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean (1966), and Donna Deitch’s sweeping 1985 romance Desert Hearts. Full Schedule

Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart: Lorraine Hansberry
January 29 at 7 p.m.
At the Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA

The Spring Season of DocYard begins on with local filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain’s first-ever feature documentary on the life of award-winning playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun. The film goes beyond the story of the play to shed light on the many unexplored aspects of Hansberry’s life, including her childhood in segregated Chicago, her activist work for racial justice and gay rights, her association with leading figures like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, her marriage and eventual separation from publisher Robert Nemiroff, and her closeted life as a lesbian, supported by her private writings and her publications for the lesbian journal The Ladder. Director Tracy Heather Strain will attend in person for Q&A after this 7 p.m. screening; she will be joined by many on her creative team.

Japanese Festival
February 1 through 28
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

The MFA presents a new festival of recent films from Japan. The films with individual links are listed below. A complete overview of the schedule is here.

Your Name
February 1, 7:30 p.m.
February 7, 8 p.m.

Tokyo Idols
February 2, 6 p.m.
February 8, 8 p.m.

Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High
February 3, 3 p.m.
February 21, 5:30 p.m.

Jellyfish Eyes
February 4, 11 a.m.
February 25, 11 a.m.

Resistance at Tule Lake
February 4, 1:30 p.m.
February 8, 6 p.m.

February 7, 5 p.m.
February 15, 8 p.m.

February 9, 5:30 p.m.
February 11, 3 p.m.

Blade of the Immortal
February 9, 8 p.m.
February 18, 3 p.m.

Over the Fence
February 16, 3:30 p.m.
February 28, 8 p.m.

Oh Lucy!
February 16, 8 p.m.

A scene from "BPM."

A scene from “BPM (Beats per Minute).”

BPM (Beats per Minute)
February 2 – 8
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA

BPM is set in France in the early ’90s. It revolves around the ACT UP movement, the AIDS advocacy group started in 1987 by Larry Kramer in New York. Shot in documentary style, the sprawling story is populated by characters who represent multiple points of view and personal reactions to the growing AIDS crisis. According to director Robin Campillo, “You are in the flow and you don’t have time to know which character is which, so you are in the chaos, as I was when I went to ACT UP.” The volatility of the protests, the love and resilience among gay activists is dramatized via some stellar performances. While this extraordinary film is uncomfortable to watch at times, it casts a passionate spell.

One Sings, the Other Doesn’t
February 3 at 9 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

Our week’s pick from a HFA retrospective of director Agnès Varda’s work is this 1977 film. “Varda’s most overtly feminist film follows the friendship of two very different women over the course of two decades. Pomme is a middle-class rebel whose singing career coincides with her radicalization; Suzanne is a young working-class mother whose financial hardships bring about her activism.” (HFA) Complete schedule.

Near Death
February 4 at 2 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

The Frederick Wiseman Retrospect continues with Wiseman appearing in person for the screening of this film. It is an immersive experience “dedicated to the Great Inevitable”— focusing on the medical workers, patients, and relatives of those facing the end of life at the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. Be forewarned — it runs 358 minutes. Full schedule here.

Good Time
February 6 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room, Paramount Center at Emerson, Boston, MA

Bright Light Series present this Safdi Brothers film, the story of Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson), a man who is trying to get his brother out of jail after a pathetically botched bank robbery. Like Scorcese’s After Hours, it is a darkly comic descent into the madness of New York City. It is shot in the filmakers’ signature naturalistic style. Pattinson has never been better, and Benny Safdie is frighteningly convincing as the protagonist’s damaged brother. It also features Buddy Duress, who inspired the movie; he did time at Rikers Island after he finished shooting the Safdies’ previous movie. Post screening discussion with a discussion led by Robert Ribera. Free and open to the public.

Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival
February 9 through 19
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA

An eleven-day event, this is the 43rd anniversary of the oldest genre fest in America. There are features, shorts, webisodes, workshops, parties ,and an occasional Hollywood film.  The Boston Sci-Fi fest emphasizes emerging directors from around the globe. It concludes with an eyeball challenging marathon, a 24-hour screening of films that runs from noon on Sunday through noon on Presidents Day.

— Tim Jackson


Grupo Corpo
January 28
Boch Center Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA

Known for its impressive physicality and athleticism, Grupo Corpo comes to Boston with a performance that displays the “amazing diversity and rich color of Brazil.” Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston, the production brings two exciting new works to the stage by Rodrigo Pederneiras — Suite Branca and Danca Sinfonica.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal
February 2 & 3 at 8 p.m.
Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

World Music/CRASHarts presents the internationally renowned Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, whose performances combine energy, humor, and funky groove. The evening debuts a world premiere and four Boston premieres, including two by Israeli choreographer Itzak Galili, and three by Andonis Foniadakis — excerpts from Dance Me, a new work inspired by the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen.

Compagnie Accrorap performs Kader Attou's work in Boston. Photo: João Garcia.

Compagnie Accrorap performs Kader Attou’s work in Boston. Photo: João Garcia.

Compagnie Accrorap
February 2 at 7:30 p.m. and February 3 at 8 p.m.
Boch Center Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA

Compagnie Accrorap artistic director, dancer, and choreographer Kader Attou brings The Roots to Boston — this evening length work emphasizes humanistic engagement and cultural blending. As a native of Lyon and a leader in French hip-hop dance movement, Attou’s choreography combines hip hop, circus, and contemporary dance. Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston.

NACHMO! Boston
February 9 at 8 p.m.
The Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

NACHMO! is an annual nation-wide challenge that challenges dancers, choreographers, and movement enthusiasts to create new work by setting a month-long deadline and providing a community of peers. Come witness the final result in this evening-length production of freshly crafted choreography, presented in partnership with the Dance Complex.

Further afield…

Hampshire College’s Winter Dance Concert
February 1, 2, & 3 at 8 p.m.
Hampshire College Main Dance Studio/Theater
Amherst, MA

Hampshire College Dance Program presents a dynamic evening of dance via its annual Winter Dance Concert, which features choreography by Hampshire College students, performed by students from across the Five Colleges. The concert promises explore themes of “playfulness, vulnerability, and the courage to break out of silence.”

— Merli V. Guerra

Visual Arts

The Void Devouring, Mark Tovey

“The Void Devouring the Gadget Era,” 1942. Mark Tobey. Photo: Seattle Museum of Art, Artists Rights Society.

Mark Tobey: Threading Light
At the Addison Gallery of American Art, 180 Main Street, Andover, MA, through March 11

Showcasing the continuous development of this vanguard figure, this expansive survey consists of over 70 paintings – a collection that reveals the artist’s widely unsung contribution to mid-century modernism. Emerging onto the scene in the 1940’s, Tobey’s delicately nuanced “white writing” delivers a quiet eerie beauty and anticipates Jackson Pollock’s famed drip paintings. The show is one that is well worth a snowy afternoon visit.

Dangerous Liaisons Revisited: Art and Music Inspired by the Chinese Tang Court
At the Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA, through April 22

This lavish exhibition is a thoughtfully orchestrated glimpse into a luminous Golden Age. The focus is on a tragic love story between an emperor and his consort that has inspired art and music for over a 1000 years. The display includes historical musical instruments, tomb sculptures, ink paintings, prints, and contemporary works; all revolving around an exquisitely rendered scroll from the 1300’s — “Ming Huang and Yang Guifei, Listening to Music.”

At the Fenway Gallery, Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA, through September 10

“Heaven is a place where the inside is outside and the outside is inside – Where man becomes woman and woman becomes man.” The Isabelle Stewart’s 2013 artist-in-residence was vitalized by her visit to the institution, recharged by her encounter with its collection. Witty, thoughtful ponderings on gender, motherhood, anatomy, and the physiology of pregnancy, recorded in sketches and notebooks, reflect her states of revelation and wonderment.

Lissa Rivera: Beautiful Boy
At the Library & Studio Gallery, Griswold House, Newport Art Museum, 76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI, through May 20

“When taking the photos, I feel the same as when viewing a film where a director and actress share a deep connection to the fantasy captured. It is thrilling to see my partner transform into countless goddess-like forms. The project is a canvas to project our desires. At times the images even become self-portraits. The camera transposes our private experiences into public expression.” In this ongoing project, photos explore intimacy and beauty in male displays of femininity.

Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today
At the Bridgitt and Bruce Evans Family and West Galleries, Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, February 7 through May 20

This contemporary exhibition examines how the internet has generated a profound transformation in the art world, focusing on changes in its production, distribution, and reception.  Technological Influences are displayed across a broad range of work done in a wide variety of mediums, including painting, performance, photography, sculpture, and web-based projects. One piece of note — Judith Barry’s five-channel video installation features a massive minimalist cube that presents a digital composite of a male and female visage that remains impassive, even though it is assaulted  by mysterious onslaughts of gelatinous ooze.

A glimpse of "PlayTime" at Photo: Paige Besse

A glimpse of “PlayTime” at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo: Paige Besse,

At the Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA, February 10 through May 6

Brilliantly colored and full of whimsy and noise, this thematic show places playtime in the limelight it so richly deserves. Be prepared to interact with some surprising installations, such as Turner Prize winner Martin Creed’s immersive pink balloon filled room. Others may astonish you, such as Pedro Reye’s “Disarm Mechanized II” in which 6,700 guns confiscated by the Mexican government have been transformed into working musical instruments. The show’s curator (and Arts Fuse Fusical award-winner) Trevor Smith notes that “play is a catalyst for creativity, where we make up the rules and learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict.” He concludes that “play helps us possess a power for change. It’s fundamentally about human empowerment.”

At The Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, through December 31

Mutu’s hybrid compositions and wall-based works generate a textural and layered conversation about Feminism, Afrofuturism, displacement, and marginal spaces. Her new commission for the ICA makes use of tough gray humanitarian rescue blankets to form the contours of a world map on the museum’s white wall. As an artist, she looks to courageous icons such as Arundhati Roy and Nina Simone for inspiration. She believes that her calling is vital “because we assume it’s normal for women to earn less, work harder, be tidier, and demand not as much as a man, to me, it’s important to stand behind feminism as an idea.”

Inventur – Art in Germany, 1943-55
At the Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, February 9 through June 3

Borrowing its name from a 1945 poem by Günter Eich, “Inventur (inventory) implies not just an artistic stocktaking, but a physical and moral one as well – the reassurance of one’s own existence as reflected in the stuff of everyday life.” Following World War II, Germany had to reconcile with how it committed grave atrocities. This exhibition showcases the work of fiercely persistent artists who remained unwavering in their dedication to their practice. Their insistence in continuing to further the discourse of modern art presents viewers with a stark portrayal of stubbornness.

– Aimee Cotnoir


Unveiled, written and performed by Rohina Malik. A co-presentation between New Repertory Theatre and the Greater Boston Stage Company in the blackbox theater at the Mosesian Center of the Arts, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA, on January 28.

A one-woman show starring Rohina Malik: “Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life. Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil.” Arts Fuse review

KNYUM, written and performed by Vichet Chum. Directed by KJ Sanchez. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre located at 50 East Merrimack Street in Lowell, MA, through February 4.

The world premiere of a one-man show follows “the story of Guy, a hotel night clerk who spends the quiet hours of the night shift studying Khmer, the language of his family’s home of Cambodia, in preparation for his first visit to the country his parents fled from decades before. Guy stumbles awkwardly towards fluency to awaken to parts of his heritage, both beautiful and excruciating, which shine through in his wildly luminous dreams.” Arts Fuse review Arts Fuse review

Winter Panto, written and performed by Matthew Woods & The Ensemble. Directed by Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA, through February 4.

The group’s tongue-in-cheek take on Jules Verne’s classic work of science fiction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A beloved tradition in the United Kingdom dating back to the Victorian Age, Pantomimes are produced yearly in every county in the UK around the holidays. imaginary beasts has been producing the form annually for nearly a decade in the Greater Boston Area and has become a new year tradition for Boston theatre-goers—especially those with children.


Jennifer Ellis and George Olesky in “Shakespeare in Love.” Photo: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots.

Shakespeare in Love, Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard. Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Directed by Scott Edmiston. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through February 10.

“Based on the Academy Award-winning film, Shakespeare in Love tells the story of young Will Shakespeare, who is suffering a severe case of writer’s block as the deadline fast approaches to deliver his new play, “Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate’s Daughter.” Enter Viola, a headstrong noblewoman and admirer of Will’s, who disguises herself as a boy so she can skirt the law and appear (as a girl) in his play. But when the playwright and his muse fall in love, the plot undergoes some surprising rewrites. Mistaken identities, courtly intrigue, and backstage bickering are all part of the fun in this raucous romantic comedy of errors that reminds us that all the world’s a stage and love is unrehearsed.” Arts Fuse review

Mala, written and performed by Melinda Lopez. Directed by David Dower. The ArtsEmerson production presented by the Huntington Theatre Company the Calderwood Pavilion, South End, Boston, MA, on January 28.

Mala won the 2016 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Script. This HTC engagement brings the production back by popular demand. The play, runs the PR, “is funny, brutally honest, and ultimately cathartic.” The one-woman show “puts a sharp focus on what it means to put our loved ones first, right to the very end, and what happens when we strive to be good but don’t always succeed.”

Road Show, Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman Directed by Spiro Veloudos.Co-directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins. Music direction by Jonathan Goldberg. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through February 11.

A revival of Stephen Sondheim’s latest work, “the true boom-and-bust story of two of the most colorful and outrageous fortune-seekers in American history. From the Alaskan Gold Rush to the Florida real estate boom in the 1930s, entrepreneur Addison Mizner and his fast-talking brother Wilson were proof positive that the road to the American Dream is often a seductive, treacherous tightrope walk.” Arts Fuse review

Field Guide created by Rude Mechs, inspired by the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Text by Hannah Kenah. Directed by Shawn Sides. At Yale Repertory Theatre 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through February 17.

A world premiere commissioned by Yale Rep: “Strap on your snow shoes and join Rude Mechs on a surreal hike through one of the greatest—and longest!—novels ever written: The Brothers Karamazov. A physical meditation on Dostoevsky’s masterpiece,” the show “enlists stand-up comedy, a dancing monk, and some old-school magic to explore faith, meaning, and morality.” (Rude Mechs is an Austin, Texas, based theatre collective that has created a genre-averse slate of about 30 new plays since 1996.)

In the Eruptive Mode: Six Women’s Voices on the Arab Spring. Written and directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam. Presented by ArtsEmerson at the Emerson Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, on January 28.

The evening “presents six stories of ordinary citizens — all women — caught in the violence and chaos of the Arab Spring. Through visceral songs and spoken word,” the show “unveils unheard voices, each at their own point of no return.” (The American premiere is performed and subtitled in Arabic and English.)

Babette’s Feast, conceived and developed by Abigail Killeen. Directed by Karin Coonrod. Written by Rose Courtney. Adapted from the short story by Isak Dinesen. Staged by Portland Stage on its MainStage, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, ME, through February 18.

A stage dramatization of the Dinesen tale, which inspired a 1987 Danish film, which won the 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the “story of how a refugee transforms a closed religious community by sacrificing all she has to throw a lavish dinner party. Through her radical hospitality, this mysterious woman converts her guests’ deeply held notions of scarcity and judgment and opens them up to give and receive abundant grace.”

Letters from War: A Musical Tale of Love, Loss, and the Strength of Family. Written and directed by Nate Bertone. Original Music by Melissa Modifer. Lyrics by Bertone. Orchestrations and Music Direction by Conor Keelan. Staged by the Marblehead Little Theater, 12 School Street, Marblehead, MA, through February 3.

“Mae, a grandmother in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, must move into a nursing home when her adult daughter, Lily, can no longer care for her. Mae’s granddaughter, Madison, uncovers a mysterious box of letters while cleaning out the home. As Mae and her family read these letters, Mae is thrust into a new reality with her long lost love, in fragmented, clouded memories and hallucinations.”

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. Directed by Josh Short. Music direction by Matt Requintina. Staged by The Wilbury Theatre Group at 40 Sonoma Court, Olneyville, Rhode Island, through February 11.

Given that this is a time of high anxiety, a high-stepping (I hope) revival of Wilder’s look at mankind on the cusp of extinction seems in order. “Combining farce, burlesque, satire, and elements of the comic strip, Thornton Wilder depicts an Everyman Family as it narrowly escapes one end-of-the-world disaster after another, from the Ice Age to flood to war.”

Bad Dates by Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Jessica Stone. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts, Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, through February 25.

A HTC revival of a one-woman show it produced 15 years ago. This go-around stars Haneefah Wood. “Restaurant manager and shoe connoisseur Haley Walker is finally ready to re-enter the dating world in New York City. But add in the responsibility of raising her 13-year-old daughter, spats with her gang-affiliated co-workers, and Haley’s own superstitions, and it becomes clear that finding Mr. Right may not be so simple. From the privacy of her bedroom, Haley relates a series of hilarious tales while preparing for, and recovering from, one dreadful date after another. Does she have the luck and tenacity to find her perfect match?”

Hype Man: a break beat play by Idris Goodwin. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Staged by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, Boston MA, through February 24.

Yet another theatrical attempt to be relevant. “Frontman Pinnacle and his hype man Verb have been making Hip-Hop together since they were kids. Now that they’ve got top-notch beatmaker Peep One in the mix, the group is finally on the verge of making it big—until the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager shakes the trio to its core, and forces them to navigate issues of friendship, race, and privilege.”

A scene from Photo: courtesy of the American Repertory Theater.

A scene from “HEAR WORD!” Photo: courtesy of the American Repertory Theater.

HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True. Written and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA, through February 11.

“Combining song and dance with intimate portraits of resilience and resistance, HEAR WORD! grapples with the issues that affect the lives of women across Nigeria—the factors that limit their potential for independence, leadership, and meaningful contribution in society, and the ways they have moved beyond established barriers to achieve meaningful solutions. HEAR WORD! is recommended for audiences aged fourteen and up due to its themes and content.”

An Education in Prudence by Stefan Lanfer. Directed by Pascale Florestal. Staged by the Open Theatre Project at St. John’s Church, 1 Roanoke Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA, February 9 through 24.

An intriguing world premiere that dramatizes “the first attempt to racially integrate a school in America. Based on true events that occurred in 1833, the play recalls the two dozen African American girls who traveled from across the free states to a new school in a small Connecticut town in hopes of furthering their education. They met insults, assaults, and a new law threatening fines and whippings if they remained. Their teacher, a white Quaker woman, was jailed.”

Statements After and Arrest Under the Immorality Act by Athol Fugard. Directed by Jim Petosa. A New Repertory Theatre staging co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance, at the blackbox theater at the Mosesian Center of the Arts, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA, through March 3.

“In apartheid South Africa, where intimate interracial relationships are illegal, a black man and a white woman share more than just their love, baring all in the face of oppression and uncertainty.” Note: “THIS PRODUCTION CONTAINS EXTENSIVE NUDITY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PERFORMANCE, and makes use of haze and fog effects.” Part of the Statements of Survival series.

Nomad Americana by Kira Rockwell. Directed by Damon Krometis. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, February 2 through 17.

Another in what seems to be an endless series of ‘family’ dramas: “The eccentric Echo family has lived under the roof of one continuously mobile RV for years, but as they prepare for the birth of their newest member, they make temporary roots in a rural Texas town believed to harness great magic. When Bridgette, the oldest daughter, strikes up a romance with a local, motorcycle riding cowboy who shares her affinity for Shakespeare, she awakens a side of herself she never knew and begins to imagine a life outside her family.”

Richard III by William Shakespeare. Directed by Robert Walsh. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Swedenborg Chapel, 50 Quincy Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, February 7 through March 11.

The company’s timely exploration of despots moves onto Richard III, one of the theater’s premier overreachers. “The story of a scoundrel’s Machiavellian overthrow of government, filled with deceit, lies, treachery and murder. Richard III is Shakespeare’s most charismatic villain, delighting in every moment of his ruthless homicidal path to absolute power.” Cast includes the veteran Boston actors Paula Plum, Steven Barkhimer, and Jennie Israel.

Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dofrman. Directed by Steven Maler. Staged by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company at the Sandra L. Sorenson Black Box, Carling-Sorenson Center, Babson College, 231 Forest Street in Wellesley, MA, January 30 through February 11.

“In this powerful political drama and psychological thriller, a former political prisoner finds herself face to face with the man she believes was her captor. Set in an unnamed country that is, like the author’s native Chile, emerging from a totalitarian dictatorship, the play explores the after-effects of repression on hearts and souls.”


A goodly number of the cast members of Trinity Rep’s “Into the Breeches!” Left to right: Phyllis Kay as Celeste, Janice Duclos as Winifred, Anne Scurria as Maggie, Meghan Leathers as June and Rachael Warren as Grace. Photo: Mark Turek.

Into the Breeches! by George Brant. Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington St. in Providence, Rhode Island, through February 25.

Another valentine to the Bard and the human spirit, in the mode of Shakespeare in Love, perhaps. “Set in 1942 Providence, the play follows the women of the fictional Oberon Playhouse, who endeavor to continue with their Shakespearean production even though the company’s men (including their director) are fighting overseas in World War II.”

— Bill Marx


Dave Bryant Quintet
January 28 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Keyboardist, composer, and former Ornette Coleman Prime Time member Dave Bryant brings in a particularly good band (hey, none of them are bad) for one of his regular gigs at Outpost 186: trumpeter Phil Grenadier, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist John Turner, and drummer Miki Matsuki.

Ra Kalam Bob Moses
January 28 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

It’s billed as “Earth Transcended: Ra Kalam’s 70th birthday celebration,” and the heavycats joining the distinguished drummer Ra Kalam Bob Moses (Charles Mingus, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Dave Liebman, and his own fine albums as bandleader and composer) for this gig are pianist John Medeski, bassists John Lockwood and Don Pate, second drummer Tony Falco, and headlining special guest, guitarist Tisziji Muñoz.

Nancy Shallman

Nancy Shallman will sing at Lilypad in Cambridge at the end of the month.

Nancy Shallman
January 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Boston, MA.

Singer Nancy Shallman’s early career was informed by blues, rock, funk, and prog-rock (with her band the River) before her discovery of jazz and the music of Ornette Coleman. That led to study at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, N.Y., and then New England Conservatory, and a period of early acclaim. Having long since moved to New York to raise a family, teach, and work on her music (singing standards and originals), Shallman returns to Boston with a fine backing band, including saxophonist Allan Chase, whom she met in those CMS days. The rest of the band: pianist David Rumpler, guitarist Mark Michaels, bassist Dave Clark, and drummer Bob Christman.

Madeleine & Salomon
January 31 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Alexandre Saada and singer/flutist Clotide created the duo Madeleine & Salomon in 2014. Their pitch refers to the project as an “epic and libertarian duo,” which “embraces with ardor the feminist American songbook to cover it with loving-kindness tinged with a minimalistic music and with a deep and incandescent chant.” Their first album, A Woman’s Journey, offers a “reinterpretation of a humanist and rebellious repertoire from Nina Simone to Janis Joplin to Billie Holiday to Josephine Baker.” And you know what? It’s pretty damned good. Musically, think of other sophisticated minimalists and experimenters — Joanna Wallfisch, Keren Ann — in this case blending strains of jazz, classical, and pop. What’s more, Clotide’s voice has charismatic heft and presence over a broad range.

David Zinno’s Unisphere
February 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Boston, MA.

Bassist Zinno put together the Unisphere project while on tour with saxophonist Mike Tucker, in Rio de Janeiro, in June 2016. They celebrate the release of the resulting River of January with a band that includes drummer Rafael Barata and trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom, from the album, as well as pianist Tim Ray. The music will include Brazilian classics as well as originals inspired by that trip.

The Curtis Brothers
February 1 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

The Curtis Brothers, pianist Zaccai (a New England Conservatory grad) and bassist Luques (Berklee), have been mainstays in the bands of Ralph Peterson and Christian Scott, among many others. Musically fearless, they know how to meld all manner of jazz swing and Afro-Latin grooves.

Dave Bryant Quartet
February 4 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Former Ornette Coleman Prime Time keyboardist Dave Bryant makes one of his regular stops at Outpost 186 (see January 28), fronting a quartet with guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist John Turner, and drummer Eric Rosenthal.

Polly Gibbons
February 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Singer Gibbons, a rising star in Great Britain, returns to Boston to celebrate the release of her second American release, on Resonance, Is It Me . . . ?, with guitarist Jeff Lockhart pianist Andy Ezrin, bassist Richie Goods, and drummer Charles Haynes. With her rich contralto, Gibbons covers a wide range of jazz, pop, and soul.

Vijay Iyer/Teju Cole
February 9 at 8 p.m.
ICA, Boston, MA

The exciting pianist/composer Vijay Iyer (MacArthur Fellow, Harvard prof) joins forces with writer/photographer Teju Cole for a collaboration called “Blind Spot,” combining “Cole’s photography and spoken prose with a live score composed by Iyer, featuring Patricia Brennan on mallet percussion, Okkyung Lee on cello, and Stephan Crump on bass. Drawing text from Cole’s book of the same title, ‘Blind Spot’ investigates humanity’s blindness to tragedy and injustice throughout history.” A Q&A with the artists follows the performance.

Club d'Elf with John Medeski will perform Photo: Joan Hathaway

Club d’Elf with John Medeski will perform in Cambridge on February 9. Photo: Joan Hathaway.

Club d’Elf
February 9 at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA.

The “Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective” Club d’Elf celebrates its 20th anniversary with two shows at its home base in Cambridge. As is the band’s practice, special guests join the crew — in this case keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist Duke Levine, who’ve been appearing with the band since the beginning. The core group is bandleader Mike Rivard (on Moroccan sintir and bass), DJ Mister Rourke, and drummer Dean Johnston. Special surprise guests are promised. The band has been compared to all manner of jazz, prog, funk, world music, and psychedelia (“the lovechild of Pink Floyd and George Clinton, dropped in Marrakesh”), but, really, every night is different, depending on who shows up and what Rivard has prepared for them.

Stanley Jordan
February 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

A phenomenon since 1985, when he emerged on the newly revived Blue Note label with his signature propulsively lyrical two-handed tapping guitar style, guitarist Stanley Jordan returns to the Regattabar for this Saturday night show.

Photo: Jean Hangarter.

The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble whooping it up. Photo: Jean Hangarter.

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble Mardi Gras Party
February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble holds its annual Mardi Gras party with special guest saxophonist Amadee Castenell — a regular on the New Orleans scene with the likes of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint — and another native New Orleanean, the fine singer Henri Smith, who transplanted to Massachusetts after Hurricane Katrina. (Originally scheduled saxophonist Charles Neville had to cancel due to illness.)

— Jon Garelick

Roots and World Music

February 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA

St. Patrick’s Day is looming so we’ll soon be flooded with good traditional Celtic acts, but this quintet, anchored by Trevor Hutchinson’s upright bass, always sets the pace when it comes to taking Irish music to new places.

Yaeko Miranda Elmaleh
February 2, 8 p.m.
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA

Imaginative klezmer violinist Elmaleh returns to the Journeys in Sound Series along with her Klezmer Conservatory Band colleague Grant Smith and the fine accordionist Michael McLaughlin.

Masters of Hawaiian Music
February 9 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA

Acoustic guitarists have long been fascinated by the unique Hawaiian “slack key” finger-picking method, which is said to have its origins in Mexican cowboy music. Two of the greats, George Kahumoku Jr and Led Kaapana make a rare mainland stop.

— Noah Schaffer

Classical Music

Nelsons conducts Shostakovich
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 1-3, 8 p.m. (8 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

The BSO’s Shostakovich symphony survey continues with the grim no. 14. Kristine Opolais and Alexander Tsymbalyuk join Andris Nelsons, who conducts Mozart’s Gran Partita serenade for winds in the concert’s first half.

Robert Honstein’s Soul House
Presented by Hub New Music
February 4, 3 p.m.
Razzo Hall, Worcester, MA

Hub New Music gives the New England premiere of Honstein’s new, 30-minute long Soul House at Clark University.

Photo: BSO

Kirill Gerstein, one of the three pianists performing at Symphony Hall, February 8 through 10. Photo: BSO.

Gerstein, Thibaudet, and Adès play Bach
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 8-10, 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

“Leipzig Week in Boston” concludes with an all-star trio (Kirill Gerstein, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Thomas Adès) as the soloists in Bach’s Concerto for Three Pianos. Also on offer are a pair of Schumann lieder for chorus and orchestra, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony, and a new commission from Sean Shepherd.

Joan Tower Celebration
Presented by Boston Modern Orchestra Project
February 9, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

BMOP marks the 80th birthday of one of the country’s great living composers, with a program that features five of her works, including two featuring flautist Carol Wincenc (Rising and the Flute Concerto).

Presented by Lexington Symphony Orchestra
February 10, 8 p.m.
Cary Memorial Hall, Lexington, MA

Guest conductor Federico Cortese leads the LSO in a string-themed program featuring works by Henry Cowell, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bela Bartók, and Leonard Bernstein. Irina Muresanu is the soloist in the latter’s Serenade.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

ReSoundings IV: Sit inside the music!
January 27 at 8 p.m.
At the Emmanuel Church/Lindsey Chapel, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
January 28 4 p.m.
At Eliot Church, 474 Centre Street, Newton, MA

Cappella Clausura presents a “dance-theater experience disguised as a concert.” The musicians will “chant, sing, and move around you with a parade of music from the 12th to the 21st centuries by Hildegard von Bingen, Vittoria/Raffaella Aleotti, Arvo Pärt, Francisco Guerrero, Ambrosian and Florentine chant, and more.”

Blue Heron Renaissance Choir
February 3 at 8 p.m.
At the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
February 4 at 4 p.m.
At S. Stephen’s Church 114 George Street, Providence, RI

On the program: Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks,The Iberian Songbook: Spanish songs & Dances, 1450-1600, and Missa “Fors seullement” (Ockeghem@600, Concert 7).

Emmanuel Music
February 4 at 4 p.m.
At the Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

On the program — Chamber Music of Mendelssohn: Three Lieder Duets, Op. 77, Eichendorff Lieder, Lieder ohne Worte, Book 3, Op. 38, and String Quintet No. 1 in A Major, Op. 18.

February 9 at 8 p.m
At the First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

The concert celebrates the Song of Mary in the Spanish and Portuguese Renaissance traditions. The Magnificat expresses Mary’s jubilant response upon learning she will give birth to the Savior. Settings of this beloved canticle by Guerrero, Ortiz, and Cardoso will be heard alongside music dedicated to the Virgin Mary by Victoria, Navarro, de Brito, de Christo, and others.

Schubert’s Vienna / Our Boston
February 11 at 7:30 p.m.
At Brown Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

On the Music for Food concert’s program: Franz Schubert’s Lieder; Luna Pearl Woolf’s Lili’uokalani for solo cello piccolo; J. S. Bach’s Prelude to Suite no. 6 for Solo Cello, BWV1012, and Amy Beach’s Piano Quintet in f# minor, Op. 67

— Susan Miron

Rock, Pop, and Folk

Girlpool with Land of Talk and Forth Wanderers
February 9 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston MA

Girlpool is a guitar, bass, and vocals duo that dramatically expanded its instrumentation on 2017’s Powerplant to include drums. As with their eponymous 2014 EP and their 2015 LP Before the World Was Big, Powerplant comes in at less than half an hour long with average song duration of less than two-and-a-half minutes. Thus, one could conceivably hear all of Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s recorded output when punk and jangle pop-influenced duo rocks the Paradise on Friday.

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band
February 11 (Doors at 6, show at 8)
City Winery, Boston MA

78-year-old Ian Hunter released an album of new material (Fingers Crossed) as recently as 2016. Hunter is most famous for having been the lead singer of Mott the Hoople (“All the Young Dudes”) from 1969 to 1974. However, his solo composition “Cleveland Rocks” is familiar—as performed by The Presidents of the United States of America—to millions as the theme song to The Drew Carey Show. Artists who have recorded their own versions of Hunter’s songs include Barry Manilow (“Ships”), Great White (“Once Bitten, Twice Shy”), The Pointer Sisters (“Who Do You Love?”), and Alejandro Escovedo (“Irene Wilde”). He and his Rant Band’s Saturday night show at City Winery is sold out, but they’ll back again on Sunday.

COIN with The Aces
February 13 (Doors at 7, show at 8)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston MA

The Nashville-formed quartet COIN has drawn comparisons to The Strokes and The Killers. Assurances that their songs — including the singles “Run” and “Talk Too Much” — will get stuck in listeners’ heads have popped up in more than one review. Last year’s How Will You Know If You Never Try will be the focus of the band’s show at the Paradise on February 13.

— Blake Maddux

Author Events

Rob Riemen
To Fight Against This Age: On Fascism and Humanism
January 30 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

Given the rather unsettling rise of the current President, the f-word has been bandied about quite a bit. Philosopher Rob Riemen is examining the weaknesses of fascism: mainly focusing on its dependence on racial resentment, anger, fear, and a distrust of intellectuality. Drawing on historical and philosophical examples, as well as on the work of such literary luminaries Albert Camus and Thomas Mann, Riemen explores how we can fight our way free of the mental miasma.

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
How Democracies Die
January 31 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

After the election of Donald Trump, lots of people have started to wonder about democracy’s ability to survive — is it in peril? Two Harvard professors of government say yes. They have done decades of research on authoritarian governments, and see  the slow erosion of institutions and the disregard for political norms as real danger signs.

Jeanne Theoharis
A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History
February 2 at 3 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

The Civil Rights movement was a watershed moment in American history, but all too often it’s seen through a self-congratulatory haze of nostalgia. Theoharis is a professor at Brooklyn College who is trying to set the record straight. Rosa Parks, for example, wasn’t just a woman who was stubborn on the bus; she was also a lifelong criminal justice advocate and radical. Dr. King was as critical of complacent liberals in the North as he was of southern bigots, and his wife Coretta was not a mere helpmate but pushed her husband’s activism in deeper directions.

Ruth Lepson & Fanny Howe
ask anyone & Second Childhood
February 3 from 4-6 p.m.
Poetry Readings at Outpost 186, Inman Square, Cambridge MA

Two beloved local poets will read from their latest work as part of the lively reading series hosted by Ben Mazur. Lepson is the poet-in-residence at New England Conservatory of Music and will read from her newest book (reviewed in The Arts Fuse), which won the Philip Whalen Prize from Chax Press. Howe’s collection was published by the highly regarded Graywolf Press, as was her collection of essays, The Needle’s Eye.

John Darnielle
Universal Harvester: A Novel
February 9 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA

The principle singer/songwriter for the literate and confessional, cult band The Mountain Goats returns to fiction. Set in Iowa, this third novel revolves around a hard-luck story: everyday people struggling to survive in the Midwest.

Dorje Dolma
Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal
February 16 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Dolpo is a remote, legendary region of Nepal, near Tibet. When Dolma was growing up, there was no running water or electricity, cars, phones, schools, or doctors. Dolma explores how, as a spirited young woman, she learned Tibetan rituals and traditions while living in a raw natural environment.

A Conversation between Atul Gawande and George Saunders
February 18 from 3-5 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
Tickets are between $6.50 and $21.98, including a copy of the book

Two of the wisest and most generous minds of our times sit down to talk in Newton.  They come from different fields, but they have much in common. Gawande is a practicing surgeon whose books explore the limits of what pragmatic science can teach us; Saunders’s acclaimed fiction pushes the limits of narrative, exploring new ways of dramatizing the twists and turns of morality.

— Matt Hanson

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