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
Grace Dane Mazur
The Garden Party
July 11 at 7 p.m.
At Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA
Writer, artist, and biologist Mazur (and Arts Fuse contributor, though, alas, it has been a long time since her last fine article), author of Trespass: A Novel, Silk: Stories, and Hinges: Meditations on the Portals of the Imagination — will discuss her latest novel, The Garden Party. The plot: “The Cohens are wildly impractical intellectuals—academics, activists, and artists. The Barlows are Wall Street Journal–reading lawyers steeped in trusts and copyrights, golf and tennis. The two families are reserved with and wary of each other, but tonight, the evening before the wedding that is supposed to unite them, they will attempt to set aside their differences over dinner in the garden.”
— Bill Marx
Shelley Drake Hawks
The Art of Resistance
July 10 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Given the current state of the country, now is the perfect time to think about the relationship between art and political resistance. We think we’ve got it rough (and indeed we do) but we’ve got nothing on historical China when it comes to despotism. This volume surveys the lives of seven painters — Ding Cong (1916-2009), Feng Zikai (1898-1975), Li Keran (1907-89), Li Kuchan (1898-1983), Huang Yongyu (b. 1924), Pan Tianshou (1897-1971), and Shi Lu (1919-82) — during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). They risked life and limb to create art at a time when it was considered counterrevolutionary.
How to Be Famous: A Novel
July 11 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $28 with book, $5 without
Harvard Book Store welcomes bestselling author Caitlin Moran for a discussion of her latest novel, How to Be Famous, a sequel to her acclaimed debut novel, How to Build a Girl. “Johanna Morrigan (AKA Dolly Wilde) has it all: at eighteen, she lives in her own flat in London and writes for the coolest music magazine in Britain. But Johanna is miserable. Her best friend and man of her dreams John Kite has just made it big in 1994’s hot new BritPop scene. Suddenly John exists on another plane of reality: that of the Famouses.”
Stay with Me
July 17 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA
A Nigerian writer reads from her award-winning novel (now released in paperback) that “gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage – and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.”
— Matt Hanson
July 1 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA
This trio convenes relentless experimenter Eric Zinman, on drums and synthesizer, Bob Moores on trumpet and “electric guitar SFX,” and guitarist Mike McCaw.
July 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
For this version of his monthly .01 Percent series at the Lilypad, drummer Eric Rosenthal presents “two shorter sets, followed by the Sextet performing original music and graphic scores painted on stave paper” by Rosenthal. Bassist Nathan McBride plays the solo set at 7:30, followed by the duo of Jorrit Dijkstra, on alto sax and Lyricon, and Andrew Neuman on electronics, at 8 p.m.; and then the Sextet at 8:30: Dijkstra, McBride, Rosenthal, cornettist Stephen Haynes, and cellist Junko Fujiwara.
Jason Yeager & Randal Despommier Quintet
July 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Pianist Jason Yeager — a Boston native and Berklee prof — has teamed up with New Orleans-bred alto saxophonist Randal Despommier for a new album, All at Onceness, that draws on a cross section of compositions from sources that range from Bach to Stravinsky, Scriabin to Messiaen, and takes them in unpredictable directions. (The title of the opening track should give you an idea: “Rite of Cherokee.”) The other members of the band are the fine singer Aubrey Johnson, bassist Danny Weller, and drummer Jay Sawyer.
Steven Long Septet
July 13 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
The nominal frontman, Steven Long, is credited with piano and harmonium, but the esteemed accordionist Ted Reichman (Claudia Quintet, Anthony Braxton to Paul Simon) is listed for “accordion/compositions.” Promising. The other members of the band are drummer Mario Fabrizio, bassist Zach Lavine, trumpeter Matt Hull, guitarist Magdalena Abrego, and tenor saxophonist Traviss Bliss.
Joe Morris & Tomas Fujiwara
July 13 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
One of the true originals in jazz, guitarist Joe Morris, gets together with drummer Tomas Fujiwara — a regular collaborator with former Morris student Mary Halvorson, among many others, and a fine composer in his own right.
Cambridge-based tubist and composer Josiah Reibstein, a regular on the scene with the likes of Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club, released the adventurous, beautifully balanced, tuneful Not Now, But Later, with his quintet in 2016. They join him here: tenor saxophonist Tyler Burchfield, trumpeter Sam Dechenne, keyboardist Jacob Baron, and drummer Joe Musacchia.
— Jon Garelick
July 12 at 7 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has commissioned Marsha Parrilla to present a new dance work inspired by the museum’s summer exhibition Life, Death & Rivalry. The work explores the Sarcophagus (sacred passage) and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Middle Passage).
Performance in the Park: The Wild Divine
July 14 at 2 p.m.
Kennard Park, Circular Garden, Newton, MA
Deborah Abel Dance Company shares excerpts of its recent successful production. Described by the Boston Globe as being “filled with movement of liquid flow and lush exchanges of weight,” this outdoor performance is appropriate for viewers of all ages — and it is free of charge.
And further afield…
Ephrat Asherie Dance
Ephrat Asherie Dance performs the world premiere of Odeon, a high-energy, hybrid hip-hop work set to and inspired by the music of early 20th-century Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, which will be performed live. A 2016 New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award recipient, Asherie incorporates breaking, hip-hop, house, and vogue into this new work, set to music that melds classical influences with Afro-Brazilian rhythms.
— Merli V. Guerra
#UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists
Walsh Gallery, Fairfield University Art Museum, 200 Barlow Road, Fairfield, CT
Through October 13
Presented in partnership with #UNLOAD and Guns in the Hands of Artists Foundation, this timely exhibition is a powerful example of artistic creation as a means to evoke meaningful dialogue and, in doing so, encourage the potential for social change. Touring across North America, from Colorado and Miami’s Art Basel to Washington DC, the show originated in the mid-’90s in response to a spiking murder rate in New Orleans. The gut wrenching and memorable work in this exhibition was created by a group of internationally renowned poets, painters, glass artists, sculptors, photographers, and video artists. They made use of decommissioned guns taken off the city’s streets through a buyback program.
Carissa Rodriguez: The Maid
Through July 29
MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames Street, Building E15, Cambridge, MA
The Maid, a newly commissioned video work from New York based artist Carissa Rodrigues, is a provocative layering of appropriation that welcomes serious contemplation. The visuals follow a selection of American artist Sherrie Levine’s Newborn sculptures throughout the course of a day in various residences, private and institutional, from New York to Los Angeles. Levine made the curious orbs out of crystal and black cast glass in the early 1990s, molding them after Constantin Brancusi’s marble and bronze sculptures of the same name from 1915 and 1920. Featuring Levine’s sculptures, appropriations of another artist’s work, and capturing them in their contemporary environments, Rodriguez engages the conditions and settings in which art circulates, proposing that the futures of artworks are inherently speculative. The topics raised include time, subjecthood, the conditions of making work, and the canonical identity of the artist.
French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault
through January 6
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
This “not to be missed” exhibition brings together 40 rarely shown French masterworks. They have been pulled from their safe keeping in storage to make a brief but no doubt memorable appearance. The art is particularly fragile because of its easily mussed powdery pigments and light sensitive paper. The warm, pink, and hazy surfaces of Edgar Degas’s Landscape (1892) capture fleeting changes in the weather, while Camille Pissarro’s Poultry Market at Gisors (1885) bustles with teeming excitement, suggesting the chatter of commerce among townsfolk. These presumably boisterous conversations and facial expression are softened by the light, quick renderings of the artist’s pastels.
James Weingrod: For the Trees Contained the Entire Universe They Inhabited
through August 4
YELLOW PERIL. 60 Valley Street #5, Providence, RI
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
-William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Inspired by the sentiments of William Blake’s classic celebration of Romantic prophecy and revolutionary fervor, James Weingrod began this evolving new series of paintings, sculptures, and installations over two years ago, when he was participating at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida. He was intoxicated by the grain patterns and burrows left behind by insects who had feasted on the insides of a tree near its trunk. He became fascinated by these “over looked creatures” and the tantalizing designs they left behind, considering the latter to be “both singularly and collectively containing the entire universe within their walls, such that they can constitute a structural and visual model of a universe rich with mystery, beauty, and interconnectivity.”
Celestial Infinity Mirror Room: Yayoi Kusami
July 5 through October 28
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA
Popular Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusami has focused on themes of eternity, the sublime, and the cosmos for nearly seventy years. The park will be presenting one of his most acclaimed Infinity Mirror Rooms to the Boston area for the first time. The work creates an immersive environment of celestial wonder; viewers are sure to be transfixed by a vast yet intimate vision of marvelously expanding constellations. Referred to by the artist as a “subtle planetarium,” this ten-by-ten foot installation will be on view through the fall.
Ron Campbell: The Beatles Cartoon Pop Art
July 14 through July 18
Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN), 14 Summer Street, Natick, MA
A treat for the flower child in us all. The show celebrates the 50th anniversary of the cartoon Yellow Submarine, which is being re-released in theaters. Ron Campbell, the last surviving member of the film’s animation team, will be present at a four-day display of Beatles cartoon Pop art – free for all and everything is on sale. Inspired by the music of the Beatles, this 1968 British animated musical comedy fantasy remains a brilliantly colored, ceaselessly playful psychedelic feast for the eyes. It is time to re-experience its wonder. Campbell worked on numerous beloved cartoons, including characters from the Flintstones and Yogi Bear to Scooby Doo, Krazy Kat, and the Jetsons. His former studio was awarded a Peabody and an Emmy, and he shows his work internationally.
Flight of Fancy
Through September 3
Panopticon Gallery, 502c Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
Celebrating summer in a fanciful way, the Panopticon presents yet another stunning exhibition — a stylish and colorful showing of the work of three masterful artists, each of which brings his or her unique approach to photography. Viewers can’t help but question the artificiality of Claire Rosen’s images; she causes double takes with her expertly deceptive pictures of exotic birds perched in front of highly ornate wallpaper. Stephen Sheffield collages the unexpected, combining images of men and women with architectural diagrams, electrical circuits, and sheet music. My personal favorite, Kerry Mansfield, excels at aerial photography of coastal California, whisking the viewer away into a dream: gliders fly off of the frame or a child runs into breaking waves.
Nam June Paik: Screen Play
Through August 5
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
This must-see show is almost entirely drawn from Harvard Art Museums’ own collection. It is curated by Mary Schneider Enriquez, Houghton Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Marina Isgro, Nam June Paik Research Fellow, Harvard Art Museums. This grouping of works spans over four decades of the globally celebrated artist’s groundbreaking practice. A few of them, pieces of profound importance to the trajectory of his creative process, are being shown for the first time — TV Crown (1965/99) visualizes audio waves moving across the screen of a boxed television set. Often referred to as the founder of video art, this Korean mastermind spent most of his life in the United States, engaged in a diverse multidisciplinary practice that combined several medias, including music, performance, drawing and painting, sculpture, video, and broadcast television.
July 4 through October 8
ICA Watershed, 256 Marginal Street, Boston, MA
“An immersive underwater environment inaugurates the ICA Watershed.” Images of swimming dolphins are being beamed across the ceiling, walls, and floors of the ICA’s newest acquisition in East Boston. An artist featured in the 56th Venice Biennale as well as several Whitney Biennales, Diane Thater will be the first of many to show in the 15,000-square-foot raw industrial space. Her captivating installation, Delphine, thoughtfully responds to this newly renovated former copper pipe factory along with its coastal locale. Produced in Kenya in 2016 and 2017, a second video installation, A Runaway World, is being shown on free standing screens, designed by Thater. It focuses on the lives of species on the brink of extinction and the economies that have put them in danger.
– Aimee Cotnoir
Jagged Little Pill Music by Alanis Morissette & Glen Ballard. Lyrics by Alanis Morissette. Book by Diablo Cody. Music Supervision, Orchestrations, and Arrangements by Tom Kitt. Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA, through July 15.
This world premiere musical features “an original story inspired by the themes and emotions laid bare in Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning album that introduced beloved anthems, including “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Hand In My Pocket.” The narrative follows a family grappling with uncomfortable truths about many of the urgent issues deeply affecting our communities and our world today.” Book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno). Arts Fuse review
The Chronic Single’s Handbook, written and performed by Randy Ross. In a Somerville, MA location (check the website) through September 22.
Novelist and fringe festival veteran Randy Ross was among the Bostonians selected by Airbnb to offer “high quality experiences” to visitors and residents of the Boston area. He is performing this piece in his living room — which gives a whole new meaning to ‘intimate’ theater. “The show: A chronically-single guy takes a trip around the world hoping to change his luck with love. An unflinching look at how men feel about sex, love, marriage, and massage parlors. Adult situations, adult language, and more adult situations including a visit to a body spa named ‘The Curious Finger.'”
The Weir by Conor McPherson. Directed by Bob Knopf. Staged by Harbor Stage at 15 Kendrick Avenue, Wellfleet Harbor, Wellfleet, MA, through July 7.
“When a newcomer happens into a sleepy Irish pub, she and a band of local bachelors embark on an unexpectedly eerie evening.”
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton, adapted from the 1782 novel of the same title by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner. Presented by the Nora Theatre at the Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, through July 1.
Gardner helmed a production of the play in Washington DC with an all-male cast. She brings that concept to this revival: notions of gender politics are skewed when the sexual, amoral, manipulative games in this script are envisioned through new eyes. Content Warning: Full nudity. Sexual content. Suggested age: 18 and over. Arts Fuse review
Bar Mitzvah Boy by Mark Leiren-Young. Directed by Guy Ben-Aharon. Staged by the Chester Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, MA, through July 1.
The American premiere of a spiritual comedy: “Joey is in a hurry to ‘become a man,’ but he’d prefer not to skip his weekly poker game for Friday night services to do it. While this late-in-life Bar Mitzvah boy (and successful divorce attorney) is finding his spiritual way, the rabbi who is guiding him is losing hers.”
Salt, written and performed by Ruby Rose Fox. At OBERON, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, on June 22. At the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA on July 13. At Wellfleet Preservation Hall, Wellfleet, MA, on July 14.
Fox describes her upcoming performance as “a femme, Trump-era, alter-ego, one-woman pop opera spectacle.” Arts Fuse review
The Royal Family of Broadway, Based on the original play by George S. Kaufman & Edna Ferber and an original adaptation by Richard Greenberg. Book by Rachel Sheinkin. Music & Lyrics by William Finn. Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. Directed by John Rando. Staged by Barrington Stage at the Boyd-Quinson MainStage, Pittsfield, MA, through July 13.
The world premiere of a musical comedy that “is a masterful love letter to the Great White Way. Set in the 1920s and loosely based on the legendary Barrymores, it centers around the Cavendish family of actors: an aging imperious grande dame, a Broadway star looking for love, a self-centered boozy leading man who has fled Hollywood, and a promising ingénue – each having to make pivotal choices in their lives.”
Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by Shakespeare and Company in the Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, through August 5.
Shakes & Co veterans Jonathan Croy and Tod Randolph take the helm as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, “two of Shakespeare’s most notorious anti-heroes.” Interesting: Mary McCarthy saw them as the Bard’s most perfect depiction of a middle class couple
The Closet by Douglas Carter Beane, inspired by Francis Veber’s play Le Placard. Directed by Mark Brokaw. Staged by the Williamstown Theatre Festival on its MainStage, Williamstown, MA, through July 14.
World premiere comedy: “Martin O’Reilly (Matthew Broderick) is stuck in Scranton in a dead-end job, his marriage is over, and his son won’t return his calls. His only friend is his eternally optimistic co-worker (Tony nominee Jessica Hecht), who can’t bake enough muffins to stave off her romantic longings. When a stranger (Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas) sashays into their world, he drags Martin—and everyone around him—out of their respective closets.”
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp. Directed by David Cromer. Staged by the Williamstown Theatre Festival on its Nikos Stage, Williamstown, MA, through July 8.
“Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony Award winner Mary-Louise Parker stars in this world premiere play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp. Bella Baird (Parker) is an accomplished professor at an Ivy League university who prizes her solitude. But when she faces a challenge she cannot tackle alone, she allies herself with a brilliant and mysterious student, Christopher (Will Hochman).
The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter. Directed by Jennifer Chambers. Staged by Barrington Stage Company at the St. Germain Stage through July 15.
Start with an excellent script by accomplished playwright and television writer Bekah Brunstetter. Add a director — Jennifer Chambers — and lead actor — Berkshire favorite Debra Jo Rupp — who were both involved with the play’s development since its beginnings at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in California. Stir in Barrington Stage Company’s excellent team of designers and some gifted cast members and, voilà, you have The Cake, a smart, stinging, and eerily timely comedy that feels timeless. Arts Fuse review
Morning After Grace by Carey Crim. Directed by Regge Life. Staged by Shakespeare & Company Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, through July 15.
Morning After Grace is a charming play that initially seems to be a romantic comedy set in a gated community in Florida. But, by its end, the script turns out to be about longing and loss and betrayal and hope. That dramatist Carey Crim manages to achieve all that in the space of less than two hours is testament to her good ear and nimble use of language, as well as her compassion for her three characters, whose affection for each other is also noteworthy and welcome. Arts Fuse review
Cato & Dolly by Patrick Gabridge. Presented by the Bostonian Society at the Old State House, Boston, MA, July 6 through September 29.
This script, commissioned specifically for the Old State House’s Through the Keyhole exhibition, “reveals life behind the door of the Hancock House, Governor John Hancock’s 18th century Beacon Hill home. In addition to viewing the historic door itself, on public view for the first time in decades, visitors to Through the Keyhole will experience the new 20-minute play which offers a glimpse of everyday life behind the Hancock door through the eyes of those who lived there: Cato Hancock, an enslaved person in the Hancock household and Dolly Hancock, John Hancock’s wife and First Lady of Massachusetts.”
Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush. At Gloucester Stage, Gloucester, MA, through July 7.
The Olivier and Tony award-winning Dancing at Lughnasa has won enormous popularity over the years. This production of Irish dramatist Brian Friel’s script brings together award-winning director Benny Sato Ambush and Academy Award nominee Lindsay Crouse. Set in County Donegal in 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival, the drama chronicles the five Mundy sisters and their brother Jack, who has returned home after a 25 year absence — the family dances to the fleeting melody of times past.
The Taming by Lauren Gunderson. Directed by Juliet Bowler. Staged by Hub Theater Company at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA, July 14 through 28.
The Boston premiere of a political lampoon by an African-American dramatist that has been making the rounds at regional theaters. “A beauty queen, a right-wing politician and a liberal activist are locked in a hotel room on the eve of the Miss America pageant—what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the play is a hilarious satirical skewering of American politics that will leave folks from both sides of the aisle rolling in it!”
The Radicalization Process, written and performed by The Hinterlands (Richard Newman, Bielby, and Dave Sanders). Sound design and live score by Newman. Scenic design by Shoshanna Utchenik, archive creation by Bielby and Casey Rocheteau, and publication design by Benjamin Gaydos. Directed by Newman. Presented by the Ko Festival of Performance on the Amherst College campus in Amherst, MA, July 6 through 8.
“Layering historical accounts of the radical left of the 1960’s and 70’s with a master class in American method acting, socialist pageantry, and a gleefully obtuse re-production of The Living Theatre’s Antigone,” this show “stokes the embers of America’s past revolutions to ignite our radical potential. Audiences will begin the performance sifting through a basement archive of a forgotten revolutionary, navigating histories true and false, real and imagined, before they make their way into the performance space, a safe-house within a house in 1970s Detroit. Multiple timelines run concurrently; imagery unfolds both mundane and shocking; a live-score is performed on analog synthesizers and everyday objects; L’Internationale is sung; a bomb is built.”
Creditors by August Strindberg, adaptation by David Greig. Directed by Nicole Ricciardi. Staged by Shakespeare & Company in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, July 19 through August 12.
Who can pass up one of Strindberg’s acidic power struggles among men and women during the summer? He wrote this script right after Miss Julie, and thought it was a better play — “three persons, one table, two chairs, and no sunrise.”
Dark Room by George Brant. Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio. Staged by Bridge Repertory at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second Street, Cambridge, MA, July 27 through August 16.
A play based on the life and art (black and white photography) of Francesca Woodman, a prolific prodigy who died by suicide in 1981 at the age of 22.”This world premiere production will feature an epic cast of 24 women, and original movement devised by Doppelgänger Dance Collective.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Staged by Apollinaire Theatre Company at PORT Park, 99 Marginal Street, Chelsea, MA, July 11 through 29.
“Midsummer Night’s Dream will be staged environmentally in PORT Park, with the audience moving as we escape to the forest.” Let’s all hope we all make it out on one piece. Some ass heads don’t come off so easy.
Five Times in One Night by Chiara Atik. Directed by R. J. Tolan. Staged by Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre at the Julie Harris Stage, Wellfleet, MA, through July 20.
Political correctness seems to have killed the sex farce, once a staple of summertime fare. This might be an attempt to re-invent it. “Over the centuries, few things have wielded such power over mankind as the promise of a great romp between the sheets. Five Times in One Night wittily depicts five couples discovering truths about themselves while navigating the rocky terrain of romance. From Adam and Eve to the only humans left on a post-apocalyptic planet (with stops in the 12th century and the modern day) Five Times in One Night explores joy, excitement, danger, and disappointment in a funny and revealing quintet of short plays.”
Artney Jackson by James Anthony Tyler. Directed by Laura Savia. Staged by the Williamstown Theatre Festival on its Nikos Stage, Williamstown, MA, July 11 through 22.
A world premiere of comedy in which title character “is a devoted mentor, a respected employee at the local cable company, and an enthusiastic teller of ‘dad jokes.’ After twenty-five years, he is finally up for promotion, and he can almost taste the possibility of becoming a manager. Over the course of one week, Artney’s decades-old routine is shattered when his son makes plans to move out of their home, the higher-ups test his resolve to lead, and co-workers show their true colors.”
The Wiz, Book by William F. Brown. Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls. From the story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Music Director, Allyssa Jones. Choreography by Jean Appolon. Staged by Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 40 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through July 1.
“A soulful retelling of L. Frank Baum’s beloved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” this musical (Winner of 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical & Best Score) “combines fairy-tale glamour with street smarts to make a classic fantasy sparkle for today.” Arts Fuse review
— Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
City Winery, Boston, MA
Some think mainstream country music began its sharp decline in the early ’80s. If so, it sure wasn’t John Anderson’s fault. With his warm voice and real-life lyrics, Anderson has been one of Nashville’s most distinctive and soulful voices since he burst onto the scene. The title track of his 1992 classic Seminole Wind is probably the most gripping tale of environmental destruction to come out of Nashville. These days, mainstream country radio isn’t too kind to vets like Anderson, so there was a nine-year hiatus before he returned with 2015’s self-released Goldmine. The set saw him cowriting original material with Josh Turner, the kind of traditional-minded country star who was clearly influenced by Anderson, who makes his first Boston appearance in decades with an acoustic set.
Marisa Anderson and Glenn Jones
Atwoods Tavern, Cambridge, MA
Boundary-crossing solo electric guitarist Marisa Anderson has a new album of beguiling instrumentals on Thrill Jockey. She’s joined by local guitar hero Glenn Jones.
New Bedford Folk Festival
July 7 and 8
This long-running fest has carved out a niche as an inexpensive way to sample both superb singer/songwriters as well as some of the best Celtic, Canadian, and traditional folk artists around. Each act plays its own set and then joins up with their peers for various round-robins. Highlights this year include Tom Rush, the first local date in years by folk-funk bassist Laura Love (who is also at City Winery July 5), high-energy fiddler Jeremy Kittel, and country bluesman Rev. Robert B Jones Sr.
City Winery, Boston, MA
Ferris has certainly had an unusual trajectory: He started out as frontman of the blues-rock Screamin’ Cheetah Willies. After his ’90s heyday he quit a bad case of drug addiction and ended up researching traditional Negro spirituals, which have made up the bulk of his recent repertoire in recent years. Ferris’ approach to gospel is always heartfelt, even if it can be a bit overwrought at times. He’s currently road testing material from a forthcoming LP, which will see him edging back into rock territory.
One of Boston’s best summer musical pleasures is the Tito Puente Music Series, which brings a range of Latin musicians to city parks on Thursday evenings. This Puerto Rican outfit is celebrating a decade of playing its hip variation on “salsa dura,” and it is likely to attract some serious salsa dancers along with raising awareness about the ongoing recovery in Puerto Rico.
— Noah Schaffer
Newport Music Festival Opening Night
Presented by Newport Music Festival
July 5, 8 p.m.
The Breakers, Newport, RI
The Newport Music Festival kicks off its 50th-anniversary season with an evening of ebullient chamber music by Dvorak (the American Quartet) and Mendelssohn (the Octet), as well as a chamber setting of Copland’s Old American Songs. Trevor Neal is the soloist in the latter.
Lang Lang plays Mozart
Presented by Tanglewood Music Festival
July 6, 8 p.m.
Koussevitzky Shed, Lenox, MA
The immensely-popular Lang tackles one of Mozart’s darkest piano concertos (the C-minor no. 24) as part of the opening night program for the Boston Symphony’s summer home. Andris Nelsons also conducts the Overture to The Magic Flute and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.
Glass and Golijov
Presented by Newport Music Festival
July 8, 8 p.m.
The Breakers, Newport, RI
A Far Cry pairs Glass’s haunting Symphony no. 3 and Osvaldo Golijov’s numinous Tenebrae with Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto and Bartók’s Divertimento.
Trouble in Tahiti
Presented by Tanglewood Music Festival
July 12, 8 p.m.
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA
Leonard Bernstein’s satirical one-act opera comes to Tanglewood as part of the institution’s summer-long celebration of his centennial. Alexandra Silber sings Dinah and Nathan Gunn portrays Sam; Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie, directs. Also on the bill are selections from Bernstein catalogue of songs.
Presented by Tanglewood Music Festival
July 14, 8 p.m.
Koussevitzky Shed, Lenox, MA
Andris Nelsons conducts a semi-staged performance of Puccini’s beloved opera. He leads an all-star cast that includes Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo, Kristine Opolais as Mimi, and Susanna Philips as Musetta.
Wang plays Beethoven
Presented by Tanglewood Music Festival
July 15, 2:30 p.m.
Koussevitzky Shed, Lenox, MA
Yuja Wang returns to Tanglewood, playing Beethoven’s epic Piano Concerto no. 1. The program also includes Mendelssohn’s sunny Italian Symphony and Leonard Bernstein’s stirring Chichester Psalms. Andris Nelsons conducts.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Rudolf Buchbinder, piano
July 5 at 8 p.m.
Tanglewood, Ozawa Hall, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA
On the program: “Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat for piano and winds, K.452, and Schumann’s exuberant Piano Quintet in E-flat, Op. 44, one of the masterpieces of the genre. The program also includes Bernstein’s Variations on an Octatonic Scale, for flute and cello, one of his last compositions, which received its world premiere at Tanglewood in 1995; and Moisey Weinberg’s Sonata for solo double bass, Op. 108.”
Jeremy Denk, piano
July 11 at 8 p.m.
Tanglewood, Ozawa Hall, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA
A recital of music by Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, and Prokofiev. “Denk’s program begins with Mozart’s Rondo in A minor, K.511, followed by Prokofiev’s whimsical yet thorny Visions fugitives. He continues with two works by Beethoven: the Sonata No. 30 in E, Op. 109, the first of the composer’s transcendent final trio of works in the genre, and the yearning song cycle An die ferne Geliebte in Liszt’s arrangement for solo piano. The recital concludes with Schumann’s scintillating Fantasy in C, Op. 17.”
Emerson String Quartet with Colin Carr, cello
July 15 at 5 p.m.
Rockport Music Festival, Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA
On the program: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 (no fugue) and Schubert’s String Quintet in C major, D. 956.
— Susan Miron
July 6 at 7 p.m. and July 15 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, MA
The Luchino Visconti retrospect concludes with this 238 minute epic. “The film surrounds the excesses, dalliances, and eventual political censure of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), also known as the “Mad King.” Helmut Berger, who bears an uncanny likeness to the monarch, is at his most degenerate in the title role, but like many protagonists of Visconti films, the king is a clear substitute for the director. Builder of castles and patron of the Opera, Ludwig acts as a mirror of Visconti’s architectural and theatrical ambitions.” (HFA)
July 6 through 12
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
Lucrecia Martel, director of two acclaimed films, The Holy Girl and The Headless Woman, has adapted Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel into what has been called one of the year’s best films (Vanity Fair), a surreal satire of colonialism (Atlantic) and a film that “feels less like a film than a high fever” (Rolling Stone). It is the dreamlike story of Don Diego (Giménez Cacho), a proud if beleaguered agent of Western colonialism. “Ms. Martel is exploring the past, how we got here and why, but she is more interested in relations of power than in individual psychological portraits. The monstrous must be humanized to be understood, which doesn’t mean it deserves our tears.” (Manohla Dargis/NYTimes
The New York Review of Books raves: “Martel and her sound designer, transform the novel’s intense silences into vivid soundscapes: giggling children, birdsong, odd buzzings and whines, animals barking and nickering, footsteps, clapping, the swat of a twig brush against boots. All noise is equal in Zama. Her film undermines the realism of those sounds—and underscores its own origin in a 1950s novel—with the coolly hallucinatory music of Los Indios Tabajares, a pair of ersatz ‘Indian’ guitarist brothers from northeastern Brazil whose stylings would be right at home on the soundtrack of an Elvis Presley romance set in Hawaii.”
The Boston French Film Festival
July 12 through 28
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
One of Boston’s favorite festivals this year is filled variety: premieres as well as a few worthy films that played earlier in the year that you may have missed.
Faces Places by Agnes Varda
July 12, 8:30 p.m.
July 14, 6:30 p.m.
The above opening night film screens outdoors as part of the Sunset Cinema series. If you missed the film earlier this year don’t miss the chance to be taken away the vision and poetry of the 90-year old Varda. In collaboration with photographer and muralist, JR, it is both a fascinating journey and an exhilarating work of art.
Godard Mon Amour
July 20 at 8 p.m.
Jul 21 at 4 p.m.
Amidst the Paris revolts of May 1968, actress Anne Wiazemsky struggles to cope with the moods of her tortured artist husband, Jean-Luc Godard.
A Paris Education
July 15 at 6:30 p.m.
July 20 at 2:30 p.m.
Shot in black and white and packed with references to philosophy, music, and cinema, this intellectual romp follows a student who moves to Paris to study film.
The Royal Exchange
July 19 at 3:30 p.m.
July 22 at 6:30 p.m.
This sumptuous historical drama tells the true story of two young princesses who are torn from their homes to improve political relations between France and Spain.
July 19 at 8 p.m.
July 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Beautifully shot on 35mm film, this sun-drenched drama follows a troubled teenage girl who learns that she will soon go blind while she’s vacationing by the seaside.
July 26 at 3 p.m.
Jul 27 at 8 p.m.
The masterful Michael Haneke directs this unflinching tale of a 13-year-old girl who uncovers the dark secrets hidden underneath her bourgeois family’s elegant façade.
Let the Sunshine In
Jul 27 at 6 p.m.
Jul 28 at 2 p.m.
Juliette Binoche glows in this intelligent romantic comedy from acclaimed director Claire Denis. Arts Fuse review
Return of the Hero
July 29 at 7 p.m.
In this charming costume comedy, clever Elisabeth impersonates a pompous army captain by writing letters on his behalf.
— Tim Jackson
Rock, Pop, and Folk
This New Jersey indie/noise-rock trio is comprised of one female– Marissa Paternoster, the lead singer–and two males. Their latest release, All at Once, came out on February 23 of this year. It is Screaming Females’ seventh release and has garnered, if Metacritic‘s calculations are to be trusted, the strongest reviews of the group’s 11-year recording career. Paternoster and company’s current tour includes a stop at ONCE this Saturday (and the following night at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester).
There is nothing wrong with a band sounding like its influences as long they aren’t just copycats and the songs are good. Beach Slang is from Philadelphia, but there is plenty of 1980s Twin Cities sound on the two LPs and several EPs that they have released since 2013. The Replacements are the most obvious and frequent comparison, but there is more of Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould in singer James Alex’s voice than there is of Paul Westerberg. Alex records and performs as a solo artist under the name Quiet Slang, which–as the moniker suggests–tones down some of the noisier elements of the aforementioned artists. He will be at Great Scott on July 11 in support of his latest album, Everything Matters but No One Is Listening.
Friday July 13th will be anything but unlucky for music fans on the North Shore. That night, Boston legend and Beverly resident Barrence Whitfield will perform a hometown gig at 9 Wallis. Whitfield’s seven Boston Music Awards includes ones for Club Band, R&B Act, and Blues Artist. Assorted Boston music veterans–including some former bandmates–will join Whitfield for what couldn’t possibly not be one of the most memorable live events of the summer, if not the whole year.