Coming Attractions: March 24 through April 9 — What Will Light Your Fire

Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual art, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.

By The Arts Fuse Staff


A scene from “The Wild Pear Tree,” screening at the MFA.

18th Boston Turkish Film Festival
Through April 7
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA

Turkey produces a number of great films and, in this country, they can be only be seen in this setting. This year’s program features emerging and established Turkish filmmakers. The opening film is The Wild Pear Tree by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Winters Sleep, Three Monkeys). The program also features a Turkish cinema classic from the ’70s, The Bus, a refugee story, and Tolga Karaçelik’s feature film Butterflies, winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. On March 24 at 11 a.m. there will be a screening of the winners of the BTF Film Competition Awards for Documentaries and Short Films, followed by a panel discussion on Turkish cinema moderated by Boston Globe film critic Peter Keough. A complete schedule with descriptions can be found here.

The 21st Annual Boston Underground Film Festival
March 24
At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA

BUFF celebrates unconventional stories, idiosyncratic voices, fever dreams, nightmarish visions, and all manner of cinematic forms, serving the appetite of audiences who are ravenous for this annual sensory bacchanalia of features and shorts from beyond the mainstream. These offerings include the opening night film, Penny Lane’s Hail Satan?, the story of a temple that evolves from a small-scale media stunt to an internationally recognized religion with hundreds of thousands of adherents. Naked bodies writhe side-by-side with snakes on altars as protesters storm the gates of state capitols across the country. Other oddities include the Girl on the Third Floor with the director in attendance on Thursday and the disturbing Canadian film Happy Face (trailer link) on Sunday. Saturday morning features an early program of classic cartoons. There are additional screenings on March 23 the Harvard Film Archives.
Full Schedule with descriptions

Boston Irish Film Festival
March 24

Lost And Found
March 24 at 2 p.m. at Landmark’s Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA

Co-presented with the Kendall Cinema, this is a special screening with writer/director/actor Liam O Mochain, who will be in attendance. The plot: “seven interconnecting stories set in and around a Lost and Found office of an Irish train station all inspired by true stories that share a theme of something lost or found and characters that come in and out of each other’s lives.”

A scene in “Ash is Purest White,” screening this week at The Studio Cinema, Belmont, MA

Belmont World Film
Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
The Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA

The 18th Annual International Film Series screenings present the best from world cinema on consecutive Mondays. This spring’s offerings include:

March 25: Ash Is Purest White  (China) A New England premiere. Director Jia Zhangke continues his exploration of  21st-century China — particularly its warp-speed social and economic transformations  — with this melodrama about a mobster and his girlfriend whose relationship unfolds over 15 years.

April 1: The Heiresses (Paraguay). A multiple Berlin Film Festival winner about a once wealthy older woman who resumes driving again (as a cabbie) after her girlfriend is imprisoned on fraud charges. After the protagonist starts ups a local taxi service for a group of wealthy elderly ladies, she meets an exciting younger woman who changes her life.

April 8: Jirga (Australia) East Coast premiere. A modern morality tale about a former Australian soldier who returns to Afghanistan to seek forgiveness from the family of a civilian he accidentally killed during the war. Australia’s Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film.

Wicked Queer Film Festival
March 28 through April 7
At various Venues

Wicked Queer Film Festival (formerly known as the Boston LGBT Film Festival) is celebrating its 35th anniversary with screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts, The French Cultural Center, The Brattle Theatre, and The Paramount Theater at Emerson College. This year the emphasis is on queer history; the fest will be revisiting some classics of queer cinema. The opening film, the Dutch romance Just Friends, will be followed by an opening night party at Beat Brew Hall in Harvard Square. The final film, on April 7, will be the award-winning Paraguayan film The Heiresses (Paraguay’s entry for the Best Foreign Film) at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The complete schedule is here

A glimpse of the silent film “Dragnet Girl,” screening this week at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

Dragnet Girl
March 28 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA

The Sounds Of Silents series presents the Nashville-based electronic/ambient outfit Coupler playing their original score to Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu’s silent noir. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films Ozu adored, this movie is a revelatory early example of his cinematic genius.

Salem Film Fest
March 29 – April 4
At various Venues

The largest all-documentary film festival in Massachusetts returns for its 12th season with more than 30 films from around the world. The event include talks with visiting filmmakers at screenings, parties, and forums. The Salem Film Fest also showcases a variety of local musicians and bands. Screenings will be at CinemaSalem, the National Park Service Visitor Center, Peabody Essex Museum’s Morse Theater, along with additional screening venues in nearby Beverly and Peabody.
Full Schedule of films and events

We the Animals
April 5 at 7 p.m.
BU Cinemateque at 640 Commonwealth Ave., Room 101

The New York-based director Jeremiah Zagar will show his award-winning 2018 first feature. Three boys tear through their childhood, in the midst of their young parents’ volatile love, which makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their caring but unpredictable father, Ma seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah draws a world all his own. The screening is free to the public, followed by a discussion between the director and Arts Fuse critic critic Gerald Peary.

A scene from the documentary “Black Mother.”

Black Mother
April 8 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA

In this documentary, director Khalik Allah takes us on a spiritual exploration of Jamaica. Soaking up the island’s bustling metropolises and tranquil countryside, Allah introduces us to a succession of vividly rendered souls who call this country home. Their candid testimonies create a polyphonic symphony. Immersed into the sacred, the profane, and everything in-between, Black Mother channels rebellion and reverence into a deeply personal ode that’s informed by Jamaica’s turbulent history but has plenty to say about its urgent present. The filmmaker will attend the screening and take part in a discussion.

— Tim Jackson


Guitarist Ralph Towner in concert with Paolo Fresu at the Treibhaus Innsbruck, 2010. Photo: Wiki Commons

Ralph Towner
March 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The virtuoso guitarist Ralph Towner, now 79, came to the fore with the Paul Winter Consort and the collaborative ensemble Oregon. His omnidirectional interests have made him all but unclassifiable, except in code as “ECM jazz.” He’s doing this solo tour behind his latest ECM release, Solo Guitar. The small room should be perfect for hearing Towner make magic on acoustic six- and 12-string.

Jazzmeia Horn
March 28 at 7 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA.

The 28-year-old Dallas-born singer, winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition, released a broad-ranging disc of acoustic jazz in 2017, A Social Call. It included Betty Carter-inspired jazz swing (covers of Carter’s “Tight” and the Carter favorite “Social Call”), jazz arrangements of R&B (the Stylistics’ “People Make the World Go Round”), and explicit expressions of social consciousness that recall Abbey Lincoln’s work with Max Roach (a medley of “Afro Blue” and “Wade in the Water” with original spoken-word poetry). She has great chops and personal charisma to spare. (For a taste, check out her go-for-broke rendition of Bobby Timmons’s “Moanin’” at the 2018 Grammy Awards.)  She plays this show with a piano trio. Rapper Latrell James opens.

Pianist and composer Danilo Pérez. Photo: John Abbott

Danilo Pérez/Emir ElSaffar
March 29 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

A provocative double-bill: The distinguished Panamanian pianist and composer Danilo Pérez fronts his Global Messengers, with an international cast of characters and instrumentation: singer Farayi Malek; Vasilis Kostas on the oud-like laouto; violinist Layth Sidiq; cellist Naseem Alatrash; and percussionist Tareq Rantisi. Trumpeter Emir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble includes saxophonist  Ole Mathisen, bassist Carlo DeRosa, drummer Nasheet Waits, oud player and percussionist Zafer Tawil, and Tareq Abboushi on buzuq. If Pérez comes at “world music” from an Afro-Latin perspective, then consider ElSaffar’s unique, driving jazz — inflected with Arabic microtones and odd meters — as starting in Baghdad.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
March 30 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

For the past five years or so, Canadian saxophonist, flutist, and composer Jane Bunnett has been touring with Maqueque, a group of young, female musicians she met in Havana and assembled into a band. Bunnett has long taken a special interest in Afro-Cuban music, and this band has proved explosive. (Maqueque translates, roughly, as “spirit of a young girl.”)

Joshua Redman Quartet
March 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Saxophonist and composer Joshua Redman has played in all manner of contexts and formats, but for this show he returns to his longstanding quartet: pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. It’s a wonderful band — they draw plenty of inspiration from one another, and Redman remains an ambitious, charismatic frontman.

The BANGS trio: Jason Moran, Mary Halvorson and Ron Miles. Photo: courtesy of World Music.

Jason Moran
April 7 at 7:30 p.m
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Jason Moran has assayed dance-music deconstructions of Fats Waller, a rearrangement of Thelonious Monk’s legendary 1959 Town Hall concert, multi-media installations, and singular original compositions. For this show he fronts his BANGS trio, with cornettist Ron Miles and guitarist Mary Halvorson.

— Jon Garelick

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, and Steve Swallow
March 30 at 7:30 p.m.
The Regattabar, The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA

Carla Bley’s triple-LP Escalator Over the Hill was a life-changing listen when it came out in 1971 and remains as much so if heard for the first time today. It boasted so many free-flowing styles and structures that only Bley came up with the proper description: it’s a “chronotransduction.” Also makes you a Carla Bley fanatic. (See her discography) That’s not least because, no matter what configuration of players she leads, she does not dominate, but pulls everyone together. The performers can suggest Bley’s gang, a family or a friendly team of pros – usually those and more in the course of a single recording.

And the number interacting does not matter. The trio with Bley’s piano, Andy Sheppard’s tenor and soprano sax, and Steve Swallow’s bass can course with beats, even though there’s no percussion. More often, its tone is reflective. Tracks on the group’s two releases — Trios (2013, ECM) and Andando el Tiempo (2016, ECM) —  present the performers doing various recreations, conversations, and meditations. But, with numbers called “Saints Alive!,” you know there some kicks and with another called “Naked Bridges/Diving Brides,” some smiles as well. Whatever panoply of moods and motions the Bley/Sheppard/Swallow Trio brings to the Regattabar, you will be changed.

— Milo Miles

Wadada Leo Smith, “Kosmic Music,” 2008.

Third Annual CREATE Festival
April 6 and 7
At Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street, New Haven, CT

A rare opportunity to spend some time with the work (and the person) of one of the leading innovators in jazz today, Wadada Leo Smith. His performances and compositions have been written about often by the Arts Fuse‘s Michael Ullman, whose most recent review is of Rosa Parks: Pure Love, parts of which will be performed at the festival. This “two-day celebration of Wadada’s inventive spirit will feature two World Premiere performances and classic works for a diverse range of artists and ensembles, along with an exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation Symbolic Language Art-Scores.”

— Bill Marx


Boston Dance Alliance’s 2019 Gala
March 25 at 6 p.m.
Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, MA

This year’s Boston Dance Alliance Gala honors veteran dance artists and educators Tony Williams (Boston Ballet’s first African American principal dancer, dance studio owner, and choreographer of the annual holiday favorite Urban Nutcracker) and Duggan Hill (choreographer, mentor, and founder of Boston City Lights Performing Arts School). Come celebrate the impressive contributions of Williams and Hill on the Greater Boston community, while enjoying food, drink, a silent auction, and performances by the honorees’ organizations. Arts Fuse feature

“…that’s what she said” 
March 30 at 8 p.m.
Boston University Dance Theater, Boston, MA

Lady BOS Productions presents “…that’s what she said,” proffering an evening of dances from the feminine perspective. Creative Director Kristin Wagner spent the past two years working on this project, inviting femme dance artists to expose their personal narratives, histories, and lineages through dance. The resulting intimate works highlight choreography by Andrew Genova, Reina Gold, Jennifer Lin, Jenna Pollack, Nailah Randall-Bellinger, Nattie Trogdon, and Wagner.

Kelley Donovan & Dancers. Photo: Bain Testa.

Forty Steps Dance
March 30 at 8 p.m.
Nahant Town Hall, Nahant, MA

Forty Steps Dance presents its annual spring concert, including repertory favorite Missing Pieces, inspired by interpersonal relationships and the way people come and go from one’s life, and the full-length premiere of Echoes and Shadows, which studies how others suffer in the consequence of our own actions. The performance also invites guests to engage in a new interactive piece, 40 Steps, that will feature forty iconic movements from the company’s repertory, which leads into their upcoming workshop on April 28 in which participants will be able to learn and create with these 40 steps.

April 5 & 6 at 8 p.m.
Boch Center Shubert Theatre, Boston, MA

Celebrity Series of Boston presents critically-acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company’s new evening-length work Venezuela. Hailing from Tel Aviv, the new work is set to a wide range of music from Gregorian chant to tango to hip-hop, while examining the relationship between movement and content, familiar and unfamiliar. Its two 40-minute sections are placed in juxtaposition, and aim to compel the audience to challenge their own concept of freedom of choice.

Kelley Donovan & Dancers
April 6 at 8 p.m.
Third Life Studio, Somerville, MA

Kelley Donovan & Dancers presents two works at its Somerville home base: In A Language I can Understand and Only Connect. Both explore connection to ourselves and how that informs our connection to others, using imagery from the Tarot. Only Connect premiered in November at Dixon Place in NYC, and the production boasts a NYC and Boston Cast. Both works now make their Boston debuts.

— Merli V. Guerra

Visual Arts

Huma Bhabha, “Four Nights of a Dreamer,” 2018. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Huma Bhabha: They Live
At the ICA/Boston
Through December 3, 2019

Using styrofoam, bronze, bricks, wood, and various other found materials, Huma Bhabha transforms familiar materials into unsettling objects. Hybridity is a central theme in the artist’s work, exploring the many expressive capabilities of the figure via a plethora of intersex, multi-ethnic forms. Animal, alien, and hybrid bodies suggest a post-apocalyptic existence; the grotesque forms take up themes such as war, religion, and memory. This retrospective is Bhabha’s largest collection of work to date, occupying multiple rooms at the ICA and featuring nearly 50 works, including drawing, sculpture, and photography.

Konstantin Simun, Container Blue Sky. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen
Rose Art Museum
415 South Street, Waltham, MA
Through May 19

Featuring work that spans the artist’s 50+ year career, this exhibition looks at the many styles, materials, and investigations of Howardena Pindell. Constantly challenging the tradition of painting in which she was trained, Pindell broke new ground in the art world both as a painter and a woman of color. Much of her work involves a simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of both materials and ideas, as she contemplates issues such as racism, feminism, equality, and exploitation. Also featuring work in film, photography, and performance, this exhibit is the most comprehensive retrospective of Pindell’s career so far.

The Bauhaus and Harvard
Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
Through July 28

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus school, this exhibit highlights significant connections between the school and Harvard University, which became the center for Bauhaus activity during the ’30s. The works are drawn primarily from the Busch-Reisinger Museum collection (the largest Bauhaus collection outside of Germany); the collection began as a collaborative effort between artist and museum to preserve the legacy of the school. Highlighting over 70 artists, such as Anni and Josef Albers and Paul Klee, the exhibit presents artworks across many different mediums. Viewers are encouraged to attend the many events organized by Harvard in celebration of the Bauhaus centennial. Arts Fuse review

Made Visible: Contemporary South African Fashion and Identity
MFA Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
Through May 12

“Made Visible” celebrates South African groups who have historically been denied their rights. The focus is on how clothing signifies cultural identity across these communities. Twenty-five years after the end of apartheid, these works examine the painful effects of the past and illuminate how fashion signifies hopes for a brighter future.

Tom Kiefer, “Pink Combs and Brushes.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano
Fuller Craft Museum, 455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA
Through July 28

This series of photographs features belongings that were confiscated from migrant families apprehended at the U.S. border. Hundreds of items that have been deemed not threatening or non-essential, such as combs, wallets, toys. and water bottles, have been discarded. Salvaged by Tom Kiefer during his time as a janitor at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, these pieces have been organized and photographed as a testament to the struggle of refugees who come to the United States in search of a better life.

Peter T Bennett: The Lure of Aluminum
Society of Arts and Crafts,100 Pier 4, Suite 200, Boston, MA
Through May 5

This survey of Peter T. Bennett’s work from the past twelve years dispays a range of his styles in the medium of aluminum. It includes his series “Strangeman-Everyman,” which comes in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Bennett has worked with aluminum for much of his career, drawn to the medium because of its versatility and popularity as commercial material.

Fire and Light: Otto Piene in Groton, 1983–2014
Fitchburg Art Museum, 185 Elm Street Fitchburg, MA
Through June 2

As a founding member of Group ZERO in Germany in 1957, Otto Piene challenged the restrictions of painting and began to investigate visual perception through alternative media. He moved to Massachusetts in the 1980s and continued his exploration of perception and sensory experiences, eventually becoming the director at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

Throughout his career, Piene’s work centered on the perception-altering effects of light, fire, and sound on space and environment. The exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum presents Piene’s major works since the ’80s, including fire-painting, light and sound installations, Sky Events, and more. In honor of Piene’s keen interest in viewer participation, the museum is offering several interactive events and activities. Follow the link above for a schedule of these related events. Arts Fuse‘s 2014 remembrance of Otto Piene.

Elizabeth Tubergen, “Elephant For Any Occasion,” 2013, plywood, fir, pine, screws, bolts, foam, fiberglass mesh, concrete, 19 × 25 × 12 feet. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

DeCordova New England Biennial 2019
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA
April 5 through September 15

Artwork and new installations by 23 New England artists will be showcased in the deCordova New England Biennial 2019. Scouring dozens of artist’s studios, exhibitions, and galleries, the curatorial team has selected work — in many different mediums — from “some of the most dynamic, experimental and distinguished artists in our area.” This biennial strives to renew awareness of New England as a key region for the production of innovative contemporary art.

The biennial also includes tours, workshops, artist talks, and other family-inclusive activities. Follow the link for a peek at the work of the amazing artists present in the biennial.

–- Rebekah Bonner

Roots and World Music

The Nordic folk trio Dreamers’ Circus will perform at the MFA Boston his week.

Dreamers’ Circus
March 27
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

This all-star Nordic folk trio has generated plenty of adoration among fans of traditional Celtic music, thanks to their soaring combination of accordion, fiddle, and the ancient plucked cittern.

Gili Yalo and the Anbessa Orchestra
March 28
Arts at the Armory, Somerville, MA

Israel’s Ethiopian community has been making its musical mark with a number of artists who draw on the country’s golden era of funk-jazz. Among them are Yalo, a powerful singer who’ll be backed by Brooklyn’s Anbessa Orchestra at this dance party sponsored by the Jewish Arts Collaborative.

Anda Union
March 29
First Church in Cambridge Congregational, Cambridge, MA

The impressive cultural heritage of Mongolia has come to international attention via its throat singers, but there are many other rich vocal and instrumental traditions presented by this exciting ensemble. This should be one of the sleeper shows of World Music/CRASHArt’s spring season.

Richard Shindell
March 30-31
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA

One of the quintessential singer/songwriters, Shindell has amassed such a strong catalogue that he’s doing two different shows each night. The 5 p.m. shows will be devoted to his “deep cuts,” while he’ll focus on folk radio favorites like the oft-covered “Next Best Western” at the 8 p.m. performances.

April 3 at 4 p.m.
At Brown Hall. New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
April 5 at 6 p.m.
At Third Life Studios, Somerville, MA

April 4
At the First Church Congregational, Cambridge, MA

How often can you see two Georgian polyphonic male choirs in one week? Iberi, who wowed at the Lowell Folk Festival last summer, return to New England via World Music/CRASHArts. Their performance is bookended by two appearances from Adilei: a workshop at NEC and then a night at the Third Life Studios, which includes both a workshop and a concert later in the evening. Both groups masters of this ancient, mesmerizing vocal tradition.

— Noah Schaffer


A scene from the Huntington Theatre Company production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter DuBois. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre (264 Huntington Avenue, Boston), through March 31.

“Impassioned young lovers are caught between the violence and intolerance of their feuding families in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet. A tale that shifts blame between fate and collective responsibility, Romeo and Juliet illuminates the consequences of reckless love and reckless hate in this pop-centric, contemporary production that pairs Shakespearean verse with modern design, themes, fashion, and music.” Arts Fuse review

Once, book by Enda Walsh, and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Directed by Paul Melone. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston, MA, through March 30.

The Boston regional theatre premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, which “employs an exceptional ensemble of actor/musicians to tell the story of an unlikely romance between a down-on-his-luck Dublin street musician and a determined Czech immigrant who inspires him to dream.” Arts Fuse review

A scene from Sara Porkalob’s “Dragon Lady.” Photo: Robert Wade/Courtesy of Intiman Theatre.

Dragon Cycle, created and performed by Sara Porkalob. Directed by Andrew Russell. Two works staged in repertory by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, through April 7

“After a run at Oberon in the spring of 2018, virtuosic performer Sara Porkalob returns with new songs in her musical Dragon Lady and also turns her attention to another chapter of her family’s history with “Dragon Mama,” the second piece in her Dragon Cycle.” The latter is a world premiere production.

Not Medea by Allison Gregory. Directed by Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez. Staged by the Flat Earth Theatre at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through March 30.

The script’s New England premiere: “an exhausted mother just needs one night off and escapes to the sanctuary of the theater — to find that the play being performed is the one she desperately can’t bear to watch. Straddling the worlds of myth, magic, and motherhood, Not Medea is a decidedly 21st century take on a millennia-old tale of betrayal, death, and unthinkable tragedy.”

Cardboard Piano by Hansol Jung. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush. Staged by New Repertory Theatre at the mainstage at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through April 14.

The New England premiere of “a riveting new drama that reveals a love story between two young women set amidst an escalating civil war in Uganda. Exploring the roots of hatred, the potent power of forgiveness, and how spirituality and identity intersect.”

Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by the Nora Theatre Company (part of The Brit d’Arbeloff Women in Science Production Series. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production) at the Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Avenue, Cambridge, MA, through April 14.

This anniversary year (30 years for The Nora Theatre Company, 40 years for Underground Railway, ten as a cultural anchor in Central Square) is being celebrated by the revival of a play that was first staged by the Nora Theatre in 2012. Its themes “have become sharper with time: not only are conversations about sexism and bias happening in popular culture but they are happening in the laboratory and science classrooms around the country and world — and it’s more intense than ever. ”

The Song of Summer by Lauren Yee. Directed by Taibi Magar. Stated by Trinity Rep at 201 Washington Street, Providence, R.I., through April 14.

A world premiere production: “That song on every radio and wedding DJ’s playlist — that catchy earworm that’s inescapable for an entire summer — the “song of the summer” …there’s more to it than everyone knows. There’s more to know about its singer, too — like why he snuck away from a concert and traveled hundreds of miles to visit the home of his childhood piano teacher. What – and who – he finds there could change his career and his life.

Burning by Ginger Lazarus. Directed by Andrea Humez. Staged by Theatre@First at Unity Somerville,
4 William St, Somerville, MA, through March 23.

“In this modern re-imagining of Cyrano de Bergerac, Cy is a former sergeant kicked out of the Army under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. She takes on the world with her words as a blogger, blowing the whistle on sexual harassment within the Army. When her friend Rose falls for another soldier, Cy lends him her words to win Rose’s love, but Cy’s own feelings are on the line.”

Leonora & Alejandro: La Maga y el Maestro, Conceived and directed by Stacy Klein. Staged By Double Edge Theatre at Double Edge Theatre, 948 Conway Road, Ashfield MA, April 5 through 14.

“The kick-off event of DE’s 25th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of its Farm Center in Ashfield, MA. Drawn from the art and life of British-born Mexican artist Leonora Carrington and her mentorship of the Chilean Jewish filmmaker and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky, this surreal performance is steeped in magic and reveals not only the alchemical melding between great seers, but also their spiritual tug of war.”

The Clearing by Helen Edmundson. Directed by Daniel Bourque. Staged by the Hub Theatre Company at the First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA, April 5 through 20.

In this script, “Edmundson uses a dark page from history to address the compelling moral issue of ethnic persecution within the context of an intricate and intimate narrative.”

The Haunted Life by Sean Daniels. Based on the book by Jack Kerouac. Directed by Sean Daniels and christopher oscar peña. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre (produced in collaboration with Jim Sampas and The Estate of Jack Kerouac) at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through April 14.

A world premiere production: “In honor of the theatre’s 40th Anniversary Season in Lowell, MRT brings a new adaptation of a ‘lost’ novel set in Lowell by Jack Kerouac, who was born and raised here.” This “deeply-felt family drama follows the coming of age story of college student Peter Martin and his relationship with his conservative father. Taking place during America’s last golden summer before it entered WWII, it chronicles the cost of war on a small town.”

The Audacity: Women Speak –a voice raising performance event. Conceived and arranged by Charlotte Meehan. Directed by Tara Brooke Watkins. Staged by Sleeping Weazel in the Nicholas Martin Hall at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, March 28 through April 6.

This evening “marks the first time Sleeping Weazel presents a single work created by many voices. This show will highlight the real stories of women’s experiences with gender biased treatment and sexual harassment, systemic misogyny and sexism, and assault and rape. This multimedia tapestry of women’s stories, both onstage and onscreen, will create a theatrical experience revealing the many layers of gender bias and culturally-embedded violence against women that must be faced and stopped.”

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Directed by Paula Plum. A co-production of the Lyric Stage Company of Boston & Actors’ Shakespeare Project at The Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, March 20 through April 28.

One of the Bard’s most popular plays. This production will give us “a tale of unrequited love – hilarious and heartbreaking.”

Colder Than Here by Laura Wade. Directed by Nicole Galland. Staged by Newton Nomadic Theater at various venues in Newton, April 5 through 28. Check the website.

Billed as “the funniest play you will ever see about bone-cancer.”  The drama revolves around “Myra, a middle-aged mom with bone cancer who faces the final act of her life with the kind of organizational aplomb she never applied to running her household …Her controlling obsession with planning her own funeral brings her family together on a roller-coaster ride of hilarity and emotion. Busted boilers, biodegradable coffins, and fierce family bonding” all play a part in the script’s journey through a loved one’s final chapter.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Directed by Daniel Thomas Blackwell. Staged by the Underlings Theatre Company at the Mosesian Center for the Arts Blackbox, Watertown, MA, April 5 through 13.

Well, you know it had to come (wicked or otherwise) — this is “a found footage horror take on Shakespeare’s classic work.”

— Bill Marx

Classical Music

Leale Amie: Woman’s Voice in Medieval Song (1200-1300)
March 28 through April 1
In Carlisle, Weston, Salem, Ipswich & Cambridge

Presented by the Cambridge Society for Early Music: “Anne Azema (voice and hurdy-gurdy) and Shira Kammen (vielle and harp) perform an exploration of the spirit and power of women through songs and poems of medieval France. They evoke archetypal symbols of the feminine as well as images of women amid the flow of their lives and loves. Passion, joy, sorrow, and humor inform these treasures – eight centuries old, yet timeless. Aristocratic pieces, including trouvere songs by Count Thibaut de Champagne (1201-53), rub shoulders with others of a popular nature.”

3 CANTATAS for chorus and full orchestra by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
March 30 at 8 p.m.
At the Emmanuel Church
15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
March 31 at 4 p.m.
At Eliot Church of Newton, 474 Centre Street, Newton, MA

On the Cappella Clausura program: Hiob, Lobegesang, and Oratorium nach Bildung der Bibel (“The Cholera Cantata”)

First Monday at Jordan Hall: Exploring Cultures of the World — Hungarian
April 1 at 7:30 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

On the New England Conservatory program: Franz Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio in C Major, Hob XV:21; György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet; Johannes Brahms’s Excerpts from Hungarian Dances for one piano, four hands; Kati Agócs’s Immutable Dreams; Béla Bartók’s Contrasts.

City on the Hill: Early Hymns and Spirituals of New England
April 5 at 8 p.m.
At the First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

The Boston Camerata “will perform songs by the many religious groups that came to Boston and New England, beginning with the Puritans in 1640, to the hymn and anthem-singing Congregationalists and Universalists of the eighteenth century, to the utopian Shakers of Maine and Massachusetts, whose enormous production of spirituals and dance songs reveal themselves as central to the American dream of the Shining City.”

Chameleon Arts Ensemble: upon one note
April 6 at 8 p.m.
April 7 at 4 p.m.
At the First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA

On the program: Franz Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 43 in C Major, Hob. XV:27; Francis Poulenc’s Sextet in C Major for piano & winds, FP 100; Oliver Knussen’s …upon one note – Fantasia after Purcell for clarinet, violin, cello & piano; Franz Schubert’s Cello Quintet in C Major, D. 956, Op. posth. 163.

— Susan Miron

Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Orchestra.

MTT and San Francisco Symphony
Presented by Celebrity Series
March 24, 5 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Michael Tilson Thomas brings the SFS back to Boston for the last time as its music director. The program features MTT’s own Agnegram, plus Mendlessohn’s Violin Concerto (with the one-and-only Christian Tetzlaff) and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

Steve Reich’s Drumming
Presented by Celebrity Series
March 28, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA

Steve Reich’s West African-inspired masterpiece makes a rare visit to Sanders Theater, courtesy of Sō Percussion.

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
March 29 (at 7:30 p.m.) and 31 (at 3 p.m.)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

H&H turns its attention to Henry Purcell’s great opera. Susan Bickley and David McFerrin sing the title roles. Harry Christophers conducts the program, which includes additional instrumental and vocal pieces by Purcell.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Author Events

Laila Lalami
The Other Americans
March 26 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

“Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efrain, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora’s and a veteran of the Iraq war; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.”

Amy Hempel
Sing to It: New Stories
March 27 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

“These fifteen exquisitely honed stories reveal Hempel at her most compassionate and spirited, as she introduces characters, lonely and adrift, searching for connection. In “A Full-Service Shelter,” a volunteer at a dog shelter tirelessly, devotedly cares for dogs on a list to be euthanized. In “Greed,” a spurned wife examines her husband’s affair with a glamorous, older married woman. And in “Cloudland,” the longest story in the collection, a woman reckons with the choice she made as a teenager to give up her newborn infant. Quietly dazzling, these stories are replete with moments of revelation and transcendence and with Hempel’s singular, startling, inimitable sentences.”

Laurie Katz
Liar Laurie: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Assault
March 28 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“When Laurie went to college in Chicago, she was all set to embark on a new life. But on the third weekend of her freshman year, Laurie was raped. And everything changed. In the aftermath, Laurie reached out for help. But she didn’t get any. Friends didn’t believe her. The dean didn’t support her. Laurie had to fight not just for justice but for understanding. For validation. Laurie could have dropped out of college, she could have given up, but she carried on. And not even seeing her attacker on campus could stop her.”

Adam Abramowitz
A Town Called Malice: A Novel
March 29 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“When a rock and roll legend suspected of murdering his girlfriend reappears after thirty years on the run, Zesty is once again haunted by his family’s dark past and the mounting evidence that his father, Boston’s former Poker King, has long been dealing from the bottom of the deck. From shady bars to college campus underground poker leagues, Zesty’s speeding toward trouble, desperately trying to map out a future in a town where stop signs are optional, signaling is for the weak and Karma lurks around every corner with payback on its mind.”

Kris Frieswick
The Ghost Manuscript
April 2 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

“Rare book authenticator Carys Jones wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue her obsession with ancient manuscripts. But when her biggest client is committed to an asylum, he gives Carys an offer she cannot refuse. In exchange for his entire library of priceless, Dark Age manuscripts, Carys must track the clues hidden in a previously unknown journal, clues that lead to a tomb that could rewrite the history of Western civilization.”

Grace Talusan
The Body Papers: A Memoir
April 3 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

“Grace Talusan writes eloquently about the most unsayable things: the deep gravitational pull of family, the complexity of navigating identity as an immigrant, and the ways we move forward even as we carry our traumas with us. Equal parts compassion and confession.”

— Matt Hanson

Rock, Pop, and Folk

Spiral Stairs with Hamish Kilgour and halfsour
March 28 at 8 p.m.
O’Brien’s Pub, Allston MA

Pavement fans rejoice! No, the band is not reuniting to record new material. However, lead singer Stephen Malkmus and guitarist Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, have each released a new solo album in the second half of this month. Furthermore, both are touring in support of their new projects. We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized is Spiral Stairs’s follow-up to 2017’s excellent Doris & the Daggers. He will be performing at O’Brien’s on Thursday with an attractive pair of opening acts: the Boston trio halfsour and Hamish Kilgour, the drummer for The Clean, who were about as influential an indie band in 1980s New Zealand as Pavement was in 1990s America.

40 Years of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson in Boston: A Tribute
March 29 at 8 p.m., doors at 7:15
Regent Theatre, Arlington MA

On Friday night, a collection of all-star Boston musicians will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first year that Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson both performed in Boston, the latter for the first time ever. In fact, this tribute is taking place on the ruby anniversary of the very day that Elvis Costello & The Attractions played the Orpheum on their 1979 US tour. 2011 Rock and Roll Rumble winner John Powhida and his friends Peter Moore, Jim Haggerty, Charles Hansen, and Andy Plaisted will perform the songs of Joe Jackson (click for Jason Rubin’s Arts Fuse review of his recent Wilbur concert). Dino Catteneo, who organized the event, will tackle Elvis Costello’s catalog with his band Dee Zaster & The Designated Drivers and special guest Corin Ashley (click for my 2017 Arts Fuse interview with him).

The Silks with The NthPower
March 29 at 9 p.m., doors at 8
ONCE Ballroom, Somerville MA

The Silks are a Boston/Providence-based quartet that won back-to-back Blues Artist of the Year honors at the 2016 and 2017 Boston Music Awards and were nominated again in 2018. They have released three albums since 2013: Last American Band (produced by Paul Westerberg), Turn Me On, and Live Bootleg. Supporting them at their Friday night ONCE gig will be the soul-funk trio The Nth Power, whose members hail from various East Coast locales but identify in a musically spiritual sense with the Crescent City.

The Devil’s Twins and Party Bois with Sweetie and Gray Bouchard & The Dedications
March 30 (doors at 8:30, show at 9:15)
Great Scott, Allston, MA

Saturday night’s quadruple bill at Great Scott will be co-headlined by two Boston Music Awards winners: The Devil’s Twins, who won for Rock/Indie Artist in 2016 and Rock Artist in 2018, and Party Bois, who went home with Electronic Artist of the Year honor last year. Rounding out the all-Boston bill are Sweetie and Salem Wolves lead singer Gray Bouchard with his band The Dedications.

Victor Wainwright and The Train
April 5 (doors at 7, show at 8)
9 Wallis, Beverly, MA

Having won a Blues Music Award in four of the five years from 2013-2017, one could argue that a Grammy nomination for pianist/keyboardist/bandleader Victor Wainwright was either long overdue or the next logical step. Whatever the case, that well-deserved honor finally arrived last year when Victor Wainwright and the Train was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Like many established and respected blues musicians, Wainwright has made 9 Wallis his go-to venue when his tours route through the Boston area. He will perform there for the third time since December 2017 on Friday.

The Suitcase Junket with Ali McGuirk
April 5 (doors at 8, show at 9)
The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA

Vermont-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz has released two EPs (one live) and four LPs since 2009. The fifth entry in the latter category, Mean Dog, Trampoline, was produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and comes out on Friday. The Amherst, MA resident will mark the occasion with a show at The Sinclair. Joining him will be seven-time Boston Music Awards nominee Ali McGuirk, who left the 2018 BMAs with trophies for Blues Artist of the Year and Live Residency of the Year.

— Blake Maddux

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts