Coming Attractions: May 5 through 21 — What Will Light Your Fire
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual art, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin
May 5, 8, and 19 (Screening times vary)
Screening at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
The late Ursula Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Produced with the writer’s participation over the course of a decade, the documentary takes viewers on an intimate journey of her self-discovery as an artist. Eventually, she comes into her own as a major feminist author who challenged viewers to imagine alternate worlds where women have the power, or where gender is fluid and changeable.
Southeast New England Film, Music & Arts Festival
May 15 through 18
Providence, Jamestown, and Warwick, Rhode Island
This is one of the longest-running festivals in the country dedicated to independent cinema, music, and art: 4 days of films from across the country and around the world. Along with that, there will be live music, art exhibits, and parties.
May 10 – 16
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
Rafiki is a lesbian romance whose positive message about homosexuality assured that it would be banned in Kenyan theaters. It is the first Kenyan film to be screened at Cannes. The movie’s tender story is filled with the “joy of young love and unexpected discovery” between two women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Word is that it is a hip tale — “reminiscent of the early work of Spike Lee” (Screen International).
Synecdoche, New York
May 11 at 9:30 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA
The directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation) with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest, and Tom Noonan. The latter will appear in person with the film. Roger Ebert named this the “best film of the decade.” Synecdoche, New York is a truly strange movie that plays with realities within realities.
70MM & Widescreen Festival 2019
Somerville Theatre in Davis Square
We have have a great gift in this area: local independent theaters that can still project films in this expansive (and wonderful) format. There are three opportunities to see some terrific films this weekend in Somerville.
May 17: West Side Story at 8 p.m.
May 18: West Side Story at 1:30 p.m., The Dark Crystal at 5 p.m. & 8 p.m.
— Tim Jackson
The Modern Jazz Quartet: From Residency To Legacy
May 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Killian Hall, MIT, Cambridge, MA
“Formed in 1952, The Modern Jazz Quartet pushed the boundaries of jazz and classical music at a time when the genre, like the country itself, was in the throes of change. An epicenter of this evolution was The Music Inn, a musical oasis nestled in the Berkshire Mountains.” The place welcomed “Percy Heath, John Lewis, Dave Brubeck, Gunther Schuller, Stephanie Barber, Herb Pomeroy, Ornette Coleman, Ran Blake and many others.” This documentary, directed, compiled, and edited by George Schuller, collects “remembrances and anecdotes as it highlights The Modern Jazz Quartet’s role in developing The Music Inn’s iconic School of Jazz.” Q &A with Schuller and special guests following the screening.
— Bill Marx
Sofía Rei & JC Maillard
May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
UPDATE: This show has been rescheduled for September 21, 2019. All tickets will be honored for the new date.
The charismatic Argentine-born singer Sofía Rei and the French multi-instrumentalist JC Maillard bring their John Zorn project “Keter,” from Zorn’s “The Book Beriah,” part of his many-volume Masada project. Both musicians sing, with Rei playing charanga and loops, and Maillard on saz bass, “an eight steel-stringed electroacoustic instrument created and designed upon JC’s request by French luthier Herve Prudent.” The music suggests Latin and Afro-Arabic folkloric traditions, with a broad range of subject matter, from the life of Frida Kahlo to the repressive Argentine regime of the ’70s and early ’80s.
Kurtis Rivers/Alain Pacowski Quintet
May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Dorchester, MA.
Saxophonist Kurtis Rivers (alto, baritone) and guitarist Alain Pacowski continue their decades-long collaboration. Rivers is a longtime treasure of the Boston scene — from the Makanda Project going back to his work with the Either/Orchestra and Salim Washington’s Roxbury Blues Aesthetic. His and Pacowski’s relationship goes back to a years-long residency at Dorchester’s Ramsey/Toy VFW Post. They are joined here by pianist David Harewood, bassist Paul Dilley, and drummer Miki Matsuki. The show is presented by Greater Ashmont Main Street and Mandorla Music as the final installment of this season’s bimonthly Dot Jazz Series at Peabody Hall in the Parish of All Saints.
May 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
The unclassifiable chanteuse Nellie McKay returns singing unlikely covers (Richard and Mimi Fariña, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Cyrkle, Frank Zappa’s “Hungry Freaks, Daddy”), jazzy fare from Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, and the American Songbook, and canny originals. She plays piano and ukulele and sings. All very well. Rich Jenkins opens.
May 10 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Clubs, Boston, MA
Joey DeFrancesco, the 48-year-old Hammond B3 specialist and occasional trumpeter, has been known for his virtuosity, his interest in stretching not only the format of the jazz organ trio, but his own playing, especially in this year’s In the Key of the Universe, with Pharoah Sanders and Billy Hart. For this show he’s joined by saxophonist Troy Roberts and drummer Michael Ode.
Alfredo Rodríguez/Pedrito Martinz + Arturo O’Farrill Quintet
May 10 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.
On one half of this Afro-Latin double-bill are Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez and fellow countryman and percussion master Pedrito Martinez. The capacious (as in: containing multitudes) pianist, composer, bandleader Arturo O’Farrill leads a quintet that includes his sons Adam (a brilliant, rising-star trumpeter) and drummer Zack. (The sons, with their own quintet, delivered one of the best jazz CDs of last year, El Maquech.)
The estimable veteran reed player and Berklee prof Daniel Ian Smith digs into a new batch of pieces written during his recent sabbatical, and delivered by the Generations Ensemble, which includes French guitarist François Chanvallon, bassist Charlie Lincoln, and drummer Vlade Guigni.
Melissa Aldana Berklee Quintet
May 16 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
The remarkable tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana (the first woman to win the instrumental category in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, in 2013) leads a cohort of Berklee students she’s been putting through their paces: pianist Hatsune Hirakura, guitarist Timothy Johnson, bassist Charlie Lincoln, and drummer Christian Napolean.
Matt Shipp and Michael Bisio
May 17 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Fearless piano improviser Matt Shipp (collaborations include Joe Morris, Marshall Allen, William Parker, and the late David S. Ware) makes the trip up from New York with one of his regular bandmates, Michael Bisio.
— Jon Garelick
Tim Ray (p), w. John Lockwood (b), Mark Walker (dm) – The Mad Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. May 9 at 7 p.m. Ray occasionally plays at this congenial venue, and every time he does, you have the chance to hear one of the most ingenious and gifted improvisers around. He always brings along the area’s best rhythm players, too – tonight, John Lockwood, bassist from The Fringe and too many other groups to mention, gives the trio a definitive bottom line.
Lauren Henderson (vo), with players to be announced, possibly including Sullivan Fortner (kb) and Nick Tannura (g) on May 11 at 730 p.m., Regattabar, Cambridge, MA. Search for “Lauren Henderson” and “smoky,” and you get more than 20,000 hits. Yes, her approach to tunes is atmospheric, but her work is consistently infused with strong jazz sensibility, and her choice of repertoire is unerringly excellent. She is a song interpreter rather than an adventurer – but we need great song interpreters, and she’s well on her way to an important place in that tradition, like Shirley Horn, one of her influences. She’s touring behind her 2018 CD, Ármame, so expect to hear her infectious version of Curtis Lewis’s “The Great City” and maybe a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Love Is a Losing Game.”
Jonathan Barber (dm) & Vison Ahead [possibly including Taber Gable (p), Andrew Renfroe (g), Godwin Louis (as), Matt Dwonszyk (b), Denise Renee & Sasha Foster (vo)] on May 11 at 8 p.m. at Scullers, Boston, MA. Barber is a fleet and airy drummer, with a Billy-Higgins-like grace. Since the release of Vision Ahead last year, he’s had the chance to live with and deepen the music he created for his quintet-plus-singers, which in fact sounded a little green in that release. The emphasis there was strongly on the instrumental, and it’s possible that he’ll be coming to Boston without the singers, but that should not hurt the music in any way.
Jerry Bergonzi (ts), with Phil Grenadier (b), Luther Gray (dm), and guests (at 830 PM) and The Fringe [George Garzone (ts/ss), John Lockwood (b), Bob Gullotti (dm)] at The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA. On Mondays, May 13 and 20, at 10:30 p.m. Bergonzi, a saxophone giant, brings his long-standing trio and occasional guest artists to Inman Square’s intimate avant-garde storefront at 8:30 p.m. every Monday. Then The Fringe, one of the greatest free-jazz ensembles in the world, featuring fellow sax giant Garzone, come on at 10:30 p.m. Most concertgoers leave slack-jawed in astonishment at the sheer virtuosity on display. Don’t take them for granted. You should see them at least once a year – why not this Monday? OK, then, go next Monday.
Moshulu [David Sancious (kb), Oz Noy (g), Jeff Berlin (b), Dennis Chambers (dm)] on May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Regattabar, Cambridge, MA. On its surface, this quartet looks to be a new generation of tuneful fusion band, working the Yellowjackets – Spyro Gyra side of the street. But each of the players has a multi-dimensional career and an eclectic catalogue of recordings, and it seems hard to believe that they will limit themselves to grooves and pretty melodies, especially in live performance. This gig might just be an ear-opener.
Yoko Miwa (p), w. Brad Barrett (b), Scott Goulding (dm) at The Mad Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, on May 17 at 7 p.m.. It’s time again to tip a cap to Yoko, who works consistently in the area (on frequent Fridays at the Monkfish). Her adept and powerful playing is worthy of much bigger stages. Just because she’s a “local artist” doesn’t mean she should be taken for granted. If you’re looking for an intimate outing with satisfying jazz and good food, you could hardly do better than this one.
Nicholas Payton (tp), Bob Hurst (b), Terri Lyne Carrington (dm) – on May 18, 8 p.m., Scullers, Boston, MA. After Payton’s hip-hop flavored Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, released last year, possibly the last thing anyone would expect is that he would tour with a band pared down to the essentials – just bass and drums. But Payton cuts his own path, and defines himself without compromise (In his nose-thumbing 2011 manifesto, he said, “I don’t play Jazz. I don’t let others define who I am. I am a Postmodern New Orleans musician. I create music for the heart and the head, for the beauty and the booty.”). Carrington is equally dedicated to crossing genre lines, but Hurst is a bassist with soulful roots and he has played successfully with that arch-conservative of jazz, Wynton Marsalis. What will this trio do? Defy expectations, most likely . . . how could you stay away?
— Steve Elman
May 5 at 7 p.m.
City Winery, Boston
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
This crack five-member unit based in Charleston, SC, updates the stories, songs, children’s rhymes, and folklore of the coastal region’s Gullah culture, serving up an exciting sound that mixes jazz and roots, folk and funk. Trumpeter Charles Singleton, guitarist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and drummer Quentin Baxter, students of the Gullah tradition, had the good sense to invite fellow South Carolinian Quiana Parler to add her soulful, gospel-tinged vocals to the group. According to their bio, in the West African Gullah language “ranky tanky” means roughly “work it!” or “get funky!” And do they ever.
May 19 at 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA
Téka Penteriche, a native of Brazil who has been a mainstay of the West Coast Brazilian music scene for many years, returns to her old stomping grounds (she studied at Berklee College of Music) for a couple of appearances this week. A captivating singer who has played and recorded with Brazilian music giants Hermeto Pascoal, Gilberto Gil, and Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, Téka brings her rich, warm vocal tone and excellent guitar chops to her deep repertoire of bossa nova, samba, and Brazilian jazz. Joining her will be Boston-area Brazilian music experts Ebinho Cardoso, bass; Bertram Lehmann, drums; and David Rumpler, piano.
— Evelyn Rosenthal
against hard air
Canadian choreographer and dance artist Heather Stewart presents the culmination of her 2018-19 Boston Dancemakers Residency — a partnership between Boston Center for the Arts and the Boston Dance Alliance. Using trance, sound, and movement, against hard air features performers Alyx Henigman, Mitzi Eppley, and Jenna Pollack, who examine the ways in which we fall short — and the lengths we will go for gratification.
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
World Music/CRASHarts presents BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company known for its athleticism, emotion, and grace. Hailed among the “Top Ten of the Year in Dance” by the Boston Globe in 2016, BalletX returns to Boston with an exciting program that includes the local premiere of Matthew Neenan’s “Increasing” and Cayetano Soto’s “Schachmatt.” Join Boston Dance Alliance executive director Debra Cash for a preperformance talk 30 minutes prior to curtain.
See You Yesterday
Emerson Paramount Center
ArtsEmerson presents See You Yesterday, a moving performance by Global Arts Corps that revisits the painful history of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Directed by Michael Lessac, the show features 19 Cambodian performers who combine acrobatics and circus arts to look back in order to shatter a legacy of silence. The show’s U.S. premiere in Boston closes ArtsEmerson’s 2018/19 Season.
And further afield…
May 10 & 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Gamm Theatre, Warwick, RI
Island Moving Company presents an evening of contemporary ballet and live music in Convergence. The production boasts an impressive lineup that includes Jose Limón’s 1958 masterpiece “Mazurkas” and the world premiere of commissioned works by Tina Kay Bohnstedt (set to music by Rachmaninoff) and Danielle Genest (a solo set on performer Rhea Keller).
— Merli V. Guerra
141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, Boston MA
May 17 Through June 23
An inquiry into the significance of the contemporary body, this exhibit wonders what happens when we upload our existence onto the ethereal spaces of the internet. How does the body stay relevant when the world is digital? Nine artists investigate how the modern body interacts with technology as our lives intertwine with all-consuming digital devices that alter our perception and recreate the world.
John Akomfrah: Purple
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA
May 25 through Sep 2, 2019
The ICA Watershed begins its second season with the U.S. premiere of an immersive, six-channel video installation by artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. Integrating archival film with original footage, the installation documents disappearing landscapes all over the globe, probing the complexity and fragility of the current ecological balance. Backed by a symphonic soundtrack, the themes of this work are underlined by the significance of the Watershed’s industrial, harbor location.
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.
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.
World Memory: The Art of Data Visualization
Boston Cyberarts Gallery
141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, MA
Through May 5
Curated by W. Benjamin Bray and George Fifield, this exhibit presents examinations of the earth’s natural and man-made structures through the use of data visualization. From Dietmar Offenhuber’s “dust.zone,” an elegant, citywide public work that illustrates the effect of airborne particulate pollution on the city, to Catherine D’Ignacio’s “12 Inches of Weather,” which maps “weather” fluctuations on the human body, the show combines visual art and Big Data to illustrate the complex relationship we have with our planet.
Society of Arts + Crafts (SA+C)
100 Pier 4 Blvd., Boston, MA
April 25 through June 30, 2019
On view through Pride Month 2019, over 30 artists across the country come together in this exhibition, examining their place in the world as well as within the LGBTQ community. Instead of highlighting the artists’ sexual identities, this selection of works seeks to challenge preconceived notions of “queer craft.” The exhibit looks critically at both viewers and craft aficionados who seek out this type of work, examining the sincerity of their intentions and acceptance of the LGBTQ artist.
HyperActive: Interactive Installation Art
Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery
25 Avery Street, Boston MA
April 25 through May 1,
This exhibit showcases interactive works from multimedia artists throughout New England, featuring installation, augmented reality, video games, dance, and more. Curated by George Fifield, director of Boston Cyberarts, these works alter the viewer’s experience by re-creating their reality in new (and sometimes uncanny) ways.
–- Rebekah Bonner
The Creative Director behind the award-winning Adam&Co., a multi-disciplinary creative consultancy, Larson recently started making art again for the first time in many years. Inspired by Dada, Punk and Camp, this body of work recontextualizes found artifacts pulled from pop consumer culture to explore notions of authorship, identity, and our inherent need for meaning. The show consists of 20 Archival Inkjet Prints in varying sizes.
— Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
City Winery, Boston, MA
Decades before there was an Afropunk movement there was Garland Jeffreys, who was making tough and outspoken New York rock and roll his way. Jeffreys has announced his retirement, so this (apparent) New England farewell has sold out, but a waiting list is available.
The attention given Take Us Home, a compilation of early Boston reggae which I helped research, has shined a spotlight on Boston’s roots pioneers. Nearly every band from that era is now defunct except for Jah Spirit. Leader Ras Michael Wolfe, longtime member Ras Ipa (who also was in the crucial Zion Initiation) and company have been spreading their Rastafarian message since the mid-’80s and they are still at it. They are now Boston’s longest running reggae outfit. With a tour schedule that is heavy on reggae-loving New England beach towns, this is a relatively rare show in the immediate Boston/Cambridge vicinity. It’s part of the consistently excellent Reggae Takeova series.
May 16 New City Brewery, Easthampton, MA
May 17 Fete, Providence, RI
Chicha music is the Amazonian jungle sound of the cumbia gone psychedelic, with accordions played through wah-wah pedals and surf-y guitars stirring dancers. For over 40 years Los Mirlos have been the chicha kings of Peru. Their Western MA and Providence shows may mark the first time an authentic chicha band has ever performed in New England.
— Noah Schaffer
Rodrigo y Gabriela
May 15 at 8 p.m.
Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston, MA
Technically, Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero) are a classical guitar duo from Mexico, but that description makes them sound too staid and certainly not international enough. Here’s a fuller picture and history.
On their new Mettavolution (ATO), Rodrigo y Gabriela include a cover version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” At 18:58 it’s almost five minutes shorter than the original, dumps the space-cadet lyrics and nails the punch/calm/punch/calm eddies and currents. Does it supersede the original? If you’re sober, yeah. Other numbers, like the title track, show a fascination with heavy metal — Metallica is frequently cited — turned into a vibrant personal sound. Without words, of course, which is again an improvement over the inspirations. May surprise the uninitiated that Rodrigo y Gabriela are appearing in a venue with thousands of seats, but believe me, they will get you right in their circle and off on their trip.
— Milo Miles
See You Yesterday by Global Arts Corps. Directed by Michael Lessac. Staged by Global Arts Corps in partnership with Phare Performing Social Enterprise and Phare Ponleu Selpak Association at the Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, 559 Washington Street Boston, MA, May 16 through 19.
The American premiere of a show that “explores the painful history of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Nineteen Cambodian performers utilize their extraordinary physical skills, including acrobatics and circus arts, to travel back in time and shatter a legacy of silence.”
The Stone by Marius von Mayenburg. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at the Studio 368 at Hillside Avenue, Needham, MA, May 17 through June 9. (These performances are in Russian with audio-translation in English. The show will return September 13th – 22nd in English.)
“In 1935, a young couple purchases a house from a Jewish family in Dresden, Germany. The play follows the lives of the house’s residents, who must grapple with their own identity while experiencing the reverberations created by 60 years of German history. As the house is passed from owner to owner, and generation to generation, the secrets buried in the garden and within the walls reveal themselves.”
Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Directed by Michelle Aguillon. Staged by Company One in partnership with Pao Arts Center at the BCA Plaza Theatre, Boston, MA through May 25.
“A kinda-true love story with a hip-hop heart,” this script claims to be “a hilarious ride from Netflix and Marvel Studios writer Qui Nguyen, who mixes music and memory to pin down his own origin story.”
black odyssey boston by Marcus Gardley. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush. A co-production by The Front Porch Arts Collective & Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through May 19.
“Ulysses Lincoln, a Gulf War veteran lost at sea and presumed dead, fights to find his way back home to his wife and son. The meddlesome Gods, Great Grand Daddy Deus and Great Grand Paw Sidin have other plans in mind as they battle for control of Ulysses’ fate.” The script “melds together Greek mythology, African-American oral history and music in this visionary new take on Homer’s classic tale.”
Cry It Out by Molly Smith Metzler. Directed by Amanda Charlton. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through May 19.
“This new comedy throws two very different women into an unlikely, but fierce, friendship. On maternity leave for the first time, Jessie and Lina tiptoe to their shared backyard for a precious coffee and a chat during naptime. This play takes an honest look at the absurdities of being home with a baby, the dilemma of returning to work, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.” Arts Fuse review
Indecent by Paula Vogel. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. A co-production between the Center Theatre Group and the Huntington Theatre Company at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, through May 25.
“Indecent is a deeply moving play inspired by the true events surround the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance – a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel. Indecent charts the history of an incendiary drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it.” Arts Fuse review Another Arts Fuse review
Pacific Overtures, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg. Choreography by Micheline Wu. Staged by Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through June 16.
The Sondheim project continues: “An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.”
We Live in Cairo by Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour. Directed by Taibi Magar. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, May 14 through June 23.
“Inspired by the young Egyptians who took to the streets in 2011 to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, this new musical follows six revolutionary students armed with laptops and cameras, guitars and spray cans as they come of age in contemporary Cairo. Winner of the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater,” the piece “moves from the hope of Tahrir Square through the tumultuous years that followed. As escalating division and violence lead to a military crackdown, the young revolutionaries must confront the question of how—or even whether—to keep their dreams of change alive.” A world premiere.
The Earth Room by Marge Buckley. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by Fresh Ink Theatre at the Boston Playwrights’ Theater, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through May 18.
“On a Mars colony built to sustain the future of human life, homesick immigrants look to reconnect with the Earth in any way they can: virtual reality, factory-made-nostalgia-based cookies, and giant murals of automobiles. But a new generation of young Martians want to leave the past behind and carve out a culture for themselves, even if it means they have to fight for it.”
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh. Directed by Summer L. Williams. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End, through May 25.
“The show takes place in 1986 in Ghana’s top boarding school where Paulina, the school’s reigning “queen bee,” has her sights set on representing her country in the Miss Global Universe Pageant. Things change quickly, however, with the arrival of Ericka, a new student from Ohio, who, with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of both the pageant recruiter and Paulina’s hive-minded friends.” The script throws “unsparing light on questions of ambition, deceit, and the ultimate value of a fair-skinned complexion.” Arts Fuse review
The Ebonic Woman, A Comic Book Farce by Ryan Landry. Staged by the Gold Dust Orphans at the Ramrod Center for the Performing Arts (Machine Nightclub), 1254 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, through May 26.
The latest farce from Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans “is a blistering hot take on race in America and the walls we build around ourselves to keep the status quo. Using the form of superhero blockbusters as a jumping off point … this original musical comedy is a scathing satire in which no group is safe.
— Bill Marx
Glissando Concerts presents: Concert VIII: The Three Great Bs
May 5 at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in G minor for viola da gamba and keyboard, BWV 1029; Beethoven’s Sonata No. 10 in G for violin and piano, Op. 96, and Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C, Op. 8.
Chamber Music Concert Series
May 5 at 3 p.m.
Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton, MA
The musicians featured: violinist Yevgeny Kutik and cellist Jan Müller-Szeraws.
First Monday at Jordan Hall: Exploring Cultures of the World — Polish
May 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Witold Lutosławski’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini, for two pianos; György Ligeti’s “Autumn in Warsaw,” from Book One of Études; Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 2, op. 56; Henryk Wieniawski’s Selections of Violin Duos, and Grażyna Bacewicz’s Piano Quintet No. 1.
Violnist Soovin Kim and pianist Gloria Chien
May 11 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Maurice Ravel’s Sonata No. 2 in G Major; Anton Webern’s Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 7; Karol Szymanowski’s Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28; Sergei Prokofiev’s Five Melodies, Op. 35, and Richard Strauss’ Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18.
Songs of Love and Death
May 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Church of the Redeemer, 379 Hammond Street, Chestnut Hill, MA
Blue Heron performs Music of Cipriano de Rore, from his groundbreaking 1542 publication, I madrigali a cinque voci (madrigals for five voices).
May 17 at 8 p.m.
St. Paul Church, 29 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA
“Anton Bruckner’s enthralling Mass in E minor contrasts with Igor Stravinsky’s prickly, poignant Mass; both uniquely written for soloists, chorus, and an ensemble comprised of wind instruments. Giovanni Gabrieli’s uplifting celebration, Jubilate Deo, brings Cantata Singers’ 55th season to a glorious close.
May 18 at 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre/Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA
Come hear Masterworks Chorale pefform two glorious works of George Frideric Handel, his Utrecht Jubilate and I Will Magnify Thee, O God. Also on the program: Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus [a 8]; Johann Sebastian Bach’s Der Gerechte Kommt Um, BC C 8; Henry Purcell’s “O Sing Unto The Lord,” Z 44.
— Susan Miron
pianoSonoma Concerts –– May 14 at 7 p.m. (and other dates to be announced, through May 17), Seullly Hall at Boston Conservatory, 8 The Fenway. pianoSonoma, according to its website, “brings together . . . current conservatory music majors or recent graduates and adult musicians to collaborate and perform in . . . concerts and workshops.” This concert starts the project’s first Boston residency, hosted by Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Participants will be coming from elsewhere to work with four BCaB Artists in Residence–two violinists, one flutist, and one pianist. The May 14 concert offers an attractive menu: music by Beethoven, John Adams, Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla, and a new arrangement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.
— Steve Elman
A Brazilian Journey
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
May 12, 3 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
The BPYO closes its season and prepares for next month’s Brazilian tour with a program combining a new piece by Clarice Assad, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and four concertante selections showcasing the winners of the orchestra’s annual concerto competition. Benjamin Zander conducts.
Presented by Jewish Arts Collaborative
May 16, 7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
A sweeping assortment of Bernstein’s music – from West Side Story to his Dance Suite – is highlighted in the third-annual Michael B. Rukin Memorial Concert. Performers include the Triton Brass Quintet, baritone David Kravitz, poet Judson Evans, pianist Ran Blake, and many others.
Presented by A Far Cry
May 17, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
The Criers close their season with the world premiere of Kareem Roustom’s Hurry to the Light. The whole program, in which their joined by the fantastic Lorelei Ensemble, focuses on the women’s stories in The Odyssey, and features pieces by Georg Philipp Telemann, Kate Soper, Lili Boulanger, Caroline Shaw, and Jessica Meyer.
Presented by Commonwealth Lyric Opera
May 17 and 18 (at 7:30 p.m.), and 19 (at 3 p.m.)
War Memorial Auditorium, Newton, MA
CLT’s spring production is Bizet’s greatest hit. Anna Cley sings the title role, Giovanni Formisano is Don Jose, Ismail Sandoval conducts.
Presented by New Philharmonia Orchestra
May 18 (at 8 p.m.) and 19 (at 3 p.m.)
First Baptist Church, Newton, MA
NPO plays an inviting, American-themed program featuring music by Leonard Bernstein, George Tsontakis, and Michael Daugherty. Boston Symphony English hornist Robert Sheena is the soloist in two movements from Tsontakis’ Sonnets. Dvorak’s New World Symphony rounds out the concert.
Bach’s B-minor Mass
Presented by Back Bay Chorale
May 19, 3 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
Scott Allen Jarrett leads BBC in Bach’s towering masterpiece. Sarah Yanovitch, Sonja Tengblad, Clara Osowski, Patrick Muehleise, and Edmund Milly are the soloists.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II
May 7 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
“In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the thrilling story of three of these remarkable women. There’s Andrée Borrel, a scrappy and streetwise Parisian who blew up power lines with the Gestapo hot on her heels; Odette Sansom, an unhappily married suburban mother who saw the SOE as her ticket out of domestic life and into a meaningful adventure; and Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent member of French colonial high society and the SOE’s unflappable “queen.” Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence–laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.”
Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations
May 9 at 6 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline MA
Tickets are $28 with book
Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of a miracle in itself. In Craig’s candid and revealing memoir, readers will get a look into the mind and recollections of the unique and twisted Scottish American who became a national hero for pioneering the world’s first TV robot skeleton sidekick and reviving two dudes in a horse suit dancing as a form of entertainment.
I Just Haven’t Met You Yet: Finding Empowerment in Dating, Love, and Life
May 14 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
“The book details Tracy Strauss’s dating history and her journey to dismantle the effects and stigmas of an abusive past, break free of destructive relationship patterns, and ultimately conquer her fear of truly being seen by the world, flaws and all. The author shares the transformative lessons she learned and self-empowerment she achieved while passing each hurdle along the way to finding the love of her life. Strauss helps readers empower themselves by taking a challenging look at the ways the negative events of their lives, including sexual harassment and abuse, have shaped their self-perception and created obstacles to personal success, and how readers can change that troubled self-image along with their (love) lives.”
Then It Fell Apart
May 16 at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30)
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $26.50 with book, $6 without
“In summer 1999, Moby released the album that defined the millennium, PLAY. Like generation-defining albums before it, PLAY was ubiquitous, and catapulted Moby to superstardom. Suddenly he was hanging out with David Bowie and Lou Reed, Christina Ricci and Madonna, taking ecstasy for breakfast (most days), drinking bottles of vodka (every day), and sleeping with supermodels (infrequently). It was a diet that couldn’t last. And then it fell apart. The second volume of Moby’s memoir is a classic about the banality of fame. It is shocking, riotously entertaining, extreme, and unforgiving. It is unedifying, but you can never tear your eyes away from the page. He will play some acoustic songs, but this a literary reading not a concert.”
Comedy Sex God
May 18 at 4:30 p.m.
WBUR CitySpace, 890 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA
Tickets are $26 with book
“Part autobiography, part philosophical inquiry, and part spiritual quest, Comedy Sex God is a hilarious, profound, and enlightening romp around the fertile mind of stand-up stand-out, podcast king, and HBO superstar Pete Holmes.”
— Matt Hanson
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Under the leadership of David Bazan, the Seattle indie rock group Pedro the Lion released five LPs and as many EPs between 1997 and 2004. Since the band’s break-up in 2006, Bazan has added five solo albums to his resume. In January, the first Pedro the Lion recording in 15 years, the appropriately titled (in more ways than one) Phoenix, came out on Polyvinyl. Highlights among the 13 tracks are the lead singles “Yellow Bike” and “Model Homes” and the de facto title track (“My Phoenix”). The multitalented John Vanderslice, whose new album is this year’s The Cedars, will support the band at Brighton Music Hall on Saturday.
The past 10 years may have been the most prolific of 67-year-old Lee Fields’s six-decade-spanning recording career. It Rains Love (Big Crown) came out on April 5 and is the fifth album that he has recorded with The Expressions since 2009 (and the seventh overall). If church isn’t where you feed your soul on this (or any) Sunday morning, then do so at Brighton Music Hall that evening.
As I have said many times before, “recommend” is too weak of a word for the enthusiasm with which I plug a Richard Thompson concert. His May 17 show will be his first at Beverly’s Cabot Theatre, which will lend an element of freshness to the experience for veterans of Thompson’s concerts. Newcomers, meanwhile, could do a lot worse than The Cabot as a place to experience the songwriting/guitar-playing guru up close for the first time. Opening the show will be acclaimed Boston singer-songwriter Mark Erelli, whose 2018 covers album Mixtape includes his own version of Thompson’s “I Feel So Good.”
The first-born son of blues legend Muddy Waters returns to Beverly’s 9 Wallis after a triumphant debut there last December. Morganfield, whose real first name is Larry, won a Blues Music Award for 2014 album For Pops: A Tribute to Muddy Waters. He has also released three albums of his own (and others’) material, the most recent of which is last year’s They Call Me Mud.
— Blake Maddux