Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, dance, visual art, theater, music, and author events for the coming weeks.
December 4 at 7 and 9:45 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline
A consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists such as Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we are made aware of the beauty and intelligence of the the fungi kingdom — as well as the solutions it offers to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. Pollan will appear in person at the 7 p.m. show for a Q&A, moderated by executive producer Stephen Apkon, who will also introduce the 9:45 p.m. show.
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
Through December 5
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Matt Wolf’s distinctive documentary is about a lifelong African-American resident of Philadelphia, Marion Stokes. In the late ’70s, she developed an obsession with making home recordings of TV news coverage. For 30 years, she kept 3 to 8 VCRs going round the clock, 24 hours a day, taping multiple channels. She kept every tape, cataloguing and storing it, creating a running diary of television news coverage, from mainstream networks to CNN to the cable channels that followed. These tapes became her purpose, her lifeblood, maybe even her identity. Schedule of screenings
A DayGlo colored vision of a bizarro suburbia where adults wear braces on their already-straight teeth, everyone drives golf carts, and children magically turn into golden retrievers. The plot: soccer moms and best friends Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) are locked in a passive aggressive battle-of-the-wills that takes a turn for the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over every aspect of Jill’s life — starting with her newborn daughter. Meanwhile, a psycho killer of yoga teachers is on the loose, Jill’s husband (Beck Bennett) has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa is pregnant with a soccer ball. That’s just the tip of the gloriously weird iceberg that is the feature debut from writers-directors DeBoer and Luebbe.
The Most Beautiful Couple
December 8 at 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
Two young teachers, Malte and Liv, are spending their summer holiday on the Mediterranean coast. They are suddenly attacked by three young men and Liv is assaulted. Two years later, they are not only still together, but demonstrating an amazing strength in dealing with the trauma, determined that it will not tear them apart. But when Malte has a chance encounter with one of the perpetrators, he finds himself driven to seek revenge. He sets out in pursuit. But once he faces the longed-for confrontation, he realizes that the situation has gone beyond his control. Malte hasn’t told Liv and he didn’t call the police. He finds that the couple’s fragile relationship, which they have fought so hard to preserve, is threatened once more. Presented by the Goethe Institute Boston.
Boston Open Screen
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA
Boston’s perennial open mic night for filmmakers! All films are under 10 minutes.
Joan Walsh Anglund: Life in Story and Poem
December 11 at 7 p.m.
Somerville Public Library, 79 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA
Premiere screening of a 35-minute film on the life of best-selling author and illustrator, Joan Walsh Anglund, told in her own words. The first person narration is accompanied by her illustrations and unpublished poems, read by Boston actress Paula Plum. This writer produced and directed the film — I will appear along with composer and sound designer Bertrand Laurence. Free
— Tim Jackson
The New York Times wrote of this 1982 documentary — when it was re-released earlier this year — that it was “a rare document of gospel skill and strategy.” “Gospel music is the subject of this film, which explores the history of the faith-rooted musical style. While the documentary highlights a number of gospel musicians, it looks closely at the considerable contributions of Thomas A. Dorsey, a pioneering songwriter and pianist, and his popular associate, singer “Mother” Willie Mae Ford Smith. Also featured are several concert performances by the Barrett Sisters, Sallie Martin and other gospel luminaries.”
— Bill Marx
December 5 at 8 p.m.
Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA.
The Brooklyn-based trombonist and composer Kalia Vandever makes her Boston-area debut as a leader, joined by
guitarist Lee Meadvin, bassist Nick Dunston, and drummer Connor Parks. Vandever’s circle has included Herbie Hancock, Tyshawn Sorey, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and the rapper Lizzo (with whom she played on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”). But her 2019 debut, In Bloom, deserves attention in its own right, not just for Vandever’s assured, probing solo work, but also for the flow of her lyrical compositions and free interactions among the band.
December 6 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Mad Monkfish, Cambridge, MA.
Sheila Jordan’s 10-minute “You Are My Sunshine” (1962) with George Russell is one of the landmark recordings in vocal jazz — emotionally and technically daring, a true collaboration between Jordan and the great jazz composer. Jordan has been an inspirational performer and teacher ever since. Now 91, she makes one of her regular stops at the Mad Monkfish (formerly Thelonious Monkfish) in Cambridge, backed by the Yoko Miwa Trio (with bassist Brad Barrett and drummer Scott Goulding). In addition to the Friday performance at Monkfish, Jordan will conduct a Saturday afternoon master class, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
December 7 at 7 p.m.
Cary Hall, Lexington, MA.
The Jazz Composers Alliance deploys its 21-piece orchestra in new compositions by special guests Jerry Bergonzi and Lewis Porter as well as resident composers David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson. Saxophonist Bergonzi and pianist Porter will also be featured players as well as trombonist (and Thelonious Monk Competition finalist) Marshall Gilkes.
Tomoko Iwamoto & 440
December 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints, Dorchester, MA.
Violinist Tomoko Iwamoto and her band 440 do the “gypsy jazz” thing as part of the Dot Jazz Series (a collaboration between Mandorla Music and Greater Ashmont Main Street) at Parish of All Saints. That means music in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, with pieces by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Benny Goodman as well as originals by the band. Joining Iwamoto are clarinetist Mark Chenevert, guitarist Jack Soref, and bassist Sven Larson.
December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
Saxophonist and composer Kevin Sun’s Trio was one of the standout jazz CDs of 2018. He is closing out 2019 with the double-CD The Sustain of Memory and celebrates its release with his trio-mates (bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Matt Honor) and the pianist from “Memory,” Dana Saul.
Robert Glasper Trio
December 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.
Keyboardist and composer Robert Glasper broke through to a pop audience with 2012’s Black Radio as well as his work with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). But his first disc as a leader for Blue Note (Canvas, 2005) was in the traditional acoustic piano trio format, to which he has returned regularly (as on 2015’s Covered, with music from Lamar, John Legend, Radiohead, and, hey, Ned Washington and Victor Young (“Stella by Starlight”)! Glasper’s trio is at Scullers for four shows.
Bruno Råberg Trio
December 14 at 3:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.
The esteemed bassist Bruno Råberg fronts a crazy-good trio for this matinee performance, with pianist Bruce Barth and drummer Matt Wilson.
— Jon Garelick
Chamber Jazz Quartet [Bert Seager (p), Rick DiMuzio (cl), Sean Farias (b), Brian O’Neill (hand per)] on December 4 at 7:30 p.m. at The Lilypad (1353 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge). This ensemble promises “jazz with transparency,” and since Seager always under-promises and over-delivers, you can expect much more. The presence of O’Neill, a true wizard of percussion, guarantees a multi-colored evening.
A documentary film by George Schuller: The Modern Jazz Quartet: From Residency to Legacy (2018), December 5 at Noon at the Eben Jordan Rehearsal Room (Room 211, New England Conservatory Student Life and Performance Center Building, entrance off of St. Botolph St). Drummer George Schuller, son of the late composer Gunther Schuller, has produced this look backward at a seminal time and place in music history. His highly-praised film recalls the work of a great jazz ensemble and the heady days of The Music Inn in the Berkshires in the 1950s and 1960s. The film includes conversations with the MJQ’s pianist John Lewis, the group’s bassist Percy Heath, and a host of other musical giants – including Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coieman, Jim Hall, and Gunther Schuller himself. A Q & A with George Schuller will follow the screening.
New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, Ken Schaphorst (cond), George Schuller (arr) on December 5, at 730 p.m. at Jordan Hall. This wide-ranging concert celebrates the jazz side of composer Gunther Schuller, who founded NEC’s Jazz Department 50 years ago this fall. Schuller always was the best advocate of creative fusion between jazz and classical; since he understood both so well, he could bring them together in ways that allowed richly creative improvisation without compromising any element of adventurous composition. In this program, the NEC Jazz Orchestra will provide a full menu of Schuller’s jazz pieces — his compositions “Jumpin’ in the Future” and “Night Music,” as well as his arrangements of ‘Speak Low,” ”Anthropology,” “Blue Moon,” and “Yesterdays,” plus “Magic Row,” a piece by Ran Blake, one of Schuller’s dearest friends. In addition, Schuller’s son George will present some small-group works, including “Rush Hour on 23rd Street,” “Little Blue Devil” (adapted from “Seven Studies on Themes” by Paul Klee”), and George Schuller’s own composition in memory of his mother Marjorie.
Chucho Valdés (p) and Jazz Batá [Yelsy Heredia, b, vo, per; Dreiser Durruthy Bombale, batá, timbales, cymbals, vo; Yaroldy Abreu, cga, bgo, per, vo] on December 6, 8 p.m. at Berklee Performance Center. Sponsored by Celebrity Series. This band is not really a showcase for Valdés’s incredible piano virtuosity, although he doesn’t keep that aspect of his ability hidden. Instead, it’s a generous helping of Cuban roots music fused with jazz, driven by two brilliant percussionists. You’ll hear plenty of Chucho, make no mistake. But he gives his “supporting” players enough elbow room to make genuinely cooperative music.
Stan Strickland (vo / ts / ss), Josh Rosen (p), Warren Senders (vo), Beth Bahia Cohen (v) on December 7 at 7 p.m., Community Church of Boston (565 Boylston Street). Warren Senders’s Playing for the Planet concerts reach a milestone tonight. This is the twentieth benefit he has produced to support 350MA, the local arm of 350.org, the non-profit environmental organization “working to build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.” All proceeds (not just the profits!) from the evening go to the organization – so your entry fee does more than provide an evening of wonderful music. As to the music, once again it is an eclectic mix of genres of more than a little interest to jazzpeople. Three ensembles will perform. Stan Strickland is a local treasure, a musician of great generosity and ingenuity. Josh Rosen and he have been working together for many years, so their duet portion of the program is guaranteed to provide some great interaction. Beth Cohen, like Rosen a faculty member at Berklee, specializes in music of the Middle East and Eastern Europe; she is not only a violinist, but has expertise on a wide range of traditional stringed instruments. Warren Senders himself is a true Renaissance man – a teacher of vocal technique, composer, sometime jazz bassist, and sparkling wit to boot; his decades of study in Hindustani khyal singing (including years of work in India itself) give him rare authority in the genre for a non-Indian musician. His work this evening will be within the frame of khyal. It is likely to incorporate sly touches of his jazz background – and it will be a delight to anyone who appreciates great improvisation.
Billy Childs (p), with supporting players drawn from the Berklee student body. December 11 at 7 p.m., Berklee Recital Hall, 1140 Boylston Street. Childs has a distinguished double-sided career as a jazz pianist and classical composer, with four Grammy awards honoring his formal compositions and arranging. This concert will offer samples of both aspects of his work.
Joe Lovano (ts / ss), Danilo Pérez (p), Marco Pignataro (b), Patricia Pérez (as), Bill Dobbins (arr / orch), with guest artists and supporting players to be announced, in a celebration of the music of Charlie Parker, on December 13 at 8 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center. The Berklee Global Jazz Institute is sponsoring this Parker tribute. With a stellar lineup of strong players and many talented Berklee faculty and students available to contribute, this should be a satisfying evening, surely not limited to re-creations of Parker’s music, and probably spotlighting his collaborations with Latinx musicians.
— Steve Elman
Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter. Photo: courtesy of the ICA.
When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Through January 26
Borrowing its name from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem “Home,” this exhibit presents work by 20 artists from a myriad of countries, on the subject of migration and displacement. Currently witnessing the global movement of peoples on an unparalleled historical scale, artists like Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, and Reena Saini Kallat respond to this exodus with highly diverse artwork, from poetic meditations to detailed individual accounts.
Holly Roddenbery, “A Few Drops of Compassion,” 2019. Wood, Silver, Stone, Acrylic. Photo by Melissa Lovingood.
Human Impact: Stories of the Opioid Epidemic
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301
Through May 3
This exhibit brings together 11 invited artists, who share perspectives on the opioid crisis from the viewpoint of those who are closest to the subject. Working in collaboration with families deeply affected by opiate use, these artists create works that communicate stories of pain, hope, and courage. Jodi Colella’s “Once Was (Remembrance)” is a towering, monolithic poppy field, a monument to the lives lost to this epidemic, while another piece, John Anderson’s “Sacrificial Lamb,” an altar of prescription pill bottles and cage-like wire, illustrates the chaos unleashed by the force of addiction. The Fuller Craft Museum presents this show in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office, Brockton Hospital, High Point Treatment Center, and Stonehill College, which advocate for the spread of awareness and information on this subject.
Yayoi Kusama, “Love Is Calling,” 2013. Photo: courtesy of the ICA.
Yayoi Kusama: Love Is Calling
Through February 7, 2021
ICA Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston MA 02210
Premiering in Japan in 2013, and recently acquired as part of the ICA’s permanent collection, “Love Is Calling” is one of Kusama’s 20 infinity rooms. A darkened space, lined with mirrors and interspersed with repetitive, brightly colored sculptural forms, generates a kaleidoscopic effect that surrounds viewers as they traverse the visually crowded space. The experience is accompanied by a sound recording of the artist reciting her poem “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” in Japanese. This vibrant environment explores such themes as love, life, and death. It promises to be a remarkable experience.
Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman
Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA
Through February, 2020
In the 1950s, once consumerism, television, and image-sharing became commonplace, a new era of photographic experimentation commenced. Photo Revolution presents a wide range of works at the center of this transformation, featuring a wide range of mediums, from artists whose work centered on photography, such as Chris Burden, Nan Goldin, John Baldessari, and many more. These artists used photography and video to make social and political statements, turning what was seen as a practical, secondary medium into the inspiration for new movements in art. Easy access to photo and video production led to a diversification of format, which stirred artists to not only make work using photography, but to make work about photography.
Andy Goldsworthy, Watershed. Photo: courtesy of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Andy Goldsworthy: Watershed
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
This permanent, site-specific structure is installed in a hillside near the museum and pays structural homage to the homogeneous architectural style of New England. The granite stone installation is the latest in Goldsworthy’s many works that explore the nature of water, weather, and related natural occurrences that affect a particular landscape. Because it emphasizes and utilizes the impact of groundwater runoff in the vicinity, visitors can see and hear the structure being activated and, over the years, altered by the water flowing through it when it rains. Arts Fuse review
Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect
Through January 5
The Rose at Brandeis, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA
Gordon Matta-Clark coined the hybrid term “anarchitect” for his site-specific works erected in 1970s South Bronx. They have been celebrated as activist interventions within derelict urban communities. Trained as an architect, Matta-Clark critiqued the treatment of areas and people that capitalism had tragically failed. This exhibit focuses on the political content of these interventions, particularly his pioneering approach to social activism through art. Arts Fuse review
–- Rebekah Bonner
Karl Baden, “Harvard Sq.,” 2017.
Mass Ave, Cambridge: Photos by Karl Baden
Through February 20, 2020
At Cambridge Arts’ Gallery 344, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA
“Mass Ave, Cambridge began with a conversation between photographer Karl Baden and Lillian Hsu, Cambridge Arts’ Director of Public Art and exhibitions. In recent years, Baden has developed a particular interest in the people, the serendipity, and the visual forms found along our streets and sidewalks. An idea for an exhibition sprung from what seemed like a simple objective: Karl could spend a year and a half recording life along Mass. Ave. from Arlington to the Charles River. But, of course, Mass. Ave. is vividly complex.
“Baden’s resulting Mass. Ave. photos mix objective documentation and personal interpretation. The pictures show people walking down the street, people dancing, people stepping out for a smoke, people bundled up against falling snow, people out in summer shorts. There are smiles and pain and love. You’ll recognize icons of the avenue—the Charles River, Out of Town News, Porter Square. There are dogs and buses, advertising signs, reflections in windows. Side by side, the photos add up to a portrait, unique to our time and place, of the jostle and jumble and life of the thoroughfare.”
— Bill Marx
Third Life Choreographers Showcase
December 6 at 8 p.m.
Urbanity Central Studio, Boston, MA
This Friday marks the final Third Life Choreographers Showcase since its 2012 debut. Led by Kelley Donovan, the series has presented roughly 165 dance companies over its eight-year run, with choreographers from Boston, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, and Philadelphia. This final showcase includes Donovan’s work Shifting Sea, which she describes as “appropriate to what is happening in Boston currently.”
Luminarium in Concert
December 6 & 7 at 8 p.m.
Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
Hailed by the Boston Globe as “unpredictable, provocative, and gratifyingly visceral,” Luminarium Dance Company presents a melding of contemporary, Odissi, and unique lighting. Watch as fanciful animals are brought to life through shadow-play; witness the exhilaration of combat sport beyond the ring; and sink into the luscious imagery of a new screendance film. Arts Fuse Readers: Save $5 per ticket with code “DISCOUNT5” at checkout!
Boston Dance Theater
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
The ICA once again presents Boston Dance Theater, co-led by award-winning Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili. The performance includes works by Shannon Gillen/VIMVigor, Itzik Galili, Micaela Taylor, and Marco Goecke. Audiences are invited to a free pre-performance talk with Boston Dance Alliance Executive Director Debra Cash 30 minutes prior to curtain.
And further afield…
Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff
Through December 6
It’s officially Nutcracker season, and with it comes this special, site-specific Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff. Experience the magic of Rosecliff Mansion’s magnificent ballrooms and staircases as this classic ballet unfolds around you. This production is presented in partnership with the Preservation Society of Newport County and features Island Moving Company, guest artists, and children from local Rhode Island schools.
Festival Ballet Providence’s The Nutcracker
Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI
Dive into Festival Ballet Providence’s extravagant version of The Nutcracker, complete with picturesque sets, refined choreography, and impressive dancers. Enjoy this holiday favorite outside Greater Boston.
— Merli V. Guerra
Roots and World Music
Judy Collins with Jonas Feld and Chatham County Line
The Wilbur, Boston MA
Folk queen Judy Collins just turned 80 and she’s as creative and active as ever. Fresh off her tour with Stephen Stills comes her new LP Winter Stories, which finds her joining forces with Norwegian singer/songwriter (and longtime Rick Danko collaborator) Jonas Feld, as well as the North Carolina bluegrass combo Chatham County Line. Collins has long stradled the line between folk and cabaret, but with its string band backing and songs from the likes of Stan Rogers and Joni Mitchell, Winter Stories is the rootsiest album in years from the singer, who got her start at the Greenwich Village hootenannies. Arts Fuse interview
Eileen Rose and Rich Gilbert
December 2 (rescheduled from Nov. 26 and moved to a new venue)
Accurate Records, Somerville, MA
If anyone is wondering what happened to Boston guitar great Rich Gilbert (Human Sexual Response, Zulus) the answer is that he’s been living in Nashville, releasing some startlingly original instrumental albums, and collaborating with singer/songwriter (and spouse) Eileen Rose. They’re taking a break from the honky tonks for a hometown trio show which promises some of Rose’s rootsy originals, some Gilbert guitar freak-outs, and some country classics.
East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Arlington Street Church, Boston, MA
Violinist Ceren Turkmenoglu hosts an evening of music and talk exploring the connections between classical and Turkish music, with an emphasis on compositions from the 17h and 18th century.
C. J. Chenier
The Porch, Medford, MA
The Louisiana sounds of zydeco have been largely absent from the Boston area since Johnny D’s closed. Perhaps that will change if this appearance from Clifton Chenier’s accordion-wielding son and the Red Hot Louisana Band is a success.
Klezwoods’ Christmas Show
December 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Atwoods Tavern, Cambridge, MA
There’s no shortage of holiday offerings this time of year, but the all-star klezmer aggregation known as the Klezwoods offer the only local Christmas Jewish music night we’re aware of — and a week before the start of Hanukkah to boot. The show is part of Atwoods’ new Sunday night dinner series, which offers significantly earlier start times compared to the venue’s usual evening shows.
— Noah Schaffer
Quixote Nuevo by Octavio Solis. Directed by KJ Sanchez. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts, Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, through December 8.
“A hilarious and imaginative adaption of the classic novel, Don Quixote. Transported to a border town in Texas, the eccentric, brilliant knight embarks on a cross-desert quest to reunite with a long-lost love. Chased by Death himself – in the form of roving bands of guitar-playing Calacas – Quixote always leads with his heart in a world of people led astray by their brains.” Emilio Delgado stars. Arts Fuse review
Chasing the Ghost by Ashley Lauren Rogers. Directed by Samantha deManbey. Staged by The Forge Theater Lab at the Wallace Theater for Performing Arts, McKay Building at Fitchburg State University, 67 Rindge Road, Fitchburg, MA, December 7 through 14.
A new play by an award-winning writer and trans rights activist. Here’s the plot: “Kurt, a vlogger in the early days of YouTube who used to scream about video games, is married to Patty, a struggling vampire romance author. While Kurt has left that life behind him, anger and all, their relationship will be put to the test when one night he is visited by a shadow person…who won’t stop tickling his feet. Note: This play is not recommended for children under 14 because of profanity and disturbing situations.
Shade Range, A Celebration of Trans & Queer People Of Color, created by Pulp, Yung Onyx, and Zayn-X. At the Columbus Theatre, Upstairs, 270 Broadway, Providence, RI. on December 7.
“Featuring ten local performers, Shade Range is presented by Pulp, Miss Gay Rhode Island 2019. Hosting the evening alongside Pulp are the other two co-founders of the event, Yung Onyx and Zayn-X, two local drag queens and hosts of Dollhouse, a regular drag show at Mirabar. Alongside these three queer drag artists are Sheik, Coco LaFreak, Pristine Christine, Yavin, Kelly Square, Concepcion, and Robyn Edges. These ten performers are all trans and queer people of color local to the Providence area.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Solo Performance by William Shakespeare. Directed by Jess Ernst. Staged by Queen Mab, a Micro-Theatre at the Multicultural Arts Center 41 Second Street, Cambridge, MA, on December 13 and 14.
“Two-time Elliot Norton Award winner Benjamin Evett brings Shakespeare’s beloved comedy to life with mind-blowing originality. Playing fourteen characters, using only a few hand props, he vaults from fairy to lover, from male to female, powerful king to humble citizen, with the zest, comic timing, and attention to Shakepeare’s glorious verse that Boston audiences have come to expect of him.”
Fade by Tanya Saracho. Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island, December 5 through January 5, 2020.
A play about “Culture, class, and the price of ambition.” “Lucia is understandably nervous. It’s day one at her first TV writing job. As a Mexican-born novelist, she may actually be the “diversity hire” she’s heard whispers about. Uncertain whether she can make a place for herself in cutthroat Hollywood, at least she feels less alone when she meets Abel, the Latino janitor. They form a bond and share stories, but it turns out that what Lucia gains from their friendship is not what Abel expects.”
Agatha Christe’s Murder on the Orient Express, Adapted by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Staged by the Lyric Stage of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, through December 22.
There was a time when theaters produced Christe mystery plays on a fairly regular basis — though they have fallen out of fashion over the last decade or so. That makes this effort, as a piece of colorful holiday entertainment, worth a look. Lots of fine local actors will be riding on this who-dun-it train, including Remo Airaldi, Will McGarrahan, and Rosa Procaccino. Arts Fuse review
A Christmas Carol, an adaption of the Charles Dickens story by the Underground Railway Theatre. Directed by Debra Wise. Produced by Underground Railway Theater & The Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, through December 29.
A celebrated local production of the oft-produced chestnut, that, I suspect, knowing the company, doesn’t skimp on the social concern. “Immerse yourself in the swirling spectacle of London’s yesteryear and present day as we propel you through Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous journey. See this tale like never before–resurrected by intimate storytelling, hilarious puppetry, lively music, and jovial dancing! This theater-in-the-round adaptation of Dickens’ 1843 classic showcases vibrant performers and heartfelt holiday cheer.”
The Plot by Will Eno. Directed by Oliver Butler. Stage by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through December 21.
The plot (pun no doubt intended by the playwright) of this world premiere from an admired contemporary dramatist (The Realistic Joneses): “a moving, mysterious, at times hilarious story of a tiny plot of land and some people with grand and incompatible designs on it.”
The Christmas Revels: An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Directed by Patrick Swanson; Megan Henderson, music director. Staged at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, December 13 through 29.
The 49th annual Christmas Revels brings it all back home. “From bluegrass and Appalachian running sets to Gospel and spirituals, from swinging Second Line brass bands to the twang of the African-American banjo, from play songs of the Georgia Sea Islands to the raw power of the blues, from ecstatic Shaker melodies to the bony shape-note hymns, this year’s Christmas Revels will be a toe-tapping celebration of the diversity of our country’s musical traditions.”
Oliver!, book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Directed and choreographed by Michael J Bobbitt. Staged by New Rep on its MainStage Theater the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, through December 29.
Let’s hope something invigorating is done to this chestnut of a musical. “Still relevant today, this Victorian-era tale explores the contrast between the rich and poor, the struggles of the Industrial Revolution, and the results of an absent middle class and no upward mobility.” Well, yes — but this version is a sentimentalized version of the Dickens novel. And how about Fagin and antisemitism?
The Seagull by A Chekhov. Directed by Igor Golyak. An original adaptation staged by the Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, MA, through December 8.
Part of a message from the director: “Through this production, Arlekin seeks to bridge the world of Chekhov to today’s contemporary theatre scene, exploring how the timeless work speaks to artists of all cultures. By mixing different languages, and delving into Chekhov’s world through his journals, letters, and the play itself, we seek answers to our own struggles as artists, and as people in the 21st century.” Don’t expect the conventional … Arts Fuse review
Christmas on Uranus by Ryan Landry. Directed by Kiki Samko. Staged by the Gold Dust Orphans at the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens’ Association, 368 West Broadway, Third Floor, South Boston, MA, December 4 through 22.
The premiere of a brand new GOLD DUST ORPHANS Christmas show … IN A BRAND NEW THEATRE! The so-called plot: “Santa has been kidnapped by the nefarious Minge the Merkinless, dictator of Uranus and Emperor of the Galaxy. The Robinson family and ace pilot Don West are tapped to launch into the stratosphere to find Santa and bring him home to save Christmas. But when a stow-away doctor finds herself aboard the Rudolph 2, the ship is thrown off course and the Robinsons are lost in space! Will it ever be Christmas again? Watch the crew, accompanied by a Robot known only as Sophia, as they planet-hop throughout the galaxy in search of St. Nick. Can any Earthling survive the lowbrow hi-jinx of a Christmas on Uranus?”
Moby Dick: A Musical Reckoning, based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Developed with and directed with Rachel Chavkin. Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias. Choreography by Chanel DaSilva. Produced by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, December 3 through January 12, 2020.
“An epic musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. As the egomaniacal Captain Ahab drives his crew across the seas in pursuit of the great white whale, Melville’s nineteenth-century vision of America collides head-on with the present. Note: This production contains strong language, weapons, blood, depictions of violence, strong lights, haze, fog, and strobe.
— Bill Marx
Boston Early Music Festival
December 1 at 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky & soprano Amanda Forsythe perform La storia di Orfeo: Music of Sartorio, Monteverdi, and Rossi.
Faculty Recital: pianists Aleksandr Poliykov and Janice Weber
December 1 at 8 p.m.
Seully Hall, 8 Fenway, Boston, MA
Boston Conservatory at Berklee presents a concert featuring works by Maurice Ravel, Anton Arensky, and Sergei Prokofiev.
First Monday: Brahms
December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
A Brahms themed round-up: Brahms, Dietrich, Schumann’s F-A-E Sonata; Brahms’s Three Songs, op. 42; Strauss/Schoenberg’s Emperor Waltz, op. 437; Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34.
Music from Britain for the Holiday Season
December 8 at 3 p.m.
United Parish of Brookline, 210 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA
“Celebrate the holidays with Cantata Singers with a program of holiday music from Britain with Cantata Singers’ Chamber Chorus.”
Chameleon Arts Ensemble presents: slow dreams of eternity
December 8, at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
“Imagination, poetry, and invention come together at the hazy intersections between sleeping and waking, life and dreams. Fauré explores the sensual delights of Paradise while Helen Grime conjures the harvest moon. Theo Verbey illuminates celestial wonders, and Schumann gives us an exhilarating reflection of humanity in all its complexity and contradiction.”
Musicians of the Old Post Road presents: Christmas Pilgrimage
December 13 at 8 p.m.
Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
December 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, 10 Church St., Gloucester, MA
December 15 at 4 p.m.
First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St, Worcester, MA
“Joyful seasonal pastorales and sublime cantatas by Handel, Telemann, Heinichen, and others, along with the world premiere revival of a Christmas cantata by Graupner. Taking inspiration from the guiding light of Epiphany, Graupner’s cantata Das Volk so im Finstern wandelt (The people wandering in darkness see a great light) is about seeking and finding a new spiritual home.”
Skylark Ensemble presents: A Century of Carols
December 11 hrough December 14.
Performances in Falmouth, Chatham, Newburyport & Weston, MA (See website for locations and times).
“2018 marked the 100th anniversary of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, held annually at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. To celebrate this centenary, Skylark Artistic Director Matthew Guard and colleagues in Cambridge meticulously researched the history of this service and the angelic music that has graced its Christmas broadcasts over the last century. After four packed performances in 2018, Skylark will reprise this stunning program (with some exciting new additions!), presenting beloved carols that connect our audiences to one hundred years of celebrations of the holiday spirit.”
Glissando Concert Series presents: Music for Piano Four-Hands
December 15 at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA
On the program: Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat, K. 358; Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor, K. 608; Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, D. 940; Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in B-flat, Op. 133/134. William Davidson and Sergey Schepkin, piano duet
— Susan Miron
Harvard Bookstore Winter Warehouse Sale
December 6 from 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.
December 7-8 from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
December 13 from 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
December 14-15 from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Harvard Bookstore Warehouse, 14 Park St, Somerville MA
Over two weekends at the end of the year, Harvard Book Store opens up its warehouse of deeply discounted titles and lets any and all who wish to browse and come away with the book haul of the season. Titles from all genres are available: from history and fiction to cookbooks and art, as well as used books. An excellent opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping!
The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America
December 10 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA
“As acclaimed legal scholar and policy expert Ganesh Sitaraman argues, two political visions now contend for the future. One is nationalist oligarchy, which rigs the system for the rich and powerful while using nationalism to mobilize support. The other is the great democracy, which fights corruption and extends both political and economic power to all people. At this decisive moment in history, The Great Democracy offers a bold, transformative agenda for achieving real democracy.”
24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week
December 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Temple Isaiah Meeting Room, 55 Lincoln St, Lexington MA
“How can we observe Shabbat in our hectic modern world? How would it feel to unplug from technology one day a week? Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Internet pioneer, and Webby Award founder Tiffany Shlain has done just that for the past decade — a practice she and her family call “tech Shabbat.” Shlain’s new book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, takes readers on a provocative and entertaining journey through the past, present, and future of ideas about time and technology. She explains how going offline one day a week with her husband and daughters has transformed and enhanced her family’s life, giving them more time, productivity, connection, and presence. She also examines the neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and history of a weekly day of rest across cultures, making a case for why we need to bring this ritual back.”
— Matt Hanson
Rock, Pop, and Folk
Say Sue Me cites Yo La Tengo and Pavement as their “all-time favorites” and released a 2018 Record Store Day EP that included covers of songs by Blondie, The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground, and Ramones. This is probably why a band formed seven years ago and halfway around the globe from the world’s lone superpower frequently sounds like one from Clinton-era America. In describing Say Sue Me’s 2018 album Where We Were Together, Ben Salmon of Paste wrote, “The best pure indie-pop record of 2018 (so far) is not from Brooklyn or Glasgow or Melbourne or Olympia but Busan, South Korea.” In February, the quartet won Korean Music Awards for Best Modern Rock Album and Best Modern Rock Song (“Old Town”) and were nominated in three other categories. The band’s 2019 offerings include the singles “George & Janice” b/w “Don’t Follow Our Van” and the double A-side “Your Book/Good People.” The fourth date of SSM’s first North American tour is at Middle East Upstairs on Saturday. If you want to catch up in time for it, an eponymous 2017 compilation includes almost all of the band’s 2014 LP We’ve Sobered Up and selections from their first two EPs. That and/or Where We Were Together should suffice to get you into Central Square. (Worcester’s Rocket Ship will open the show.)
The LA folk duo The Milk Carton Kids have played anywhere from three to a dozen gigs in each of 2019’s 12 months. That grueling schedule has included three Massachusetts dates, the most recent of which was at Brighton Music Hall on October 30. The first of the Grammy nominees’ final six shows this year will be at The Cabot on December 15. The duo’s 2011 live album — Retrospect — and debut studio album — Prologue — are both available as free downloads on their website. The seven-song The Only Ones came out in October and the only one who appears to be selling it is Amazon. (Mark Erelli, who calls Melrose, MA home, will warm up the North Shore crowd.)
Brooklyn-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter/musician Michaela Anne made her Yep Roc Records debut in September with Desert Dove. This follow-up to 2016’s Bright Lights and Fame has garnered praise from Billboard, Rolling Stone, and No Depression. Critics are particularly quick to praise her literal voice as a singer (“captivating,” “stunning,” “a glassy quiver”) and figurative one as a lyricist. Fans who can attest to Anne’s uniqueness among today’s country artists are sure to be out in droves for her December 15 performance at City Winery’s Haymarket Lounge. The curious, meanwhile, would be wise to avail themselves of the opportunity to see her in the kind of intimate setting that she probably won’t be playing forever.
— Blake Maddux