Coming Attractions: January 12 through 28 — 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.


A scene from The Components of Love, screening at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

The Components of Love
January 12 at 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA

The Components of Love is the (often) tragic love story of Sophie and Georg. When they meet, Sophie is pregnant and has been abandoned by the child’s father. After hitting it off, the pair begins a relationship, with Georg raising the child as his own. In fragmented scenes, which all take place in front of the same apartment building in Berlin, the film draws an elliptical portrait of a modern patchwork family, their sorrows and longings glimpsed between walls and pillars, and in parking lots. A laconic look at the irrationality of modern love.

The Incredible Shrinking Man
January 13 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA

One of the best sci-fi films of the ’50s features marvelous old style special effects: rear projection. forced-perspective, close up photography, miniatures, and a trained spider. Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon) directs from the novel by Richard Matheson. The story line goes  beyond traditional science fiction, with (the then) contemporary themes of domestic conflict, male identity, the limits of science, and a final mind-blowing existential pantheist monologue. Before the film, Boston University professor Tyrone Porter will discuss modern nanotechnology.

Boston Open Screen
Tuesday, January 14 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA

Open Screen is Boston’s only open mic night for filmmakers! Share your film with lively strangers. If your movie (or part thereof) is under 10 minutes, they’ll screen it. Signup begins at 7 p.m, the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

A scene from The Chambermaid.

The Chambermaid
Tuesday, January 14
Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA

2019 was a good year for movies and here is a chance to catch up. Through January 23rd the Brattle Series, (Some of) The Best of 2019, features terrific pairings well  worth checking out. Many made the Arts Fuse film critics’ ‘Best of 2019” lists. One of the films, too little seen, is this one from Mexico. It a minimalist but highly compelling story of a maid in a high-end Mexico City hotel. The film  “salutes the invisible women caretakers who are the hard-working backbone of society.”

The Boston Festival of Films from Iran
January 16–26
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA

Iran is renowned for producing some of the most spectacular and groundbreaking films in the world. Show times and complete descriptions at the link above.

Cold Sweat: January 16 at 7:30 pm and January 19 at 1 p.m.
When the Moon Was Full: January 17 at 5 p.m.and January 18 at 2:30 p.m.
Filmfarsi: January 17 at 8 p.m.
The Warden: January 19 at 3 p.m.
Old Men Never Die: January 23 at 5:30 p.m. and January 26 at 1 p.m.
Just 6.5: January 23 at 7:30 p.m. and January 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Untimely: January 24 at 5:30 p.m. and January 25 at 12:30 p.m.
Orange Days: January 24 at 7:30 p.m. and January 26 and at 3 p.m.

The End of Quantum Reality
January 14 and 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theater in Arlington, MA

For science fans and those curious about The Singularity. “Mathematician/philosopher/physicist extraordinaire Wolfgang Smith has chosen to emerge now, at the summit of his life’s work, in order to prepare a new generation for what he calls “a singular moment in history.” Is the so-called “quantum reality problem” actually the sign that a four-century arc of human history — what René Guénon has called “the reign of quantity” — has reached its end”? Trailer

The Gliksmans
January 17 – 23
Regent Theater in Arlington, MA

The film stars Ed Asner & Cloris Leachman as Barry and Barbara Gliksman, “a spritely octogenarian couple, who go through their morning routine: a big breakfast, a handful of pills, some bickering, plus a quick trip to the bank; a trip that goes wildly awry when they notice they’re being tailed by an aggressive truck driver. As the two navigate their way through Los Angeles something weird begins to happen — their simple trip turns into an absurd and fantastical escapade with psychedelics!”

Belmont World Film’s 17th Annual Family Festival
January 17  through 20.
Regent Theater in Arlington, Studio Cinema in Belmont, and the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Check the website for times and locations.

Each day of this festival revolves around a different theme: Saturday is devoted to the animal kingdom, Sunday to short films, and Monday to making peace and friends. “Many films are based on international children’s literature and include stories about a young computer hacker, talking dogs, a yeti, an accident-prone dragon, an adventurous snail and whale, an exotic unexplored planet, and more!”

— Tim Jackson


January 15 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

The trio of guitarist Steve Fell (Clear Audience), singer/bassist Jesse Gallagher (Apollo Sunshine), and drummer Luther Gray (everybody) have joined forces in a band (“aka Nightime Sunshine”) that likes to “navigate the space between free form sonic explorations, meditative drones, lyrical psych rock tunes, and the like.” Fell and Gallagher also bring electronics to the mix.

Singer Camille Bertault will perform at Scullers Jazz Club this week.

Camille Bertault
January 16 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

The French singer Camille Bertault had a YouTube hit with her treatment of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” scat-singing along to the solo’s original lickety-split tempo. Despite that bravura wordless outing (and a bunch of similar tricks, including “The Goldberg Variations”), she says her particular interest is in conveying lyrics (check out her “Nouvelle York” on the Scullers site). Her collaborators have included trumpeter Michael Leonhart and the formidable pianist Dan Tepfer. If we’re lucky, Tepfer will be along for this gig as well.

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club
January 16 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Multi-sax man Charlie Kohlhase (alto, tenor, baritone) reconvenes his Explorers Club, with tenor saxophonist Seth Meicht, bassist Tony Leva, and drummer Curt Newton. The program includes originals by Kohlhase as well as music by Ornette Coleman, Elmo Hope, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Roswell Rudd, and John Tchicai. (Kohlhase played regularly with those last two late, great masters, so he knows whereof he speaks. The other stuff should be really good too.)

Ulysses Owens Jr.
January 17 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., for much of the past decade a mainstay of the sparkling Christian McBride Trio, fronts his Generation Y band, comprising young players he’s discovered teaching at Juilliard — and elsewhere. Recently, Generation Y has included trumpeter Drew Anderson, saxophonist Alexa Tarantino, pianist Luther Allison, and bassist Philip Norris.

The gifted trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Terence Blanchard brings his E-Collective to Berklee on January 18. Photo: Manhattan School of Music.

Terence Blanchard
January 18 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

The gifted trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Terence Blanchard brings his E-Collective to Berklee as part of the Celebrity Series. The band released their first album, Breathless, in 2015, the title provoked by the killing of Eric Garner by New York police, in 2014. A live album followed in 2018. The current version of the E-Collective, with Blanchard on trumpet, is guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist David ‘DJ’ Ginyard Jr., and drummer Oscar Seaton.

Steve Long and DoYeon Kim
January 25 at 10:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

The pianist and composer Steve Long likes to play with the boundaries between written music and free improvisation — or, as he puts it: “the conflict between the musical ear and the score; the spontaneous understanding or reaction to a musical situation as opposed to the visual representation of ideas.” Known for the work with his ensemble PRNCX, he’s here joined by gayageum (12-string Korean zither) player DoYeon Kim.

— Jon Garelick

NOTE: Those looking forward to Ran Blake’s recital at Jordan Hall on Wednesday January 15 should be aware that the event has been cancelled (per the NEC web site). Since Blake only rarely performs full programs in Boston these days, this is a major disappointment, and we can hope that it will be rescheduled later in the year.

Eden MacAdam Somer (v, vo), Rakalam Bob Moses (dm), Ben Schwendener (p), Mark Zaleski (as), Warren Senders (vo), Frank Carlberg (p), Mehmet Sanlikol (p, vo) Bob Nieske (b), Anthony Coleman (p), Lautaro Mantilla (g) and others on January 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Jordan Hall, Bosotn, MA. This NEC faculty concert gives individual stars of the Contemporary Improvisation and Jazz Departments a chance to shine on their own. Each of them will perform solo or with a small group of their own choosing. The music will range from straight-ahead jazz (Schwendener, Zaleski, Carlberg) to iconoclastic spontaneous composition (Coleman, Nieske), to middle Eastern music (Sanlikol) to traditional Indian vocal music (Senders) to contemporary rock (Mantilla) to the uncategorizable improvisational adventures of MacAdam Somer and Moses. With talent like this, there will be much to enjoy.

— Steve Elman

Pianist and singer Dana Sandler

Dana Sandler in Concert
January 26 at 4 p.m.
Temple Shalom, Newton, MA

A tantalizing mash-up: the world premiere of music based on I Never Saw Another Butterfly, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Sandler put a selection of poems from the well-known book to chamber jazz music. The poems were written by children at the Terezin Concentration Camp in the Czech Republic from 1942-1944.

Her composition is a song-cycle comprised of nine musical settings, highlighting three poets, Pavel Friedmann (1921-44), Franta Bass (1930-44), Alena Synkova-Munkova (1926-2008) and two additional unknown poets who were all young prisoners in Terezín Concentration Camp. Sandler’s album, I Never Saw Another Butterfly will be released on Yom HaShoah, April 20. Copies of the album will be available at the Temple Shalom concert on Jan. 26.

Tudo Azul Trio
January 15 at 6:30 p.m.
At Les Zygomates,129 South Street, Boston, MA

An evening of classic and rare Bossa Nova and Samba and Jazz featuring vocalist Evelyn Rosenthal (an Art Fuse critic and copy editor), pianist David Rumpler, and acoustic bassist Peter Tillotson. On the program: songs by Joyce, Ivan Lins, and Bossa masters Johnny Alf, Luiz Eça, Mauricio Einhorn/Durval Ferreira, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

— Bill Marx

We Banjo 3
January 25
At the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA

My first Arts Fuse recommendation to attend a show by We Banjo 3 was based on instinct and faith: simply confident recreations of their albums would be exciting entertainment. I have since seen them on stage and heard their live-album releases and can now say with certainty that the most important 3 or We Banjo 3 are the group’s 3 levels of passion and enchantment. First are the studio albums — craft meets heartbreak meets partying meets bits of thoughtful politics in a cycle you will always want to play all the way through. Second comes the live albums where you feel an added wash of energy and aplomb performance. Third is the stage show itself: you feel you feel merged into a tribe with the band and lifted into an ecstatic parallel dimension. Consider: Stevie Wonder’s oldies marvel, “Superstition,” would be an impossibly daunting cover tune for most outfits. We Banjo 3 have it conquered.

— Milo Miles

Visual Arts

Kara Walker, Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats, from the portfolio Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005.

Pinning two American history observations with one show, the New Britain Museum of American Art opens Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) (January 24 – April 19). Walker — an African-American woman best known for her elegant but acidly satirical silhouettes exploring the dark history of race in the United States — gets a jump on February’s Black History Month and also heads up the museum’s yearlong exhibition series, 2020/20+ Women @ NBMAA. Museum director Min Jung Kim points out that, even as 2020 marks the centenary of the advent of voting rights for American women, those women are still underrepresented in museum collections. “[The] artists in most museum collections are 87% male and 85% white,” she says in her “Director’s Vision.” “Our initiative challenges this under representation by celebrating the innovative work and outsized impact of female-identifying artists throughout American history.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, mounts its own Black History Month exhibition with Black Histories, Black Futures (January 20 – June 20). Organized in cooperation with “local youth empowerment organizations,” the show’s young (teenaged, apparently) curators have reimagined a high visibility pathway between the MFA’s two public entrances with a selection of work by 20th-century artists of color, including Norman Lewis, James Van Dee Zee, and Gordon Parks. Black Histories is also billed as a key event in the museum’s 150th anniversary celebrations this year.

John Wilson, Compositional study for “The Incident,” 1952. Opaque and transparent watercolor, ink, and graphite, squared for transfer. Yale University Art Gallery, Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund. © Estate of John Wilson

Yale University follows suit with yet another Black History Month offering in Reckoning with “The Incident” John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural (January 17 – May 10). In 1952, while studying at a Mexican art school, John Wilson (1922-2015) painted The Incident— a fresco depicting the lynching of an African American by the Ku Klux Klan. Wilson returned to the subject for many years. The mural itself no longer exists, but the Yale exhibition unites nearly all the known drawings and painted studies for it, along with related prints and drawings from Wilson’s career —  his way, the organizers say, of dealing with America’s long history of racial violence.

Back in Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art opens Tschabalal Self: Out of Body on Martin Luther King Day (January 20). Born in Harlem in 1980, Self’s characteristic large paintings of human figures use hand-printed and found textiles, sewing, collage, and drawing to explore contemporary urban life through the human body. The exaggerated images in this exhibition, Self’s largest to date, represent “personal avatars” and “people she can imagine meeting in her hometown.”

Dartmouth’s recently expanded Hood Museum opens several exhibitions in January, including Vision 2020: What Do You See? (through March 1). The show features works from the Hood’s collection that explore how mass media and technology have affected body image since 1900, encouraging “conversation about beauty ideals, gender and self-perception, and agency in mass media.”

Finally, Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art opens Cutting Edge: Noguchi’s Aluminum Monolith Sesshu, 1958 on January 22 (it runs through March 15). Noguchi is the Japanese-American artist whose work combines a traditional Japanese taste for refined simplicity with 20th-century American panache. His childhood training in the miniaturized Japanese crafts of paper cutting and folding, origami and kingami inspired the monumental Sesshu. To make the work, off public view since 1968 and recently restored, Noguchi used industrial equipment to cut and bend a single flat sheet of Alcoa aluminum into a screen-like sculpture.

— Peter Walsh

Karl Baden, “Harvard Sq.,” 2017.

Mass Ave, Cambridge: Photos by Karl Baden
Through February 20
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.”

Nostalgia Tech
Through February 16
At the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA

Co-curated by Boston Cyberarts board member Mark Favermann (and Arts Fuse Associate Editor), assistant director Keaton Fox, and executive director/founder George Fifield, the show “is a mix of historic and contemporary art and design pieces skillfully and aesthetically utilizing simple technologies. The works are in conversation with each other, and thus the exhibit showcases a collection of intriguing artistic devices that use technologies that are now part of our collective cultural memory and are now nostalgic.”

— Bill Marx


January 17-February 1
The Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

Head to the Dance Complex for the creative, culminating performances of its CATALYSTS artists-in-residence program. The six-month residency for artists present participants’ final works in rotation throughout three weekends. Visit the Dance Complex website to learn who will present their works when: Em Papineau and Sofia Engelman; Kimberleigh Holman; Jennifer Lin; Alli Ross; Ruka White; and Michael Winward.

Rising Step performs at Boston Celtic Music Festival. Photo: Olivia Moon Photography.

Boston Celtic Music Festival
January 18 at 3 p.m.
The Sinclair
Cambridge, MA

Celebrate the power of pairs at the Boston Celtic Music Festival, where Laura Feddersen and Cara Frankowicz join forces with Rising Step. An afternoon of engaging Irish dance and music duets, rhythm and melody contributed by twin fiddles.

January 25 & 26
A.R.T.’s Oberon
Cambridge, MA

Looking for something more avant-garde? iTMRW combines live music by Arc Iris and contemporary ballet by the HDC Dance Ensemble to “satirize a post-apocalyptic world where advertisements come in the form of “pop-up thoughts” and entire cities float on islands of trash.” Journey into the year 2080, as Robert and his android partner, Jenny, navigate the waters of society, technology, and the human spirit.

January 25 at 8 p.m.
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

Global Arts Live presents Montréal’s Rubberband, which is led by choreographer Victor Quijada, a former dancers with Twyla Tharp and Les Grands Ballets Canandiens de Montréal. The troupe utilizes contemporary dance and West Coast hip-hop.

— Merli V. Guerra

Roots and World Music

Veteran Afropop singer, guitarist, and drummer Cheikh Lo is coming to town. Photo: Global Arts.

Cheikh Lo
Jan. 13
City Winery Boston

The veteran Afropop singer, guitarist, and drummer has long been one of the most unique exponents of the Senegalese mbalax sound. While his music is always danceable, it’s also infused with an underlying spirituality drawn from Lo’s Sufi Islamic roots. It’s been way too long since he’s played Boston, and he’s here now because of Global Arts Live.

Addis Pablo and the Naya Rockers
January 15
At La Fabrica, Cambridge, MA

Few reggae artists have ever left as distinctive a legacy as Augustus Pablo, the dub reggae master who put the humble melodica front and center. Pablo’s son Addis has kept this legacy going thanks to his frequent collaborations with today’s reggae stars. Addis and his melodica will be backed by Naya Rockers, a versatile aggregation local instrumentalists.

FauxMenco — Catherine Capozzi and Rafi Sofer — will be performing at ONCE in Somerville MA this week.

FauxMenco, Famous Grouse, Half Holy Hearts
January 16
AT ONCE, Somerville, MA

The self-deprecating name aside, the nylon string guitar duo of Catherine Capozzi and Rafi Sofer can play flamenco beautifully. The eclectic evening also includes a performance from Famous Grouse and the debut of a “country noir” project, Half Holy Hearts, a brainchild of the eternally creative Brian Carpenter.

Boston Celtic Music Festival
January 17-21
At various venues, check the website

This year’s edition of the sprawling BCMF focuses on the musical connection between Cape Breton and Boston. A remote Nova Scotian island, Cape Breton is said to have a purer Scottish music tradition than Scotland itself. In the 1950s and ’60s the Cape Breton community in Boston was said to be 100,000 strong. A taste of their traditions can still found at venues like the Canadian-American Club in Watertown. Along with dozens of Boston artists, Cape Breton masters Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac will be performing and offering workshops in Harvard Square venues like Passim and the Sinclair.

Lil Rick
January 18
William E.Reed Auditorium, Boston, MA

The “Hard Wine” hitmaker is the father of Barbados’s bashment soca scene, which I explored in this public radio documentary. His superfast party anthems are an annual highlight of the Crop Over season. While his appearance should be a winter highlight for Boston soca fans, it is not likely to start promptly or feature a live backing band.

Mercy Bell
January 19
Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA

Bell may not have your typical Nashville bio — she’s an openly queer Filipino-American who grew up in New Bedford. But she has the voice and songs for inspired country music — as proven by her impressive eponymous 2019 LP.

Julian Kytasty
January 24
A house concert presented hosted by Journeys in Sound in Newtonville, MA

In 2017, Ukranian bandura (lute-harp) master Kytasty appeared in Somerville. The performance was so spellbinding we called it one of the concerts of the year. As in his last appearance, the first half of the show will be an interactive demonstration of the instrument, followed by a full concert and perhaps some special guests. E-mail to make a reservation.

— Noah Schaffer


A scene from the musical version of “Moby-Dick” at the American Repertory Theater. Photo: Maria Baranova

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, through January 12.

“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. Arts Fuse review

All Fall Down by Lila Rose Kaplan. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through February 15.

“This new comedy is about family and tradition, as well as the hang-ups and surprises that, no matter who you are or where you come from, seem to sneak into all of our family gatherings. Linda and Saul Stein still live in the Westchester home where they raised their two beautiful daughters. But when Saul unexpectedly retires, Linda summons the family to celebrate Passover for the first time in decades. Linda tends slightly toward the theatrical (okay, a lot), and their family has never been particularly religious (okay, not at all).” Hilarious complications ensue — I hope.

The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA, through February 9.

“Conflict collides with confection when Della, a traditional Southern baker who’s preparing to compete on The Big American Bake-Off, reunites with her deceased best friend’s daughter, Jen, in preparation for Jen’s wedding. Della is forced to question her strongly-held beliefs when she is asked to bake Jen’s dream wedding cake for her and her future wife. Questions of morals, judgment, and family swirl around them all.” Arts Fuse review of the 2018 Barrington Stage production. Arts Fuse review of the Lyric Stage production.

Maytag Virgin by Audrey Cefaly. Directed by Eleanor Holdridge. Staged by Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, Liberty Hall, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through February 2.

“When unflappable Jack moves in next door to sweetly neurotic Lizzie – two fortysomething school teachers, both widowed — the two bond over being lonely and feeling stuck. As they get to know each other, they find themselves searching for an answer to the same question: how do you know when you’re ready to live, and love, again?”

Kadahj Bennett and Hubens “Bobby” Cius in a pre-production photo for the upcoming production of “Pass Over.” Photo: Nile Scott Studios.

Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu. Directed by Monica White Ndounou, Co-produced by SpeakEasy Stage Company and The Front Porch Arts Collective at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St. Boston, MA, through February 2.

In this New England premiere, “Moses and Kitch chat their way through yet another aimless day on their local street corner in a mash-up of Waiting for Godot and the Exodus saga. Crafting everyday profanity into poetic and humorous riffs, the friends share their dreams of deliverance, until an ominous stranger changes their world forever.” Arts Fuse review

Pike St. written and performed by Nilaja Sun. Directed by Ron Russell. At Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT, through February 2.

“Sun vividly brings to life three generations of a Puerto Rican family on New York’s Lower East Side. Evelyn, a mother struggling to hold her life together with both grace and humor as she cares for her immobilized daughter and supports her womanizing father, relies on money from her brother who is serving abroad in Afghanistan. When he comes home, suffering from PTSD, Evelyn fights for her family’s healing, redemption and survival in the face of a threatening storm – both natural and man-made.”

The Effect by Lucy Prebble. Staged by the Mad Horse Theatre Company at the Hutchins School, 24 Mosher Street, South Portland, ME, through January 26.

A script from an interesting thirtysomething British playwright. “When two volunteers for an antidepressant clinical trial start to feel the tell-tale signs—sweaty hands, thumping hearts—they know they’ve fallen for each other hard. Or are their bodies processing a chemical romance? The question at the heart of this script is one for our medicated time, is love the sum of our chemical selves or something more?” Arts Fuse review

Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle. Directed by Laurie Woolery. Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, January 24 through February 15.

An East Coast premiere. The name of the no doubt slippery protagonist could have come out of a Ben Jonson play: “It’s 2008 and securities trader Jane Snake has landed a lucrative job on Wall Street, where her ancestors, the Lenape, were violently removed four hundred years before, when the Dutch “purchased” the island of Manahatta. Past and present intertwine as Jane is caught in the center of a looming mortgage crisis that threatens financial ruin for millions of families––including her own.”

Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, January 23 through February 16.

A two-person play that “is the story of two women who meet and fall in love. We see the entirety of their relationship from beginning to end, spanning more than forty years, but in a fascinating non-linear format. Honest, moving, and deeply poignant, we move from moment to moment and experience the complexity of Erica and Vicky’s relationship over time.”

Vanity Fair, An (Im-) morality Play, an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel by Kate Hamill. Directed by David R Gammons. Staged by Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA, January 23 through February 23.

“Two women – one privileged and the other from the streets – strive to navigate an unfair society that punishes them for every mistake. (Bad) Becky isn’t afraid to break the rules while (Good) Amelia fears even to bend them. Hamill’s adaptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair explores how flexible our morals become when our luck turns against us.”

What’s left of humanity in Wellesley Repertory Theatre’s upcoming production of boom.

boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Directed by Marta Rainer. Staged by Wellesley Repertory Theatre in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, January 16 through February 9.

Given the climate crisis, the end of the world is a dandy topic for black comedy: “In a evolutionary museum far in the future, a curator tells the story of two present-day people on a first date interrupted by a comet hitting the Earth, with globally catastrophic repercussions. This couple soon finds themselves as the last two people on the planet; the fate of humanity suddenly lands on their shoulders as they realize they could be the new Adam and Eve.”

​Last Catastrophist​ by David Valdes. Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, January 24 through February 8.

Another end-of-the-world drama. The dramatist plays with “genre tropes and explores issues related to climate change, resulting in an eco-thriller that imagines a not-so-distant future. In the play, ​Marina, one of the last two climatologists on earth, has hidden herself on the coast of Iceland to escape increasing threats from Eternal Sunshine, a shadowy cabal harassing climate scientists into silence. When Lucia, her one remaining peer, shows up unannounced, a cat-and-mouse game ensues. Are they allies? Enemies? Who works for whom?”

Hair Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt MacDermot. Directed and choregraphed by Rachel Bertone. Staged by New Repertory Theatre on its MainStage Theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts located at 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, January 26 through February 23.

“With MacDermot’s groundbreaking music and the show’s progressive themes, Hair revolutionized musical theatre as Broadway’s first rock musical in 1968. Emerging from the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s, Rado and Ragni’s story shows a tribe’s journey toward finding their voices in a time of political upheaval, and their use of sex and drugs to evade reality. Featuring the smash hits ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Let the Sunshine In’, this award-winning show is certain to be a nostalgic and groovy experience.” Believe me, this show was considered incredibly square by counterculture types. Somehow it has become “groundbreaking.”  Note: This production contains strong language, frequent references to sex and illicit substances, and brief nudity. Recommended for ages 18+.

The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes, from Back to Back Theatre. Creative Development Artists: Bruce Gladwin, Mark Deans, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Simon Laherty, Sonia Teuben & Victoria Marshall. Directed by Gladwin. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Paramount Center in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, on January  26.

Looks like this American premiere will be a refreshingly different evening: A show from “one of Australia’s most recognized and respected contemporary theater companies. Committed to inclusion for people with disabilities, Back to Back Theatre brings audiences into the world of accessibility and inaccessibility via performers whose real lives intersect with those precise issues on a daily basis.” Arts Fuse review

The intriguing set-up: “When a group of activists with intellectual disabilities holds a public meeting, they discover a history they would prefer not to know, and a future that is ambivalent. As the frank, funny and challenging conversation jumps from topic to topic — factory farming, human rights, the social impact of automation — the presence of an artificial intelligence in the room expands, begging the question: Who precisely is the fittest to survive in the age of AI?

Gloria: A Life by Emily Mann. Directed by Diane Paulus. Staged by the American Repertory Theater (In association with the McCarter Theatre Center and by special arrangement with Daryl Roth)at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, January 24 through March 1.

See it before it goes to New York. “This new play about Gloria Steinem and the women she has partnered with in a decades-long fight for equality is brought to life by a dynamic ensemble of performers. Fifty years after Gloria began raising her voice and championing those of others, her vision is as urgent as ever. Gloria’s belief in talking circles as a catalyst for change offers us all a path forward. The first act is Gloria’s story; the second is our own.” Note: This production includes strong language, mature themes, and discussions of sexual harassment and violence.

— Bill Marx

Classical Music

The Julliard String Quartet will be performing in Concord, MA. Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco.

Concord Chamber Music Society presents: Julliard String Quartet
January 12 at 3 p.m.
At Concord Academy Performing Arts Center, 166 Main Street, Concord, MA

On the program: Mozart’s String Quartet in B-flat K. 458 “The Hunt”; Dutilleux’s String Quartet “Ainsi la nuit”; Brahms’s String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor Op. 51.

Boston Symphony Chamber Players
January 19 at 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

Benjamin Pasternack on piano. On the program: Schulhoff’s Concertino for flute, viola, and double bass; Kurtag’s Selection from Signs, Games, and Messages, for two violins; Martinu’s Nonet for winds and strings; Reinecke’sTrio in A minor for oboe, horn, and piano, Op. 188; Brahms’s Trio in A minor for clarinet, cello, and piano, Op. 114.

Cantata Singers
January 24 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

On the program: Charles Ives’s “General William Booth Enters into Heaven”; Charles Ives’s Psalm 67, “God be merciful unto us” ;
Yehudi Wyner’s “Give Thanks for All Things” (Cantata Singers’ 2010 Commission); Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring; Irving Fine’s “The Choral New Yorker.”

Gordon & Hodgkinson Duo
January 25 at 8 p.m.
At the Slosberg Music Center, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA

An entry in the Brandeis Concert series featuring the Lydian String Quartet cellist Joshua Gordon and his long-time musical collaborator Randall Hodgkinson on piano.

Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad, & Third Coast Percussion
January 25 at 8 p.m.
At Jordan Hall/New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA

Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston: “Half of the renowned guitar duo The Assad Brothers, Sérgio Assad, joins his daughter, pianist and composer Clarice Assad, one of the most widely performed Brazilian concert music composers of her generation, and the Grammy-winning percussion ensemble Third Coast Percussion for a unique and fascinating pan-cultural journey.”

Soprano Kelley Hollis and pianist Julia Carey will perform on January 25th at First Church Boston.

Juventas Music Ensemble — Julia Carey: Center Stage
January 25 at 7:30 p.m.
At the First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA

“A rare solo piano concert by one of Juventas’s founding members, with music by Harry Burleigh, Ian Dicke, Robert Fleitz, Shaw Pong Liu, Frederic Rzewski, and Patrick Walker.”

— Susan Miron

Yu-An Chang conducts Tchaikovsky
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 16-18 and 21, 8 p.m.
At Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

The BSO’s new assistant conductor makes his subscription series debut with a nicely offbeat program that culminates in Tchaikovsky’s rarely played Symphony no. 3. Also on tap is the world premiere of Chihchun Chi-sun Lee’s Formosan Triptych and Till Fellner playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 25.

Songs of Prisoners of War
Presented by Boston Musica Viva
January 18, 8 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA

BMV’s season continues with a program built around pieces by Jonas Tarm, Brian Raphael Nabors, Joseph Schwantner, and Fabio Vacchi. Mezzo-soprano Krista River joins the ensemble in the latter’s Canti di Benjaminovo.

Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons at Symphony Hall, November, 2019, in Boston. Mitsuko Uchida on the piano. Photo: Winslow Townson.

Nelsons conducts Barber, Shostakovich, and Dvorák
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 23-25, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Andris Nelsons returns to town to lead one of the BSO’s few solo-less concert series of the seasons. Barber’s Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance returns to Symphony Hall for the first time since 1998 and Rudolf Barshai’s string orchestra arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet makes its BSO debut. Rounding out the night is Dvorák’s New World Symphony.

Haydn’s Nelson Mass
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
January 24 at 7:30 p.m. and 26 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Harry Christophers returns to Boston to lead H&H in two pieces by one of its namesakes – the Symphony no. 100 and the glorious Lord Nelson Mass – alongside Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 4. H&H concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky is the soloist in the latter.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Author Events

David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott
Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans
Jan 14 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“David Meerman Scott and his daughter Reiko are very different – one is a baby boomer business strategist, the other a millennial medical student. But both noticed that the kind of enthusiasm they once reserved for pleasures like the Grateful Dead (David) and Harry Potter (Reiko) now extends to all sorts of companies and organizations. So they teamed up to explore a big question: Why do some brands, even in supposedly boring categories like car insurance and enterprise software, attract not just customers but raving fans?”

Samantha Matt
Average is the New Awesome
January 17 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

“A celebration of ordinary awesomeness, for all of us who were told “You can do anything!” and then found out we actually can’t. Crappy homes, lame love lives, getting passed over for a great job (again)–not what we expected for our adulthoods. Full of hilarious stories and insightful advice, Average is the New Awesome is a manifesto for ordinary awesomeness–for the beauty that can be found when we acknowledge that good enough really is good enough, and that greatness is ours to define.”

Bob Garfield
American Manifesto: Saving Democracy from Villains, Vandals, and Ourselves
January 17 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

“As is often observed, Trump is a symptom of a virus that has been incubating for at least fifty years. But not often observed is where the virus is imbedded: in the psychic core of our identity. In American Manifesto: Saving Democracy from Villains, Vandals, and Ourselves, Bob Garfield examines the tragic confluence of the American preoccupation with identity and the catastrophic disintegration of the mass media. Garfield investigates how we’ve gotten to this moment when our identity is threatened by both the left and the right, when e pluribus unum is no longer a source of national pride, and why, when looking through this lens of identity, the rise of Trumpism is no surprise. Overlaying that crisis is the rise of the Facebook-Google duopoly and the filter-bubble archipelago where identity is tribal and immutable.”

Joel Christian Gill
January 21 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods. Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one’s life.”

Jeffrey Colvin
January 22 at 7 p.m.
Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley MA

“Structured as a triptych, Africaville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family—Kath Ella, her son Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner—whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s to the economic upheavals in the 1980s. As it explores notions of identity, passing, cross-racial relationships, the importance of place, and the meaning of home, Africaville tells the larger story of the black experience in parts of Canada and the United States. Vibrant and lyrical, filled with colorful details, and told in a powerful, haunting voice, this extraordinary novel is a landmark work from a sure-to-be major literary talent.”

James Wood
Serious Noticing: Selected Essays
January 23 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge MA

“In Serious Noticing, Wood collects his best essays from two decades of his career, supplementing earlier work with autobiographical reflections from his book The Nearest Thing to Life and recent essays from The New Yorker on young writers of extraordinary promise. The result is an essential guide to literature in the new millennium.”

— Matt Hanson

Rock, Pop and Folk

Beach Fossils with Negative Gemini and Contour
January 15 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

The 2000s has witnessed an odd trend in which a given word appears in the name of several bands that arrive in clusters. Musical herds have included Deerhoof, Deerhunter, and Deer Tick. Among the lupine-inspired sobriquets are Wolf Parade, Wolfmother, and Wolf People. Finally, there are Beach House, Beach Slang, and Beach Fossils, the last of which will perform at Commonwealth Ave’s best-known rock club on January 15. This is the first show of a 16-date tour of the Eastern Seaboard that is happening sans new material from the Brooklyn trio. No worries, though, as some of the best songs on 2017’s Somersault are fine examples of jangle pop in the tradition of the genre’s most important practitioners, and the group has two other comparably good albums from which to select. (BTW, Beach Slang will release a new album on January 20 and play Brighton Music Hall on April 17.)

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven
January 16 (doors at 7)
Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA

If it’s the second week of January, it must be Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker at the Middle East Downstairs. According to Brett Milano’s Arts Fuse review, 2015 was the sixth consecutive instance of these David Lowery-founded bands performing at this time and place, which would make the upcoming January 16 show the 11th one. Though neither CVB nor Cracker was a huge commercial success, both expertly captured the indie/alternative spirits of their respective decades (the ’80s and ’90s) without being mere bandwagoners. CVB reunited in the early 2000s, Cracker has never broken up, and Lowery has released several albums as the leader of both bands since 2002. Although neither has released new material since 2014, Lowery still tours annually, and his fans dutifully make it worth his while.

Cactus Attack with The Radiator Rattlers and Heavy Necker
January 16 (show at 9)
Opus, Salem, MA

The Providence-formed, self-described “four-ton brick shithouse of rock ‘n roll” quartet Cactus Attack released its third LP (Wrecking Chain) on the first day of last year. This Thursday, the band will be joined by Haverhill’s The Radiator Rattlers and Peabody’s Heavy Neckers for an evening of — to quote the bands’ Facebook pages in respective order — “swamp Yankee blues,” “bitchin’ cow-punk rock n’ roll,” and “rock n’ roll with modern blues.” Sounds like great way to start the weekend early.

Brian Wilson
January 24 (doors at 7, show at 8)
Lynn Auditorium, Lynn, MA

On his many tours over the past 20 years, Brian Wilson has performed Pet Sounds in its entirety, Smile in its entirety, and both in their entirety. Getting to hear all of either or both of these on the same night would be reason enough to spend an evening in the presence of — if you’ll pardon the cliché — one of the great pop geniuses of the 20th century. And while Wilson certainly need not indulge his fans given his catalog, he seems only too happy to do so. Wilson’s Pet Sounds: The Final Performances gig at Lynn Auditorium last June had to be canceled when he ended up needing medical treatment. His January 24 visit to the same venue will be part of his current Greatest Hits Live! tour rather than a proper make-up date. Thankfully, the PS classics “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”, “Sloop John B,” and “God Only Knows” are some of the greatest of Wilson’s greatest hits.

Cold Engines
January 24 (show at 9)
Opus, Salem, MA

Cold Engines were the New England Music Awards winner for Rock Act of the Year in 2016 and a nominee for Song of the Year (“Show You Crazy”) in 2017. The North Shore-based quartet has released five albums — including last year’s Kiss My Heart — since Dave Drouin formed the band in 2014. The group will treat the lucky denizens of their home turf to a free show at Opus in Salem on January 24. Sounds like a great way to kick off the weekend if you’re on a budget.

Annie Brobst will perform at

Annie Brobst with Russell James
January 25
9 Wallis, Beverly, MA

If the aforementioned New England Music Awards are any indication, then Annie Brobst’s career seems to be going swimmingly. In the course of the past five ceremonies, she has won honors for Country Artist of the Year in 2016, Female Performer of the Year in 2017, Song of the Year (“Change of Heart”) in 2018, and Live Act of the Year in 2019. This is in addition to nominations for Country Artist of the Year in 2015 and 2017 and Band of the Year in 2019. (She also received a 2017 Boston Music Awards Country Artist nomination.) Brobst has achieved all of this with the relatively modest discography of one EP and one LP. The Columbus, OH, native and current Danvers resident will play her first show of 2020 at Beverly’s 9 Wallis on January 25.

— Blake Maddux

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