Coming Attractions: January 1 through 16 — What Will Light Your Fire

As the age of Covid-19 more or less wanes, Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.


Belmont World Film’s Family Festival
January 14-22
Screenings at Regent Theater in Arlington, Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, West Newton Cinema, Majestic 7 Cinema in Watertown

The Family Festival is now in its 20th year. A number of the selections  — 11 feature length films, 30 short animated and live action films grouped into five separate programs — are based on international children’s books. The festival is for children age 3-11. Most of the in-person films will be shown in their original languages — English subtitles will be read aloud through headphones. Films this year are from the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

Filmmakers from around the world will also participate in virtual Q&A’s.  Various selections will be available virtually from January 20 through 22  Downloadable Program Guide

In Bruge
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline
January 9 at 7 p.m.

Martin McDonagh’s latest dark comic vision, The Banshees of Inisherin is set on the fictional Irish isle of Inisherin. The film is receiving raves and landed a Boston Society of Film Critics award for Best Screenplay. In Bruge, the director’s first feature, (he is also a successful playwright, Pillowman, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and others) is set amidst the historical beauty of the titular city. It was the first to feature the dueling antics of actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Both received Best Actor Golden Globe nominations and the film got an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. It is playing for one night as part of the theater’s BIG Screen Classics series.

Flaming Ears
Brattle Theatre
January 6 at 9:15, January 7 at 2:15

Flaming Ears (Austria, 1991) is a pop sci-fi lesbian extravaganza set in the year 2700 in the fictional burned-out city of Asche. The plot follows the tangled lives of three women. Spy is a comic book artist whose printing presses are burned down by Volley, a sexed-up pyromaniac. That leads to a wild story of obsession and revenge. It is also an anti-romantic plea for love in all its many forms. A truly underground film shot on Super 8 and newly restored, Flaming Ears should be celebrated for its playful disruption of narrative conventions, its witty approach to film genre, and its punk visual splendor. (Kino Lorber)

Pick of the Week

Causeway on Apple TV

Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from Causeway.

Theater director Lila Neugebauer’s first feature received too little attention. Jennifer Lawrence delivers the kind of fine dramatic performance she delivered when she was only 20 years old in Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone. Here she plays a woman who has just returned from Afghanistan. There she worked with the Army Corps of Engineers — an IED resulted in a severe brain injury. She is befriended by James, the mechanic who is working on her broken pickup truck. He is played by Brian Tyree Henry (Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles in the series, Atlanta), who is also traumatized in a very different way. His low key performance is equally compelling. Their convincing chemistry together make this mature study of two adults struggling with sorrow and regret is worth watching.

— Tim Jackson


Company SBB’s Look Who’s Coming to Dinner. Photo: Carlos Cardona.

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner
January 14 at 8 p.m. and January 15 at 3 p.m.
Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre
New England Conservatory
Boston, MA

Celebrity Series of Boston presents Company SBB // Stefanie Batten Bland’s evocative and thought-provoking Look Who’s Coming to Dinner. Deriving its inspiration from the 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, this dynamic dance performance centers on familial reactions to an interracial engagement, with a dinner table serving as a palpable metaphor. The performance proudly showcases the work of award-winning female choreographers of color.

A Day of Ballet
January 14 from 12-2 p.m.
Museum of Russian Icons
Clinton, MA

Those interested in Swan Lake should head to the Museum of Russian Icons for an impressive exposition and somatic experience chronicling the famous ballet. This exhibition features photographs, costumes, and historical documents pertaining to Swan Lake‘s history, in addition to interactive components such as coloring pages for children and a basic dance tutorial in which participants learn choreography from the ballet itself. All ages, bodies, and abilities welcome!

OnStage Dance Company
January 14 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Boston University Dance Theater
Boston, MA

OnStage Dance Company presents its 23rd season performance, bringing exciting new choreography in contemporary, jazz, pop, and tap to the stage. The production features live and filmed dance, while celebrating the unique artistry of both emerging and experienced local choreographers, with new work performed by the company.

— Merli V. Guerra


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters; requirements often include proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 rapid test. Also, companies are requiring masks at indoor performances.

Chicken & Biscuits by Douglas Lyons. Directed by Lyndsay Allyn Cox. Staged by Front Porch Arts Collective at Suffolk University’s Modern Theater, 525 Washington St., Boston, through January 8.

The plot of this comedy: “set in the Church, the Jenkins family is coming together to celebrate the life of their father — hopefully without killing each other. But any hopes for a peaceful reunion unravel when a family secret shows up at the funeral. Can Reginald deliver a sermon that would make his father-in-law proud? Can sisters Baneatta and Beverly mourn their father without laying hands? Can Kenny and Logan be their authentic selves in the wake of a traditional matriarch and who is that woman in the back?” Actress/director/ playwright Jacqui Parker makes her Front Porch debut in this production.

Adi Dixit (“Pi”), Rowan Magee, Celia Mei Rubin, and Nikki Calonge (“Richard Parker”) in the  A.R.T. presentation of Life of Pi.

Life of Pi, based on the 2001 novel by Yann Martel. Adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti. Directed by Max Webster. Puppetry and movement direction by Finn Caldwell. Scenic and costume design by Tim Hatley. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb drama Center, Cambridge, through January 29.

A North American premiere: “Sixteen-year-old Pi and his family set off to emigrate from India, but after their ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with just four other survivors—a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?” Winner of five 2022 Olivier Awards including Best New Play, the production, which promises to be spectacular, plays here before it makes its way to Broadway in March. Arts Fuse review

Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1900, the subject of Preludes at the Lyric Stage Company.

Preludes, with music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Music direction by Dan Rodriguiez. Staged by the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston , January 6 through February 6.

“A musical fantasia, Preludes unfolds in the hypnotized mind of composer and virtuoso pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff as he attempts to overcome his writer’s
block following a disastrous premiere of his Symphony No. 1 in D minor. In an array of hypnotic reveries, he is invigorated by some of the most influential
artists of the time including Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Tchaikovsky. Creativity is unlocked and ignited through Dave Malloy’s (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) bewitching mashup of original compositions and Rachmaninoff’s own work.” The cast includes Aimee Doherty and Will McGarrahan.

The Art of Burning by Kate Snodgrass. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at The Huntington/Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston,  January 13 through February 12. Following the run at The Huntington, the production will move to Hartford Stage, where Bensussen is artistic director. Performances will run there from March 2 through 26.

The world premiere production of this script at The Huntington marks the debut at the company of the work of Kate Snodrass, Boston playwright and leader of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre for 35 years. The plot “follows modernist painter Patricia as she changes the terms of her divorce with husband Jason mid-negotiation. Meanwhile, their daughter Beth didn’t show up for school. Does Patricia know where she is, or is there something more sinister afoot?” The drama … “explores the love, rage, and responsibility that come with marriage and parenting in America.” The cast includes Adrianne Krstansky, Michael Kaye, and Laura Latreille.

The Faith Healer by Brian Friel. Directed by Donnia Hughes. Staged by the Gamm Theatre at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island, January 12 through 29.

Friel’s 1979 play, which many critics consider to be a masterpiece, retains its power: “it weaves together the stories of an erratic, itinerant faith healer with those of his embittered but loving wife and his weary stage manager. In lyrical monologues, the characters deliver conflicting versions of “the fantastic Francis Hardy’s” performances, while slowly revealing a terrible event at the story’s center.”

By The Queen, drawn from William Shakespeare by Whitney White. Directed by Brian McEleney. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island, January 12 through February 12.

A world premiere production: “From her roots as a provincial princess of France, to her ascension to the throne of England and her eventual downfall, Queen Margaret is one of the most complicated, fascinating, and thrilling characters in Shakespeare’s works. She is a warrior, a wife, a politician, a mother… and this dynamic new drama, lifted and remixed from the text of Henry VI and Richard III, finally gives her story the telling it deserves. ” This production includes seating on the stage AND regular audience seating. We invite you to choose On-Stage or Off-Stage (traditional) seating.

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

Of all the post-war modernists, Cy Twombly is widely ranked among the most difficult. His best-known works — huge canvases with backgrounds that seem faded by years of brilliant sunlight, with tentative, enigmatic markings and scrawled inscriptions in a hand that was not infrequently illegible — seemed to some viewers, even viewers who were well-attuned to contemporary art, to be “paintings about nothing.” Yet he was no eccentric outsider; his life and career were deeply woven into his generation of artists. He studied alongside Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Ben Shawn at some of the era’s most progressive art schools and he influenced such important younger artists as Anselm Kiefer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Julian Schnabel.

Leaving Paphos Ringed with Waves (IV) (detail), 2009, Cy Twombly. Acrylic on canvas. Private collection courtesy Gagosian. © Cy Twombly Foundation

Twombly lived most of his adult life in comfortable circumstances in Rome and other cities in Italy. So the theme of the Museum of Fine Arts show Making Past Present: Cy Twombly — the inspiration he found in ancient Mediterranean cultures — should not be a surprise. “Modern Art isn’t dislocated,” Twombly wrote, “but something with roots, tradition, and continuity.” Yet how he chose to express that inspiration is a huge leap from the imitative neo-classicism of past centuries. The MFA show mixes Twombly’s work with its own world-class collections of Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern art. Also included: objects from the artist’s personal antiquities collection, seen here for the first time, explore Twombly’s fascination with the mythic hero Achilles and Mars, the Roman god of war. The exhibition opens to the public on January 14.

The contemporary Chinese artist Wu Junyong (born 1978) grew up in southern China in a family of artists who created sculptures and murals for local temples. His own typically brightly colored and energetic work in various media, including tattoo, blends images from Chinese folk traditions with European painting and Greek mythology. His art also touches on politics, though he continues to work and teach in China. The MFA’s exhibition Otherworldly Realms of Wu Junyong, which opens on January 13, introduces his work to Boston audiences.

On Monday, January 16,  Massachusetts citizens can enjoy free admission to the MFA in the museum’s annual MLK Open House, which has celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., for more than two decades. The activities include drop in art-making workshops, music from award-winning Dorchester native DJ Why Sham, and a discussion of Boston’s newest public art project, which celebrates the work and lives of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

Ansel Adams, Winter Storm, 1940. Photo: NBMAA

Ansel Adams’ technically meticulous, deep focus, breathtaking black-and-while images of western American landscapes played a central role both in 20th-century photography and the conservation movement. A native of San Francisco, Adams was particularly attracted to the grand vistas of the nearby Yosemite Valley. Ansel Adams and the Legacy of the American Landscape: Photographs from the NBMAA opens January 19 and focuses on Adams’ Portfolio III: Yosemite Valley, published by the environmental group the Sierra Club in 1960. Drawing on the depth of the New Britain Museum of American Art collections, the show also includes work by such Adams contemporaries as Dorothea Lange and Marilyn Bridges, and contemporary photographers Michael A. Smith, Stephen Petegorsky, and Marion Belanger, all of whom add to the exploration of the American landscape and changing perceptions of the landscape, the art that embraces it, and their meanings today.

— Peter Walsh


Rick DiMuzio Trio
January 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

The endlessly inventive saxophonist, composer, and longtime Berklee prof Rick DiMuzio fronts a superb trio, with bassist Max Ridley and drummer Francisco Mela. DiMuizio will double on tenor and piano.

Porch Trio + A Quartet
January 10 from 7:30 p.m. to 10
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

The Philadelphia-born pianist and composer Hasaan Ibn Ali (1931-1980) left a small recorded output — he was known mostly for the 1965 Atlantic release The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan, until 2021, with the release of Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album (with Odean Pope on tenor sax) and Retrospect in Retirement of Delay: The Solo Recordings (both on Omnivore). Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis’s trio disc, The Hasaan, Hope & Monk Project, one of 2022’s best jazz releases, grouped compositions by Ibn Ali with one of his key influences, Elmo Hope, and another like-minded master, Thelonious Monk. For this .01 Percent residency, Karayorgis will play the music of Ibn Ali with saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton. The evening opens with the Porch Trio (McBride, saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, drummer Eric Rosenthal) plus trombonist Michael Prentky.

Trombonist and composer Steve Turre will be performing in Boston on January 13. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Steve Turre Quartet
January 13 at 7 and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Trombonist and composer Steve Turre’s vast discography — as leader and sideman — has included everything from the avant-garde to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, Santana, and his long tenure with the Saturday Night Live band. His “doubling” on various conch shells long ago proved to be more than gimmick (though, OK, it’s that too), with an elemental, pan-cultural pedigree that has opened up all manner of music for Turre and his audiences, especially Afro-Latin and Afro-Caribbean strains. Turre’s superb touring band draws from his latest album, Generations: saxophonist James Carter (a charismatic star headliner in his own right), trumpeter Josh Evans, pianist Keith Brown, bassist Corcoran Holt, and drummer Orion Turre (Steve’s son).

— Jon Garelick

Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich in action. Photo: Erika Kapin.

Marty Ehrlich’s Traveller’s Tale Quartet with Stan Strickland at The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge on January 7.

When Ehrlich made Boston his home, Strickland had already been a presence on the scene here for decades. They worked together here and in Europe and made four recordings together, including one (The Traveller’s Tale, Enja, 2007) that gives this group its name. This reunion should be a meeting of mighty musical minds. The band is completed by bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Michael Sarin, who work with Ehrlich regularly. Sponsored by the Creative Music Series.

— Steve Elman

Classical Music

Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff. Photo: Israeli Music Institute.

The Eternal Stranger
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 5 at 7:30 p.m., 6 at 1:30 p.m., and 7 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The BSO returns from an extended hiatus with the American premiere of Ella Milch-Sheriff’s meditation on an individual’s place in society (using Beethoven’s deafness and personality as a case study). Also on the docket are the Leonore Overture No. 3, the Funeral March from the Eroica Symphony, and Midori playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Beethoven & Mozart
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
January 5 at 7:30 p.m. and 8 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky leads H&H in a program of festive music by Martines, Mozart, and Beethoven, doubling as soloist in the former’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Oceans Apart
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 12 at 7:30 p.m., 13 at 1:30 p.m., and 14 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Two favorite Boston Symphony guests – conductor Alan Gilbert and pianist Garrick Ohlsson – team up for the world premiere of Justin Dello Joio’s piano concerto, Oceans Apart. Pieces by Lili Boulanger, Wilhelm Stenhammar, and Antonin Dvorak fill out the concert.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Author Events

New Years Day Sale: In Boston & Cambridge – Porter Square Books
January 1 1-5 p.m.

“It’s our annual New Years Day Sale! Make the most of your gift cards. Get started on a resolution. Pick up that book your friends and family neglected to give you over the holidays.

Everything in both stores (aside from the hold shelf, electronics, and a few other things) is 20% off!”

Friday Night Trivia – Trident Booksellers & Cafe
January 6 from 7-9 p.m.

“Join us for seven rounds of general knowledge trivia. Maximum team size is 6 people and there are prizes for teams that place 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Space is limited in the upstairs café and tables are first-come, first-served starting at 6 p.m.. The room typically fills up by 6:30 p.m.. A majority of your party MUST BE PRESENT in order to be seated.”

Virtual Event: Dr. Suzie Sheehy – Harvard Book Store
The Matter of Everything: How Curiosity, Physics, and Improbable Experiments Changed the World
January 10 at 6 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested donation

“In The Matter of Everything, accelerator physicist Suzie Sheehy introduces us to the people who, through a combination of genius, persistence, and luck, staged the experiments that changed the course of history. From the serendipitous discovery of X-rays in a German laboratory, to the scientists trying to prove Einstein wrong (and inadvertently proving him right), to the race to split open the atom, these experiments not only shaped our understanding of the cosmos, but also shaped how we live within it.

These breakthroughs have helped us build detectors that map the insides of volcanoes, develop life-saving medical equipment and create electronic devices used in everything from fiber-optic cables to solar panels—among countless other advancements.”

Live at Brookline Booksmith! Suzanne Berne
The Blue Window
January 11 at 7 p.m.

“A deft and compelling exploration of family dynamics infused with suspense, The Blue Window shows what happens to people who hide from themselves—and the act of imagination it takes to find them.”

Open Mic Night! – Porter Square Books
January 11 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to all.

“Join us for a night of poetry, stand up comedy, storytelling, and performance. Sign up online or at the door to perform a set of 5-10 minutes, or just come to spectate and cheer everybody on!”

Tracy Kidder at the Cambridge Public Library – Harvard Book Store
Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to Homeless People
January 17 at 6 p.m.
Free or $32 with book

“When Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, the chief of medicine made a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens? Jim took the job because he felt he couldn’t refuse. But that year turned into his life’s calling.

Tracy Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they served their thousands of homeless patients. In this illuminating book we travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most endangered citizens. He emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”

Much as he did with Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains, Kidder explores how a small but dedicated group of people have changed countless lives by facing one of American society’s difficult problems instead of looking away.”

— Matt Hanson

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