Coming Attractions: May 19 through June 3 — What Will Light Your Fire

Our expert critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.


A scene featuring Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney in The Roaring Twenties.

Fitzgerald & the Jazz Age
Though May 21
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

The series, co-presented with the American Repertory Theater, will show a range of films from various eras that tap into The Jazz Age. They include Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Fred Niblo’s The Three Musketeers (1921), Frank Borzage’s Three Comrades (1938), Elia Kazan’s The Last Tycoon, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, Joan Micklin Silver’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair (1976), Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties (1939), Chaplin’s The Immigrant (1917), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), and King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925).

Revenge: Our Dad the Nazi Killer
May 19 at 2:30 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline

“In this murder mystery documentary, three brothers in sunny Melbourne, Australia engage the help of a decorated private detective and investigate a rumored family secret. Was their father Boris, a suburban watchmaker and family man, Holocaust survivor, and Jewish WWII partisan leader, actually involved in revenge killings of Nazis in 1950s Australia?” There will be a post-film Q&A featuring Brandeis University Professor Laura Jockusch, author of Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust.

A scene from Bonjour Switzerland.

Bonjour Switzerland
May 20 at 7:30 p.m., West Newton Cinema

Belmont World Film presents a socially conscious slapstick political comedy about multilingualism. A box office hit in Switzerland, BWF is billing the feature as a “side-splitting satire.” The plot: a referendum in Switzerland designates French as the country’s national language. The vote precipitates a crisis among German and Italian speakers. Critics have described the film as “Woody Allen’s Bananas crossed with The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!” If you can’t make the in-person screening, the film is also available for streaming online May 21-26. Access the online version here.

The Gold Rush
May 21 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline

Jeff Rapsis performs a live piano score for this screening of a 1925 comic masterpiece written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

A scene from The Big Parade, screening at the Brattle on May 21.

The Big Parade
May 21 at 4 & 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

King Vidor was at the helm of this acclaimed 1925 silent movie about an idle rich boy who joins the US Army’s Rainbow Division and is sent to France to fight in World War I. He becomes friends with two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare, and finds love with a French girl. The film realistic depiction of warfare was a heavy influence on subsequent war films. It is regarded as one of the greatest features made about World War I.

Berkshire International Film Festival
May 30 – June 2

The festival showcases the latest in independent feature, documentary, short, and family films. It also offers lively panel discussions and special events that focus on filmmakers and talented artists on both sides of the camera. Complete Schedule

Gong Yoo, top, and Kim Su-Ahn in Train to Busan. Photo: Well Go USA

Train to Busan: Extended Cut
May 30 at 7 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

An elongated version of the popular South Korean zombie apocalypse action thriller, directed by Yeon Sang-ho. The plot: a bullet train headed to the South Korean city of Busan is overwhelmed by a flock of zombies — the non-zombie passengers are forced to fight for survival. The 2016 film is part of the ongoing series Hallyu Hits: Korean Films that Moved the World. Other entries in this excellent round-up include: Parasite (May 19, 2:30 pm), Poetry (May 25, 2:30 p.m.), and Snowpiercer  (May 31, 7 p.m.)

A scene from the documentary Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV.

Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV
June 1 at 2:30 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The life and career of Nam June Paik ,“the father of video art,” is chronicled in this 2023 film, which includes archival footage and clips from the artist’s work. Paik was a member of the Fluxus experimental art movement and, from his base in America, engaged with television and video, revolutionizing the use of technology in art. The film traces Paik’s collaborations with his mentor, John Cage, as well as with Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, David Bowie, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, and Charlotte Moorman (the topless cellist). Other entries in the Stories from the Korean Diaspora series are Minari (June 2, 2:30 p.m.), Past Lives (June 6, 7 p.m.), and Spa Night (June 13. 7:30 p.m.)

Payman Maadi in a scene from Opponent.

June 3 at 7:30 p.m.
West Newton Cinema, 1296 Washington St, West Newton

From Belmont World Film, a screening of Sweden’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Oscar. The plot: mild-mannered Olympic wrestler Iman (Payman Maadi) enjoys a quiet life in Iran with his wife Maryam (Marall Nasiri) and their daughters Asal (Nicole Mehrbod) and Sahar (Diana Farzami). After he is outed as a homosexual by one of his close friends, he is forced to flee his home because the accusation could lead to a death sentence. He escapes to Scandinavia to start afresh, reluctantly turning his back on the sport. However, when Iman finds that he can’t be given asylum without having established a steady career, he returns to the ring to compete for the Swedish national team.

Welcoming the Embrace
May 30 at 5:30 p.m.
Capitol Theatre, Arlington

A screening of the spanking new documentary Welcoming the Embrace by John Adekoje, Miranda Adekole, and Darrus Sands, presented by Embrace Boston. The film looks at the creation of The Embrace, artist Hank Willis Thomas’s memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King located at the Boston Common. Hear from the community about the meaning of the public art installation and its importance for the city. The program will feature a post film in-person discussion with Embrace Boston Director of Digital Strategy and Production, Gregory Ball. Daphne Politis of FAICP will facilitate the confab.

— Bill Marx

Pick of the Week

Baby Reindeer, streaming on Netflix

Jessica Gunning in Baby Reindeer. Photo: Netflix

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I saw several shows that created comedy out of less than comforting life histories. This autobiographical approach is part of an ongoing theatrical trend. One of the most successful efforts in this genre arrived at the Fringe in 2016: comedian/writer/actor Richard Gadd’s one-man show Baby Reindeer. The performance’s success was followed by a run at Edinburgh’s Capital Theater. The piece has now been adapted into a comedy/drama/thriller series in seven parts. Gadd’s performance — as well as his writing  — are filled with uncompromising, often disturbing, personal details. The story begins when a lonely woman (played by Jessica Gunning) wanders into the pub where Gadd bartends. She claims to be a lawyer and, as a friendly gesture, he offers her a free drink. Nicknaming him “Baby Reindeer,” she becomes obsessed with him and grows increasingly (and inexplicably) dangerous and disturbed.

— Tim Jackson

Classical Music

Mezzo-Soprano Alice Chung will be the soloist for the finale of the BMOP’s performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony. Photo: John Matthew Myers

Presented by Boston Modern Orchestra Project
May 25, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

BMOP’s late-spring concert offers a rare outing for Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony (Alice Chung is the soloist in its finale). Also on tap is the world premiere of Yu-Hui Chang’s Hawking Radiation plus works by Harold Shapero and Henri Lazarof.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

World Music and Roots

Louisiana Calling With The Sonny Landreth Band and The Iguanas
May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
City Winery, Boston

Now that both the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage and French Quarter festivals have wrapped up for the year, Louisiana artists are back on the road. This package tour features two longtime roots music favorites who should nicely complement each other: Sonny Landreth, one of the best slide guitarists of his generation, and the Latin-inspired party grooves of The Iguanas. Word has it that Landreth is playing both acoustic and electric sets on this tour.

Hubby Jenkins will perform at The Porch in Medford on May 31. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Hubby Jenkins
May 31, 9 p.m.
The Porch, Medford

One of the best shows I saw in 2022 was a solo set by Hubby Jenkins. Whether he’s playing guitar, banjo, or the bones, performing early jazz, country, or the blues, Jenkins’s musical mastery is matched by his endearing stage presence. The one-time Carolina Chocolate Drop proves that traditional American music can be just as fun as anything on today’s pop charts.

Grupo Bonyé
June 1, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Centro Catholic High School, Lawrence

Travel guides devoted to the Dominican Republic often mention the free Sunday night concerts in Santo Domingo that feature Grupo Bonyé, an ensemble with multiple vocalists fronting a tight band whose repertoire runs from Dominican merengue and bachata to impressive takes on salsa and Cuban son. Now that band is coming to Lawrence for a concert presented by Ateneo Dominicano de Nueva Inglaterra, a group devoted to keeping Dominican culture and traditions thriving.

Gigantic Gospel Explosion
June 2
Charles Street AME Church, Dorchester
Ticket info: 617-298-1906

Last year the biggest traditional gospel event of the year was promoter Jeannette Farrell’s program. She’s back with another afternoon of inspiration from Baltimore’s Little David and the Bells of Joy, Philadelphia’s Little Sammy and the New Flying Clouds, the Zeigler Family of Florida, Tyrese and the Golden Stars of New Haven, and Connecticut’s  Expressional Praise Mimes. Boston’s own will also be represented by the Spiritual Encouragers, Test-A-Mony, and the Lord’s Messengers.

Midwood with special guests Nat Seelen and Abigale Reisman
June 2 at 4 p.m.
The Burren

Fiddler Jake Shulman-Ment’s group Midwood is one of the most distinctive klezmer groups to come around in quite some time. Along with their Eastern European Jewish roots, there are traces of everything from stinging surf rock to traditional French music, all of it played over a deep emotional foundation. The French influences come from singer, flutist, and hurdy-gurdy player Eléonore Weill; noted jazz players Yoshie Fruchter (guitar) and Richie Barshay (drums) round out this group, evidence that adventurous klezmer has a long and bright future.

— Noah Schaffer

Popular Music

Echo & the Bunnymen
May 20 (doors at 7/show at 8)
House of Blues, Boston

The force has definitely been with Echo & the Bunnymen in the month of May throughout their career. Lead singer Ian McCulloch celebrated his 65th birthday on May 5. Their second album, Heaven Up Here, is set to turn 43 on the 30th. Finally (though not exhaustively), the music-loving world was blessed with Ocean Rain, their fourth LP, on May 4, 1984. McCulloch jokingly called it “the greatest album of all time” in advance of its release, but has quite seriously called its centerpiece – “The Killing Moon” – “the greatest song ever written” in subsequent years. “[It] is more than just a song,” he elaborated. “It’s a psalm, almost hymnal.… It’s my ‘To be or not to be’.” (I don’t reflexively agree with this assessment, but I also won’t dispute it.) This May — and June — sees the new wave Shakespeare and the band’s lifelong guitarist, Will Sergeant, on a North American Songs to Learn & Sing Tour, which stops at House of Blues on May 20.

John Hiatt will perform at City Winery on May 25. Photo: Jim McGuire

John Hiatt with Mark Erelli
May 25 (doors at 5:30/show at 7:30)
City Winery, Boston

Not many singer-songwriters can claim to have inspired three full albums’ worth of their peers’ versions of their compositions. Of course, most others do not operate on the level that John Hiatt does. One of the most highly respected post-Dylan practitioners, he’s had his songs recorded by Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, The Neville Brothers, Iggy Pop, Nick Lowe, Bob Dylan, and…well you get the idea. (The Jeff Healey Band’s version of “Angel Eyes” reached #5 in 1989.) Moreover, his 1987 album Bring the Family is one of the decade’s exemplars in its genre. And like Dylan, Hiatt has remained productive in the 2000s. Finally, his daughter Lily has both followed in her father’s footsteps and forged her own path as a musician.

Fellow highly respected singer-songwriter — and Reading, Massachusetts native — Mark Erelli will open Hiatt’s May 25 show at City Winery, where he will showcase his 2023 LP, Lay Your Darkness Down. (Hiatt will be at Shalin Liu Performance Center the following night.)

Madness with Fishbone
May 29 (doors at 7 /show at 8)
MGM Music Hall at Fenway, Boston

When I was introduced to Madness in 1982 via the heavy rotation on MTV of “Our House,” I had no idea that Madness was — along with The Specials and The (English) Beat — one of the key purveyors of what I would later learn was called the two-tone ska revival. Nor was I aware until about two decades had passed that the parent album of “Our House” — The Rise & Fall — was a thoughtful reflection on post–WWII British society in the tradition of The Kinks’ late ’60s albums and The Jam’s 1979 masterpiece Setting Sons. While their success in the US was nowhere near what it enjoyed in the UK, Madness’s legacy is great enough here for them to be playing the 5,000-capacity MGM Music Hall on May 29, where they will perform myriad classics, fan favorites, and selections from last November’s 20-track Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est la Vie.

Opening the show will be Fishbone, who have vowed to carry on despite the recent loss of two founding members.

Camera Obscura with Photo Ops
May 30 (doors at 7/show at 8)
Paradise Rock Club, Boston

While I wouldn’t say that I had completely given up on Camera Obscura, I have wondered every now and then over the past several years if 2013’s Desire Lines would prove to be the band’s swan song. (The band’s longtime keyboardist, Carey Lander, died in 2015.) I was disabused of that notion when the top-tier Scottish twee-meisters released the single “Big Love” in January and announced the forthcoming LP Look to the East, Look to the West. The releases of “We’re Gonna Make It in a Man’s World” in March and “Liberty Print” in April completed the backward-order unveiling of the album’s first three songs and demonstrated — as numerous other new tracks do — that Tracyanne Campbell has lost none of her knack for the brand of indie pop that has kept her beloved by fans for more than 20 years.

Photo Ops — the moniker of L.A.-by-way-of Nashville musician Terry Price — will draw from 12 years of material, including 2023’s Burns Bright, in his opening set at the Paradise Rock Club on May 30.

Drew Zieff of Jake Swamp and the Pine. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Jake Swamp and the Pine with Dan & the Wildfire and CocoSmith
June 1 (doors at 7/show at 8)
Brighton Music Hall, Allston

Jake Swamp and the Pine is the project of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Drew Zieff. The namesake of their 2022 debut, Simpson and Banks, is the Somerville intersection where the band was formed, while the band name itself refers to the tallest tree in Massachusetts. Since 2019, JSATP has been nominated for seven Boston Music Awards in three categories (Folk Act, Americana Act, and Male Vocalist of the Year) and six New England Music Awards in four categories (in Americana Act, Male Performer, Roots, and New Act of the Year). Fellow Boston-based artists Dan & the Wildfire and Coco Smith will share the bill with JSATP at Brighton Music Hall on June 1.

Abigail Lapell
June 1 (doors at 7/show at 8)
Club Passim, Cambridge

Toronto-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell is three-time Canadian Folk Music Awards winner: once for Contemporary Album of the Year (2017) and twice for English Songwriter of the Year (2020 and 2023). Her latest record, Anniversary, was recorded in a 200-year-old Ontario church and produced Tony Dekker, whose own band — the underappreciated and underrated (in the US, at least) Great Lake Swimmers — has also recorded in such sacred spaces. (Click for my 2015 interview with Dekker, which has an incorrect byline.) Anniversary’s 11 tracks include two duets with Dekker and several whose instrumentation is augmented by trumpet, viola, and vibraphone. Lapell will celebrate the release of her fifth album in Harvard Square on June 1.

— Blake Maddux

Americana breakout Tyler Childers will perform at Boston Calling. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Boston Calling Music Festival
May 24-26, roughly 1:30 to 11 p.m.
Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston

Memorial Day Weekend brings the season’s first big festival to town with three sprawling days of Boston Calling at Harvard’s athletic fields by Soldier’s Field Road. Headliners command much of each day’s buzz/budget. Chummy pop star Ed Sheeran last hit Gillette Stadium, Americana breakout Tyler Childers is suddenly a hot ticket, and the Killers return as a rock favorite. And the lineup’s second layer adds an unusual mix with Southern soul crooner Leon Bridges, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio’s solo band, and Irish soul-rocker Hozier.

Khruangbin bolsters Saturday’s bill with its exotic psych-grooves. Yet Sunday may boast the most promising slate with hip-hop power broker Megan Thee Stallion, New Orleans’ energetic trad-rockers the Revivalists, Canadian indie-pop stalwarts Alvvays and rising blues guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.

The kids will have their way across the weekend with an undercard including mainstream pop upstarts Jessie Murph, Chappell Roan and “Mean Girls” star Renée Rapp. And the fest spotlights the local scene with more than 20 cross-genre artists, including singer/songwriter Madi Diaz, funk-rockers Bad Rabbits (alumni of the first Boston Calling in 2013 at City Hall Plaza), “America’s Got Talent”-elevated piano man Kieran Rhodes, and folk outfit the Wolff Sisters.

— Paul Robicheau


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.

Patrick O’Konis as Joe in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s Touching the Void. Photo: Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Touching the Void adapted by David Greig. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques. Staged by Apollinaire Theatre Company at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, through May 26.

According to Apollinaire Theatre Company, this script, based on Joe Simpson’s bestselling memoir turned BAFTA-winning film, “recounts Joe Simpson’s struggle for survival after an accident leaves him stranded with a shattered leg on Siula Grande mountain in the Peruvian Andes. His climbing partner, Simon Yates, attempts a near impossible rescue, but when Joe disappears over an ice cliff, Simon, battered by freezing winds and tethered to his injured partner, makes the heart-wrenching decision to cut the rope.”

Morning, Noon, and Night by Kirsten Greenidge. Directed by Summer L. Williams. Staged by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, through May 25.

The plot of this new play by an acclaimed local playwright: “Mia just wants her daughter to listen without talking back. Dailyn just wants her mom to quit being so judgmental. And they both just want everything to be perfect for when older sister Alex comes home for her birthday. But when a mysterious visitor from a digital dimension arrives on Mia’s doorstep, the very concepts of home and perfection are challenged.”

Kai Clifton (center) and the company of A Strange Loop. Photo: Maggie Hall Photography

A Strange Loop Book, music, and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson. Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Music directed by David Freeman Coleman. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company and Front Porch Arts Collective in the Wimberly Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End, through May 25.

This Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical exposes the heart and soul of Usher, a young artist grappling with desires, identity, and instincts he loves and loathes in equal measure. While tolerating a grinding job guiding families in and out of theater performances, the Black, queer writer’s inner thoughts turn to an artistic endeavor: writing a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer. Hobbled by negative self-talk and hell-bent on breaking free from it, Usher wrestles with his thoughts (portrayed by a cast of talented actors) in an attempt to move past this ‘strange loop.'” Arts Fuse review

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. Directed by Marianna Bassham. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Calderwood Pavilion, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, through June 2.

Surprisingly, this is the ASP’s first production of the Bard’s tragedy in over a decade. The production stars Evan Taylor and Chloe McFarlane as the titular star-crossed lovers, as well as Artistic Director Christopher V. Edwards making his ASP acting debut as Lord Capulet.

W.H. Auden on Romeo and Juliet: “Romeo and Juliet don’t know each other, but when one dies, the other can’t go on living. Behind their passionate suicides, as well as their reactions to Romeo’s banishment, is finally a lack of feeling, a fear that the relationship cannot be sustained and that, out of pride, it should be stopped now, in death. If they become a married couple, there will be no more wonderful speeches — and that is a good thing, too. Then the real tasks of life will begin, with which art has surprisingly little to do. Romeo and Juliet are idolaters of each other, which is what leads to their suicides.”

Spiritus/Virgil’s Dance, written by and starring Dael Orlandersmith. Directed by Neel Keller. Presented at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, through May 26.

According to the MRT publicity, this one-person show “explores one person’s longing for meaning. Latin for breath, ‘Spiritus’ is often used figuratively to mean spirit. In [Orlandersmith’s solo piece] the word takes on a metaphorical meaning for a soul on a quest. In conversation with Dante’s Divine Comedy, we meet Virgil in the middle of an ordinary life. With their father’s passing, Virgil reframes death and finds the extraordinary they’ve been searching for.”

Jennifer Mogbock in the role of the eponymous Toni Stone. Photo: Nile Hawver

Toni Stone, written and directed by Lydia R. Diamond. At the Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston, through June 16.

A drama inspired by the book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone. According to Huntington Theatre publicity, the play “follows the experiences of Toni Stone, an ace ballplayer who knows her stats and has a great arm. Rejected by the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League because of her race, she becomes the first woman to play professional baseball on a man’s team in the Negro Leagues, shattering expectations and creating her own set of rules.” Arts Fuse interview with Lydia Diamond.

Next to Normal Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Tom Kitt. Directed and choreographed by Pascale Florestal. Staged by Central Square Theater and the Front Porch Arts Collective at the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, through June 30.

This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award–winning musical “tells the story of a American family affected by mental illness. The musical was groundbreaking in its portrayal of the day-to-day realities of bipolar disorder, its sometimes harsh treatments and medications, and its gnawing impact on family relationships. An energetic pop-rock score punctuates the rollercoaster of emotions that the characters experience. In telling the story from the perspective of a Black upper-middle-class family, the production brings audiences to an intersection of mental health, race, gender and class…. The First New England production to feature a Black family.”

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog. Directed by Lizzie Gottlieb. Staged by the Berkshire Theatre Group on The Larry Vaber Stage at The Unicorn Theatre, 6 East Street, Stockbridge, MA, through June 1.

According to BTG’s publicity, Amy Herzog’s oft-produced play “offers a compelling exploration of human connections, grief and the unanticipated paths to solace. Set against the backdrop of New York City’s West Village, this production unveils the profound story of 21-year-old Leo and his spirited 91-year-old grandmother, Vera Joseph.” The cast features Evan Silverstein as Leo Joseph-Connell, Gabriella Torres as Bec, Maria Tucci as Vera Joseph, and Allison Ye as Amanda.

The Plastic Bag Store Created, written, designed, and directed by Robin Frohardt. Music by Freddi Price. Produced by Pomegranate Arts. Presented by Mass MoCA and Williamstown Theatre Festival at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA, through September 2.

Billed by Mass MoCA as “an immersive, multimedia experience by Brooklyn-based artist Robin Frohardt that uses humor, craft, and a critical lens to question our culture of consumption and convenience — specifically, the enduring effects of single-use plastics. The shelves are stocked with thousands of original, hand-sculpted items — produce and meat, dry goods and toiletries, cakes and sushi rolls — all made from discarded, single-use plastics in an endless cacophony of packaging.”

Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang. Directed by Ted Hewlett. Staged by the Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, May 31 through June 23.

According to the Lyric Stage publicity, in this drama an “engrossing and surprisingly humorous look at race and assimilation questions how well-intentioned motives can lead to hypocrisy and misdeeds. In a scramble to make things right, an uncomfortable situation gets even more tangled and fractured leaving many newfound realizations along the way. ”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by Gloucester Stage,  267 East Main Street, Gloucester, May 31 through June 23.

Here is what I said about Durang’s Tony award–winning comedy in my review of the 2013 Trinity Rep production: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an example of a new genre, sentimental plays that purport to focus on the plight of baby boomers who are beginning to feel their age. The dramatic approach flirts with revelations of futility and regret, but then pulls back on the intimations of mortality. By turning Chekhov on his head, the playwright manages to head off real world anxieties through a convenient ‘literary’ framing device, making extra sure there are no upsets by supplying a relatively upbeat ending for characters who are — after decades of inaction or blindness — suddenly raging against the dying of the light.”

The Hebrew-language premiere of The Dybbuk, with Hanna Rovina as Leah, at Habima Theater, Moscow, January 31, 1922. Photo: Wikipedia

The Dybbuk by Roy Chen, based on the original play by S. Ansky. Adapted by Igor Golyak with Dr. Rachel Merrill Moss. With additional material from the translation by Joachim Neugroschel. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by Arlekin Players Theatre at the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, 18 Phillips St., Beacon Hill, Boston, May 30 through June 23.

Well, something different … this expressionistic drama in four acts by S. Ansky was inspired by Hasidic Jewish folklore. It premiered, via a Yiddish theater production, in 1920. This production stars “Andrey Burkovskiy as Khonen/The Dybbuk and Yana Gladkikh as Leah, as the tragic young lovers hovering between the worlds of the living and the beyond.” The Times of Israel sums the play up with showbiz pizazz: “A supernatural thriller, a courtroom drama, a tale of love and obsession, and an elegy for a dying culture, this Fiddler-on-the-Roof-meets-The-Exorcist has something for everyone.”

Gatsby Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Directed by Rachel Chavkin. Music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett. Lyrics by Florence Welch. Book by Martyna Majok. Choreography by Sonya Tayeh. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, May 23 through August 3.

Yet another musical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that hopes to be the toast of Broadway. One opened in April and the show has been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Costume Design. The A.R.T.’s song-and-dance version is subtitled, for some reason, “An American Myth.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts 

Tom Burckhardt, Americans Can Fight, 2022, water media and collage . Photo: BCM

Four years ago artist Tom Burckhardt began to create drawings and collages on pages he found in old books collected from flea markets and other sources, thus joining a group of contemporary artists who have drawn meaning from old printed texts. Fascinated by the “found texts” of the contemporary American environment— billboards, road signs, city streets, and the messages, often political, that people post in their front yards—  Burckhardt has created more than 500 of these often brightly colored, richly patterned drawings. He claims the work “destroys and rescues [these forgotten books] at the same time, giving the ideas some juice in today’s context.”

The exhibition Tom Burckhardt: Informal Worship, which opens at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on May 23, unites a hefty selection of these page drawings in a show intended “to create an immersive environment of connected words, shapes, and color.”

British artist Hew Locke was born in Edinburgh but spent formative years in Guyana, then recently independent after 135 years of British rule. Covered by a corner of the Amazon rainforest, Guyana is one of the smallest nations in South America and one of the least populous on earth. Ten indigenous languages are spoken by nine Indigenous tribes; thanks to the British plantation-based economy, the country also includes populations of Indian, Chinese, African, Portuguese, and other European descent, plus various multiracial groups. The son of a Guyanese sculptor, Locke grew up fascinated by the ceremonies and symbols people use to assert identity, by public statues and monuments, by maritime trade and boats, and by the migration of money. Based in London for most of his adult life, he explores in his work the various legacies of the British Empire: migration, global economies, the House of Windsor, ethnic diversity, and historical monuments.

Locke’s The Procession opens at the ICA/Watershed on May 23. Originally commissioned by the Tate Britain in the UK, the large installation includes some 140 life-sized figures of all ages and of many types, including Caribbean carnival queens, mounted military, children, refugees, laborers, and others, carrying props or wearing costumes with an array of imagery and symbols. The work uses the metaphor of a voyage, the artist says, to “reflect on the cycles of history, and the ebb and flow of cultures, people, finance, and power.” The ICA is the work’s debut venue in North America.

Started on the margins of the Parisian art world and never particularly coherent as a movement, Impressionism grew up to be one of the most financially rewarded, artistically successful, popular, and pervasive styles in art history, spreading west to the United States and even to Japan. The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, is celebrating a century and a half of Impressionism, counting from the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874 —  the Paris show that gave Impressionism its name — though things were well underway with its members some years before they exhibited together.

Theodore Robinson, Autumn Sunlight, 1888. Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 21 3/4 in. Florence Griswold Museum, Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, 2002.1.114

Impressionism 150: From Paris to Connecticut and Beyond opens at the Griswold on June 1. The focus is on Connecticut artists from the museum’s permanent collection. The American Impressionist Childe Hassan was a prominent member of Miss Griswold’s summer art colony inn, though both the colony and the museum’s collection are better known for their connections to Tonalism, a different and home-grown American landscape movement. The museum nevertheless promises the exhibition will “tell the story of Impressionism” and will trace responses to it that “began with disparagement, turned to appreciation, dropped in favor of abstraction, and then peaked in blockbuster exhibitions” in the late 20th century.

On May 24, the Portland Museum of Art will open the first major retrospective exhibition of a Wabanaki artist in an American fine art museum, Jeremy Frey: Woven. The Wabanaki, a confederation of Algonquian nations from northeastern North America, whose name means “People of the Dawn,” occupied territories that included, in the United States, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Frey, a seventh-generation Passamaquoddy basket maker known as “one of the most celebrated weavers in the country” is both an Indigenous craftsman and an American contemporary artist. The PMA show features more than 50 striking baskets, shaped from natural materials including black ash and sweetgrass, and spanning Frey’s 20-year career.

When Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale appeared in 1851, American critics complained that the book was nothing like the South Sea adventure tales that had made his reputation. Sales were not great and the book was out of print before its author died. Moby Dick almost vanished until it was revived by scholars in the 20th century. Since then, as a major American classic, hundreds of editions of the book, many of them illustrated with its most dramatic moments, have appeared.

Henry M. Johnson, Acushnet (Whaler) logbook, 1845-1847. Ink, pencil, watercolor on paper. Philips library Photo: PEM

The Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem is hosting what it calls the first exhibition focused on the book arts of Moby Dick, which it calls “the most persistently pictured of all American novels.” Draw Me Ishmael: The Book Arts of Moby Dickthe title is a play on the book’s famous opening line — focuses on the illustrations, the binding designs, typography and even the physical shapes of more than 50 examples in the show, almost all of them drawn from PEM’s Phillips Library collection. The exhibition will also include contemporary variations, including artists’ books, graphic novels, pop-up editions, and even an emoji translation. It all opens on June 1.

Born in the Netherlands and a resident of Berlin, Massachusetts, Jakob Fioole is the winner of the Sally Bishop Prize, the top honor of the 2023 ArtsWorcester Biennial. The award includes a solo exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum and the show, rather unimaginatively titled Jakob Fioole: The Sally Bishop Prize, opens June 1. It features the artist’s part abstract, part figurative paintings, of which the museum says “identifiable objects and obscured human forms are set in unexpected scenarios that seem to depict a world that, while imaginary, is not wholly unlike our own.”

— Peter Walsh


Taylor Ho Bynum takes his band JAK4 on a four-city New England tour. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Taylor Ho Bynum’s JAK4
May 28-31
Hanover, NH; Holyoke, MA; Cambridge; New Haven

The endlessly adventurous composer and bandleader Taylor Ho Bynum takes his latest ensemble, the JAK4, on a New England tour that will end with a live recording at the last stop, in New Haven. Along with Bynum on cornet and flugelhorn, the band includes Jacqueline Kerrod on harp, bass clarinetist Allison Burik, and bassist Ken Filiano. The itinerary: May 28 at 7 p.m., Baker-Berry Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover; May 29 at 7:30 p.m., Jazz Shares at Holyoke Media, Holyoke.; May 30 at 8 p.m., Lilypad, Cambridge; May 31 at 8:30 and 10 p.m., Firehouse 12, New Haven.

Claudio Ragazzi Quartet
May 30 at 6 p.m.
Long Live Roxbury Brewery & Taproom, Boston
The Grammy-winning Argentine-born composer and guitarist Claudio Ragazzi has long been a treasure of the Boston scene, both as a player and educator (at Berklee College of Music). For this show in the ongoing free Thursday-night series at the Long Live Roxbury Taproom, Ragazzi will be playing with pianist Zahili Gonzalez Zamora, bassistr
Gerso Lazo, and drummer Steve Langone.

Leo Blanco
June 1 at 12 p.m.
Boston Public Library, Roxbury Branch, Boston

As part of the free concert series presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston at the Roxbury branch of the BPL, Venezuela-born polymath pianist and composer Leo Blanco leads his trio (with bassist Max Ridley and drummer Francisco Mela) in “Latinious Monk,” a tribute to Thelonious Monk. Blanco says of this all-Monk program that he “hears Monk’s rhythmic identity as a very natural one when spoken in  Latin rhythms.”

Bruno Råberg and his “tentet” will celebrate the release of their new album, Evolver, at the Regattabar. Photo: Francesco Gargiulli

Bruno Råberg Tentet
June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge

The “tentet” on veteran Boston bassist and composer Bruno Råberg’s new Evolver has all the heft and color of a big band, with imaginative arrangements that exploit the timbral range from bottom to top, and beautiful solo statements from an outstanding cast of characters. For this show that cast includes Råberg with special guests (from the CD) Kris Davis (piano) and Chris Cheek (saxophone), plus Yulia Musayelyan, flutes; Allan Chase, saxophones; Stephen Byth, saxophone, clarinet; Peter Kenagy, trumpet; Randy Pingrey, trombone; Rinat Fishman, bass clarinet; Nate Radley, guitar; Anastassiya Petrova, piano & B3 organ; and Gen Yoshimura, drums.

Felipe Salles
June 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge

The São Paulo–born composer, educator, and multi-instrumentalist Felipe Salles fills the Monday night big band slot at the Regattabar with his Interconnections Ensemble. The band’s name is meant to evoke a layered artistic vision, “including dualities of musical and cultural influences, as well as the juxtaposition of composition and improvisation.” The players include reed and wind players Jonathan Ball, John Mastroianni, Mike Caudill (also on electronics), Tyler Burchfield, and Melanie Howell Brooks; trumpet/flugelhorns Don Clough, Jeff Holmes, Seth Bailey, and Jerry Sabatini; trombones Clayton DeWalt, Randy Pingrey, Bob Pilkington, and Angel Subero: pianist Nando Michelin, guitarist Kevin Grudecki, vibraphonist Luke Glavanovits, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and Bertram Lehmann on drums and percussion.

— Jon Garelick

Author Events

Lucas Mann at Harvard Book Store
Attachments: Essays on Fatherhood and Other Performances
May 20 at 7 p.m.

“Lucas Mann turns his attention, tenderness, self-reflection, and humor to contemporary fatherhood. He looks closely at all the joys, frustrations, subtleties, and contradictions within an experience that often goes under-discussed. At once intimate and expansive, Mann chronicles his own life with his young daughter, but also looks outward to the cultural and political baggage that surrounds and permeates these everyday experiences. Moving through memoir, lyric essay, literary analysis, and pop culture criticism, Attachments treats the subject of fatherhood with the depth, curiosity, and vivid emotion that it deserves.”

Shefali Luthra at Harvard Book Store
Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in a Post-Roe America
May 21 at 7 p.m.

In Undue Burden, “reporter Shefali Luthra traces the unforgettable stories of patients faced with one of the most personal decisions of their lives. Outside of Houston, there’s a 16-year-old girl who becomes pregnant well before she intends to. A 21-year-old mother barely making ends meet has to travel hundreds of miles in secret to access care in another state. A 42-year-old woman with a life-threatening condition wants nothing more than to safely carry her pregnancy to term, but her home state’s abortion bans fail to provide her with the options she needs to make an informed decision. And a 19-year-old trans man struggles to access care in Florida as abortion bans radiate across the American South.

“Before, it was a common misconception that abortion restrictions affected only people in certain states, but left one’s own life untouched. Now, patients forced to travel to access care creates a domino effect across the entire country. As the landscape of abortion rights continues to shift, the experiences of these patients — those who had to cross state lines to seek life-saving care, who risked everything they had in pursuit of their own bodily autonomy, and who were unable to plan their reproductive future in the way that they deserved — illustrates how fragile the system is, and how devastating the consequences can be.”

Zoë Schlanger in conversation with Katherine J. Wu – Porter Square Books
The Light Eaters
May 21 at 7 p.m.

The Light Eaters is a deep immersion into the drama of green life and the complexity of this wild and awe-inspiring world that challenges our very understanding of agency, consciousness, and intelligence. In looking closely, we see that plants, rather than imitate human intelligence, have perhaps formed a parallel system. What is intelligent life if not a vine that grows leaves to blend into the shrub on which it climbs, a flower that shapes its bloom to fit exactly the beak of its pollinator, a pea seedling that can hear water flowing and make its way toward it? Zoë Schlanger takes us across the globe, digging into her own memories and into the soil with the scientists who have spent their waking days studying these amazing entities up close.”

2nd Annual Louisa Solano Memorial featuring Lloyd Schwartz & Bobbie Steinbach
May 22 at 7 p.m.
Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Cambridge
Virtual sign up (
Free with suggested donation

“The 2nd Annual Louisa Solano Memorial Reading features poet Lloyd Schwartz teaming up for the first time with celebrated Boston actor Bobbie Steinbach for a hilarious and heartbreaking reading of Schwartz’s comic and poignant dramatic monologues and dialogues. George Kalogeris and Lloyd Schwartz will give the introductions. This event will take place synchronously in-store at 6 Plympton Street and on Zoom. Please sign up ahead of time because there is limited space.”

Allison Pugh in conversation with Carolyn Hax – Porter Square Books
The Last Human Job
May 24 at 7 p.m.

“Drawing on in-depth interviews and observations with people in a broad range of professions — from physicians, teachers, and coaches to chaplains, therapists, caregivers, and hairdressers — Allison Pugh develops the concept of “connective labor,” a kind of work that relies on empathy, the spontaneity of human contact, and a mutual recognition of each other’s humanity. The threats to connective labor are not only those posed by advances in AI or apps; Pugh demonstrates how profit-driven campaigns imposing industrial logic shrink the time for workers to connect, enforce new priorities of data and metrics, and introduce standardized practices that hinder our ability to truly see each other. She concludes with profiles of organizations where connective labor thrives, offering practical steps for building a social architecture that works.

“Vividly illustrating how connective labor enriches the lives of individuals and binds our communities together, The Last Human Job is a compelling argument for us to recognize, value, and protect humane work in an increasingly automated and disconnected world.”

Kathleen Hanna with Imani Perry at The Wilbur – brookline booksmith
Rebel Girl: My Life As a Feminist Punk
May 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $42 with copy of book

“Hanna’s band Bikini Kill embodied the punk scene of the ’90s, and today her personal yet feminist lyrics on anthems like “Rebel Girl” and “Double Dare Ya” are more powerful than ever. But where did this transformative voice come from?

“In Rebel Girl, Hanna’s raw and insightful new memoir, she takes us from her tumul­tuous childhood to her formative college years and her first shows. As Hanna makes clear, being in a punk ‘girl band’ in those years was not a simple or safe prospect. Male violence and antagonism threatened at every turn, and surviving as a singer who was a lightning rod for controversy took limitless amounts of determination.”

Tom Seeman at Harvard Book Store
Animals I Want To See: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Projects and Defying the Odds 
May 29 at 7 p.m.

“A luminous coming-of-age memoir that shimmers with countless marvels, Animals I Want To See tracks Tom Seeman’s journey from a child janitor with big ambitions to a teenage petty criminal to a student at Yale and Harvard. At once a meditation on finding wonder in unlikely places, an ode to a heroic mother who makes the seemingly impossible possible, and an exploration of what it means to create our own identities, this is a heartwarming, thought-provoking, ultimately uplifting book for all readers.”

Jenna Tang with Grace Talusan – brookline booksmith
Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise 
May 31 at 7 p.m.

“One of the biggest books to come out of Taiwan in the last decade, Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise is a chilling tale of grooming and its lingering trauma, and the power structures that allow it to flourish. Insightful, unsettling, emotionally raw, it is a staggering work of literature that reverberates across cultures and forces us to confront painful truths about the vulnerability and strength of women and those who use and hurt them.

“Lin Yi-Han (1991–2017) was a Taiwanese writer. This book was her first and only novel. It sold over a million copies globally, won prizes, including the Open Book Best Fiction Award and the Liang Yu-Sen Literary Award, and became a feminist manifesto across Asia.”

Percival Everett: James and American Fiction – brookline booksmith
James and American Fiction 
June 4 at 6 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline
Tickets are $14

“In person at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, presented with Brookline Booksmith! Celebrate Percival Everett’s newest novel, James, with a discussion, followed by a screening of the Oscar-nominated film American Fiction, based on his book, Erasure.”

— Matt Hanson

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