The Must List: September 2011

By Matthew Reed Baker | Boston Magazine |

Music  Lowell Hoedown
Consider it Deliverance, Masshole-style (without the unsavory bits). Since 1980, the Lowell National Historical Park has hosted this ever-growing banjo and fiddle competition, which features musicians facing off in such genres as bluegrass and Dixieland. Free, 9/10.
Theatre  Candide
The Huntington Theatre opens its 30th season with this musical production of Voltaire’s classic satiric fantasy. The score was written in the 1950s by Leonard Bernstein, but director Mary Zimmerman, a Tony Award and MacArthur “genius grant” winner, says her new version is closer to the original book. $25–$95, 9/10–10/16.

Book  Light from a Distant Star
Literary accolades, film adaptations, praise from Oprah—Andover’s Mary McGarry Morris has earned them all for her suspenseful novels focused on small-town life. Her latest chronicles a teenage girl who finds her family with sudden financial struggles just as three striking strangers come into her world. $25, 9/13.

Star Turn  John Malkovich
Amidst all our Affleck-admiring, we often forget that one of film’s finest character actors lives in town. Highlighting the start of ArtsEmerson’s second season, Malkovich will play a charming serial killer in The Infernal Comedy, a show that combines crime drama with arias by the likes of Vivaldi and Mozart. $25–$195, 9/29–9/30.