Spring Arts Preview 2014
From classical music and theater to visual arts and books, a look at the hottest events and releases this season.
Magic, music, the media, and a modicum of gore get splashed across Boston stages this spring—along with Pushkin, Sontag, Sondheim, Shakespeare, and a couple of polar bears. —Carolyn Clay
Obie-winning New York–based troupe the Builders Association applies its “signature synthesis of video and sound” to the formative years of intellectual icon Susan Sontag in a solo show drawn from her early journals Reborn and As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh. Actress Moe Angelos is the low-tech element.
Zeitgeist Stage Company
Actor Rod McLachlan’s 2013 playwriting debut, seen here in its New England premiere, investigates rather than sends up reality TV. When the producer of a show based on the A & E series Intervention (on which the writer’s wife worked) travels to South Carolina to profile a very unstable meth addict, her own inner demons get out. David Miller is at the helm.
The Unbleached American
Ernest Hogan, called by some “the father of ragtime,” was the first black American to play Broadway. He was also infamous for penning a spate of so-called coon songs, which he came to regret. Now Hogan is the subject of a new play by Michael Aman, which imagines a relationship between the elderly Hogan and a woman sent to care for him as he ponders mortality and his sullied legacy. Weylin Symes directs, with the powerful Johnny Lee Davenport filling Hogan’s tap shoes.
Central Square Theater
Underground Railway Theater presents the world premiere of Chantal Bilodeau’s play, winner of the first Woodward International Playwriting Prize. Set on Canada’s Baffin Island, it looks at climate change through the lens of Inuit myth; of its eight characters, two are polar bears. Megan Sandberg-Zakian directs.
Into the Woods
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Spiro Veloudos directs this revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 musical mash-up of the Brothers Grimm. The cautionary journey beyond happily-ever-after offers a giant, a witch, a wolf, and a warning against getting what you wish for. And here it fields an outstanding cast that includes Aimee Doherty as the witch and Maurice Emmanuel Parent as Red Riding Hood’s lascivious lupine admirer.
Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre
The Boston Ballet put Pushkin on point. Here the renowned 94-year-old Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia, known for its productions of classics such as Uncle Vanya and Anna Karenina, puts him on stage in a visually stunning adaptation by director Rimas Tuminas of the Russian master’s 19th-century “novel in verse” in which love is rejected, then bitterly lost. Infused with the music of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, as well as with French and Russian folk songs, and featuring 45 actors, the production won the 2013 Crystal Turandot, Russia’s most prestigious theater award.
Carrie the Musical
SpeakEasy Stage Company
A legendary Broadway flop in 1988, this singing version of Stephen King’s tale of a bullied telekinetic teen was successfully revamped in 2012, and now drips into Boston in a production helmed by Paul Melone.
American Repertory Theater
Prospero may turn in his staff at the end of Shakespeare’s play, but you can bet there will be “magic to do” before that in this adaptation by Aaron Posner and Teller (of Penn & Teller) of the Bard’s pyrotechnic valedictory, with conjurations by Teller and songs by Tom Waits. Think “Full Fathom Five” to the tune of “Chocolate Jesus.”
Artistic honcho Peter DuBois helms the Huntington Theatre Company’s world premiere of Lydia Diamond’s new play, an exploration of the tricky topic of race set during the 2008 presidential contest. Based on academic research on “implicit biases,” it asks whether our prejudices might be wired into us. The collab has good karma: HTC’s production of Diamond’s Stick Fly hit Broadway in 2011.
Central Square Theater
The Nora Theatre Company presents this solo show starring terrific Shakespeare & Company vet Tod Randolph as the pioneering journalist Dorothy Thompson, who was married to Sinclair Lewis and thrown out of Germany by Hitler himself. Largely forgotten today, the subject of Norman Plotkin’s play was Time magazine’s second-most influential woman in America in 1939—right after Eleanor Roosevelt.