Spring Arts Preview 2015

45 things to experience, see, and read before summer.

stages preview

boston spring arts preview 2015

Photograph courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Two Characters in Search of an Apocalypse

Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac await the end of the world at the A.R.T.

On paper, it would be hard to come up with two performers as different as Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac. Patinkin, of course, is a Broadway vet who currently stars in Showtime’s Homeland, though he long ago achieved pop-culture immortality as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. Mac is a drag-cabaret auteur whose five-hour-long fantasia The Lily’s Revenge debuted in Boston in 2012, and whose preferred pronoun is neither “he” nor “she” but “judy.”

Yet when the two met a few years ago, they were smitten. As a teenager, Mac absorbed Patinkin’s album of showtune standards. “I listened to it on rotation nonstop,” judy recalls. Patinkin was energized by Mac’s songwriting and theatricality, and promptly added one of Mac’s songs to his touring repertoire. They immediately agreed to work together.

The result, The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, opens at the American Repertory Theater on May 9. The concept: Climate catastrophe has destroyed the Earth, and the last survivors, lacking a common tongue, must communicate through a shared catalog of rock and Broadway songs. One hopes this will be exactly as crazy as it sounds.

Meanwhile, both performers gush about each other: “It’s a total joy for me; it’s like a healing of my inner child to work on this show,” Mac says. Patinkin allows that the show has certain parallels to their partnership: “Our relationship, for me, is a metaphor for a lot of things that I don’t really want to dictate or spell out,” he says. “I prefer to let the audience members come to their own conclusions and their own reflections about what these two souls mean to each other, and to the rest of us, and the gift that we have to fall into each other’s arms.” —S. I. Rosenbaum

Tickets start at $25, 5/12-5/31, Loeb Drama Center.

Nine Compelling Performances to Check Out This Season

Huntington Theatre Company presents Come Back, Little Sheba
March 27–April 26, Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts

William Inge’s steamy portrait of a marriage in crisis—best known for the 1952 Burt Lancaster film version—gets a staging by Obie winner David Cromer.

ArtsEmerson presents Ulysses on Bottles
April 9–25, Black Box Theatre at the Paramount Center

Three Norton award winners—Will Lyman, Karen MacDonald, and Jeremiah Kissel—team up in Israeli Stage’s North American premiere of a work about an Israeli-Jewish lawyer who takes on the case of an Israeli-Arab lit prof who’s arrested while trying to sail to Gaza on a bed of plastic bottles.

World Music/Crash Arts presents RUBBERBANDance Group
April 10–11, Institute of Contemporary Art

This gravity-defying modernist sextet makes So You Think You Can Dance look like a walk in the park.

Broadway in Boston presents Dirty Dancing
April 28–May 10, Colonial Theatre

Nobody puts Baby in a corner, indeed. Instead the main character is front and center on the floorboards, when this musical based on the 1987 hit film comes to Boston to give you, ahem, the time of your life.

ArtsEmerson presents The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)
April 30–May 3, Paramount Center Mainstage

An unlikely showstopper: This wild production is part history lesson, part meditation on modernist art genius Marc Chagall, as performed by Double Edge Theatre, an experimental ensemble based in a western Massachusetts dairy barn.

Boston Ballet, Edge of Vision
April 30–May 10, Boston Opera House

This powerhouse home stand includes the debut of a new work by in-house choreographer Jorma Elo, plus two more made-for-BB commissions by Helen Pickett and Lila York.

World Music/Crash Arts presents Momix
May 8–10, Cutler Majestic Theatre

Moses Pendleton’s crew returns with another round of cinematic choreography for the high-def 3-D age.

Celebrity Series presents Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
May 15–17, Citi Shubert Theatre

Hipster ballet: You didn’t know it was a thing, but it is. This New York-based troupe, known for importing the hottest Euro choreography, returns with a thoroughly modern program.

Huntington Theatre Company presents After All The Terrible Things I Do
May 22–June 20, Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

When a young, gay author interviews for a job at a dusty bookstore in his midwestern hometown, he soon shares a searing existential showdown with the owner.