The Cultural To-Do List: November 2015

Your guide to this month's events.


Photograph by Blake Fitch (Vanya, 2012, from the series “Dress Rehearsal”)

“Dress Rehearsal”

At some point, most parents of young girls find themselves involuntarily immersed in princesshood. This rite of passage can be more profound than mere dress-up, as daughters explore their sense of identity through Disneyesque stock characters. In this new exhibition at the Miller Yezerski Gallery, Reading photographer Blake Fitch examines the complexity of the phase using lush, gently surreal portraiture of “princesses”—one wears a space helmet, another stands in a river, all are somewhat inscrutable.

Fitch’s own princess-obsessed daughter made her hyper-aware of the debate over whether dress-up is harmful, empowering, or merely transient. And yet as she worked on this photo series, Fitch discovered that the frilly outfits belied the sophistication of their wearers. “When shooting these [young girls],” Fitch says, “I wanted them to have an introspective quality and to subtly convey a sense of their budding strength and independence.”

November 20–December 22, Miller Yezerski Gallery, 617-262-0550,

The Hunt for Vulcan

Back in the 1800s, before the discovery of Pluto, astronomers used Newton’s theory of gravity to try to prove that a ninth planet existed—and in 1860 they thought they had found it, calling it Vulcan. In this brisk, engaging work, MIT professor Thomas Levenson describes the mad scramble to find the planet and explains how Albert Einstein later debunked its existence, proving the theory of relativity in the process.

Out November 3, Random House, $26.

John Cleese

Monty Python, A Fish Called Wanda, Fawlty Towers: John Cleese is perhaps the all-time hero of British comedy. Now this minister of silly walks is making an appearance in Boston for a one-man show featuring stories from his recently released autobiography, So, Anyway.

November 3, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 617-824-8000,

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic/BaBa ZuLa

When the legendary Somerville music club Johnny D’s closes in early 2016, its eclectic lineups will be sorely missed. This night’s program is a prime example: The early show is Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, the art-rock quartet first formed out of Boston’s iconic Mission of Burma in 1980. The late performance, meanwhile, is Istanbul band BaBa ZuLa, which fashions a unique psychedelia out of Turkish music and bass-heavy dub.

November 5, Johnny D’s Uptown, 617-776-2004,

Comics Come Home

This annual guffawpalooza returns to raise money for the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. With Denis Leary back as host, the star lineup includes Louis CK, Jimmy Fallon, Ray Romano, and Steven Wright.

November 7, TD Garden, 800-745-3000,

Boston Bhangra Competition

Over the past several years, bhangra has become an internationally popular dance style and a stew of influences, combining traditional Punjabi moves and music with reggae, hip-hop, and EDM. Now in its 12th year, our local bhangra playoffs will feature 12 of the best dance teams from North America, all vying for the spangled crown.

November 14, Orpheum Theatre, 617-448-2508,

The Snow Queen

This Hans Christian Andersen tale is most famous for loosely inspiring some small-budget flick called Frozen. But a different musical adaptation emerged two years ago out of California, this one more faithful to the original story of a girl named Gerda who must save her friend from the icy clutches of the titular character. Now the New Rep is staging the show’s New England premiere, with nary a “Let It Go” within earshot.

November 28–December 20, New Repertory Theatre, 617-923-8487,