Seven Can’t-Miss Events in Boston, December 2016

Including Rock ’n’ Roll 70, Fiddler on the Roof, and the Christmas Revels.

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Gillian Wearing, (Rock ’n’ Roll 70, 2015, and Wallpaper, 2015, Courtesy the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, and Maureen Paley, London)

Rock ’n’ Roll 70

English artist Gillian Wearing has long shaken up the art world with her photographic and video portraits of ordinary people. Whether shooting drunk teenagers, pedestrians holding provocative signs, or actors lip-syncing strangers’ confessions, she routinely shatters boundaries between the placid public face we show the world and the private confusion within.

Now, Wearing turns the camera on herself with an installation for the ICA’s Art Wall. Using self-portraits, she asked artists working with age-processing software to imagine what she would look like at age 70, with startlingly varied results. She then made a wallpaper of their efforts, and over it hangs a current portrait, another age-enhanced portrait, and a blank space for a photo of herself when she turns 70. That won’t happen until 2033, so for now we can just ponder her open-ended study of time, identity, and technology.

December 9–January 1, 2018, Institute of Contemporary Art, 617-478-3100,

Fiddler on the Roof

Austin Pendleton played Motel the Tailor when this saga of love in 1900s Jewish Russia debuted on Broadway in 1964, and now he’s directing this production for the New Repertory Theatre. Playing the patriarch Tevye is local actor Jeremiah Kisse.

December 2–January 1, 2017, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 617-923-8487,


Adapted from Sarah Waters’s popular novel, this thriller follows a pickpocket through Victorian London as she aids a fellow thief in stealing a fortune from a young heiress. Saugus native Tracee Chimo plays the lead.

December 4–January 8, 2017, Loeb Drama Center, 617-547-8300,

The Glass Universe

Dava Sobel (Galileo’s Daughter) is a master of making stories about scientific discovery accessible and emotionally resonant. Her latest book salutes the unheralded women who analyzed the half a million glass photographic plates of the stars at the Harvard College Observatory in the mid-1800s. Sobel chronicles some 70 years in which they determined such crucial information as a scale for measuring distances across the universe.

Out December 6, Viking, $30.

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Ballroom Thieves. / Courtesy Photo

Boston Music Awards

Our version of the Grammys takes the stage this month, featuring 33 awards honoring best artists in a range of genres, venues, and music blogs. The event features performances from nominees such as the Ballroom Thieves (above), Michael Christmas, Bearstronaut, and Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz.

December 8, House of Blues,

The Christmas Revels

For more than 40 years, Revels has explored the holiday season through the lens of varied cultural traditions. This year, the musical company celebrates the French-immigrant take on the winter solstice with songs originating from northern Acadia to Cajun Louisiana.

December 9–27, Sanders Theatre, 617-972-8300,

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Courtesy Photo

Urban Nutcracker

Choreographer Tony Williams’s vibrant take on the ballet follows heroine Clarice on adventures through Kenmore Square, Chinatown, and the Public Garden. Enjoy bedazzled costumes, a black-lit battle with the Mouse King, and a score mixing Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington.

December 16–31, Back Bay Events Center, 888-596-1027,