Fall Arts Preview 2017

Matthew Reed Baker's guide to this season's events.


Courtesy of Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Fine Arts

“Soong Mayling: Paintings”

This concise exhibit is not only a fine display of traditional Chinese brush painting, but also a reintroduction to one of Wellesley College’s most illustrious alumna. Soong Mayling graduated with the class of 1917 and went on to marry Chiang Kai-shek, thus becoming half of a power couple that led post-Imperial China and then exiled Taiwan. By the time she died in 2003, at age 106, she’d witnessed a vast tapestry of history—and learned how to paint landscapes of her homeland.

During a 1958 pilgrimage to her alma mater, she donated five paintings to the Davis Museum; they’re now on display to mark the centenary of her graduation. “I’m excited for people to learn about her as an artist and as an alum, not just as a political figure,” says Ningyi Xi, the Davis intern who researched and curated the exhibit. —Casey Russell

September 19–December 17, Davis Museum, 781-283-2051, wellesley.edu/davismuseum.

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The Orville

Set 400 years in the future, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s new live-action TV show on Fox centers around the titular spaceship and a crew that explores the universe with MacFarlane’s trademark New England snark.

Starts September 10, fox.com/the-orville.

Boston Comedy Festival

Laugh it up in Davis Square at this 18th annual event, which fills such venues as the Somerville Theatre, the Burren, and the Rockwell with standup competitions, plus a taping of Comedy Central vet James Scott Patterson.

September 20–23, 844-424-2420, bostoncomedyfest.com.

Fine Arts

“Immortal City”

In this exhibit, artist Kevork Mourad pays tribute to the cultural history—and laments the current tragedy—of his war-torn hometown of Aleppo, Syria, through striking black-and-white canvases evoking Arabic calligraphy, textiles, and fragments of ancient walls.

September 8–January 21, Rose Art Museum, 781-736-3434, brandeis.edu/rose.

“Mise en Scène”

This year, the MFA awarded Annette Lemieux the biennial Maud Morgan Prize for being one of Massachusetts’ most vital female artists. In return, she debuts this collection featuring works inspired by classic films such as To Kill a Mockingbird.

September 24–March 4, Museum of Fine Arts, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.


Buffalo Tom

“Taillights Fade” and time passes, but legendary local band Buffalo Tom is still around—and celebrating the 25th anniversary of 1992’s Let Me Come Over, one of Boston’s biggest alt-rock albums.

September 9, Royale, 617-338-7699, royaleboston.com.

Beantown Jazz Festival

Six blocks of Columbus Avenue become the city’s “biggest block party,” with internationally renowned jazz, funk, and Latin music stars playing on two stages, along with a Blue Man Group drum-off and an “instrument petting zoo” for the kids. Bonus: It’s all free.

September 30, berklee.edu/beantownjazz.

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Cirque du Soleil returns with another immersive acrobatic extravaganza, this time with performers acting out the world of tropical insects and forests, all set to the vibrant music of Brazilian composer Berna Ceppas.

September 6–10, Agganis Arena, 800-745-3000, cirquedusoleil.com/ovo.

Warhol Capote

Based on recorded conversations between Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, this world premiere, directed by Tony winner Michael Mayer, dramatizes the two icons’ failed attempt to stage a Broadway play together.

September 9–October 13, American Repertory Theater, 617-547-8300, americanrepertorytheater.org.


Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation: The version I painted myself in annoyance after Professor Nobuo Tsuji told me, “Why don’t you paint something yourself for once?” © 2010 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., All Rights Reserved, Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; courtesy photos

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Just 30 miles north of the Allston music scene, this electronic-rock trio from Lowell has seen its star skyrocket over the past three years. They’ve played such high-profile gigs as SXSW, and their 2014 debut album, White Noise, sold almost 100,000 copies. Not bad considering the material was written when lead singer Lynn Gunn was only 19. These next few months should see them make the leap to being the next It band from Boston: For their follow-up, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell (which dropped in August), they’re touring with Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars.

“We set goals thinking the sky’s the limit,” Gunn says, “but never expected things to happen this fast. It’s been amazing.” They’re headlining their own shows on this tour, including one at the House of Blues. “I’m hoping it’ll be a magical evening with a lot of crazy energy in the room,” Gunn says. “It’s always great to come home.” —Alice Ferre

October 12, House of Blues, 888-693-2583, houseofblues.com/boston.

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My Little Pony: The Movie

The eternally adorable cartoon romps across the big screen with equine friendship and rainbows, voiced by an all-star cast led by Medfield’s own Uzo Aduba as Queen Novo.

Out October 6, mylittlepony.movie.


Matt Damon takes the lead with Julianne Moore in this dark satire about a picture-perfect town in the 1950s that hides an ugly, violent side. Boasting a Coen brothers script, it’s directed by Damon’s Ocean’s Eleven pal George Clooney.

Out October 27, paramount.com.

Fine Arts

“Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist”

In his first U.S. survey, New Bedford native Mark Dion creates playful installations of objects to show how nature collides with consumption, including a 20-foot birdcage filled with books and live finches.

October 4–January 1, Institute of Contemporary Art, 617-478-3100, icaboston.org.

Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation: The version I painted myself in annoyance after Professor Nobuo Tsuji told me, “Why don’t you paint something yourself for once?” © 2010 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., All Rights Reserved, Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Lineage of Eccentrics”

Japanese rock-star artist Takashi Murakami is perhaps best known for his Day-Glo weirdness. But this exhibit reveals the traditional influences behind his pop art, with works created in response to centuries-old Japanese pieces in the MFA’s collection.

October 18–April 1, Museum of Fine Arts, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.


BSO/Boston Pops

In this unprecedented outdoor joint concert, the Pops return to Franklin Park for the first time in 17 years, while the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays its first show there ever.

October 1, Franklin Park, bso.org.

Dinosaur Jr.

The Pioneer Valley power trio has been on a roll since reuniting in the mid-aughts, recording four albums and getting their own line of Converse All-Stars. Now their mighty rock returns to Cambridge.

October 4–5, The Sinclair, 617-547-5200, sinclaircambridge.com.


A Guide for the Homesick

In Ken Urban’s new play, an aid worker meets a stranger in an Amsterdam hotel, where both must face their haunted pasts.

October 6–November 5, Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 617-266-0800, huntingtontheatre.org.


The New Rep continues its exemplary run of David Mamet plays. This one—about a toxic relationship between a college professor and a student—stars our best local character actor, Johnny Lee Davenport.

October 14–November 5, Mosesian Center for the Arts, 617-923-8487, newrep.org.


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Strangers in Budapest

With chills lurking around each corner, this second novel by Brookline author Jessica Keener is the perfect page-turner for late autumn. It follows parents who move from Boston to post-Communist Budapest with their infant son, hoping to escape a troubled past. Yet they soon find themselves entangled with a World War II vet with a deadly agenda.

Keener was inspired to write the novel after spending a year in the Hungarian capital in the 1990s. But the plot also has roots in two deaths back home: a random shooting of a Dorchester teen, which she covered for the Globe, and the untimely death of her neighbor’s daughter. “I wanted to explore how far my characters would go when confronted with something that was potentially violent,” Keener says. “I hope that the novel and the personal dilemmas feel real enough to the reader that they’ll think about it beyond the page.” —Olivia Gehrke

Out November 14, Algonquin Books, $27.


Dana Gould

Gould, a Hopedale native, started hitting open-mike nights at age 17. Now an L.A. sketch-comedy veteran and familiar face on late-night shows, he returns to his home turf.

November 16–18, Laugh Boston, 617-725-2844, laughboston.com.

Justice League

Ben Affleck returns as Batman in the latest superhero juggernaut, accompanied by Gal Gadot, reprising her breakout role as Wonder Woman. The Flash and Aquaman show up, too.

Out November 17, justiceleaguethemovie.com.

Mark Tobey, Threading Light, 1942, © 2017 Estate of Mark Tobey/Seattle Art Museum, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fine Arts

“Threading Light”

With 70 paintings covering 50 years, this exhibit spotlights Mark Tobey, a luminary of midcentury abstract expressionism. Though similar to Pollock’s seemingly chaotic splatters and Twombly’s seemingly childlike scrawls, Tobey’s intricate webs of “white-writing” are all his own.

November 4–March 11, Addison Gallery of American Art, 978-749-4015, andover.edu/museums/addison.

“Coming Away”

’Round these parts, Winslow Homer is revered as the great painter of local seacoast life, but this show features dramatic oils he created while living in England.

November 11–February 4, Worcester Art Museum, 508-799-4406, worcesterart.org.


The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare

Imagine Sweeney Todd crossed with a medical thriller, and you get this pitch-black comic chamber opera about two 19th-century entrepreneurs who provide Edinburgh’s famed anatomy schools with bodies during a cadaver shortage.

November 8–12, Boston Lyric Opera, 617-542-6772, blo.org.

Amadeus Live”

The Mozart-Salieri rivalry lives on! While the Oscar-winning 1984 film screens in massive HD, the Handel and Haydn Society provides a live soundtrack.

November 10–12, Symphony Hall, 617-266-3605, handelandhaydn.org.


Obsidian Tear

Boston Ballet’s season opens with the Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor’s titular dance, set to music by Esa-Pekka Salonen; and a world premiere by Jorma Elo.

November 3–12, Boston Opera House, 617-695-6955, bostonballet.org.

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The State of Siege

This 1948 play by Albert Camus sounds a prescient alarm, dramatizing the creation of a totalitarian state. It’s staged with astonishing surrealism by Parisian company Théâtre de la Ville.

November 9–11, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 617-824-8400, artsemerson.org.