Things to Do in Boston This Weekend
Concerts, films, comedy, and more.
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Leave it to Stephen Sondheim to make a musical out of the journey of American Commodore Matthew Perry’s not-terribly peaceful mission to open Japan to international trade in 1853. Perry, however, is not the star—he’s a threatening foreign presence. Rather, the rarely-performed 1976 musical revolves around the relationship between a low-level Samurai, Kayama, and Manjiro, a fisherman with knowledge of Americans. Sondheim’s music fuses Japanese and American styles.
$25-$81, through June 16, Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon St., Boston
Similar to the One Man Star Wars Trilogy, but even more insane in its ambition, this comedy is exactly what it purports to be: an attempt to zoom through all of Shakespeare’s roughly three dozen plays in an hour and a half, making hilarious mincemeat of all of that drawn-out, iambic pentameter gravitas. Eight actors, performing as the Reduced Shakespeare Company, take on the challenge, which includes dying a lot.
$20, through June 1, Unity Somerville, 6 William St., Somerville
While all those hipsters are swaying to their Pitchfork pop down the street at Boston Calling, there’s the low-key Campfire. Festival, Club Passim’s annual multi-day folk/roots/Americana etc. hootenanny, first held in 1998. The festival’s in-the-round performances still harken back to the original vision of singer-songwriters around a campfire, fostering a community spirit for performers and audience alike.
$25, Friday through May 27, Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge
Folk musician Rhiannon Giddens joins the Boston Pops for this revue of lesser-known black performers and composers, including the British-born Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a classical composer of the turn of the 20th century who won favorable comparisons to Mahler, Billy Strayhorn, a Duke Ellington collaborator who penned such hits for his boss as “Take the A-Train”, and Hazel Scott, a triple threat of Trinidadian descent who became one of America’s first Afro-Caribbean movie stars.
$30-$96, through Sunday, Symphony Hall, 301 Mass. Ave., Boston
If your country’s best-known native son is Joseph Stalin, you’re probably eager for foreigners to learn just about anything else about your country. That’s a problem Georgia has, and this series of five recent films from the small, former Soviet republic, which fostered a rich cinematic tradition during and after the days of the USSR, could be part of your own further education. It’s a mix of documentary and fiction, serious and surreal, personal and political.
$13, through Sunday, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston
Director Joanna Hogg brings us this coming-of-age film about a young film student in 1980’s Britain, played by Honor Swinton Berg, daughter of Tilda Swinton, who also plays her mother in the film. Our heroine, though shy, is full of promise and inspiration, but a romance with a charismatic older man who’s apparently a pathological liar (and who Mama Tilda does not like) threatens to push her to the brink.
$13, through May 30, Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Cambridge
Corey Rodrigues is an old school observational comic, marveling at our collective absurdities with an energetic, bemused exasperation. “Don’t act you like haven’t blocked some of your family!” he shouts, riffing about awkward relatives on social media. He’s hardly edgy or groundbreaking, but he’s got a knack for seeing the invisible cultural air we breathe, and you’d have to be living under a rock to not relate.
$20, Friday and Saturday, Nick’s Comedy Stop, 100 Warrenton St., Boston
Singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke emerged from Boston in the 90’s, making it to the majors as one half of the duo the Story and garnering favorable comparisons to such contemporaries as the Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin. Eventually Brooke went solo, but her smart, emotionally complex songs, while praised by critics, didn’t make for big enough hits, and she was dropped. Undaunted, she started her own label, Bad Dog, and she hasn’t stopped since, even delving into the world of autobiographical theater in 2014.
$25-$40, 8 p.m., City Winery, 80 Beverly St., Boston
Pretty Much It is the duo of Jacob Shao and Eric Striffler, who perform comical audio commentaries for bad movies and TV shows, similarly to Mystery Science Theater 3000, but with a more improvisational, “millennial podcaster” sorta vibe—and unlike their forebears, who loved obscure 1950’s b-movies, they often go after fairly recent Hollywood dreck. Their last few targets: Mary Kate and Ashley’s Winning London, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and the extremely fresh Netflix teen rom-com The Perfect Date.
$20, 9:45 p.m., Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St., Boston
French composer Yann Tiersen’s most widely-heard music was his soundtrack for the film Amélie, but a great deal of it was taken from his already-existing albums, making it as much a dedicated soundtrack as a secret advertisement for the musician’s back catalogue. The massive exposure gave him many more opportunities, and he’s always exploring a new angle. For his latest record, ALL, he combines music and field recordings from nature to something akin to an auditory Planet Earth.
$30-$58, 8 p.m., Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass. Ave., Boston
No, this isn’t your office’s party, it’s a party for fans of The Office, the show that made your actual office a little more bearable. Sure, the series has been off the air for six years, but if you’re a fan, is a show ever really cancelled? Trident Booksellers will be showing episodes of the modern classic sitcom, giving out Dundie Awards, holding Office Olympics and other games. There are also special drinks like “One of Everything,” and dinner comes with your ticket.
$15, 7 p.m., Trident Booksellers and Café, 338 Newbury St., Boston
Critics have frequently compared Spike Lee to Woody Allen, and if there’s any merit to the comparison, then Crooklyn is Lee’s Radio Days, a look at the world in which the auteur grew up. The 1994 film takes place in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1973, long before gentrification. It is autobiographical, but collectively—Lee wrote the film with his brother and sister, affording him a wider view and broader memory.
$12, 4:30 and 9:15 p.m., Brattle Theater, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge