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The week ahead: Theater, art, and museums

Michel Cavalca

Movers and shakers

COMPAGNIE KÄFIG Showcasing 11 young dancers from the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, this innovative French company led by Mourad Merzouki fuses hip-hop, samba, street dance, martial arts, and gymnastics into an infectious, foot-tapping experience. Since its US debut a little over a decade ago, the troupe has become an international sensation. Feb. 7-9. $60-$75. Celebrity Series at Citi Shubert Theatre. 617-482-6661, www.celebrityseries.org

KAREN CAMPBELL

Theater

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THE WHIPPING MAN Though it takes a couple of detours into potboiler territory, Matthew Lopez’s drama is on balance an unflinching exploration, in vivid close-up, of slavery’s ugly legacy. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush and anchored by Johnny Lee Davenport’s fine performance as Simon, a former slave hoping to be reunited with his wife and daughter. Through Feb. 16. New Repertory Theatre, at Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

THE COLOR PURPLE Director Paul Daigneault brings his usual vitality and dexterity to this musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s story about a woman who emerges with her identity and spirit intact despite years of abuse. The strong cast includes Lovely Hoffman as Celie, Maurice Emmanuel Parent as Mister, and Crystin Gilmore as Shug Avery. Through Feb. 8. SpeakEasy Stage Company, at Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

COMPANY Stephen Sondheim was at the peak of his powers when he composed this 1970 musical (with a book by George Furth) about Bobby, a bachelor with commitment issues, and the panoply of married friends who surround and besiege him. David Carney portrays Bobby, and Leigh Barrett plays the deliciously jaded Joanne. Hearing the redoubtable Barrett sing “The Ladies Who Lunch’’ might be worth the price of admission in itself. Directed by Allison Olivia Choat. Feb. 7-March 1. Moonbox Productions, at Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.moonboxproductions.org

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NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH For the fifth year in a row, Zeitgeist Stage Company makes room on its schedule for a work by the amazingly prolific Alan Ayckbourn. It’s a dark satire about a brother and sister who form a neighborhood watch group, with dire consequences. Feb. 7-March 1. Zeitgeist Stage Company, at Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.zeitgeiststage.com

AMERICAN IDIOT The scorching rock musical about an alienated trio of friends who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, with music by Green Day and lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. Directed by Michael Mayer, with choreography by Steven Hoggett and orchestrations by Tom Kitt. Feb. 7-9. Broadway in Boston, at Boston Opera House. 800-982-2787, www.broadwayinboston.com

DON AUCOIN

HAIRSPRAY An irresistible score combined with an outstanding cast make this production a highlight of the theater season. Director Susan Kosoff and musical director Matthew Stern have cast the show with a healthy mix of familiar faces and new talent to populate Baltimore circa 1962, and every performer seems to inspire the others to up their game. There is not one weak link in this 36-member-strong company, who deliver the show’s message of tolerance with such energy, humor, and optimism, they’ll send you out of the theater singing and dancing for joy. Through Feb. 23. Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston. 617-879-2300, www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org

TERRY BYRNE

Dance

NACHMO BOSTON 2014 The second annual National Choreography Month celebration in Boston, hosted by Intimations Dance, taps into the area’s vibrant dance scene with concerts featuring 25 local choreographers presenting new dance work created during the month of January. Styles range from tap and jazz to postmodern, and the roster is different each night. Performers include tapper Ryan P. Casey, Sarah Mae Gibbons, Impact Dance Company, Meghan McLyman, and more. Feb. 7-8, $10. Green Street Studios, Cambridge. 617-967-7135, www.brownpapertickets.com

SOUTH ASIAN SHOWDOWN 2014 South Asian Nation’s fifth annual competition pits top Bollywood dance teams from across the country against some of the most innovative South Asian Fusion teams in a rowdy, good-natured, eye-popping smackdown to determine which style rules. Feb. 8, 6 p.m. $20-$100. John Hancock Hall. 617-448-2508, www.southasianshowdown.com

KAREN CAMPBELL

Galleries

LIVING AS FORM (THE NOMADIC VERSION) Social practice art engages the public in projects that reframe social issues. This show features local practitioners alongside big names such as Ai Weiwei and Suzanne Lacy. Feb. 7–April 6. Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. 617-495-3251, www.ves.fas.harvard.edu

CULLEN WASHINGTON JR.: LAND BEFORE WORDS Washington uses detritus to build up his paintings on unstretched canvases. Earlier works deploy pop culture images in dark, abstracted fields; newer paintings dive deeper into abstraction with patterns and grids. Through March 30. 808 Gallery, Boston University, 808 Commonwealth Ave. 617-353-3371, www.bu.edu/cfa

THE WHEELS PROJECT A celebration of American car culture, from driving cross country to identifying with our vehicles, to using the car as a lens through which to view the world outside. Artists include Karl Baden and Bill Burke. Through Feb. 22. Lincoln Arts Project, 289 Moody St., Waltham. www.lincolnartsproject.com

WICKED WINTER There may be no escaping the drudgery of winter save for fleeing to warmer climes, but here’s another option: a group photography exhibit featuring visual puns by Kevin Van Aelst, ethereal light drawings by Larry Pratt, and more. Through March 12. Panopticon Gallery, 502c Commonwealth Ave. 617-267-8929, www.panopticongallery.com

CATE MCQUAID

Museums

IMPRESSIONISTS ON THE WATER Sixty paintings, works on paper, models, and small craft explore the affinity of French Impressionists such as Monet, Sisley, Caillebotte, and Renoir for boating and the water. Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Through Feb. 17. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500. www.pem.org

MACHINES AND MECHANIZATIONS: EXPLORATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY KINETIC SCULPTURE A survey of sculpture with moving (and often audible) parts, including work by Kim Bernard, Christ Fitch, Erica von Schilgen, and Mark Davis. Through June 1. Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton. 508-588-6000, www.fullercraft.org

FIRED EARTH, WOVEN BAMBOO Sixty contemporary Japanese ceramics and baskets from the Stanley and Mary Ann Snider collection, recently given to the MFA. Through Sept. 8. Museum of Fine Arts. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

2013 DECORDOVA BIENNIAL New England’s contemporary artists are featured in this closely watched survey featuring work in all media. Through April 13. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln. 781-259-8355, www.decordova.org

SEBASTIAN SMEE

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.
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