Theater & art

EVENTS

Upcoming arts events around Boston

Wilde ways

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Director David Hyde Pierce has reimagined Oscar Wilde’s Victorian-era comedy of manners as a tale of American mobsters on the lam in Britain in the 1930s. But for all the fedoras, guns, and rat-a-tat-tat patter, this is not “WildeFellas.’’ It’s recognizably, and enjoyably, Oscar. Pictured: Amy Spanger and Helen Cespedes.
Through July 14. Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown. 413-597-3400, www.wtfestival.org

Don Aucoin

Theater

HEDDA GABLER In the inaugural production of the actor-led Harbor Stage Company, Brenda Withers delivers one of the must-see performances of the year. Withers conjures a Hedda who freezes the blood and pierces the heart, commanding our fascinated attention while remaining ultimately unknowable. Through July 14. Harbor Stage
Company, Wellfleet. 508-349-6800,
www.harborstage.org

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DR. RUTH, ALL THE WAY Playwright Mark St. Germain gives relatively short shrift to Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s career as a sex therapist who became a household name, but he digs deep into the story of her eventful, tragedy-scarred life before the celebrity. In the title role, Debra Jo Rupp (“That ’70s Show’’) reminds us what an accomplished stage actress she is. Through July 21. Presented by Barrington Stage Company. At Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, Pittsfield. 413-236-8888, www.barrington stageco.org

TOTEM Virtuosity topped with Vegas cheese: It’s the tried-and-true Cirque du Soleil recipe, and it works well in this show, written and directed by the ubiquitous Robert Lepage, a man who knows a thing or two about juggling. Through Aug. 5. Presented by Cirque du Soleil. At Big Top, Boston Marine Industrial Park. 800-450-1480, www.cirquedusoleil.com/totem

Don Aucoin

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CAR TALK: THE MUSICAL!!! Based on NPR’s popular call-in program, this show might seem an unlikely proposition. But with the help of Tom and Ray Magliozzi, who contributed their voices to the project, Wesley Savick has cobbled a wacky plot, clever song parodies, the brothers’ trademark outrageous puns, and a fine cast into a production that’s running like a top. Extended through Sept. 2. Presented by Underground Railway Theater and Suffolk University. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 866-811-4111, www.centralsquare
theater.org

Jeffrey Gantz

Dance

JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL Two dynamite programs make this the festival’s hands-down don’t-miss weekend. “The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth,” an homage to dance pioneer and Pillow founder Ted Shawn, gathers a rotating cast of nearly two dozen star dancers and choreographers to perform solos and share personal stories, while Tero Saarinen’s Shaker-inspired “Borrowed Light” is one of the most striking, memorable works of the past decade. Through July 15. $35-$64. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Becket. 413-243-0745, www.jacobspillow.org

Two artists are better than one

TWO ALIKE This collaboration between choreographer-performer Jack Ferver and sculptor Marc Swanson explores the dark humor and pathos of coming of age and coming out. Co-presented by Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy and the Institute of Contemporary Art. July 12, 8:30 p.m. $25, $20 students. Institute of Contemporary Art. 978-402-2339, www.summerstagesdance.org

Karen Campbell

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VACANTI BALLETS University of Massachusetts Amherst assistant professor Thomas Vacanti presents an evening of his latest choreography, including the Baroque court dance-inspired “Rinforzare” and a new collaboration with video artist Mark Piaget. Guests include North Atlantic Ballet and LeeRoc Dance.
July 13-14. $10 suggested donation (tickets sold only at the door). Boston University Dance Theater. www.thomas vacanti.com

ACT TWO: SEVEN POLISHED HEARTS Shakespeare & Company founding member Susan Dibble has enriched the company’s productions for over three decades with her distinctive choreography. This dance concert is a tribute to seven dancers and actresses who have most profoundly influenced her work. July 13, 7:30 p.m. $30. Shakespeare & Company,
Lenox. 413-637-3353, www.shakespeare.org

Karen Campbell

Galleries

DERRICK ADAMS: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DERRICK: PERFORMATIVE OBJECTS IN FORMATION Adams’s work toys with ideals and icons of pop culture. Videos of and objects from performances pull apart memes about educational television, art, and more. Through Sept. 23. Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, 551 Tremont St. 617-426-8835, www.bca
online.org

THE SPACE IN BETWEEN
A follow-up to last summer's “Not About Paint” show, which delved into sculptural approaches to painting, this exhibit steps into the increasingly blurry boundary between painting and photography. Artists include Tamar Halpern, Sam Moyer, and Ned Vena. Through Aug. 18. Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave. 617-778-5265, www.stevenzevitasgallery .com

MARIAN BROWN: FABRICS OF MEANING Brown asked loved ones to donate meaningful clothing, which she soaked, mashed, and pressed into handmade paper. These works, made of that paper, play with composition and negative space to highlight the material itself. Through Aug. 31. Open Door Gallery, VSA Massachusetts, 89 South St. 617-350-7713, www.vsamass.org

Cate McQuaid

Museums

ANSEL ADAMS: AT THE WATER’S EDGE Famous and lesser known photographs of water in all its various forms by the celebrated American photographer. Through Oct. 8. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 866-745-1876, www.pem.org

JASPER JOHNS/IN PRESS: THE CROSSHATCH WORKS AND THE LOGIC OF PRINT A fascinating, in-depth look at the print works and print-derived paintings of this seminal postwar American artist. The show was organized by Harvard students. Through Aug. 18. Harvard Art Museums. 617-495-9400, www.harvardartmuseums.org

SCRIMSHAW: SHIPBOARD ART OF THE WHALERS Hundreds of examples of scrimshaw — sperm whale teeth, walrus tusks, and whalebone carved and decorated on ships by whalers — from the world’s finest collection. New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford. 508-997-0046, www.whalingmuseum.org

OH, CANADA An ambitious, large-scale survey of the best of contemporary art from Canada. Through April 1, 2013. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca .org

Sebastian Smee

Tree tops

JOAN BACKES: HOME Backes approaches trees from every angle, from the smallest detail of bark to over-arching conceptual possibilities, such as shelter. She makes paintings, takes rubbings, and, perhaps most impressively, builds a three-story “Bamboo House.” Through Aug. 12. Dedee Shattuck Gallery, 1 Partners Lane, Westport. 508-636-4177, www.dedeeshattuckgallery.com

Cate McQuaid

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