Theater & art

Critics’ picks in Boston-area theater

Petr Metlicka

Classic collage

URBAN NUTCRACKER Set to an engaging blend of Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington, Anthony Williams’s multicultural version of the holiday classic irreverently mixes ballet and contemporary dance with a lively collage of movement styles, from hip-hop and tap to flamenco and rhythmic gymnastics. A delight. Through Dec. 23. $25-$125. John Hancock Hall.

Karen Campbell


CHINGLISH With standout performances by Celeste Oliva and Barlow Adamson, Larry Coen’s first-rate production of David Henry Hwang’s poignant comedy generates sparks from the cultural collisions that result when a Midwesterner tries to pull off a big business deal in China. Through Dec. 23. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678, www.lyric


ARABIAN NIGHTS A remount of last year’s bewitching production, again starring Evelyn Howe as the quick-thinking storyteller and Vincent Ernest Siders as the hot-tempered king. Adapted by Dominic Cooke and directed by Daniel Gidron, with visually ravishing set and puppet design by David Fichter. Through Dec. 30. Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 866-811-4111, www.centralsquare

Don Aucoin

OUR TOWN “When the theatre pretends to give the real thing in canvas and wood and metal,” playwright Thornton Wilder wrote, “it loses something of the realer thing which is its true business.” Director David Cromer’s stark production aspires to Wilder’s “realer thing” and achieves it. Through Jan. 26. Huntington Theatre Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-266-0800,

HOLIDAY MEMORIES Adapted by Russell Vandenbroucke from Truman Capote’s “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory,” this play takes us back to Capote’s Depression-era childhood in Monroeville, Ala., where a boy’s only real friend is a 60-something distant cousin who’s something of a child herself. The cast does a bit of scenery chewing, but they nonetheless deliver Capote’s message about simpler, more innocent holidays. Through Dec. 23. New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487,

Jeffrey Gantz

HALF ’N HALF ’N HALF John Kolvenbach’s newest farce is set in a theater, both onstage and backstage, and it has some hilarious moments. The play always feels like a disjointed collection of funny fragments rather than a coherent comedy, but director Kyle Fabel and the production’s cast of four clearly adore these characters and know how to make them hum. Through Dec. 23. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-9678,

Terry Byrne


TAFUTA! OrigiNation founder-director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga’s new family-oriented play with dance and music, subtitled “A Young Boy’s Search for the True Meaning of Kwanzaa,” features a multigenerational cast, including children ages 7-14. Featured ensembles are Aleye Boyz Troupe, IMANI Jr., and NIA Dance Troupe. Dec. 20-22. $18, $15 in advance. Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center, Roxbury. 617-641-1875, www.shaumba

For 12 years now, Jump! Dance Company has been presenting this original ballet based on Chris Van Allsburg’s popular children’s book. All aboard! Dec. 22-23. $10, Wheeler School Auditorium, 216 Hope St., Providence.

’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS Providence Ballet Theatre unites a professional cast with a cadre of young
performers for this show
inspired by Clement Moore’s beloved poem. Look for dancing reindeer and visions of sugar plums. Dec. 21-22. $30, $20 seniors, $15 students and children. Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Rhode
Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence. 401-456-8144, www.providence

Karen Campbell


NANCY WHITE: NEW WORK  In her smallish paintings on paper, White makes abstract geometric forms dance in closely aligned colors. The nuanced play of the hues and the small scale make for a focused, intimate viewing experience. Through Jan. 26.
Steven Zevitas Gallery,
450 Harrison Ave. 617-778-5265, www.stevenzevitas

PROCESS GOES PUBLIC: BCA ARTIST STUDIOS BUILDING EXHIBITION  At art exhibitions, we’re used to seeing the finished product. This show brings the artists into the gallery to work, so viewers can witness projects in process. Through Feb. 3. Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts,
551 Tremont St. 617-426-8835,

HEIGHT, WIDTH, DEPTH, TIME  To the three dimensions of sculpture, add a fourth. Boston Sculptors Gallery marks its 20th anniversary with a jam-packed show of sculptures by its 36 member artists and 15 alumni, with meaty artist talks on Jan. 5 and Jan. 23. Through Jan. 27. Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave. 617-482-7781,

SEAN THOMAS: SIGHT LINES  Thomas makes the industrial landscape the focus of his oil paintings and watercolors, but gritty as that may sound, the works have an ethereal quality, with spare forms washed with light, shadow, and weather’s atmospherics. Through Jan. 13. Gurari Collections, 460 Harrison Ave. 617-367-9800,

Cate McQuaid


A look at the influence of John Graham’s circle on American modernism. Through Dec. 30. Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover. 978-749-4015, www.andover

JULIANNE SWARTZ: HOW DEEP IS YOUR Inventive, poetic, and witty installations and sculpture that play with perception. Through Dec. 30. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln. 781-259-8355,

A brilliant survey of color prints in Boston, which was the first American city to introduce the technique of chromolithography. Through Jan. 12. Boston Athenaeum. 617-227-0270,

IN THE HOLOCENE A group exhibition that conceives of art as a speculative science, featuring work by John Baldessari, Marcel Broodthaers, Jack Goldstein, Joan Jonas, On Kawara, and Robert Smithson, among others. Through
Jan. 6. List Visual Arts Center.

Sebastian Smee

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