You could say that Susan Bennett was trying to think outside of the box — and inside the punch bowl — when she designed Friday evening’s installment of the Cronin Lecture Series.
Normally this series, hosted by the Lexington Historical Society, of which Bennett is executive director, features just what its name promises — a lecture. But Bennett felt that something a little bit more colorful might be in order to honor Lexington’s tricentennial year.
So she turned to interpretive actor and musician Jeremy Bell, who had just the thing to spice up the series. Along with frequent collaborator Lawrence Young, Bell will present “Rum and Revolution,” a performance that takes a slightly different view of history, at 8 p.m. Friday at the downtown Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Square.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the history of alcoholic beverages,” said Bell, “and rum has a unique place in Revolutionary history. Benjamin Franklin told of drinking rum punch — essentially what bartenders now call a Dark and Stormy — as he wrote.”
The British-born Bell, who once had a job as a costumed historical character promoting rum on the beaches of Bermuda, has done his research.
“The audience will see two Colonial fools pulling out the juiciest bits of history,” he said. “Our show has lots of music, too: some of it sung and some performed on Colonial instruments like the recorder. We’ll be joined by the Colonial Singers from the Lexington Historical Society. We’ll bring history to life with a monologue on ladies’ fashions of the time, and we’ll challenge the audience with some 18th-century riddles.”
Bell and Young will explore the manners and mannerisms of the age with jokes and little-known facts about the American Revolution.
Their audience will hear the tale of John Hancock’s “Madeira riots” of 1768, find out what the Liberty Song was, and learn how a tavern song became our national anthem.
But that’s not all, Bell said. “Since the Historical Society is billing this as a 21-and-over event, we’ll also serve samples of rum punch from our punch bowl so that audience members can taste what the Founding Fathers might have been drinking. I’ll be bringing my nutmeg grater.”
Bennett conceded that this is quite a departure for the normally staid Lexington Historical Society, a premier interpreter of the events of the American Revolution, and yet it makes sense to her.
“Two of the Historical Society’s three historic houses were once taverns — the Munroe Tavern and the Buckman Tavern,” she pointed out. “Tavern life in Colonial times is actually a big part of our interpretation, focusing on taverns not just as drinking spots but gathering places for the community.”
Admission to the event is $10; for reservations, call 781-862-1703.
TRADITIONAL PUPPETS: The Arlington Center for the Arts presents “Monkey and the Mystery of the Snake,” an adaptation of a traditional Chinese folk tale performed by Margaret Moody and her Galapagos Puppets, on Saturday at 2 p.m., 41 Foster St. in Arlington.
Tickets for the family show are $6, and can be reserved by e-mailing galapagospuppets@ gmail.com. All are invited to make a simple Chinese Zodiac animal puppet after the performance.
For more information, go to www.acarts.org.
FAMILY FUN: Rollicking family singer Wayne Potash celebrates the upcoming release of his seventh CD Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St. in Framingham.
The program includes Potash singing, and playing guitar, banjo, and ukulele. He encourages participation through sing-alongs, clapping, dancing, and a jumping contest. Tickets are $10, or $8 for Amazing Things members.
For tickets or more information, call 508-405-2787 or go to www.amazingthings.org.
JAZZ WITH HEART: Vocalist Rebecca Parris and her trio perform a Valentine’s-themed show, “In Love with Parris,” Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St. in Arlington.
Tickets are $18 to $28. For more information, call 781-646-4849 or go to www.regenttheatre.com.
FUNNY STAGE: The Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center will host a spoken word festival called “What’s the Word” Saturday at 8 p.m. at 333 Nahanton St. in Newton.
The event will feature renowned writers and storytellers Larry Smith, Vanessa Hidary, Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, Steve Almond, Lou Cove, Piper Kerman, and Rachel Sklar sharing personal stories, songs and poetry. At the show’s end, audience members will be invited to share their own memoirs during a six-word slam.
WHODUNIT: Theatre with a Twist Inc. presents “Café Murder,” the first play in the ensemble’s new murder mystery theater series, 7 p.m. Saturday at 278 Great Road in Acton.
In “Café Murder,’’ audience members cast a vote to determine which of many colorful suspects is to be blamed for the disappearance of Rosemary Saint-John. Tickets are $25 and include dessert and tea or coffee. Visit www.theatrewithatwist.org or call 978-302-0985 for more information.
OPERA IN BIG EASY: Opera del West returns to the Center for Arts in Natick with its production of “An Embarrassing Position,” being performed Sunday at 7 p.m. at 14 Summer St. in Natick.
Winner of the National Opera Association’s 2013 Chamber Opera Competition, Dan Shore’s New Orleans-themed comic opera also won first place at the association’s annual convention, held last month in Portland, Ore.
Tickets are $25, or $20 for TCAN members. For tickets or more information, call 508-647-0097 or go to www.natickarts.org.
SHOWS AT THE ROSE: Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum has two shows opening Wednesday: “On the Matter of Abstraction (figs. A & B),” an installation curated by Los Angeles-based artist Walead Beshty in collaboration with Rose director Christopher Bedford; and “Coerced Nature,” a series of video installations by British artist Sam Jury.
An opening reception will be held Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the museum, 415 South St. in Waltham., where the exhibitions will be on view through June 9. Admission is free.
For more information, call 781-736-3434 or go to www.brandeis.edu/rose.Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com. Please put the date of your event in the subject line.