fb-pixel Skip to main content

Things to do around Boston this weekend and beyond

Kira Troilo and Jared Troilo star in "The Last Five Years," which runs through Dec. 12 at Lyric Stage Company of Boston.Mark S. Howard


Pop & Rock

PALEHOUND Ellen Kempner spent the 2010s packing venues in Boston and beyond while releasing albums that showed off her knotty, emotion-wrought songwriting and dazzling guitar skills. This year, the Palehound leader teamed up with singer-songwriter Jay Som for “Doomin’ Sun,” a riff- and harmony-heavy full-length by their joint project Bachelor. Palehound shares the stage with two locals: the storyteller and multi-hyphenate Cliff Notez and the peppy scruff-rockers Squitch. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. The Sinclair, Cambridge. 617-547-5200, sinclaircambridge.com

BOWLING SHOES This Boston- and Providence-based synthpop act, which pairs its sticky hooks with irresistibly oddball detailing and pointed lyrics, released the EP “Doomscroller,” which is cheerier-sounding than its extremely online title suggests, earlier this year. They co-headline with Connecticut sparkle-pop outfit Similar Kind. Dec. 8, 8 p.m. ONCE at the Rockwell, Somerville. oncesomerville.com


DIONNE WARWICK The soul-pop titan brings her lengthy list of hits and Twitter-beloved wit to Lynn. Dec. 9, 8 p.m. Lynn Auditorium, Lynn. 781-599-7469, lynnauditorium.com


Folk, World & Country

EZEKIEL’S WHEELS KLEZMER BAND Boston’s world-class klezmerians celebrate Hanukkah live after a pandemic absence last year. Sunday’s performance will feature the Hanukkah album that the band has just released. Dec. 5, 3 p.m. $28-$32. Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville. 617-876-4275, www.globalartslive.org

KATIE PRUITT/TRÉ BURT A fine twin bill of rootsy up-and-comers: Katie Pruitt plays the delicious, hooky, poppy folk she offered on her 2020 debut, “Expectations,” while Tré Burt brings the inner Dylan he channeled into his “Caught It from the Rye.” Dec. 5, 8 p.m. $15. Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave. www.livenation.com

MISS TESS Something cool came out of the time Miss Tess was forced to spend off the road in 2020. She and partner Thomas Bryan Eaton made “Parlor,” a home album of songs drawn from requests made during their weekly livestream, each playing a parlor guitar. Maybe they’ll pick up those guitars and play a few of those tunes on Wednesday. Dec. 8, 7 p.m. $16. The Burren, 247 Elm St, Somerville. 617-776-6896. www.burren.com



Jazz & Blues

JAZZ GUITAR SUMMIT: HOWARD ALDEN, CHERYL BAILEY & JON WHEATLEY A trio of today’s finest players join a musical conversation exploring the past and present of jazz guitar. Dec. 4, 7 p.m. $20. Follen Church Society, 755 Mass Ave., Lexington. 781-862-8043, https://lexingtoncommunityed.org/class-category/music-appreciation/

ERIN HARPE COUNTRY BLUES DUO The dynamic singer and guitarist’s acoustic twosome features her toothsome voice and six-string stylings accompanied by the ukulele bass and backing vocals of longtime partner Jim Countryman. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $14-$17. Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road, Route 2A, Shirley. 978-425-4311, www.bullrunrestaurant.com

SOUL ON SOUL — THE MUSIC OF MARY LOU WILLIAMS The NEC Jazz Orchestra celebrates the great pianist, composer, and arranger whose compositions and piano playing evolved in time with the music, from swing to post-bop. She wrote arrangements for Ellington and Goodman, mentored the bebop generation, and even played with Cecil Taylor. With guest pianist Carmen Staaf, NEC alum and 2009 winner of the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition. Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. Free, tickets required. Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Ave. www.necmusic.edu/concerts



MISTRAL MUSIC The Brookline-based chamber ensemble gathers for its annual Baroque Big Band concert, a holiday feast of sparkling baroque concertos for several instruments. Dec. 4, 5:30 p.m., Ruggles Baptist Church, Brookline; Dec. 5, 4 p.m., South Church, Andover, www.mistralmusic.org


IMANI WINDS Landing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Imani Winds presents a grand tour of music for wind quintet by composers including Henri Tomasi, Paquito D’Rivera, and Valerie Coleman. Dec. 5, 1:30 p.m. Calderwood Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 617-566-1401, www.gardnermuseum.org

NEW ENGLAND PHILHARMONIC Music director finalist Adam Kerry Boyles takes the New England Philharmonic for a spin. On the agenda: a world premiere by Michael Gandolfi, a Boston premiere by Bernard Rands, Saint-Saens’s “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso,” featuring 2021 young artist competition winner Ella J. Kim, and what might be the world premiere of the orchestral version of the aria “Jephthah’s Daughter,” by Boston luminary Amy Beach. Dec. 5, 3 p.m. Tsai Performance Center, Boston University. 855-463-7445, www.nephilharmonic.org




THE LAST FIVE YEARS Jason Robert Brown’s semiautobiographical musical about the dissolution of a marriage is a thing of intricacy and delicacy, with much depending on the execution — a challenge director Leigh Barrett more than meets, with an invaluable contribution from set designer Jenna McFarland Lord. Scene by alternating scene, Barrett maps the musical’s emotional trajectory with a combination of subtlety and lucidity. Her stars, the real-life husband and wife Jared Troilo and Kira Troilo, acquit themselves not just admirably but beautifully, in terms of both story and song. Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston. Through Dec. 12. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com


THE HALF-LIFE OF MARIE CURIE Engulfed in scandal after her affair with a married man becomes public, with the Nobel Prize committee asking her not to attend the ceremony at which she will be awarded her second Nobel, the pioneering physicist seeks refuge with her close friend, the British engineer and suffragist Hertha Ayrton. As Marie, Lee Mikeska Gardner again demonstrates her gift for inhabiting not just a character’s behavior but even, seemingly, her thought process. Debra Wise delivers a briskly commanding performance as Hertha. Lauren Gunderson’s play is directed by Bryn Boice. Through Dec. 12. Presented by The Nora@Central Square Theater. A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT production. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. Also available on-demand through Dec. 26. 617-576-9278, www.centralsquaretheater.org

ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 A “documentary musical” inspired by episodes during the first year of World War I, when German and Allied troops emerged from their trenches and shared a Christmas celebration, complete with the singing of carols, exchanges of gifts like cigarettes and plum puddings, and an impromptu game of soccer. Written by Peter Rothstein, with vocal arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. Directed by Ilyse Robbins. Music direction by Matthew Stern. Featuring Christopher Chew, David Jiles Jr., Michael Jennings Mahoney, Bryan Miner, and Gary Thomas Ng. Through Dec. 23. In addition, a digital recording will be available Dec. 9-23. Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham. 781-279-2200, www.greaterbostonstage.org/all-is-calm

THE RISE AND FALL OF HOLLY FUDGE Karen MacDonald stars as Carol, a single mother renowned for the “Holly” fudge, named after her daughter, that she makes each holiday season. Amid the pandemic Christmas of 2020, Holly (Kristian Espiritu), now in her 20s, springs a surprise on her mother by coming out to Carol and bringing home her girlfriend (Eliza Simpson). Meanwhile, noisy protests are escalating against the city councilor who lives across the street. World premiere of Trista Baldwin’s play is directed by Courtney Sale. Live onstage through Dec. 19. Then available as video-on-demand Dec. 20-Jan. 4. Production by Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678, www.mrt.org




Acrobuffos will perform "Air Play" at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts CenterNikola Milatovic

ACROBUFFOS: AIR PLAY With acrobatic high jinks, comedic movement invention, swirling snow, flying umbrellas, and rippling fabrics that float through the air, former Big Apple Circus headliners Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone (a.k.a. Acrobuffos) promise a different kind of magic — and laughter — for the season. This one’s ideal for all ages. Dec. 4. $10-$30. UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, Amherst. https://fac.umass.edu/Online/default.asp

REVIVE: A NIGHT OF COMMUNITY HEALING Evolve Dynamicz, dedicated to mental health advocacy through dance and performance, rehearsed on Zoom for 18 months before having its first in-person rehearsal. Now the company celebrates the joy of being together with a show of improvised pieces to remind us of our strength, resilience, and the power of community. Dec. 4-5 (in person both nights, with virtual option on Sunday). $8-$100. Dance Complex, Cambridge. www.dancecomplex.org

ON DISPLAY HARVARD 2021 This virtual event involving members of the Harvard dance community as well as self-selected participants from the community is part of a worldwide 24-hour movement installation created by physically integrated dance company Heidi Latsky Dance and streamed live. The annual global project involves a network of communities around the world to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Dec. 3, 4-5 p.m. Free. https://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/ofa-calendar


Visual Arts

YTO BARRADA: WAYS TO BAFFLE THE WIND Humanity’s quixotic urge to bend nature to its will has yielded no end of absurdity and disaster, some of it fictional, and, increasingly, plenty of it not. Losing control, in fact, feels like the general overlay of the 21st century, as the climate crisis accelerates and the planet spins more and more wildly. This is all familiar turf for Yto Barrada, who explores those absurdities — and those dangers — in this new show. Through December 2023. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams. 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org

FABRIC OF A NATION: AMERICAN QUILT STORIES A loosely chronological display of more than 40 quilts drawn almost exclusively from the MFA’s outstanding collection, this show subverts the notion of fusty craftwork with pieces that empower marginalized people from an array of multiracial and LGBTQIA+ communities. It spans eras, showing that quilting has always had urgent narrative purpose, from chronicling the histories of everyone from the powerful to the enslaved, through war, liberation, and the ongoing struggles of today. Through Jan. 17. Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Ave. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

JEFFREY GIBSON: INFINITE INDIGENOUS QUEER LOVE Gibson’s career survey at the Brooklyn Museum in 2020 fell victim to on-again, off-again pandemic closures, so this admittedly much-smaller show is a timely second chance. Gibson, whose work blends the aesthetics and motifs of his Choctaw-Cherokee heritage with his identity as a queer man, champions resistance on both fronts, making space for his twice-marginalized self with provocative, often-spectacular pieces that span traditional fabric and textiles, sculpture, and video. Through March 13. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. 781-259-8355, thetrustees.org/place/decordova


FRONTIER ROMANCE Asians played an enormous role in the development of the American West. Yowshien Kuo’s paintings of figures bound up or tied down in bright, surreal landscapes reflect that loaded history, the romanticized mythology of the West, and problems of assimilation, from the perspective of his own Taiwanese heritage and his experience growing up in Taipei and St. Louis. Through Dec. 24. Praise Shadows Art Gallery, 313A Harvard St., Brookline. 617-487-5427, www.praiseshadows.com


"Dreams in a Barrel Aimed at the Sky" by Yowshien Kuo courtesy of the artist



THE MAIN STAGE HOLIDAY SHOW Improv Asylum gives its featured show, a mix of pre-written sketch and improvisation based on audience suggestions with its Main Stage cast, a seasonal twist all though December. Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Dec. 4 at 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 10 p.m. $35. Improv Asylum, 216 Hanover St. 617-263-6887, www.improvasylum.com

THE MENDOZA LINE: A COMEDY SHOW After a nearly 21-month hiatus, The Mendoza Line returns to the Dugout Café with a weekly Saturday night show. This week the lineup includes Tooky Kavanagh, Stevie Baek, Gary Petersen, and the show’s producers: Janey McNamara, Liam McGurk, Rob Crean, and Thom Crowley. Dec. 4, 9 p.m. $10. The Dugout Café, 722 Commonwealth Ave. www.eventbrite.com

TICKLE ME TUESDAY COMEDY SHOW One of Boston’s newer regular nights, this is a comedy show in party mode, complete with DJ Wade spinning tunes before the show, and cameras showing the audience on big screens for crowd work. Smokey Suarez is the headliner this week with host Kool Bubba Ice. Dec. 7, 8 p.m. $15-$25. Macumba Latina, 477 River St., Mattapan. www.eventbrite.com



NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS STROLL Take a walk through dozens of twinkling trees at this event, which fits in everything from a special visit from Santa Claus to live entertainment and craft shows. At the top of Main Street, guests will get the chance to marvel at Nantucket’s 20-foot-tall tree. Dec. 3-5, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Free. Main Street, Nantucket. christmasstroll.com

SEAFESTIVAL OF TREES At Seacoast’s most popular holiday tradition, the decorated trees will dazzle you. Guests can also go ice skating at the indoor rink or even enjoy a naughty or nice brunch (with special guests the Grinch and Santa Claus) on the last day of viewing. Through Dec. 5, 11:30 a.m. Blue Ocean Event Center, 4 OceanFront North, Salisbury. seafestivaloftrees.com

MEET & GREET WITH FROZEN Do you want to build a snowman? Elsa, Anna, and Olaf are taking a trip over from Arendelle to spread the holiday joy. In addition to meeting some of their favorite characters, children can make arts and crafts, sip delicious hot cocoa, or write a letter to Santa Claus. Dec. 8, 4-6 p.m. Free. 130 Arsenal Yards Blvd, Watertown. eventbrite.com