Theater & art

The week ahead: Theater

From “For Bob: Boston Painting to Benefit Robert Ferrandini” at Gallery NAGA.

Strong support

FOR BOB: BOSTON PAINTING TO BENEFIT ROBERT FERRANDINI Ferrandini, whose Danforth Art show opens Feb. 26, suffered a stroke in 2001. Now he paints with his left hand. The artists who help support him include Roger Kizik and Gerry Bergstein. Through March 1. Gallery NAGA, 67 Newbury St. 617-267-9060,

Cate McQuaid


NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH A sharp production, directed by David J. Miller, of Alan Ayckbourn’s dark satire about British residents of a suburban development who let power go to their heads after they form a crime-watch group, with catastrophic consequences. Through March 1. Zeitgeist Stage Company, at Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600,

INTIMATE APPAREL Lynn Nottage’s quietly affecting portrait of Esther, a black seamstress in 1905 New York who is trying to construct a life of fulfillment and meaning amid social and personal circumstances that make it an uphill battle. Sensitively portrayed by Mia Ellis as a blend of pragmatism and romantic longing, outward self-possession and inward struggle, Esther is a fully realized character of a kind — unheralded, undervalued, the cog rather than the big wheel — that we don’t often see represented onstage. Directed by Janice Duclos. Through March 2. Trinity Repertory Company, at Dowling Theater, Providence. 401-351-4242,



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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 be inspiring 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,


WITNESS UGANDA Griffin Matthews plays himself in this musical treatment of a story drawn from his own life — about his journey to Uganda to help build a school, only to learn the charity behind the project is a sham. The show is a joyous, wrenching experience. The script, which Matthews co-wrote with composer/partner Matt Gould, skips lightly through the preliminaries, all the better to work up to an emotional chokehold. Rousing dance breaks prove a perfect complement to Gould’s richly layered music, which ranges from street calls to a killer gospel choir. Diane Paulus directs this world premiere. Through March 16. American Repertory Theater, at Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 617-547-8300,



DEATH OF A SALESMAN The beauty of Arthur Miller’s 1949 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner is that it indicts the American dream without exonerating the American dreamer. And this Lyric Stage production directed by Spiro Veloudos resists the temptation to make Willy Loman merely the victim of the system that chews him up and spits him out. Ken Baltin as Willy and Paula Plum as his wife, Linda, may shade their characters toward your sympathy, but they never fall into sentimentality, and the rest of the cast is also first rate. Through March 15. Lyric Stage Company, Boston. 617-585-5678,



CLOSE TO CHUCK This could be one of Boston Ballet’s most compelling programs of the year, reprising Jiri Kylián’s provocative “Bella Figura” on a slate with two premieres — the company premiere of resident choreographer Jorma Elo’s “C. to C.” (“Close to Chuck”), with sets by artist Chuck Close, and the world premiere of “Resonance” by José Martinez, artistic director of the Spanish National Ballet. Feb. 20-March 2. $29-$137. Boston Opera House. 617-695-6955,

BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE DANCE COMPANY The choreographer himself is at the center of his latest full-evening work, “Story/Time.” Using chance procedures to determine order, he reads roughly 70 one-minute, mostly autobiographical stories as his dancers perform snippets from 30-plus years of his choreography, with live music by Ted Coffey. Take a chance. Feb. 21-23. $25-$50. Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3103,

WINTERWORKS One of the Boston Conservatory’s big dance events of the year, this one is highlighted by a new work by faculty member Lorraine Chapman, as well as the new “In Finite Space” by alumna Margot Gelber, and premieres by dance division students with original music by composers from the Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. Feb. 20-22. $10-$15. Boston Conservatory Theater. 617-912-9222,


UNTAMED BEHAVIORS This concert by New England Movement Arts spotlights the organization’s professional ballet dancers. Highlights include the premiere of Ronnie T. Thomas’s “Untamed Behaviors,” as well as a slate of variations from ballet classics like “Don Quixote” and “Le Corsaire.” Feb. 21-March 2. $27. New England Movement Arts, Burlington. 781-272-6362,



MAKING CONNECTIONS: THE ART & LIFE OF HERBERT GENTRY Jazz lover, child of the Harlem Renaissance, Gentry set down roots in Paris, Copenhagen, and New York, befriending artists as he painted vibrant, expressionistic figures. Through March 30. Boston University Art Gallery at the Stone Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Ave. 617-353-3329,

PAULETTE TAVORMINA: BLACK & BLOOM The photographer, once a prop and food stylist in Hollywood, serves up lush still lifes that echo the themes of abundance and mortality in 17th-century Dutch still lifes. With a companion exhibit at Ars Libri. Through March 29. Robert Klein Gallery, 38 Newbury St. 617-267-7997,

AWAKE Christina Balch exhibits hundreds of selfies, all taken as she wakes. Visitors may shoot self-portraits in a medicine-cabinet mirror, reenacting the morning ritual of self-examination. Gary Duehr photographs his bed every morning — do tousled sheets reveal something of the absent sleeper? Through March 8. Gallery 263, 263 Pearl St., Cambridge.



TONY MATELLI: NEW GRAVITY A brilliant show of hyper-real sculptures of men on the threshold of consciousness (including the infamous “Sleepwalker”), plus broken windows and other metaphysical gewgaws by the Brooklyn-based artist. Through May 11. Davis Museum of Art, Wellesley College, Wellesley. 781-283-2051,

CHRIS BURDEN: THE MASTER BUILDER A near-complete overview of the inimitable California artist’s small-scale erector set bridges, to mark the unveiling of a major sculpture by Burden outside the museum’s entrance. Through June 8. Rose Art Museum, Waltham. 781-736-3434,

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,

SONIA ALMEIDA: FORWARD/PLAY/PAUSE Paintings by the Lisbon-born, Boston-based artist touching on anomalies between scientific color theories and actual perception. Through April 6. List Visual Arts Center. 617-253-4680,


Don Aucoin can be reached at