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    Things to Do

    The Weekender: Fireworks, Dylan, and a friendly giant

    Fourth of July fireworks over the Charles River in 2014.
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
    Fourth of July fireworks over the Charles River in 2014.

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    Just as America’s roiling election season threatens to drive us insane, here comes a three-day weekend dedicated to beautiful principles we all believe in. Leisure. Fireworks. Independence. Backyard barbecues. Parades of horribles (no, seriously, they’re an old New England tradition; you can attend one this weekend in Gloucester or in Glocester, R.I., to take just two examples). One way to celebrate is to join your fellow Americans (and visitors!) at one of the many attractions beckoning this weekend. It’s blockbuster concert season, with all the bounty that brings.

    LOVATO, JONAS, POPS, AND BANGS: This city might be at its best during its beloved Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Fourth of July, which brings thousands to the Hatch Shell to watch glorious explosions reflected in the Charles. This year — which longtime sponsor David Mugar has said will be his last supporting the celebration — the festivities include performances by Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, as well as country act Little Big Town. We are very proud of Marc Hirsh for asking Demi when she will finally be a full Lovato. If you want to enjoy the Monday night show from the comfort of your home, it will air starting at 9 p.m. on CBS; you can also sit in on the rehearsal on Sunday. The full schedule is here.

    Storyteller Distributuion Co./Disney
    “The BFG,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

    IT’S DELUMPTIOUS: It’s directed by Steven Spielberg, written by “E.T.” screenwriter Melissa Mathison, stars the brilliant British Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, and is adapted from Roald Dahl’s wonderful, disgusting children’s book. With that amazing pedigree, how is “The BFG,” Spielberg’s computer-enhanced version of the classic tale about an orphan named Sophie who meets a kindly, flatulent, dream-blowing giant? Eccentric but pretty darn great, says Ty Burr: less morbid than Dahl’s book, but “fun and scary-giggly and full of that broad multiplex sense of wonder that St. Steven does so well.” Three stars. Opens here Friday.


    A VISIT FROM ICONS, AMERICAN EDITION: Here’s one argument for staying cool with your ex: If you turn down his marriage proposal kindly enough, 50 or so years later you can go on tour together. “My dear friend from way back! I’ve known Bobby since 1963,” veteran soul singer Mavis Staples, now 76, tells the Globe about her onetime squeeze, the one and only Bob Dylan (75). Her new album is “Livin’ on a High Note”; his is “Fallen Angels.” The two play dates together at Tanglewood on Saturday and at Foxwoods on Sunday (and then again at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on July 14).

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    A VISIT FROM ICONS, BRITISH EDITION: Between the two of them, Peter Gabriel and Sting come to town (well, Worcester, anyway) trailed by a fairly astonishing collection of hits. They’re doing this tour, dubbed “Rock Paper Scissors,” with a big backing band, sometimes singing their own songs and sometimes sitting in on each other’s. Think “In Your Eyes,” sung by two 60-something legends at once. Saturday at the DCU Center. Tickets here.

    Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s production of “Show Boat.”
    Eric Antoniou
    Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s production of “Show Boat.”

    SHIP OF SONG: Jeffrey Gantz gives a rave review to Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s “Show Boat” at the Shubert. In this top-notch production of the 1927 Kern and Hammerstein show, which was one of the first racially integrated musicals, an “eye-and-ear-poppingly professional” cast gives a performance that Gantz says surpasses any existing version on film. Through Sunday.

    SUMMER REFRESHMENTS: A year into his tenure as Museum of Fine Arts director, Matthew Teitelbaum has presided over efforts to make the museum, as Malcolm Gay writes, “smarter, sexier, and more kaleidoscopic.” To that end, the museum has revamped several galleries, and “already,” says critic Sebastian Smee, “the museum seems rejuvenated.” Of particular note is a dazzling all-Monet room: “It’s all here, in one gallery, and it’s an unforgettable experience,” Smee writes.

    Vick Virgilio
    Ben Gram (left) and Evan Burgener of Northeastern University show off their air guitar skills.

    UNSEEN INSTRUMENTS: “From ad hoc contests in the 1980s, competitive air guitar has grown into an international sport with 20 countries hosting tournaments, culminating in the world championships, held since 1996 in Finland, the planet’s air-guitar epicenter,” notes Matthew Guerrieri. Now, for Bostonian adepts of this none-too-ancient art, the moment of truth has arrived: This Saturday the Middle East hosts the Boston semifinals of the 2016 US Air Guitar Championships. Expect spandex, leather, contorted faces, and windmilling arms. Tickets here.


    DANCE TAKES A VACATION: You might need to get there by car or boat, but two excellent dance options unfold out of town this weekend. Che Malambo, an all-male troupe of 14 Argentine gauchos who dance with drums and lassos, appear at Jacob’s Pillow, Friday through Sunday. At The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday, MacArthur “genius” Michelle Dorrance’s company Dorrance Dance takes tap to a new level by harnessing electronic tap “instruments.”

    WHERE JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MEET: The Harlem Quartet, a Grammy-winning young foursome trained at New England Conservatory, have made it their mission to advance diversity in classical music while also dipping into jazz. At the Rockport Chamber Music Festival on Friday, they’ll be joined by acclaimed Cuban jazz pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilan, playing his compositions along with jazz classics. (In 2012, Geoff Edgers caught the quartet at a moment of transition in this two-part profile.) Tickets and more info are here.

    DON’T KILL THE ALBATROSS: In a production of “Albatross” at Gloucester Stage Company, adapted from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’’ Benjamin Evett reprises his award-winning solo performance as Coleridge’s anguished sailor. The piece’s imaginative set includes projections of maps and sails. Last chance to see it is Sunday.

    Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
    Maxwell performs in Sydney, Australia, in 2014.

    OR STAY IN! The new show “Marcella,” written by Swedish crime drama master Hans Rosenfeldt (“The Bridge”) and set in London, and starring the compelling Anna Friel, starts streaming Friday on Netflix. That’s pronounced “Mar-chella,” according to the Guardian, which declared the show “hugely promising.” Albumwise, soul singer Maxwell has a stunning new record, “blackSUMMERSnight.” Says Maura Johnston: “His deeply felt meditations on matters of the heart and the soul are matched by the meticulously detailed, gorgeously rendered music that surrounds them.” And if you’re looking for a book to sprawl in the sun with over this long weekend, may we direct you to our master summer reading list? Seven critics have rounded up a giant haul of fiction, sports books, mysteries, and other choice titles, both old and new.

    Happy Fourth of July, and see you next week!

    Amanda Katz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @katzish.