Things to Do

The Weekender: ‘Coco,’ Clara, Jay-Z, and Spike

Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” runs Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at the Opera House.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/file
Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” runs Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at the Opera House.

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Well hello folks, and gobble gobble!

Actually, scratch that. If you’re anything like this newsletter (which tends to be overstuffed as a baseline) you’ve done quite enough gobbling for one day. Possibly an entire week. And it could very well be that the last thing you need is a full menu of things to do this weekend — let alone ones that require you to stand up. 

I get it; I do. But there ain’t a mountain of mashed potatoes high enough to keep me from getting this weekend’s best events to you — everything from ballets and plays to comics and MCs to Manet and Disney. Should you still have time to spare following this week’s spread, might I suggest visions of sugar plums dancing in your head? (The real ones aren’t very good for you.) 


Wrap up those leftovers and let’s go!

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GET CRACKIN’: The fit of your pants (or lack thereof) is one way to tell that Thanksgiving has come and gone. The arrival of “The Nutcracker” is the other. Boston Ballet’s annually ballet-hooed indulgence in Tchaikovsky’s beloved winter warmer kicks off on Friday at the Boston Opera House, and if you thought wrangling your kids together to get them seated in the rows was a headache, allow us to introduce you to Miranda Weese, a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet who has taken the reins as children’s ballet master, keeping 230 young dancers focused — without an iPad in sight. Find tickets here. Please note: Performance features equipment that processes nuts. 

‘PURPLE’ REIGN: In a short essay for the Globe this past week, the poet and novelist Alice Walker writes of her landmark work “The Color Purple” that it’s a book that ultimately asks if we can “find the thrown-away or broken parts of ourselves and reclaim and fix them.” It’s a redemptive path through the narrative that felt missing from the well-regarded film adaptation, but it defines the Tony-winning musical adaptation, which arrived this week at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre in a streamlined new touring production directed by John Doyle that runs through Dec. 3. And in his review, Globe theater critic Don Aucoin singles out star Adrianna Hicks for praise: “Her performance as Celie is nothing short of transcendent.” Find tickets here.

ACTUAL JOSHING: You may have heard the comedic stylings of aggressively nice person Josh Gondelman distilled through the writers’ rooms of “Billy on the Street” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” but it’s even more likely you’ve at some point stumbled across the spongeworthy Twitter feed he co-created, “Modern Seinfeld,” which enjoyed a rich but limited lifespan proposing contemporary “Seinfeld” plotlines (e.g. “Jerry gets paranoid about his girlfriend’s past when her iPhone automatically connects to the Wi-Fi at Newman’s apartment”). His “Team Wolf” tour comes to Laugh Boston for a set on Friday and two more on Saturday. Maybe he’ll do that bit about how amazing Massachusetts is! (Because weed! And gays! And suicide?) You can grab tickets here.

DENIS THE CENTRIST: Last week, Denis Leary threw the successful return-to-form 23rd installment of “Comics Come Home” at TD Garden — a show that brought him to a reassuring realization: “OK, so it’s not just me. Everybody sort of feels like they do need to take a shower after this election.” On Sunday, Leary brings his book of reality checks to the smaller stage of the Wilbur Theatre as part of his tour for “Why We Don't Suck: And How All of Us Need to Stop Being Such Partisan Little Bitches” — which might sort of be like the cleansing shower he was referring to (plus the one from “Silkwood”). You can find tickets here.

A scene from “Coco.”
A scene from “Coco.”

GREAT BEYOND: “Most of ‘Coco’ takes place in the Land of the Dead,” writes the Globe’s Ty Burr of Disney/Pixar’s latest, “but the movie never stops overflowing with life.” In his 3½-star review, Burr says the film is “so exuberantly visual that it feels as if you’re sticking your head inside the collective unconscious of an entire culture” and calls it “a day-glo firecracker.” (Check out the Globe’s chat with lead story artist Dean Kelly — a Chelmsford native and RISD grad — who’s now at work on “The Incredibles 2.” ) “Coco” is now screening. And should you take the kids? “Oh, heck, yes, older ones and mature younger ones,” writes Burr, “And be ready for some interesting conversations afterward.”

‘ROMAN’ HOLIDAY: Also in theaters this post-turkey weekend is “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” a somewhat scattered but compelling thriller written and directed by Dan Gilroy ( “Nightcrawler”) and starring Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell. Burr calls it “mostly a character study in search of a plot” in his 2½-star review, “but since it’s Washington playing the character, you don’t much mind.”  We’ve seen many a Denzel over the decades, but in “Roman” we have “the first time he’s had a chance to play a nerd,” says Burr. “It’s fascinating.” Now screening.

APOLOGY TOUR: You’re going to need some actual mobility and even some energy to fully rise to this occasion, but Jay-Z comes to town on Saturday night, bringing his “4:44 Tour” (and a whole lot of sorries to Bey) to TD Garden. Be sure to check out Julian Benbow’s appreciation of the multifaceted icon, brush up in advance by reading Astead Herndon’s fine unpacking/decoding of some key “4:44” moments, squint your ears to hear if he’s talking about the Bruins at some point, and get there nice and early for an opening set from Vic Mensa. You can still find tickets here.

PRINTS PLUS: And finally from the outside world, a pair of solid art exhibitions (with benches here and there!). At Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, “The Impressionist Line: From Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec” investigates the unlikely media of prints and drawings from an aesthetic movement more known for its washes of paint. Along with works from the titular artists are woodcuts from Gauguin, etchings from Manet, and Monet’s drawings. That’s up through Jan. 28. More information here. Meanwhile, at Worcester Art Museum, “Coming Away: Winslow Homer and England in 1881” documents the artist’s transformative travels to the small fishing village of Cullercoats, and offers a more complex view of Homer than we usually grant the painter. That’s up through Feb. 4. More information here.

OR STAY IN! That was a pretty good list, but I know what I’m up against. This is Thanksgiving weekend, so you’re either watching men cause long-term damage to each other in pursuit of a fancy ring or you’re indulging in one of the many glorious marathons that have become synonymous with the post-Turkey Day weekend. There’s a handy list here, but all you really need to know is an “Ancient Aliens” odyssey (History) on Friday, a Viking funeral of sorts for “Fixer Upper” (HGTV) on Saturday, and a visit to simpler (like, way simpler) times via “Jersey Shore” (MTV) on Sunday.

DeWanda Wise in the Netflix series “She's Gotta Have It.”
David Lee/Netflix
DeWanda Wise in the Netflix series “She's Gotta Have It.”

Meanwhile, Spike Lee has adapted his early breakthrough “She’s Gotta Have It” into a 10-episode series for Netflix, and Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert is glad he did. The new “She’s Gotta Have It,” he says, “is a lovely expansion of the original, as it explores the eternal clashes between gender, sex, and romance, as well as the current tsunami of gentrification and its racial impact in Brooklyn.”

And don’t forget to check out Burr, Gilbert, and Nicholas Quah’s virtual buffet of family friendly media snacks to help mix things up a bit — from movies to bingeable TV series to podcasts – i.e. everything you need to prevent unsavory holiday conversation. 

And that, faithful Weekenders, is all I’ve got for you this weekend. Will any of these options be a match against a fridge crammed with Tupperware surprises? That’s none of my business. But however you spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday. 

See you next week!

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur