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The Weekender: ‘Judy’ in the flesh, yetis in the snow, and Jomama in the spotlight

Renée Zellweger stars in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy.”David Hindley

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Yikes. It’s getting real out there. Who knows what the future holds, Weekenders? Oh wait, scratch that. I do. The next few days worth of it, at least.

And while nothing in my batch o’ diversions will save the country from collapse — with the possible exception of the Judy Garland biopic — each and every one of these options can certainly spare you a few hours of the ambient anxiety the current chaos has wrought. And personally, I can’t hold this information in much longer.


Am I blowing the whistle? You’re darn tootin’. Let’s get going.

BEHIND THE RAINBOW: Because you and The Weekender have a well-established level of trust, I’ve confided in you my biopic bias: really not my jam. However, this weekend, certain other factors (one of which I’m married to) have . . . how do I put this . . . predetermined that I will be seeing “Judy,” a “movie of grotesque sentimentality” in the words of Globe film critic Ty Burr, who flings three whole stars its way, “mostly due to the full-throttle transformation of Renée Zellweger into a great star at the end of her career, a jangle of nerves and show-biz clichés who can still burst into flame onstage.” Whether you’re trying to get a glimpse of the “incandescent gargoyle that is end-stage Garland through the lens of the injuries of her youth” (a.k.a. “the full Judy”) or simply trying to keep your Gay Card from getting revoked, this one’s a surefire way to get happy. Now screening.

WINTER WARMER: Elsewhere in warm fuzzies, there’s the new DreamWorks animated feature “Abominable,” which I suppose is technically more about cold fuzzies, but which Globe film contributor Tom Russo gives three stars nonetheless. If this already seems like one too many yeti sightings at the movies (see also: “Smallfoot” and “Missing Link”) fear not: “As it turns out,” writes Russo, “not only is ‘Abominable’ as amusing as the competition, it boasts a lyricism and sweetness uniquely, sublimely its own.” Come for the girl-and-her-monster-against-the-world charms, stay for writer-director Jill Culton’s panache for “visually and tonally poetic moments.” Plus, for 97 minutes, the Arctic-inspired A/C of the multiplex will seem completely normal. Now screening.


GLAM PACKED: There’s no more “Donkey Show” to be had at the American Repertory Theater’s outre outpost Oberon, but you can still get a serious dose of diva there through Sunday at “Black Light.” The 90-minute cabaret show created by playwright and performer Daniel Alexander Jones stars his alter-ego, Jomama Jones — “a singular figure whose star quality is wrapped within an embracing persona,” writes Globe theater critic Don Aucoin. A blend of “a somewhat meandering life story with life lessons, musical performance, and politically pointed remarks” the show is a shimmering, scintillating, spiritual, and “strikingly snark-free” spectacle (featuring songs by Prince, Tina Turner, Sade, and Diana Ross) that comes right off the stage (and quite possibly onto your table). Grab tickets here.

BYRNE BABY BYRNE: Elsewhere in pop-theater mash-ups (i.e. on the other side of the river) is your last chance to catch the pre-Broadway run of erstwhile Talking Heads-head David Byrne’s “American Utopia,” at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. It’s a raucous, celebratory romp through the legendary frontman’s catalog of artfully damaged classics, as interpreted by a crack team of 11 musicians, with wild choreography and staging by Annie-B Parson. You may ask yourself, “How did I get here?” (In which case I’m going to recommend you Uber home.) It’s on stage through Saturday; find tickets here.


SOLO MISSION: Here’s the thing, dad — er, I mean, reader. You can wait and hope all you want, but there’s not going to be a Crosby, Stills & Nash reunion. I know this because we (i.e. Globe contributor Lauren Daley) asked Graham Nash himself and he said, “No. No, it’s completely over.” Which means you’re running low on chances to catch the 77-year-old “two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer/Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee/Grammy winner/Officer of the Order of the British Empire” in action. Lucky for all of us he’s at Berklee Performance Center on Sunday, playing his most recent solo albums, “Songs for Beginners” and 1973’s “Wild Tales,” in their entirety, “plus other favorites from the Hollies, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.” Why am I nagging you to go? I guess you taught your children well. Tickets here.

Rapper Cousin Stizz (pictured at Boston Calling in 2018) will perform at Beatown Rising Friday.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/file

GRAND CREW: If you’re curious as to what’s happening in Boston hip-hop (spoiler: A LOT), you can get your head checked this weekend at the Beantown Uprising — a brand new festival of locally sourced boom-bap heat featuring Dorchester-born force Cousin Stizz, and the off-kilter rap magic of Michael Christmas, Brockton collective Van Buren, plus pure fire DJ sets from the likes of Yvng Pavl and Big Bear (a.k.a. Bearly Yvng) and Providence DJ Where’s Nasty. It all goes down Friday night at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter. Find more info and tickets here.


BIG PLANS: While everyone and infinitely repeating iterations of their brother is filing in an orderly fashion through the blockbuster “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the ICA (which is on selfie-snapping view for 18 full months, but sold out through October), you might consider heading to Salem for another example of art attaining new dimensions. The Peabody Essex Museum just cut the ribbon on a $100 million expansion, adding three new floors of gallery space (for newly commissioned works as well as treasures from the collection) plus a 5,000-square-foot garden, where you can snap selfies or, hey, maybe just not. Globe art critic Murray Whyte has all the deets on the PEM’s brand-new director, who opens the new space to the public on Saturday. Find more info here. (And if you do want to get your place in line for Kusama in November, tickets are coming on Oct. 8 for ICA members, and Oct. 15 for the general public.)

KEN FOLK: If you’re a local lover of music, and lover of local music, can you really claim to be either if you haven’t experienced the Makanda Project? The reliably thrilling local jazz ensemble led by pianist John Kordalewski (named and formed to celebrate the late, great multi-instrumentalist-composer Makanda Ken McIntyre) will open its fall season on Saturday at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury with a program featuring dynamo composer and trombonist Craig Harris . It’s free and starts at 7 p.m.; find more info here.


ARIAS AND ACROBATS: And lastly from the outside world, a production that turns a beloved opera inside-out. The Boston Lyric Opera’s staging of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera “Pagliacci,” which, the Globe’s Zoë Madonna explains, “tells a short but intense story of love, power, jealousy, and the blurred line between theater and reality in a troupe of traveling performers,” is taking its own tale to heart. This season-opening production operates as a “modern urban carnival,” including “a full fairgrounds installation in the North End’s DCR Steriti Memorial Rink,” where attendees can “wander the fair, play games, eat carnival food, and take in performances by local ensembles and entertainers before the main event begins.” Tickets are available here for the Friday and Saturday night performances (it runs through Oct. 6).

“The Politician,” starring Ben Platt, comes to Netflix Friday.NETFLIX

OR STAY IN: There’s a very, very, very good chance you’re burnt out on politics this weekend. But cut with the right amount of camp — say, the milieu of a tony Santa Barbara high school — it can actually be bearable — even enjoyable. Take “The Politician,” the new series from the “Glee” team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, coming to Netflix on Friday, which Globe television critic Matthew Gilbert calls a “highly watchable” satire “of what goes on in real-life federal and state elections.” The cast alone — featuring Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange, Zoey Deutch, Bob Balaban, and January Jones, among others — is already more appealing than our ostensibly more adult primary spread.

And if that’s a little too close to reality for you, the critically-lauded Amazon series “Transparent” wraps its visit with the Pfefferman clan with a “Transparent: Musicale Finale,” also arriving Friday.

And lastly, the recently de-bigoted season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” lands Saturday night on NBC, featuring host Woody Harrelson, and musical guest Billie Eilish. (Prepare to hear screaming from your kids’ rooms as they watch under the covers on their phones.)

And that, world-weary Weekenders, is all I’m willing to declassify for you at this time. Good luck out there, and however you spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday.

See you next time!

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at mbrodeur@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.