Fall arts preview: Simba, ‘Giselle’ and a murderous clown


THE PATRIOT LEDGER – Simba’s return, a revival of a ballet classic, a murderous clown, a female-focused art exhibition and the most Instagrammable installation ever are some of the highlights on the cultural horizon over the next three months.

The upcoming arts season is a mixed bag, with revivals and touring productions of crowd pleasing Broadway shows filling downtown theaters, while dance and the visual arts offer some things new and different.

One of the hottest tickets will be the Disney blockbuster, “The Lion King,” Oct. 3-27. The smash musical about lion king cub Simba’s search for identity opened the restored Opera House in 2004 and returns to the theater to kick off Broadway in Boston’s fall theater season. Among other musicals of special interest are the touring versions of the musical “Come From Away,” running Nov. 5-17 at the Opera House. Dubbed “the 9/11 musical,” the show is an adaptation of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded airline passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them in the wake of the terrorist attacks. For lighter fare, the Boch Center Wang Theatre transforms into Bikini Bottom when “The SpongeBob Musical” swims into town Oct. 15-27. Old-favorite “Rent” takes up residence at the The Boch Center Shubert Theatre for a short run Oct. 29-Nov. 10. Before heading to Broadway, “David Byrne’s American Utopia” continues its run at Emerson Colonial Theatre through Sept. 29. Running Sept. 13-Oct. 12, SpeakEasy Stage Company presents the Tony-nominated “Choir Boy,” written by Tarrell Alvin McCraney, an Oscar winner for the film “Moonlight.”

Eagerly awaited non-musical productions are the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of “Quixote Nuevo,” a comedic and poetic reimagining of Miguel Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” by playwright Octavio Solis, starting Nov. 15. If you fancy more comedy, and given these super stressful times, who doesn’t? Then check out the satirical and timely new comedy “Admissions” from SpeakEasy Stage Company, Oct. 25-Nov. 30. Dunder Mifflin opens an office in Boston when “The Office! A Musical Parody” plays a four-week run at Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. John Leguizamo tackles history, culture and nostalgia in his one-man play “Latin History for Morons,” Nov. 7-8 at Emerson Colonial Theatre.

If you can recall the Peach Pit and thought Brenda and Dylan were a match made in heaven, then the “Jennie Garth & Tori Spelling Live: A Night to Remember” looks like it could be a fun girls’ night out. The ladies of “Beverly Hills 90210″ do their thing Nov. 24 at Chevalier Theatre.

Weymouth playwright Ronan Noone’s “The Smuggler” – about an Irish immigrant living in the United States, is one of three offerings from Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Nov. 7-24. The rest of the lineup includes “The Book Club Play” by Karen Zacarías and “Deal Me Out,” by MJ Halberstadt.

Feeling whimsical? Fall’s got something for that, too. The Montreal-based theater troupe the 7 Fingers (a.k.a. Les 7 Doigts) returns (for a seventh time!) with “Passengers,” a mix of circus, music and dance, Sept. 25-Oct. 13, Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Women dominate the fall in more ways than one.

For its 56th season, the Boston Ballet’s opening attraction is “Giselle,” a romantic ballet the company hasn’t performed in 10 years. Ballet master Larissa Ponomarenko, who once danced the title role, adapts the story (expect some modern updates) about a peasant girl with a weak heart and a passion for dancing and choosing the wrong men. It runs Sept. 19-29.

The Museum of Fine Arts marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, with the exhibition, “Women Take the Floor,” a showcase of 250 works made by women artists over the last century spread over the entire third floor of the Art of the Americas Wing. It opens Sept. 13 and runs through May 3.

One of fall’s most curious – and Instagrammable – attractions is “Yayoi Kusama: Love Is Calling,” opening Sept. 24. The Institute of Contemporary will display one of the 20 fantastical spaces created by 89-year old Japanese artist. The museum says “Love is Calling” features vivid colors, inflatable sculptures and Kusama’s signature polka dots within a mirrored room that creates the illusion of infinite space.

Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its season-opener on Sept. 19 but things really get cooking a few weeks later when Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki makes her long overdue return to lead the orchestra in a program that includes music by Fauré, Messiaen and Debussy, Oct. 24-26 at Symphony Hall.

Boston Lyric Opera is down to clown with its season opener, “Pagliacci” (“Clowns”), a melodrama sung in English and Italian, about a clown who murders his wife and her lover. Performances are Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 2, 4, 6 at DCR Steriti Memorial Rink in Boston’s North End. BLO’s other opera this fall is Gregory Spears’ “Fellow Travelers,” with a libretto by Greg Pierce, It premiered in 2016 and tells of two gay men caught up in a McCarthy era witch hunt. It plays from Nov. 13 to 17 at Emerson Paramount Center.

“Concert for One,” the 60-second serenades, is just one offering in what’s shaping up as a strong season for the Celebrity Season of Boston. Audience favorites Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian come together Oct. 20 at Symphony Hall for a trio performance. New Zealand’s acclaimed Black Grace dance company blends Pacific Islander indigenous dance and storytelling traditions with modern dance and hip hop to create innovative works, Oct. 26 at Boch Center Shubert Theatre. On Oct. 27 the Celebrity Series teams up with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as conductor Andris Nelsons leads the Gewandhausorchester and soloists Leonidas Kavakos and Gautier Capuçon in Brahms’ Double Concerto and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (“The Great”).

“Triptych (Eyes of One on Another),” is new performance piece composed by The National guitarist Bryce Dessner. It combines music, poetry and photography to capture the essence of photographer and visual artist Robert Mapplethorpe’s influential body of work. Performances are at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre from October 30 to November 3. Wynton Marsalis, usually heard with his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, returns Nov. 10 to Symphony Hall with a smaller – but no less illustrious – ensemble.

The South Shore fall arts season is also heating up. The Company Theatre in Norwell celebrates its 40th birthday with a pair of razzle-dazzle Anniversary Revue shows on Sept. 21. It features more than 70 performers including Davron Monroe, Christina Pecce and Evette Caldwell, hitting the many high notes from the theater’s storied past. From Oct. 4-20 the Company troupe takes on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Local orchestras have a busy fall. The Quincy Symphony Orchestra plays a pops concert for the whole family on Sept. 28 at Adams Field, Merrymount Park. On Oct. 27 the orchestra plays Schumann and Brahms at Lloyd Hill Performing Arts Center. Jin Kim leads the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra in its opening night performance Oct. 19 at Thayer Academy Center for the Arts in Braintree. Steven Karidoyanes conducts the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra in its season opener, “Symphonic Spectacular,” featuring selections from Dukas, Roussanova and Saint Saens, Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall in Plymouth.

Notable visual art exhibitions include “Approximation” at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, where Somerville artist Steve Novick turns trash into treasure by creating sculptures out of items he finds at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets.

The Fuller Craft Museum continues its 40th anniversary celebration with “Striking Gold,” an exhibit comprised of more than 50 artists who use gold in creative ways across multiple mediums, through April 5. On Sept. 28 the Fuller spotlights the opioid epidemic with a show titled “Human Impact,” in which 11 artists working in a range of mediums deliver messages of hope, resiliency and recovery.

A juried exhibition, “Continuum” runs through Oct. 19 and at the James Library & Center for the Arts, in Norwell. On view from Oct. 26-Dec. 7 is “Elizabeth Noble – In Noticing,” an exhibit of naturalistic paintings. “Contexture” is the title of an exhibition, featuring Ann Conte and Jeanne Wiley, that will open at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset on Sept. 12. Another exhibit, “Pressing Matters,” features work by Coastal Printmakers, through Nov. 3.

The SSC scholarship rock band Toast at Mad Love Music Festival by Christina Ward Photography

The South Shore Conservatory will present the fifth annual Mad Love Music Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Oct. 13 in the Jane Carr Amphitheater, 1 Conservatory Drive, Hingham. The lineup of performing artists is to be announced. The Mad Love Music Festival was established in 2014 after Dave Jodka, a father and musician, died of cancer at age 44. The festival was founded to celebrate Jodka’s life and create a legacy to share his love of music and inspire future generations of musicians through rock and roll. Featuring local musicians, food, drink and activities for the whole family, Mad Love Music Festival has evolved into an annual tradition to raise money to sponsor a scholarship for young rockers.

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By Patriot Ledger Staff

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