Arts & Entertainment
Album by a Local Artist
Will Dailey & the Rivals by Will Dailey & the Rivals
“How Good It Feels” isn’t just the name of the catchiest track off Will Dailey’s latest record—it’s also what you think about when you hear this album. Summery and infectious, Dailey’s indie-pop tunes would be the perfect soundtrack to a cross-country road trip. Released on Universal Republic Records and recorded in Somerville, the album is characterized by big hooks, smooth lyrics and just a hint of sweet nostalgia.
Photo Credit: Nathalie Bauer
Actor in a Local Production
John Malkovich in The Infernal Comedy
Despite his famous visage, John Malkovich still has a great actor’s ability to morph into a part. In The Infernal Comedy he embodied Jack Unterweger, a real-life serial killer who, in the tradition of another famous Jack, made headlines in the 1990s for murdering prostitutes. Staged at Arts-Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre, the crime drama–meets–opera was Malkovich at his creepy best—darkly humorous and chillingly charismatic.
Photo Credit: Mark S. Howard
Actress in a Local Production
Laura Latreille in Time Stands Still
Depicting the psychological trauma of war is no easy task, but veteran actress Laura Latreille excelled in Donald Margulies’ thought-provoking Time Stands Still. Playing Sarah Goodwin, a photojournalist recovering from injuries sustained while on assignment in Iraq, Latreille blazed with frustrated energy, outshining her also-brilliant costars in the Lyric Stage Company’s intimate production. Intense doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The Boston Babydolls
Many people associate burlesque with T&A and tassels. The Boston Babydolls provide that, but they also use the medium as a way to challenge the limits of theater. Last Halloween, they took over a vacant storefront in East Cambridge to produce The Wrathskellar, a macabre, immersive experience that served striptease with a side of screams. This summer, they’ll continue their once-monthly showcase at the Estate in addition to taking their show on the road with the food-themed A (Re)Movable Feast.
Nick's Comedy Stop
Although cities like L.A. and New York often poach our talent, a disproportionate number of comedians sharpen their stand-up skills right here in town. Since the early 1980s, Nick’s Comedy Stop has been providing stage time (and a launching pad) to wiseasses from both sides of the Charles. This May, the institution branched out, opening a new location in Central Square and doubling up the laughs.100 Warrenton St., Boston » 450 Mass. Ave. » Cambridge » 617-438-1068 » nickscomedystop.com
Audra McDonald at Symphony Hall
Philistines may know her solely from her stint on the medical drama Private Practice, but Audra McDonald doesn’t just have acting chops—she also has an amazing set of pipes, as Boston audiences learned firsthand last October.
Fresh from the set of the American Repertory Theater’s much-lauded production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, the five-time Tony Award winner graced Symphony Hall with her charismatic presence, using her rich and commanding voice to keep audiences enthralled while kicking off the latest season of the Celebrity Series.
Just four years old, Urbanity Dance is still a newcomer on the Boston dance scene—which for many is defined by the annual foray to see The Nutcracker. This upstart company has performed high-energy, boldly contemporary pieces everywhere from Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires to the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. In case that wasn’t reason enough to check out their creative productions, Urbanity shows a social conscience by giving community workshops and open classes. Take a bow, please.280 Shawmut Ave., #1, Boston » 617-572-3727 » urbanitydance.com
Photo Credit: Dave Bradley
DJ Die Young
Under the nom de plume of DJ Die Young, Jamie Michalski has spun his masterful mixes everywhere from the grand old halls of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to the sweaty decks at Good Life. His style is similarly all over the place—but in the most magnetic way. Mixing jungle beats, J-pop and techno rhythms, his sound is fresh and insanely danceable. Get in the groove at Make It New, his weekly dance night at the Middlesex Lounge.
Photo Credit: Micheal von Redlich
The Gold Dust Orphans
The Gold Dust Orphans have a knack for turning a once family-friendly show into a diabolically twisted romp across genres. The genius mind behind Mary Poppers—and Peter Pansy and The Little Pricks and dozens of other pun-filled send-ups—is Ryan Landry, the theater troupe’s founding member, who took the Orphans mainstream last winter with a sold-out run of The Rocky Horror Show at Oberon. But Landry doesn’t just know how to turn a phrase—he’s also a pro when it comes to picking talent. Ru Paul ain’t got nothing on this guy.
From a Polaroid-themed exhibition to a show focused on depictions of toys and childhood ephemera, Panopticon Gallery is firmly on the cusp of contemporary photography. Since taking over in 2010, owner/gallery director Jason Landry has been decking the halls of Panopticon with images that range from sinfully funny to strikingly beautiful. It’s small wonder that Landry’s gallery has a reputation among collectors for discovering pieces by up-and-comers. Good thing the pics are often available for purchase.502C Comm. Ave, Boston » 617-267-8929 » panopticongallery.com
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
Might as well start referring to Diane Paulus as Lady Midas, because everything she touches turns to awards-season gold. This year, the artistic director at the American Repertory Theater scooped up two Tony Awards, including best revival of a musical, with her radical adaptation of the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The revisionist version received overwhelmingly positive reviews for its depiction of love and violence in Catfish Row, a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Charleston, S.C. But critics weren’t the only ones going crazy over Porgy—every night was a sellout at the Loeb Drama Center—and its success now continues on Broadway.64 Brattle St., Cambridge » 617-547-8300 » americanrepertorytheater.org
The People’s Karaoke at Highland Kitchen
Come for the spicy goat stew, stay for the ’80s ballads. The hipster mecca is perhaps best known for their monthly spelling bee, but to overlook the Wednesday night karaoke with Red Sox DJ TJ Connelly would be a shame. The song list runs the gamut from pop classics to Pitchfork-approved indie tracks. Grab some liquid courage from the bar and get ready to do your best Morrissey impersonation.150 Highland Ave., Somerville » 617-625-1131 » highlandkitchen.com
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
Though Aly Spaltro has no formal vocal training, the wunderkind and recent Somerville transplant has garnered comparisons to the likes of Feist and Merrill Garbus with her stripped-down sound and eerie, fascinating lyrics. Her latest single, a cover of Cher’s “All I Really Want to Do,” is a bluesy ode to almost-love that perfectly showcases her broad range.
Most Exciting 2012-2013 Season
Broadway in Boston
As any devotee of live theater knows, reading rave reviews is a poor substitute for seeing the production in person. But thanks to Broadway in Boston, we no longer need to hop a Fung Wah to catch the country’s most buzzed-about shows. The lineup for 2012-2013 is filled with everything from singing missionaries to immortal teenagers (who, thankfully, don’t sparkle in the sunlight). See War Horse and Memphis this fall at the Boston Opera House. Next spring, catch The Book of Mormon and Tuck Everlasting at Citi Performing Arts Center Colonial Theatre.866-523-7469 » broadwayinboston.com
Next Big Thing
Theatre on Fire
It’s not often you get to see a live show from the comfort of your own couch, but this season, Theatre on Fire decided to move the performance off the stage and into the living room. Aptly named “Home Invasion,” the innovative program is just one of the ways the small company tested theater’s traditional boundaries, producing works that are edgy and artistic, but never pretentious. “We don’t want people to be intimidated by the theater,” explains producing artistic director Darren Evans. “We like to do work that has a little meat on the bones—something to dig into.” When they’re not performing in homes around town, Theatre on Fire can be found at the Charlestown Working Theater.
Night Out for the Arts
Boston Ballet Offstage
Since launching the series in 2010, Boston Ballet Offstage has become a nightlife staple for culture vultures and young professionals. The Thursday night mixer allows the city’s most prestigious dance company to welcome patrons of the arts for a glam after-show party (last season at the now-closed Bina Osteria), complete with cocktails and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. After an evening of pliés and pirouettes, it’s a perfectly en pointe way to close out the night.617-695-6950 » bostonballet.org
Nonfiction Book by a Local Author
The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
The subtitle to Pinker’s newest tome explores a daunting, yet surprisingly optimistic, issue: Why violence has declined. The prolific Harvard professor goes to great lengths to address the subject in his 832-page text, citing examples culled from an exhaustive exploration of history, psychology, cognitive science, economics and sociology. The result is a book that not only chronicles our complex relationship with violence, but also opens up the possibility that, perhaps, people are evolving and becoming more peaceful on a neurological level. It’s not light reading, but is quite possibly the best way to counteract the nightly-news blues.
Novel by a Local Author
From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry
The New York Times called Alex Gilvarry’s debut novel a “left-handed love letter to America,” which is a smooth way to describe the strange story of a Filipino fashion designer and former Brooklynite who finds himself imprisoned for crimes against the country. Gilvarry’s witty prose drips with satire, but reality ultimately takes over to show—despite what Harold & Kumar would have you believe—there’s nothing funny about a stay at Guantánamo.
Photo Credit: Anthony Scibilia Photography
Despite the name, Guerilla Opera has no interest in tearing down conventions, just in exploring new tactics. “We aren’t launching an attack on conventional opera,” says co-artistic director Mike Williams, who’s responsible for bringing progressive and intimate productions like Heart of a Dog and Bovinus Rex to the Zack Black Box at the Boston Conservatory. “We’re trying to move in a more progressive way. We want to constantly create new works, and that’s not something that’s done frequently in the opera world.”
Next to Normal at the Speakeasy Stage Company
These days, even therapists have therapists. With songs like “My Pharmacologist and I,” this musical addresses the mental health with an unexpected touch of levity. Winner of three Tony Awards, Tom Kitt’s Next to Normal is an emotionally compelling pop-rock treat about a suburban family dealing with the effects of bipolar disorder and electroconvulsive therapy. When Speakeasy Stage brought the musical to the Boston Center for the Arts, they failed to anticipate the level of public interest. The sellout show was extended twice.539 Tremont St., Boston » 617-482-3279 » speakeasystage.com
WERS 88.9 FM
During the workweek, WERS offers a much-needed alternative to the ubiquitous Top 40 tracks that reign supreme on most dial stops. Staffed largely by Emerson students, WERS can boast all the best traits of a great college-radio station—fresh tracks, of-the-moment updates, an absence of obnoxious ego—without any of the shortcomings. Tune in before dark to hear the likes of the Head and the Heart, Delta Spirit, and Jack White, or wait until 10 pm for 889@Night, a solid block of underground hip-hop.
House of Blues
Indie venues are indispensable, but when you want to hear loud, raucous rock played by a bona fide star, there’s nowhere better than the House of Blues. The bookers do a stellar job of bringing in both big name talents and up-and-coming acts. In the past year, they’ve hosted everyone from Dropkick Murphys to Deadmau5 and Lauryn Hill. Pro tip: Grab a spot on the floor by the stairs for the best sound and an unobstructed view.15 Lansdowne St., Boston » 888-693-2583 » houseofblues.com
Huntington Theatre Company
A standing ovation for the Huntington, which, for the past 30 years, has produced provocative, bold and funny works, many of them migrating to larger stages in New York. Helmed by artistic director Peter DuBois and managing director Michael Maso, they brilliantly stage American classics like Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, as well as world premieres, like The Luck of the Irish by Huntington playwriting fellow Kirsten Greenidge.264 Huntington Ave., Boston » 617-255-7900 » huntingtontheatre.org