For art-lovers and men-and-women-about-town, the coming weeks promise to be an embarrassment of riches, with street music celebrations, gallery openings and film festivals abound. Our resident insiders – Jared Bowen and Jan Saragoni – reveal which happenings are not to be missed.
Jan's Picks Storyville
Legendary jazz club returns to Boston in the subterranean Exeter St. space formerly occupied by “Saint”, which used to be Café Budapest. Jazz legends Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald performed throughout the ‘50’s. Owner Brian Lesser calls it a “speakeasy and a nightclub” all rolled into one. “Saint” was completely gutted and re-designed by Steve Sousa of Sousa Designs and is now divided into two rooms; the red Bordello Room (which is what the New Orleans red-light district used to be called) and a larger space for a dj and dancing.Chef Louis DiBiccari, formerly of Sel de la Terre) serves dishes inspired by food history of Boston. Looked at old menus from Union Oyster House & Locke-ober. Fifteen plates, designed for sharing, include: Crab Louis, Beef Wellington and of course, baked beans. Jamaica Plain Open Studios Saturday 9/24-Sunday 9/25, 11am-6pm
18th annual Open Studios. Artists include painters Bill Chisolm, Rachel Wood and sculptor Ruth Rosner
Join many of the artists for breakfast at Cheverus Saturday morning to hear more about the exhibits
Biggest group exhibition, almost 75 individual artists (mostly photographers), from the gallery’s 40-year history on display through the end of October. Located in the Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square. Gallery started by Tony Decaneas as a one-room basement space on Bay State road. Oldest fine art photography gallery in New England, specializing in contemporary, modern and vinatage photography including Asel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and Constantine Manos.
Boston Classical Orchestra Saturday 9/24, 8pm-10pm, Faneuil Hall
Steven Lipsitt conducts a “best of the classics” program featuring Beethoven’s powerful “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 and Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” overture. Cellist Allison Eldredge performs Saint-Saens “Cello Concerto."
Cooking Class at the Four Seasons Tuesday 9/27, 6:30-8:30
ABC's of Cooking. Learn hands-on, basic skills like grilling, brazing and sautéing with classes supervised by Executive Chef Brooke Vosika. Prepare the perfect roast chicken with rosemary roasted potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts and whipped butternut squash.
Tuesday 10/18, 6:30-8:30
Cider Specialties for the Oct. 18th class, including braised pork loin with fresh cider, sage and Winesap apples. Students get an apron, recipe cards and endless amounts of food & drink for $15.
Steely Dan Wang Center, 9/28–9/30
Are you reeling in the years?
Jared's Picks Betsey Johnson 10/15 at the Cyclorama in the South End
The legendary Fashion Designer presents her pret-a-porter collection at a gala event to benefit the South End Community Health Center’s Breast Cancer Prevention Program. Jared Bowen is the emcee. Varying ticket prices gain access to VIP reception, fashion show, party, etc. Part of the NY fashion scene since 1964, the iconic designer was part of the 1960s Warhol scene, has more than 65 stores worldwide, has won nearly every fashion award known to man and is a breast cancer survivor herself.
Life is Good Festival 9/24-25 at Prowse Farm in Canton
Two day music festival benefits The Life Is Good Kids Foundation whose mission is to help children mired in dire circumstances and challenges like violence, illness and extreme poverty. Features a host of performers and headliner Ray LaMontagne, The Avett Brothers, Michael Franti and Spearhead and many more.
Honk! Festival 2011 9/30-10/3 in Davis Square, Somerville
6th Annual Festival of Activist Street Bands. 30 street bands from all over the country return to Boston (where the festival was founded in Davis Square). Playing in and around Davis Square and Harvard Square these bands take to the streets performing, raising awareness about social issues and making general merriment.
Boston Fashion Week 9/23-30
Taking its cues from New York City’s fashion week and the tent at Lincoln Center, Boston ups the ante this year by consolidating the annual event in one Tent housed at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Runway shows feature the city’s hottest designers and are private but a host of fashion-related events will be happening around the city and at the Tent.
Hepburn and Chaplin
ArtsEmerson’s October film program features the films of Katharine Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin. Films are screened at The Paramount Center in the Bright Family Screening Room on Washington Street. Tickets are $10. October begins a three-month, 13 film Hepburn retrospective including A Bill of Divorcement, Little Women, a new 35mm print of Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia story and more. The Chaplin films are all new 35mm prints and feature The Kid, The Circus and Modern Times.
By Jared Bowen, Jan Saragoni | Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It's a painful truth. The already-too-small window that is summer here in New England is starting to close. Before the cool nights of autumn get a toe-hold, J Squared offers you everything you need to know to make the most of the precious final weeks of Summer.
Jan's Picks “Keep your Catch” tour with Boston Lobster Tours
Four 75-minute trips a day with lobsterman (and Everett firefighter) Tony Carli on his boat Fourcast. Tour the harbor on his traditional lobster boat and hear the history of lobstering in the harbor. Six passengers, $180. Boston: “Gondola di Venezia” – Gondola rides on the Charles
Authentic Venetian Gondolas cruise up and down the Charles for 45 or 60-minute tours Friday – Sunday. Leave from the Hatch Shell. Who knew? Musicians, food baskets and champagne. Prices range from $99 to $229. Marriage on your mind? More than 1000 proposals since Joseph and Camille Gibbons launched the business 11 years ago and four marriage proposals already this week.
Providence: “La Gondola”
More authentic Venetian gondolas take you excursions along the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers, past river walks and waterfront parks. Complimentary basket of cheese and crackers, ice bucket & glasses and Italian music provided. $79 -- $159 dollars for a 40-minute trip. Train leaves from South Station and takes you almost directly to the dock on Citizen’s Plaza. Nearby restaurants Nuovo or New Rivers a good place for a before or after bite to eat.
Gloucester Schooner Festival
The 27th-annual festival takes place from September 2-5. About 50 seaworthy vessels participating. Also Gloucester Maritime Heritage Day hosts its annual celebration on Saturday. Free admission to exhibits and the aquarium all day. Fireworks over Gloucester Harbor Saturday night following the boat “Parade of Lights.”
Berklee Jazz on Spectacle Island
Sunday, Sept. 4, 1-4pm. Listen to the school’s Cettina Donato Quartet on the porch at Spectacle Island. Ferries leave from Long Wharf. Sponsored by Boston Harbor Alliance. Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival at Tanglewood Music in Lenox
Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 24th annual kicks off Friday, September 2 through Sunday, Sept. 4. Artists include Jimmy Cobb, Gunther Schuller and Mary Stallings, also rising stars like drummer and producer Ulyssess Owens, Jr. and Sara Manning. And for the first time ever, the festival partnered with the Tanglewood Food & Wine Festival. Provincetown Carnival
August 14 – 19, featuring Charo (yes, Charo) as Grand Marshal. The Spanish-American actress, comedienne and flamenco guitarist is known for flashy stage presence and her trademark phrase “cuchi-cuchi.” She just received rave reviews for performances in New York and Palm Springs. She’ll be combining techno, salsa, flamenco and no doubt some fabulous costumes. Title of her new single: “Sexy, Sexy.” This Friday, Town Hall, 8:00 p.m.
Tenth Annual Boston Tattoo Convention
Sept. 2 – 5 at Back Bay Sheraton. Features “live” tattooing, exhibitions and parties. Also the Miss Boston Ink Bikini Contest. Grand Prize? A professional photo shoot for Inked Girls Magazine.
“Pack Your Bags” Exhibit
International Poster Gallery, 205 Newbury Street. Through September 5. If you can’t leave town, take a trip to Newbury Street and check out vintage travel posters from around the world.
Jared's Picks Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Built between 1900-1902 as a resort for the well-heeled from Boston, New York and Philadelphia, this old world hotel still transports guests to a different era with its charm, serenity and impeccable service. History buffs can enjoy a site tour with nuggets like the fact that the World Bank was established here in 1944. The adventurous can take the zip-line canopy tour while those in need of relaxation can avail themselves of the new spa. Woodstock, Vermont
A quintessential and gorgeous New England town, Woodstock is the perfect weekend escape. Just two hours from Boston it brims with antique stores, galleries, specialty shops and a spectacular landscape. The Woodstock Inn & Resort in the center of town is an icon. Eat at the Simon Pearce restaurant in nearby Quechee. Nature lovers can get their fix with plenty of canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and hot air balloon rides. The Berkshires
An astonishingly low number of Massachusetts residents avail themselves of all the Berkshires has to offer. That must change. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
This happens in in Beckett and runs June 18-August 28. It features dance companies from all around the world. The programs will leave you breathless. The Norman Rockwell Museum
Loated in Stockbridge, it's perched on a beautiful overlook. See Rockwell’s studio and a vast array of his own work. This summer also features the 3D Animation Art of Blue Sky Studios which produced the film Ice Age—it’s an interactive exhibit terrific for the kids.
Ten Cents A Dance - It's a new musical conceived by Doyle, who applies his signature style of engaging a company of actor-musicians to bring to life the extraordinary music of Rodgers and Hart.
You Better Sit Down - Crafted from interviews between the cast and their own parents, this is an alternately heartbreaking and hilarious look at the stories behind the statistics of one of the most prominent social phenomena of our time. Shockingly candid, these delicate parent-child conversations, with the actors playing their own parents, yield unique insights into falling in love, falling out of love, and rebuilding a life after the complex experience of dividing a family.
Need I say more? August 16-28 at North Shore Music Theatre.
Porgy & Bess
This opens at the A.R.T. August 17th. Great cast, great controversy.
By Jared Bowen | Thursday, May 5, 2011
Famed French writer Honore de Balzac once wrote, “A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future.” This weekend is a chance for sons and daughter of all ages to light that beacon brightly, because Sunday is Mother’s Day. And if you are looking to go beyond the standard greeting card and flowers, our resident insiders J Squared—Jared Bowen and Jan Saragoni—have you covered. They join us with some ideas about how you can make sure the mother in your life has a very happy—and very hip—Mother’s Day.
Jan's Picks EVENTS
Both the Franklin Park (Boston) and Stone Zoos (Stoneham) are offering FREE admission on Mother’s Day. Goodie bags for the first 100 mothers. Both zoos will honor their celebrity animal moms, including gorilla Kiki with her five-month-old Kambiri @ Franklin Park and emperor tamarin (that’s a monkey) Snoopy with her baby named Wally (Stone Zoo). Meanwhile, the birds are back @ the Stone Zoo. Masters of Flight: Birds of Prey features 16 different species, including the Egyptian vulture, the white-bellied stork and Emily’s favorite, the barn owl. The birds will swoop in from overhead and strut their stuff. Daily show times 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00.
Haya Linde Spring Jewelry Show at Axelle Fine Art Gallery, 91 Newbury Street. 6 – 8 reception.
Also see the dazzling paintings of Fabienne Delacroix, the youngest child of the artist Michel Delacroix, whose son owns the gallery. What mother wouldn’t love a little art and jewelry in her life?
DINING OUT Restaurant dante, Cambridge
Chef Dante de Magistris will cook recipes handed down to him by his grandmother. Three-course meal including antipasto, entrée and dessert. Also a la carte menu for kids under 12. Chitarra carbonara made with guanciale (a kind of pancetta) organic egg and parmigiano reggiano. Also Italian eggs benedict; prosciutto, grilled lemon rosemary hollandaise, roast potatoes. Outdoor dining on patio. $55 per person. The family also owns Il Casale in Belmont Center.
Canary Square, Jamaica Plain
Will feature smoked onion and potato frittatas, bacon Bloody Marys all served on the street-side patio. For $14, you can grab the light picnic lunch and head over to the lilac fest at the nearby Arboretum.
Met Back Bay, Newbury Street, Boston
Sunken Newbury Street courtyard dining. Heat lamps available if it gets chilly. Pork-stuffed has browns and the kitchen sink chopped salad. 10:00 – 3:00
OM Restaurant, Harvard Square, Cambridge
Chef Patricia Yeo will be serving a multi-course Dim Sum brunch. Did you know that “dim sum” means “touch the heart”? Me neither. Following Dim Sum tradition, customers get to choose from sixteen dishes for $40. Every mother gets an orchid and $5 drink specials include Bloody Mary’s Lychee Bellini’s and mimosas.
Taste of the North End, tomorrow May 6, 6 – 11 p.m.
Twenty-six North End restaurants under one roof, including Antico Forno, Lucca, Ducali and Mike’s Pastry. TBilly Costa of ‘BGH’s very own “quiz show” will host with music by the James Montgomery Blues Band. Steriti Memorial Ice Rink on Commercial Street. $99 ticket price to benefit the North End Community Health Center children’s programs. Great cause, great food.
Speaking of food, upcoming event to honor the late Jack Sidell, called “Jack Sidell’s Circle of Legendary Boston Food Friends.” One of his daughters is Kathy Trustman Sidell, who owns the Met Restaurant Group and the other is Stephanie Sokolove, owner of Stephanie’s on Newbury Street. Chefs in the circle: Lydia Shire, Jasper White, Todd English, Steve DiFilippo of Davio’s. Sidell is credited with helping to launch Boston’s food scene when he owned U.S. Trust in the 70’s. The celebration takes place May 16 at the Galleria, at 10 Saint James Ave, Boston. Tickets are $150 per person, couples $275, proceeds to benefit Mass. General Hospital Heart Center.
CINEMA Bill Cunningham’s New York, Kendall Sq Cinema in Cambridge
Documentary celebrates the New York Times photographer who chronicles high and low fashion in streets of New York as well as the galas and benefits and openings that make the city tick.
Jared's Picks DINING Max Brenner, 745 Boylston Street , Boston
A new restaurant that fosters chocoholism with an array of decadent desserts including waffles, crepes, cookies, sharing desserts, fondue, ice cream and lots more.
SHOWS Passing Strange, New Repertory Theatre
A raucous new show following a young, restless man finding himself through travel and performance in Europe. A Tony-winning Broadway musical, it makes a terrific New England premiere here at New Rep with an exceptionally talented cast.
Boston Ballet OFFSTAGE
Tonight at 7pm see the Ballet’s spectacular Bella Figura. Then attend OFFSTAGE, the Ballet’s post-performance event series held at BiNA Osteria. Intended for young professionals and art enthusiasts. Enjoy complimentary appetizers and Cinco de Mayo-themed specialty cocktails. I’m told everyone from the Ballet usually attends—making it an unofficial cast party.
29th Annual Elliot Norton Awards
Boston’s version of the Tonys honors excellence in local theater. Bestowed by the Boston Theater Critics Association, this year’s awards are presented Monday, May 23rd at the Paramount theater. Doors open at 6:15. Ceremony is at 7pm. See all of your favorite Boston theater stars. For tickets visit nortonawardsboston.com
Opening Night at the Pops
The 126th season opens at 8pm on May 11 with incomparable singer Linda Eder in a musical tribute to Judy Garland. Conductor Keith Lockhart has crafted a season-long celebration of the American Songbook. Other performers this season include Michael Feinstein, Kenny Loggins, bluegrass king Ricky Skaggs and Pops Laureate conductor John Williams.
By Jared Bowen | Thursday, April 7, 2011
Let’s face it. It is hard to go out in winter. You have to get the scarf...and the hat...and the gloves...and the coat. Then you have dig your car out or negotiate a labyrinth of semi-shoveled walkways on your way to the T. And of course your feet get wet. Then freezing cold. Most nights, it is far easier to stay cooped up under a few blankets, order some Chinese food and catch up on the 4th season of Dexter on DVD. But hey, people! The snow is gone. The days are getting longer. The birds are chirping. Winter is actually over. And while the crocuses and tulips are just starting to blossom, the city is already in full bloom, with new restaurants, museums exhibitions, concerts, and special events waiting for you. Our resident insiders J squared—WGBH‘s Jared Bowen and Jan Saragoni—are ready to spring you from your house and into spring with some not-to-be missed events around town.
• Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum's new “April in the Courtyard” horticultural display. Gorgeous displays of spring bulbs and flowering plants, miniature citrus trees. Sadly, no orange nasturtiums this year – the growing conditions were not favorable.
• Ricky’s Flower Market, Union Square, Somerville. Located in a former Citgo Station, indoor and outdoor flower market. Terrific!
Time To Dine
• 5 Napkin Burger, Huntington Ave. Boston. (Opened last week at the Prudential) Reasonably priced – $7.95 to $12.95. And they also serve sushi!
• Tico, 222 Berkeley Street, Michael Shlow’s new place. Flavors of Spain, Mexico & South America
Let's Go To The Movies
• “The Leopard” at Coolidge Corner Theater: Luchino Visconti beautifully restored 1963 epic based on the Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel. Burt Lanchester (Prince of Salina), and a “smoldering” Claudia Cardinale. April 11.
Jared's Picks Wonderland
• Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass at the Museum of Fine Arts April 10th through August 7th. 40 years of the prolific glass artists large-scale work is installed at the museum. It’s colorful, magical and truly stunning.
Midsummer Nights In Early Spring
Four of the city’s most esteemed performing arts organizations are all offering programs related to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tickets are discounted for patrons seeing more than one event.
• Boston Ballet presents George Balanchine’s Midsummer ballet at the Opera House April 7-17th.
• Boston Lyric Opera presents Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer opera sung in English
• Arts Emerson presents Susurrus based on Britten’s music. Part radio-play, part sonic art and part stroll in the park (Boston’s Public Garden) Starts May 20th. Billed as “a play without actors and a stage...a sensual reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a contemporary edge.”
• A.R.T. ‘s Midsummer-inspired The Donkey Show plays every Saturday night at 8 and 10:30.
• My fellow Emerson College alum/Access Hollywood correspondent/NBC news contributor Maria Menounos appears in Boston April 15 & 16th with her new book “The Everygirl’s Guide to Life.” She has a book-signing at Emerson’s Barnes and Noble store on Friday afternoon and then offers celebrity style tips at a CambridgeSide Galleria fashion show. Also appearing are 7News Anchor Frances Rivera and Stylist Lydia Santangelo. Proceeds from tickets purchased to a VIP Hollywood Glam Bash from 5-6 benefit Maria’s charity Take Action Hollywood!
• Step Up! Pride and Passion 2011 is A benefit for Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). The event is a Gourmet Taste Around featuring Top Chef Masters including Jody Adams of Rialto. Also represented are Leana, Upstairs on the Square, Deauxave, Stella, Grill 23, Legal Seafoods, Bistro du Midi and Four Seasons Boston. Also appearing are The Beelzebubs (who appear on “Glee” as the voices of the Dalton Academy Warblers). Philanthropic dynamo Joan Parker co-chairs.
• Bondir: Broadway in Cambridge. Billed as “a cozy, farm-house style restaurant with 28 seats and a small fireplace salon.” Superb hospitality, excellent sommelier and perfect food. All vegetables come from no more than 40-minutes away.
• The Haven: Perkins Street in Jamaica Plain. A charming Scottish restaurant with great food, terrific Scottish ales (try The 70 Shilling special) and a ridiculously fun atmosphere. All this week the restaurant celebrates Boston Tartan Week. Scottish owner Jason Waddleton was in a band before opening this must-visit JP hotspot. Try the Scotch Deviled Egg, Sassitch and Mash (House made roasted garlic sausage, herbed Yukon mash, braised kale, warm bacon vinegrette) and the toffee bread pudding.
CAMBRIDGE -- Diane Paulus is the visionary artistic director of Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater who bounded in from New York two years ago with a strikingly definitive perspective of what theatre could and should be. At no other moment has the spectrum of Paulus’ ambition been more evident or more available than in March, when she has opened three of her directorial efforts simultaneously.
Paulus arrived to take over the A.R.T. just as she was also shepherding a dynamic and once again relevant revival of Hairto Broadway.
Now the touring production of Hair, which Paulus also directs, reaches Boston with a three week run at The Colonial Theatre beginning March 22. On Broadway, the show received eight Tony Nominations, and won one for Best Revival. Set during the Vietnam War, it follows a group of counter-culture hippies as they make the passage from free spirits to the socially devastated.
Although set firmly in a distinct time and place—New York in the 1960s—the show has managed to transcend generations divides over the years.
“What the show does now,” says Paulus, “is people are moved by it across generations. You have people who have lived through the 60s who are coming back, and in many cases for the first time looking back at their youth.
“A lot of people get very moved and kind of sad by it, like ‘oh my god that’s who we were, what happened to out country?’ But they are bringing their kids who are 17, 18 or 15 who don’t really know about that time period, even though it is really recent American history, and saying ‘mom and dad, you were like that. You were an activist? Wait a minute, young people cared enough about their county and loved their country enough to stand up for the values they believed in? Peace and freedom?”
“What I love about it is it’s speaking to the past, but young people see it today, and think it was written yesterday for them. They put the flowers in their hair and start dancing. They wear the hippie clothes. They don’t look at it as a revival.”
The history of Hairincludes five distinct versions that different productions have drawn from over the years. Paulus says she went back to the original 1967 New York Public Theater version to begin crafting her production.
“I was reading it from a paperback pocketbook edition that was found in a second hand store,” recalls Paulus. “I found lines that felt to me so relevant. Much more relevant than maybe the funnier lines that went on Broadway the following spring.”
“So to see and hear things about red China. To hear about the military industrial complex, especially while we were doing Hair [the 2007 Broadway production] during one of the last years of the Bush administration. I went to Jim Rado, the original writer, and I asked ‘can we put these lines back in?’ And he was delighted. He feels Hair should continue to evolve, and my partnership with him has been crafting to a version that speaks to our audience today.”
Through the storied history of the production, one scene continues to get a strong reaction. That would be the famous on-stage nude scene.
“The important thing to know about the nudity is… it has always been completely voluntary. So when you are in Hair, you choose as an actor ‘do I want to do that or not?’ It’s not like staging that you are required to do.”
“The purity of the audience’s gaze. That’s what that moment’s about. It’s not about looking or being voyeuristic; it’s about a kind of freedom. When you think about the fact when they did this in 1968 in Broadway, I mean certain cities this show was banned, because of the nudity. And the idea that was more threatening and more dangerous than someone with a gun killing someone. I think that was the juxtaposition that was so powerful in the late 1960’s for what that moment stood for.”
Back on her home stage in Cambridge, Paulus recently opened the riveting and searing rock musical Prometheus Bound.
This is a contemporary take on the Greek classic, with a tyrannical Zeus who exacts revenge on Prometheus for sharing fire with humans. It’s especially poignant in this age of unrest and uprising in Egypt and Libya.
Gavin Creel stars as Prometheus in the ART’s rock musical production of Prometheus Bound, continuing through April 2 at Oberon. (Source:Marcus Stern)
As for connections between between her own work, Paulus says, “Prometheus Boundand Hairare both pieces that deal with issues of what it means to be alive, what it means to be a citizen, and what it means to be connected to the politics of our time.”
“They both yearn to break the fourth wall, and create a happening. In Hair, it’s the 1960’s being happening. In Prometheus Bound, it is a partnership with Amnesty International, and we are kind of shedding a light on prisoners of conscience… and taking an ancient Greek play, and saying this play speaks to our time, and speaks to the issues we are living in our world today.”
Much like Paulus’s still running Donkey Show, Prometheusis emersion theatre. The story unfolds all around. gathering us in the bliss of heaven and heaving us into the depths of hell.
Paul explains, “I believe in theatre being live, and pushing the aspect of the live event as far into the forefront as possible. I just think sometimes we think theater equals ‘I sit in a chair, it’s bolted to the floor, my behavior is to be quiet’.”
“Theater can be ritual; theatre can be visceral as well as intellectual, and emotional. So I am trying with the A.R.T. to stay true to the mission, which is to expand the boundaries of theatre.”
“Theater can look like a happening. Theater can look like a rock concert. Guess what you can stand in a theatre show and put your fist in the air, and sing along. That’s theater as well.”
Prometheus Boundis completing its run at the A.R.T. on Saturday, April 2.
The third act in Paulus’ theatre trifecta is the opera Death in the Powers,which just closed at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. This is the story of a wealthy inventor, who finding himself at the end of his life, is able to download himself into his environment; into books, furniture, and walls.
A collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, this highly inventive piece garnered world wide acclaim after its premiere in Monte Carlo last year. Much of the action involves robotics controlled by people off stage, including nine robots, giant chandeliers that move, and walls with electronic data that are being fed off one of the singer’s body.
“The thing about Death in The Powers,” says Paulus. “It’s all-interactive with the stage action. It’s not press go and everything happens. The robots are moving on stage with the performers.”
“So the attempt in Death in the Powers, how do we make technology a living partner on stage. Not something that is canned and running on it’s own track, but something that is as we know in our lives today, is becoming part of our life, becoming a part of how we live and breathe and act. That is what the opera really does with the technology.”
After this year’s momentous season, the A.R.T. is already preparing to go big in the future. The Gershwin Estate is allowing the company to mount the first major revival of Porgie and Bess since it’s beginning 40 years ago. Paulus is currently planning the premiere for this summer.
By Kara Miller | Thursday, March 24, 2011
Photo by Mark Barton
March 24, 2011
BOSTON -- F. Murray Abraham is a familar face to two generations of audiences, most prominently as Amadeus Mozart's jealous nemisis Antonio Salieri in the 1984 film Amadeus. Since winning an Academy Award for that role, Abraham has performed for both movie and theater-goers.
Abraham comes to Boston as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, opening Tuesday, March 29 at Arts Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre as part of ArtsEmerson’s season.The Oscar-winner talks with WGBH contributor Kara Millerabout staying in shape, listening to Stravinsky, and eating lobster in Boston.
Q: This is an interesting time to be in a play about making loans and charging interest. Do you see The Merchant of Venicehaving particular resonance now?
A: Yes, I really do–on a couple of levels. I think that it examines the idea of justice, and it particularly speaks to our time, as there doesn't appear to be any regard for the other–which doesn't ever seem to change.
I feel very strongly about what has been happening–and helpless too. The political system feels geared towards the wealthy. In the play, Shylock represents something bigger than Jews in the world. He represents anyone who has been oppressed: blacks, Irish, Chinese, Palestinians, many groups.
Q: What is the challenge in engaging with art that is more than 400 years old?
Photo by Mark Barton
A: That's what makes our production [from New York’s Theatre for a New Audience] so exciting. It's perfectly clear. I'm hoping people will drop down and see it because I think they'll be blown away. It was a big success in New York City and [England’s] Stratford-upon-Avon. Sold out in both venues. I can't wait to get to rehearsal– we're really rediscovering the piece.
When people see the show, I would like them to drop us a note or a line. The play might be life-changing. I really mean it.
Q: Do directors approach Shakespeare differently than they did when you first started acting?
A: I think so. The conceptual director has become very prominent. In some ways, that's unfortunate. They have sacrificed communication through the actor for a concept. Our director [Darko Tresnjak] is different. But I do think that some directors now think of actors as something to be moved around–I don't work with them again.
Q: When you're not acting, what kind of art do you indulge in? And what do you look forward to doing in Boston?
A: I really love art. My closest friend is a painter, and we visit museums at least once a week. Stravinsky is my favorite composer–I can't imagine a world without music. I'm also very defensive about Salieri and his music, and Mozart, who I listen to a lot, is a constant surprise. [Abraham won the Best Actor Oscar for portraying Salieri in the 1984 movie Amadeus.]
In Boston, I intend to take a look at some of the best places to get lobster. Also, I have friends in Cambridge. I did King Lear there one time, and it was the first place I encountered three 24-hour bookstores. I was really impressed. I will probably also teach a master class or two.
Q: How tough is it to do eight performances a week in a theatre production?
A: It's what I've been doing all my life. My work is to stay in shape–I am my instrument. I'm 71, and I don't think I've been in better shape. I thought I'd be dead at 60. I once did a show where I performed 16 times a week, but I don't think anyone in history has ever loved acting as much as I do. Maybe as much, but not more.
Watch a preview of The Merchant of Venice
WGBH members receive $10 off regularly priced tickets over $25. Use promo code WGBH10. Subject to availability. Expires May 31, 2011.
About the Authors
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts.
Kara Miller As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.