This week, GBH's Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen recommends a smash broadway show now in Boston, visits a trade school's transofrmation and takes a look at how a new mayor could impact arts in Boston.
"Hadestown," presented by Broadway in Boston at the Citizens Bank Opera House through Nov. 14
“Hadestown” takes the stage in Boston after winning eight Tony Awards, including best musical — a “really rousing musical, almost infused with a New Orleans sensibility,” according to Bowen. Singer-songwriter and Vermont native Anaïs Mitchell has been working on the show for nearly a third of her life and was inspired the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to stage a story about a musician that descends into the underworld.
“I'm a musician, I'm a songwriter, so Orpheus is this kind of hero of songwriters and musicians, and he is an artist who believes that if he could just make something beautiful enough that he could change the world, he could change the rules of the world and the way things are,” Mitchell told Bowen. “I think every artist has that feeling once in a while.”
North Bennet Street School, the famed school for artisans and makers, turns 140
Bowen checked in with the North End’s North Bennet Street School, which he says is teaching the art of craftmanship in a “poignant moment.” It was founded as a trade school for the waves of immigrants coming to Boston, largely Italian immigrants. Now, as many people are switching gears because of the pandemic, the school has programs for crafts like bookbinding, furniture restoration, jewelry making and violin making.
North Bennet Street School President Sarah Turner talked to Bowen about the significance of the work for students. "When you work with a hand and you work at a small scale, your relationship to community changes," she said."“I think it starts to make you feel like you're part of something a little bit smaller than the whole wide global world, which I think feels good."
A new mayor for Boston
Amid the anticipation of Mayor-elect Michelle Wu taking office, Bowen reflected on what a new administration could mean for arts in the city. Bowen said his team reached out the candidates this summer, and Wu was among the first to reply with her arts program. "She is a candidate who is going to make the arts still front and center in this city going forward," he said.
Former mayor Marty Walsh helped bring arts into city government with the creation of an arts cabinet position, which Wu has said she will build on. Bowen said Wu will focus on things like arts education, the permitting process for live music and the lack of affordable studio and rehearsal space. "She's attending to all of the right things, as I can understand, that are confronting artists in this city," he said.