Fast-forward 2008 - A look ahead at some really big Boston shows
Theater aside, the year 2008 already has that ‘‘been there done that feel to it’’ and we’re only two weeks deep. Sequels and reunion tours are the draws in film, music. Harry Potter, The Spice Girls, Indiana Jones, ‘‘Sex and the City,’’ to name a few. Seems the stage is the only venue offering us freshness. Does anyone have any original ideas?
Get out your fedoras, kids, because Indiana Jones is coming back for his first adventure in 19 years. Producers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are keeping everything about the plot of ‘‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’’ hush-hush, but you can bet on lots of thrilling action and adventure as Indy (Harrison Ford older, but no less dashing) goes hunting for a crystal skull, allegedly an icon from the ancient Mayan culture. Joining Ford in the chase are Karen Allen, back for the first time since ‘‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’’ Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent.
It’s been four years since Carrie Bradshaw and the girls stopped having sex. But the big screen adaptation of the hit HBO series ‘‘Sex and the City’’ is scheduled to hit theaters in spring. Will Carrie and Big get married? Does Charlotte have a baby? The answers are all just weeks away.
This past summer’s ‘‘Harry’’ was the lowest grossing of the five films released so far. It was also the most dramatically inert and least fun. A coincidence? I think not. ‘‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,’’ though, promises to get things back on track, as Harry begins his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, he discovers a mysterious old book that may provide important clues into the dark past of his archenemy, Lord Voldemort. It’s also the next to last film in the series, so things are guaranteed to heat up considerably.
It’ll be a British invasion of a different sort when the Spice Girls - Posh, Baby, Sporty, Scary and Ginger - take over the stage at TD Banknorth Garden Jan. 30. Forget The Police and Led Zeppelin - this pop tart girl group is proving theirs to be the only reunion that matters. The girls called it quits 10 years ago. Early reviews from the European leg have been positive - more than 20 songs over two hours and a half-dozen costume changes. Now in their 30s, married and mothers, the Girls - Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm - are still throwing down. Rock on.
Speaking of reunions and Brits, precious few rock bands have so seamlessly married gloom, doom and misery with gorgeous and engrossing pop melodies as The Cure. Robert Smith and his fellow sad sacks come to town May 12 to perform at Agganis Arena in Boston. And, they promise to play more old stuff than new, so says their Web site.
The story of Eliza Doolittle, the Covent Garden flower girl, plucked from the gutter and made over into a society lady by the conceited, tyrannical but loveable-on-the-inside professor of speech, Henry Higgins, has something for everyone, from defenders of cultural literacy to champions of women’s liberation. The Laurence Olivier Award-winning and Cameron MacKintosh produced ‘‘My Fair Lady’’ heads to Boston’s Opera House from the National Theatre of Great Britain Feb. 5-17.
The 2003 best musical ‘‘Avenue Q,’’ winner of three Tony Awards, will tour at the Colonial Theatre March 11-23. It’s an inventive cross between ‘‘Rent’’ and ‘‘Sesame Street.’’
Veteran actor Alvin Epstein returns to Boston, March 13-April 13, at Cambridge Multicultural Center, as the aging prophet Prospero in Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production of ‘‘The Tempest,’’ directed by Patrick Swanson and designed by David Gammons. Epstein will lead a star-bright cast of Boston actors, including the troupe’s artistic director Benjamin Evett as Caliban, South Shore actor John Kuntz as Trinculo, and Shakespeare & Company actor Johnny Lee Davenport as Antonio. Epstein, Swanson and Emmons led the superb production of ‘‘King Lear’’ several seasons back, a good reason to put ‘‘The Tempest’’ on your calendar.
Speakeasy Stage Company, another of the fine, mid-size theater troupe based in Boston, has scored a coup in securing the rights for the first local production of British playwright Alan Bennett’s drama, ‘‘The History Boys,’’ a huge hit when it premiered in London and New York (and later made into a film). ‘‘The History Boys,’’ set in an English prep school roiled by sexual allegations about one of the masters, features a cast of nearly all adolescent boys, several male teachers and one feisty female faculty member. Elliot Norton Award-winning director Scott Edmiston will stage the work, sure to be a stunner in the intimate space at Calderwood Pavilion, BCA, May 2- June 14.
Celebrity Series of Boston presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Feb. 7-10 at Wang Theatre.
The Institute of Contemporary Art will present Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in ‘‘Chapel/ Chapter,’’ its newest work, Feb. 13-16, as part of the troupe’s national tour. Jones will combine three high-profile news stories with a confession by one of the dancers into a movement collage that explores our nation’s politics and morality. You can count on a work by Jones, who has grown into one of the most distinguished choreographer-performers of his generation, to be both equally controversial and enthralling. ‘‘Chape./Chapter’’ will also be performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Lee in the summer.
The Mark Morris Dance Group returns to the Cutler Majestic Theatre, May 28-June 1, with Henry Purcell’s ‘‘Dido and Aeneas.’’
Morris, who premiered his perceptive take on the work in Belgium when he created the cross-dressing role of Dido, takes the baton to conduct the orchestra and singers of Emmanuel Music, probably his first appearance as a conductor. According to a Celebrity Series of Boston spokesman, the notion of Morris conducting these performances was planned before Emmanuel Music founder and conductor Craig Smith died.
And don’t forget Boston Ballet’s revival of its spectacular production of ‘‘Swan Lake,’’ May 1-11, at Wang Theater. It provides a good opportunity to mark the progress of the young dancers being groomed for company stardom.
Art takes a decidedly European flavor as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, plans two exhibits of Spanish pieces.
The works of contemporary artist Antonio López García will be shown April 13-July 27. As a world-recognized painter, draftsman and sculptor of the realist school, his masterful renderings of the prosaic, familiar places of his world and of the family and friends around him reveal an unusual sensitivity to nuance. The MFA has nine of López’s most important early paintings, drawings, and reliefs in its collection. These will be included in this first major retrospective of his works in the United States with loans from European and American museums and private collections. Approximately 45 works of art - paintings, drawings, and sculptures - will be shown.
Running concurrently is El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, April 20-July 27. Works by two of Spain’s greatest artists will be seen for the first time in the context of the artistic climate in which they were created, from 1598 to 1621. El Greco’s stunning and late work, dating from around 1600 until his death in 1614, was associated with the court of Philip III as was Velázquez’s early work. In addition, the show will introduce to the American public exceptional works by lesser-known but very accomplished artists, among them Juan Bautista Maino, Juan Sánchez Cotán, Luis Tristán, and Gregorio Fernández.
Patriot Ledger staff writers Dana Barbuto and Al Alexander contributed to this report, with additional reporting by Iris Fanger.