Keeping Tabs: Events in and around Boston

Francis Ma

Opera for All: Somehow, the North Cambridge Family Opera Company has found a way to present a classical artistic form and not have people running into the hills to hide. They try to stage productions that will appeal to everyone (it’s silly enough for kids and sophisticated enough for adults, like “Shrek” movies and a bag of trail mix). The company will put on “The Puzzle Jigs,” a show that transports a young girl to a world where puzzle pieces are the norm (they sing and dance) and humans are seen as outcasts. But soon, the puzzle pieces venture into the “real world” and realize the overlying theme of the show, that “prejudice never is cool.” And to think some of us had to learn that the hard way instead of through a family-friendly show. April 5-13, Saturdays 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Kings Open School in Cambridge. Tickets: $5-$10. Visit for more information.

Celebrate Books: Yes, books are still around and, more importantly, book stores are still alive and well. This year, a multitude of bookstores and printed word shops in Harvard Square will celebrate a significant anniversary. The Harvard Coop celebrates 125 years, Newbury Comics celebrates 30 years and The Globe Corner Bookstore has 25 years under its belt. So they’re throwing a party. The Bookish Ball encourages people to visit all the bookstores and get their “Passport to Wisdom” stamped. Return the passport to the Harvard Square Business Association Kiosk by 8 p.m. and you’ll be entered in a drawing that includes two round-trip tickets on Jetblue. Now books can take you someplace real instead of just in your mind. Saturday, April 12, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (there is a book stroll and a Grand Public Ball later on) in various locations in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Free. Call 617-491-3434.

The Music of Chess: That’s right, in the late 80s the combined efforts of Tim Rice and two former ABBA members wrote a musical called “Chess.” Wondering how “Chess” could be exciting? Add a love triangle featuring two players in the world chess championship and the “hit” song “One Night in Bangkok.” The Boston Conservatory Theater Ensemble will take that song (and more from the show) and bring it to more of a concert-setting (so it’s more the songs and not so much the plot). This is almost as exciting as the time I took my dad’s queen with my pawn. He grounded me. April 11-13, Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., matinees on Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. at the Boston Conservatory Theater in Boston. Tickets: $5-$20. Call 617-912-9222.

Season Finale of NESE: Stop wondering what TV show that is because it stands for the New England String Ensemble. Didn’t realize that? It’s probably because you haven’t appreciated the classical arts this season. You have one more chance to save your artistic soul with their season finale program “Nordic Landscape” where you will aurally travel to five Scandinavian countries. It includes Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” and Dag Wiren’s “Serenade for Strings.” Joining the ensemble will be Judith Ingolfsson, a gold medalist of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 1998. Sunday, April 13, 3 p.m. at New England Conservatory’s Jordon Hall in Boston. Tickets: $25-$45. Call 781-224-1117.

Tons of Brahms: James Levine, who has the best hair in the classical music world, will conduct two all-Brahms programs that will feature Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. All programs will open with Brahms Symphony No. 3. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Kissin will perform Concerto No. 2. And on Friday and Saturday, Kissin will tackle piano concerto No. 1. If you can only go to one, check out Concert No. 1 which is said to have been inspired by the attempted suicide of Brahms’ mentor Robert Schumann. The best art comes from pain, just ask Brahms. Or Kurt Cobain. April 8-12, Tuesday and Wednesday 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. at Symphony Hall in Boston. Tickets: $29-$114. Call 617-266-1200.

Albee’s Best?: You be the judge. The Lyric Stage Company of Boston stages Edward Albee’sThree Tall Women,” a play that the Boston Globe called the best thing Albee has ever written. It’s a tall order, especially for the guy who gave us “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” The play focuses on a 92-year-old woman, near death. She reminisces about her youth, marriage and her estrangement from her gay son. And within that plot is Albee’s “most intentionally autobiographical work to date.” Through April 26, Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 3 p.m. at the Lyric Stage Company in Boston. Tickets: $25-$50. Call 617-585-5678.

She Loves Mail at the Shop Around the Corner: Romantic comedy fans, your day is here. The Longwood Players present “She Loves Me.” a musical based on the 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner” which starred Jimmy Stewart. That film was remade into the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail.” People fell over themselves for both, so I have to assume the same will happen with the musical about two anonymous pen pals who fall in love only to realize they are co-workers who hate each other. Get ready to feel gooey all over again. April 4-12, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., one matinee on April 12 at 2 p.m. at the Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre. Tickets: $19-$25. Call 800-595-4849.