Your Boston summer arts preview is here
There’s so much to take in this summer, you’re going to need a bigger calendar. See our summer arts preview below for our picks for the art exhibits, stand-up comics, plays and dance performances you need to see.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’
June 26 through July 20
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
Like all mega-successful artists, Andrew Lloyd Weber has his detractors, but the box office is not one of them — his 1986 adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s classic gothic romance novel has been running continually on both the West End and Broadway since its debut, making it the longest-running musical ever on Broadway and the second longest in London. Why’s it so beloved? We chalk it up to the fascination of its anti-hero, a figure at once sympathetic and disturbing in his desperation.
Astro Boy and the God of Comics
July 18 through August 16
539 Tremont St., Boston
Company One presents the Boston premiere of this multimedia theatrical work by Natsu Onoda Power, a tribute to manga master Osamu Tezuka’s most popular creation, the plucky robot child Astro Boy, as well as the eccentric, beret-loving Tezuka himself, who appears as a character. The show integrates live action, animation, interactive video and a vibe of optimistic 1960’s futurism to create a unique experience, one that will especially tickle anime and manga fans, who practically owe the existence of their favorite genre to Tezuka’s pioneering work.
July 23 through August 10
Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common
Park St. at Tremont St., Boston
This year’s “Shakespeare in the Park” offering is something like Christmas in July, since the Bard’s “Twelfth Night” takes place around the holidays—Christmas used to last twelve days, and on the twelfth night, tradition held that the servants and masters would trade places, just for the sake of what’s known on the Internet as “teh lulz.” This sets the scene for Shakespeare’s playful social satire, filled with gender-bending confusion, mockery of puritans, awkward fallings in love and of course plenty of cakes and ale.
July 23 through September 21
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St., Cambridge
Based on the 2004 film, this world premiere musical from the American Repertory Theater tells the story of “Peter Pan” creator J.M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to create his enduring mythical world, straddling the porous barrier between that world and reality as it navigates the clashes that must exist between them. Gary Barlow of British boy band “Take That” provides the music, with choreography by Mia Michaels and staging by the A.R.T.’s Diane Paulus.
July 8, 7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Mass. Ave., Boston
$37, 617 747-2261
Australian Tommy Emmanuel is a guitar virtuoso among virtuosi, with a complex fingerstyle technique that uses all ten fingers to play that guitar like a piano, plucking out rhythm, melody, bass and percussion—a literal one-man band. As if that weren’t enough to make any guitarist want to just up and quit, he’s entirely self-taught. He was initially inspired by the great Chet Atkins, and he eventually won the admiration of his hero, whose fingerpicking remains the root of his expansive sound.
July 10 through August 28
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave., Boston
Berklee College of Music curates this free series of outdoor Thursday evening concerts by the ocean. Folk/rock group Grey Season kicks things off, followed by funk/soul/R&B/jazz singer Wambura Mitaru, a 10-piece dance party of a band known as the LowTone Society, Latin jazz group Latimbop, Australian singer-songwriter Sarah McKenzie, Korean jazz singer-composer Song Yi Jeon, the double feature of British-Nigerian electro/pop singer Oyinda and American indie folkie Bigfoot Wallace and the final act, the all-female funk/pop collective Common Thread.
Boston Landmarks Orchestra Summer Concert Series
July 16 through August 27
DCR Hatch Shell
47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston
Helping to fill the symphonic vacuum left by the Boston Symphony’s annual hike out west, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will present seven concerts, with guest spots from the Back Bay Chorale, the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Lyric Opera and others, plus themed concerts, including a focus on African-American spirituals, a Latin-themed night and a concert celebrating the bicentennial of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Bastille Day Party
July 11, 7 p.m.
Between Berkeley St. and Clarendon St., Boston
This annual block party, a collaborative effort between the French Cultural Center and World Music/CRASHarts, features live music and cuisine from across the French diaspora. This year’s bands have sonic root in the former French West Africa. H’Sao have Chadian ancestry, with a dance sound mixing R&B, soul and jazz; duo Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, the latter of whom hails from Guinea, mix hip-hop, funk, reggae and African rhythms. Note: there’s room for 2,000, but tickets sell quickly!
August 9, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The Dance Complex
536 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
A unique and just-a-little-insane dance event organized by local troupe Luminarium Dance, Choreofest consists of a marathon all-night choreography session on August 8th, resulting in a set of fresh-out-the-oven dance works to be performed immediately the next day. The whole creative process will be filmed and streamed online for the curious. Five dance companies will participate to see who can wring the most interesting thing out of the wee hour. No genres are favored in the selection of these brave souls — just the guts to try something this exhausting.
Boston Contemporary Dance Festival
Price TBA, 617-572-3727
This annual festival, now in its third year, brings together a wide sampling of contemporary dance troupes from across North America for a series of performances, with a special focus on the Boston scene — last year’s roster including over 30 companies. There are also workshops and panels, making it both a must-see concert for contemporary dance enthusiasts as well as a great opportunity for dance networking. Info on location and tickets should be available soon — check back on the website listed above.
Turner and the Sea
Through September 1
Peabody Essex Museum
161 Essex St., Salem
This exhibition of works by 19th century master J.M.W. Turner is the first to focus exclusively on his seascapes and harbor scenes — a natural fit for the maritime-heavy collection of the Peabody Essex Museum. The drama of the ocean inspired this paradigmatic painter of Romanticism again and again, from his early years in the 1790s to his very last. In these works one can see how this most revered of British artists presaged the vivacity of impressionism and the apocalyptic visions of modernism.
July 16 through December 28
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Ave., Boston
Jamie Wyeth, the son of iconic American realist painter Andrew Wyeth, had seriously big shoes to fill, but fill them he did. Not simply a painter, Wyeth prefers to work in what he calls “combined mediums”. His portraits, of subjects as grave as a posthumous JFK and as dubious as a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, plus even more compelling strangers, fascinate. The best of his work seems somehow realer than reality.
July 19, 8 p.m.
The Wilbur Theater
246 Tremont St., Boston
Comedian Lil’ Duval, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, seems to spend as much time in the music world as the comedy world. An occasional contributor to the hip-hop magazine “Ozone”, he’s had multiple guest spots in videos by T.I., Young Jeezy, and other Southern rappers. Music plays into his stand-up act as well. One of his funniest bits is a song about a stalker in the club, whose second-person narrative seems normal at first but gets increasingly uncomfortable and crazy-eyed.
August 7 through August 9
425 Summer St., Boston
Brian Posehn comes to town to combine his nerd credentials with his comedy. He’s appearing as part of Boston Comic Con, and has been known to rant about stuff like the poetics of superheroes and being irredeemably traumatized by the “Star Wars” prequels. His last standup special, “The Fartist”, found him somewhat reluctantly discussing parenthood. But there are also jokes about strippers and farts, so don’t worry — he’s not completely grown-up yet.