The Importance of Being Earnest
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Through December 14,Plaza Theater, Boston Center the Arts,527 Tremont St., Boston,$30-$35, 617-933-8600,www.moonboxproductions.org
Oscar Wilde reached the peak of his fame with this razor-sharp 1895 comedy of manners about two wealthy young responsibility-phobic bon vivants (i.e., the Victorian equivalent of hipsters) who attempt to seduce two different women using the same phony identity, which, in one of those classic Wilde reversals of logic, turns out to be less phony than they think.
Saturday through December 8.Paramount Center,559 Washington St., Boston,$25-$89, 617-824-8400,www.artsemerson.org
South African playwright Yael Farber wrote and directed this adaptation of the 1888 Swedish play “Miss Julie” by August Stringberg, a tale of class and sexual politics involving a bored aristocratic daughter who begins cavorting with the servants. Farber swaps the original setting for post-apartheid South Africa, adding a racial dimension that complicates the plot’s tensions even more.
Becky’s New Car
Saturday through December 22,Lyric Stage Company,140 Clarendon St., Boston,$25-$54, 617-585-5678,www.lyricstage.com
This comedy centers on Becky, a middle aged woman with a boring job and a boring marriage. When she meets a wealthy man who falls for her under the mistaken belief that she is a widow, she decides to roll with it, and ends up with more than she bargained for—isn’t that always the way?
Friday and Saturday,Sculler’s,400 Soldiers Field Rd., Boston,$45-$85, 617-562-4111,www.scullersjazz.com
Cuban musician Arturo Sandoval is one of the living masters of jazz trumpet. Though his musical education began in classical, he was inspired by bebop architect Dizzy Gillespie, under whom he’d study later, to switch to jazz. In turn, he’d help fuel Gillespie’s interest in Afro-Cuban music. For this performance, he’ll pay tribute to his mentor with an entire set of Gillespie interpretations.
Boston Tuba Christmas
Saturday, 2 p.m.,Fanueil Hall Marketplace,1 Faneuil Hall Sq.., Boston,Free, email@example.com,www.bostontubachristmas.com
This annual event, brings together more than 200 tuba players of all ages, with tubas of various shapes, sizes and keys, for a holiday-themed concert that brings the big but humble brass instrument, so used to being relegated to oom-pah-ing in the background, front and center, displaying the surprising range and diversity of the tuba family.
Saturday and Sunday,Wilbur Theater,246 Tremont St., Boston,$50-$97, 800-745-3000,www.ticketmaster.com
There probably isn’t a stand-up comedian alive who hasn’t been influenced at least second-hand by Bill Cosby. Now 76, he has just as many hilariously wise observations of old age as he did of the other phases of life. Only George Carlin, in his later specials, approached aging with as much fearless wit and wry wisdom.
Friday and Saturday,Laugh Boston,425 Summer St., Boston,$20-$25, 617-725-2844,www.laughboston.com
Comedian Ari Shaffir is best known for his series of prank videos entitled “The Amazing Racist”, which find him pretending to be a rabid racist toward a different ethnic groups, represented by unsuspecting real people. What kills you isn’t his character’s ugly slurs or bigoted notions, but his totally shameless, matter-of-fact demeanor, which makes the racism even more absurd and grotesque.
Friday, 7 p.m.,Harvard Film Archive,24 Quincy St., Cambridge,$7-$9, 617-495-4700,hcl.harvard.edu/hfa
Paul Newman plays “Fast Eddie” Felson, a pool hustler, in this 1961 classic, a key entry into the eternal American genre of the anti-heroic con man who’s forced to face the music. He’s got charisma and skill, but as he’s told, he doesn’t yet have character, and unlike money and notoriety, that’s one thing you can’t get by bluffing.
Sing-A-Long Mary Poppins
Friday through Sunday,Regent Theater,7 Medford St., Arlington,$15, 781-646-4849,www.regenttheatre.com
For kids and kids at heart, here’s the classic Disney musical “Mary Poppins”, with the song lyrics on screen for maximum sing-along ease. You’ll get a bag of thematically appropriate goodies to utilize at various points in the film, and you’re encouraged to come in costume—it’s almost like the G-rated equivalent of one of those midnight “Rock Horror Picture Show” screenings.
Cultural Survival Bazaar
Friday through Sunday,Cambridge College,1000 Mass. Ave., Cambridge,Free, firstname.lastname@example.org,bazaar.cs.org
This arts and crafts expo features handmade goods by a wide variety of indigenous artists and craftspeople, giving you the chance to buy direct from the creators. Aside from vendors, the Bazaar also features music and dance performances. If you miss this one, more will take place through the next month around Boston—check the website for full details.
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.,Cambridge Public Library,449 Broadway, Cambridge,Free, 617-349-4041,www.cambridgema.gov/cpl.aspx
This highly accomplished poet, a professor at Wellesley College, will read from his newest collection, “Metaphysical Dog”. Bidart studied under Robert Lowell, and his work shares his teacher’s famously confessional rawness. He’s noted for his character studies and his autobiographical work, which explore, among other things, the cycle of guilt and self-deception and the violence of love.
Olitski in the 21st Century
Through December 22,Adelson Galleries,520 Harrison Ave., Boston,Free, 617-832-0633,www.adelsongalleriesboston.com
This exhibition features late work by abstract painter Jules Olitsk. The variety of palpable textures and masterfully contrarian use of colors show an artist who knows exactly what he’s doing. He seemed obsessed with orb-like shapes in this period—some, glowing glorious like foreign suns, seem like emissaries from heaven, others, with dark, gravitational menace, like cops from hell.
Karl Stevens: Four Portraits
Through December 21,Carroll and Sons,450 Harrison Ave., Boston,Free, 617-482-2477,www.carrollandsons.net
Local artist Karl Stevens is best known for his autobiographical comic strip “Failure”. This exhibition features four real life character studies, with paintings as well as sketches and comic strips, providing a multifaceted portrait of each person. Stevens’ apparent realism is deceptive—his subtle exaggerations communicate a reality that’s already enough of a cartoon for those who know where to look.
Thalia Zedek Band
Sunday, 9 p.m.,Great Scott,1222 Comm. Ave., Allston,$8, 18+, 800-745-3000,www.ticketmaster.com
Singer and guitarist Thalia Zedek has been kicking around the alt-rock world since the late 70’s. Her current solo project has the sound of an artist well worn into the boots of her identity. Her bluesy, brooding style, marked by her raspy, exhausted-sounding contralto croon, has an icy beauty that goes nicely with this particular time of year.
The Sun Lions
Friday, 8 p.m.,Middle East Upstairs,472 Mass. Ave., Cambridge,$10, 18+, 866-777-8932,www.ticketweb.com
This local band sounds like a cross between The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr., but with a greater exploration of the country-ish leanings in both Paul Westerberg and J. Mascis’ songwriting. Their charisma and intentionality definitely make them a band to watch—they’re young yet, but they show a hell of a lot of promise and they are not kidding around.
Friday, 7:25 p.m.,House of Blues,15 Lansdowne St., Boston,$25-$40, 800-745-3000,www.livenation.com
Led by the great Fat Mike, NOFX is one of 90’s punk pop’s key bands. Despite their highly melodic style, their decidedly punk refusal of all major label offers and indifference toward radio and MTV meant they never fully crossed over to the mainstream, but it’s never really hurt them—their legions of fans hardly need to be told where to find them.