BOSTON — Are the spirit of the times and the spirit of the holidays on a collision course? Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time of good cheer towards all men (and women), a celebration of our founding fathers giving thanks to their new world, and, for many, the birth of Jesus Christ.
But today it could be said that the feeling among many people this holiday season is not one of joy and hope, but a heightened sense of anxiety that threatens to derail the holiday train and throw it right off the tracks.
One way to return the essence of the season is to see a “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” which opens on Nov. 29 for a four-day run at the Boch Center-Shubert Theatre. The unforgettable music of Vince Gueraldi brings people back to this story time and time again and there are several threads to pull on that resonate today-inclusion, tolerance, anti-bullying, and independent thought and speech.
This story also works as a reminder of better days and kinder times, when the world seemed a lot simpler and in many ways much safer. Baby boomers grew up with the Peanuts gang and introduced them to their kids, who still love the timeless group of characters. Lucy, Charlie, Linus, and Schroeder are a staple in the line up of holiday must-sees and accompanying the original Peanuts gang will be Rudoph, Frosty, the Grinch and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Perhaps what remains relevant for so many of us is that in each one of these stories lies the power to defeat the bad guys and believe, in the end, in decency and the basic goodness of mankind.
For those looking for fun ways to celebrate the holidays, Charlie Brown’s Christmas runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. Or, by clicking here.
The most striking element of opening night at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was the diversity of the audience and the connection that was made by people of all colors that evening.
In a world where the media seem to barrage people everyday with negativity around race relations in this country, the congeniality and shared excitement for the evening was the prevailing sentiment among the crowd. The performances by the cast of “The Color Purple” were filled with raw emotion, and the audience responded enthusiastically. Strong and natural yet controlled, the actors spun a powerful version of Walker’s story that was more upbeat and positive and less focused on the horrific treatment suffered by these southern African-American women during the 1920s and 30s because of their race and culture.
Moving quickly through the story, the vocal capabilities of the lead actresses, Adrianna Hicks in the starring role of Cecie, and Carla Stewart as Shug Avery, were worth the trip alone. The arts play an ever more important role in bringing people together and encouraging them to find common ground in the things they love. This is the message that Americans need to hear and for a few hours that magical evening all agendas were checked at the door, making opening night’s achievement truly worth the standing ovation it received.
Tickets are on sale now at the Boch Center Box Office, bochcenter.org, or by calling (866) 348-9738.
WHEN THE STARS BEGIN TO FALL: IMAGINATION AND THE AMERICAN SOUTH
Marginalized and “outsider” artists dominate the 35 talents represented in this showcase of photography, paintings, and sculpture produced mainly between the 1960s and today — from people of faith to people in prison. But each unique piece is a brush stroke in a larger depiction of the sultry fable that is America’s Deep South. And if some of them happen to involve eerie photographs of semi-humanoid creatures in kitschy wood-paneled dens — well then, color this true blue Yankee heart intrigued.
WHERE: The Institute of Contemporary Art
WHEN: February 4 — May 10
It’s a brand new year. And if one of your resolutions is to be a truly well rounded culture vulture, you’re in luck. We looked ahead to the first quarter of 2015, assembling a flock of diverse art outings that range from glossy, big-budget Broadway tours to edgier fringe theater, photographic exhibitions from pioneering artists to curious installations from under-the-radar names. This year, spread your wings — and open your mind — to encompass a greater swath of all that Boston’s impressive arts scene has to offer.
Born within the 60s counter-culture movement, this Vermont-based theater troupe is known for its avant-garde use of progressive politicking puppetry: think oversized effigies of animals, Wall Street fat cats, and Uncle Sam used alongside song and dance to create curious — okay, often strange — spectacles that comment on everything from international wars to nuclear power. Bread & Puppet Theater’s run at the Cyclorama will feature two live shows: “Captain Boycott” and “The Nothing is Not Ready Circus,” both of which tackle themes of populist uprising. No matter where you fall on the left-right spectrum, you have to love such wonderfully wacky yet interminably heartfelt art.
WHEN: January 24 — February 1
Not all jukebox musicals are created equal. And “Motown” has met with mixed reviews since its Broadway premiere in 2013, with some critics irked by its overstuffed songbook of 60+ recognizable hits — many reduced to only partial versions. But the story of Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based Motown record label, famous for churning out era-defining records by black artists like Diana Ross, The Four Tops, and the Jackson 5, feels especially relevant in 2015, when the popular music industry is finally beginning to have important conversations about cultural appropriation. (It’s been a bad year for Iggy Azalea.) Don’t want to think that hard? Kick back and enjoy the tunes. There’s a lot.
WHERE: Boston Opera House
WHEN: January 27 — February 15
Born in 1912 in the small Midwest city of Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks had a childhood of hardships: from the death of his mother, who left behind 15 struggling children, to the pervasive racial discrimination that accompanied life for an African-American man. But in 1948, he became the first African-American photographer to be hired full-time by “LIFE” magazine, and soon after returned home to capture a visual essay that reconnects the shutterbug artist to his hometown — full of pleasant memories, and many painful ones too.
WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts
WHEN: January 17 — September 13
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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