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Rockette all night long
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2004, plus the Huntington's new season and more

Huntington Theatre Company 2004-2005

At the Huntington Theatre Company’s press conference a week ago Monday to unveil the 2004-2005 season, more than just titles and dates were announced. As usual, the Huntington will offer five plays at the Boston University Theatre; it’s also presenting, with Broadway in Boston, the Abbey Theatre’s production of John Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World at the Wilbur Theatre November 2 through 28. But what makes next season different, and special, are the assorted productions scheduled for the new Virginia Wimberly Theatre, a 360-seat proscenium in the Theatre Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts that’s scheduled to open September 15.

"And we will be opening on time, despite the fact that the seats are coming from China," joked Huntington managing director Michael Maso. The first show the company will produce at its second stage is the world premiere of Sonia Flew (October 8 through November 28), by Melinda Lopez, a local playwright and actress and one of the Huntington’s four playwrights-in-resident through a program launched this year with support from a grant from the Calderwood Fund. Maso also announced that the Huntington will join with Our Place Theatre Project to host the African-American Theatre Festival at the Wimberly in January. And from March 18 through May 8, the Wimberly will offer Culture Clash in AmeriCCa. Created by a trio of Latino performers who provided a glimpse of their cheeky liveliness at the press conference, it’s a showcase of comic sketches about race and sociology that they developed through interviews around the country. A special Boston segment has been commissioned.

In May, moreover, the Wimberly will be the site of the 2005 Boston Theater Marathon. The first six editions of this annual event, which offers 10 hours of 10-minute plays by New England playwrights, have taken place at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, and they’ve been packed, with ticketholders standing in line waiting for seats (our review of this past weekend’s presentation is on page 5 of Arts). Being a bigger venue, the Wimberly will allow more people to see the marathon, and that will generate more money for charity, since the proceeds from the event go to the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund.

As for the Huntington’s main-stage season, it kicks off with August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (September 17 through October 17), the first installment of his decade-by-decade account of the African-American experience in the 20th century. That’s followed by Lanford Wilson’s Burn This (November 12 through December 12); Naomi Iizuka’s 36 Views (March 11 through April 10); and the William Finn/James Lapine musical Falsettos (May 20 through June 19). The fifth play, which is scheduled for January, has not been confirmed. For subscription information, call the Huntington box office at (617) 266-0800 or visit www.bu.edu/huntington.

— Liza Weisstuch

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2004

New York’s Rockettes in Boston Red Sox shirts? That was the sight that greeted the press a week ago Wednesday as the Wang Center made the long-awaited official announcement that it’s bringing The Radio City Christmas Spectacular to the Wang Theatre for 60 performances this December. What’s more, the Rockette ladies were the only Sox in action (they formed the traditional kick line) that day, since the guys got rained out. The announcement made it clear why the Wang Center is expecting the Rockettes to bring in more money than Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, which had occupied the Wang Theatre for the past 35 holiday seasons: The Nutcracker typically enjoyed just 45 performances, and ticket prices were somewhat lower. Prices for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular range from $64.50 to $74.50 for seats anywhere in the orchestra or mezzanine, though they drop to as low as $18.50 for the back of the balcony. The Wang Center’s Web site promises that "Children of all ages will be enchanted by live holiday entertainment as teddy bears dance, wooden soldiers come to life, snowmen shimmy, reindeer fly, elves rap, and the Radio City Rockettes perform their fancy footwork and eye-high kicks." But will the Hub’s children of all ages flock to a touring show in the absence of a live orchestra, Radio City’s mighty Wurlitzer organ and turntable stage, and the cachet of Radio City Music Hall itself? Especially when that show will be competing with The Nutcracker at the Colonial Theatre and The Lion King at the Opera House? Come December, we’ll all find out. Here’s the performance schedule for The Radio City Christmas Spectacular :

December 2: 7:30 p.m.

December 3: 1, 5, 8 p.m.

December 4: 11 a.m.; 2, 5, 8 p.m.

December 5: 1, 4, 7 p.m.

December 7: 7:30 p.m.

December 8: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 9: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 10: 1, 5, 8 p.m.

December 11: 11 a.m.; 2, 5, 8 p.m.

December 12: 1, 4, 7 p.m.

December 14: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 15: 11 a.m.; 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 16: 7:30 p.m.

December 17: 1, 5, 8 p.m.

December 18: 11 a.m.; 2, 5, 8 p.m.

December 19: 1, 4, 7 p.m.

December 21: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 22: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 23: 2, 8 p.m.

December 24: 1 p.m.

December 26: 1, 4, 7 p.m.

December 27: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 28: 7:30 p.m.

December 29: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 30: 2, 7:30 p.m.

December 31: 2, 1:30 p.m.

For more information and to order tickets for this and other Wang Center presentations, visit www.wangcenter.org or call (800) 447-7400.

— Jeffrey Gantz

Boston Ballet 2004-2005

Meanwhile, Boston Ballet, nothing daunted by having had to move its Nutcracker to the Colonial this year (it’ll be at the Opera House from 2005 through 2007), has announced its 2004-2005 season, an intriguing mix of old and new. One change from the current season is that the two repertory programs will not be sandwiched by a story ballet but will run just before or after. The season will open October 21 through 24 with "Balanchine Martins Balanchine," which comprises George Balanchine’s Rubies (the second "gem" of his three-part Jewels), a world premiere by New York City Ballet artistic director Peter Martins, and Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15. Rubies is set to Igor Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, which is the title under which the company has previously performed the piece; Divertimento No. 15 is set to Mozart’s Divertimento in B-flat for Two Horns and Strings. That’ll be followed October 28 through 31 and November 4 through 7 by John Cranko’s wonderful adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, which the company first performed in 1995; Kurt-Heinz Stolze, who fashioned the Tchaikovsky score for Cranko’s Onegin, performed similar miracles with the music of Domenico Scarlatti for this one. The Nutcracker will run November 26 through December 30.

Auguste Bournonville’s La Sylphide, which hasn’t been seen here in recent (or even not-so-recent) memory, will be presented March 3 through 6 and 10 through 13 in honor of the great Danish choreographer’s 200th birthday, in a new production by Peter Cazalet. It will be followed by the second repertory program, "Fallen Angels," which comprises two works by Jirí Kylian, Fallen Angels (music by Steve Reich) and Sarabande (J.S. Bach), William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated (Thom Willems), which the company first performed in 2002, and a world premiere by Lucinda Childs, an original member of New York’s Judson Dance Theater who has worked with Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, John Adams, Frank Gehry, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The season will conclude May 5 through 15 with The Sleeping Beauty, which the company last performed in 2001.

For more information about Boston Ballet’s 41st season, visit the company’s Web site, www.bostonballet.org. New subscriptions will go on sale June 2; call Boston Ballet subscriber services at (617) 695-6955. Tickets for The Nutcracker will go on sale in August.

— Jeffrey Gantz

Free-improv series

Alto-saxophonist David Gross has been a crucial activist on the local free-improv scene for the past decade. This Friday, April 23, he initiates a new series at Gallery 108, 108 Beacon Street in Somerville. Joe Montero will play solo percussion; he’ll be followed by the wonderful duo Nmperign, with trumpeter Greg Kelley and soprano-saxophonist Bhob Rainey. Turntablist/electronics man Jay Sullivan and Lindi’s Radio, with guitarist/vocalist Matt Samolis and violinist Katt Hernandez, will appear on April 30; bassist Mike Bullock and the duo of Gross and vocalist Liz Tonne (celebrating the release of their new 10-inch LP) will arrive on May 7. For more information, call (617) 441-3833. And on May 22, Gross will present the esteemed German pianist George Graewe at Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street in Inman Square; call (617) 876-6060.

— Jon Garelick

Issue Date: April 23 - 29, 2004
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