Friday, December 25, 2009

Weekend picks: Dec. 25-28

A scene from the Moscow Classical Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Dance: This is normally the time of year when we'd expect to see Ballet Florida's Nutcracker in Marie Hale's indelible, lovely production. Ballet Florida, sadly, is no more, but there is still a Nutcracker at the Kravis over Christmas. The Moscow Classical Ballet's version of Tchaikovsky's immortal 1892 ballet opened Christmas Eve, and continues tonight and Saturday. The company, founded in 1966 under the old USSR Ministry of Culture, has been a touring troupe for decades, and its Nutcracker has won praise for its traditional look and feel. Students from Hale's Ballet Florida successor, Dance Florida Academy, are taking part, so some of the old feeling of ballet in late December at the Kravis can go on. 7 pm tonight, 2 pm Saturday. Tickets: $20-$65. Call 832-7469 or visit www.kravis.org. -- G. Stepanich

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated.

Film: Yes, Hollywood aims its movies at teenagers, but somebody forgot to tell director-screenwriter Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, What Women Want). She makes movies for adults, particularly women, and she has succeeded again with It’s Complicated, opening in area theaters today (Christmas Day). Meryl Streep, who is defying the odds herself by suddenly becoming a bankable star at the age of 60, plays a finally well-adjusted divorcee who learns to her chagrin that she is not yet over her since-remarried ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and they fall into a torrid affair. Steve Martin plays the third wheel, Streep’s nice-guy architect who is also smitten with her, but doesn’t want to get involved if she is going to break his heart. It is a smart romantic comedy, which is almost a contradiction in terms these days. -- H. Erstein

Theater: Opening this weekend at GableStage in Coral Gables is a new play about backroom politics, Farragut North, about the limits of power and the costs one will endure to achieve it. Said to be based loosely on the career and political aspirations of Howard Dean, it focuses on a wunderkind press secretary whose rise is halted by the machinations of more seasoned operatives. Written by Beau Willimon, the tense drama opened last season in New York during the presidential election. GableStage artistic director Joe Adler stages the Southeastern premiere, with a cast that includes Gregg Weiner, Nick Duckart and Deborah Sherman. Continuing through Jan. 24. Call (305) 445-1119 for tickets. -- H. Erstein

Countess Therese von Brunsvik (1775-1861).

Music: Pianist Daniel Shapiro, who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music, returns to the Steinway Gallery in Boca Raton on Saturday afternoon for a concert of core works from the Austro-German repertoire. That includes the great Fantasy in C, Op. 17, in Schumann, the powerful Sonata No. 49 (in E-flat, Hob. XVI: 49) of Haydn, and a Beethoven sonata rarity: the No. 24 in F-sharp, Op. 78. This unusual, difficult work was dedicated to Therese Brunsvik, one of Beethoven's students, and a member of a family to which the composer always remained close. "Even without being sought out, the better among us bear one another in mind: this, too, is the case with you and me, worthy and admirable Therese," Beethoven wrote to her in 1811. Shapiro, an accomplished and penetrating player, takes the stage at 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call 929-6633 or visit www.pianolovers.org.

Composer Michael Bies.

A local composer offers a fresh collection of art songs set to texts by the great American poet William Carlos Williams in a concert Sunday afternoon at the Lighthouse Center of the Arts in Tequesta. Michael Bies, who teaches at the Jupiter Academy of Music, also is a composer with a sizeable body of work to his credit, as his Website shows. Baritone David L'Hommedieu will sing the Williams songs in its world premiere performance. Soprano Roberta Rehner also will be perform in the concert, which is dedicated to the art song and aria repertoire; music by Bernstein, Britten, Mozart, Schubert and Wolf is scheduled. The recital begins at 3 p.m. in the museum at the Lighthouse Center. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children. Call 746-3101 or visit www.lighthousearts.org.

Phish will bring in the New Year for its South Florida phans.

Local fans of the jam band Phish have a good way to end the new year by seeing one of four shows the band is giving at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Like the old Grateful Dead, Phish's loose, improvisational approach inspires a kind of loyalty that leads fans to become part of a huge, fervent community in which traditional forms of marketing, including radio play, are almost irrelevant. The shows from Monday through Wednesday begin at 7:30 pm, the three-set New Year's Eve show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets: $50. Visit livenation.com or ticketmaster.com. -- G. Stepanich

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