Saturday, December 31, 2011

What to do on First Night

Yes, the last night of the year has once more rolled around - only in these parts we call it "First Night" rather than "Last Night" (perhaps for obvious reasons).  And once more hordes of revelers (even more than usual, I'd guess, as the weather's not too bad) with noisemakers that would have tried the patience of the newly-reformed Grinch will be swarming the streets of Boston till past midnight.

BUT this year I will again be among them, trying not to feel too Grinch-y as I make my way among the crowds.  And if you decide to join me (along with several hundred thousand other Bostonians), you may be wondering - what should you see?

Well, here's my short list - Mike Daisey is making a rare appearance in these parts at the Huntington at 9:30 pm.  This is one of those controversial shows where for a little extra cash you can nab a premium seat, but there still should be room for everybody (the usual First Night button costs just $18).  Not far away, in Symphony Hall, gospel and soul great Mavis Staples will be holding forth in Symphony Hall at 9 pm.  Meanwhile Suzanne Vega will be taking the stage at Jordan Hall at precisely the same time.  So expect crowds over in the Huntington area.

Elsewhere, a few other events stand out (note - most of these will be either highly popular, or are limiting First Night attendance to the first 100 in line, so plan accordingly):  The Central Square Theater is offering free admission for button-wearers to Arabian Nights, which I listed as one of the best shows of 2011.  You can't do better than this for kids who are into storytelling (although fair warning, it's a little long for the youngest).  Meanwhile downtown the Boston Ballet is once more shaking up The Nutcracker for its final bow at 7:30 pm at the Opera House; this loosey-goosey, what-the-hell version was a hoot last year, so I'm sorry to be missing it.  For those with a classical-music bent, over at Emmanuel Church at 8:30 pm, Opera Boston is staging Mozart's very first (one-act) opera, Bastien und Bastienne, which I've seen before and can attest is a charmer (and suitable for children, at least those who are within a few years of Mozart's age when he wrote it - i.e., twelve).  And finally, over in a ballroom at the Hynes Convention, you should definitely check out local great Sean Fielder and the Boston Tap Company as they dazzle you with their fleet footwork at 9:30 pm - and even devise a dance challenge!

And don't forget that Boston Baroque is once more offering its own charming New Year's tradition - concerts featuring Bach, Corelli, Vivaldi and Handel at Sanders Theatre both tonight and tomorrow (a "First Day" celebration).  These concerts are always packed, and always delightful - one of the highlights of the classical music season.  If there are still tickets available, don't miss it.

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