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To Do: March 20-27, 2013

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.


1. Hear Sigur Rós
Reykjavik’s other great weird musical export.
Yes, the Icelandic trio that performs principally in a made-up, semi-wordless, completely unintelligible language called Vonlenska is now big enough to fill an 18,000-seat arena. Ja!
Madison Square Garden, March 25.

2. See Passion
Stephen Sondheim’s 1994 musical returns.
John Doyle’s intimate, de-opera-fied chamber production—starring Ryan Silverman, Melissa Errico, and Judy Kuhn as repellent, magnetic Fosca—makes the “controversy” surrounding the Tony-winning original seem dumber than ever. Is it really so shocking to show ugly, pushy people in love? Isn’t that, like, most of us? —Scott Brown
Classic Stage Company, through April 14.

3. Read Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives
It starts intense, then stays that way.
The Book of My Lives opens with Hemon’s memory of nearly murdering his infant sister and does not subsequently slacken‚ although larger murderous forces sometimes claim the page in the Bosnian-American writer’s memoir, built as a set of linked essays. —Kathryn Schulz
Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

4. Hear Planetarium
New music of the spheres.
The cooler-than-thou triumvirate of Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan Stevens goes cosmic in this two-part evening. The first half features instrumental compositions by all three; in the second, Stevens expands his compositional horizons from Michigan and The BQE to a tour of the whole solar system. —Justin Davidson
BAM, March 21 through 24.

5. See Return to Oz
This Baum didn’t deserve to bomb.
With the small, muddled Oz the Great and Powerful doing boffo business, it’s time for another look at Disney’s last try at L. Frank Baum. The 1985 flop Return to Oz, directed by Walter Murch, begins with Aunt Em taking little Dorothy (still insisting she had an adventure with a talking scarecrow, etc.) for electroshock therapy—I know, sick. But what follows isn’t bad. —David Edelstein
On Netflix.

6. Revisit The Good Wife
If you’ve stepped away, you might try again.
Maybe we’ve just been starved for glimpses of genuine chemistry this season with all the bus sex (ew) and food play we’ve had to endure, but that non-kiss-seduction moment between Cary and Kalinda in the bar was just about the sexiest thing this show has given us in more than a year.
CBS, Sundays, 9 p.m.

7. See Ann on Broadway
Texas’s beloved governor rides back into town for her bio-play moment.
There’s not much play here, but it’s worth your time if you want to see the Grand Old Broad again, or just how a really good actress like Holland Taylor makes an impersonation into a character. —Jesse Green
At the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

8. Hear Jonathan Lethem and Jessica Hagedorn
He’s back in Brooklyn; she never left town.
Lethem’s a West Coaster now, but the guy whose science-fiction-inflected novels helped retire the term “outer boroughs” is in Kings County for the night. He’ll chat with the excellent Jessica Hagedorn, author of the novel Toxicology.
At Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St., Ft. Greene; March 20, 7:30 p.m.

9. Rewatch Season Sixteen of Saturday Night Live
“You’re great!” “No, you’re great.”
Why 1990–91?! Because you get to see the first (and funnier) appearance of the Five-­Timers’ Club, into which Justin Timberlake was just inducted by his A-list elders. Also, a few other beloved recurring characters—like Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley and Chris Rock’s Nat X—­debuted that year. R.E.M. did, too.
On Netflix and Hulu Plus.

10. Hear The Shostakovich String Quartets
The Jerusalem Quartet comes to Alice Tully Hall.
No twentieth-century composer packed more of his ragged soul into a tighter space than Dmitri Shostakovich did in these little pieces, and the Jerusalem Quartet is playing all fifteen in a cycle of concerts that concludes this week. —J.D.
March 22, 7:30 p.m., and March 24, 5 p.m.

11. Watch Phil Spector
Al Pacino, be our baby.
Pacino’s hooded stare and sheepdog-Garfunkel wig hold this film together, even when it goes full-on bonkers. David Mamet directed and wrote the script, which posits that Spector was basically duped by a gold digger even sicker and needier than himself. (Yes, it’s Mamet’s latest “WTF?” curveball.) Impassioned, sometimes laughable, fascinating docudrama. —Matt Zoller Seitz
HBO, March 24, 9 p.m.

12. Download Dave Brubeck’s Unsquare Dance
Who dances in 7/4 time? Jennifer Lawrence.
An irresistibly bouncy tune that the Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded in 1961, “Unsquare Dance” came roaring back into public view via Silver Linings Playbook’s soundtrack. Download for two minutes of treadmill fodder, or have a look at the early-sixties TV version, with two cute dancers, that’s on YouTube.
On Time Further Out; video at

13. Hear Marnie Stern’s The Chronicles of Marnia
Finger tapping run amok.
Super-quick guitar finger work, with all the finesse of heavy metal without the comical bombast. Stern’s shimmery voice tops it all off, occupying the exact stylistic midpoint between Yoko Ono and Belinda Carlisle.
Kill Rock Stars records.

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