1. Read The Fall of Arthur
One author shall rule them all.
Tolkien-heads can get a rare fresh fix with the release of The Fall of Arthur, J.R.R.’s unfinished epic poem on the Arthurian legend. The hard-core fans should be warned that the work has more in common with Beowulf than with The Hobbit, but what risks being a mere literary curio is in fact an absorbing pleasure. In addition to the poem, the book includes notes and drafts by the author and intelligent commentary by his son, Christopher. —Kathryn Schulz
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
2. Laugh at Unscripted New York
Unpredictable improv; predictably funny.
More than 100 performers will be here, plus an audience-participation workshop from Second City’s Michael Gellman.
Theater 54, 244 W. 54th St., May 29–June 2.
3. Hear Big Band Smiths
Because Morrissey always needed a horn section.
The eleven-piece band known as the Titanics offer Morrissey this eccentric, sweet tribute for his birthday: gloomfest emo tunes goosed with full-on Tommy Dorsey–style arrangements.
The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32nd St., May 27.
4. Visit Luna Park
After Sandy, the return.
Its storm damage repaired, Coney Island’s newest park will reopen on May 25, with the debut of a huge new ride called Water Mania (kind of a teacups-flume mashup). Arriving later this year: Magic Bikes (you pedal your own glider) and Luna360 (it slings riders in cars overhead).
1000 Surf Ave., Coney Island.
5. See Peeples
A Tyler Perry movie that isn’t half-bad.
Free of the moralizing, awkward theatricality of most Tyler Perry films, this Meet the Parents–ish comedy is inane yet pleasant—and it’s helped along by a likable cast that’s clearly having fun. Kerry Washington, especially, gets to do a great juggling act: aggressively pleasant to everybody while keeping her anxiety and terror at bay. —Bilge Ebiri
In theaters now.
6. See "Expo 1"
Impressive ... if you can figure out what it is.
With its usual huh?-provoking rhetoric, MoMA PS1 has done a marvelous job of confusing the curious about its “Expo 1.” It’s a warmly shaggy show about beauty amid ruination: apocalyptic scenes; preserved shards of Icelandic glacier; Agnes Denes’s pre–Battery Park City photos of wheat fields in the shadows of the World Trade Center. The high point is Adrián Villar-Rojas’s La inocencia de los animales, a creepy sculpture on an architectural scale that seems to be bursting out of the husk of the museum. —Justin Davidson
PS1, through September 2.
7. Hear The New York Philharmonic Play Bruckner’s Third
Bruckner’s Third Symphony is among the mystical master’s more leisurely creations, but Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert has a knack for its inner drama. For the Memorial Day concert, the orchestra unfurls the piece in St. John the Divine, where reverent chords build up into a great rich vault of sound. —J.D.
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, May 27.
8. See Nikolai and the Others
Finding Terpsichore in New England.
In Richard Nelson’s engrossing new play, a group of Russian émigrés—Balanchine and Stravinsky among them—meet in Connecticut in 1948 for a weekend of pirozhki and paranoia. And, oh, yes, great art; the watershed ballet Orpheus is created before your eyes. —Jesse Green
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, through June 16.
9. See The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Doc Brown sings!
Duncan Sheik, having musicalized Wedekind with Spring Awakening, moves on to Brecht, providing the songs for a new production of his 1948 parable within a parable. Christopher Lloyd, going back to his Broadway past, stars. —J.G.
Classic Stage Company, through June 9.
10. Track Down How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything by Barbara Walters
On the occasion of her retirement.
Ms. Walters’s first book, published in 1970. Someone, please, bring it back into print.
Try the Strand Book Store or abebooks.com.
11. Listen to Touch by Daft Punk (Featuring Paul Williams)
From Muppets to robots.
So Daft Punk’s mellow comeback album isn’t quite the all-night dance party we’d been hoping for. But this track is worth your eight minutes, and not just for the oddness of the pairing. Under the vocoder-ed robots and spaceship noises lies evidence that Williams’s knack for the catchy pop ballad didn’t leave him in 1979.
12. Attend The VIDA Count and Gender Bias in Book Reviewing
I’ll be there.
In the aftermath of the annual VIDA Count, which tracks gender imbalances in literary culture, the National Book Critics Circle is hosting a panel on the subject with VIDA co-founder Erin Belieu, (new) New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul, novelist Meg Wolitzer, Tin House co-founder Rob Spillman, and your own New York book critic. Who has a whole heck of a lot of thoughts on this subject. —K.S.
Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th St., May 29, 4 p.m., free.