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To Do: December 2-December 16, 2015

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

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TV
1. Watch The Wiz Live!
Soon as you get home.
The funky musical of The Wizard of Oz gets a live-TV performance (by the same folks behind Peter Pan Live!), which could mean we’re in for another hatewatch, but with a cast like this it seems less likely: newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man, Uzo Aduba as the Good Witch, Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch, and Queen Latifah as the Wiz (arguably “as herself”). —Matt Zoller Seitz

Pop
2. Go to Z100’s Jingle Ball
’Tis the season to get turnt.
Think of this as the annual Christmas pageant at a school where everyone happens to be very, very famous. StubHub’s your best bet to see performers like R&B golden boy the Weeknd, pop-rock heartthrobs 5 Seconds of Summer, vocal powerhouse Demi Lovato, and beloved new New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap. —Lindsay Zoladz

Art
3. See Brice Marden: New Paintings and Drawings
Momentous work from an American master.
In this somber, enticing exhibition, Marden pushes the boundaries of his work in ways that open up fissures into his thinking. Widening spaces gap at the bottom of his paintings, marked with drips, while multipanel paintings recompose his color systems in new ways. Even his continuous circuits now dart or wind across, not around, canvases. All combine into swelling morphological spaces that vibrate with unnameable color, like beautiful rivers of memory. —Jerry Saltz
Matthew Marks, through December 24.

Theater
4. See Kristine Nielsen in Hir
More is more.
Taylor Mac’s gender- and genre-bending black comedy about the people liberation leaves behind requires a big central performance and gets it from Kristine Nielsen. But while Nielsen’s full-frequency voice and spring-loaded eyes make her a shrine to maximalism, her searching intelligence, and ability to convey it onstage, suggest great subtlety beneath the fireworks. —Jesse Green

Theater
5.–7. See Room, Brooklyn, and Mockingjay Part 2
Sisters doin’ it for themselves.
Instead of standing in line for a week with the fanboys to get into The Force Awakens, why not check out some of the most remarkable female performances of 2015? Start with the brilliant Brie Larson as a mother laboring to protect her 5-year-old from their horrific reality in Room. Move on to the luminous Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn as an Irish immigrant who defies easy characterization: She’s compliant and headstrong. And don’t be put off by the monster-budget Hunger Games “franchise” built around Jennifer Lawrence: Her Katniss in Mockingjay Part 2 is a marvelous portrait of a young woman who resists being turned into a caricature for propaganda. —David Edelstein
In theaters.

New Music
8. Hear Steel Hammer
Industrial strength.
The composer Julia Wolfe has a soft spot for industrial brawn: She won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for her ode to coal miners, Anthracite Fields. Now she returns to her extended meditation on the ballad of John Henry with a staging by Anne Bogart. There will be banjos. —Justin Davidson
BAM Harvey Theater, December 2 through 6.

Pop
9. Listen to Little Mix’s Get Weird
Big-voiced British ladies.
It’s taken America a long time to get on the Little Mix train, but they’re finally gaining some buzz Stateside. More than three-quarters of the songs on their third album are winners; start with “The End,” a bluesy declaration of the absolute end of a relationship, sung a cappella.
Sony.

Theater
10. See Sexism. Racism. Show Tunes. Discuss.
Musically incorrect.
The Encores! umbrella extends its reach again with Encores! Unscripted, a series of discussions and performances produced with WNYC. The first of the season looks at great musicals with less-than-great politics; Encores!’s Jack Viertel is joined by Jeanine Tesori, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Sheldon Harnick. —J.G.
The Greene Space, December 14.

Books
11. Read The Blizzard
Vladimir Sorokin’s awesome absurdism.
It’d be tempting to call this The Master and Margarita and Zombies, if Sorokin’s brilliant fantasy-satire weren’t so original and his political allegories so sadly current. Dr. Platon Ilich and his un-trusty guide, Crouper, riding into a snowstorm to cure a village of incipient zombies, bring to mind Beckett’s tramps, but with funnier bickering and even trippier encounters. —Boris Kachka
FSG.

Museum Shows
12. Learn About The Secret World Inside You
It might turn your stomach.
The microbiome certainly feels like the most exciting part of medical science right now, with so-kooky-they-might-actually-work advances (fecal transplants?). This wide-ranging exhibit encourages a deeper look at our insides. Zoom in on 17 animated microbial scenes, and get to know the friendly mites on your eyelashes.
American Museum of Natural History, through August 14.

Pop
13. Hear Neko Case
An encyclopedic evening.
The sumptuously clarion-voiced singer just put out an impressive career-spanning vinyl boxed set called Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule, and she’s planned a small tour in support of it, which means her set list at the Apollo should be something of a retrospective. As Truckdriver ably proves, her back catalogue’s an embarrassment of riches. —L.Z.
Apollo Theater, December 4.

Theater
14. See Phalaris’s Bull
What does it all mean?
With philosophers under attack from Marco Rubio, it’s about time we had a one-man theatrical event that offers a “solution to the world’s pain,” based on the wisdom of Kierkegaard and his ilk. Self-proclaimed underground philosopher Steven Friedman serves up the deep thoughts. —J.G.
Beckett Theater, December 12 through January 16.

Movies
15. See Killing Them Safely
Stunning.
Nick Berardini’s shocking doc was first called Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, from the YA novel featuring a boy and his nonlethal proto-Taser. What’s impressive about the film is that it opens with the high ideals of the Taser’s creator and its current owners: It’s a way to disable perps without killing them. But the force can be lethal, and there are hair-raising stats — and heartbreaking stories — to prove it. — D.E.
In theaters.

Classical Music/Performance Art
16. See and Hear Goldberg
Marathon listening.
The real world does constant battle with the concertgoing experience: We rush from work, phones buzzing, and try to switch our brains and bodies into silent, focused alertness. The performance artist Marina Abramovic creates a kind of experiential airlock between the street and music here: Before Igor Levit plays Bach’s Goldberg Variations, audience members stow their worldly possessions in a locker and sit in long, meditative silence. —J.D.
Park Avenue Armory, December 7 through 19.

Dance
17. See Keigwin + Company
With a big solo.
Larry Keigwin’s movement has a warm, easy humanity that always makes his troupe’s performances far more relatable than most modern dance. Even so, this season should be special: Keigwin will dance a solo for the first time in ten years, alongside new work by young choreographers he’s mentored. —Rebecca Milzoff
Joyce Theater, December 8 through 13.

Movies
18. See Mustang
It’s France’s Oscars submission this year.
In Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Erguven’s remarkable, harrowing coming-of-age film, five young sisters in a Turkish village on the Black Sea find that their free spirits run counter to the local conservatism. But far from your typical tradition-vs.-liberated-heroes narrative, Erguven’s film portrays the insidious, corrosive paternalism of this world. —Bilge Ebiri
In theaters.

Art
19. See Jennifer Bornstein’s New Rubbing and Psychological Tests
Nothing is quite what it seems.
A wall of drawings that at first seem like blueprints, skins, or diagrams, each in fact a rubbing of an everyday object. Across the gallery, white plaster contraptions turn out to be props for a rat circus — a maze, a running wheel, a tightrope — set up and then filmed as rodents made their ways through. In this compelling artist’s new show, the rubbings and the rodents come together in the mind, creating an inner-encyclopedia of behavior, design, the little things of life, and a lot of mystery. —J.S.
291 Grand St., through December 6.

TV
20. Watch Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of ‘New Yorker’ Cartoonists
Let the light chuckles begin.
Director Leah Wolchok’s slight but disarmingly likable documentary looks at some of the magazine’s most prolific and beloved cartoonists through the lens of their editor, Bob Mankoff. Along the way we get a survey of the tropes, clichés, and familiar images that make a New Yorker cartoon a New Yorker cartoon. Roz Chast, Emily Flake, Liana Finck, and Edward Steed serve as delightfully eccentric foils to Mankoff, and there are some great bits about the magazine’s place within (and apart from) the city whose name it bears. —M.Z.S.
HBO, December 7 at 9 p.m.

TV
21. See Plaid Tidings
In excelsis Day-O.
In Forever Plaid, the ’90s Off Broadway revue celebrating guy groups of the 1950s, a close-harmony quartet reassembles after being killed in a bus crash. Now, still dead, they’re back with a holiday concert with daredevil carol arrangements and a Caribbean Christmas tribute. —J.G.
York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s, December 8 through 27.

New Music
22. Hear Split
Mega-music.
Composer Andrew Norman has been churning out the orchestral equivalent of action movies — big, explosive works with monosyllabic titles (Play, Switch). Jeffrey Kahane gives the world premiere of Norman’s most recent blockbuster, the piano concerto Split, with the Philharmonic, cushioning it between a Beethoven symphony and a Strauss tone poem. —J.D.
David Geffen Hall, December 10 through 12.

Pop
23. Listen to Le1f’s Riot Boi
No one’s making music like this.
It feels like we’ve spent a thousand years waiting for the debut album from the rap iconoclast Le1f, but finally it’s arrived listing a diverse array of producers. Start with Evian Christ and Lunice’s “Umami/Water,” a single that’s part rubbery trap banger dedicated to trans activism, part warped fever dream riffing on “Misirlou.”
XL/Terrible.

Photography
24. Go to Snapshot
Lens into the past.
The impeccably preserved rooms of the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum would make any Instagrammer snap-happy. There’s usually a no-photos rule on premises, but for one night the ban will be lifted; capture the museum’s historic rooms and German saloon (with free local snacks!) to your heart’s content.
Tenement Museum, December 4 at 6:30 and 8 p.m.

Books
25. Read Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol
Blame it on the …
Prohibition is typically invoked as a cautionary tale about the limits of any war on vice. Harvard historian McGirr wants to reinstate it as a pivotal piece of American history, marking the start of our national split into possibly permanent social factions. —B.K.
W.W. Norton.


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