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To Do: May 18–June 1, 2016

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

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TV
1. Watch Roots
The saga, reborn. 
This blockbuster, simulcast mini-series is a vivid and gripping update of the landmark 1977 TV series, based on Alex Haley’s book about the African-American experience from slavery onward. The all-star cast includes Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, Forest Whitaker, Mekhi Phifer, and Laurence Fishburne as Haley. —Matt Zoller Seitz
A&E, Lifetime, and History, May 30 at 9 p.m.

Pop
2. See Selena Gomez
Good for you. 
Escaping Disney can be a tricky feat, but Selena Gomez managed it with style on last year’s Revival; low, wobbly synths and minimal production left plenty of space for her breathy delivery and belted jams. At this show, expect slinky dance routines, sing-along hooks, and (she’s a grown-up!) tour-exclusive temporary tats.        
Barclays Center, June 1.

Art
3. See Philip Guston: Painter, 1957–1967
All artists need to see this show.
In three dozen paintings, this show tracks one of the most important and apparently gut-wrenchingly difficult transitions in all of modern art. We witness great Abstract Expressionist Guston as his style evolves into geometric configurations, taking him to the very brink of what was about to occur in his work: making giant juicy paintings of things like one-eyed beings lying awake smoking in bed, and Ku Klux Klansmen. —Jerry Saltz
Hauser & Wirth, through July 29.

Movies
4. See The Lobster
It’ll make you appreciate OKCupid. 
A scalding, weirdly insightful satire, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster is set in a resort of the future where singles get a short time to couple up — or they’re turned into animals. A wonderfully dopey Colin Farrell falls in with militants led by Léa Seydoux; Rachel Weisz is the lovely romantic who seems a bright prospect indeed. —David Edelstein
In theaters.

Books
5. Read Sweet Lamb of Heaven
Lydia Millet’s latest. 
A woman hears voices, hides out from her psycho-politician husband — and then things get interesting. Pulitzer finalist Millet isn’t one for genre conformity: Her narrator’s too passive for wifely revenge; her husband — picture Ted Cruz with charisma — too specific for Lifetime fare. But it’s the philosophical digressions and verbal fireworks that make this novel an indelible mold-breaker. —Boris Kachka
W.W. Norton.

Dance
6. See Devon Teuscher at American Ballet Theatre
A star role, a star in the making. 
When a ballerina is choreographed on, she becomes more than a pliable piece of clay: New steps are imbued with her essence and movement style. Bright soloist Devon Teuscher has been ripe for her muse moment; she gets it in Alexei Ratmansky’s newest work for the company, in which she’s the only woman, set to Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, After Plato’s Symposium. —Rebecca Milzoff
Metropolitan Opera House, May 18 and 19.

Classical Music
7. & 8. See Jack Quartet and Jennifer Koh
At the New York Phil Biennial. 
Two years ago, the New York Philharmonic inaugurated its citywide new-music biennial, now in its second edition. The versatile Jack Quartet kicks things off, performing music by composers you almost certainly haven’t formed an opinion about yet. Later in the week, there’s superstar violinist Jennifer Koh. She spends a lot of time performing big concertos with big orchestras, but she’s also a master of the brilliant miniature, and for the biennial, she collected more than 30 new brief pieces for solo violin by the likes of Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, and Timo Andres. The recital should feel like listening to a chain of tiny diamonds. —Justin Davidson
92nd St. Y, May 23 (Jack); National Sawdust, May 24 and 31 (Koh).

Pop
9. See Cyndi Lauper and Boy George
All through the night.
Her face and voice may conjure the so-unusual punky-pop princess she once was, but Cyndi Lauper has reinvented herself several times over — now covering country songs on her new album, Detour. With guest stars like Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, Lauper looks like far more than a dabbler; decide for yourself at this show, where she’s joined by musically kindred shape-shifting spirit Boy George.
Beacon Theatre, May 25 and 26.

Theater
10. See Incognito
Don’t I know you? 
Nick Payne’s Constellations was a highlight of Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2014–15 season. This season, MTC offers Payne’s follow-up drama, in which Morgan Spector, Geneva Carr, Heather Lind, and Charlie Cox play 21 characters in three interlinked stories that question the nature of memory and love; Doug Hughes directs. —Jesse Green
New York City Center Stage I, through June 26.

Movies
11. Watch Robert Downey (The Original)
Downey père. 
Do you know the work of Robert Downey? Not that one, you ignoramus — the original, director of such counterculture classics as that satire of both liberalism and advertising Putney Swope, which launches Film Forum’s retrospective. Don’t miss low-budget Chafed Elbows, starring Robert’s then-wife, Elsie (mom of Robert Jr.), playing all 13 of the film’s female roles, and “acid Western” Greaser’s Palace. —D.E.
Film Forum, May 20 through 26.

Books
12. Hear Marcia Clark
Having her say. 
Marcia Clark may have never wanted to relive her experience as prosecutor, but she got a dream do-over in FX’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (Sarah Paulson portrayed her superbly). She’ll discuss what it was like to watch that chapter of her life, along with her successful second career as a crime novelist (her newest, Blood Defense, is just out), with Cynthia McFadden, who covered the O.J. trial for ABC. 
92nd St. Y, May 26.

TV
13. Watch Genius by Stephen Hawking
They’ll blind you with science. 
The renowned physicist-slash-pop-culture-icon hosts this engaging series in which nonscientists participate in exercises designed (by Hawking and his staff) to explain theories of black holes, time travel, the statistical likelihood of E.T.’s, and other science-fictional subjects. —M.Z.S.
PBS, May 18 at 9 p.m.

Theater
14. See You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Good grief.
Surely more people have performed in high-school-drama-club productions of this 1967 musical than have ever seen it done professionally. Now’s your chance to redress that imbalance with the York Theatre Company’s revival of the charming — and refreshingly downbeat — Peanuts-based vaudeville. The cast is age appropriate, too, with Broadway kids from (among other shows) School of Rock, Matilda, and Kinky Boots. —J.G.
York Theatre at St. Peter’s, May 24 through June 26.

Art/Design
15. See Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony
The perfect cuppa.
For its 30th anniversary, the Noguchi Museum invited artist Tom Sachs to install its first one-man show since Isamu Noguchi founded the space. Sachs’s take on the highly disciplined and ritualized Japanese tea ceremony is a stylized, immersive environment that includes a bonsai tree made of over 3,600 welded, cast-bronze parts. It’s a surreal little world heightened by its juxtaposition with Noguchi’s colossal sculptures. —Wendy Goodman
Noguchi Museum, through July 24.

Pop
16. Listen to Always Strive and Prosper
Let A$AP Ferg inspire you.
On Ferg’s sophomore set, the beats are A-list (Skrillex, DJ Mustard, Clams Casino, DJ Khalil) and the material ultrapersonal, showcasing his range as a deft storyteller. “Let It Bang” boasts a straight fire verse from Schoolboy Q; “Hungry Ham” and “Strive” avoid the maudlin pitfalls about overcoming life’s challenges.
A$AP Worldwide/Polo Grounds Music/RCA.

Books
17. & 18. Read Sweetbitter Then See Stephanie Danler and Gabrielle Hamilton
Mouthwatering words. 
Sweetbitter
is the rare novel that transcends its hype — a big-advance debut about a big-city arriviste who glams up and bottoms out. Come for the Meyer-lemon-tart narrator, Tess; stay for author Danler’s lush and precise writing about food, drugs, and dives. Then, see her read and talk to another great food writer, Prune’s Gabrielle Hamilton. —B.K.
Knopf, May 24; BookCourt, May 26.

Theater
19. See Peer Gynt
Song of Norway.
We’ve seen what the minimalist John Doyle can do with musicals (Passion and Allegro at CSC, where he’ll soon be artistic director; The Color Purple on Broadway). But his production of Ibsen’s maximalist verse work — including trolls and a singing statue — previews what he might do with drama. —J.G.
Classic Stage Company, through June 19.

Movies
20. See The Nice Guys
Reconsider Russell Crowe.
Russell Crowe stars in this ironically titled buddy action comedy with Ryan Gosling. It might be terrific (it hasn’t been screened at this writing). But the prospect of Crowe in a formula comedy feels peculiar — he’s so serious! Let’s support him! In the book Hellraisers, we learn Richard Harris thought of Crowe as a son. Cherish Crowe! —D.E.
In theaters May 20.

Art
21. See Winter Paintings
Ryan Nord Kitchen, bold enough to go small.
Glowing small paintings of landscapes, shapes that evoke cities, rays of light, reflections: 27-year-old Kitchen taps into the tradition of American painters like Charles Burchfield, John Marin, and Alice Trumbull Mason, giving us wonderfully condensed visions of radiantly colored places of the mind. —J.S.
Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, through May 22.

Pop
22. Listen to Low Kii Savage
Kiiara makes an entrance.
With a voice resembling Lorde’s, Kiiara writes songs that mix introspective lyrics with woozy electro-R&B production. Her debut EP boasts two early song-of-the-summer candidates: the slinky “Feels” and “Say Anymore,” layering a hypnotic chorus over plinky kiddie piano.
Atlantic.

Dance
23. See Merce Cunningham Early Works
From the archive to the stage.
Dance is a difficult art form to preserve, but Merce Cunningham was better at it than most. Last year, thanks to the existence of a recently unearthed film, dancers Silas Riener and Jean Freebury embarked upon reconstructing the 1957 solo Changeling; it will be seen here for the first time in nearly six decades, preceded by a screening of Cunningham Ballett 1958, with Cunningham himself performing. —R.M.
Baryshnikov Arts Center, May 18 and 19.

Art
24. See They Just Behave Differently
Justine Hill’s colorful world.
Justine Hill’s Stella-esque works — animated, irregularly shaped canvases of sidewalk-chalk-colored shapes — actually comprise several panels carefully puzzled together. They’re human-scale works you can live with, given the perfect stage at this intimate gallery. 
Denny Gallery, through June 30.

Theater
25. See A Streetcar Named Desire
The stage, specifically. 
Magda Willi’s set design for the Young Vic revival of this classic puts the Kowalski apartment on a long, narrow, continuously rotating platform. Sometimes it takes a whole scene to get through one revolution; sometimes it turns fast enough to make you worry that Gillian Anderson, as Blanche, will fly out of her stiletto heels. It’s the primary objet d’art in a highly objectified production. —J.G.
St. Ann’s Warehouse, through June 4.


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