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To Do: February 7–February 21, 2018

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

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Art
1. See An Assembly of Gods
For Heaven’s sake. 
A one-painting exhibit guaranteed to knock your visual socks off. In the complex religious systems of China, the chief gods visit Earth once a year for inspection. Here, they’re in this late-18th- or early-19th-century painting: scores of deities, bodhisattvas, goddesses, Confucius himself, and, for Game of Thrones fans, an actual “Mother of Dragons” sailing on a ship with her progeny! —Jerry Saltz
Asia Society, through March 25.

Theater
2. See X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. the Nation
Blood upon the Capitol.
Playwright Marcus Gardley riffs on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to bring to vivid life the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, illuminating the complexities of that colossus of the civil-rights movement. —Sara Holdren
The Acting Company at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, through February 18.

Classical Music
3. Hear the New York Philharmonic
Soaring sounds. 
One reason to root for the (now quashed) plan to rebuild David Geffen Hall was the prospect that the auditorium might finally get an honest-to-goodness pipe organ. For now, the electronic kind will have to do when Kent Tritle makes the building tremble at the end of Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony. Not fearing the competition from a keyboard that goes up to 11, Leif Ove Andsnes will also perform Britten’s Piano Concerto. —Justin Davidson
David Geffen Hall, February 8 through 10.

TV
4. Watch Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars
Why does love have to be so sad? 
Directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, who used Eric Clapton’s music in her film Rush, this is a compact yet thorough and surprisingly candid portrait of Clapton’s life and times, covering all the expected high points but also delving into his alcoholism and drug use. With music this recognizable and a subject who’s lived this hard, even a lackluster documentary might still wring a tear or two, but this one’s a four-hanky special. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Showtime, February 10.

Movies
5. See Oscar-Nominated Documentaries
Getting to the truth. 
Although we all carp about the nominations, the Academy’s Best Documentary category provides a handy list for what to watch in the next few weeks. You can stream three of the nominated films on Netflix: the first-person sports-doping quasi-thriller Icarus, the horrifying Last Men in Aleppo, and Yance Ford’s exploration of his brother’s murder, Strong Island. —David Edelstein
Netflix.

Pop
6. Listen to Little Dark Age
Warm up your life. 
The East Coast psych-pop duo MGMT trades big hooks for stacks of gauzy synths on its fourth album, which nudges the group’s sound into the electric bedroom-pop space championed by oddball auteurs like Ariel Pink and Gary Wilson. You’re gonna want this one around when the winter chill subsides. —Craig Jenkins
Columbia, February 9.

Art
7. See Katherine Bernhardt
Go, give in. 
No one turns up the optical-color pizzazz and visual-symbolic juju higher or harder than wild-thing painter extraordinaire Katherine Bernhardt. She’s our Gauguin by way of Warhol, Hockney, and retinal ecstasy. Electric candy-colored pinks and magentas from outer space predominate in these mash-ups of Darth Vader, cigarette butts, watermelon slices, and mangoes. —J.S.
Canada gallery, 333 Broome Street, through February 11.

Pop
8. See Romeo Santos
Let the spirit move you.
The Bronx-born Puerto Rican and Dominican singer Romeo Santos brings English- and Spanish-language bangers like “Promise” and “Odio” back to a hometown crowd this month. Come to Madison Square Garden for a platter of hits with a side of heartbreak from the self-professed King of Bachata. —C.J.
MSG, February 15 through 17.

Classical Music
9. Hear The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
All in the family. 
America has a long history of political dynasties: The nation’s second president, John Adams, sired the sixth. Composer dynasties are rarer but oddly, well, familiar: Samuel Adams, the 32-year-old son of, yes, John Adams, is a composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which performs his Many Words of Love, nicely tucked between Verdi and Brahms. Riccardo Muti conducts. —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, February 10.

TV
10. Watch Our Cartoon President
Trump, animated. 
Yes, presidents have been caricatured in scripted episodic television before (remember Spitting Image?), and yes, there’s a fish-in-a-barrel, how-can-you-make-jokes-about-such-a-self-owning-disaster aspect to this White House. That said, Our Cartoon President, executive-produced by Stephen Colbert and based on the Trump-focused shorts that frequently appear on his Late Show, is game to set new roasting precedent, and who’ll argue that there isn’t material there?
Showtime, February 11.

Theater
11. See Is God Is
The good, the bad, and the angry. 
Playwright Aleshea Harris won the 2016 Relentless Award for her multi-genre modern myth of a play about two southern sisters on a cross-country quest for vengeance. Dark comedy, Greek tragedy, spaghetti Westerns, and Afropunk come together in this exciting world premiere. —S.H.
Soho Rep, through March 11.

TV
12. Watch Behind the Movement
Where credit is due. 
Meta Golding, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Washington, and Roger Guenveur Smith appear in this original movie about the Montgomery bus boycott, which is presented here not as the spontaneous act of protest described in two generations of history textbooks but as the inaugural salvo in a campaign that was meticulously planned and executed. —M.Z.S.
TV One, February 11.

Art
13. See Derrick Adams: Sanctuary
All are welcome. 
Deconstructivist artist Derrick Adams puts history in a new context with this exhibition inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book, the guidebook for black travelers created by a New York postal worker during the Jim Crow era.
Museum of Arts and Design, through August 12.

Books
14. Read I Wrote This Book Because I Love You
What’s it all about?
Comedic essayist Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing) has a knack for creating meaning and empathy from his own admittedly narcissistic musings and tales of relationship foibles. His new, crisply written collection tackles his childhood, more failed romances, and midlife questioning with a light touch and a poignant finish.
Simon & Schuster.

Theater
15. See An Ordinary Muslim
The things we carry.
Azeem Bhatti and his wife, Saima, are struggling to balance the demands of faith, family, and a rapidly changing modern world in this world-premiere play and professional debut from Hammaad Chaudry. Obie Award winner Jo Bonney directs Chaudry’s thoughtful examination of a British Muslim family grappling with both their Pakistani heritage and their Western home. —S.H.
New York Theatre Workshop, February 7 through March 11.

Classical
16. Hear The Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Heed the calling.
When the National guitarist Bryce Dessner heard mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor sing Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, he knew he wanted to write a piece for that voice, in that language (Spanish), with that same dreamily aching beauty. The result is Voy a Dormir, which O’Connor sings on a program with Jeremy Denk playing Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto because … well, just because.        —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, February 15.

Pop
17. Listen to By the Way, I Forgive You
Emotional peaks and valleys. 
Brandi Carlile’s got a voice that can shatter hearts, and the Washington folksinger does just that on her sixth studio album and her first in collaboration with hotshot Nashville producer Dave Cobb and outlaw-country heir apparent Shooter Jennings. Carlile’s powerhouse vocals drive delicate songs like “The Joke” and “The Mother” to dizzying heights. —C.J.
Low Country Sound/Elektra, February 16.

Books
18. Read White Houses
We could be friends.
Best-selling author Amy Bloom (Away) brings us a fictional account of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok. Steeped with open secrets, intimate tension, and historical truths, the book expertly portrays the kaleidoscopic forms womanhood can take.
Random House, February 13.

TV
19. Watch Here and Now
Alan Ball, back on HBO.
Ball, the creator of Six Feet Under and True Blood, returns to his premium-cable home with this drama about a multiethnic family with grown kids dealing with the pressures of contemporary life. Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter star as the patriarch and matriarch.
HBO, February 11.

Books
20. Read The Wizard and the Prophet
Saving the uninhabitable Earth.
Charles C. Mann (1491) lays out the lives and theories of two incredibly influential thinkers who had opposing answers to the question that dogs us long after their deaths: How do we survive our own ravaging of Earth? The debate is between “Prophet” William Vogt, who evangelized for conservation, and “Wizard” Norman Borlaug, a proto–Silicon Valley utopian who promoted technological cures. —Boris Kachka
Knopf.

TV
21. Watch Everything Sucks!
Your teen years all over again.
With shows like Stranger Things and Big Mouth, Netflix has become a hub for adolescent coming-of-age stories. Add Everything Sucks! to that list. With a cast of charming young actors and constant ’90s signifiers, this show may be all that nostalgic millennials will want to binge-watch on Presidents’ Day weekend.
Netflix, February 16.

Classical
22. Hear Nadine Sierra
Hidden delights.
Since its restoration and reopening in 2013, the Armory’s spectacular yet intimate Board of Officers room has become one of the city’s most essential recital venues. The stellar young soprano Nadine Sierra and pianist Bryan Wagorn perform a program of German, American, and Latin American lieder. —J.D.
Park Avenue Armory, February 16 and 18.

Movies
23. See A Fantastic Woman and Loveless
Modern romance.
Both of these films opened in 2017 to qualify for Academy Awards, and they’ve both been nominated. The title character of the potent Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman was born a man and faces all sorts of prejudices when her older lover dies. Loveless is a nasty divorce saga about two miserable people and the 12-year-old son caught in the middle. —D.E.
In theaters now; opens February 16.

Pop
24. Listen to Crooked Shadows
Impassioned and anthemic.
Veteran emo singer-songwriter Chris Carrabba revives his beloved Dashboard Confessional moniker for its first album of new material in nearly a decade with this winter’s new release. Tunes about grace under pressure and strength in dire times abound. —C.J.
Fueled by Ramen, February 9.

Opera
25. See Semiramide
At long last. 
Rossini’s Babylonian dazzler comes back to the Met for the first time in a generation with a headliner that should make the wait worthwhile: The explosive but refined Angela Meade sings the title role. —J.D.
Metropolitan Opera, opens February 19.


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