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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Explore the Creative Side of Cambridge

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3. What to Do

Future New York hits get their start at the American Repertory Theater.  

Catch future Broadway hits at the American Repertory Theater before they transfer to the Great White Way. In recent years, under Tony-winning artistic director Diane Paulus, the ART has hosted the starry pre–New York productions of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (with Audra McDonald, directed by Paulus herself), The Glass Menagerie (with Zachary Quinto), the Tony-grabbing revival of Pippin (also a Paulus joint), and LBJ drama All the Way (coming this spring, with Bryan Cranston). Experimental surprise successes like the immersive noir-Shakespeare fun house Sleep No More and the eight-hour Fitzgerald marathon Gatz got their start at the ART as well. The rest of this season is typically diverse, with Witness Uganda, a musical about an American volunteering in Africa; The Shape She Makes, a dance-theater piece about a child confronting her parents’ demons; and a new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with magic by Teller, music by Tom Waits, and dance by Pilobolus.

Pull on your black skinny jeans and time-travel back to the sixties at Harvard Square’s Beat Hôtel. The bar, brasserie, and live-music venue, open since September, takes its name (and mood) from a shabby spot in Paris’s Latin Quarter that once housed the likes of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. That bohemianism is evident in the lack of a cover charge and the nightly shows, which have included everything from Armenian jazz and Afro-Celtic funk to flamenco and New Orleans blues. In addition to sustainable, organic, and vegan wines on tap, the cocktail menu draws on Eastern influences just as the Beats once did: The Dharma Cocktail ($12) is made with kaffir lime vodka and aloe juice, while the Rum Cha Yen ($11) is a boozy take on the Thai iced tea, sweetened with condensed-milk simple syrup.

Wander Cambridge’s newest mini–design district, Observatory Hill, situated around the intersection of Concord Avenue and Huron Avenue about one mile northwest of Harvard Square. Named for its location in the shadow of Harvard’s historic astronomical research facility, the area is home to cheery Scandinavian design store Marimekko as well as a pair of boutiques with more local roots. In 2002, Pamela Watts debuted Reside, a gallery-worthy showroom of mid-century modern furnishings. Then, last June, her daughter, jeweler Nicole Rueda Watts, teamed with greenery designer Laura Jean Pecci to open Observatory just next door. Trained as a metalsmith, Watts crafts earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in an onsite studio, embellishing silver and bronze pieces with natural materials like peacock feathers, bone, moonstone, and freshwater pearls (earrings from $120); they’re for sale at the shop, along with vintage jewelry and mid-century modern and Hollywood Regency furniture in a space lush with Laura Jean’s floral displays, terrariums, and topiaries.

Published on Jan 24, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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