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To Do: June 15–September 5, 2016

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

1. See The BFG
Your first good cry of the summer. 
After proving himself in the world of grown-up cinema, Steven Spielberg returns to the realm of “family” entertainment with an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s friendly-giant epic. Response at Cannes was mixed, but we non-cynics can pray that Spielberg will mine both the childlike joy and the mature darkness in Dahl’s masterpiece, and that the giant (voiced by the bottomlessly soulful Mark Rylance) will rekindle that old E.T. magic. —David Edelstein
In theaters July 1.

2. See the Cure
It’ll be just like heaven. 
England’s premier gloom merchants recently embarked on a two-month North American tour that promises a mix of classics, rarities, and new material in celebration of nearly 40 years of goth-rock excellence. Their mid-June MSG date sold out so quickly that they’ve added two more; come early for the opener, Scottish indie-rock trio the Twilight Sad, whose autumnal mood pieces should set the scene quite nicely. —Craig Jenkins
Madison Square Garden, June 18 through 20.

3. See Takarazuka Chicago
All that jazu.
You might not expect the Lincoln Center Festival to present Kander and Ebb’s Chicago as one of its few theatrical offerings — especially when, 13 blocks south, the show’s commercial revival is still the longest-running domestic musical in Broadway history. But the version playing for four days this summer, from Japan’s Takarazuka Revue, turns the quintessentially American amorality tale into an all-female, all-Japanese fun-house mirror, revealing its inner avant-garde. —Jesse Green
David H. Koch Theater, July 20 through 24.

4. See Nicole Eisenman: Al-ugh-ories
Watch her moves, painters. 
The New Museum is killing it this summer with five solo shows by women artists. Start with Nicole Eisenman’s masterful images of people having sex, Netflixing and chilling, and getting down on the train or in beer gardens. With each surface and subject, this MacArthur winner gives you much to chew on and ruminate over. —Jerry Saltz
New Museum, through June 26.

5. Watch The Night Of
Dark stuff. 
Based on the BBC series Criminal Justice, this mini-series follows the ordeal of Naz (Riz Ahmed), a college student who’s sent to Rikers Island after being accused of murdering a one-night stand (John Turturro plays his defense attorney). Written by Richard Price (Clockers) and by producer-director Steven Zaillian (Searching for Bobby Fischer), it has the down-and-dirty feel of a ’70s Sidney Lumet thriller; atmosphere and characterization are everything. —Matt Zoller Seitz
HBO, July 10 at 9 p.m.

6. See Twyla Tharp Dance
Here last fall, back this summer. 
It’s a rare treat to see Twyla Tharp’s own troupe on a local stage, rarer still twice within a year,
so this summer season is not to be missed: It spans a wide swath of Tharp’s career, from 1976’s Country Dances to a premiere set to Beethoven’s Opus 130, all on the Joyce’s intimate stage, where her expertly chosen, highly individual dancers should shine. —Rebecca Milzoff
Joyce Theater, July 11 through 23.

7. See Disclosure
And get there early. 
They’ve mastered a build-and-release endorphin rush blending Chicago house and U.K. garage, but one of Disclosure’s greatest gifts has always been their smart choice of friends who can sing — Sam Smith, Jessie Ware, Miguel, and Gregory Porter have all lent pop structure to the young duo’s tracks. On their sophomore effort, Caracal, Disclosure adopted an R&B sheen, and they’ve invited appropriately great openers to this show: Mobb Deep and ebullient L.A. rapper-of-the-moment Anderson .Paak.
Forest Hills Stadium, June 18.

8. Read I’m Just a Person
Tig Notaro’s truths. 
As Tig Notaro’s growing fan base suffers through an appearance-free summer (she’s finishing an Amazon show based on her groundbreaking “Hello, I Have Cancer” routine), her memoir of a very bad year is more than just a placeholder. Delving into the roots and consequences of her almost-simultaneous breakup, mother’s death, and hospitalization for two near-fatal illnesses, the print version is more thorough and meditative than the live take. A high-wire balancing act of clarity and pathos over a minefield of sentimental death-traps, it’s also very funny. —Boris Kachka

New Music
9. Hear the public domain
The hive mind sings.
With the internet continuously evolving into a vast collective brain, the Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang has written a communal choral work for (hopefully) 1,000 singers, recruited from all over New York. The world premiere is one of 50 new works commissioned and performed to celebrate the Mostly Mozart Festival’s 50th summer. —Justin Davidson
Josie Robertson Plaza, Lincoln Center, August 13.

10. Go to New York Musical Festival
Words and music. 
A Dust Bowl journey? A Scrabble hustle? The real story of the Mona Lisa? These are among the promisingly oddball stories being told at the 13th annual NYMF (it’s pronounced nymph), which in previous seasons helped to develop shows as diverse as Next to Normal, Yank!, and [title of show]. This summer’s offerings: full productions of over 20 in-development musicals, plus concerts, readings, workshops, and more. —J.G.
Various locations, July 11 through August 7.

11. See Southside With You
In the beginning … 
The end of summer brings an indie that could be thrilling — or appalling. Richard Tanne’s Southside With You is the story of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, when they (played by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter) saw Do the Right Thing and melded their minds. A real-life Before Sunrise? We can hope. As we reach the end of the Obama years, we might be ready for a clear-eyed look back at this America-hating Antichrist and his wife — and see two of the most extraordinarily decent individuals ever to occupy the White House. —D.E.
In theaters August 26.

12. See Stuart Davis: In Full Swing
Not just another Picasso. 
You think America didn’t have a Cubist? You bet your life we did! And a hot one too. Stuart Davis brought the full panoply of American loud color and crazy configurations, creating his own brand of the European movement and, in the process, laying the groundwork for Pop Art. This show focuses on his oft-ignored late work; come, dream this American dream of a permanent optical nowness. —J.S.
Whitney Museum of American Art, through September 25.

13. Watch Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons
Will it be a touchdown?
The longtime ESPN fixture and founder of the great, sadly defunct website Grantland (as well as the new the Ringer) goes all Bill Maher on us with this new weekly talk show, featuring a mix of guests from the worlds of sports and pop culture. Promos make it seem insufferable, but Simmons has a knack for drawing smart people into his orbit; it could turn out to be a show you hate to love or love to hate. —M.Z.S.
HBO, June 22 at 10 p.m.

14. Hear Paradise Interrupted
A vocal highlight of the Lincoln Center Festival.
Chinese and Western music form a volatile mixture that sometimes fizzles but often sparks. In his 80-minute opera, the composer Huang Ruo, born in China and based in New York, has his heroine follow a similar journey, toggling between Chinese and Western vocal techniques, between the Peony Pavilion and the Garden of Eden, all accompanied by a blended orchestra. —J.D.
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, July 13 through 16.

15. See Dolly Parton
Country queen in the big city.
Hot on the heels of her well-received Coat of Many Colors NBC biopic, Dolly Parton embarks on the “Pure & Simple” tour, in support of a new double album of the same name comprising one disc of hits and another of new material. Though Parton’s known for glitz, that’s not the mission here: Both tour and album promise to strip her sound down to the basics. Dolly doesn’t always come here when she tours, so make this late June stop in Queens a priority. —C.J.
Forest Hills Stadium, June 25.

16. Read Barkskins
After 14 years, a new Annie Proulx novel! 
Take a beachy week, or a rainy one, or the whole summer: This multigenerational saga by an American master of sentences will be worth the missed barbecues. The author of The Shipping News goes full maximalist, following two French immigrants who join forces to tame the infinite woodlands of Canada’s “New France”; their families grow rich off its lumber, then chase its retreat across borders and centuries. —B.K.

17. See Runaways
Let me be a kid.
The opening production of this summer’s Encores! Off-Center series is, unexpectedly, a memorial to its author, Elizabeth Swados, who died in January at age 64. Her 1978 musical is dark in any case, telling in song, dance, poems, and soliloquies the stories of real New York street kids, some of whom appeared in the original Public Theater cast. Director Sam Pinkleton likewise has recruited a nontraditional “wolfpack” of youngsters for this production. —J.G.
New York City Center, July 6 through 9.

18. Watch Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?
The answer is still no.
James Franco helped oversee Melanie Aitkenhead’s bizarre but gripping remake of the trashy 1996 Lifetime movie about a teenager (Tori Spelling) who falls in love with a boy who turns out to be a maniac (Ivan Sergei). This one is a half-mocking thriller about supernatural “nightwalkers” (lesbian vampires, basically), but for all its self-awareness, it has a genuinely dark charge. Leila George plays the heroine, Spelling her mother, Sergei a literature professor; Franco cameos. —M.Z.S.
Lifetime, June 18 at 8 p.m.

19. See Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy’s restless mind.
Once upon a time, the early-20th century was on fire with artistic revolutions. This Hungarian polymath did them all, and not only did he walk the walk — making great paintings, sculptures, photographs, and becoming a famed Bauhaus teacher — he talked the talk. Moholy-Nagy was all about art for the “betterment of humanity” and utopian visions of architecture for the people. This first comprehensive U.S. retrospective is a beautiful dip into vibrant times. —J.S.
Guggenheim Museum, through September 7.

20. See Wiener-Dog
Welcome to the doghouse.
If there’s one filmmaker who can be counted on to follow his black heart rather than the hope of a box-office killing this summer, it’s Todd Solondz. His misfit regular, Dawn Wiener (played here by Greta Gerwig), now has a dog, Wiener-Dog, who for much of his apparently short life encounters a variety of desperate, beleaguered souls played by the likes of Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, and Danny DeVito. If anyone can purge the increasingly insufferable indie darling Gerwig of her mannerisms, it’s Odd Todd. He transcends cynicism to a level of nihilism that is religious — and profound. —D.E.
In theaters June 24.

21. Read The Nix
Take a chance on newcomer Nathan Hill.
Hill’s mother-son drama promises high risks and high rewards. The young author brings us two contentious political conventions, neglectful parenting and filial yearning, a metaphorical mythical beast, one very long sentence, formal tricks reminiscent of A Visit From the Goon Squad, and bizarre set pieces à la John Irving — a huge fan of the book. By Labor Day, you’ll fall in love or be crushed, or possibly both. —B.K.
Knopf, August 30.

22. Listen to Leslie Odom Jr.
Style to spare.
On his self-titled debut recording, Leslie Odom Jr. (he’s Hamilton’s Aaron Burr, sir) performs a series of standards (from “Look for the Silver Lining” to “The Guilty Ones”) in a cool, haunting style I can only describe as “jazzy choirboy.” His takes on show tunes like “Love, Look Away” and “Joey Joey Joey” are ethereally beautiful, with spare, elegant arrangements by Joseph Abate to set them off.   —J.G.
S-Curve Records.

23. Listen to Pagan
Nothing sacrilegious about Palmistry’s tunes.
Singer-producer Benjy Keating may hail from London, but the spectral songs he crafts as Palmistry easily evoke Kingston. Armed with a beguiling wisp of a voice, splotches of rhythm and melody, and an open heart, he embodies the too-short, love-stricken lightness of summer and all its sweat-flecked wiles. His new album is a breeze of gossamer confections that strip dancehall down to its basic elements. —C.J.
Mixpak, June 17.

Classical Music
24. Go to Make Music New York
The streets and parks are alive …
For a decade now, every summer solstice has resounded with a citywide burst of outdoor music: hundreds of concerts, thousands of musicians, millions of sounds permeating the humid air. This year, the festival includes a complete performance of Philip Glass’s Piano Etudes on Pier 1; Shimmer, for 16 cymbal players in Madison Square; and Sxip Shirey’s The Gauntlet, which the audience will experience by filing between rows of singers on the High Line. —J.D.
Various venues, June 21 (go to

25. See Where Are We Now (Who Are We Anyway?)
Vito Acconci’s big questions. 
All New Yorkers worth their stay-here-for-the-summer salt will make it out to Long Island City to see the art world’s Johnny Cash, Vito Acconci. No conceptual artist was better in the 1970s at yanking back art’s skirts in performances: Signature works include events where he masturbated under a gallery floor while murmuring to visitors above, waving lead pipes at visitors while being blindfolded, and following strangers around the city. I maintain Acconci is one of the greatest artists alive. —J.S.
MoMA PS1, through August 30.