Treat your kids to a day at the opera and more things to do this week in NYC


Seven Picks a Week is our guide to what’s worth catching in arts, culture and activities during the week ahead, with contributions from reporters throughout the WNYC/Gothamist newsroom, and colleagues from WQXR and “All of It.”

Introduce your kids to opera that doesn’t wear out its welcome

Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” is sophisticated enough for any grown-up listener. But the charming characters and ear-worm tunes packed into its allegorical adventure tale will also win over younger audience members. Just in time for the holidays, the Met Opera is bringing back Julie Taymor’s puppet-filled tilt-a-whirl of a production, cleverly cut to avoid taxing short attention spans. The show opens on Friday, Dec. 16, and the matinee this Sunday includes a holiday open house with arts and crafts demonstrations and hand-on activities. Learn more here.

Steve Smith

Sing along with a Sondheim flop-turned-hit

Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s now-beloved musical “Merrily We Roll Along” was a massive flop when it premiered in 1981, lasting on Broadway for only two weeks. But a new production at New York Theater Workshop has opened to rave reviews, signaling the show might have found a new life. We spoke this week with actors Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendez to discuss the production, and why it’s working this time. The show runs through Jan. 22, and you can find details and order tickets here.

Jordan Lauf, “All of It”

“Untitled (Exquisite Corpse Afro Wig)” is among the works by Kerry James Marshall now on view at Jack Shainman Gallery.

Kerry James Marshall, courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery

View surreal new artworks by a slippery modern master

Born in Birmingham, Ala., and based in Chicago, Kerry James Marshall is among our most gifted and versatile contemporary artists — something anyone who saw the eye-opening 2016 retrospective, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” at the Met Breuer will confirm. In a new show called “Exquisite Corpse: This Is Not the Game,” Marshall riffs on the Surrealist game in which multiple artists collaborate on a single work, but the only participant in these curiously layered images is Marshall himself. The show runs through Dec. 23 at Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 W. 20th St.; check the hours here.

Steve Smith

See a great American play in its 20th-anniversary return

“Plays for the Plague Year,” the newest creation by luminary playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, had its run cut short by Covid. Relax: it’s coming back next year, preceded by Parks’s forthcoming musical adaptation of the cult-classic Jamaican crime flick, “The Harder They Come.” In the meantime, get yourself to the wildly acclaimed Broadway revival of Parks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Topdog/Underdog,” directed by Kenny Leon and starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Corey Hawkins. The show’s on at the John Golden Theatre through Jan. 15, and you can check on tickets here.

Steve Smith

Indie-pop trio Yo La Tengo is playing its annual 8 Nights of Hanukkah series at Bowery Ballroom starting Sunday.

Cheryl Dunn

Celebrate Hanukkah with Hoboken, NJ’s favorite band

Indie-rock mainstay Yo La Tengo comes to Bowery Ballroom this Sunday, Dec. 18, to start its annual Eight Nights of Hanukkah series. There’s a fresh set, special guests, comedians and a different opening band each night — and the only way to know what’s happening is to show up. The first show is sold out, but at press time, you could still score tickets for the remaining nights. Tickets are $50, and proceeds go to charity. Book your night out here.

Steve Smith

Get some jam in your grooves for a worthy cause

An opportunity to catch fiery jazz-punk quartet Sunwatchers, searching Brooklyn troubadour Zachary Cale, cosmic-jam acolytes Garcia Peoples and special guest Ryley Walker sharing the same bill is reason enough to head to the beloved Williamsburg venue Union Pool. But what makes this evening extra special is the funds are going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a New York City-based voluntary health organization. The show’s on Tuesday, Dec. 20, tickets cost less than $20, and you can buy them here.

Steve Smith

Soprano Julia Bullock performs in John Adams’s “El Niño” on Dec. 21 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Allison Michael Orenstein

Hear the Nativity story evoked in a whole new way

Here’s a bold statement: “El Niño” — John Adams’s reimagining of the nativity — is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time and of all genres. The innovative and dynamic American Modern Opera Company presents its special version of the piece at the magnificent Cathedral of St. John the Divine with a trio of ideal soloists: soprano Julia Bullock (who included part of the piece on her new album, “Walking in the Dark”), countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and bass-baritone Davóne Tines. Bullock describes the piece as being about “miracles, the unique relationship between mother and child, and gift giving.” I know that we all have a lot of events during the holiday season, but I personally can’t miss this one. The performance is happening on Wednesday, Dec. 21, and you can order tickets here.

Ed Yim, WQXR


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