This Week in New Haven (April 15 – 21)

This Week in New Haven (April 15 – 21)

F rom a puppet show based on a prize-winning children’s book to a concert celebrating a Renaissance poet to a musical based on a Victor Hugo novel to a play based on a Virginia Woolf novel to a talk on “‘History Painting’ and the Theater,” this is the kind of week when New Haven’s arts and academic scenes collide daily. In other realms of the city’s ever-fertile cultural landscape, there’s the start of Restaurant Week, a vintage fashion pop-up store and some early acknowledgements of Earth Day.

Monday, April 15
Puppeteer Betty Baisden is well known for her anthropomorphic hand puppet Roxi Fox, who regularly entertains kids at the Peabody Museum of Natural History (where “Roxi Fox, Disease Detective” will be presented at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 18). Over the next couple of weeks, Baisden’s doing several performances of her brand new marionette show, an adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’ book Whistle for Willie. You can see it at 10 a.m. this morning at New Haven City Hall (165 Church Street, New Haven), with future performances planned for 11 a.m. April 22 at Fair Haven Branch Library, 4 p.m. April 23 at Wilson Branch Library and 2 p.m. April 27 at Connecticut Children’s Museum.

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Tuesday, April 16
Robin Simon, the editor of the British Art Journal, has been visiting Yale this spring (his usual perch is University College London) to lecture on “Painters and Players from William Hogarth to Laurence Olivier.” An earlier talk discussed how Richard III is depicted on stage and in paintings. Simon broadens the subject a bit for today’s talk on “Making History: ‘History Painting’ and the Theater.” 5:30 p.m. at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven. (203) 432-2800.

Wednesday, April 17
“Triomphi: Triumphs of Petrarch” sounds like some bombastic military pomp, until you recall that Petrarch was not an emperor but a poet, known to Renaissance scholars as the “father of humanism.” His triumphs lie in libraries, not battlefields. Yale’s Collegium Musicum gives a 5:15 p.m. concert of music from Petrarch’s time (that would be Italy in the 16th century), illustrated by images from appropriate illuminated texts in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (121 Wall Street, New Haven). A lecture at 4:30 p.m. precedes the performance. Free.

You’ve seen the Oscar-winning movie. You might even have read the Victor Hugo novel. Now it’s time to check in on how the 1980s musical version based on that book, and the basis of that film, has held up. A national tour of Les Misérables (pictured above), which has music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and words by Hugo, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer, gets eight performances at the Shubert (254 College Street, New Haven; 203-562-5666), starting tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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Thursday, April 18
Sarah Ruhl rules collegiate drama. The playwright, a graduate of Brown University who now teaches at the Yale School of Drama, is exceedingly popular among campus drama groups which appreciate her blending of great literature by others, fantastical flights of visual fancy and credible dramatizations of modern-day romance. The world premiere of Ruhl’s Dear Elizabeth was at Yale Rep last fall. The Yale Dramat did In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) earlier this month. Now comes an undergraduate staging of Ruhl’s adaptation of the Virginia Woolf book Orlando, about a man whose body changes into a woman’s. This production is a Yale Theatre Studies project for Bonnie Antosh, who stars as Orlando. The director is Willa Fitzgerald. Performances are tonight and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at both 2 & 8 p.m. in the Whitney Theatre at the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall Street, New Haven; 203-432-1308).

The Danish teenage hard-rock band Iceage has turned out a couple of brilliant albums, and it’s time to see what they’re about live. On Iceage’s last visit to New Haven, they played an illicit, off-the-radar club. This time around, the band’s at Lilly’s Pad, upstairs at Toad’s Place (300 York St., New Haven; 203-624-TOAD). White Lung, Fins and Blessed State are still on the bill (which kicks off at 8 p.m.) for this all-ages, don’t-miss-them-this-time show. $12, $10 in advance.

Friday, April 19
“Pop-up boutique” organizer Cut Cloth brings two vintage clothing vendors, Vintanthromodern Vintage and Fashionista Vintage & Variety, together with the handmade Southern apparel place (23rd/1st), jewelry maker Kate Stephen and artist Aaron Szymanski for “Spring  Fling: A Vintage & Designer Pop-Up Shop,” today (5 to 7 p.m.), tomorrow (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.) in the second floor gallery at 1020 Chapel Street, New Haven.

The Yale Peabody Museum is marking Earth Day (which officially is April 22) a few days early. (170 Whitney Ave., New Haven; 203-432-5050) with information booths and special activities throughout the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., demonstrating how everyone can do their part. There’s also a 1 p.m. screening of “A Thousand Invisible Cords: From Genes to Ecosystems.”

Saturday, April 20
Gerardo Hernandez Noberto gets a reception for his political art exhibit from 2 to 4 p.m. at the main New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm Street, New Haven; 203-946-8130). Noberto is a cartoonist, and one of the “Cuban Five” prisoners whose release from prison has been called for by a host of Nobel prize-winners, Jimmy Carter and many others. Naturally, Noberto won’t be attending, but the library will screen the documentary Mission Against Terror at 2 p.m. Free.

Again, Earth Day ain’t until the 22nd, but today is when the 5th Annual Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride rolls through the city. Dubbed “New Haven’s biggest Earth Day celebration,” Rock to Rock is actually several different rides—an eight-mile family ride, an eight-mile adult ride, a 20-mile ride and the “metric century” ride—finishing with a 1 p.m. post-ride celebration at East Rock Park. Check out the website for more details.

Sunday, April 21
New Haven Restaurant Week returns April 21-26. Twenty-nine New Haven eateries are participating, with special $32 prix fixe dinners ($18 lunches) to acquaint you with each place’s year-round fare. Reservations are required. Details of who’s involved and what they’re serving at

Every spring the Long Wharf Theatre lets its interns and apprentices create their own “Next Stage” production, which plays to school groups and family audiences. This year they’ve chosen the “fantastical adventure” Still Life with Iris by Steven Dietz, set on the productive yet greed-ruled island of Nocturno. Elizabeth Nearing directs the show, which is cast with local talent. The public performances, held at Long Wharf Stage II (222 Sargent Drive, New Haven; 203-787-4282), started yesterday with 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. shows, and continue with a 2 p.m. matinee this afternoon and a final 2 p.m. show on April 27th. All shows are pay-what-you-can.

Written by Christopher Arnott.

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Christopher Arnott has written about arts and culture in Connecticut for over 25 years. His journalism has won local, regional and national awards, and he has been honored with an Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. He posts daily at his own sites and New Haven Theater Jerk (

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