Romance! Surrealism! Funk!

M ost of us know the story of Romeo and Juliet, just not like this. The State Ballet Theater of Russia twice performs Sergei Prokofiev’s presentation of Shakespeare’s bittersweet love tale on Saturday February 18 at 3pm & 8pm. The Shubert, 247 College St., New Haven. $15-$58.

Other happenings in New Haven this week:

Monday, Feb. 13
Young modern composers flock to the Yale School of Music so they can study with Martin Bresnick. An entire concert of Bresnick’s works occurs tonight for free, 8 p.m. at Sprague Memorial Hall’s Morse Recital Hall, 470 College St., New Haven. (203) 432-4158,

Tuesday, Feb. 14
On Valentine’s Day, many enjoy a quiet dinner at “their special place”—or just stay home with chocolates and wine and a romantic movie. Then there are those who dress up flashy and head out to the exotic and erotic Valentine’s Day Variety Show for Lovers Only presented by the vivacious Lipgloss Crisis, 9 p.m. at Café Nine. Variety indeed: music from Uncle Willy & the Blondettes and singer/songwriter Louis Cerbone, burlesque entertainment courtesy of Kitty Katastrophe and hostess Dot Mitzvah and adorable surprises galore. $7. Café Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, (203) 789-8281,

Wednesday, Feb. 15
Think of all the wonderful theater shows which have involved a lot of wild, creative personalities having to get along together in the same house: You Can’t Take It With You. August: Osage County. Uncommon Women and Others. Now comes February House, a world-premiere musical based on the real life home-sharing antics of British composer Benjamin Britten, stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, poet W.H. Auden, writer Carson McCullers and several other powerful personalities in 1940s Brooklyn. February House’s music & lyrics are by hotshot classically-tinged pop composer Gabriel Kahane, and its script is by Chicago-based playwright Seth Bockley. The show begins previews tonight and has its official opening night a week from now. After the Long Wharf Stage II run closes March 18, February House moves to New York’s esteemed Public Theater. 222 Sargent Dr., New Haven. (203) 787-4282. $47-$67, with discounts for students and seniors.

Thursday, Feb. 16
It’s only two days after Valentine’s Day and gosh, how affections have changed: Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center is screening Derek Cianfrance’s drama of an unraveling relationship, Blue Valentine. It stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple whose idyllic courtship is contrasted with the bitterness of their subsequent marital troubles. 7 p.m., 53 Wall St., New Haven. Free.

On the same evening, a Yale underground theater ensemble plumbs The Deadly Seven, presenting the Seven Deadly Sins as seen through the works of Shakespeare. The show runs Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at noon and Sunday at 8 p.m. in Davenport College on the Yale campus. 248 York St., New Haven. Free tickets available.

The Yale Cabaret, meanwhile, conjures up Dracula, the Bram Stoker classic as retold by contemporary New York dramatist Mac Wellman. The bite is one for five performances: Thursday at 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at both 8 & 11 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 for students. 217 Park St., New Haven.

Friday, Feb. 17
Have an abstract, unpredictable weekend in an academic setting. There’s a Surrealism in Polish Cinema conference at Yale’s Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven. The free-of-charge gathering begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a panel discussion on filmmaker Jerzy Has, and—following screenings of films by Has, Grzegorz Krolikeiewicz and Elzbieta Ostrowska plus a panel on “Discovering the Surreal in Unexpected Places”—ends 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Or does it? That’s surrealism for you.

For a slightly more linear and realistic view of the world, the community-based Shoestring Theatre Company is staging caustic playwright/filmmaker Neil Labute’s incendiary The Shape of Things at Westville’s Lyric Hall, 827 Whalley Ave., New Haven. There are just four performances: 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday this weekend and next. $20.

Saturday, Feb. 18
Get grounded, and learn “How to Plan for a Bountiful Vegetable Garden” with the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the agriculture-oriented Common Ground high school. The three-hour session covers everything from selecting and testing the appropriate site, cultivating the soil, planting seeds that will grow in this climate, rotating crops and more. $10 per person at Common Ground, 358 Springside Ave., New Haven. Register at

Then scrub up and go out at night:
One of the biggest New Haven pop bands of the ‘90s, Hannah Cranna, has recently reunited and is celebrating the release of their new record A Real Nice Parade. Two other extraordinary acts share the bill, which has been organized by the local band boosters at Independisc: The Manchurians’ mellifluous R&B/rock has revved up Connecticut for decades. By contrast, the multi-styled, politically aware Age of Reason is just getting started, though they’ve released three CDs since 2009. 9 p.m. Café Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, (203) 789-8281,

In nearby Hamden, venerable roots/swing/folk jug band Washboard Slim & the Blue Lights at the Outer Space kick us into a Mardi Gras mood, 8 p.m. for $10 at The Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St. #18, Hamden. (203) 288-6400, Yes, they have a washboard, and a washtub bass besides.

Sunday, Feb. 19
He turns 70 in July, but funk pioneer George Clinton still has the power to tear the roof off the sucka. Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic return to Toad’s Place for an 8 p.m. funk frolic tonight. $30, $28.50 in advance. 300 York St., New Haven. (203) 624-TOAD,

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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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