Credit…Miguel and Carlos Cevallos
The Scheming Roys of “Succession” Return
While there are no sure bets in television, and plenty of once-great shows have fallen into bland disarray, I am counting the days until “Succession” comes back for its fourth season. (HBO says it will air in the spring.) Oh, I can hear the jangly piano theme now, and just knowing that the bereft and broken Roys, their gorgeously cruel dialogue and endless, joyless quests for power will soon be back on my screen fills me with elation. God, I hope Kendall sings in front of an audience again, and Greg stammers his way into failing up somehow, and Gerri and Roman’s erotic entanglement deepens and Shiv continues her reign of ecru terror. Logan will be grumbly! Connor will be a dingus! Tom will be in hapless agony! And I will be so, so happy, reveling in the show’s mastery of tension, its push-pull of crumbling and coalescing.
The Spider-Verse Slings Into a Sequel
Before Michelle Yeoh faced off against Jobu Tupaki and her everything bagel of oblivion in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and before Doctor Strange fought bizarro Strange with weaponized music notation in “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” in 2018 “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” provided a much-needed shock to the multiverse concept in film. Though it introduced a whole gang of Spider-people, each with his or her own unique back story, universe and aesthetic, “Spider-Verse” made plenty of space for its protagonist, Miles Morales, a young Afro-Latino Spider-Man whose heartfelt, humorous character arc, along with the film’s stunning animation and killer soundtrack, wasn’t lost even amid the infinite vastness of the multiverse. In June the sequel, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” will offer a more mature Miles and a new cast of Spider-variants voiced by a stellar cast, including Issa Rae as an Afro-wearing Spider-Woman, Daniel Kaluuya as Spider-Punk and Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099.
Kelela Hits the Road With Her Avant-Garde R&B
The singer and songwriter Kelela has floated on the avant-garde fringe of R&B since she released her first mixtape, “Cut 4 Me,” in 2013. Working with some of the most innovative producers around, Kelela often places her voice within eerie electronic backdrops, creating unexpected intimacy in virtual realms. But she has been elusive. She released her only full-length album, “Take Me Apart,” in 2017, and re-emerged with a few singles in 2022, starting with the enigmatic “Washed Away” and moving toward dance music and pop with “Happy Ending” and “On the Run.” Those songs are previews of her second full-length album, “Raven,” which is due in February, followed by a club tour — titled “Rave:N”—- that brings her to Webster Hall in New York on March 17. Both should reveal her latest convolutions and innovations.
Two Spins on the Mystery of the Week
Two new crime dramas are taking different approaches to a venerable format, the mystery of the week. Fox’s “Accused” (Jan. 22) is a pure anthology, with 15 self-contained episodes set in different locales and featuring different casts. This presumably expensive venture — a lot of actors, including Wendell Pierce, Margo Martindale, Michael Chiklis, Rhea Perlman and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, need to be paid — is a joint venture of Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (“Homeland”) and David Shore (“House”). Peacock’s “Poker Face” (Jan. 26), on the other hand, achieves its episodic structure by putting its crime-solving heroine on the road, where she finds new mysteries to tackle each week. Created by Rian Johnson (“Knives Out”) and starring Natasha Lyonne, it also requires an extensive cast, which includes Adrien Brody, Cherry Jones, Chloë Sevigny, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nick Nolte and the busy Rhea Perlman.
A Rare Revival of a Hansberry Drama
Only two plays by Lorraine Hansberry were produced during her short lifetime. “A Raisin in the Sun,” in 1959, was the big deal: an instant classic, forever revivable. But “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” which opened on Broadway in 1964 and closed days before she died in 1965, has barely been seen again. Now it will be, in a starry production (Feb. 4 through March 19) directed by Anne Kauffman for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan play a bohemian Village couple — much like Hansberry and her husband, Robert Nemiroff — struggling to align their racial, sexual and cultural positions within the treacherous crosscurrents of contemporary politics. In some ways a Black critique of white liberalism, it leaves no group unscathed in its portrait of do-gooders doing what, for Hansberry, they do best: making a mess with the best of intentions.
Michael B. Jordan Gets Back in the Ring
Shot on IMAX cameras, “Creed III” promises to get extremely close to the frenzied action of a boxing match. Michael B. Jordan, making his directorial debut, is back as the light heavyweight champion Adonis “Donnie” Creed, now a thriving family man with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and their daughter (Mila Davis-Kent). While Sylvester Stallone doesn’t star in this installment of the franchise, Jonathan Majors plays Donnie’s childhood friend Damian, who leaves prison after nearly two decades and turns into his fiercest competitor. Both men are among the most charismatic, talented and nuanced actors of their generation and I expect they’ll deliver some powerful performances inside and outside the ring. Look for the movie on March 3.
A New Staging of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” at the Met
Of the core repertory, the 25 or 30 titles at the center of the Metropolitan Opera’s history, none has been absent from its stage longer than Wagner’s “Lohengrin.” This is strange, since “Lohengrin” is probably the most performed Wagner work worldwide; it’s done all the time. But the Met’s radically minimal, painstakingly still Robert Wilson production posed extreme demands on singers and technicians alike, and was last seen in 2006. So it’ll be a major event when, on Feb. 26, the opera finally returns to New York in a new staging, directed by François Girard, whose thoughtful “Parsifal,” set in a stylized present day, was a success. (His muddled “Der Fliegende Holländer” early in 2020, less so.) Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s music director, conducts a cast that includes the plangent tenor Piotr Beczala in the title role, the budding Wagnerian Tamara Wilson as Elsa, Christine Goerke as the aggrieved Ortrud, Evgeny Nikitin and Günther Groissböck.
Pina Bausch Takes a Trip to Brazil
The choreographer Pina Bausch found inspiration in places and in cultures in the latter part of her career, transforming those experiences into shimmering, visceral dances. While they don’t have the darkness and bite of her earlier works, they do have the potential to wash over you like a vacation — albeit one in the theater. This spring, from March 3 to 19, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will host one such trip to Brazil. In “Água,” created by Bausch during a 2001 residency, the radiance of the landscape is celebrated with voluptuous, exuberant dancing and sumptuous color. It’s been six years since Tanztheater Wuppertal, now under the artistic direction of Boris Charmatz, a French experimentalist, performed at the Academy. As usual with a Bausch work, the hair will flow, the dresses will shimmer and the soundtrack will be eclectic. This one includes music by PJ Harvey, St Germain and Tom Waits. Strap yourself in.
Tangled Webs of Modern Invention at the Guggenheim
Her birth certificate read Gertrud Goldschmidt — but the German-born Venezuelan artist always preferred Gego, a shrinking of her first and last names that reverberated with an art of slender brilliance. Born to a Jewish family in Hamburg in 1912, she studied architecture before fleeing to Caracas in 1939, and only in her 40s did she begin gathering copper wires, aluminum rods and plastic dowels into striking yet splintery abstract clusters. Beguiling and forbidding by turns, her works could be suspended like a mobile, or stream from the ceiling, or else could propagate across a room like a massive spider’s web. On one point Gego was uncompromising: These metal assemblages were not sculptures, she insisted, but “drawings without paper” that took a very different route to abstraction than the clean geometries many other Latin American artists favored. (They’re also delightfully resistant to social media transmission, their finely interlaced wires beyond the ken of even the highest-resolution cameraphone.) “Gego: Measuring Infinity,” opening March 31 at the Guggenheim, will fill the museum’s white spiral with her spindly aggregations — and, amid extreme refugee crises in both Europe and Venezuela, her themes of fragility and enmeshment have lost none of their force.
Sara Schaefer Spoofs the Comedy World
Spoofing the cult of comedy in the language of Scientology, the wry, incisive stand-up Sara Schaefer adopts the pose, jargon and microphone of a guru in her new solo show about how to make it in the stand-up business. “Going Up” (a riff on the Scientology term “Going Clear”), which has been performed a few times but will get a wider hearing in 2023, is ambitious and nimble, sneakily personal with enough inside-baseball jokes to make it a must-see for comedy nerds. The most impressive example of this, and the bit I am most looking forward to revisiting, is when Schaefer illustrates every kind of modern stand-up by doing the same genre of joke, over and over again, in a multitude of styles. It’s a feat of comedy as well as criticism that captures an entire scene in just a few minutes. Her show should be a staple of festivals, but early in the year, it will stop in, among other places, San Francisco, Austin and New York when she performs at Caveat on April 6.