- INTERSECTIONS: Maryamsadat Amirvagefi's "Don't Touch Me" and Erin Lowrey's "Naked is normal" are part of a month-long art exhibition and performance series at Stage Eighteen and Fenix in Fayetteville.
Various times. Stage Eighteen (18 E. Center St.) and Fenix (16 W. Center St.), Fayetteville. Free.
Behind the proliferation of art enclaves in Northwest Arkansas are a bunch of talented, formidable women — and in front of them, for that matter. Exhibit A: this month-long series of events and performances under the umbrella of "Intersections," a collaboration between ArkansasStaged, a theater collective devoted to experiential (and experimental) performance in unique spaces; the Inverse Performance Art Festival; "Of Note" with Katy Henriksen, a two-hour classical music program on NPR affiliate KUAF-FM, 91.3; the Trillium Salon Series; the Fenix Fayetteville art collective; and Stage Eighteen, a downtown Fayetteville venue. Coming up: a panel on "intersectionality, identity and the arts" called "Lip Service," 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Stage Eighteen; a performance of Lauren Gunderson's "Natural Shocks" from ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Fenix; a Comedy Showcase at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Stage Eighteen; the Inverse Performance Art Festival, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Fenix; and a performance of Sue Coppernoll's "An Old Woman Speaks" from ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at Stage Eighteen. Following a fundraising model of last year's "Nasty Women" exhibitions in Northwest Arkansas, partial proceeds from the programming and art sales benefit Brave Woman, a movement that partners with victims of domestic violence; and the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. SS
- Michael Goodbar as John Hinckley, Jr. in Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins."
THROUGH SUNDAY 4/22
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. The Weekend Theater. $16-$20.
Given the difficulty of putting a Stephen Sondheim musical together, it's pretty remarkable that we have two of them running concurrently this weekend, and from around the same time in the composer's career; read on for details about Praeclara/Wildwood Park for the Arts' production of "Into the Woods." "Assassins," staged by The Weekend Theater, is a revue-style portrayal of nine men and women who carried out or attempted to carry out an assassination of a U.S. president. More broadly, it's about the fame-obsessed culture that got them to a murderer's psychology in the first place — fitting thematic territory for a theater whose credo is to reduce "prejudice, cruelty and indifference through quality live theater." John Hinckley, John Wilkes Booth, "Squeaky" Fromme et al. waft through a carnival atmosphere ("Shoot the President — Win a Prize!") laced with spooky calliope music, demented cakewalks, twisted versions of patriotic anthems and distant Sousa marches, chasing the sort of notoriety that we so clumsily grasp at understanding every time another incident of gun violence scrolls across the news ticker. SS
- 'AMERICAN FLOWERS': Birds of Chicago come in for a landing at South on Main Thursday night.
BIRDS OF CHICAGO
8 p.m. South on Main. $25-$34.
If there is a balm for the cynic or an antidote for people who recoil from anything called "folk music," it's this music. Whether she's wielding a banjo or a clarinet or the French refrain to "Baton Rouge," Allison Russell conjures the sweetness, finesse and depth of predecessors several decades removed: Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez. The shared aesthetic between Russell and husband/bandmate JT Nero is one of optimism and empathy, as the couple's explainer for their EP "American Flowers" reads: "Most people in this country are good people. Most people in this world are good people. ... There are arguments to be had, vehement ones, but we couldn't say it any better than Billy Bragg, who reminded us this summer: Empathy is our currency. This has always been true, and it has never felt more so." Little surprise it is that the members of Birds of Chicago felt musical kinship toward the man who wrote "The Milkman of Human Kindness." This show is sure to be a welcome respite for what ails ya. SS
- Thelma and the Sleaze
THELMA AND THE SLEAZE
9 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $10.
The history of Thelma and the Sleaze includes tours in a church van called Snow Leopard — from which they were known to produce a coffee can and lighter fluid to MacGyver tacos in the alleys behind venues — and they once name-checked Memphis Minnie and Tanya Tucker when an interviewer from The Deli Magazine asked for evidence of how "Southern" they were. Maybe more importantly, though, the Nashville-based band's been churning out trashy post-Riot Grrl punk rock that smells like gas station food and Aqua Net since backyard wrestling matches helped a band called Trampskirts morph into TATS' revolving lineup, with guitarist/vocalist LG (Lauren Gilbert) ever at the center. The Craig Brown Band, a Detroit-based six-piece honky tonk outfit that's been on the road with TATS for a few weeks, warms up the crowd. And, perfectly, our own power punk trio Spirit Cuntz opens the show with tunes from its latest, "Two Star Kinda Band." SS
- Isaac Alexander
- The Salty Dogs
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT
5-8 p.m. Downtown galleries and other venues. Free.
It was Marshall McLuhan's theory that the medium by which a message is conveyed — such as this one, in print — influences how the message is understood. He inspired a whole generation to think in terms of "hot" and "cool" media and the comedians of the TV show "Laugh-In" to ponder, "Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin'?" Head over to the Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St., to have your own mediathink with the exhibition "The Medium Is the Message: Experimental Photography in Arkansas," deconstructed landscapes by Esther Nooner, wet plate ghosting of Kristoffer Johnson, cyanotype on fabric by Helen Maringer, digital images translated to sound by Kaia Hodo and Polaroid emulsions by Grace Ann Odom. Brian Nahlen will perform on his medium, the guitar. Then progress east on President Clinton Avenue, stopping at Nexus (301B Clinton) for coffee or wine and art and then to the Butler Center (401 Clinton) to see its exhibition of drawings by Howard Simon, an illustrator who did the artwork for the books of his first wife, Charlie May Simon; also hear DJ Harlem James. Sulac's "The Spider Who Didn't Like Flies" is featured at River Market Books & Gifts around the corner (120 River Market Ave.). Then back it up and head to the Marriott Little Rock on Markham to see work by The Art Group Gallery and to the Old State House Museum for a cheese dip social with Stone's Throw Craft Beer and music by the Salty Dogs. If you can tear yourself away from the dip and Dogs, you've got more stops: Gallery 221 and the working studios of Mike Gaines, Michael Darr and Larry Crane at Pyramid Place, Second and Center streets; Bella Vita Jewelry at 523 Louisiana St.; and Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery at 108 W. Sixth St. LNP
- Laura Partain
- Deer Tick
- John Moreland
DEER TICK, JOHN MORELAND
8 p.m. Rev Room. $25.
When Deer Tick released a double LP last September — Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, its first record in four years — it was a way of reconciling the two faces of the band and of allowing it to fully embody the acoustic and electric sides of its sound without feeling beholden to a sonically united front. At that time, the idea was to split its tour performances into two sets, and to open with a comedian. Now, half a year later, it's opening its dates in the South with a set from John Moreland, the tearjerker from Tulsa who froze TV audiences in their seats when he sang an unadorned "Break My Heart Sweetly" on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in early 2016. For devotees of songwriting — and probably for people whose ears can process heartbreak just as intensely whether it comes in the loud or the quiet variety — this one's going to stun. SS
- Kelly Hicks
- Juan Garcia as Cinderella's Prince in Praeclara's performances of Sondheim's "Into the Woods"
FRIDAY 4/13-SATURDAY 4/14
'INTO THE WOODS'
7:30 p.m. Fri., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sat. Cabe Festival Theatre, Wildwood Park for the Arts. $30.
When Disney adapted Stephen Sondheim's 1986 musical "Into the Woods" for film in 2014, the tagline was "Be careful what you wish for." It's an entirely appropriate hint to the play's sinister elements and its underlying ethos that wish fulfillment is a messy, fickle thing. After all, in this fairy tale protagonists die, princes cheat on their princesses, evil stepsisters get their eyes gouged out by birds and giants wage mass destruction. A state of "happily ever after" is not only fleeting, it's completely ambiguous in concept. That's not to suggest that "Into the Woods" is explicitly for adults, either, as director Rob Marshall alluded to in an interview about the film version with The Los Angeles Times: "Kids that I've seen haven't moved watching it," he said. "They're not rustling around because I think it asks a lot from them. It asks them to participate and make decisions. When Steve writes, 'Giants can be good, witches can be right,' there's a sense that kids have to figure it out for themselves." This production comes from Praeclara, a performing arts ensemble under the direction of Bevan Keating, Wildwood's artistic director and professor of music and director of conducting and choral studies at UA Little Rock. SS
- Stacey Bowers of Bang Up Betty
ARKANSAS MADE-ARKANSAS PROUD MARKET
10 a.m.-7 p.m. War Memorial Stadium. $5 (ages 5 and under free).
Now is the time to load up on art, crafts, food and fashion made by our brethren and sistren, from Arkansaw Hog Sauce to Crooked House Herbals, OddBowlz Ceramics to Old Dog Pottery, Kyya Chocolate to honey from Lake in the Willows Apiari. Grilled brats, soft drinks, bloody Marys and screwdrivers will fortify shoppers as they make their way through the 100-plus artisans' tents on the field. LNP
- Kelly Hicks
SATURDAY 4/14-SUNDAY 4/15
BEETHOVEN & BLUE JEANS
7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Center Performance Hall, 7:30 p.m. Sat. simulcast, Arkansas Arts Center lawn. Free-$65.
Symbiosis between painters and orchestral musicians is as old as the term "classical" itself — a musical descriptor forever tied to its sister disciplines in Greco-Roman culture: architecture, sculpture, painting. Henri Dutilleux's "Timbres, espace, movement," for example, is subtitled after Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night"; Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" was famously inspired by Georges-Pierre Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte"; and Stravinsky wrote an entire opera based on William Hogarth's paintings, "The Rake's Progress." Consider this weekend's concerts the localized version of that phenomenon. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the ASO has put together an art-music collaboration called the "Canvas Festival." In this installment of the festival, football player-turned-impressionist painter Barry Thomas will paint as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra plays Beethoven's "Symphony No. 6 in F Major," the so-called "Pastoral" symphony, with the painting projected onto a screen behind the orchestra. Opening the concert is a set of four unbroken — but distinct — movements devoted to Mark Rothko's color studies, by composer Adam Schoenberg (No, not that Schoenberg. That's Arnold. No relation.) Sandwiched between those pieces is Ravel's "Mother Goose" suite, five pieces for children meant to invoke the likes of Sleeping Beauty and Tom Thumb. Come as you are, as the "blue jeans" bit in the event title suggests, and come early for a "Beer & Brats Street Party" in front of the Robinson Center with music from the Episcopal Collegiate School Steel Band; your concert ticket gets you free admission for either day's party (5:30 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun.). And, if that tax return didn't swing your way, pack a picnic and a blanket and catch the show for free Saturday night on the lawn of the Arkansas Arts Center, where it will be simulcast on a big screen, live painting and all. See arkansassymphony.org/bluejeans18 for tickets and details. SS
- THE BURDEN OF DREAMS: Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" is next up in the Arkansas Times Film Series.
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $9.
We're doing something different with the Arkansas Times Film Series this year: We'll find a thematic thread in each month's film and use it as the basis for the following month's pick. March's screening of "Bob Le Flambeur" has within it an element of fantasy and dreams, and that's what inspired the film for April: Werner Herzog's 1982 film about improbable dreams, "Fitzcarraldo." Inspired by a true story, "Fitzcarraldo" is about not just the dreams and passions of its protagonist, but of the director himself. Herzog spent years trying to get the film made. The entire process is documented in Les Blank's fantastic documentary, "Burden of Dreams." The story is about Brian Sweeney "Fitzcarraldo" Fitzgerald, a man so driven by his love of the opera that he decides to build a fortune on rubber plants so he can fund the construction of an opera house in the middle of the Amazon where there's no need or purpose for one. Fitzcarraldo purchases a particular plot of land so remote no one else has thought to attempt to farm it, but he has a plan. He pilots a boat up a calmer part of the river with a plan to use a system of pulleys to then move the ship, whole, over a mountain to access his plot of land. After several years of trying to get the project off the ground and losing months of shooting due to the lead actor, Jason Robards, falling ill, and co-star Mick Jagger having to leave the production to complete other commitments, Herzog sought new financing to continue the pursuit of his film. When asked if he would be better off abandoning the doomed project, Herzog responded thusly: "How can you ask this question? If I abandon this project, I will be a man without dreams, and I don't want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project." Join us for the screening Tuesday night, and join us beforehand on our entertainment podcast, "No Small Talk," for a conversation about the film. OJ
- Malise Perrilliat
- John Willis
JOHN WILLIS COVERS RADIOHEAD
8 p.m. South on Main. $10.
The words "John Willis covers Radiohead" are likely to pique the interest of anyone around here who's a fan of either, and the mash-up is a dream if you're a fan of both. Who else but Willis could pilot such an ethereal tenor through a sea of freakishly atmospheric minor IV chords? Like the other cover concerts South on Main owner Amy Bell has curated for the month of April at this SoMa spot, reading the event title itself inspires a wish list of favorite songs; here's my vote for "Exit Music (For a Film.)" SS