Courant arts picks for Jan. 16-22: Livingston Taylor, CONCORA and a Betty White cinema celebration

·4 min read

Some beautiful voices rise this week, from Livingston Taylor to Kath Bloom to the CONCORA ensemble. Besides the singers, there’s the multi-voiced monologue “Fires in the Mirror” and the last recorded interview with Betty White. If you’d rather dance, there are disco and emo parties at the Webster and Chubby Checker twisting away at Mohegan Sun.

‘Heartless’ at Hole in the Wall

Sam Shepard’s “Heartless,” written five years before the playwright’s death in 2017, fits in with other Shepard works that feature dysfunctional families living together in small spaces while trying to keep secrets from each other. Its big distinction is that, for a playwright who wrote mostly for male actors, four of five “Heartless” characters are women. Through Jan. 29 at Hole in the Wall Theater, 116 Main St., New Britain. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. plus a Sunday matinee Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. $25, $20 students and seniors. hitw.org.

Bubbling up

Casey Carle’s soapy water spectacle “Bubblemania” is at the Stamford Palace, 61 Atlantic St., Stamford Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. $15. Big bubbles, tiny bubbles, bubbles bubbles bubbles. palacestamford.org.

Remembering Betty White

A filmed tribute to Betty White was originally planned to mark the beloved actress’ 100th birthday on Jan. 17. When White passed away on Dec. 31, the producers renamed the film “Betty White — A Celebration.” The 100-minute documentary, which contains White’s final interview and film appearance, is screening at cinemas around the state on Jan. 17 among them the AMC Southington 12 at 1:30, 4, 5:30, 7 and 8 p.m., the AMC Plainville 20 at 4 and 7 p.m. and Cinemark Buckland Hills at 1, 1:45, 4, 4:45, 7 and 7:45 p.m. Ticket prices vary depending on time and location. fathomevents.com.

Voice of Fire

Anna Deavere Smith’s “Fires in the Mirror” is a multi-voiced monologue, subtitled “Crown Heights, Brooklyn And Other Identities,” investigating racial tensions that erupted into violence in New York City in 1991. Cloteal L. Horne performs Smith’s script Jan. 18 through Feb. 6 at the Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Dr., New Haven. longwharf.org.

Walker and Bloom

Two wandering souls join forces Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. at cafe nine, 250 State St., New Haven. Ryley Walker is the eclectic Illinois-based singer/songwriter and instrumentalist who recently moved to Vermont. Kath Bloom is the New Haven native whose song who started recording gentle experimental folk/blues songs in the 1970s and whose career was reignited when her song “Come Here” was featured in the modern romantic movie classic “Before Sunrise.” $15. cafenine.com.

From Disco to Emo

Two polar opposite music genres are being celebrated on adjacent nights at the Webster Theatre Underground, 31 Webster St., Hartford: “Gimme Gimme Disco — A Dance Party Inspired by ABBA” Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. and the DJ party “Emo Night Brooklyn,” spinning not just emo but punk pop Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. Admission to either show is $17. webstertheater.com.

Let’s Twist Again

Sixty years ago this month, Chubby Checker’s single “The Twist,” a remake of an old Hank Ballard tune hit #1 on the Billboard charts — two years after it had topped the charts the first time, in 1960. Checker has recorded many variations on that iconic dance hit, including “Let’s Twist Again,” “Slow Twistin’,” “Twistin’ USA” and “The Lose Your Inhibitions Twist.” He’s still twisting himself, at the age of 80, and turns up Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. at The Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville. Free. mohegansun.com.

Taylor made

Singer/songwriter Livingston Taylor has been performing since the early ‘60s. He’s at Infinity Hall, 20 Greenwoods Road West, Norfolk Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. along with a younger New England-based folk act, the married couple Ash and Eric (formerly known as The Promise is Hope) from Worcester, Mass. $39-$54. infinityhall.com/Events/livingston-taylor-1-21-2022.

CONCORA sings again

The vocal ensemble CONCORA (which stands for Connecticut Choral Artists) is holding its first live concert since COVID. It’s a rare performance of Langston Hughes and Margaret Bonds’ “The Ballad of the Brown King,” starring Jermaine Woodard Jr. (in the role of King Balthazar) and Lucy Hurston. Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. at South Church, 90 Main St., New Britain. $19-$59; $25 (single) or $50 for livestream. concora.org.

Natural Woman

“Beautiful — The Carole King Musical” is one of the better jukebox musicals, tracking King’s career from her 1950s New York factory-style songwriting days to her ‘70s solo career. Jan. 22 and 23 at the Shubert, 247 College St., New Haven. Performances are Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 5 p.m. $44-$126. shubert.com.

Christopher Arnott can be reached at carnott@courant.com.