Wine in the Wilderness
Common Ground Theatre—Set during the 1964 New York City riots, Wine in the Wilderness deals with the portrayal of African-American women in the black community. Written by American playwright, author and actress Alice Childress—she is cited as the first black woman to have a play produced on America's professional stage—the short play concerns an artist named Bill. His triptych documenting black women leads him to a model named Tommy, whose candor forces Bill to re-examine his notions of black women. Wine in the Wilderness's producer, New Traditions Theatre, was born from 2006's all-black production of The Cherry Orchard at Manbites Dog. For more info, visit www.cgtheatre.com or call 698-3870. —Megan Stein
Manbites Dog Theater—Appropriately for a magician, Joshua Lozoff seems to have the power to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. And surprise, you may have seen Lozoff in his former lifetime as an actor on the popular television series Cheers, where he played bawdy barmaid Carla's son, or in his brief Clueless cameo as one of the minions of Cher's rich lawyer dad. But Lozoff didn't find his true calling in the soundstages of L.A.; he found it on the roads of South America when a street magician caught his eye. Now, Lozoff has transformed himself into a high-profile illusionist, wowing schoolgirls with card tricks, making dozens of tiny red balls fall from an empty hand and transporting coins from one place to another with limited movement. But his new show, Beyond Belief, is not simply a trick of the eye. Here Lozoff shares his spirit, mind and body through a delicate blend of personal stories, revelations and of course, his own brand of "deep magic" acquired from extensive world travels and experiences. A one-man show with a handful of charm and a whole lot of heart, this is one not to be missed. Presented by Ghost and Spice Productions and directed by Lozoff's wife, local actress Melissa Lozoff, this evening's performance kicks off at 8:15 p.m. for $15. —Kathy Justice
Lincoln Theatre—Kingston "conscious" reggae legend Gregory Isaacs still owns his nickname, "cool ruler," while pivoting successfully into the earshot of younger audiences. Since the early '70s, Isaacs has made socially aware music, including sides with Lee Perry, and with a move into lovers rock, mastered the slow jam of reggae with "Night Nurse."
But to look at Isaacs, there was none of Barry White's overt smoothness. In his early days, there was ferocity to his lyrics, as he attacked "Mr. Cop." Isaacs was a cool cat, and he wasn't just catching on in Jamaica.
He was playing shows in the States, attended by Jamaican transplants and curious, droopy-lidded Americans, wanting to hear that provocative, lazy swooning voice. The pulse of the band made the hypnotic effect complete: love given elasticity to be reshaped a bit.
Reggae's been reconfigured in time, too, naturally absorbed into hip-hop, dance music of all stripes, and found itself enamored by the jam band flunkies. But Isaacs is bulletproof and seemingly beloved by all corners, having withstood the business flack by running his own label, African Museum. He's now touring with Rootz Underground, a young Jamaican group that talks of revolution in a roots-reggae vibe, and acolytes of a guy who says he just wants to keep trying to uplift people. —Chris Toenes
Gregory Isaacs plays Lincoln Theatre Friday, March 20, with Rootz Underground opening. The show costs $22-$27.
The Pour House—The Proclivities can toe the line between happy and melancholic, as displayed with its last album, but its recently finished Handguns and Dancing Shoes shows it trending toward more upbeat music just in time forspring. With a base in jazz and folk, front man Matt Douglas delivers earnest lyrics over engaging music without sounding like a pushover. The result is composed, but fresh and surprising, pop music. The 10 p.m. show costs $7. —Andrew Ritchey