Here are some Montreal arts and culture highlights for February 2017:
The blockbuster exhibition Chagall: Colour and Music at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features some 500 works and documents—paintings, collages, watercolours, sculptures, stained glass windows and ceramics—which show how the aesthetic and artistic world of famed Russian-French artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) is imbued with music. The exhibition includes his creations for the stage, notably 40 rarely-seen costumes and sets for the ballets and operas Aleko (1942), The Firebird (1945), Daphnis et Chloé (1958) and The Magic Flute (1967). No less than famed art critic Robert Hughes called Chagall “the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century.” Chagall: Colour and Music continues until June 11.
Over at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, For Time Is the Longest Distance Between Two Places is an intriguing exhibition of 20 pieces drawn from the MAC’s extensive permanent collection of contemporary art. Running until March 12, the exhibition—whose title is taken from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams—juxtaposes the works of several artists (including Nicolas Baier, Patrick Bernatchez, Alain Paiement and Serge Tousignant) exploring humankind’s need to define our relationship with time and space.
Acclaimed choreographer Dave St-Pierre premieres his much-anticipated piece suie as part of Montreal’s pretty awesome Danse Danse series. Inspired by Joan of Arc, this raw, energetic piece about courage and faith stars dancers Anne Le Beau and Bernard Martin performing on an inclined stage with actor Hubert Proulx, at the Cinqieme Salle of Place des Arts, from February 1 to 11.
Meanwhile, classical ballet lovers will adore the iconic Swan Lake, danced to Tchaikovsky’s exhilarating and moving score by the Perm Opera Ballet, presented at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal from February 22 to 26.
Another must-see is the famed Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: the New York dance company is made up of men who fabulously parody classical ballet in drag. Founded in 1974, “Les Trocks” (as they are more affectionately known) headline Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on February 18 and 19.
The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal presents a must-see concert by Midori, the Japanese-born American violinist who made her debut at the age of 11 with legendary conductor Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic in 1982; Midori and the OSM will play Britten’s Violin Concerto in two much-anticipated concerts on February 9 and 12 at the Maison Symphonique.
World-renowned scratch DJ Kid Koala presents an innovative collection of dreamy, atmospheric tracks composed especially for this series of shows at the Phi Centre from February 1 to 4.
Canadian rockers Blue Rodeo headline Salle Wilfred-Pelletier with opening act The Sadies on February 8.
The queer hip hop Stunt Queen Tour with rappers Mykki Blanco and Cakes Da Killa headlines the Fairmount Theatre on February 13. Cakes Da Killa recently told me, “I do see the importance of visibility which is why I never wanted to be closeted. I doubt me being closeted would work out though!”
American glam-goth rocker Andy Black headlines the Corona Theatre on February 14, with opening acts William Control and Palaye Royale.
French-Canadian music royalty Garou, Roch Voisine and Corneille return to Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on February 14 with their hugely successful Forever Gentlemen Tour which revisits the Vegas big-band, Rat-Pack era.
The I Love The 90s Tour pitstops at the Bell Centre on February 16 with an all-star cast: Salt-N-Pepa, Color Me Badd, Montell Jordan, Rob Base, Young MC and C+C Music Factory. Bring your dancing shoes!
Montreal indie rockers Elephant Stone headline the Fairmount Theatre on February 18 with opening act Walrus.
Sensational retro soulman Lee Fields & The Expressions will raise the roof at L’Astral on February 24 during the Montréal en Lumiere Festival.
There are still some good tickets available for Maroon 5 who headline the Bell Centre on February 24 and 25. Opening acts both nights are R. City and Tinashe.
Los Angeles-based Parlor Social—fronted by Montreal-bred husband and wife writing team Dessy Di Lauro and Ric’key Pageot (fresh from touring with Madonna)—return home to celebrate Ric’key’s birthday with a February 24 jazz-soul concert at Diese Onze Jazz Bar – their first local performance in almost four years. This show will sell out, so advance tix are recommended: 14$ with dinner reservations/ 20$ without dinner reservations, at 514-223-3543.
The touring Broadway musical Mamma Mia! headlines Salle Wilfred-Pelletier for five performances only, from February 17 to 19. British playwright Catherine Johnson wrote the musical about a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father on the eve of her wedding on the same Greek island paradise her mother visited 20 years earlier. Over the course of the play, the cast sings 22 ABBA songs that fit together uncannily, as if they’d been written for the narrative.
Do not miss the much-anticipated Segal Centre production of British playwright Michael Frayn’s classic 1982 farce Noises Off which runs from February 1 to 19. Directed by Award-winning Montreal filmmaker Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky), this play-within-a-play follows the on and off stage shenanigans of a hapless director and his ragtag group of actors who must pull their act together to put on a show.
Infinitheatre’s production of playwright Oren Safdie’s Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, about a Jewish-Canadian gay author and Palestinian sympathizer held captive by a Palestinian terrorist, is currently playing at the Théatre St. James in Old Montréal until March 5.
Also in Old Montreal, the Centaur Theatre presents the comedy Bakersfield Mist which previously was a hit both in London’s West End and in Los Angeles. Inspired by true events, the comedic two-hander inspired by true events tells the tale of a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, down-and-out woman convinced she has bought an unknown Jackson Pollock masterpiece worth millions at a junk shop for a measly three bucks. But is it real? Bakersfield Mist plays at the Centaur from February 1 to 26.
The McGill Savoy Society’s 2017 season production of The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan plays at Moyse Hall (853 Sherbrooke West) from February 10 to 18.
Then there is Ne m’oublie pas, the French-language adaptation of Australian playwright Tom Holloway’s critically-acclaimed play Forget Me Not, which opens February 15 at Theatre Duceppe and continues to March 25. The play tells the story of Gerry, one of 3,000 British “orphans” who between 1945 and 1968 were shipped to Australia to begin new lives. Many of these children were sent without their parents knowledge or consent, and most of the kids were told they were orphans and that their parents were dead. Now pushing 60, Gerry discovers his birth mother is actually still alive, and returns to Liverpool to visit her in hopes of discovering who he really is.
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the cult film classic Slap Shot starring Paul Newman, being screened for free at Igloofest on the Quai Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port on February 11 and 18 at 5 pm, in the presence of one of the film’s stars, Yvon Barrette, alias Denis Lemieux, the famous goaltender of the Chiefs.
Cinema Politica Concordia screens documentaries at Concordia’s Hall Building auditorium every Monday at 7 pm, including the February 13 Montreal premiere of The Same Difference, a documentary about the politically-charged black lesbian communities in the United States; director Nneka Onuorah will also be present. Admission is by donation basis ($5-10 suggested). The venue is wheelchair accessible.
Also, two organists will improvise soundtracks to accompany short films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and other filmmakers in the February 17 concert Organ and the Silent Film at the Maison Symphonique.
As they do each year, the Cinema du Parc will screen the The Academy Awards ceremony live from Los Angeles, February 26 at 7 pm. Free admission.
Montreal’s original monthly all-true storytelling series Confabulation makes a special appearance in a brand-new venue, the Phi Centre, on February 4.
The CWHL’s Les Canadiennes de Montreal hockey team fight breast cancer with their seventh annual “Pink in the Rink” game against the Toronto Furies, Feb. 4 at 3:45 pm at the Montreal Canadiens’ Complex Sportif Bell in Brossard. The game will also air live on Sportsnet in Canada, immediately following the Montreal Canadiens’ early afternoon contest.
Montreal’s hugely popular queer-reading series The Violet Hour returns February 14 to male strip joint Stock Bar (1171 Rue Sainte-Catherine East) in the Gay Village with host Christopher DiRaddo and guest writers Jordan Arseneault (aka Peaches Lepage), Craig Barron, Johanne Cadorette, Daniel Allen Cox and Benoît Gorez. Free admission, but donations to À deux mains / Head & Hands (headandhands.ca) are welcome. Showtime: 7 pm.
The Concordia University Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS presents Black Queer Sex, Love, and Life in the Age of AIDS with critically-hailed American author Marlon M. Bailey at the SSMU Ballroom at McGill University on February 9 at 7 p.m. Free admission.
American stand-up comedian Amy Shumer headlines the Bell Centre on February 17.
Last but not least, this year’s 26th annual edition of Black History Month features a variety of arts and culture programming throughout Montreal all month long. For details, visit moishistoiredesnoirs.com.