At first, it seemed Elton John was going to be all about gimmickry: the outlandish glasses, the nutty costumes, the flamboyant piano style. But hey — it was the ’70s. Over the years — and he’s been a star through five decades now — it became evident that beneath the window dressing was high-order artistry; these days, he’s nothing less than an icon. Touring with his band in support of his most recent album, The Diving Board, he returns to New York with a set of new songs (co-written, as usual, with Bernie Taupin) and classics from the previous 30 recordings. 30! December 3 & 4, Madison Square Garden.
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Ever since humorist Jean Shepherd first recounted the tale of little Ralphie Parker and his efforts to persuade his reluctant parents to buy him an official Red Ryder air rifle, A Christmas Story has been a holiday classic. Its gently satiric look at a bygone, small-town America has entertained radio listeners, readers, moviegoers, and, last year, Broadway musical fans. Now the show’s expansive sets, big production numbers — Warren Carlyle was the choreographer — and amiable cast are making a return appearance, not on Broadway but in Herald Square. Tony-winning director John Rando is again marshalling dancing lamps, cowboys and Indians, and even miniature gangsters to relate Ralphie’s increasingly desperate shenanigans. December 11-29, the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Even Americans who’ve never set foot in a gallery or museum know the work of influential photographer Lewis Hine, who began taking pictures in New York in 1905. Whether it’s a worker dangling in mid-air as the Empire State Building rises over Manhattan, or an immigrant family warily eyeing the new world from the deck of an Ellis Island ferry, his images have become early 20th-century touchstones, latter-day versions of Washington Crossing the Delaware. But for every familiar image, like the 1920 Steamfitter above, there are many we don’t know. The International Center of Photography attempts to rectify that with a pair of exhibitions: one a career overview; the other focused on Hine’s rarely seen photos of American industry during The Depression. Through January 19 at the International Center of Photography.
Photo: Priska Ketterer/Lucerne Festival
Something may have been gained, but something surely was lost when conductors started wearing turtlenecks. Bernard Haitink is old-school — so old-school, in fact, that 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of his conducting debut. He’s scheduled a series of concerts around the world to mark the occasion, and one of them brings him to Carnegie Hall with pianist Murray Perahia and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was the ensemble’s principal guest conductor from 1995 to 2004, and nowadays he pops in from time to time as the group’s conductor laureate. On the music stands for this session will be Steven Stucky’s version of Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary, Schumann’s Piano Concerto, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. February 11 at Carnegie Hall.
Photo: Christopher Duggan
For many dance fans, winter brings visions of sugarplums. But in-the-know New Yorkers look forward to Revelations (pictured), and the other soulful productions served up every year by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The company calling card since 1960, Ailey’s masterpiece — 38 minutes of sheer bliss — is joined this season by Lift, a world premiere by rising contemporary choreographer Aszure Barton; Four Corners, another brand-new piece from Brooklyn’s own Ronald K. Brown; Chroma, a New York premiere by the London-based ballet whiz Wayne McGregor; and a tasty assortment of work by Bill T. Jones, Paul Taylor, Ohad Naharin, and others. December 4-January 5 at New York City Center.
Photo: BC Studios
It doesn’t get any classier than this: Tony winner James Lapine, of Sunday in the Park With George, and Tony winner William Finn, of Falsettos, are teaming up to bring an Oscar-winning movie, Little Miss Sunshine, to the musical theater stage. Their last collaboration, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, was a warm comedy about a group of misfit middle-schoolers competing for a spelling prize. This one is about just getting to the competition, as a barely functional and practically broke Albuquerque family hits the road to get the determined Olive to a kiddie pageant in California. Stephanie J. Block and Will Swenson head the cast. Through 12/15 at the Second Stage Theatre.