Best of the Week (Jan. 26-Feb. 2): Walker’s Out There, GZA, ‘Noura,’ Badi Assad, ‘Moana’ sing-along, Liszt, Rex Orange County, more
Multiple authors | Star Tribune
Aussie theater company challenges perceptions about disabilities
Walker Art Center’s monthlong “Out There” series concludes with the return of Back to Back Theatre, an Australian ensemble made up of artists with disabilities. In “The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes,” Back to Back imagines a future world where artificial intelligence pervades. In doing so, they challenge tropes about people who are perceived as “not normal.” Be prepared to get uncomfortable with a narrative that diverges from the typical feel-good story about people with disabilities.
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat. Walker Art Center, Mpls. $26, 612-375-7600 or walkerart.org.
When he’s not on tour with his whole crew or lecturing at MIT and Harvard — seriously, he didn’t earn the nickname the Genius off his ingenious “Chapelle Show” skits — GZA has dropped some of the Wu-Tang Clan’s better solo albums. Most notably: “Liquid Swords,” his dense, dark and grimy, RZA-produced 1995 debut, which he’s celebrating with a 25th anniversary tour accompanied by DJ Symphony. Local rappers Juice Lord and Kaleem the Dream open.
8 p.m. Sun. Fine Line, Mpls. $30-$45, etix.com.
Heather Raffo’s one-act play “Noura” is a takeoff on Ibsen’s iconic central character in “A Doll’s House.” But unlike Ibsen’s Nora, who famously walked out on her family, refugee Noura has a bigger departure — her shattered homeland of Iraq. Raffo’s work is revelatory, showing Iraqi-American characters as ordinary people struggling to harmonize notes in a complicated life. Actress Gamze Ceylan invests her title character with flinty determination.
7 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 1 p.m. Wed. & Sat. Guthrie Theater, Mpls. $25-$79, guthrietheater.org.
Classically trained Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad has showcased her chops on her own records and in a jazzy combination with John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell. But she’s also interpreted pop tunes such as U2’s “One” and Bjork’s “Bachelorette.” Assad’s latest album, “Hatched,” features three original compositions and Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man” slowed to a Brazilian vibe and Lorde’s “Royals” recast, without a bass, into a Carnival-like romp.
7:30 p.m. Tue. Crooners, 6161 NE. Hwy. 65, Fridley. $30-$35, croonersmn.com.
You don’t need to be a professional singer to join in as the VocalEssence Singers of This Age lead a singalong to the popular Disney movie, “Moana.” Sing the catchy tunes while watching the defiant yet brave princess save her village with the help of her quirky rooster Hei Hei and the muscular demigod Maui. Kids can make a craft and go about the American Swedish Institute castle to search for treasures and win a prize.
10 a.m. & 1 p.m. Sat. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av., Mpls. $15 adults, children free; 612-547-1451, vocalessence.org.
Talk about multi-tasking: Welshman Paul Watkins is cellist in the Emerson String Quartet, plays solo dates, and conducts and teaches. He wears two of his four hats in a Minnesota Orchestra program in which he performs C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto in A major as the centerpiece. Flanking it are two masterpieces: Britten’s wonderfully inventive “Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge” and Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, both led by Watkins from the conductor’s podium.
11 a.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri. Orchestra Hall, Mpls. $12-$130.75, 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org.
Whether you consider him angsty emo folk or bedroom pop, self-taught British popster Rex Orange County, aka 21-year-old Alexander O’Connor, has gained a sizable fan base, via Spotify and by working with Randy Newman and Tyler the Creator. “Pony” is his third and most polished album. Standouts include the heavily orchestrated, Rufus Wainwright-lite “It’s Not the Same Anymore” and “Never Had the Balls,” on which he shows more fortitude than ever before.
8 p.m. Sun. Palace Theater, St. Paul. Sold out.
Rodents rule as 2020 marks the Year of the Rat. Despite its reputation as a nuisance, in the Chinese Zodiac the animal is a symbol of wealth, fertility and abundance. Learn Chinese New Year customs as well as traits of a variety of rodents at the open house of Roseville’s Harriet Alexander Nature Center. The event also features music, treats and activities.
12:30-4:30 p.m. next Sun. Harriet Alexander Nature Center, 2520 N. Dale St., Roseville. Free, cityofroseville.com.
More than 160 years after it was written, Liszt’s Piano Sonata remains a pinnacle of the repertoire, and one of its stiffest technical challenges. Stylish Korean pianist Joyce Yang plays it in an intriguingly varied Frederic Chopin Society recital that also features Bach’s French Suite No. 5 and Chopin’s Ballade No. 2.
3 p.m. next Sun. Mairs Concert Hall, Macalester College, St. Paul. $15-$35, 612-822-0123 or chopinsocietymn.org.