Sun., March 24, Johnny Brenda’s. johnnybrendas.com
Overall vibe: Kate Nash is different than you remember. The red-headed, piano-stomping teenager of the mid-2000s has grown up, dyed her hair black and completely ditched the piano. Her sold-out show on Sunday highlighted her new album, Girl Talk, and from the moment she started, it became obvious the British songwriter has gone less Lily Allen, more heavy-picked bass of the Breeders and, for songs like the brand new “Friend,” become an incarnation of Joan Jett’s upbeat major-chorded punk.
Most memorable moment: She admitted to the club’s crowd at one point that she’d been nervous about coming out. When she’d woken up that morning, she claimed, her voice wasn’t all that worthy. The crowd ate up the vibe and told her, through cheers, of course, that she sounded great. (She did.) It must be one of those things you only notice when you’re an internationally-known singer/songwriter who can reinvent yourself without skipping a beat.
Scene stealer: Nash encouraged the crowd to sing along to one of her old tunes: 2007’s “Foundations,” arguably her most famous song. Without a piano, she and her all-female backing band played a plugged-in guitar-heavy version that never went punk per se, but did, at times, sound like a completely different tune. (Randy LoBasso)
Lantern Theater Company’s “Henry V”
Through April 14, St. Stephen’s Theater. lanterntheater.org
Overall vibe: Punk rock. Kicking down the Fourth Wall with the unsettling anarchy of the Sex Pistols, the company of actors storm the Lantern Theater House as house manager Ryan Pollock implores us to “turn off our cell phones,” Gulf War veteran and actor Marc Cairns busts out 20 push-ups off the step leading to the raised platform of the bare Elizabethan-style stage, and London-born actor Mal Whyte confesses, “I’m getting too old for this!” The prologue of Henry V is insanely subversive. Before diving headfirst into a play honoring the accomplishments of the saintly British monarch who united England by defeating the French in the Battle of Agincourt, Shakespeare lays it down plainly: “For ‘tis your thoughts that must deck our kings.” Meaning: Think for yourselves. Henry is an ordinary man you’ve adorned with a crown.
Most memorable moment: Shakespeare demands in the prologue “Into a thousand parts divide one man,” so Charles McMahon cast eight actors to portray 50 characters. Costumes visibly hang on metal racks in the wings. Whyte dresses as the sexually charged bar wench Mistress Quickly, sends her boys off to war with France, turns to the audience and says:, “Ah, well,” then, standing center stage, strips off the bar wench garb and slips into the robe of the King of France. Social class is as elastic as the talents of protean actors like Whyte.
Scene stealer: One-woman chorus and powerhouse Krista Apple-Hodge is the perfect floatation device for our ADD-addled, tailored-for-commercial-TV brains to hang on to in this three-hour-long sea of gorgeous language. (Jessica Foley)