Film: Love, Simon is a fairly conventional coming-of-age story about a high school senior, except that he is unapologetically gay and – once he comes out to them – his friends and family are uniformly supportive of his sexual orientation. That makes for a lack of dramatic conflict, but still the film is surely a first by a major studio (Fox 2000). The only pushback comes from a jealous, vindictive student named Martin, who reveals Simon’s secret life in an series of purloined e-mails that go viral. Meanwhile, Simon is carrying on an electronic correspondence with a fellow gay classmate whose identity he does not know. Simon is played very winningly by Nick Robinson, previously best known for his performance in Jurassic World from a few years ago. Love, Simon should appeal to general audiences, but like African-American kids who see a superhero in Black Panther who looks like them, gay teens will be able to see a positive reflection of themselves in Simon. Opening at area theaters this weekend.
Theater: Lynn University’s Jan McArt – a/k/a the First Lady of Florida Theater – has been producing an annual staged concert of a vintage piece of musical theater. This weekend – twice Saturday and again on Sunday afternoon – she directs and appears in 1961’s Milk and Honey, the rarely revived first Broadway show by composer-lyricist Jerry Herman (with a book by Don Appell). As the story of romance between a young American widow and a retired businessman who meet on tour in Israel, it also serves as a tribute to that war-torn nation which is celebrating its 70th anniversary of independence this year. Starring as the central lovers will be Jay Stuart and Rachel Klein, accompanied by a 24-piece version of the Lynn Philharmonia. The venue is the Wold Performing Arts Center on the Lynn campus in Boca Raton. Call 561-237-9000 for reservations and information.
Music: The birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach will be upon us Tuesday (it’s his 333rd), and there are events to mark it, including Sunday’s concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, in which the church’s music director, Paul Cienniwa, is joined by Michael Bahmann for a duo-harpsichord version of Bach’s final work, The Art of Fugue, left unfinished at his death in 1750. It’s an extraordinary piece, and well worth hearing in what might have been the instrumentation Bach had in mind (he doesn’t say in the manuscript). And then Tuesday night, Lynn University pianist and pedagogue Roberta Rust brings a group of her students to the Boca Steinway Gallery in Boca Raton for a free concert of music by Bach, billed as part of the Bach in the Subways movement, begun in 2010 by a cellist in New York. Musicians will tell you that no music is quite so nourishing as Bach, and his birthday gives us all a chance to honor his extraordinary gift to the civilization he enriched.