Ms. Lauryn Hill Plays Heinz Hall; ‘Something Rotten!’ at Benedum (Tues., 1/31/17)

1) For the past 16 years, Ms. Lauryn Hill has been both here and not. Her last studio album was also her first: 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, its brilliance and commercial success long documented. Yet even as the music world “misses” her, she releases or is featured on a new song roughly every year, including collaborations with artists like John Legend, Joss Stone, and Ronald Isley. Since the mid-aughts, she has toured, but it’s been sporadic: a festival appearance here, a solo spot there. However, 2016 saw her at multiple cities, and she begins 2017 in Pittsburgh at Heinz Hall. Her last single was 2013’s “Consumerism” from an as-yet-to-be-released project called Letters from Exile. She also contributed six tracks to the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?. Hill’s music career began with the Fugees, one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time. Their last album, 1996’s critically acclaimed The Score, features a beloved cover of “Killing Me Softly” with Hill’s angelic vocals front and center. 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (CM)

By the pricking of their thumbs, "Something Rotten" this way comes!

By the pricking of their thumbs, “Something Rotten!” this way comes. photo: Joan Marcus.

2) Unlike movies, Broadway musicals rarely have sequels and hardly ever have prequels. But the recent Broadway hit Something Rotten! might be the ultimate prequel: it’s a musical about the imaginary composition of the first musical. The setting is London in 1595. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are eager to upstage the current hot playwright, a guy named Shakespeare. Consulting a soothsayer, the brothers are amazed to learn that popular plays of the future will feature actors periodically bursting into song and dance. The soothsayer also predicts that Shakespeare’s next big hit will be about Hamlet, the Danish prince—except the info gets scrambled, so the Bottoms think it’s an omelet with Danish, and they beat the Bard to the punch with a blockbuster called Omelette: the Musical. Yes, Something Rotten! is that silly. Many references to modern musicals are slipped in, and good ol’ Shakespeare gets to strut and fret upon the stage in numbers like “Will Power.” 7:30 p.m. Performances continue through February 5. The touring company of Something Rotten! intends to put an exclamation point on our aesthetic sensibilities at Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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