A joint effort of the inmates of the Improv Asylum theater and the soon-to-be unleashed comedy club Laugh Boston, the Legends of Boston Comedy New Year’s Eve show offers a knee-slapping alternative to televised events and auld lang sighing. Set in the historic confines of Plymouth Memorial Hall, laughs reverberate and glasses clink in celebratory toasts as favorite veteran comics of the Boston scene let loose with ribald punch lines.
It's one thing to sit down to a perfectly nice three-course meal, surrounded by your close friends and loved ones. It's quite another thing to sit down to the same meal surrounded not only by your friends, but by a slew of shifty-eyed murder suspects. Such is the situation guests find themselves in at Mystery Caf?, America's original murder mystery dinner theater.
Like the perfect crime, the idea behind Mystery Caf? is equal parts simple and brilliant. The line between dinner guest and audience member is blurred as a crew of potential murders attempts to evade suspicion by serving a delicious three-course meal. All the while, guests answer a series of questions based on their observations; at the end of the meal, the individual with the most correct answers wins.
Popular though it may be, the mystery dinner is only one of several gut-busting comedy acts sponsored by Mystery Caf?. Another is ComedySportz Boston, a lightning-fast improv competition in which two teams vie for points by playing in a series of goofy improv games. Regularly held at the Davis Square Theatre in Somerville, ComedySportz has all the elements you'd look for in a more traditional sport: breakneck speed, a rowdy audience, and a referee who governs the action and decides if the losers get to live.
Housed inside the old Gas Light building in the Third Ward, Tulip Restaurant combines an Old World menu of Turkish and Mediterranean fare with a chic industrial aesthetic. Cream City brick walls provide the backdrop to framed pattern prints and an onyx bar with colorful lighting. Amid the dining-room tables, a pair of comfy couches and a coffee table surround a red fireplace that provides a place to warm hands or interrogate uncooperative chestnuts. Turkish dishes include succulent lamb chops, while Mediterranean fare ranges from fettuccine with sautéed shrimp to homemade ravioli.
The first night of each New Year in Boston is always rung in with a celebratory bash known as First Night. The City of Boston created the idea in 1976 as a means of generating revenue and since then, spinoffs of the festival have come to life in endless cities throughout the country. The daylong schedule of activities begins on the afternoon of December 31, with art displays and music and dance performances scattered throughout the city. Families love looking at the ice sculpture masterpieces that line the streets on their way to the Boston Common ball field for the early evening fireworks display. All outdoor events are free, but for indoor attractions, entrants must buy a First Night button, which can be purchased in advance at many stores throughout the city.
The Paramount’s brightly illuminated Broadway-style sign in the Theater District has taken over the role of eye-catcher along Washington Street, now that the Filene’s infamous clock tower is no more. The space was originally opened as a cinema in the 1930s, but was forced to shutter in the mid-1970s, a time when the entire downtown area needed to be revitalized. In 2005, Emerson College purchased the building, renovated the interior and transformed it into the intimate 596-seat venue it is today. With large gold columns and artistically painted walls, The Paramount’s main stage stands out. But the facility also hosts nine rehearsal studios, four classrooms, a sound stage, the Bright Family screening room and two smaller performance spaces that host everything from comedians and dance troupes to more official theatrical productions.