Friday, December 30, 2011



West Orange Public Library                 
46 Mt. Pleasant Ave.                                       
West Orange, NJ 07052                                  
Hours: M, W, Th 9-9, Sat 9-5; Tu, Fri 9-5:30,

Sun 1-5

snowJJanuary Programs for Adults  

Resume Writing Workshop
WHEN: Thursday, January 5, at 7 PM

Pick up some valuable resume writing tips from career expert Norma Tassy in our free workshop. Participants will learn how to create a clear, concise and well-organized resume that will attract potential employers.

Norma Tassy has more than a decade of experience in recruiting, human resources and outplacement. She is the founder of Workplace Solutions, Inc., a full-service career counseling and coaching practice. Sign up online or by calling 973.736.0198.

Book Discussion Group
Monday, January 9, at 1:30 PM

This month, Librarian Catherine LaBelle leads the group's discussion of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined. Please join us for an interesting discussion.

Civil War General George B. McClellan's Life in West Orange           
Thursday, January 19, 7 PM

McClellan's lasting West Orange legacy is the St. Cloud Presbyterian Church which he helped found in 1877. McClellan opposed Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1864. He also served as New Jersey Governor from 1878 until 1881.  Learn all about General McClellan's years in West Orange - from his arrival here in 1863 to his death in 1885.

This free lecture is presented by Joe Fagan who writes a weekly history column for the West Orange Chronicle. This program is the first in the West Orange Sesquicentennial Lecture Series. The series will take place monthly through July as part of the celebration of the Township's 150th birthday. Advance registration is recommended. Register online or at 973.736.0198.

Computer Workshops for Beginners
No experience necessary! Call the Library to sign up.

Computer Basics: Tuesday, January 10 at 10 AM. Learn the basics of using a computer. Find out how to use a mouse and how to save documents to a USB drive.

Internet Basics: Tuesday, January 17 at 10 AM. Learn how to surf the web, visit web sites, and conduct a basic topic search.

E-Mail Basics: Tuesday, January 24 at 10 AM. Learn how to set up an email account and how to send and read email.

Sensational Senior Socials
WHEN: Fridays at 2 PM

Stop by the Library every Friday afternoon at 2 PM to converse and have fun with other senior citizens.  We'll feature different activities each week.
Friday, January 6: Fun with board games
Friday, January 13: Learn how to play Wii bowling and golf
Friday, January 20: Enjoy a film and dessert (Rear Window starring Grace Kelly)
Friday, January 27: Reminisce in our lively conversation group

Sneak Peek at February:
The Library is hosting a very special Black History Month event on Thursday, February 2 at 7 PM. Join us for a free live performance by Tony nominee, Frankie Faison (Fences, Gods & Generals, The Wire, Silence of the Lambs). Faison will perform a scene from Luna Stage's new play Reparations. Discussion with playwright Gino DiIorio about this timely and vital work follows the performance. The discussion will be moderated by Luna's artistic director, Jane Mandel. Send this event to your calendar by clicking here.

teen logo

Teen Programs

Raise Your Voice Theater Project
Mondays 5:30-7 PM, beginning January 30 

Calling all teen and 'tween writers, rappers, musicians, actors, singers, poets, artists and dancers to take part in a unique creative project!   

Participants will create and act out a short performance piece using improvisation, writing, music and theater techniques. Experience working on a creative team with other teens. This project is made possible by a partnership between the Luna Stage Theatre Company and the WO Library's Teen Advisory Council.

The project workshops begin on January 30. Participants will meet for five consecutive Mondays and then perform their creation at the WO Library on Wednesday, March 7. Call the Youth Services Department at 973.736.0198 for more information or to sign up.


Rising Star Daniella Rabbani In Concert
WHEN: Sunday, January 8, at 3 PM
Axelrod Performing Arts Center, 100 Grant Avenue, Deal Park
Tickets: $18, $15 Group Rate

Accompanied By the Klezmer Revival Band "Litvakus"
Featuring Songs in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian

Daniella Rabbani is "brilliant " (THEATERONLINE), "fascinating" (CABARET SCENE), "dynamic, sexy" (JEWISH THEATRE), "shines" (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS), "wonderful", "a hoot!" (FORWARD), "deftly comic" (THEATRE MANIA), "irresistible" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE), "the living embodiment of fun, often sensuous music" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE), "effervescent" (CURTAIN UP), "sweet voiced" (FORWARD), "outstanding" (JEWISH THEATER), "moving" (CULTURE CATCH) and "a gifted artist" (FORWARD).

Litvakus brings to life the Russian and Yiddish musical heritage and takes Klezmer Music to the modern audiences worldwide, making the old sound new and fresh, hip and meaningful.

Get a taste of Daniella’s show here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Rahway High School Musical Theatre presents

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

WHEN: Friday, January 6, 2012, 7:30 PM; Saturday, January 7, 2012,7:30 PM
WHERE: UCPAC Main Stage, 1601 Irving Street, Rahway

TICKETS: Call: 732.396.1100
or Click Here to Download the Order Form

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a musical comedy based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in his comic strip Peanuts. There is no plot as such, simply a series of vignettes which are gentle, innocent and humorous reminders of what it is to be a child and what it takes for each of us to navigate our way through the challenges of childhood.

Simple set, few costumes, great upbeat songs, and the storytelling of real life experiences that we all can relate to are just a few reasons to get tickets and enjoy an evening of family fun with the Rahway High School Performing Arts Company at the Union County Performing Arts Center.

“Good Grief,” “Don’t be late—Get your tickets early!”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey presents

English Wassail Concert

WHEN:  January 8, 3 PM
Grace Church, 4 Madison Avenue, Madison
TICKETS: $35/$25/$5/Adults/Seniors/Students under 22 with ID. They can be ordered online at the Orchestra’s web site,; by calling 973.366.8922; or by purchasing them at the door the day of the concert.

Dr. Robert W. Butts, artistic director of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, has designed an enchanting program of English Wassail music “with a twist” to warm the hearts and minds of concert-goers. The twist provides a bit of musical spice to the English Baroque wassail with a brand new work composed by Maestro Butts, as well as Mozart’s first piano concerto.


Suite from Abdelazar, by Henry Purcell, newly-orchestrated by Dr. Robert W. Butts. Abdelazar was one of Purcell’s last and most successful theater works,   Several of the dances and airs have been used by later composers for orchestral works (most notably Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra)   and for film and television shows ( Pride and Prejudice, The Young Churchills).    In keeping with theatrical traditions of the English Baroque, Maestro Butts is orchestrating the nine movements specifically for the musicians of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey.

Trumpet Sonata by Henry Purcell and Water Piece Suite, by Georg Friederic Handel, featuring   young trumpeter Michael Bassett of Montclair. Michael made his debut with the orchestra during the 2011 Summer Music Festival, playing the challenging solo part on Bach’s cantata Jauchzett Gott in Allen Landen. The two short works on the Wassail program represent the popular trumpet repertoire in 17 th and 18 th century London. “The Handel Water Piece Suite is a set of dances adapted from the more familiar Water Music. In this case it became a suite for solo trumpet and strings,” said Dr. Butts.

Mr. Bassett has been immersed in orchestral playing for six years as a high school and college trumpeter.   During his high school career, he played principal trumpet in several honors bands and orchestras in New Jersey, as well as attending Kinhaven Music School in Weston, VT for three years.   He is a sophomore performance major at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.   In addition to performing with Montclair State’s Wind Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Band, he has appeared as a soloist with their hallmark chamber orchestra, the Cali Camerata, including a presentation   at the Barge Chamber Music Series in Brooklyn, NY.

Piano Concerto #5, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring pianist John Pivarnik. This is the first concerto totally composed by Mozart in 1773, when he was just 17 years old. The earlier ones were either partially composed by his father, or more frequently were adaptations of music by other composers. In many ways, this is also the first major full-scale piano concerto and the earliest still in the standard repertoire. Mr. Pivarnik, of Madison, is a well-known piano virtuoso, appearing frequently throughout New Jersey and the metropolitan area.

A special treat during this festive Wassail program will be the world premiere of Two Songs for Bassoon and Strings, composed by Maestro Butts, in celebration of the 40th birthday of the Orchestra’s principal bassoonist Andrew Pecota, of Bloomfield. “The songs are modeled on Baroque ritornello form as perfected by Antonio Vivaldi, but are built on contemporary harmonic and melodic ideas,” said Dr. Butts in commenting on his compositions. Mr. Pecota is one of New Jersey’s leading bassoonists and is an expert on 18 th century music. He has been a major part of the BONJ success story from its very first concert in 1996. He has performed as a principal bassoonist with many New Jersey orchestra and opera companies and is a founding member of Zephyrs Winds, as well as a leading exponent of wind ensemble chamber music. With BONJ, he has performed concertos by Mozart, Vivaldi, Ritter and others.

A much-anticipated highlight of this Wassail concert will be the appearance of soprano Valerie Sue Muller, an active performer in concert, opera, musical theater and music ministry. She has appeared in front of audiences across the country and the world, from Italy to Japan. She made her debut performance with the Orchestra just this past December at a benefit concert in Franklin Lakes for St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Ms. Muller has recently focused her musical talents and passion on the church and is active singing throughout the Archdiocese of Newark. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in voice and opera performance.

Quartetto, by Johann Christian Bach, featuring flutists Margaret Walker and Catherine Garrison. Quartetto united the English Baroque with the Mozartean twist. The delightful work captures the blend of baroque and classical styles that made J.C. Bach the most popular composer in mid-eighteenth century England and provided him with the nickname “The London Bach.”   When the Mozart family visited England in the 1660’s, the child Wolfgang and the esteemed composer became close friends, with Bach’s style greatly influencing the younger composer’s early masterpieces.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Dugan's Hooligans: The Farewell Concert

WHEN: Friday, December 30, at 8:00 PM
Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown.
TICKETS: $7.00 per person at the door. For further information, call 973.335.9489, or visit

The concert, originally scheduled for September 2, was cancelled by Hurricane Irene and rescheduled. Opening will be Princeton's Cotillion Singers.

The performance is part of The Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series, sponsored by The Folk Project each Friday evening at The Fellowship.

Dugan's Hooligans is a family band, conceived as a Celtic Eclectic Ensemble, and a showcase for two talented young people: Fiddle Phenomenon Connor Dugan and Harpist/Tin Whistle player/Dancer/Vocalist Sharlys Dugan. The parents, George (Bodhran) and Nancy (Harp and Keyboards) Dugan, call it “parenting with a backbeat.” They act as roadies, arrangers, and accompanists. Onstage, they have so much fun it looks easy, but the kids are hard workers, highly trained, award-winning solo performers and musically disciplined. The Hooligans have been a local hit for years, but Connor is now at the Berklee School of Music, Sharlys will be entering college and it's time to move on.

Connor Dugan (right) started playing fiddle at the age of 6. The New York Times has described him as a”virtuoso fiddler.” He is equally at home with classical music or a traditional Irish tune, some funky bluegrass, a rag, a Cajun riff, or an old time shuffle. He is a violinist with the Baroque Orchestra of North Jersey, the NJ Concert Opera, and has frequently performed with the Harmonium Choral Society. Connor has been a guest artist with the New Philharmonic Society of NJ, and has performed with the Livingston Symphony and the Stirling String Ensemble. He was twice winner of the Mid Atlantic Irish Fiddle Championship, and has many other championship awards, including Celtic, Old time and Bluegrass champion at the Fireback Fiddle Contest, and the Sussex Fair Fiddle contest. He is currently Grand Champion of the Lyons Fiddle Contest. In October of 2009, Connor was cast as a character and fiddler in the critically acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of The Grapes of Wrath.

Sharlys Dugan (above, left) began playing harp at the age of 4. She won her first North Atlantic Irish Harp Championship at the age of six, and held the title for three consecutive years. As well as an accomplished classical and Celtic harpist, she is a champion tin whistle player, vocalist, flautist, and Irish dancer. Presently a high school senior, Sharlys is involved in musical theater, and is a member of the Madison HS Jazz Choir. A member of the Harmonium Choral Society and the Harmonium Chamber Singers, Sharlys frequently accompanies Harmonium on whistle or harp, and has joined the Baroque Orchestra of NJ as guest harpist or soloist.

Dugan's Hooligans will perform its final concert as a band on December 30 at The Minstrel. Interspersed with band numbers will be several solo segments from Connor and Sharlys. Joining them will be musicians from outside the family, previewing the new directions of their musical journey.

Opening act for the Hooligans will be Princeton's Cotillion Singers, a 20-voice choral group that forms annually to sing at the Princeton Cotillion, a holiday event of the Princeton Country Dancers. They perform a mix of folk, ritual, Christmas, Solstice and other year-end songs.

The Folk Project is a non-profit 501(c) Corporation whose mission is to present high caliber folk music performances and instructional workshops for the public and members; to encourage development of musicianship and performance skills in the northern New Jersey area; and to provide interesting social and learning activities relating to traditional and participatory folk music and dance.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Frankie Faison, Suzzanne Douglas , Ami Brabson and André Braugher

By William Shakespeare

A benefit reading directed by acclaimed Shakespearean director Rob Clare
Starring Ami Brabson, André Braugher , Suzzanne Douglas, Frankie Faison and many more...

WHEN: Saturday, January 7, at 7 PM; Sunday, January 8, at 5 PM
WHERE: Luna Stage,a 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $100 for performance only; $125 for performance and post-show reception with cast
Tickets on Sale Now


Friday, December 16, 2011


If you see but one Christmas play this month, let it be Colin Ryan's tour de force performance in the Actors Shakespeare Company's production of Christmas with Dickens & Dylan at the West Side Theatre in Jersey City. But you'd better hurry; the play closes on Sunday, December 18.

Other theaters may have produced A Christmas Carol and A Child's Christmas in Wales with a full complement of actors, but Ryan manages to bring the words from the page to the stage so evocatively—and convincingly—that we imagine we're seeing a performance by many when, in fact, there's only one man on the stage!

For a literature junkie, there is nothing better than seeing and hearing an author read from his or her works. Of course, in the case of Dickens and Thomas, that's impossible, given that both are dead, lo, these many years. But Colin Ryan gives us the next best thing: a feeling that we are in the presence of both great men, without sounding like a bad impersonation or a caricature.

Colin Ryan as Dylan Thomas--Boyle ImageUsing a British accent with a hint of the Welsh musicality, Ryan launches into a recitation of A Child's Christmas in Wales from a 1951 New York City bar stool (much as Thomas was wont to do during his alcohol-soaked later years), talking to the audience as though they are fellow pub-goers. We can hear Thomas’ melodic line as he recounts the winter days with the "snow shawling out of the ground," and boys knocking on doors "mittened on them manfully." The "carol-singing sea" seems to engulf us as Ryan, dressed in a sport jacket, argyle vest, striped shirt and red tie, even gets down on the floor to portray a small boy entranced with the "not so useful" toys like candy and toy soldiers who always retreated. He takes us out caroling with his friends, singing "Old King Wenceslas" at the door to a deserted-looking house, only to hear a "small, dry, eggshell voice" accompanying the group through the keyhole! Without a lot of stage business, we can concentrate on Dylan Thomas' wonderful way with words, metaphors and, of course, alliteration to work its magic on evoking our own Christmas memories.

After a ten-minute intermission, ostensibly to await the arrival of Mr. Charles Dickens on a late train, Ryan rushes in with cape flying, all atremble at this bumpy start to his reading tour of North America—an event that really happened in the 1840s, starting in, of all places, Jersey City. With his luggage containing his reading stand and the book from which he will read being sent west ahead of him, Ryan's Dickens is reduced to having to recite A Christmas Carol, albeit in a slightly condensed form, from memory. "You were promised a story, and a story you shall have," he says, and he delivers in spades!

Colin Ryan as Dickens--Boyle ImageDressed in a 19th-century gray cutaway jacket with a black vest and bright red ascot, Ryan sits in a leather wing chair or walks around the playing space recounting the events of that fateful night in Ebenezer Scrooge's life. He portrays all the characters (complete with different voices, posture and gestures), from the hale and hearty nephew Fred to the cockney-accented Bob Cratchit to the hollow voice of his late partner Jacob Marley. This version of ACC reminds us that it is, after all, a ghost story, with many mentions of phantoms, specters, apparitions, spirits, chains and “death's cold eyes.” We can even imagine the boisterous party thrown by Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig as told by Dickens, complete with the couple's lively dance. And as the various Ghosts of Past, Present and Yet-to-come, Ryan changes accents and body English in the twinkling of an eye. By the time Ebenezer Scrooge promises to “honor Christmas in his heart and to keep it all year,” we are convinced of the dour old man's transformative redemption, thanks to Ryan's virtuoso performance.

Peter Galman's direction is taut but never rushed; Colin Ryan appears comfortable portraying each literary giant and assuming the role and voices of the various characters. Seth Reich's lighting is wonderfully atmospheric, especially in the scenes where the Christmas Ghosts (and Jacob Marley) appear. Timur Kocak's sets anchor the proceedings and provide various venues, and Cindy Boyle's costume's convey the essence of each character very well. It is interesting to note that the version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was adapted by Greg Oliver Bodine and would have been similar to one used by Dickens on his tour of North America in the 1840s.

The pairing of these two literary giants of Christmas by the Actors Shakespeare Company at New Jersey City University is a stroke of genius that gives double pleasure. You don't have to choose one or the other; it is a surfeit of riches to have both in Christmas with Dickens & Dylan. And Colin Ryan's performance does great justice to the texts. It's a bountiful holiday treat for the entire family; a little girl in the audience the night I went was rapt throughout the performance. But you'd better hurry to the West Side Theatre at 285 West Side Avenue in Jersey City by Sunday, December 18, to take advantage of this brilliant production.

Performances: December 8th - 18th, 2011; Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 PM; Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 PM

Photos by Cindy Boyle.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


By Andrew Lloyd Webber & Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Jeffrey Jackson (also playing “Bertie Wooster”) with Roseann Ruggiero

WHEN: Sunday, January 8 (afternoon) and Tuesday, January 10 (evening), 2012
Chester Theatre Group of the Black River Playhouse, Grove Street, Chester, NJ

Performances (9): March 2–18, 2012, Fri. & Sat. eves., Sun. matinees

SYNOPSIS: By Jeeves is primarily based on the book The Code of the Woosters, but Ayckbourn skillfully weaves in characters and plot elements from Wodehouse’s other Jeeves stories. Mistaken identities and romantic entanglements are the classic comic engines of By Jeeves, but wrapped around the story is a clever device: At the start of the show, the audience is told they are in attendance at a church hall for a charity concert that is to feature a banjo performance by Bertie Wooster (a skill at which he is as inept as he is boastful).

To spare the poor attendees, Jeeves contrives to have Bertie’s banjo conveniently stolen, leaving him no choice but to fill the evening with anecdotes of his misadventures. Jeeves narrates us through Bertie’s spotty recollections, ultimately spinning the tale we see unfold—enhanced by impromptu (and delightfully inadequate) props, costumes and sound effects.

NEEDED: Cast: 10 leads, 3 ensemble; Orchestra: 6 (piano, woodwinds, keyboard, bass, drums, guitar)

  • Jeeves(Male, 50-70, vocal range: N/A) Aristocratic, cultured, “gentleman’s gentleman.” Adept at disguising insults as flattery.
  • Bertie Wooster CAST
  • Honoria Glossup(Female, 25-40, mezzo-soprano) Sturdy, no-nonsense outdoors-woman; Bertie’s ex- (and would-be future-) fianceé.
  • Augustus “Gussie” Fink-Nottle(Male, 25-45, tenor) Timid bookworm who often backwards gets words his.
  • Bingo Little(Male, 25-45, tenor) Forlorn, jaded, and easily injured.
  • Stephanie “Stiffy” Byng CAST
  • Harold “Stinker” Pinker(Male, 25-45, tenor) Large fellow whose innate nervousness often causes him to break things.
  • Madelyn Bassett(Female, 20-35, soprano) Object of many chaps’ affections; strong breeze between ears.
  • Sir Watkyn Basset(Male, 40-65, baritone) Madelyn’s father and local magistrate. Intimidating presence when not confused.
  • Cyrus Budge III(Male, 25-45, baritone) An American visitor. Brawny, brazen, and bright (not).
  • Ensemble(2 Female, 1 Male)

NOTE: Vocal ranges are approximate only as this is not a big “singing” show. However, all must have impeccable British accents (except Budge, who has an over-emphasized American accent).



RVCC CHRISTMAS CAROLThe Night Before Christmas Carol
David zum Brunnen
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 12noon & 7PM
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $10 Noon; $25 7PM

Yes, you know the story. It’s been told and retold. But this one-man performance of The Night Before Christmas Carol will take you to the night in 1843 when Charles Dickens dreamed up his idea for the famous ghostly tale.

As he composes his winter morality story, the audience glimpses into the life of the real Dickens, giving personal, social, and historical context to the ethereal classic.

Historically accurate and highly humorous, David zum Brunnen cleverly performs the role of Dickens and over seventeen Dickensian characters.

artist                                               book                                           tickets

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



njb_nutcracker_12_19_08_167THE NUTCRACKER

WHEN: December 16-26; Eleven performances with full orchestra and a cast of over 100 dancers
Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South Street, Morristown

There’s no better way to bring in the holidays than spending an afternoon with a little girl named Clara and her amazing Nutcracker. The production features splendid dancing , colorful costumes and scenery, eye-popping special effects and a touch of holiday magic that inspires critics to write, “It’s a spectacle that never seems to age…magic that should go on and on” and “One of the best…as good as it gets.” (Above: Waltz of the Flowers from NJ Ballet's production of Nutcracker)

New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker is the longest-running original professional production in the state. It debuted at Paper Mill Playhouse in 1971 with Edward Villella (then a star with New York City Ballet) as the Cavalier. Today, after over 800 performances involving more than 4000 dancers and children and seen by over a million viewers, this Nutcracker has become a cherished holiday tradition with generations of theatergoers throughout New Jersey and beyond.

The production began touring in the early 1980s and continues to travel around the state each year. This year’s stops include bergenPAC in Englewood and Middle township Pac IN Cape May Court House. In past years, Nutcracker has visited nearly a dozen other NJ venues and numerous theatres out of state. In 2008, it became the first full length classical ballet ever performed in India, where it packed that country’s huge new Performing Arts Center in Mumbai.

dance_tileThe heart of the production is the company itself—New Jersey Ballet’s 16 professional artists of international reputation. The dancers hail from 9 countries—Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Japan, Russia, Tatarstan, Zaire and the United States. They have performed nationally and internationally renowned companies including Ballet Theatre Argentino, Tatar State Theatre, the Royal Ballet, London, Bulgarian National Theater, Ochi International Ballet of Japan, Sesimenas Dance Company in Brazil. Many have also performed with such acclaimed American companies as Stars of American Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, Ballet Austin, and the international tour of Riverdance.


Looking for new ways to celebrate Hanukkah with your kids? Here are some tips from Mama Doni:


As seen on FOX-5’s Good Day New York, NBC’s Weekend Today in New York, SHALOM TV, and E Channel’s The Soup

“Her stage name may sound as if it belonged on a jar of pasta sauce, but Mama Doni is an indisputably Jewish performer.  Doni Zasloff Thomas in real life, she specializes in putting a Jewish spin on all kinds of musical styles, including reggae, rock, disco and Latin.” – The New York Times

“Who can resist Latke Man, La Vida Dreidel, Dear Hanukah Harry, and other oy so catchy titles? New Jersey’s Mama Doni makes a zany musical chicken soup of reggae, rock, disco, Latin, klezmer, and other styles.”– The Boston Globe

"Not since Woody Allen’s Radio Days has American Jewish youth culture been celebrated with such a sublime mix of silly and substantive” – Miami Herald

Parents’ Choice® award-winning kids’ musician Mama Doni (a.k.a Doni Zasloff Thomas) wishes everyone a Happy Chanukah!  This Chanukah season, Doni offers Mama Doni’s Eight Fun Tips for Chanukah, a series of 30-second video segments with a fun family activity for each of the eight days of the holiday.   

All eight videos play one after the other on YouTube:  CLICK HERE

Mama Doni’s Eight Fun Tips for Chanukah will also rotate on the home page of Mama Doni’s website—— through the end of December.

Mama Doni’s tips—in her own words include:

DAY 1. Makin’ Lotsa Latkes!
Chanukah is a celebration of light and oil, so we make latkes because making them uses so much oil! Start the holiday off right with a fun latke contest. Gather some friends and make the traditional latkes, but then ask everyone to think of a special ingredient to throw into the batter. Try making veggie latkes like carrots (I call those carrotlatkes), broccoli (I call those broccolatkes), fruits like apples (applelatkes), banana (bananalatkes), even crazy things like spaghetti (spaghettilatkes), chicken (bokalatkes), or even chocolate chips (chocolatkes)! You can even make a latke sundae with sprinkles. Kids can be the judges. Yum! Let me know how you did!

DAY 2: Get Your Dreidel On!
It's dreidel night! The dreidel is a four-sided top etched with Hebrew letters, which stand for the phrase, "A great miracle happened here." That miracle is the miracle of Chanukah. Now, this is a chance for you to get your dreidel on—for chocolate coins. Get yourself some dreidels and some gelt (instead of gelt, you can also use chocolate kisses or lollipops, or you can go healthier and play with fruit snacks or boxes of raisins).

Everyone spins the dreidel, and depending on what Hebrew letter the top lands on, you either win all of the candy (gimel), half of the candy (hey), none of the candy (nun) or have to give one back (shin). What I like to do is after everyone has had a turn to spin, is take a ROCKSTAR BREAK, turn on your Chanukah tunes on my Chanukah Fever CD and have a Chanukah dance party! Everyone gets a candy or gelt if they go crazy dancing and singing! Then back to playing….

Day 3: The Story of Chanukah
The Jewish holiday of Chanukah literally lights up our homes! Chanukah is also called “The Festival of Lights,” referring to the flames that we light on our menorahs on each of the holiday’s eight nights. The story of Chanukah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees  and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when there was only enough for one day. Chanukah is about hope and spiritual light, and it’s a time to be with friends and family, as we celebrate the light in our lives. 

DAY 4: Are you Grateful?
On this day, get out a piece of paper and think about eight things you are most grateful for in your life. Make your lists and read them to each other.  You can set up an area of your house as a stage, and everyone in your family can get on stage and read his or her list. Of course, if you want to sing the list, go for it! (Sing the list to the melody of “Maotzur”…)

DAY 5: Is It “Chanukah” or “Hanukkah?”
Everyone says the name of this holiday differently, but both ways are cool.  Something fun to do on this day is try replacing your "h" sound with the "chh" sound for a little while. You can say things like "chello?" or "chow are you?" It might make your throat tickle as well as give you the Chhhanukah giggles! Make sure to wish everyone a "Chappy Chanukah!”

DAY 6: Honey This Ain’t Money
Everyone knows about Hanukkah gelt, (the Yiddish term for money) right? It looks a lot like change or gold, but it is actually made of chocolate!  A fun thing to do on this day is go to the store with your mom or dad or babysitter.  Put the Hanukkah gelt in your pocket ,and then when you get the cash register, take your Hanukkah gelt ,and hand it to the person at the counter as if you were paying with real change. Only let the joke go for a couple of seconds, because you are not trying to be mean, just a little silly!  Make sure your mom or dad has real change ready to pay right away. Maybe the store owner will have a good laugh with you, and remember to wish him or her a happy holiday!

: Latke Man & The Dreidel Diva
There's a man out there in the universe who lives, breathes, eats, wears, cooks....who LOOOOOOOVES latkes, and his name is Latke Man.  What do you think latke man looks like? Draw a picture of this potato loving superhero. You can also draw his cousin, "Mister Knish." If you are really feelin' it, you can even dress up as Latke Man for dinner. Moms, don't be shy. You can dress up as Latke Mom—she has MAJOR potato-powers. (Oh, and if you're making latkes again on this night, don't forget to see which you like more...dipping them in apple sauce or sour cream.)

DAY 8: Eight Special People in Your Life
It's the last night! This is the night where you can pick eight people in your life. These could be your mom, dad, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends... eight people who are special to you, and you can call them (or if they are nearby, you can give them a hug) and wish them a happy happy Hanukkah and tell them how much you love them.

Mama Doni, a resident of Montclair, New Jersey, hopes that her music will add some Jewish flavor to the lives of people everywhere.  She speaks with great passion about preserving the priceless Yiddish and Jewish spirit by imbuing it with a contemporary vibe that connects to life in our times.   Mama Doni’s recordings are available nationwide, as CDs and digital downloads, from Barnes and Noble, Amazon,, iTunes, and select Costco locations.  Projects currently in production include a Mama Doni book, DVD, and new CD.  A TV pilot is also in the works!


Eileen Ivers' An Nollaig, Sat., Dec. 17 at 8PM

Eileen Ivers' An Nollaig

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul
with dancers and singers from Broesler School of Irish Dance and RVCC Chorale

WHEN: Saturday, December 17, at 8 PM
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $25 & $35

Join RVCC as one of the finest bands they have ever presented brings to their stage a flavor of Christmas from Ireland and a spectacular sound from around the world. Just like ornaments on a Christmas tree, the tunes in this performance have been lovingly passed down through the generations as well. Some are hundreds of years old—some are new. Eileen Ivers will change the way you think about the violin. She and the band will be joined on-stage by the RVCC Chorale singing traditional English and Irish carols.

Ivers plays with such genius that she surpasses genre. It was an invigorating, highly energetic evening.—NAPLES DAILY NEWS

Master Class with Eileen Ivers
WHEN: Saturday, December 17, at 4 PM

ADMISSION: Class is FREE. Pre-registration required. Call Cindy at 908.231.8801

Techniques and ornamentation of Irish fiddle playing. Learn about technical aspects of fiddle playing, while working on a few common Irish reels and jigs. Although tunes will be taught by ear, sheet music will be provided. Suitable for beginning and intermediate violin students.

                            video                                                    tickets

Eileen Ivers' An Nollaig is the second instalment in this season's Merck Series, made possible for 20 years through the generosity of
The Merck Company Foundation.