Saturday, April 30, 2011

REVIEW: “I HATE HAMLET” @ THE BICKFORD THEATRE

Those familiar with my reviews know that I am a sucker for plays that reference the theater. Well, the Bickford Theatre has just opened one of the drollest versions of this genre, I Hate Hamlet, in a sparkling production that will have you laughing out loud!

The central conceit involves Andrew Rally, star of the cancelled television series LA Medicine (on which he played a rookie doctor), who moves to New York to salve his wounds and audition for a role he says he doesn’t want: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Leasing a Washington Square apartment once occupied by the late, great John Barrymore, he comes face-to-face with the great tragedian’s ghost. It seems that every soul embarking on the role has the right to summon a previous player to help him prepare, and Barrymore can’t leave until he completes the task. The plot is further complicated by Dierdre, the 29-year-old virgin who is Andrew’s uptight girlfriend; Lillian Troy, Andrew’s agent who once had a fling with Barrymore in the very apartment he’s rented; real estate agent Felicia Dantine, a great fan who puts Andrew in touch with the dead actor, and Gary Peter Lefkowitz, Andrew’s Hollywood friend/collaborator who has come to woo him back to Hollywood to star in “Night School,” a series about a teacher with super powers.

Under Eric Hafen’s direction, the action moves along at a steady pace, and the actors turn in notable performances. While Andrew Rein may not resemble a “a multitalented prime time delight” or a man who has girls coming out of the woodwork, he possesses great comedic timing, making up in technique what he lacks in hunkiness. He aptly portrays Rally as a “lightweight” pegged by his friend Gary as "no actor," and watching him warm up using the Gwathmey Method (“Acting to Win”) is hilarious. He looks pretty good in tights, too.

Hamlet ArmorAs his nemesis, Rick Delaney (left) convincingly conveys John Barrymore’s arrogance and hammy personality. According to Barrymore, “tights make the star,” and Delaney's legs certainly prove the adage! Rudnick has given him some of the best lines, which he delivers with great élan. I especially loved his recital of Hamlet's speech to the actors as advice to Andrew on opening night. And the theatrical poses he assumes are perfect for the melancholy Dane; he's very adept at swordplay too!

Although they have been written more as caricatures instead of as real people, the lesser characters add to the merriment and provide the other three actors with some very funny lines. Kathleen Huber's Lillian Troy comes complete with German accent and no-nonsense attitude, which she softens in an encounter with Barrymore's ghost after Rally has left for the show. Katrina Ferguson is hysterical as Felicia Dantine, such a fan of Andrew’s that she can even quote a stupid commercial he made with a chipmunk puppet! Her thick New York accent and excitement over his residence in an apartment once home to Barrymore add to the hilarity. As Gary Peter Lefkowitz, Gary Martins is the quintessential “cultural cavity” and “cloud of Malibu ozone,” as Barrymore calls him. Oily, clueless, self-absorbed, he likens Shakespeare to "algebra on stage." Watching him pitch his outlandish idea for a television series with a straight face is almost worth the price of a ticket. And Madeline Orton as Dierdre is appropriately annoying: excited about her boyfriend's upcoming role and new apartment and pretty one-note at avoiding sex with him. The role does not call for much subtlety in its portrayal, but Orton does a fine job uttering the inanities Rudnick has written for her.

Friday, April 29, 2011

NEW MOON READING SERIES RISES AGAIN @ LUNA STAGE

New Moon Reading Series

AGERASIA
by Adam Lerman
Directed by Lauren Keating

WHEN: Monday May 2, 7:30 PM
WHERE:
Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange

Playwright Adam Lerman<br />

A lyrical work about life, lust and growing old. An institution of sorts is forced to shut down. In the course of its final hour, across seventeen scenes, a dozen inhabitants—be they patients, staff, ghosts, inquisitors or diners—must make a decision about who they have been, and who they will be when the doors finally close.

Playwright Adam Lerman is a writer, actor and comedian in New York City. Previous works include: The Harmonious Pimps of Harmony’s Last Show (Ars Nova, dir. Lauren Keating) and ON AIR OFF! (NYFringe, co-dir. w/ Danny Tieger), as well as The Sound of Reporting: The Beginning of the Universe, Alright Here I Go, and American Speech.

As an actor, he has appeared at The Public, Ars Nova, NYFringe, Ontological, Daryl Roth Theatre, and many others, as well as Williamstown, the McCarter and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. He co-hosts the Deep Traffic comedy variety show at the Magnet Theatre in NYC, performs regularly with the Striking Viking Story Pirates, and writes very, very silly songs. For Poppy. www.thisisadamlerman.com

2 MONTHS IN A COMA INSPIRES MUSICAL/THEATRICAL CHRONICLE @ PEAK PERFORMANCES IN MONTCLAIR

WORLD PREMIERE OF FRED HERSCH'S
MY COMA DREAMS

WHEN: MAY 7 AT 8 PM AND MAY 8 AT 3 PM
WHERE:
AT PEAK PERFORMANCES @ MONTCLAIR, Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair
TICKETS:  $15 and are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office, by calling 973.655.5112 or online at http://www.peakperfs.org.

Fred Hersch’s “My Coma Dreams,” a world première commissioned by and taking place at Peak Performances @ Montclair, is an imaginative musical/theatrical chronicle of the two months Hersch spent in a coma in 2008. 

The 60-minute multi-media jazz work, comprised of “dream stories,” some animated, some sung and some narrated by a speaker/singer on stage, is scored for trumpet, trombone, clarinet, alto sax, bass, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, bass and percussion.  The music is by Hersch, text and direction by Herschel Garfein and the multi-media/animation is by Sarah Wickliffe.  The musicians are from the Fred Hersch Ensemble.  Michael Winther is the speaker/singer.

Commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State (NJ), funded with the generous support of Linda and Stuart Nelson through Premiere Commission, Inc. in honor of Fred Hersch. Supported in part by the
National Endowment for the Arts.


TICKET, TRANSPORTATION AND DINING INFORMATION
Charter bus service is provided from New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal – arcade on 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues – to the Alexander Kasser Theater ($10 per person, roundtrip) for all Saturday
and Sunday performances. Bus reservations may be made by calling 973.655.5112 or by visiting http://www.peakperfs.org.

For restaurants close to the Alexander Kasser Theater, visit http://www.destinationmontclair.com

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE GALA FEATURES DINNER, DANCING, AUCTIONS AND ENTERTAINMENT

CENTER STAGE CELEBRATION GALA

WHEN: Friday, May 13, 2011
WHERE:
Hilton Short Hills, JFK Parkway, Short Hills (across from the Short Hills Mall)
TICKETS: Tables and individual tickets are now on sale.
For more information on Paper Mill Playhouse’s Center Stage Celebration or to purchase tickets please contact Roberta Morton at 973.315.1663, rmorton@papermill.org or visit Paper Mill Playhouse’s website, www.papermill.org.

The reception and silent auction begin at 6:00 PM, followed by dinner and dancing featuring the Eddie Bruce Band. The 2011 Celebration sponsor is Hilton Short Hills. The annual gala celebration will also offer an evening of entertainment with students from Paper Mill Playhouse’s arts education programs and Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner Laura Benanti.

Ms. Benanti was the first Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award winner for a Leading Actress in a Musical. She was honored with the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Drama League nomination for her portrayal of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee in the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy. She previously starred in the Encores! production. Laura Benanti was raised in Kinnelon, New Jersey.

Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr., New Jersey Senate Republication Leader will be honored with the Byrne Kean Arts Advocate Award. The first Byrne Kean Arts Advocate Award was presented to Brendan Byrne and Tom Kean, Sr. in 2010 for their passionate work on behalf of New Jersey’s arts community.

For over seven decades Paper Mill Playhouse has been one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit theaters. They continue to bring world-class artists and outstanding musicals and plays to the community while enriching the lives of over 50,000 young people each year through renowned education outreach, artists training and access programs.

Preview of Paper Mill Playhouse Gala

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country’s leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the generous contributions of numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

A TALE OF STAMP COLLECTING PULLS A “CON” IN CHESTER

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MAURITIUS
By Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Jay Mills

WHEN: Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM beginning
May 6 – 21, with one Sunday matinee performance at 2:00 PM on
Sunday May 15.
WHERE:
The Black River Playhouse located at the
corners of Grove Street and Maple Avenue in Chester, NJ.
TICKETS: $18.00 with a Senior (65+)/Student (with School ID) Discount ticket of $16.00 at all performances. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 908.879.7304.
There are only 7 performances so make your reservations now for this show which the press called “well-made,” “engrossing” and “emotionally fraught.”

Can a play about stamp collecting be called a comedic drama? Yes, especially when the taut script is MAURITIUS by Theresa Rebeck. Mix Ms. Rebeck’s gripping tale is an evening of intrigue, drama and a few laughs. Stamp collecting may be thought of as the quiet pursuit of dedicated older and younger enthusiasts, but when the stamps in question wield the power
to create epic sibling rivalry and can drive grown men to the brink of moral bankruptcy, well, it isn’t as genteel as one might imagine. Stir in some questionable characters on the con and the plot thickens.

Bringing this film-noir like story to life are returning CTG stage veterans, Jill Bormann of Morristown (previously seen in PROOF) as Jackie, Carol Holland of Long Valley (most recently seen in FICTION) as Mary and Steven Nitka of Long Valley (hysterical in CTGs April 16th special event THE 10 COMMANDMENTS) as Phillip. Rounding out the cast and making their debut
performances with CTG are David Romankow of Gillette as Dennis and George LaVigne of Hackettstown as Sterling.

TEEN PROGRAMS @ THE WEST ORANG PUBLIC LIBRARY IN MAY

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Events for Teens & 'Tweens

WHERE: West Orange Public Library, 46 Mt. Pleasant Avenue, West Orange 

Advance registration is required for all teen events. Sign up online!

Monday nights are Teen Nights at the Library! We've planned lots of fun activities for students in grades 6-12...everything from movies to Wii. All Teen Night programs take place from 7-8:30 PM.     

  • May 9 - Teen Game Night (Play Wii and board games)    
  • May 16 - Marble Magnet Madness (Craft a beautiful magnet)
  • May 23 - Teen Game Night (Play Wii and board games)

Teen Advisory Group (TAG):
Wednesday, May 4, at 7:30-8:15 PM
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The group will meet in the Library's Literacy Room. Join TAG and help plan library events for teens! If you would like to join TAG, click here.

Read n' Chat Book Discussion (Grades 6-8) 
Wednesday, May 11, 7:30-8:15 PM
Join in the conversation about the book Wednesday Wars by Gary D.Schmidt. 

MAY EVENTS @ THE WEST ORANGE PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR ALL AGES

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May is Get Caught Reading Month. The Library offers you free access to many thousands of books. There's no more cost-effective way to feed your need to read. Borrow an armload of books today so you, too, can get caught reading in May.

While stocking up on books, why not attend a free Library program, too? Read on to find out what's in store this month.

See all the free things you can do at the West Orange Public Library this spring by viewing the calendar on their web site.

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One World, Many Stories: Summer Reading Program for All Ages

The 2011 Library summer reading program—One World, Many Stories— provides fun activities and a reading club for children, teens and adults.  Sign up for the summer reading club online at www.wopl.org beginning on May 15.  Once you've signed up, use the Library's web site to keep track of the books you've read, too.  

Children who read at least five books each week between June 27 and August 15 will earn a small prize each week. Adults and teens who read at least one book each week will be entered into a weekly drawing. At the end of the summer, you'll be able to look online and see how much reading you've done. Reading club members who successfully meet the reading goal each week throughout the summer will be invited to a grand finale event at the Library in August.

In addition to the reading club, the Library has also planned plenty of fun (and free!) programs for all ages in July and August. Sign up for the programs through the Library's online calendar at www.wopl.org  beginning May 15.  "Book" a trip to the Library this summer.  A library card is your passport to "novel" destinations!

Book Discussion Group
Monday, May 2, at 1:30 PM

The book discussion group for adults will talk about The Help, a novel by Kathryn Stockett. All are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.

The New York Times says, "A magical novel. Heartbreaking and oh so true, the voices of these characters, their lives and struggles will stay with you long after you reluctantly come to the end." Click here to read more about the book.  

Film & Dessert
Friday, May 20, at 2 PM
Enjoy a feature film screening, along with cookies and coffee or tea.

Children's Programs:
Cinco de Mayo Storytime
 
Thursday, May 5, at 4:30 PM

The Library will celebrate Children's Book Week with a Cinco de Mayo storytime. In addition to hearing some great stories, children will sample Mexican food and play fun games together. This program is open to children of all ages. Advance registration is required.  Sign up online

Children's Book Week takes place annually during the first week of May.Based on the idea that books can change lives, Children's Book Week has been celebrated throughout the nation since 1919.

CAMPY SHOW BIZ MUSICAL @ DOVER LITTLE THEATRE: 7 PERFORMANCES ONLY

Dover Little Theater RuthlessRUTHLESS! The Musical
Book and Lyrics by Joel Paley
Music by Marvin Laird
Director: Tom Blewitt
Musical Director: Sue Chandler Choreographer: Desirée Caro


WHEN:
 Seven Performances Only! May 7-21; Friday & Saturday 8:00 PM; Sunday Matinees 2:00 PM
WHERE
: Dover Little Theatre, Elliott Street (parking is available at the municipal lot located two blocks south of the theater). 
TICKETS: $20
Box Office 973.328.9202
More info at www.doverlittletheatre.org

Suburban housewife Judy Denmark is happy leading her normal, ordinary life, but her daughter, Tina, is a born Broadway sensation ready to bust out of third grade onto the Great White Way. She's cute! She dances! She sings! And she would KILL to get the lead role in her school play! 

This hysterical and campy musical traces the story of eight-year-old child actress Tina Denmark (Coco Dollon of Montclair), her split-personality mother Judy (Jessica Pivko of Parsippany) and Tina’s stylish but pushy agent, Sylvia St. Croix (Alan George of Weehawken), who has all the charm of  Joan Crawford in a daycare center. The play also features Tina’s teacher (Cheryl Marocco Hartley of Montville) who is a failed actress who feels trapped teaching third grade. Tina’s grandmother (Claudia Metz of Boonton), a theater critic who brings to mind Ethel Merman, and the personal assistant (Lisa Annitti of Bloomingdale) who’s backstabbing, clutching-at-fame tactics makes us want to fasten our seatbelts in anticipation of a bumpy night.

Ruthless! The Musical is a roaring good time, and you will be SLAYED by this killer musical comedy!

(Photo above: Alan George of Weehawken, Coco Dollon of Montclair, and Jessica Pivko of Parsippany campy it up in Ruthless! The Musical at Dover Little Theatre)

REVIEW: “THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III” @ THE THEATER PROJECT

imageIn my high school English classes, I often asked my students to think of literature as both a window and a mirror: a mirror that reflects the universal human experiences we all share (love, death, friendship, betrayal, to name a few) and a window look through which we can learn about cultures and experiences we may know nothing about.

This adage was brought home to me at the opening night performance of Carlyle Brown's 1987 play, The African Company Presents Richard III, The Theater Project's current production at Union County College in Cranford, where it will run through May 15. I knew nothing about such a theater company active in Manhattan in the 1820s, formed by a group of free and runaway slaves (several from cane plantations in the West Indies), nor had I ever thought about the myriad roles slaves had to play throughout their lives. This play opened my eyes and made me want to learn more this forgotten moment in the cultural life of the times. After all, Denzel Washington was not the first black actor to portray Richard III (in 1990 at the NY Shakespeare Festival)!

imageSet 50 years after independence and 40 years before the Civil War, the play—inspired by a true story—describes the obstacles encountered by a troupe of African American actors as they attempt to produce and perform Shakespeare's Richard III in Manhattan. Because their theater just happens to be located next door to the Park Theatre, newly reopened after a fire and featuring the great British actor Junius Brutus Booth in the title role of the same play, the white theater manager enlists the police to close down the African American production, thus neatly disposing of what he considers to be a "travesty" and potential competition. Behind the scenes, during rehearsals, the company members struggle with having to portray characters and recite dialogue they dislike, their own painful histories, the hypocrisy of their social identities and their yearning for a theater that reflects their own desires and goals. In a jail cell, however, after they've agreed not to produce any more Shakespearean plays, company manager Billy Brown produces a script he's written based on the 1796 uprising of black slaves against the English navy and thought to be the first work by an African-American playwright to be performed in the United States, thus bringing the promise of renewal and hope to the group.

Mark Spina gamely tries to get a steady hand on the production, but the play as written is a bit unruly and uneven. The riveting story line is almost derailed by the playwright's inclusion of a gratuitous and unconvincing love story between Ann and Jimmy Hewitt, the two "stars" of the company. When Ann suddenly disappears, production grinds to a halt, only to restart when Hewitt quickly requites her love in time for the show to go on. Too, some of the speeches sound more like sermons than conversation, and the discriminatory white characters are stereotypical villains who gnash their teeth at the thought of African Americans daring to "play" Shakespeare.

David C. Neal (left) as Constable-Man and Gary Glor (right) as Stephen Price in 'The African ComThese unthankful roles were performed very well by Gary Glor as theater impresario Stephen Price and David Neal as the Constable Man. Glor visibly seethes and trembles at the very thought of a rival—horrors: African American!—company putting on Richard III next door to his theater. "Tonight the curtain falls on Mr. Brown's sable little pageant," he says with wicked relish. And Neal's constable gets in on the act, reciting Hamlet's "to be, or not to be" soliloquy with a mouth full of apple! One gets the impression that he has little stomach for shutting down the African Company, but once Price appeals to his sense of duty, he has little choice but to prevent the anticipated "civil discord."

THE HEAVENS BECKON: STAR SHOWS & LASER CONCERTS @ RVCC PLANETARIUM IN BRANCHBURG

picture inside the planetariumWHERE: RVCC Planetarium, Branchburg

All shows run approximately 40 minutes. Children should be accompanied by an adult

ADMISSION: :$6 for one show, $11 for two shows on the same day
Call 908.231.8805 for reservations.


The Problem with Pluto
WHEN: Saturdays, May 7, 14, 21 at 3:00 PM
Follow Lucy on her trip through the solar system as she gathers data on Pluto’s status as a planet. Discover current information about the planets and investigate where Pluto belongs in the overall structure of the solar system. This program is paired with a brief tour of the current night sky. (Recommended for ages 7-12 accompanied by an adult)

Storybooks in Space
WHEN: Sunday, May 15, 2:00 PM
Join us for a new programs for our younger visitors. Pages from children’s books float among the stars today. We’ll share stories and learn about the stars and planets too. (Recommended for ages 4-10 accompanied by an adult)

Sky Lights
WHEN: Sunday, May 15, 3:00 PM
A laser and video concert featuring songs by Mr. RAY and Jane Murphy. (Recommended for ages 4-8 accompanied by an adult)

A FULLY “PINK” WEEKEND FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY IS AHEAD

Riverview Medical Center’s fifth annual Paint the Town Pink

WHEN: Saturday, April 30–Saturday, May 7
WHY: It truly takes a village to turn a town pink, and for the fifth straight year, volunteers, committees, businesses, physicians and local officials make this week-long event a reality. Everyone joins forces for one common goal; breast cancer detection. For more information about Paint the Town Pink and any of the week’s events, go to www.paintthetownpink.com.

Play for Pink!
WHEN: Saturday, April 30, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
WHERE:
Fair Haven Field, Pink Haven
Hundreds of residents, parents and supporters will be present to show their support as local sports teams Play for Pink! The event will feature tee ball, baseball, softball and lacrosse on the field as well as lots of pink activities on the sidelines.

Paint Everything Pink: A fully Pink Family Day (over 2500 people expected!)
WHEN: Sunday, May 1, 2–4 PM
WHERE:
Riverview Medical Center Parking Lot, 1 Riverview Plaza, Red Bank
To amplify the pink hue of our 5th Annual Paint the Town Pink kick-off event, we're featuring different “zones” of pink activities for everyone.

Pink Beach Community Day
WHEN: Sunday, May 1
WHERE:
Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavilion, 29 Ocean Avenue, Monmouth Beach

  • Paint the Sky Pink
    WHEN: 4:30  – 6:30 PM
    Great photo opportunity – dozens of children flying Pink kites as the sun goes down at Pink Beach!
  • Pink Plunge
    WHEN: 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    Plungers will take a dip in the Pinklantic Ocean to raise funds for annual mammography!
  • LIVE Ice Sculptor on the Beach
    WHEN: 4:30 – 4:45 PM
    Come see master ice sculptor Jimmy Chiappa (www.jimmysartisticcreations.com) carve LIVE @ Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavilion right before the Pink Plunge. Jimmy has been featured in the New Jersey Section of the New York Times, as one of New Jersey's most interesting people. He will be sculpting in support of Paint the Town Pink!!

FIND YOUR ANCESTORS: FOSTERFIELDS OFFERS GENEOLOGY SEMINAR

Fosterfields Living Historical Farm Presents

The ABCs of Geneology!

WHEN: Saturday May 7, at 1:00 PM
WHERE:
Fosterfields,73 Kahdena Road, Morristown
Pre-registration Required
973.326.7645

  • Learn from a real genealogist
  • Access census information and passenger lists
  • Websites to use
  • Organize your information
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • And more!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CELEBRATE NJ’S PLACE IN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HISTORY @ THE MORRIS MUSEUM

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Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State

WHEN: May 5 – September 14, 2011
WHERE:
Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown

The Morris Museum’s new exhibition, Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State, explores rock & roll’s roots, rise, golden age, and evolution in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and beyond, when our state was fertile ground for the new sound that rocked the world.  Special programs include a launch party on May 13, performance by Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg on June 3, plus concerts, guest speakers and special programs [see listing below] to create a summer of rock & roll at the Morris Museum.

MM The SmithereensAbout the Jersey Rocks exhibition
This groundbreaking exhibition, organized by the Morris Museum, explores New Jersey’s pivotal role in the development of the rock & roll genre. Jersey Rocks will explore the rise of rock & roll in New Jersey from its early years through the 1970s and beyond, as “rock” evolved into new genres. This major exhibition will feature musicians, fans, concert venues, events and DJ’s—many of which made up the world of New Jersey rock & roll. (Above: Smithereens: Acoustic guitar, drum head, drumsticks, gold record [“Smithereens 11”, 1989] tee shirt—all on loan from drummer Dennis Diken.)

Here in the Garden State, a unique mix of performers and places, technology and talent created sounds that would dominate the airwaves and rock the nation.  Visitors will explore rock & roll’s rise in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, when the state was fertile ground for the new sound—and then will see how the beat changed, and rock splintered.  And at Jersey Rocks, everyone will have a chance to sing along, dance to the music, and rock on in the Garden State.

Beginning with the origins of rock & roll in the late 1940s to early 1950s, the exhibition will explore doo-wop, be-bop, gospel, and rhythm and blues and African-American artists’ contributions to rock’s roots, through photos and videos of performers and their stories. This section will also examine the legacy of Les Paul and his contribution to the technology that made rock & roll—the solid body electric guitar.

MM ShirellesThe next section will celebrate the rise of rock & roll in the 1950s through mid-1960s. Visitors will travel back in time to Wildwood and the 1950s, where Bill Haley and His Comets debuted “Rock Around the Clock”, and “visit” Palisades Amusement Park and The Clay Cole Show, with performers such as Lesley Gore and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, along with Tony Mart’s in Somers Point, NJ, the first “real” rock club on the Jersey Shore.  The role of DJ’s and how they helped market and spread rock & roll will be highlighted through personalities, such as Jocko Henderson, Alan Freed, and Cousin Brucie. Through objects such as records, stage clothing, photographs, gold records, and backdrops, performers of the period who will be spotlighted include Joey Dee and the Starliters, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles, Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, The Angels, The Delicates, the Happenings, the Critters, the Duprees, Ricky Nelson and the 1910 Fruitgum Company(Above: Shirelles: Gold and Black sequined jacket, worn by and on loan from Shirley Alston Reeves; framed LP - The Shirelles, “Baby It's You”; additional recordings, and Victory 45rpm portable record player)

The golden age of rock & roll, mid 1960s – 1970s, will explore the rising market of rock & roll, the originality of the music and how it increasingly reflected the times (e.g. Vietnam War) and New Jersey’s contributions to the technological revolution that enabled rock & roll to become a national phenomenon.   Some of the leading venues and music happenings highlighted include a “visit” to the Atlantic City Pop Festival, held two weeks before Woodstock; Newark Symphony Hall as a concert venue that hosted the Rolling Stones, Peter Paul and Mary, and Jimi Hendrix; and what made the Capitol Theater in Passaic a “substitute” for the Fillmore East. Some of the technological advances featured include an authentic 1960s Guild guitar, made in Hoboken, with a built-in stand; an Ampeg amplifier, made in Linden; and a Guild Echorec, which allowed your voice to echo.

Specific stories include:

  • The (Young) Rascals — shift in rock & roll, moving away from American Bandstand and becoming more influenced by “psychedelia”
  • Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt as teenagers playing at the Upstage Club.  Another Jersey Shore venue: The Stone Pony
  • The Jersey Shore Sound via the history of Asbury Park, where a rock & roll scene emerged as the city underwent a decline
  • Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and their contribution to the Jersey Shore sound

MM Guitar signed by Bon Jovi bandThe next section examines how rock splintered in new directions in the mid-1970s and beyond.  Four major performers, all NJ natives, that made national and international marks on music, will be highlighted:

  • Disco queen Gloria Gaynor
  • Bon Jovi’s appeal as a “hair band”
  • Hip hop exemplified through Queen Latifah
  • Pop music through the lens of Whitney Houston’s records
  • The Misfits and the rise of punk

Other NJ performers to be featured include the Smithereens and Blondie (Deborah Harry). (Above:  Oration Guitar, signed by BonJovi band members, won by fan Kathy Francis of Cedar Knolls, in a radio contest.)

MM SpringsteenThroughout the exhibition, visitors will be invited to make a personal statement about rock & roll by designing an album cover, designing a “t-shirt” using magnetic pieces at an interactive station, writing their concert memories, or adding new voices to the exhibition by telling their NJ rock & roll stories on the talk-back wall. At several “lounge” areas throughout the exhibition, visitors will be prompted by question cards to think about the first album/8-track/cassette/CD they ever bought; other New Jersey venues where they saw concerts; and where they think New Jersey rock is headed next. (Above: In October 1975, Bruce Springsteen was on the cover of three major magazines. Time, Newsweek and Crawdaddy magazine covers are on view with a signed copy of Born to Run album cover.)

Jersey Rocks: Performances and Programs
To purchase tickets for all events, call the Box Office, 973.971.3706

Launch Party: Rock This Town!
WHEN:
Friday, May 13 - 6:30 PM
TICKETS:
$75 per person

A boardwalk-themed bash to celebrate the opening of Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State.  Bruce Springsteen tribute band, The E-Street Shuffle will be performing and refreshments will be served.  Advance purchase is required.

LECTURE ON WOMEN IN JEWISH TRADITION @ KAPLEN JCC

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The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition
With Rabbi Isaac S. D. Sassoon

WHEN: Thursday, May 5,  8:30 PM
WHERE:
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton Avenue, Tenafly
TICKETS:  $8 JCC members / $10 non-members. Refreshments will follow the lecture. Call 201.408.1426 for more information.

Most ancient societies were patriarchal, but not all patriarchies are equally condescending toward women. Looking to address this highly important topic from a Judaic perspective, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades will present: The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition, with Rabbi Isaac S. D. Sassoon, a scholar who has just published a timely book that may transform the way that women are viewed in the Torah.

Impelled by the gnawing question of whether the Torah really views women as inferior, Rabbi Sassoon set out to determine what position the Bible, the Talmud and related literature, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, really take on the continuum of patriarchal condescension. His search led him to write his compelling book, The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition, which reveals credible support for monogamy in ancient Israel and a belief that the Biblical commandments applied to men and women alike.

Scholars such as Phyllis Chesler (author of Women and Madness) and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (author of The Murmuring Deep) have commended his book, and according to Josh Lambert in TABLET Magazine, “Rabbi Sassoon’s research reveals that while one cannot gainsay ancient and rabbinic misogyny, there are plenty of alternative perspectives in the Torah and Talmud that provide a less oppressive view of Jewish patriarchy. Indeed, some passages even support women’s claims of equality.”

Dr. Isaac Sassoon is a founding faculty member of the Institute of Traditional Judaism (ITJ), and received his Ph.D. from the University of Lisbon. A noted Torah scholar and author, Rabbi Sassoon grew up in Letchworth, England, a member of an illustrious Indian Jewish family. He was a student at the Gateshead Yeshiva in England and various yeshivot in Israel, including Merkaz Harav and Yeshivat Hanegev.

This special event is made possible by the JCC’s Jewish Women’s Connection in collaboration with Cambridge University Press, publisher of Rabbi Sassoon’s book.

OTHERWORLDLY MUSIC, WORLDLY CREATURES AND AURAL MISCHIEF in MICHAEL HEARST AND LEAGUE OF MUSICAL URBAN ROBOTS CONCERT

SONGS FOR UNUSUAL CREATURES

WHEN: Saturday, April 30, at 8 PM
WHERE:
David and Carol Lackland Center, 715 Grand Avenue, Hackettstown (Centenary College campus)
TICKETS: $22.50 in advance, and $25 the day of performance. Seniors and students are $20 in advance and $22.50 the day of performance. Tickets may  be purchased through the CSC Box Office at 908-979-0900, online at www.centenarystageco.org, or in person at the David and Carol Lackland Center (box office hours 1-5 Monday through Friday, and 2 hours prior to each performance)

FREE TICKETS AVAILABLE TO THE FIRST 10 PEOPLE WHO MENTION THE CODE NJARTSMAVEN WHEN PURCHASING TICKETS!

The Theremin, Claviola, stylophone, Zylo-bot and “Sonic Banana” will all take to the stagein Hackettstown, when Brooklyn auteur Michael Hearst joins with the League of Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) to present  “Songs for Unusual Creatures.”  (Watch the video below)

Michael HearstKnown for his singular Brooklyn band One Ring Zero and his latest "Songs For Ice Cream Trucks" project (featured on NBC last summer), Hearst is also the brains behind the critically acclaimed album As Smart as They Are, with  lyrics written for the band by such literati as Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Ames [HBO’s Bored to Death], Paul Auster, Dave Eggers and Rick Moody. About Hearst’s band, The Washington Post claimed,  "Your coolness quotient shoots up a few points if you're in the know about One Ring Zero."

Hearst’s ensemble has a unique ‘klezmer-esque,” otherworldly sound created from a bevy of unusual instruments with unorthodox techniques. The confluence of creativity will celebrate some of the lesser-known creatures that roam the planet , from the Australian Bilby, to the deep-sea Magnopinna Squid, to the Chinese Giant Salamander. The concert coincides with the Day-long Earth Day celebrations on the campus of Centenary College, which include a morning nature walk, educational displays and a lecture series, children’s activities, a science fair  and a variety of food vendors.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Guitar-bot,” “Xylo-bot” (right) and the “Sonic Banana” are just some of the creations of the inventive mind of L.E.M.U.R. director Eric Singer.  Singer is a Brooklyn-based musician, artist, engineer and programmer.  He designed and built the PhotoTheremin, a MIDI controller with eight photosensors, which sense hand distance by detecting how much light is blocked by the player's hands. 

A member of the "house band" for McSweeney's Publishing House, Hearst has toured with The Magnetic Fields, and performed with The Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall. He has appeared on such shows as NPR's Fresh Air and This American Life, A& E's Breakfast With The Arts, and NBC's The Today Show. Singer’s LEMUR-bots have just finished a major tour with jazz artist Pat Metheney.  

Songs For Unusual Creatures - The Robot Show from Michael Hearst: http://vimeo.com/5311985

GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE ANNUAL GALA

gsp logoTYNE DALY, PETER SCOLARI, MARY TESTA
SETH RUDETSKY, TYLER MAYNARD, LISA McCORMICK and
JAMES LUDWIG scheduled to perform

GOVERNOR THOMAS H. KEAN

to present Kean Award for Arts Advocacy
to Philanthropist BETTY WOLD JOHNSON

WHERE: The Heldrich, 10 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick
WHEN: Sunday, May 1, 2011 (all times are approximate)

  • 5 PM – Cocktails and Silent Auction
  • 6:30 PM – Dinner and Remarks
  • Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award presented by former Governor Thomas H. Kean to Philanthropist Betty Wold Johnson
  • 7:30 PM – Cabaret performance

TICKETS: Individual tickets as well as tables of ten are available. For further information contact Justine McCarthy, GSP Development Associate, at 732.846.2895, extension 144.

Scheduled to perform (subject to change):

  • TYNE DALY, Tony Award and four-time Emmy Award Winner from TV’s Cagney and Lacey, Judging Amy and Broadway’s Gypsy
  • PETER SCOLARI, Emmy Award nominee from TV’s Newhart and Bosom Buddies and Star of GSP’s The Fox on the Fairway
  • MARY TESTA, two-time Tony Award nominee and star of GSP’s The Fox on the Fairway
  • SETH RUDETSKY, Sirius XM host of “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” and star of GSP’s [title of show]
  • TYLER MAYNARD, star of the off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz and GSP’s [title of show]
  • LISA McCORMICK, from GSP’s The Fox on the Fairway
  • JAMES LUDWIG, from Broadway’s Spamalot and GSP’s upcoming God of Carnage

Scheduled to speak (subject to change)

  • THE HONORABLE THOMAS H. KEAN, Former Governor and Chairman of the Federal 9-11 Commission, Current Chairman, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • George Street Playhouse Board Chairman STEVEN M. DARIEN. Mr. Darien is a principal of The Cabot Advisory Group
  • George Street Playhouse Artistic Director DAVID SAINT
  • Gala Chairperson ADELAIDE ZAGOREN

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CALLING ALL WRITERS: SLAM YOUR STORY AT AN OPEN-MIC IN MAPLEWOOD THIS SATURDAY NIGHT

This looks interesting:

WHERE: Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Durand Place, Maplewood

SIT DOWN WITH AL PACINO TO BENEFIT COUNT BASIE THEATRE’S RESTORATION

WHEN: Wednesday, June 1, 8 PM
WHERE:
Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank
TICKETS: $350*, $250*, $95, $75, $55; $500 VIP tickets also available, which include a meet-and-greet with Mr. Pacino.
*$350 ticket includes complimentary drink ticket and commemorative 11"x17" show poster. *$250 ticket includes commemorative 11"x17" show poster.
Box office: 732.842.9000

Al Pacino's awards include two Tony Awards, the 1992 Academy Award for Best Actor, and seven other Oscar nominations for The Godfather I and II, Dick Tracy, Glengarry Glen Ross, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and ...And Justice for All. He is the recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and after Humphrey Bogart, is the second most represented actor on the AFI's list of the 100 greatest movie quotes.

The evening will include an interview where Pacino will share his passion for acting and directing with film clips, including some never-before-seen footage. Sharing backstage tales from a lifetime in the world of theater and film, Pacino will reveal the inner workings of his most personal work and will include a question and answer session from the audience.

Gold Circle ticket holders at the $500 level will also have a meet-and-greet with Mr. Pacino. The proceeds from this event benefit the Count Basie Theatre's restoration fund.

Dallas Morning News film critic Chris Vognar wrote about the show: "Once (Pacino) took the stage ... the evening became something far rarer and more rewarding ... here we saw Pacino, the dedicated stage actor, show his gift for making each listener feel like an audience of one."

Watch Al Pacino here.

RELIVE THE GROOVIN’ 70s WITH A DEVILISH NEW MUSICAL @ THE BROOK ARTS CENTER

I grew up in Bound Brook (as did my dad), and the Brook Theatre was my movie house! We went to see double features and cartoons on Saturday afternoons, and then, when we were old enough to go out at night (I remember it being 6th grade), we’d go on Friday nights! After being damaged by 2 floods, the theater, now renamed the Brook Arts Center, is once again scheduling events. Here is one you might be interested in:

DISCO INFERNO

WHEN: May 6 at 7 PM; May 7 at 2 and 8 PM
WHERE:
Brook Arts Center, 10 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook
TICKETS: $18
To purchase tickets, click HERE

TAKE YOUR MOM TO THE THEATER—CROSSROADS THEATRE—FOR MOTHER’S DAY

Due to bad weather on opening night, I was unable to get to see/review this production, but Peter Filichia in the Star-Ledger raved about it. It’s a family play, with a mother at the center, so why not take your mother to see it in honor of Mother’s Day?

RAISIN - Mother's Day Promo

RAISIN - Mother's Day Promo

WHERE: Crossroads Theatre, 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick  www.crossroadstheatrecompany.org
732.545.8100

AN AFTER HOURS TREAT @ THE ZIMMERLI THE 1ST WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH

The Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University is a real (and unknown to many) treasure. This program looks very interesting…especially for those who (like me) loves being treated specially after hours at a museum:

Art after Hours: First Wednesdays
at the Zimmerli

WHEN: Wednesday, May 4, 5:00 – 9:00 PM (Throughout the museum )
WHERE: Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick
TICKETS: $6 general admission. Admission is FREE to museum members and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff.

Art After Hours gives Rutgers University students and community members the opportunity to engage in a multifaceted approach to the arts. Held on the first Wednesday of every month, the series complements the museum’s innovative exhibitions with lectures, music and dance performances, exhibition tours, poetry slams, films, performance art and more. Refreshments and 20% discount in the Museum Store.


May's after hours activities celebrate the opening of Mystics and Moderns: Painting in Estonia before Glasnost, including a reception, curator-led tour, concert and film screening.

Toomas Vint, A Child in a Seaside Meadow, 1974, oil on canvas. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / EAU, Talinn. Estonia became an important center for underground art in the late 1960s. Turning to painting, artists reclaimed this medium from official Soviet Realism, reviving the European, painterly origins of Estonia's avant-garde past. Painting constituted a laboratory for artists to reject or assimilate contemporary trends from the West. They adapted Pop, Conceptualism, hard-edge abstraction, and Minimalism to a unique culture of nationalist opposition to Soviet power. Mystics and Moderns: Painting in Estonia before Glasnost, curated by Dodge Lawrence Fellow Jeremy Canwell, draws on rarely-seen works from the museum's Dodge Collection of Soviet Nonconformist Art. (Left: Toomas Vint, A Child in a Seaside Meadow, 1974, oil on canvas. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / EAU, Talinn.)

  • 5:00 to 5:30 PM / EXHIBITION RECEPTION
    This event celebrates the opening of Mystics and Moderns: Painting in Estonia before Glasnost.
  • 5:30 to 5:50 PM / CURATOR-LED TOUR
    Tour of Mystics and Moderns led by Jeremy Canwell, exhibition curator and Dodge-Lawrence Fellow at the Zimmerli.
  • 6:00 to 6:45 PM / MUSICAL PERFORMANCE
    Classical music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt played by James Keene, Aimee McPeak and Hsin-Yi Tsai of Mason Gross School of the Arts.
  • 7:00 to 8:45 PM / FILM SCREENING
    Most people don't think about singing when they think about revolutions, but song was the weapon of choice when, between 1987 and 1991, Estonians fought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. During those years, hundreds of thousands gathered in public to sing forbidden patriotic songs and to rally for independence. James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty's The Singing Revolution tells the moving story of how the Estonian people peacefully regained their freedom—and helped topple an empire along the way.

MUSIC ON MAIN STREET IN WOODBRIDGE DURING MAY

The 2011 “Music on Main Street Concert Series” features top contemporary acoustic artists. And it’s in Woodbridge — fabled “Crossroads of New Jersey” — easily accessible by NJ Transit train and bus and by automobile via Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 1 & 9, I-287 and across Route 440 just over the Outerborough Bridge from Staten Island. See which concerts you want to attend and mark your calendars accordingly!

Make “Music on Main Street” the highlight of your week!
~ Open Seating * Free Parking ~

An Evening with ROGER McGUINN

WHEN: May 4, 7:30 PM
WHERE:
Woodbridge Middle School, 525 Barron Avenue, Woodbridge NJ
TICKETS: Advance $25, Door $28

 

The Nu-Utopians: Sing the Songs of John Lennon

WHEN: May 11, 7:30 PM
WHERE:
United Methodist Church, 69 Main Street, Woodbridge
TICKETS: Advance $25, Door $28

CHAD & JEREMY

WHEN:May 18, 7:30 PM
WHERE:
United Methodist Church, 69 Main Street, Woodbridge
TICKETS: Advance $25, Door $28

 

RAUL MALO

WHEN: May 25, 7:30 PM
WHERE: United Methodist Church, 69 Main Street, Woodbridge
TICKETS: Advance $25, Door $28

 

 

NILS LOFGREN

WHEN: July 4, 6:30 PM
WHERE: Parker Press Park, 400 Rahway Avenue, Woodbridge
TICKETS: Advance $25, Door $30

 

 

DAVE MASON

WHEN: July 9, 7:30 PM
WHERE: Parker Press Park, 400 Rahway Avenue, Woodbridge
TICKETS: Advance $30, Door $35
* All Apr. 13 Tickets Valid for This Date *

ORDERING TICKETS IS EASY... click here!

For more concert information call: 732.602.6015
OR E-MAIL... larry.mccullough@twp.woodbridge.nj.us

When you do come visit, make sure to check out the more than 100 restaurants and specialty shops in Downtown Woodbridge — plus the new Woodbridge Artisan Guild art gallery at 353 Fulton Street, a half block from the concert.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY @ THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF SOMERSET COUNTY THIS SATURDAY

 

clip_image002_thumb The Children’s Museum’s last program of this Spring:

Earth Day Celebration

WHEN: Saturday, April 30, from 1 to 4 PM 
WHERE: The PeopleCare Center, 120 Finderne Ave., Bridgewater.
COST: Suggested donation is $3 per child.
No registration is required.

For more information, call 908.595.0001 or www.childrensmuseumnj.org.

MORE @ THE BRIDGEWATER TWP LIBRARY

@ the Library – Displays & Activities:


This month the library recognizes the contributions of military service people and their families. Check out their online booklist Families Together, Families Apart: Books and Internet Resources for Military Families. Want to know how you can help the families of deployed military in our area? Check out the website Joining Forces.


There is still time to put your poem on our Bulletin Board. Take a look at the poems & add your do-it-yourself creations to the Time to Rhyme poetry display on the bulletin board behind the reference desk—they have poems to illustrate, poetry starters and blank paper for your original creations—bring them to a librarian, and they will be happy to post them! Or check out Bruce Lansky’s funny poetry website gigglepoetry.com!


In the mood for Little League? Check out our Batter Up! Great Books about Baseball display atop the magazine section. We also have books for Easter, Passover, and Earth Day atop the holidays section.


Around the Community:


Race To Nowhere PromoRACE TO NOWHERE 
WHEN: APRIL 28, 7:00 PM
WHERE:
Bernardsville Performing Arts Center, 25 Olcott Avenue, Bernardsville
TICKETS: $10 in advance or $15 at the door Click Here to Order Tickets

Race to Nowhere is a call to action for families, educators and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens. Sponsored by The Somerset Hills School District and the Bedminster PTO, this movie has been talked about all over the news.

Room on the Broom Tall Stories
WHO:
  Ages 4+
WHEN: Sat., Apr. 30 at 1 PM & 3:30 PM
WHERE:
RVCC Theatre, Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $10-12
Visit RVCC online to reserve tickets 

The witch and her cat are flying happily on their broomstick—until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand. A helpful dog, bird and frog find the witch’s lost things, and they all hop on the broom for a ride. Will there be room on the broom for everyone?

JUST IN TIME FOR SPRING & MOTHER’S DAY: A HOST OF EVENTS AT THE BRIDGEWATER LIBRARY APRIL 30-MAY 7

My blog-friend Carol Levin has a terrific blog (http://bwlibys.blogspot.com/) which publicizes events for families, adults and kids in Somerset County. If you live in that county, you should check out this blog (and subscribe so you get updates each week). Here are some interesting programs I found there for the first week in May:

WHERE: The following events take place at The Bridgewater Township Library, 1 Vogt Drive, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
908.526.4016

May Basket Craftacular with the Bridgewater Garden Club
Get ready for… The Merry Month of MAY!(For ages 3 and up)
Saturday, April 30, at 10:30 AM.
Join the Bridgewater Garden Club in an old-fashioned tradition of constructing a May Basket…a lovely little container chock full of spring! Registration Required.


Mothers’ Day Craft (Ages 2 - 10)
Monday. May 2, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Give your Mom a great big kiss and make her something wonderful! They will have the craft supplies but feel free to bring any photos or special decorations from home. Registration Required.

 

Advocating for your Child with Special Needs— Transition to Preschool
Thursday, May 5, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM.
Understanding the joint responsibilities of families, school districts and child study teams when transitioning out of early intervention will be the focus of this presentation. Presented by Shakira Linzey, MPH Family Support Coordinator Mid-Jersey CARES Regional Early Intervention Collaborative A program of Central NJ Maternal & Child Health Consortium. The workshops are free of charge and 1.5 professional development hours will be awarded to attendees.

Celebrate Arbor Day
(recommended for ages 4 and up)
Saturday, May 7, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Did you know that Bridgewater is a Tree City USA? For over 135 years Arbor Day has been set aside as a special day to recognize the importance of trees and the difference they make in our lives. The Bridgewater Shade Tree Board will help us celebrate all that's terrific about trees with stories and activities. Registration Required