Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ROCK & JAZZ @ THE WATCHUNG ARTS CENTER

Watchung Arts Center

Imagine yourself in an intimate place, absorbing the glorious sound of music or laughing to the comedian’s antics while surrounded by the inspiring colors and forms of works of art! The Upper Gallery has 12-foot ceilings, superb acoustics, and a seating capacity of 100.

Grover Kemble

Grover Kemble and Jonathn Ashe

WHEN: Friday, December 2, 8 PM
WHERE:
Watchung Arts Center, 18 Stirling Rd, Watchung (on the circle)
TICKETS: $16 in advance, $20 ($18 for WAC members, $10 for students) at the door. You may purchase tickets securely using PayPal from their Ticket Reservation page.
For more information 908.753.0190 or visit http://watchungarts.org

Grover Kemble (above)  and Jonathn Ashe are two of the most accomplished musician-friends the Garden State has produced. Both got their start in the 60’s when Ashe played electric bass and toured extensively with Tommy James and the Shondells while Kemble was cutting records with his group Za Zu Zaz.

Jonathn AsheThey are both superb guitarists and singers, yet employ entirely different vocal skills. Kemble comes from the school of Ray Charles and croons and scats like a monster, while Ashe is a compellingly versatile vocalist in the genre of greats like Jim Croce and Van Morrison. Together they make beautiful music, harmonizing, riffing and weaving their own brand of magic into every tune.

Look to be entertained as these two local giants also have a sense of humor nearly equal to their uniquely appealing talents.

Beacon Hill Jazz BandJaZZ in the Gallery
Marty Eigen’s Beacon Hill Jazz Band Holiday Concert

WHEN: Friday, December 16, 8 PM

WHERE: Watchung Arts Center, 18 Stirling Rd, Watchung (on the circle)
TICKETS: $16 in advance, $20 ($18 for WAC members, $10 for students) at the door. You may purchase tickets securely using PayPal from their Ticket Reservation page.
For more information 908.753.0190 or visit http://watchungarts.org

Once again it’s holiday party time again, and what better way to have a party than with Marty Eigen’s Beacon Hill Jazz Band. The band will return to perform what has become a holiday tradition at the Watchung Arts Center. This is the eighth year that the band will play for us on the holiday, to what has also become a tradition of sellout crowds. Marty Eigen will be leading the festivities with all the excitement you have begun to expect from this world-class group. As usual, there will be some exciting surprises in store— and, of course, the energetic Meet-the-Musicians Party at the end.

The band members for this performance will be: Marty Eigen — tenor sax, flute, clarinet & leader; Paul Nagle — trumpet; Chris Cottier — baritone sax & clarinet; Bill Ash — trombone; Fred Fischer — piano & vocalist; Bob Funesti — bass; Flip Peters — guitar & vocalist; Mike Walter — drums; and Nancy Nelson — vocalist.

Take a break from your holiday chores and come relax for a toe tapping holiday interlude!!

NARRATIVE PAINTINGS EXHIBIT @ WATCHUNG ARTS CENTER

Watchung Arts CenterAlex, by Maryann FickerPERSONAL REALITIES
Paintings by Maryann Ficker

WHEN: Through December 23. Opening Reception Dec 4, 1-4 PM.
Hours Thursday and Friday 12 PM-3 PM, Wednesday and Saturday by appointment
WHERE: Watchung Arts Center, 18 Stirling Rd, Watchung (on the circle)
For more information 908.753.0190 visit http://watchungarts.org

These narrative portraits and figure paintings engage the viewer in an exploration of the realm of personal reality. (Above: Alex by Maryann Ficker; below: Self Portrait)

Self Portrait

NEW MOON PLAY READING FEATURES PLAY ABOUT 1939 SHANGHAI

New Moon Play Reading

THE SHANGHAI KADDISH
By Larry Loebell
Directed by Cheryl Katz

WHEN: Monday, December 5, 7:30 PM
WHERE:
Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $5 donation at the door
No reservations required
973.395.555
www.lunastage.org

Did you hear the one about the Chinese boy and the Jewish girl? They walked into a bar. Well, into Viennese coffee house. Near a street called Broadway. In Shanghai. In 1939. Seriously.

You knew Shanghai saved more Jews from the Nazis than any place in the world, right? OVER 30,000 between 1937 and 1940? I’m not making this up. Google it. And that the Red Army was founded there? No?

Neither did Richard Eisenberg, a half Jewish-half Chinese standup comic, until he went searching for his mysterious father in the booming and mysterious city of his, well, conception.

 

Larry Loebell’s full-length plays include The Portrait Master, House Divided, La Tempestad, Pride of the Lion, Girl Science, The Ballad of John Wesley Reed, and The Dostoyevsky Man. Short plays include Angie and Arnie Sanguine, But Who’s Counting, and Just Before the War Between the Plates, Emma Goldman Imagines the Millennium, Ellie and Edward Supine, and Monica for Chanukah.

Larry has been awarded four Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in playwriting, an EST/Sloan Science Foundation rewrite commission, and was awarded a new play commission for House Divided from the National Council for Jewish Culture. His living newspaper-style play Living News, written for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, is in its seventh season of daily school-year performances. He has won Emmy recognition for writing for the children’s show Rugrats in it premiere season. He worked from 1999-2005 as the literary manager and dramaturg at InterAct Theater Company and since then has worked as a free-lance dramaturg for New Paradise Laboratories, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and Lark Playwrights Week, among others. Larry teachers film history at the University of the Arts where he is an adjunct Full Professor, and play writing in the theater department of Arcadia University. He has a BA in English from Temple University, an MA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University, and an MFA in Film and Television from Temple University.

DICKENS’ TALE OF REDEMPTION @ SVP: PERFECT FOR THE FAMILY

20111106 SVP A Christmas Carol , Hillsborough, NJ 11-06-11 photo by Steve GoodmanA CHRISTMAS CAROL
Directed by Michelle Russell
WHEN: December 2 through December 18, Friday and Saturday Evenings at 8:00 PM, Sunday Matinees at 2:00 PM
WHERE: Somerset Valley Playhouse, 689 Amwell Rd, Hillsborough, NJ
TICKETS: General Admission $17, Seniors/Students $15
For more info: www.svptheatre.org  or 908.369.7469

Dickens' treasured holiday classic illuminates the SVP stage, as miserly old Scrooge receives visits from the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, who demonstrate the true spirit of love and human kindness in this time-winning and ever relevant tale of a soul's redemption.

(Above: Carolyn Levine, Scott Fishman, Elliot Lee, Joe Rodriguez and Chris Russoniello)

3 SUGARPLUMS @ RVCC FOR THE HOLIDAYS

THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER
Moscow Ballet
WHEN: Saturday, December 3, at 3 & 7 PM
WHERE:
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $37 & 47

Exquisite classically trained Russian dancers, spectacular sets and costumes, and whimsical and imaginative storytelling blend with the richness of Russian classical dance to make The Great Russian Nutcracker a memorable holiday treat for all. “All Nutcrackers are not the same…[Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian] Nutcracker is brilliant,” said The Shreveport Times. We are proud to once again welcome local children from Gotta Dance studios to dance a variety of roles.

artist                                    video                                     tickets

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Nebraska Theatre Caravan
WHEN: Friday, December 9, at 7 PM

WHERE: The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $37 & 47

With all the warmth and comfort of a cup of Christmas cheer, A Christmas Carol is packed with laughter, pageantry and gorgeous costumes. Every memorable detail of Dickens’ 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol springs to life, from spine-chilling ghosts to heartfelt renditions of traditional British carols such as God Rest Ye’ Merry Gentlemen, Wassail, Wassail and Good King Wenceslas. Crotchety Scrooge, lovable Tiny Tim, and all the fascinating characters that we have come to love make Charles Dickens’ enchanting story a treasured holiday event.

artist                                                 video                                tickets

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS CAROL
David zum Brunnen
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 12 noon & 7 PM

WHERE: The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $10 Noon; $25 7 PM

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 17 Dickensian characters.

artist                                       book                                           tickets

DRAMA ADDRESSES TEENAGE BULLYING

Shape of a Girl, Dec. 2 at 11AM and 7PM

THE SHAPE OF A GIRL
Green Thumb Theatre
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 PM

WHERE:
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
Tickets: $25
Recommended ages: 11 & up

Braidie knows that being a teenager, even a little kid, often means to see very hideous behavior from your peers. For years Braidie’s best friend has inflicted cruel harassment on another classmate. If Braidie just stands by and lets it happen, is she guilty too?

With wit, honesty and profound insight, award winning playwright Joan MacLeod pulls us into a tough and complicated teenage world; a world where loyalty to a friend can have tragic results.

artist                                          review                                    tickets

2 PERFORMANCES ONLY: A PUPPET SHOW FOR KIDS 3 + UP

Moo-Moo's Magical Winter Holidays

TWO SHOWS ONLY!

WHEN: Saturday, December 3 and 10, at 11 AM
WHERE:
  Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $10
93.395.5551
www.lunastage.org

Join puppeteer and magician “Mister Kipley” and his loveable fuzzy sidekick, Moo-Moo, for this multi-cultural celebration of winter holidays from around the world!

Live music, interactive puppetry, and dazzling magic tricks combine in this show that brings to life the traditions of winter holidays celebrated by many different cultures. From Christmas & Chanukah, Kwanzaa to Chinese New Year, Eid Al Adha to Las Posadas, join Moo-Moo in a world of fun! Great for ages 3 and up!

Mister Kipley’s Bio
Mister Kipley has been performing for children and families for over 20 years. Over the last two decades, he has performed numerous family and educational programs with Boston’s famed City Stage Company, and was the very first actor to portray Buster Bunny in the very first live show based on Marc Brown’s Arthur books at the Boston Children’s Museum.

He has performed at grade schools and libraries throughout the Northeast and New York/New Jersey region as Johnny Junkfood in the nutrition-education juggling show, Food Play, and was a co-founder of the original Hoboken puppet show, The Story Hour.

Inspired largely by Jim Henson’s work, Mister Kipley has created his own style of performance that combines live music, interactive puppetry, magic tricks, balloon twisting, and of course lots of irreverent humor. His number one goal is to create magical moments that children and grown ups can enjoy together, just as he used to watch The Muppet Show with his whole family, laughing and singing along.

BRING THE KIDS TO SEE “BABES IN TOYLAND” FOR THE HOLIDAY

BABES IN TOYLAND
Conceived by Perry Arthur Kroeger and Stephen L. Fredericks
Book by Perry Arthur Kroeger
Music by Victor Herbert, Lyrics by Glen Macdonough & Perry Arthur Kroeger

WHEN: November 25 – December 18; Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays & Sundays at 4:00 PM
WHERE:
The Growing Stage, 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong
Tickets: $18/Adult, $14/Child or Senior

Something is amiss in the Land of Make Believe. Barnaby is threatening Mother Goose with eviction unless her daughter, Bo Peep, marries him. One of the Three Little Pigs is missing and on top of that, even Christmas is in doubt! Who could possibly save the day? Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum? No, really, who could possibly save the day?

This original TGS adaptation is based loosely on the Victor Herbert operetta and the Laurel & Hardy classic film.

Audience Recommendation: Family All Ages

Watch a preview here!

CLASSIC HOLIDAY BALLET IN LOCAL PERFORMANCES

THE NUTCRACKER
Nutcracker ballet performance, The NutcrackerNew Jersey Youth Ballet
WHEN:  Saturday, December 3, at 1:00 PM WHERE: Bridgewater Senior Center, 445 Somerville Rd,  Bridgewater
TICKETS: $10

WHEN: Saturday, December 10, at 4:00 PM
WHERE: Hillsborough High School,  466 Raider Blvd, Hillsborough 
TICKETS: $15.00
For Tickets Contact The New Jersey Youth Ballet        908. 874.8800 or online at www.danceconnectionnj.com/contact.php
Click here for a nice description of the Nutcracker Story.

The Nutcracker Ballet 2011The Washington Rock Ballet invites you to join Clara, the Sugarplum Fairy, tiny mice and a host of other enchanting characters in our annual production of the Nutcracker. This joyous holiday tradition features over seventy students of dancexpress. Guest performers include dancers of the amazing American Ballet Theatre and several dramatic party parents in dazzling attire.
WHEN: Saturday, December 10, 2 PM; Sunday, December 11, 2 PM
WHERE: Watchung Hills Regional High School Performing Arts Center, 108 Stirling Road,  Watchung, NJ
TICKETS: start at $25. CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS.
CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS.

A SPECIAL HOLIDAY TEA FOR KIDS 3-8

Holiday TeddyTEDDY BEAR TEA 

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 3; Seatings at 11 AM, 1 & 3 PM
WHERE:
Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown
TICKETS: $20
Reservations are required. Please call: 973.971.3706

Guests will be treated to scrumptious treats, a festive performance in the Bickford Theatre and a special visit from Santa, who brings a gift for each child. Recommended for ages 3 - 8.

LEGO LOVERS: CHECK OUT “THE ART OF THE BRICK” @ THE MORRIS MUSEUM

The Art of the Brick®

WHEN: December 2, 2011 – February 20 , 2012
WHERE:
The Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown

Visitors to the Morris Museum this winter will be delighted by a new exhibition featuring over 25 awe-inspiring and thought-provoking large-scale sculptures created out of LEGO® bricks by artist Nathan Sawaya. While the exhibition is on view, a special area will be set up where visitors, inspired by Sawaya's work, can build their own fantastic LEGO creations. Several special programs are planned, including a People’s Choice LEGO Competition at the Dec. 27 Toyland Family Festival, and, in January, a series of architect-led LEGO community architectural workshops. (Image: Yellow, Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com)

Read the Star-Ledger profile here.

About Nathan Sawaya and The Art of the Brick®

Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist who creates large-scale sculptures and oversized mosaic portraits using only toy building blocks: LEGO bricks. A common toy is elevated to the status of fine art through Sawaya’s ability to transform LEGO bricks into something new. The sculptures on view in The Art of the Brick are beautiful and playful, yet obsessively and painstakingly crafted, reflecting Sawaya’s devotion to scale and color perfection, and the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter. (Left: Nathan Sawaya with his sculpture, Cello, Photo: brickartist.com)

Sawaya works on his own, using the same LEGO bricks that are sold at toy stores (no special colors or bricks are made for him by the LEGO company). A life-size, human-form sculpture typically takes 2-4 weeks to complete, depending on the complexity, and has 15,000-25,000 bricks.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Sawaya moved to New York City in 1991 to attend New York University. After college, he rediscovered his childhood passion for LEGO, not as a toy, but rather as a medium for his art. His creations were built from standard bricks beginning as early as 2000. Today Sawaya has more than 1.5 million colored bricks in his New York art studio. Sawaya has been featured on leading talk shows and news programs, including The Today Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Colbert Report and CBS Sunday Morning. For more information on Nathan Sawaya and The Art of the Brick, visit www.brickartist.com.

Special Programs

In conjunction with The Art of the Brick exhibition, the Morris Museum is offering special programs for visitors of all ages. For more information, please e-mail programs@morrismuseum.org or call 973.971.3720.

Toyland Family Festival
People’s Choice LEGO® Competition

WHEN: Tuesday, December 27, 11 AM – 4 PM
ADMISSION: Included with museum admission: $7-$10; Members: Free

Bring in your best LEGO creation for judging by attendees at the festival. Enjoy LEGO challenges throughout the day.

Building Blocks
LEGO® Community Architectural Workshops

  • Build Historical Morristown (offered twice)
    WHEN: January 14, 2012, 1 – 3 PM & January 21, 6- 8 PM
  • Windmills and Wind Power
    WHEN: January 28, 2012 1-3 PM

FEE: $40 per workshop per family (up to four members)

Building Blocks Workshop programs use LEGO building blocks as a fun activity for children and their parents to learn about their community’s architectural heritage. Each two hour program is a fast paced, hands on, model-building experience where the goal is for 50 families to create 50 buildings using over 50,000 LEGO® building blocks. Stephen W. Schwartz AIA, Architect, of Livingston, NJ, leads the programs.

Tot Tour
WHEN: January 20, 2012, 10:00 AM
ADMISSION: Free with museum admission

Explore large scale LEGO sculptures by artist Nathan Sawaya in this fun and enriching program for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. Activities include a mini gallery tour and an art project. Tours run 30-40 minutes. Pre-registration is not required.

LAST CHANCE TO SEE WTC FALL PRODUCTION: “CRIMES OF THE HEART”

crimes of the heart

crimes of the heart bot

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NARRATED NUTCRACKER RETURNS TO LACKLAND CENTER

Nutcracker 2012 image

New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet’s narrated version of

THE NUTCRACKER
WHEN: Dec
. 17 at 2:00 & 7:00 PM, and Dec. 18 at 3:00 PM
WHERE: The new Lackland Center, Sitnik Theater (715 Grand Avenue) in Hackettstown.
TICKETS:  $22.50-$25. They available through the Centenary Stage Company box office by calling 908.979.0900, and online at www.centenarystageco.org.
The performance is appropriate for ages 3-103.

The Centenary Stage Company will present The New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet’s (NJCYB) performances of the annual Nutcracker this year in the David and Carol Lackland Center in Hackettstown.  With a cast of 60 talented dancers from Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties, The NJCYB’s  Nutcracker is unique because it’s narrated by Janine Byrnes who tells the story from the perspective of young Clara Stahlbaum.

In this dramatic presentation, the audience is invited to Dr. And Mrs. Stahlbaum's Christmas Party. As the theater darkens, and some of the world’s most beautiful music plays, Ms. Byrnes takes the audience on a storybook adventure. Clara’s Godfather presents his magic show of dancing dolls enchanting the children who attend the party. He has gifts for all,  but one touches the young Clara's heart, an ugly Nutcracker. As Clara falls asleep under the beautiful Christmas tree, the noise of mice wake her. To save Clara, the Nutcracker and his army battle the giant Mouse King. The Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and takes a grown-up Clara through the enchanted forest into the land of Christmas. 

“This is the most enchanting fairy tale of a child's most unforgettable Christmas,” says NJCYB Director, Christine Taylor, “Through Ms. Byrne’s narration, young children understand a fanciful story, while the rest of us realize that his is truly a story of life, love and the holiday spirit.”   

This season the coveted role of Clara will be shared by Michelle Quiner from Chester, and Kayla Walsh from Long Valley. The role of Clara isn’t new to these two rising dancers; Quiner performed Clara with Radio City Music Hall last year, and Walsh performed the role in 2009 for the NJCYB. The role of Fritz will be performed by Hayden Slaff of Mansfield. Guest performer Sean Patric and partner Shanna Heverly from New York City  join the company this year to dance the Arabian Dolls. Patric and Heverly’s  backgrounds include the National Tour of Cats as Tumblebrutus and Rumpleteazer. Guest artists Kirk Henning and Elisabeth Holowchuk Sollog, from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, in Washington, D.C. will dance the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavalier and Godfather Drosselmeyer.

DOVER LITTLE THEATRE SETS AUDITIONS FOR COMEDY

Moon Over BuffaloAUDITION NOTICE:

MOON OVER BUFFALO
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Paul Bettys

WHEN: December 11 and 12 @ 7 PM
Callbacks - December 14th at 7 PM
Performance Dates: March 3 - 17, 2012
Friday/Saturday evenings @ 8 PM
Sunday matinees - March 4th & 11th @ 2 PM
WHERE: Dover Little Theatre, 69 Elliott Street, Dover
973.328.9292

Actors should bring a headshot and resume. Sides will be provided.


SYNOPSIS:
Charlotte and George Hay, an acting couple not exactly the Lunts are on tour in Buffalo in 1953 with a repertory consisting of Cyrano de Bergerac "revised, one nostril version," and Noel Coward's Private Lives. Fate has given these thespians one more shot at starring roles in The Scarlet Pimpernel epic, and director Frank Capra himself is en route to Buffalo to catch their matinee performance. Will Charlotte appear or run off with their agent? Will George be sober enough to emote? Will Capra see Cyrano, Private Lives or a disturbing mixture of the two? Hilarious misunderstandings pile on madcap misadventures, in this valentine to Theatre Hams everywhere. This hilarious farce is filled with plenty of chaos; from sword fights to slamming doors to wacky affairs and much, much more!

CHARACTERS: (ages may vary—strong physical comedy for various roles)

  • George Hay (40's-50’s) is a very dramatic, slapstick type, over-the-top actor. As leader of his own acting troupe, George has always had aspirations to be famous. He’s a bit of a ladies’ man but is really devoted to his wife, Charlotte. Physical comedic role and the actor cast will be trained for a short sword fight.
  • Charlotte Hay (40's-50’s) is very much a drama queen. She helps to run the acting troupe and plays all of the female leads, including the ones she’s a bit too old for. She is a consummate actress who still has dreams of being a star... at all costs! She loves George but is getting tired of his philandering. She should be able to do an upper-class British accent. Physical comedic role and the actress cast will be trained for a short sword fight.
  • Ethel (60's) is Charlotte's mother—close to her daughter, but not happy with her daughter’s choice of a husband. She is also an actress, very witty and doesn't take any crap from anyone! She is very hard of hearing, which leads to comic misunderstandings.
  • Rosalind (20's-early 30's) is George and Charlotte's daughter who used to be an actress and a member of their acting troupe. However, she decided that she wanted a real career and left--determined never to act again—or be like her parents! Rosalind is, in fact, always repressing her dramatic side, but it’s a losing battle by the end. She has a new fiancé, Howard, but used to be in love with Paul, an actor in her parent's troupe. The actress cast should be able to do an upper-class British accent. Physical comedic role.
  • Howard (20's-early 30’s) is Rosalind's fiancé—a weatherman—so he considers himself to be in the "acting" business. He comes across as a wimp, a little annoying, nervous, and very excitable. Physical comedic role.
  • Paul (20's-early 30’s) is a member of the acting troupe. He used to be with Rosalind and still loves her and wants her back; but he is an actor first and foremost, so he wouldn't leave the troupe to be with her. Paul has a quiet, subtle sense of humor and often holds the company together. The actor cast should be able to do an upper-class British accent. Very physical role.
  • Eileen (20's) is an aspiring actress, eager to please. She has a crush on George and has been having a fling with him. Eileen wants to be a leading actress with the company, and she comes across very flighty and naïve, but ultimately will do anything to get what she wants. She can be played a bit manipulative.
  • Richard (40's-50's) is George and Charlotte's attorney. He is in love with Charlotte—always trying to get her to leave George. He is wealthy and used to getting what he wants, and is both amused and perplexed by the Hay family.
  • 3 actors may possibly be needed to play soldiers (a great opportunity for the novice actor!)
  • DLT is also seeking a stage crew for this show. If interested in backstage positions, please contact the theatre at 973.328.9202 or the director, Paul Bettys.

For more information, please visit www.doverlittletheatre.org

REVIEW: SCROOGE SINGS AND DANCES ON HACKETTSTOWN STAGE

Sheila-current3By Sheila Abrams

Big! Big, big, big! That’s the first word that comes to mind, thinking about the production of A Christmas Carol now at the Lackland Center, on the Centenary College campus in Hackettstown.

Making good use of the stage and splendid facilities at the Sitnik Theater, director Michael Blevins and the Centenary Stage Company have taken a production that played for 10 years at Madison Square Garden and made it their own. With a serviceable, if less than inspired, score by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Ahrens and Mike Ockrent, this show is all about singing and dancing. It’s a lot of fun and leaves the audience smiling.

Unfortunately, the story sort of gets lost. Unfortunately, because it’s a really good story.

CSC Xmas Carol SCROOGE-photo by Bob EberleNot that it isn’t in there. Osborn Focht, who played Bill Sykes in Centenary’s Oliver! last year, is a wiry Scrooge (left), vividly clothed mostly in red long johns. He says all the memorable things about humbug and prisons and workhouses and so forth. But somehow Scrooge, the three ghosts who visit him, Tiny Tim, Marley’s ghost and all the rest get overwhelmed by the musical numbers. Is that terrible? The audience at the performance we saw, which included many children, didn’t seem to think so, although Dickens might have.

The musical numbers are almost nonstop. And they are gorgeously done. The ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s late partner (Dave Scheffler), is suitably adorned with chains and money boxes, and in this version he is accompanied by a chorus of similarly dressed, singing and dancing ghosts.

CSC Xmas Carol-FEZZIWIG BALL- PHOTO by Bob Eberle-editCentenary dance faculty member Lea Antolini is nymphlike as the Ghost of Christmas Past. She moves beautifully and looks like she was borrowed from a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Scrooge’s past, including an unhappy boyhood, is mentioned but it‘s all heading for another splendid musical number: Fezziwig’s Christmas party (right), probably literature’s first (and best) office party. (Photos by Bob Eberle)

When it comes to the Ghost of Christmas Present (Steven Bidwell), we think we might have missed something. This ghost brings with him a tap-dancing chorus line of Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, accompanied by a male chorus. We don’t know what it has to do with Scrooge, but it’s fun, and there are some remarkably good dancers on that stage. Apparently, quite a few of them come from the Centenary Young Performers’ Workshop, which Blevins directs. And the college’s relatively new dance major doubtless also contributes.

The dancers have plenty of stage time, whether in beautiful Victorian dress, Marilyn costumes or shrouds and chains. Director Michael Blevins also did the choreography. His Broadway history is clearly showing.

The Cratchits are there—James Nester as Scrooge’s unfortunate clerk, Alycia Kunkle as his wife, and Andrew Nussbaum as Tiny Tim—though their story is not so much in the forefront. And Alex Maxwell is Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, in another plotline that gets short shrift.

The show runs about an hour and a half without intermission, so be sure to plan ahead, especially if you have children in tow. If you are familiar with the Centenary Stage Company, you may spot Artistic Director Carl Wallnau in the small role of the Beadle and General Manager Catherine Rust as Mrs. Mops. The production is accompanied by a very able 10-piece musical ensemble directed by Kevin Lynch. Jordan Janota was the scenic designer and Ed Matthews the lighting designer. Julia Sharp deserves bouquets for the dozens of exquisite costumes she designed.

We recommend this production of A Christmas Carol as a holiday treat that will leave everybody in a festive mood. But we urge you also to have a look at some other version of Dickens’ brilliant novella. There is no shortage of them.

HISTORIC COMMISSION PRESENTS SELF-GUIDED HOLIDAY TOUR

2nd ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY

WHEN: Sunday, December 4, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
WHERE: Warren County’s scenic countryside
ADMISSION: Free, open to the public
Families with children are welcome

The second annual CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY tour of historic buildings— all beautifully decorated for the season—including some of the most remarkable churches of Northwestern New Jersey as well as the Ramsaysburg Homestead (1795), will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, December 4.

Sponsored by the Knowlton Township Historic Commission, the afternoon’s activities will lead visitors through Warren County’s scenic countryside on a self-guided tour that will include caroling, refreshments, a tree lighting and conclude with Handel’s great Messiah.  The event coincides with the Moravian village of Hope’s annual Christmas crafts fair.  

  • From 1 – 3 PM, churches welcoming tour visitors will include Delaware Presbyterian Church in historic Delaware Village, the Knowlton Methodist and Hainesburg Baptist churches and the First Presbyterian Church of Oxford at Hazen (right; founded 1722).  Saint Luke’s Episcopal, and St. John’ s United Methodist churches in Hope will also participate. The village of Hope, also a National Historic Site, was settled in 1769, and a number of buildings remain from Moravian times.
  • At 3 PM, a tree lighting ceremony with festive caroling will take place at the Ramsaysburg Homestead (above left), a national historic site located along the Delaware River. Visitors will be treated to Dennis Melillo leading a musical rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas and rewarded with a wassail bowl, cookies and seasonal refreshments at the homestead.
  • Later in the afternoon at 4 PM, tour participants will be welcomed at the beautiful historic Knowlton Presbyterian Church for the 4th annual Messiah Sing-Along, followed by a covered-dish supper afterward.  Visitors are invited to bring a favorite dish to share. 

Participants on the self-guided tour may collect tour guides at any of the churches starting at 1 PM or at the Ramsaysburg Homestead Historic Site, located at the junction of State Highway Route 46 and Hope-Ramsaysburg Road, just south of the historic village of Delaware, NJ.  In Hope Village, special parking will be available near the churches next to the old (18th century) Moravian cemetery. 

For further information, contact Guy Walton at gw1@nyu.edu

Monday, November 28, 2011

NEW PLAYS FORUM HELD IN 2 LOCATIONS BY PTNJ


AN EVENING OF NEW PLAYS

  • Staged Readings of 19 New Plays
  • Intimate discussions with artists

WHEN: November 29-December 2, 3, 4 at 7 PM, unless otherwise noted
WHERE:
Fairleigh Dickinson University and The Growing Stage
TICKETS: $10 general admissionfor an evening; $25 for a FORUM pass (attend all 23 readings); Children attend free (with paying adult)
Purchase your tickets online or by calling the box office at 973.514.1787 X10.

Readings at Fairleigh Dickinson University will be held at the Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

The readings at The Growing Stage vary in time. November 30 and December 1 begin at 7:00 PM and December 3 and December 4 begin at 1:00 PM. The Growing Stage is located in the Historic Palace Theatre, Route 183, 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong, NJ. Click here for directions.
All tickets are general admission. There will be a talk-back following the reading.

Week One of FORUM Readings:
FDU - Fairleigh Dickinson University
TGS - The Growing Stage
Click on the title to learn more about the play.

FORUM brings playwrights, actors and audience members together to enjoy the creative process of bringing a play to life. Staged readings of 19 innovative new plays by some of the country’s best writers with intimate discussions between author and audience following each performance.

Playwrights Theatre launched a new series of interviews with the FORUM playwrights on our blog. We asked them five questions to get to know them and their plays a little better. We will be posting more interviews over the next couple of weeks so be sure to check the blog.
Want to know when new interviews are posted? Be sure to follow us on Twitter. We'll be posting it on our Facebook wall. And, of course, you can also find the interviews linked on our website.

Playwrights Theater
PO Box 1295
28 Walnut Street
Madison, NJ 07940
973.514.1787
www.ptnj.org

FOLK PROJECT PRESENTS 19th ANNUAL CHORUS SONG NIGHT

Just bring your voice!

Chorus Song Night
WHEN: Friday, December 2, 8:00 PM
WHERE:
Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown
TICKETS:  $7.00 per person at the door.
For further information, call 973.335.9489, or visit www.folkproject.org.
This year’s line-up includes a panel of Folk Project members presenting a miscellaneous repertoire of songs just begging for audience participation.

An annual event since 1993, Chorus Song Night resurrects the spirit of community singing, which is sadly missing in today’s world. This year’s event features Jack Kilrain, a big man with a big voice and a bag full of sea shanties, drinking songs and pub ditties; Mark Westphal, presenting a variety of Beatles, Buddy Holly and other great songs familiar to folkies of a certain age; Amy Livingston, song collector in the Morris Ale tradition; and Mike Agranoff, Minstrel program chair and gatherer of songs from many genres.

“This will be a night when a panel of four singers goes round-robin in singing songs. Some will be familiar, some maybe less so, but all easily picked up. It's an evening of community singing, and we sometimes forget how much fun that can be,” said Agranoff.

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

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.

DICKENS’ HOLIDAY CLASSIC ROLLS INTO McCARTER THEATRE

event imageA CHRISTMAS CAROL
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by David Thompson
Directed by Michael Unger

WHEN: December 4-24
WHERE:
McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton
TICKETS:  $20-$76
BUY TICKETS HERE or call 609.258.2787
www.mccarter.org

Celebrate the season with McCarter's critically acclaimed production of Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. Join Ebenezer Scrooge on his magical journey through Christmas past, present and future, and experience the show that embodies the peace and goodwill of the season. Michael Unger directs McCarter's production of this cherished family tradition, with scenery by the legendary set designer Ming Cho Lee and costumes by Jess Goldstein. The perennial favorite The New York Times calls "A Must-See," has become a delightful holiday tradition for the whole family!

Performance Plus Package<br />    Come to where the treetops glisten! On December 20, enjoy <br />the magic of Morven Museum & Garden’s Festival of Trees <br />with a pre-theater cocktail reception at 5pm, followed by a <br />7:30pm performance of A Christmas Carol for only $60!

Fezziwig Party<br />    Gather family, friends, and co-workers before a performance <br />of A Christmas Carol for a holiday party that is a feast for all <br />the senses! With catered fare, an open bar, and a warm <br />holiday atmosphere. These parties are at the top of <br />everyone’s list, so don’t delay!

CLASSIC HOLIDAY BALLET @ bergenPAC

finaleThe Talented and Inspiring NJ Ballet Performs

“Nutcracker” LIVE

WHEN: Saturday December 3, 4 PM, Saturday December 4, 1 PM, Sunday December 4, 4 PM
WHERE:
bergenPAC, 30 N. Van Brunt Street, Englewood
TICKETS: $50, $40, $30, $20
Box Office: Phone: 201.227.1030.

Year after year The Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition. It is an enchanting tale of child’s toys coming to life and having a grand adventure. With amazing special effects, beautiful costumes, fabulous scenery, and majestic dancing it will surely impress. The talented ballet company performing it will definitely do it justice.

For over fifty years The NJ Ballet Company has been captivating audiences. They have been performing top quality professional ballet and have given thousands of performances that have introduced first time ballet audiences to the art form. The company performs form Bergen County to Cape May. In 2009, it was voted New Jersey Favorite Dance Company.

During The NJ Ballet Company’s 26 week season they perform of variety of shows and ballet forms. Their take on this classic ballet The Nutcracker will certainly be wonderful.