Tuesday, April 30, 2013




46 Mt. Pleasant Ave.
West Orange, NJ



teen logo

Middle School Art Showcase Reception
WHEN: Wednesday, May 1, 6-8:30 PM

Read 'n Chat Book Discussion Grades 6-8
WHEN: Wednesday, May 8, at 7:15 PM

The group will discuss Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.

Anime Club 
Grades 6-12
WHEN: Wednesday, May 22, at 6:45 PM
Crafts, games and movies for anime and manga fans. 

Children's Programs

Check it Out Mate: Kids' Chess Club
WHEN: Thursdays, May 2 & May 9, at 4 PM
For grades 2-8
Learn the rules and strategies of chess from an experienced chess player. 

Lego Club 
WHEN: Tues, May 7, at 4 PM
Kids in grades K-5 build lego creations together. Click here to sign up.

Speaking of Stories Book Discussion Group 
Grades 4 & 5 
WHEN: Tuesday, May 14 at 4:30 PM
The group will discuss Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm.

Yakety-Yak Book Discussion Group
For grades 2 & 3
WHEN: Tuesday, May 21, at 4:30 PM
The group will talk about A Fistful of Pearls by Elizabeth Laird.   

Downtime with Disney
WHEN: Saturday, May 18, at 2 PM

The whole family is invited to a free screening of a favorite Disney film.

Programming for Children with Special Needs:

  • Music and Movement - May 13, 4:30 to 5:15 PM - Certified and experienced music educator and music therapist Ms. Joanne Schlachter will lead this 45-minute session that combines music, movement and yoga. Sign up online.
  • Awesome Art - May 20 - 4:30 to 5:15 PM - Preschool teacher and special education student Mrs. Rhonda Grindell, who has provided arts and crafts programs at Harbor Haven for five summers, will lead this program. Children will go home with an awesome completed art project! Sign up online.


WOPL LogoMay Programs for Adults

Poetry Workshop
WHEN: Saturday, May 4, at 9:30-11 AM
46 Mt. Pleasant Ave., West Orange                 

Prompts and discussion will help you get ideas flowing for your next poem. Please bring paper and pencil. If you have a poem to share, bring ten copies.  

An Afternoon of Broadway Classics
WHEN: Sunday, May 5, at 3 PM

Pleasant Valley Productions returns to the Library with a concert of Broadway classics. Enjoy some of Broadway's most memorable tunes presented by top performers from the West Orange area. Advance registration is recommended. Click here to sign up.

sense of an endingBook Discussion Group
WHEN: Monday, May 6, at 1:30 PM

Librarian Lana Peker leads the discussion of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. The book is a compelling novel that follows a middle-aged man as he contends with his past. 



Creative Connection
WHEN: Wednesday, May 8, at 7:15 PM

Join in our monthly discussion of the creative process. Topics may include dealing with creative blocks, preparing for projects, and competing in the marketplace. The group can also offer constructive feedback on your work. Everyone interested in the creative process is welcome. This free program is presented in partnership with the West Orange Arts Council. 

West Orange Writers' Group
WHEN: Thursday, May 9, at 7 PM

A casual forum for anyone interested in writing. Meet other writers and gently critique each other's work. Writers in all genres are welcome. You are invited to bring a sample of your work.  

Film & Dessert
WHEN: Friday, May 3 & May 17, at 2 PM

Seniors, looking for something to do?  Drop by the Library to watch a movie and enjoy light refreshments. Free!   

mozartMeet the Musician: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Bernard Ducoff Lecture Series in the Arts & Humanities
WHEN: Sunday, May 19, at 2 PM

Pianist Dennis Kobray becomes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a dramatic presentation. Discover the music, feelings, life and history of this world famous composer as Mr. Kobray takes on his persona and performs his music in period costume. Advance registration is recommended. Click here to sign up.

Funding for this program was provided in memory of Dr. Bernard Ducoff by the Ducoff family


Hunterdon Art Museum

First Friday Poetry Reading
featuring Lois Marie Harrod and B.J. Ward
WHEN: Friday, May 3, 6 PM
WHERE: Hunterdon Art Museum, 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton
ADMISSION: free and open to all.

The event also includes an open microphone for anyone who wishes to share a poem. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 908.735.8415.

Future "First Friday" poetry readings will include:

  • Grant Clauser and Warren Cooper (June 7);
  • Scott McVay (July 5)
  • an evening of poetry on visual art with Annie Kaier, MM Whittle and John Smith (Aug. 2)
  • Diane Sahms-Guarnieri and G. Emil Reutter (Sept. 6)
  • Liz Abrams-Morley and Jim Mancinelli (Oct. 4).


Summer Exhibition artWHEN: Sunday, May 19; the reception kicks off at 2 PM
The reception is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served.

"Nature's Mark: Printing on Fiber," "In Motion: Videos by Noah Klersfeld" and "Assunta Sera: Strong Attraction." 

Heather Ujiie, one of the artists featured in our "Nature's Mark" exhibition will speak at 3 PM about her work.  "Nature's Mark" and "In Motion" will run until Sept. 8; "Strong Attraction" until June 30.

Art on Tap
a benefit beer and food tasting event at the Museum

WHEN: Sunday, June 2, 2 to 5 PM
TICKETS:  $30 in advance or $35 at the door, and can be purchased by calling the Museum at 908.735.8415.

Interested in sampling fantastic regional beers and enjoying some fabulous food? This event, for adults 21 and up, will feature an assortment of beers to sample and live music by Jonathan Andrew. Delicious donations for this Museum fundraiser have been graciously provided by Hunterdon Brewing Company, Metropolitan Seafood, A La Carte, Bex Kitchen, El Segundo, Brasserie 513 and Garden Gourmet.


WHEN: Sunday, June 30, from 10 AM to 5 PM
ADMISSION: $5; tuition for workshops will be announced soon. (Check their website in upcoming weeks for more information.)

"Bead Bash," an event to honor the memory of Extraordinary Beads owner and artist Linda Johnson, will include workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, vendors, activities for children and more. Learn from such talented artists as Alice Heinzelman, Sandra Lupo, Mariel Murphy, Joan Tandler, Peggy Tepper, Sandra Van Ardenne and Mallory Weston. There will also be a special outdoor beaded installation by Katherine Daniels. At the conclusion of the day's activities, the Clinton Guild will present a special plaque in memory of Johnson.

Summer art exhibition photo for "Nature's Mark: Printing on Fiber": Wendeanne Ke'aka Stitt, "Niho Mano II: To you Ano Nuevo Great White, 2012, quilted kapa cloth, 33 X 35 inches, Photo courtesy of Thomas Burke.

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 Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Hunterdon County Cultural & Heritage Commission, New Jersey Cultural Trust and corporations, foundations, and individuals. The Hunterdon Art Museum is a wheelchair accessible space. Publications are available in large print. Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey  Relay Service at (TYY) 1 (800) 852-7899.


LSO Bicentennial Concert

Under the direction of internationally recognized Maestro Istvan Jaray, the renowned Livingston Symphony Orchestra salutes Livingston's bicentennial through these beloved masterpieces:

  • Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture
  • Mussogorsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition
  • Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger
  • Berlioz’s Hungarian March
  • Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn.

Join in a joyous musical celebration that ranges from the lighthearted to the majestic and reflects everything from personal joy to epic victory.

For more information, visit (link on graphic will not work)


Dinosaur Day at the Newark Museum  May 5, 2013

WHERE: Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street, Newark
ADMISSION: activities free with suggested admission to the museum


Peter Moffitt at 2012 jazz coffeehouseTHE PETER MOFFITT MEDICINE SHOW

WHEN: Friday, May 3, 7 PM
St. Peter's Episcopal Church on South Street in Morristown.

Led by pianist Peter Moffitt (above), the New York area performers include his daughter, vocalist Nina Moffitt (below), drummer Andrew Swift, Stacy Dillard playing soprano saxophone and Alex Claffa on bass.

Nina Moffitt at 2012 jazz coffeehouseThe coffeehouse celebrates the opening of the second Spring Arts Festival at St. Peter's, which features a kids art show from May 3-12, a night of poetry and other spoken-word performances May 7 and a full day of hands-on arts workshops for children ages 6-13 led by professional artists in pottery, mural painting, poetry, music, drama and sculpture with found objects on May 11.

Registrations still are open for the art day; the form can be found HERE.

The Moffitts also opened last year's festival. Peter Moffitt, who plays multiple instruments and leads music at the Saturday contemporary worship service at St. Peter's and a weekly jazz Mass in New York, has produced several CDs and worked with Bob James, violinist Noel Pointer, Alexander Zonjic and Larry Coryell. Nina Moffitt studied jazz and classical voice at The Oberlin conservatory and performs original music and covers with her band, as well as pursuing other projects and artistic collaborations. Her 2010 debut digital album "Where I Have Been" can be found here.

The coffeehouse audience can view the art exhibit while will sipping gourmet coffee from SmartWorld and eating baked goods from Chef Melody McGinley Whitelaw, "caterer to the stars" from the Main Event in Morristown.

The third annual MG Kids Art Show formally opens earlier in the day, with crafts activities for children from 3 to 6 PM.

For more information, contact Sharon Sheridan, festival coordinator, at or 973.927.6192.

Funding has been made possible in part by funds from the Arts Council of the Morris Area (now Morris Arts) through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.


Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre

Multiple Personality Disorder is improv comedy, Dreamcatcher style!

MPDSpring is in the air, and DRT’s improv comedy troupe is ready to entertain you with a one-night-only performance of Multiple Personality Disorder, their very warm and funny improv comedy show.

For the price of a movie, you can see live entertainment and laugh out loud with your family and friends.

Visit their Web site for cast, photos, tickets and more!

WHEN: ONE NIGHT ONLY! Saturday, May 4, 8 PM
Oakes Center, 120 Morris Ave., Summit
Directions (entrance on Russell Place, parking lot at 20 Ashwood Ave.)
Buy tickets now No fees! 
Call : 800.838.3006 for tickets


The Gruffalo and Cirque Zuma Zuma

Africa's Zuma Zuma Acrobats Create the Human Pyramid

Cirque Zuma Zuma

The Human Pyramid

WHEN: Friday, May 3, at 12 & 7 PM
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
Tickets: $10 (noon), $25 & $35 (7 PM) 
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A PREVIEW (graphic will not play_

Audiences and critics across the globe agree: Zuma Zuma is unlike anything they have ever seen before. Many have described it as an African-style cirque show, such is the standard of the performers and the quality of the show's musical score. In 2011 America's Got Talent showcased a small troupe of the Zuma Zuma family. This production includes a full complement of performers. The fantastic Zuma Zuma Acrobats from America's Got Talent highlight the show, along with a colorfully costumed cornucopia of talented artists—gumboot dancers, limbo artists, pole acts, contortionists, tumblers and percussionists. Amazing fun for the entire family!

This performance is sponsored, in part,



The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

Tall Stories

WHEN: Saturday, May 4, at 1 & 3:30 PM
TICKETS: $10 & $12

Mouse can scare hungry animals away with tall stories of the terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined? Join Mouse on an adventurous journey through the deep, dark wood in this magical, musical adaptation of the multi award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Following the success of Room on the Broom and Twinkle Twonkle, Tall Stories Theatre Company returns with this beloved story of the magical Gruffalo and a very brave mouse. Showcasing Tall Stories' distinctive physical, visual performance style, The Gruffalo is full of songs, laughs and scary fun. Let your imagination run wild! 

artist                 tickets                     CLICK HERE TO WATCH A PREVIEW



WHEN: Saturday, May 4, at 6 PM
80 Albany St., 2nd Floor, New Brunswick
TICKETS: $5 at door, with donations welcomed
Tickets can be purchased at the door prior to the show and online donations can be given at
For more information, visit LDT online at or call 732.246.7300.

Lustig Dance Theatre (LDT) is a group of expressive, opinionated, and passionate movers. Every dancer has had a unique journey to earn their place as a professional company member.  Though the dancers are unalike in many ways, there is one thing they each have in common—a hunger for beauty through expression. LDT is more than a job for them, it’s a home; a facility where they can grow and learn about who they are as artists, and in turn, share their creativity.

PIECESOF10 is a benefit performance organized and marketed strictly by the dancers themselves, in hopes of raising support for their company. It’s also a chance for returning (and new) audience members to know the dancers in a more personal manor. Viewers will see a total of seven pieces including a dance film, the culmination of the ten company members’ collaborative efforts.

With only three weeks to create, rehearse and market, each dancer has been on an accelerated track.  Stepping into new roles by choreographing on themselves and others has been a rare opportunity for them to learn something new from their fellow artists. Not only have they had the responsibility of creating new work, but they have also been challenged to handle the production elements of the performance.  A lot of time and creative energy have been spent and cultivated over the past few weeks, resulting in an expansive experience in which they are excited to share with the public.

Awaken your love of dance!


If you are as big a fan of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey as I am, you won’t want to pass up this special offer—good for one day only:

Single tickets on sale May 1! For one day only, receive $5 off Main Stage and Outdoor Stage single tickets.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS (link on graphic will not work)



Crossroads Theatre Company thanks its major supporters:
American Express
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Johnson & Johnson
Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission
New Brunswick Cultural Center
New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts


Another, more colorful, notice about an art show to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. NOTE: The deadline for submissions has been extended to May 8 with a drop-off date of Thursday, May 16, from 4:30-5:30 PM at St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 140 S. Finley Ave. in Basking Ridge.


Monday, April 29, 2013


By Ruth Ross

About two-thirds of the way through David Ives' Venus in Fur, Tom asks the actress who has come to audition for his play, "Who are you?" It's a question we might be asking her ourselves, for the character is an Olympic-class shape-shifter.

Is she the loud, potty-mouthed ditz who literally blows into the rehearsal room full of excuses for her lateness, or is she the dulcet-toned German aristocrat at the center of Tom's play? Is she the über-feminist complaining that women are degraded and blamed for whatever goes wrong? Or is she an "operative" (her word) sent by Tom's fiancée to test his fidelity?

Ives takes a tried-and-true dramatic conceit, the play within a play, infuses it with sobriety laced with levity and comes up with a piece that will take your breath away with its audacity and wit. That Ives never resolves this conundrum attests to the genius of his play, now being given an dazzling production at the George Street Playhouse through May 18.

Venus In Fur GSP 104<br />Venus In Fur, by David Ives,<br /> directed by Kip Fagen at George Street Playhouse  4/21/13<br />Set Design: Jason Simms<br />Lighting Design: Thom Weaver<br />Costume Design: Richard St. Clair<br />Sound Design< Bart Fasbender<br /><br /><br />http://tcharleserickson.photoshelter.comThomas, a young playwright who is making his directorial debut with his newest play, Venus in Fur, an adaptation of a scandalous Victorian novella, Venus in Furs, finds himself at the end of a long, fruitless day auditioning actresses for the lead female role of Vanda. With a crash of thunder, Vanda Jordan enters and, despite her late arrival, skimpy resumé and her name not being on the list (among other deficiencies), she slyly persuades him to let her read for the part. Soon, the lines between reality and fantasy waver and blur, until they (and we) have trouble delineating which is which! In fact, as the audition progresses, the two switch roles of actor and director and even work together to "write" a new scene that would precede the opening of Thomas' play, until the balance of power between the two shifts, exactly as it does in the novella.

As in most plays about plays, Ives has slipped in many inside jokes and clever theater allusions (say, to Greek tragedy—specifically, The Bacchae), along with lots of hints about Vanda Jordan's background to help the audience solve the mystery presented by this young woman—if that is possible. (No spoilers: pay attention to what she says and does.)

Kip Fagan's magical direction winds the tension tightly as the action moves inexorably onward. And Mark Alhadeff as Thomas and Jenni Putney as Vanda enthusiastically tackle the material, without chewing up the scenery.

Venus In Fur GSP 209<br />Venus In Fur, by David Ives,<br /> directed by Kip Fagen at George Street Playhouse  4/21/13<br />Set Design: Jason Simms<br />Lighting Design: Thom Weaver<br />Costume Design: Richard St. Clair<br />Sound Design< Bart Fasbender<br /><br /><br />http://tcharleserickson.photoshelter.comReprising the role that won Nina Arianda a Tony Award, Putney's performance is nothing short of astounding. Seamlessly, she slips from one character to another, usually by assuming a different posture, accent and pronunciation, even when the chasm between the actress and Austrian aristocrat Wanda von Dunajew is wide. Changing costumes in a wink (even threatening to strip nude at one point), she remains in character—whoever she's supposed to be at the moment. Putney's Vanda Jordan is duplicitous, wily, the incarnation of righteous indignation, a dominatrix, an innocent, a con woman, a real shape shifter. She is clearly an actor to watch.

Alhadeff, who understudied Hugh Dancy in the role on Broadway, clearly knows his way around the character. For all his brief experience in the theater, his Thomas is clearly stymied by this brash blonde, pulled into her enchanted orbit, and much to his chagrin, becoming a character in his own play (and the source novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who inspired the term masochism). His change from playwright to actor is charming as he assumes a posture and adopts an accent appropriate to his character, Severin von Kusiemski. And his transformation from aristocrat to slave (in his play and Ives') is credible and compelling.

Venus In Fur GSP 200<br />Venus In Fur, by David Ives,<br /> directed by Kip Fagen at George Street Playhouse  4/21/13<br />Set Design: Jason Simms<br />Lighting Design: Thom Weaver<br />Costume Design: Richard St. Clair<br />Sound Design< Bart Fasbender<br /><br /><br />http://tcharleserickson.photoshelter.comProduction values are as strong as the acting and direction. Richard St. Clair has provided costumes that are appropriate yet droll; Vanda's duffel bag resembles a circus clown car as she takes out a variety of costumes for the various roles the two play. Jason Simms' rehearsal hall is dingy and drab; the windows are even dirty and look out onto a brick wall complete with its own windows. Thomas Schall's fight direction and Susan Cameron's dialect coaching add to the verisimilitude.

The Greeks believed that the theater should produce a physical response in the audience, and Venus in Fur follows that tradition. As the stage lights went down, I was unable to move from my seat for a few minutes and found it difficult to breathe! My companion and I discussed the play nonstop on our ride home. For 90 minutes, you will be mesmerized, and I guarantee you will think about the play for days afterward. With clever, polished playwriting and accomplished acting, George Street Playhouse's production of Venus in Fur is one you won't want to miss.

Venus in Fur will be performed at the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, through May 18. For information about performance times and tickets, call the box office at 732.256.7717 or visit online at  Please note: due to adult themes, this sexy and electrifying comedy is suitable for audiences age 17 and older.

Photos by T. Charles Erickson.




A new one-act play by Walter Mosley

A one-act adult comedy by Haitian-American playwright France-Luce 

WHEN: Previews May 9 & 10 at 8 PM; Saturday, May 11 – Sunday, May 19; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM
WHERE: Crossroads Theatre Company, 7 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick
TICKETS: $40 (previews) to $65 for Opening Night and $50 other performances and may be purchased by calling 732.545.8100 or online at

Walter Mosley credit Marcia WilsonSet in the early 1970s, White Lilies is a one-act drama from one of America’s most revered authors about the power of love, faith and forgiveness. Mosley reconnects audiences with the popular character Mouse from his “Easy” Rawlins book series, a role immortalized by Don Cheadle in his film debut in Devil in a Blue Dress. White Lilies is directed by Marshall Jones, III, and includes cast members Bridgid Coulter (EttaMae), Chantal Jean-Pierre (Sophie), Ruffin Prentiss (LaMarque) and Landon G. Woodson (“Mouse”).

“My writing is kind of made for people to speak, and as a writer, I want to extend my range as far as possible,” said Mosley (above). “Having the story up onstage means I can get that many more insights, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do so with Marshall, the entire creative team at Crossroads, and the terrific ensemble of actors they've assembled.”

In The Talk, by France-Luce Benson (right), a recently widowed Haitian mother approaches her daughter for a bit of intimate advice; the resulting conversation leads them into some unexplored territory. The Talk is directed by Sibusiso Mamba. The cast includes Chantal Jean-Pierre (Manu) and Shashone Lambert (Claire).

Both plays feature scenic design by A Ram Kim, lighting design by Timothy Cook and costume design by Caity Mulkearns.

“Crossroads is pleased to present two playwrights with unique and compelling voices. Walter is a natural-born storyteller in any medium, whether books, short stories, screenplays or plays. White Lilies, which has several characters that his fans will recognize, was first conceived of 20 years ago, and we are honored to introduce it to the world,” said Jones. “France-Luce is perhaps New York’s best-kept secret, a playwright who demonstrates a firm grasp of character in challenging situations that probe our humanity, all while presenting the Haitian culture in an authentic manner.”

Interestingly, Brigid Coulter, the real-life romantic partner of Don Cheadle will star in White Lilies as EttaMae, the girlfriend of the popular character “Mouse” from Mosley’s “Easy” Rawlins series. Cheadle played “Mouse” in the 1995 film Devil in a Blue Dress.

Founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson, Crossroads Theatre Company embraces the vision that African-American theater is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience. As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage. Crossroads has presented more than 40 world premieres and received the Tony Award® in 1999 for Outstanding Regional Theatre in the United States.

(Crossroads Theatre Company can be reached from Manhattan by taking a NJ Transit train to New Brunswick. Walk South on Easton Avenue and take a left onto Albany Street, walking a block and a half to George Street. Take a right on George Street—you’ll be walking away from Rutgers University—and walk four blocks to Livingston Avenue. Make a right onto Livingston. The theater is at 7 Livingston Avenue.)



Directed By Lauren Moran Mills
Musically Directed by Karen Abrams

WHEN: Saturday May 18, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM
The Rosen Theater at The Wayne YMCA, 1 Pike Drive, Wayne
For information, call Meryl Budnick at 973.595.0100 ext 257

The Emmy Award-winning Saturday morning educational cartoon series is now he basis for one of the most and energetic musicals ever to hit the stage! Perfect for young performers (Ages 5-12) of all experience levels, SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! JR. will be a hit for young actors and audience alike!

Jon our cast this summer as Tom, a nerve-wracked school teacher nervous about his first day of teaching, tries to relax by watching TV. Various characters representing facets of his personality emerge fro the set and show him how to win his students over with imagination and music through such songs as “Just a Bill,” “Interjections,” and “Conjunction Junction.”

No preparation needed for the Audition.

REHEARSALS: Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6:30 PM- 8:30 PM starting June 4. Dress and Tech week might have a different schedule.



Sheila and OreoBy Sheila Abrams

On Sunday afternoon, the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey charmed a full house of music lovers in Hackettstown. The tiny Little Theatre on the campus of Centenary College hosted a northwest Garden State audience pretty much starved for live classical music.

It was also the first appearance so far west in the state for the Madison-based orchestra, which, despite its name, is better described by the title of its newsletter, Baroque and Beyond. The concert began with Baroque music and then went far beyond, into this century, playing a Concerto for Bassoon, composed by conductor Maestro Robert W. Butts.

Probably guided by the size limitations of the Little Theatre (which was the home of the Centenary Stage Co. before the college opened the state-of-the-art Lackland Center for the Performing Arts elsewhere on the campus), BONJ came with a scaled-down version of the orchestra, which is usually made up of about 40 musicians. With music stands, chairs, and room for the conductor and soloists, 16 musicians pushed the limits of the miniscule stage, but the program was well-suited to the abbreviated ensemble.

The program opened with the delightfully melodic Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, by Georg Friderich Handel. One of the most popular pieces by Handel, this charming work is a sinfonia that opens the third act of the oratorio, Solomon, composed in 1748 and premiered in London the following year.

It was a perfect lead-in to a longer baroque piece, a Concerto for Oboe, by the lesser-known Baroque composer, Tomaso Albinoni, a contemporary and friend of Antonio Vivaldi. Born in Venice, Albinoni was known in his time for a prolific output of operas, which are virtually never performed today. However, he is better known for his orchestral music and may have been the first Italian composer to employ the oboe as a solo instrument.

Elizabeth Engelberth was the oboe soloist. It’s characteristic of Maestro Butts to give a member of the orchestra the opportunity to play as a soloist, and he did so in this instance, to great success. The piece, in three movements, enabled Engelberth to demonstrate her light and precise touch on this lovely woodwind.

With the next piece, the orchestra ventured beyond Baroque, into the classical period some 50 years later, with Mozart’s Symphony No. 20, composed, astonishingly, when the prodigy was all of 16! The music reflects the youthful energy of the composer, featuring trumpets along with the woodwinds.

The second half of the program was, as Butts promised, “something completely different.” It began with a very short Bourée by J.S. Bach, which took the audience so much by surprise that they neglected to applaud – not because there was anything wrong with it but because they didn’t know it was over!

The orchestra then moved on to the Concerto for Bassoon, by Maestro Butts, played by Andrew Pecota, the extremely gifted bassoonist with the orchestra. Pecota had earlier played a lupophon, a recently invented, very large woodwind instrument which may be the only one of its kind in North America and possibly the Western Hemisphere! (You never know what you may see at a BONJ concert.)

The bassoon, like its higher-pitched cousin, the oboe, is a gorgeous instrument that rarely gets the attention it deserves. This was a great opportunity to hear the dark, deep velvet tones of this large instrument which is wonderful even just to look at.

The solo instrument in the concerto weaves a path through the listener’s consciousness like the steady flow of a river. The orchestra seems to provide the landscape through which the river flows. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, occasionally reaching greater depth or bubbling on the surface, the river of the bassoon proceeds.

It’s a lovely work. Butts, we are glad to say, does not resort to the cheap trick employed by some modern composers who seek shock audiences with the intentional harshness of their music. This concerto actually reflects the effervescent personality of its composer. It’s always great news to music lovers to learn there IS beautiful music being composed. (And by the way, next Sunday afternoon, BONJ will premiere a piano concerto by Paul Ziegler, who will be the soloist. The venue is Dolan Hall at the College of St. Elizabeth in Madison.)

The concert ended with another total change of mood, type of music and period. Two singers, soprano Tonia Monteneri and tenor Peter Lewis, joined the orchestra to present selections from Puccini’s La Boheme and Verdi’s La Traviata. BONJ has recently ventured into opera in a big way, and even more is promised. The audience responded with a standing ovation, bringing the singers back for an encore of the famous drinking song, Libbiamo from La Traviata. We look forward to a return visit by this group to the wilds of northwest New Jersey. And to the Madison concert next week.



On the heels of its 2012 NJACT Perry Award nominations for Best Original Play (Tom Baldinger), Best Actress (Emily West) and Best Supporting Actor (Kevin C. Carr), 624 Productions is proud to present a limited engagement of

An original romantic comedy by Tom Baldinger

WHEN:  May 10, 11, 17 and 18, 8 PM
Circle Players, 416 Victoria Ave., Piscataway.
For tickets call: 732.968.7555 or visit, or
The play contains strong language; adults only.
To view the trailer, go to

Two Sides of Love is a romantic comedy set in present day New York. Set in a classic sitcom style but with flair and pace of today’s world, the play has everything one could hope for and relate to in finding the “real thing”. Filled with a cast of characters that will make you laugh, cry, and feel as if they are your best friends, this show has it all.

The play features young lovers who are naïve, yet cosmopolitan; a wisecracking know-it-all who finally sees what the truth is; a skeptic who learns love isn’t always easy or black and white; and a person from the past with secrets and misunderstandings. In the end, each must discover their own level of tolerance in order to find what truly makes them happy.

In the cast are Patrick Albanesius, Emily West, Kevin C. Carr, Debbie Glick, and Maddie Patrick. The play is directed and produced by Tom Baldinger; set and light design by Mike Rapalye.

Two Sides of Love first premiered three nights off-Broadway (NY) in 201 at the Times Square International Theater Festival in NYC in 2012, Edison Valley Playhouse, and most recently, for two nights to a sold-out crowd at the Villagers Theatre in Somerset.

Bypassing the traditional rigors of most professional artists, these enterprising hopefuls are paving their own road to the Great White Way. Two Sides of Love will be performed in at least in more theaters on the east coast before venturing into the land of film. Allowing this major transition from stage to screen is Baldinger’s company, 624 Productions. 

624 Productions is a nonprofit theater company designed to educate and promote upcoming talent in the areas of acting, directing and playwriting.  The organization aims to entertain the public with a multifaceted selection of both well-loved and original works.