|2019 Casino Night at bergenPAC|
WHEN: Thursday, May 2 • 6:30PM - 11:00PM
WHERE: Bergen Performing Arts Center • 30 North Van Brunt Street • Englewood
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Home of the Great Pecan
WHEN: Friday, April 26th and extending for eight shows through Sunday, May 12th. Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 and Sundays at 2:00pm.
WHERE: Black River Playhouse, located on the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue in Chester
TICKETS: $20.00 with a discounted price of $18.00 for seniors over 65 and students under 18. Tickets may be purchased online at www.chestertheatregroup.org.
For more information, visit the CTG website at For more information, visit the CTG website.
Home of the Great Pecan is a hilarious, quirky southern comedy—think Greater Tuna meets Plan 9 from Outer Space! Set in a small Texas town in the 1980's, mayhem ensues when Seguin's prized landmark—the Great Pecan—is stolen! A minister on the make, aliens, a prom queen on the verge and a philandering fiancé are just a few of the wild cast of suspects.
The playwright,Stephen Bittrich, has many published plays, and for over 15 years has worked primarily with The Drilling Company, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Pecan had its first workshop production. There he's had 13 new short plays and 2 full-lengths produced and he's also gone on to develop 4 new full-length plays: The Acquisition, Even, Healer, and Hole. His play Healer has been optioned for a possible independent feature film.
The Chester Theatre cast of Home of the Great Pecan includes Lily Boyle in the roles of Priscilla/Billy/Chucky; Will Palazzolo of Wharton in the roles of Johns/Francio/Les Glenehinkel; Lynn Langone of Cranford in the roles of Tammie Lynn/Mrs. Rottweiler; Steve Nitka of Hackettstown in the roles of Ed/Reverend Pat; Carol Holland of Long Valley in the roles of Sher.Bart/Deke/Mrs.Bart/Kitty; Dale Monroe of Morristown in the roles of Greeley/Deputy Diggity; and Jill Bormann of Morristown in the roles of Rosy/Sonya.
The Chester Theatre Group performs in The Black River Playhouse, an intimate, 100-seat theater in the heart of Chester Borough’s historic district. The venue’s in-the-round format ensures that every seat offers an engaging, memorable experience for each audience member.
String Around My Finger
WHEN: April 25 - May 12, 2019; Fridays & Saturdays 8 PM; Sundays 2 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Dances of Love: East and West
WHEN: Sunday, April 28, from 2:00-3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Lee Public Library, 320 Main Street, Fort Lee
TICKETS: free and open to the public
The library is wheelchair accessible. Parking is available on the street and in the lot behind the library building on Hoym Street. For directions and further information, contact the Fort Lee Public Library at 201-592-3615.
BALAM Dance Theatre (BALAM) premieres its new Out & About series program, Dances of Love: East and West, an entertaining, family friendly program.
"These magical works, with their sumptuous costuming, reflective of their courtly and culturally celebratory heritages, will enchant audiences of all ages. They will experience a vibrant array of culturally diverse dance gems presented by the romantic eloquence of BALAM Dance Theatre's performers," said Carlos Fittante, Artistic Director, BALAM Dance Theatre. (Top: Carlos Fittante and Nani Devi in Oleg Tambulilingan. Photo Credit: First Night New Jersey.)
BALAM, a New York City-based company, offers a new vision of contemporary dance by combining diverse cultural dance styles from around the world and time periods with Balinese theatre. This latest cross-cultural program features these artists from Indonesia, Japan and the United States: Nani Devi, Toshinori Hamada, Yumiko Niimi, Carlos Fittante, Robin Gilbert and guest cellist Lisa Terry (left), Artistic Director of Parthenia, A Consort of Viols. Performers will dance in beautiful vibrantly colored traditional and fusion costumes.
The program spotlights a range of dance forms and movements from around the world. These include Oleg Tambulilingan (Love Dance of the Bumblebees), a scintillating Balinese courtship dance, and Hagoromo (Angel Dance), a Japanese Noh theatre masked solo dance. The Gran Chacona, a whimsical duet, transports the audience to 19th century Andalusia in Spain utilizing the Chacona, a wildly popular music and dance from the 18th century, with original choreography using the Spanish Escuela Bolera technique and castanets. A live music segment offers excerpts from Sebastian Bach’s acclaimed Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major. (Above, right: Carlos Fittante and Robin Gilbert Photo Credit: Eric Bandiero)
BALAM Dance Theatre debuts the newly commissioned salsa duet, Fantasia de Amor, choreographed by master salsero (salsa dance expert) Carlos Konig. This piece is performed with music by Venezuelan salsa singer Eric Franchesky. The audience will also be invited to learn and try some movements. (Left: Toshinori Hamada performs a Noh Theatre solo. Photo Credit: BALAM Dance Theatre)
Founded by choreographer and movement researcher, Islene Pinder, BALAM Dance Theatre offers a new vision of contemporary dance that is rooted in the dazzling opulence and magical aura of Balinese theatre.
The New York City-based dance/theatre company creates a unique entertainment experience that has universal appeal. Audiences of all ages and backgrounds enjoy BALAM’s innovative movement alchemy where dynamic athleticism, detailed skills, and movement techniques from around world are fused and enhanced by eclectic music, striking masks, vibrant costumes and fantasy stories.
The company educates the community about dances and cultures throughout the world. Through its Out & About Series, free and affordable performances, workshops and creative events at the grassroots level are made available for families, children, students and community residents.
BALAM has been featured at numerous festivals and venues including First Night New York; Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival; Downtown Dance Festival; and has also appeared throughout the United States and internationally. The company has received praise from the New York Times and Village Voice, the Governor and people of Bali and the Indonesian Consulate of New York, as well as others.
For further information, call 646-361-9183 or visit BALAM Dance Theatre on its blog, www.balamdancetheatre.blogspot.com, follow the company on Facebook, www.facebook.com/balamdancetheatre, and check for updates on Twitter @BALAMDance.
The Montclair Orchestra’s “French Connection: A Musical Tour of 18th-19th Century France” featured as season finale
French Connection: A Musical Tour of 18th-19th Century France
WHEN: Sunday, April 28, at 7 p.m.
WHERE: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 73 S. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair
TICKETS: $10-$50 and are available at the orchestra’s web site or by calling 973-435-2906.
For its last concert of the 2018-19 season, the Montclair Orchestra will take its audience on a journey back to the Classical and Romantic Eras in France. The orchestra’s French Connection performance will include works by Haydn, Berlioz and Bizet.
The program includes: Symphony No. 60 ‘Il Distratto’ by Joseph Haydn; Les nuits d’ete by Hector Berlioz; and Symphony in C by Georges Bizet.
Il Distratto (the distracted) was written by the Austrian-born Haydn in 1775. It is based on music he wrote for a five-act play, Le Distrait, by the French poet Jean-Francois Regnard. Berlioz’ Les nuits d’ete (nights of summer), composed in 1841, was written to accompany six poems by another French poet, Theophile Gautier, who was a friend and neighbor of the composer. The orchestra will be joined for this piece by Yungpeng Wang, a baritone who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Pacific Symphony. The final work in the program, Bizet’s Symphony in C, was completed in 1855. The French composer was only 17 when he wrote it, at the time a student at the Paris Conservatoire.
The Montclair Orchestra, now in its second season, is led by David Chan, concertmaster of the MET Orchestra. The up to 75-piece ensemble is made up of professional musicians from world class orchestras playing alongside student fellows from leading conservatories.
The professional musicians performing with the orchestra include: Quan Yuan, violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Yevgeny Faniuk, principal flute with the Reading Symphony Orchestra and frequent guest member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; and Harry Searing, bassoonist, who has performed numerous times with the New York Philharmonic and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
The Montclair Orchestra is a developmental orchestra with fellowships for students from the top conservatories in the area including The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes School of Music, Montclair State University’s Cali School of Music, and Rutgers’ Mason-Gross School of the Arts.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
WHEN: Monday, April 29, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
WHERE: Temple B’nai Abraham, 300 East Northfield Road, Livingston, NJ
ADMISSION: No charge but registration required at www.tbanj.org or by calling 973-994-2290.
Screening to be followed by a brief discussion on menstrual equity and current legislation in New Jersey. Coffee and dessert. Please bring a box of pads or tampons to be donated to The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County.
Co-sponsored by The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Girls Helping Girls. Period. and NCJW/Essex.
Meet the Author
MOLLY BURACK ANNUAL LECTURE
WHEN: Thursday, May 2, 12:30pm. Dessert reception to follow.
WHERE: JCC, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange
ADMISSION: EVENT IS FREE. CLICK TO REGISTER
There will be a book signing following Ariel’s presentation
and books will be available for purchase.
For more information or to register, please contact Susan Wallenstein at
973-530-3474 or email@example.com
If you are unable to join us, please tune in on our Facebook page
for a live stream of this program.
Ariel Burger first met Elie Weisel at age fifteen, he became his student in his 20s, and his teaching assistant in his 30s. Based on twenty-five year’s worth of journal entries, five years of classroom notes, and interviews with Elie Weisel’s students from all over the world, this profoundly hopeful, thought provoking, and inspiring book takes us into Wiesel’s classroom, where the art of listening and storytelling conspire to keep memory alive. Burger gives us front-row seat to these remarkable exchanges.
This program is in memory of Molly Burack and is made possible through the generosity of her children. Molly was a beloved volunteer at JCC MetroWest for over 30 years.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
REVIEW: AFFECTING, POIGNANT MUSICAL ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS AND LOVE LIGHTS UP PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE STAGE
By Ruth Ross
A musical about mental illness—and a quirky one, at that—doesn’t sound like it would fly, but Benny & Joon, now receiving its East Coast premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse, succeeds mightily, way beyond its modest origins as a 1993 whimsical romantic comedy film starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson and Aidan Quinn. In the current version, music by Nolan Gasser and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein add an extra layer of nuance to this celebration of love in its various iterations: between parent-child, romantic partners and, above all, siblings. The result is a story that illuminates a difficult subject in a charming, endearing way.
Life for thirty-something Benny doesn’t seem to count for much. For the past 15 years, since the tragic accident that claimed his parents, he has assumed the role of caretaker of his high-functioning schizophrenic, albeit talented artist, sister Joon, who requires round-the-clock care. Sacrificing a personal life, he associates with only the guys who work at his auto repair shop; romance doesn’t exist for him. When Joon wins Sam, an eccentric who emulates the antics of the great silent movie comedian, Buster Keaton, in a poker game with Benny’s friends, Benny agrees to let him stay a few days while he decides whether to find another housekeeper or place Joon in a group home, something he hesitates to do because he fears her reaction. As Sam and Joon fall in love and think of a future together, Benny must come to terms with the siblings’ changing relationship and his own needs and desires.
The book, by Kirsten Guenther, portrays the effects of mental illness on patient and caretaker with a clear eye; we see the toll worrying about Joon all the time takes on Benny, the lonely life he leads and the upsetting effects of noise, hallucinations and a desire to harm herself has on Joon. The effect is lightened by the sometimes-droll situations the two experience and the love they have for one another. Sam’s eccentricities (among other things, he recites lines from films in character and announces the title and year the film appeared) often make us laugh out loud, but learning that, while sane, he escapes to movies to avoid verbal abuse and abandonment, our heart goes out to him. Guenther manages to give voice to these characters without being cute or icky.
The offbeat quality of the play is enhanced by Dane Laffrey’s scenic design, a “map” of the suburb in which Benny and Joon live, with different houses lighting up as the action moves there. Lighting by R. Lee Kennedy conveys the passage of time while Kai Harada’s sound gives us a glimpse of what’s going on inside Joon’s head.
Kudos too to director Jack Cummings III, who keeps the action humming along while allowing the emotion to shine, and Scott Rink, whose choreography is often surprising and always inventive.
Claybourne Elders is terrific as Benny, protective to a fault, lonely, repressed. His love for Joon is evident in the sweet childhood song they sing together; his attention to her need for routine is telegraphed in a song entitled “This, This, This,” in which the two go over the schedule for the day. When he does connect with a woman his own age—Ruthie, the waitress/actress Joon has fixed him up with (played with warmth by Tatiana Wechsler)—only to be overcome by his responsibilities to Joon, we ache for him. And when he finally faces his feelings for his late parents and the situation their accident has put him in, we feel the relief emanating from him and see a way for him to heal.
As Joon, Hannah Elless is maddeningly endearing, whether she’s painting, gluing red sequins to a cup, playing poker or directing traffic in a snorkel mask. Singing beautifully, she gives voice to the emotions Joon feels for her brother and Sam (“Happy”) and sticks up for her need for independence in the penultimate scene where she sings “Yes or No.”
But it’s Bryce Pinkham’s Sam who steals the show. As the first person we meet, strolling across the stage like Buster Keaton (he’s even wearing the actor’s porkpie hat and black suit), he sets the stage for the whimsicality and eccentricity that follow. Performing a ballet on roller skates while grilling cheese with an iron, dancing and juggling videotapes with the video store owner, and spouting lines from old movies, Pinkham is a master of physical comedy. But it’s not all pratfalls: He lets us see Sam’s wounded soul and need for love and understanding.
Very able support is furnished by Colin Hanlon (Mike), Paolo Montalban (Larry), Jacob Keith Watson (Waldo) and Natalie Toro (Dr. Cortez/Mrs. Smail), all of whom sing and dance very well.
If you’re looking for big musical and dance numbers, Benny and Joon isn’t for you. But if you seek a heartfelt play with music and plain-spoken lyrics that tackles the hard problem of mental illness, performed by a cast of talented actors who can really sing and dance, you won’t want to miss Benny and Joon. In the past, the Paper Mill Playhouse has been known for its big productions of Broadway musicals; it’s a real treat for a theater-loving audience to experience something new in tone, execution and subject. This charming, endearing show will enchant you. And take the your teenagers, too. It’s a great way to talk about mental illness and responsibility with them afterward.
Benny and Joon will be performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, through Sunday, May 5. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.376.7676 or visit www.PaperMill.org.
WHEN: from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM on Sunday, May 5 and Sunday, May 12; possible callbacks on Monday, May 13.
WHERE: Bernards Township Community Center, located at 289 South Maple Ave in Basking Ridge
Come audition for a rollicking production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors to be presented as part of Trilogy Repertory’s Plays in the Park program. The show runs July 11-13 and July 18-20 (all performances begin at 8 pm) at the Pleasant Valley Park Amphitheater in Basking Ridge.
These are open auditions for all adult male and female roles, and no prior experience is required. Characters range from age 20 to age 60+. Readings from the script will be provided.
If you have a brother or friend who looks like you, bring them along to your audition, as this hilarious play is based on the many complications and mistaken identities that take place when two sets of long-separated twins show up in the same place at the same time.
Contact Director Hank Barre at 908-872-6247 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Following up on their recent hard-hitting single "F The NRA," The Coathangers continue to assert themselves as one of the most vital and truth-seeking punk bands around with their new track "Step Back."
Taken from the forthcoming album The Devil You Know, out March 8 on Suicide Squeeze, the band explains that "Step Back" is a "reflection of the pain and helplessness that comes with loving someone who is lost in the fog of addiction. We have all been touched by the effects of drug and alcohol issues, which often leave us feeling bewildered. Lurking in the shadows all around us, addiction is the monster that has taken too many people we love away from us. This song is a plea to get them back."
"Step Back" video: https://youtu.be/OJFJ4bi50y8
The Devil You Know is available to pre-order here.
The band are presently on tour (dates below)
- Apr 17 - Asbury Park, NJ, Asbury Lanes ^
- Apr 18 - New York, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg ^
- Apr 19 - Washington, DC, DC9 ^
- Apr 20 - Philadelphia, PA, Underground Arts ^
- May 26 - Las Vegas, NV, Punk Rock Bowling
* w/ SadGirl
^ w/ Big Bite
The Coathangers photo by Jeff Forney
“Spring Training, People, Places, Play" art exhibit, reception and Babe Ruth's Granddaughter in Princeton
Spring Training: People, Places, Play
WHEN: on view April 22 through June 14; opening reception, Friday, April 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Gallery hours Monday-Friday,10 a.m.-5 p.m.
WHERE: D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton
To attend the opening reception, phone (609) 924-4646 or email@example.com to register.
Linda Ruth Tosetti, granddaughter of baseball legend Babe Ruth, will make a special appearance at the opening reception of D&R Greenway Land Trust’s newest exhibition. This wide-ranging collection involves the urban, the rural and the wild as outdoors settings for play. Internationally renowned sports artist and D&R Greenway Trustee James Fiorentino will unveil his newest portrait, “The Great Bambino,” evoking Ruth, legendary Yankee outfielder/pitcher and Hall of Famer. (Top: Bob Feller by James Fiorentino)
Original digital prints of this work, signed by both Tosetti and Fiorentino, may be purchased, supporting D&R Greenway’s mission. Both guests will share personal perspectives on Babe Ruth, 7-time World Series champion. Multi-media artwork, involving Sailing, swimming, fishing, strolling, kayaking and beyond, is being exhibited by Hana Aviv (right), Lisa Budd, Kate Leigh Cutler, Mike Dziomba (bottom), Bernie Hubert, Sean Kane, Jack Quinn, Laura Renner (below) and Ewa Zeller. Keep an eye out for two vintage gloves from the 1920’s—one bearing the acrylic portrait of Babe Ruth; the other featuring Yogi Berra.
“Land is the playing field for so many of our favorite pastimes. We are particularly thrilled to have Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti, here to celebrate,” declares D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. She praises this unique collection as “an ideal way to celebrate our 30th year anniversary of preserving New Jersey land.” Since 1989, D&R Greenway has been “ensuring bountiful local crops, protecting streams, and increasing spaces for both sports and individual enjoyment of the outdoors. Lands we preserve and steward enrich our communities in many ways –conservation, food, recreation itself,” continues Mead. “From my office, I see children playing soccer and softball in the fields of Greenway Meadows. Families in vivid gear sled our snowy hill in winter. We want this art to remind everyone that play is an important part of who we are as people on the land.”
“My grandfather’s relaxation was getting out in nature,” says Linda Tosetti, from her Connecticut home. “Whether to fish, hunt or just hike, --being outdoors was his solace. After a busy stretch of games, he used the outdoors to recharge.”
Tosetti wasn’t born when her grandfather died in 1947. She has spent significant time reading about him, lifelong. She feels she knows baseball’s “Sultan of Swat” better than if she had actually grown up in his presence. “I have been fortunate to meet people who knew Babe. They say I have his mannerisms. Some go so far as to say that meeting me is like meeting him. I know he hit home runs. But, as his granddaughter, I’m more interested in how he felt when he did that.” Tosetti is looking forward to answering questions about her grandfather.
James Fiorentino joined the D&R Greenway board after his highly successful exhibition of endangered wildlife art at the Johnson Education Center, which went on to a nationwide tour, ending at the Salmagundi Club, “a center for American art since 1871.” James increasingly paints endangered animals, in addition to his fame as portraitist of sports figure. “I love being able to connect with people who appreciate both the land and sports,” Fiorentino declares. “Babe simply means baseball,” he asserts, having played this sport at Drew University. “As a Yankee fan there is no greater legend -- a great person off the field as well as on.” Having met Babe Ruth’s granddaughter more than a decade ago, during induction weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Fiorentino is delighted that she will share the unveiling of “The Great Bambino” at the D&R Greenway reception. His 11-by-14-inch original watercolor is available in a limited edition of 100 giclees, [digital prints], of the same size, sporting Tosetti’s and Fiorentino’s signatures. At $150 each, $50 will support D&R Greenway’s preservation and stewardship mission.
James Fiorentino met Joe DiMaggio, when the artist was fourteen, signing his portrait of “Joltin’ Joe.” A year later, at age 15, Fiorentino was the youngest artist featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Fiorentino’s likeness of Reggie Jackson was hung beside portraits by Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol. Fiorentino’s Roberto Clemente portrait was acquired by the museum for its permanent collection. For decades, the artist has created scores of baseball cards for Topps, Upper Deck and Kellogg. His skill has been honored with commissions from Ted Williams and Cal Ripken. Other greats who turned to James Fiorentino for his unique artistry include Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Muhammed Ali, Congressman John Lewis, Buzz Aldrin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and hundreds of contemporary athletes. His current emphasis on endangered species in our country brought Fiorentino to D&R Greenway, whose focus has always been open land, especially as habitat.
“We do so much more than preserve land,” says D&R Greenway Gallery Curator Diana Moore. “We steward the land as a place where people can interact, whether walking, boating or picking up a game. We want to highlight the fun people have on preserved land. These multi-faceted artists get us hooked into their world, whether painting on baseball gloves, capturing a quiet moment by the sea or in a woods, amusing visual puns, or evocative slices of nature. “We can imagine Babe Ruth’s delight, seeing the wide variety of beautiful open places we have preserved,” says Mead. “We’re so pleased that James has made possible this vital connection among land, art, sports, and Linda Ruth Tosetti herself.”
YOU ARE US / AROHA NUI
WHEN: Wednesday, April 17. Doors at 7PM. Show begins at 7:30PM
WHERE: White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave, Jersey City
TICKETS: $25 or $10 (kids up to age 16)
LINK TO THE CHARITY:
On March 15th, 2019 the world listened in horror as the news spread of the terrorist attack on the two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Kiwis and their friends were devastated by the deadliest mass shooting in NZ's history.
Here's a way we can respond together:
This NY/NJ area concert is part of four concerts "YOU ARE US / AROHA NUI" happening in April to raise funds and donate all proceeds from sales to Our People, Our City Fund which was set up by the Christchurch Foundation to specifically help those affected by the terror attacks.
The performers—and you ticket buyers—will be stepping up together to help the devastated families - and you will also help show our support as one country, alongside and in fellowship with our NJ and NY area friends from the US and other countries.
Movie Night showing:
Gunfight at the OK Corral
With Special Bonus: Live performance from the cowboys of Wild West City before the movie!
WHEN: Wednesday April 17th, at 7:30PM
WHERE: Darress Theatre, 615 Main Street, Boonton
TICKETS: $12 at the door or you can purchase them on-line through Brown Paper Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4217658
For additional info, call the box office: 973-334-9292
WHEN: Monday, April 22 @ 7:30 PM
WHERE: 80 Hauxhurst Street, Weehawken
TICKETS: $10.00 Suggested Donation
No Reservations Necessary
"Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and Sir Henry Irving, famed British stage actor and inspiration for Stoker's title character, held a friendship that spanned more then twenty years. Irving was the leading actor at the Royal Lyceum Theater in London and Stoker the business manager. Their friendship was fraught with egos, jealousies and fierce competitive natures. The Necromancers weaves fact and fantasy together to present the last days of Irving's life."
Coming May 17 & 18: our annual benefit of 10 Minute Plays
with plays by John Patrick Shanley, Neil Labute, Richard Vetere, Nicole Pandolfo, Cynthia Babak, Perry Guzzi and more
by Gabriel Jason Dean
Directed by Ari Laura Kreith
WHEN: now through Sunday, May 5; Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday & Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3pm
WHERE: Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $16-39, and are available at LunaStage.org/Heartland or by calling 973-395-5551.
Heartland, now playing at Luna Stage, will extend through May 5. The new play, which opened April 4, has received audience and critical acclaim. Broadway World called it a “heartfelt masterpiece rife with comedic brilliance and the triumph of the human spirit.”
Heartland features Kareem Badr, Brian Corrigan, and Lipica Shah, giving what New Jersey Jewish News described as “formidable performances.” NJJN further describes the play by Gabriel Jason Dean as “searing…powerful… [a play] about relationships—how they are made and how they can break. Highly recommended."
Set in Omaha and Afghanistan, Heartland weaves back and forth through time, unraveling a mystery that illuminates the cost of defending an American Empire. NJ Arts Maven described it as exploring “compassion, responsibility, regret, redemption, forgiveness and, above all, love… [an] examination of the human heart…one you will talk about for days afterward.”
The production is directed by Luna’s Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith. It is the final play of Luna’s 2018-2019 Season and will close following this limited extension.
As Out in Jersey wrote, “Heartland is a double-edged title for the play. It refers to the center of the United States as a geographical area. But it also refers to the land where one’s heart lies, that place where one feels a sense of belonging and rightness. Both meanings are displayed in this thoughtful and emotional play. It is a privilege to watch fine actors at work in such a well written and well directed theatre piece. You owe it to yourselves to travel to the Heartland.”
Special events, including pre-show LunaLit book-related events and talk-backs with guest experts and members of the creative team, are scheduled throughout the run. The full schedule, including the schedule of talk-backs and events, is available at LunaStage.org/Heartland.
Part of NBJP's mission is to showcase the next generation of jazz musicians ... the future "greats!" This is a chance to see them NOW!
Sunday, April 14, 2019
By Ruth Ross
As I watched the tense plot of Gabriel Jason Dean’s drama, Heartland, unfold on Friday night at Luna Stage, I was struck by its similarity to Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, in which a young pilot’s death in World War II might be due to the corners his industrialist father cut when manufacturing airplane parts for the American military. This is not a criticism, for Dean has taken Miller’s prompt and run with it, setting his play in Omaha, Nebraska, and Maidan Shar, Afghanistan, and the time from October 2013 to March 2015 to produce a poignant, endearing, ultimately redemptive play about love. (Above: Lipica Shah, Kareem Badr and Brian Corrigan)
Heartland, the final offering of Luna Stage’s new Artistic Director Ari Laura Krieth’s inaugural season, recounts the final months in the life of Dr. Harold Banks, a retired professor who taught in Afghanistan during the 1970s and the father of Getee, the daughter he adopted in Pakistan. Dying of a cancer that robs him of words, Banks experiences psychological pain from a secret he’s withheld from his now 29-year-old daughter about his involvement 30 years before producing propagandistic textbooks for Afghan children that emphasized warlike Islamic teachings like jihad to foment Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion. When Getee returns to Nebraska (the country’s “heartland”) and angrily confronts her father about his complicity in the rise of the Taliban and its subsequent reign of terror in Afghanistan (making her “culpable of the murder” of her own people,” she says), a rift occurs, but Naz, who has come for the same reason, quotes the poet Rumi to say, “Love will find its way through all languages on its own.”
That sentiment sums up Luna’s entire 2018-2019 season wherein the plays produced have involved conversations across cultural divides, conversations “that create change and understanding,” as Krieth has noted in her program notes. In its regional premiere, Heartland achieves that ambitious goal. The trio of actors Krieth has cast performs superbly as an ensemble, convincing the audience that they are the characters they portray, reciting dialogue naturally and making us really care about the characters, no matter how they behave toward each other. Too, the intimacy of the little black box theater enhances the experience.
As an irascible Harold, Brian Corrigan (above, left) engenders our sympathy for a dying man, along with distaste for what he’s done. From the opening scene, where he searches for words while dictating (something many of us recognize as a “senior moment”) to the final scenes where glioblastoma, the cancer that killed Ted Kennedy and John McCain, cause him to utter total nonsense and reduce him to a near-corpse who, although unable to move, manages to croak out an apology, Corrigan conveys the nuances of character that enable a person to do the wrong things for what are believed to be the right reasons.
Kareen Badr’s Nazurllah enchants the audience just as he does Getee. Struggling with English, he’s alternately goofy and respectful of Getee; curious about The Diary of Anne Frank, the book she’s using to teach her female students to read English; and angry at discovering that the math textbook he used in school was propaganda produced by the United States to further the Cold War at the expense of Afghan children. He flirts with Getee, recites Rumi’s poetry, engages in a pillow fight with Harold and exhibits great chemistry—amorous and companionable—with the other two characters.
The third member of the cast, Lipica Shah (left, with Badr) as Getee, is equally as wonderful. Seesawing from one emotion to another, she charmingly fiddles with her head scarf, struggles adorably with the language (she has been raised as an American so is not fluent), playfully explains sarcasm to Naz and expresses outrage at what her father has done—all in a convincing performance that makes her fate all the more heartbreaking.
This production is to be congratulated on the blend of set, lighting and sound designs. Megan Culley has supplied Arabic-sounding music during scene changes; Jennifer Fok’s lighting is both atmospheric and functional to denote the two venues; and Jen Price Fick transports us from Omaha to Maidan Shar with just a few props, all moved on and off the in-the-round stage by the actors (who remain in character at all times). Deborah Caney’s costumes enhance the production without being too fussy; we immediately know where these characters stand by their attire. And the actors’ ability to speak Arabic is astonishing, as is Dean’s skill at interweaving that language with English, a feat enhanced with the help of Humaira Ghilzai, acting as Dean’s Cultural Consultant.
Heartland is filled with literary references (left, Fick’s set design), from Rumi’s poetry to Anne Frank’s Diary to Hemingway’s novella, The Old Man and the Sea. On the face of it, the latter two would seem to be odd choices for use in Afghanistan, a Muslim country and a land-locked one at that. Reading the Diary, the students (and Naz) learn to open up and express their emotions; The Old Man and the Sea teaches the value of friendship, the necessity of dignity and perseverance in the face of adversity. Perhaps these three works soften, even repudiate, the raw political cynicism of the textbooks produced by Banks and used by Nazurllah in school.
Gabriel Jason Dean’s play is a story of three teachers, each of whom educates the other two about compassion, responsibility, regret, redemption, forgiveness and, above all, love. Heartland is a sobering, playful, romantic examination of the human heart (the other meaning of “heartland”)—one you will talk about for days afterward, which is exactly what Luna Stage wants you to do.
Heartland will be performed at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange, through April 28. For tickets and information, go to www.lunastage.org online or call 973.395.5551.
Photos by Jody Christopherson.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Everything is Connected
WHEN: Thursday, April 18, from 7-8 p.m.
WHERE: Raritan Valley Community College, Center (Room C-010), 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg
ADMISSION: free of change and open to the public
For additional information, contact Emilie Stander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-526-1200, ext. 8344.
Performance artist, actor, podcast host, filmmaker and biblical scholar Peterson Toscano will playfully explore and interweave the serious worlds of gender, religion, LGBTQ issues and climate change.
Toscano (www.petersontoscano.com) is a comic actor who seamlessly shapeshifts into dozens of characters. In doing so, he asks unusual and stimulating questions such as, “What is a queer response to climate change?” and “How can comedy help us understand our most tragic losses?” “Everything is Connected” offers a unique take on how society perceives and grapples with climate change. It also reflects Toscano’s mission to connect with audiences in deeply personal ways, stirring up hope and purpose in a rapidly changing world.
Toscano has performed his hilarious and thought-provoking one-person shows all over the world, including England, South Africa, Norway, and Cuba. He has been featured in The New York Times, People magazine, The Times of London, the Tyra Banks Show, and NPR Morning Edition. His Bible scholarship has been featured in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America. His essay, “Transgender Gender During Passover,” appears in the Lambda Award-winning anthology, Gender Outlaws—The Next Generation. Peterson is the host of Citizens Climate Radio and the curator of ClimateStew.com. His film, Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible, has been screened internationally, most recently in Budapest, Hungary.
Toscano’s performance, sponsored by the College’s Sustainability Committee and supported by the RVCC Foundation, and is part of the month-long celebration of Earth Day.
Ranked by BestColleges.com, WalletHub.com, and Niche.com as the #1 community college in New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to a Planetarium, Science Education Institute and 3M Observatory; a 1,000-seat Theatre offering professional performances for all ages; and an Honors College for high achieving students.
The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, small business assistance through the Small Business Development Center, professional development, and adult and youth personal enrichment courses. RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.
The Price is Right Live™
WHEN: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 8pm
WHERE: 15 Livingston St., New Brunswick
For tickets, more information, or group discounts, call State Theatre Guest Services at 732–246–SHOW (7469), or visit us online at STNJ.org. State Theatre Guest Services, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm; Saturday from 1pm to 5pm; and at least three hours prior to curtain on performance dates unless otherwise specified. Additional ticket and transaction fees may apply.
The Price Is Right Live™ is the hit interactive stage show that gives eligible individuals the chance to “Come On Down” and play classic games from television's most popular game show. Contestants can win cash, appliances, vacations and possibly even a new car by playing favorites like Plinko™, Cliffhangers™, The Big Wheel™, and the fabulous Showcase.
Showing to near sold out audiences for more than 10 years, The Price Is Right Live™ has given away over 12 million dollars in cash and prizes to lucky audience members all across North America.
The Price is Right™ is the longest running game show in television history and loved by generations of viewers. This on-stage travelling version gives fans the chance to experience the same thrilling excitement of winning big, up close and in-person.
WANT TO PLAY? NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of 50 United States and Canada (excluding Puerto Rico & Quebec), 18 years or older. Ticket purchase will not increase your chances of being selected to play. To register for chance to be a contestant, visit registration area at or near State Theatre New Jersey Guest Services 3 hours prior to show time. For complete rules & regulations, including eligibility requirements visit or call Guest Services at 732-246-7469. To enter theater to watch show, a ticket purchase is required. Sponsored by Good Games Live, Inc. Void where prohibited. Price is Right Live™/© 2018 FremantleMedia. All Rights Reserved.
About State Theatre New Jersey
The theater exists to enrich people’s lives, contribute to a vital urban environment, and build future audiences by presenting the finest performing artists and entertainers and fostering lifetime appreciation for the performing arts through arts education. State Theatre New Jersey’s programs are made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund. United is the official airline of the State Theatre.
Beethoven & The Baroque
WHEN: Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Dolan Hall, The Annunciation Center, at The College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road in Morristown, NJ.
TICKETS: $40, adults; $30, senior; and $5 students, under 22 with ID. Tickets can be obtained by visiting the Orchestra’s web site www.baroqueorchestra.org or by calling the office, 973-366-8922; or at the door on the day of the performance.
The concert features a suite from Handel’s Water Music, Mozart’s Flute Concerto in D and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
"I look forward to conducting the music of Handel, Mozart and Beethoven," Maestro Butts explained, "They are three of my favorite composers. While Handel was a composer of what is called the Baroque Era (1600-1750) and Mozart and Beethoven were part of the Classical Era (1750-1827), Handel's music was a major influence on both later composers. Mozart re-orchestrated several of Handel's works - including Messiah for concerts produced by Baron von Sweiten in Vienna. Beethoven held that Handel was one of the greatest of all composers."
“Handel's Water Music consists of three suites of mostly dance movements. For our concert, we will perform a bouree, hornpipe, sarabande and rigadon.”
"Mozart's flute concertos are wonderful," Maestro Butts continued. "They are so vibrant and so filled with life." Mozart's Concerto in D Major will feature flutist Mei Stone, winner of the 2018 Pearl & Julius Young Music Competition.
Ms. Stone, currently a student at Julliard, is principal flutist of the New York Youth Symphony. She performs with the Julliard orchestra and other music groups at Julliard.
"Beethoven's Violin Concerto is one of the repertoire's most wonderful works," Maestro Butts said in conclusion. "It is filled with unforgettable melodies, challenging technical passages, poignant beauty, and a final filled with verve and vitality." Beethoven’s Violin Concerto will feature guest artist Lisa Romain as violin soloist.
Ms. Romain is based in Budapest where she performs as a member of the Concerto Budapest orchestra and with chamber groups. Previous solo performances in the US by her include Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto at Lincoln Center and Bach and Mozart concertos with the Sussex Symphony.