Top 10 Arts Events of the Week: NJ Lottery Festival of Ballooning, Crossing Borders Festival, more

TODD Rundgren balloon preview


Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Aug. 4.


The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, taking place 29-31 at Solberg Airport in Readington, also offers daily music, with this year’s artists including Laurie Berkner (July 29 at 1:30 p.m.), Vegas McGraw, paying tribute to Tim McGraw (July 29 at 3 p.m.), Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band Dance Candy (July 29 at 5:15 p.m.), Collective Soul (July 29 at 8 p.m.), Spice Girls tribute act Simply Spice (July 30 at 5 p.m.), Todd Rundgren (July 30 at 8 p.m.), Kansas (July 31 at 3:30 p.m.) and Neil Young tribute band Sugar Mountain (July 31 at 5 p.m.).

The festival, now in its 39th year, bills itself as the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, with up to 100 hot air balloons ascending twice each day and many other family-oriented activities.

• Treach, lead rapper of East Orange-based hip-hop group Naughty by Nature (best known for ’90s hits such as “O.P.P,” “Hip Hop Hooray” and “Feel Me Flow”), will perform on his own at the Sounds of the City series, taking place outdoors at NJPAC in Newark, Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. Rapper Tray Chaney (also an actor whose roles have included the drug dealer Poot on “The Wire”) will open.

• Kelli Rabke presents “Tiny Giants: The Broadway Edition,” a new version of her “Tiny Giants: Petite Powerhouses from Garland to Gaga” show, Aug. 3-6 at 7 p.m. at the Brookside Cabaret at the Carriage House Restaurant at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. The veteran cabaret, concert and theater performer’s Broadway credits include “Les Misérables” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”


Jazz and blues singer Antoinette Montague will perform songs from the Great American songbook — with pianist Danny Mixon, bassist Melissa Slocum, drummer Bobby Sanabria, saxophonist George Ghee and tap dancer AC Lincoln — at the Alice Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, at the Newark Museum of Art, July 29 at 7 p.m. This is one of a series of events being presented by the museum in conjunction with its current exhibitions, “Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic” and “Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection.”

Montague and her group, who perform under the name The Antoinette Montague Experience, will also perform outdoors at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, July 30 at 8 p.m.

The New Jersey Festival Orchestra will present concerts cleverly titled “An American AND Paris” this week, both outdoors (at Hertell Gardens in Westfield, July 30 at 8 p.m.) and indoors (at the Fellowship Cultural Arts Center in Basking Ridge, July 31 at 2:30 p.m.).

NJFO music director David Wroe will conduct the orchestra in a program that includes George Gershwin’s 1928 An American in Paris (which inspired the 1951 movie of the same name) as well as works by French composers Camille Saint-Saëns (The Carnival of the Animals) and Claude Debussy (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) and Englishman Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. NJFO concertmaster Brennan Sweet will be featured on violin on The Lark Ascending.

Pianist Xifei Xu will give pre-concert talk about the evening’s program at 6:30 p.m. in Westfield, and at 1:30 p.m. in Basking Ridge.

The Tennessee-based country duo Young Fables (Laurel Wright and Wesley Lunsford), will perform at Ross Farm in Basking Ridge, July 30 at 7 p.m., with a screening of a documentary about them, “The Fable of a Song,” following. Young Fables was selected by Shania Twain to appear on USA’s music competition show, “Real Country,” in 2018.


Christine Andreas, Tony-nominated for “Oklahoma!” and “On Your Toes,” will team up with singer-saxophonist Danny Bacher, pianist Art Topilow and multi-instrumentalist Vince Giordano for a show titled “Broadway Jazz,” July 31 at the outdoor deck at Bell Works in Holmdel.


The Two River Theater in Red Bank presents, from Aug. 4 to 7, its annual “Crossing Borders Festival (Cruzando Fronteras)” at Two River Theater, Red Bank, with free daily readings of new plays by Latinx writers, plus a concert by Colombian singer-songwriter Alea, Aug. 6 at 8 p.m., and a “community kick-off event,” Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. in Red Bank’s Johnny Jazz Park, with food from local restaurants and music from local artists.

In a press release, curator José Zayas describes the plays as “ranging from a lyrical intergenerational love story to a haunted house narrative to a sharp satire on the madness of identity politics in showbusiness. … I love how different these stories are and how these playwrights continue to expand and challenge our perceptions of what it means to be Latinx.”

Jimmy Buffett songs such as “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and “Come Monday” can be heard in the jukebox musical “Escape to Margaritaville,” which will be produced at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, Aug. 2-7, 9-14 and 16-21. The musical, which has played on Broadway and elsewhere since 2017, is about a fun-loving musician who falls in love, and features some new material written by Buffett.


“Jurassic Quest,” a touring exhibition featuring more than 100 life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs as well as interactive, dinosaur-related activities, comes to the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, July 29-31, as well as the Atlantic City Convention Center, Aug. 5-7.


“Much Ado About Nothing,” presented by Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at St. Elizabeth University, Florham Park. (Through July 31)

“Mud Row,” presented by Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union. (Through July 31)

“Ecstatic Decrepitude,” works by Peter Schumann at ArtYard, Frenchtown. (Through July 31)

“Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic” at Newark Museum of Art. (Through Aug. 21)

“Maxwell Mustardo: Dish-Oriented” at Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton. (Through Sept. 4)

“For the Culture, by the Culture: Thirty Years of Black Art, Activism, and Achievement” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Sept. 25)


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