Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Colin Quinn, ‘The Big Picture,’ more



A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 5:


• Colin Quinn presents a new show, “The Wrong Side of History,” Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, with Tim Gage opening. In an interview with The Aquarian, he described the show as “kind of about how everyone just thinks … they’re on the right side of history, you know? It’s a miraculous human quality where you always think, ‘Well, I’m not like these people … at least I’m basically good’ … everyone feels that way, so it’s kind of an interesting conflict that it causes.”


Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark will present a show titled “Art of the Protest Song,” Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Bill Valenti will host and give a brief overview of the topic. He’ll also perform along with fellow singer-songwriters Tess Lira, Frank Lombardi, Natalia Zukerman and ALICIA.

The Montclair Orchestra will perform at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. The concert will have a “Concerto Grosso” format, meaning that a small group of soloists will play with a larger ensemble. The orchestra’s music director, David Chan, will conduct, and the program will include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major and Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major; Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 1; and Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète (1947 version).

Trey McLaughlin and members of The Sounds of Zamar.

Trey McLaughlin & the Sounds of Zamar performs gospel tunes in a traditional style, but also broadens the genre’s parameters by incorporating into its repertoire pop songs such as Prince’s “I Would Di 4 You” (which becomes “Jesus Died for You”) and material from musicals such as “The Lion King” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” The group was formed in Georgia about a decade ago, and has a big YouTube following; “Zamar” is a Hebrew word meaning “to make music of praise.” The group will perform at the Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the Kean Stage series. (see video below)

Blues-rocker Debra Devi will perform with her band and also give a talk based on her book, “The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu,” Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at the 1867 Sanctuary Arts & Culture Center in Ewing.


Choreographer Paul Taylor, who died in 2018, created not only the Paul Taylor Dance Company, but also Taylor 2, a smaller ensemble. According to its web site, this group was founded “to ensure that his works could be seen by audiences all over the world regardless of economic considerations and the logistical limitations of non-traditional venues”; for it, he “chose dances that reveal the broad spectrum of his work, sometimes reworking the original version to fit the smaller ensemble.” Taylor 2 will perform at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.

Taylor 2 also performs at the Kean Stage series at the Wilkins Theatre at Kean University in Union, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.


In conjunction with its current, innovative production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” the Two River Theater in Red Bank will present “A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night,” Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 and 7-8 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 1-2 and 8-9 at 2 p.m. This is an abridged, 75-minute version of the play, performed and supported backstage by high school students, and directed and designed by theater professionals.


This week’s Academy Awards takes place Feb. 9 in Hollywood, and you can prepare for some of the less prominent categories at the Hopewell Theater, which will show Oscar-nominated short films in the categories of Live Action, Jan. 31 and Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.; Animation, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. and Feb. 2 at 4 p.m.; and Documentary, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 8 at noon.



A concert reading of “The Big Time,” a new musical comedy with a book by Douglas Carter Beane and a score and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen, will be presented at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. Beane’s credits include “Sister Act,” “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “Xanadu,” “The Nance” and “The Little Dog Laughed.”

According to a press release, the premise of the musical is: “It’s the height of the Cold War when Russian spies take over an ocean liner holding all of NATO, leaving the fate of the world in the hands of two lounge singers.”

The show, which is part of the Princeton Pops series, will include musicians from the Princeton Symphony Orchestra plus a star-studded cast, including Tony winners Santino Fontana and Debbie Gravitte, as well as Tony nominees Laura Osnes and Will Swenson, and Emmy nominee Jackie Hoffman.

Monmouth Players presents Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. This is part of the company’s “Weekends of Women” series, described on its web site as “three engaging, gripping, and reaffirming plays exploring strong female characters.”

The series will continue with Jack Heifner’s “Vanities,” Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.; and Marsha Norman’s ” ‘Night, Mother,” Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.


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