Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical,’ The Seldom Scene, more

Nina Simone new Brunswick

A new musical about the late Nina Simone will have its world premiere at the George Street Playhouse.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Jan. 29:


“Little Girl Blue — The Nina Simone Musical,” which explores the life and music of the iconic singer (and 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee), begins previews at the George Street Playhouse on Jan. 29, officially opens on Feb. 1, and runs through Feb. 24. (see video below) This will be a world premiere. Laiona Michelle, who co-starred in “American Hero” at the New Brunswick theater last year, wrote the book for the musical, and will star in it. Simone, whose distinctive vocal style blended elements of soul, jazz, blues and classical music, was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and died in 2003, at the age of 70.

Two-time Emmy Award winner Andre Braugher (honored for his work in “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Thief”) and Michele Pawk (a Tony winner for “Hollywood Arms”) will co-star in “Tell Them I’m Still Young,” a drama that the American Theater Group will present, in its world premiere, at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Jan. 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2 at 8 p.m., and Jan. 27 and Feb. 2-3 at 3 p.m.



• The Seldom Scene, a Maryland-based group that helped create the progressive bluegrass genre in the ’70s, will perform at Roy’s Hall in Blairstown, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., with Serene Green opening. The group’s lineup has undergone many changes over the years and now includes Lou Reid on mandolin, Dudley Connell on guitar, Ronnie Simpkins on bass, Fred Travers on dobro and Ron Stewart on banjo and fiddle.

Roxy and Dukes in Dunellen will host a benefit for the pancreatic cancer charity, The Autumn Leaves Project (founded by singer-songwriter and producer Butch Walker), Jan. 26 at 7 p.m., with sets by Kris Rodgers & the Dirty Gems, Soraia, The Anderson Council, Paige Howell and Stinky & the Spuds. The benefit was organized by Patrick Ryan, a Scotch Plains resident who is a fan of Walker’s, and who has been helped by The Autumn Leaves Project.

• The Lords of 52nd Street, featuring former Billy Joel Band members Richie Cannata (saxophone), Liberty DeVitto (drums) and Russell Javors (guitar), will perform at the Newton Theatre, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.

Allison Shapira and Kipyn Martin will pay tribute to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, respectively, and also perform some of their own songs as well at the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series at Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.



Pianist Daniil Trifonov will join the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for “Winter Festival: Music Speaks” concerts at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.; the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.; and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct the orchestra in a program that includes Schumann’s Piano Concerto; Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra; and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy.

The China National Traditional Orchestra, which describes itself as China’s top traditional orchestra, will present a program titled “Image China” — featuring Jiang Ying’s “Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage,” performed with traditional Chinese instruments — at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m.


• George Lopez will perform at BergenPAC in Englewood, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. The comedian and actor has starred in the television series “George Lopez,” “Lopez,” “Lopez Tonight” and “The Comedy Get Down,” and the BergenPAC show is part of his The Wall World Tour, named after his 2017 HBO special. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to by midnight Jan. 24 with the word “Lopez” in the subject line.)


The Two River Theater in Red Bank will present “A Little Shakespeare: Macbeth” — a 75-minute version of the classic tragedy, performed by high school students and intended for audiences 9 years old and older, Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2 at 7 p.m., and Jan. 26-27 and Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. In conjunction with this production, Bow Tie Cinemas will present a free screening of Two River Theater’s 2008 production of “Macbeth” (directed by and featuring magic designed by Teller of the magic and comedy team, Penn & Teller), Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


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