Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Montclair Film’s ‘Divas Dance Party,’ ‘Trump vs. Bernie,’ more

Montclair Film Divas

Montclair Film will present a “Divas Dance Party” at the Wellmont Theater, Feb. 22.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 26:


Montclair Film will raise money for its year-round film and education programs with a “Divas Dance Party,” taking place at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. This is an annual event for Montclair Film and, as usual, Joe McGinty & the Loser’s Lounge will serve as the house band, with guest performances by actor Patrick Wilson, musician and author Warren Zanes, and others. According to the Montclair Film website the show will “celebrate the magic of pop divas from a wide range of styles and genres, from Aretha Franklin to Madonna, Donna Summer to Lizzo and beyond.”

Baritone Keith Spencer will team up with the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey for a show titled “Brothers on Broadway” and described as “A tribute to Broadway’s African-American leading men, including legends such as Sammy Davis Jr., Cab Calloway, Ben Vereen, Paul Robeson, Gregory Hines, and more,” Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton.

• Marc Ribot — best known for his guitar playing with Tom Waits though he has also worked with Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and others — will perform with the Young Philadelphians, featuring former Ornette Coleman collaborators Jamaaladeen Tacuma (bass) and Calvin Weston (drums) at the Sharp Theater at the Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts at Ramapo College in Mahwah, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. The show, which is the ninth annual Les Paul Festival concert, is described on the venue’s web site as “an evening of mind-blowing harmolodic punk-funk of Ornette Coleman’s first Prime Time band and the sweet, optimistic pulse of 1970s Philly Soul.”


Trumpeter Rodney Marsalis — a cousin of Wynton and Branford — brings his Philadelphia Big Brass ensemble to the Margaret Williams Theatre at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. According to a press release, the band will “perform music ranging from the streets of New Orleans to Baroque to pop,” and the show “presents a look at music styles from many cultures including a Mardi Gras Celebration.” Mardi Gras Day is Feb. 25 this year. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with the word “Brass” in the subject line to by noon Feb. 21.)

Pianist James Austin Jr. and his trio will perform music from his Stevie Wonder tribute album, Songs in the Key of Wonder, and more at free shows at the Summit Free Public Library, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.; and the Montclair Public Library, Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

• Taméca Jones — who lives in Austin, Texas, and has been called “The Queen of Austin Soul” — performs at the Hopewell Theater, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. A former member of the band 8 Million Stories, Jones appeared as a guest duet partner on Gary Clark Jr.’s 2015 album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with the word “Tameca” in the subject line to by noon Feb. 21.)


The London-based Richard Alston Dance Company, which has announced plans to close after its spring tour, will perform at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 3 p.m., as part of the Peak Performances series. The program will include the American premieres of two Alston-choreographed dances (“Voices and Light Footsteps” and “Shine On”) as well as the American premiere of Martin Lawrance’s “Detour (Part I & II),” and Alston’s “Brahms Hungarian.”



• Yvonne Orji, the Nigerian-American comedian and actress who co-stars as Molly Carter in the HBO series “Insecure,” brings her “Lagos to Laurel” standup tour to the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders — portrayed by comedians Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian, respectively — will debate each other at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. The White Eagle Hall website describes “Trump vs. Bernie” as taking place in “a town hall-like setting where (Trump and Sanders) go head to head on the most pressing issues facing America.” Atamanuik starred as Trump in the 2017 Comedy Central series, “The President Show,” which also featured Adomian as Sanders; Comedy Central also aired two “President Show” specials in 2018. Atamanuik and Adomian have toured before, as Trump and Sanders, and made a joint appearance as those characters on SiriusXM satellite radio’s “The Howard Stern Show.” They also released an album, Trump vs. Bernie: Live in Brooklyn, in 2016.


Peter Funt is the son of the late Allen Funt, who created and hosted “Candid Camera” — a TV show that, in many ways, was the first reality show. Peter Funt has also hosted and produced later versions of the show, himself. Peter Funt will bring a show titled “Candid Camera’s LOL Tour” and featuring classic clips and stories to the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.


Jersey-based film critic Caroline Madden will sign copies of her book, “Springsteen as Soundtrack: The Sound of The Boss in Film and Television,” at the Words! bookstore in Asbury Park, Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. According to the event’s Facebook page, the book “looks closely at how thirteen film and television shows use Bruce Springsteen’s music to color narrative, shape visuals, and voice characters’ thoughts. Each relate to the essential themes found across Springsteen’s decades-long body of work such as the road, working class oppression, and the Vietnam War.”


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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