A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 6:
• “My Very Own British Invasion” — a jukebox musical based on the experiences of Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits) and featuring songs by that group and other pop, rock and R&B stars of the ’60s — will have its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, with previews startings on Jan. 31, the official opening night on Feb. 10, and the last show on March 3. It’s subtitled “A Musical Fable of Rock ‘n’ Love.” Rick Elice — whose credits include “Jersey Boys,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The Cher Show” — wrote the book.
• Playmate Playwrights will present “Love Is Strange,” six one-act play readings on that theme, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. at the Hopewell Theater. Works by Jonathan Chiccino, Joanne Eisenberg, Meghan Malloy, Jennifer Nelson and Susan Sandor will be included, and Joey Perillo will direct them all. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to email@example.com by 10 a.m. Feb. 1 with the word “Love” in the subject line.)
• Eva Noblezada, who was nominated for a Tony for her work in the 2017 Broadway revival of “Miss Saigon,” and will be in the upcoming Broadway production of Anaïs Mitchell’s “Hadestown,” will perform at Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the Kean Stage series.
• The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will present its first Chinese New Year Celebration, ushering in the Year of the Pig, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark. The program will include the traditional Dragon Dance; Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture; Tan Dun’s The Triple Resurrection; Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore; Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy; Puccini’s “Humming Chorus” from Madama Butterfly and “Jasmine Chorus” from Turandot; and the traditional Chinese song “Farewell” (arranged by Nicholas Hersh). NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct, and featured musicians will include Min Kwon on piano, Eric Wyrick on violin and Jonathan Spitz on cello. The supporting cast will include the Peking University Alumni Chorus, the New York Festival Singers, the Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and the Edison Chinese School Lion Dance Team.
• Four original cast members of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” — Christian Hoff (who won a Tony playing Four Seasons member Tommy DeVito), Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria — have continued touring and recording together as The Midtown Men, with a repertoire featuring songs by the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Temptations and more. They’ll perform at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.; and at BergenPAC in Englewood (with a guest appearance by the Show Choir from BergenPAC’s Performing Arts School), Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets to the BergenPAC show, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight Jan. 31 with the word “Midtown” in the subject line.)
• The new Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater will launch its first full season with an innovative “East meets West” take on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale of a boy raised in the wild, “The Jungle Book.” Shows are scheduled for Feb. 2 and 9 at 8 p.m., Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 10 at 1 and 5 p.m. at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. This production will feature original music by composer and sitar player Neel Murgai in addition to classical and folk music, and the form of classical Indian dance known as Bharatanatyam as well as contemporary contemporary ballet. Murgai and tabla player Shivalik Goshal, who are both members of the Brooklyn Raga Massive, with perform onstage, and music director Jason Tramm is arranging the score and will lead a small ensemble of string players. Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater artistic director Gabriel Chajnik and Sudha Shekhar Devulapalli, founder of the Kalanjali School of Dance, are working on the choreography together. (see video below)
• The second annual Dance Union Festival will take place at the Hamilton Stage at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, Feb. 1-3, with classes for students at all levels, community events and a show, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m., with performances by Carolyn Dorfman Dance, Buggè Ballet, Contento Dance, Rahway Dance Theatre, The Well Performance Project and LeAnn Yannelli Dance, as well as high school students. (For a chance to win two tickets to the Feb. 3 show, send an email to email@example.com by 10 a.m. Feb. 1 with the word “Dance” in the subject line.)
• The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company celebrates the Year of the Pig with traditional and new dance numbers, and music, at Chinese New Year’s Celebration shows at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC, Feb. 2-3 at 2 p.m. (see video below)
• The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank will host an open-to-the-public taping for the upcoming eighth season of the Lifetime reality series “Dance Moms,” focusing on young dancers and their mothers, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• The public art program Windows of Understanding, in conjunction with Rutgers University and AARP New Jersey, will present a free workshop and seminar titled “Honoring Our Differences in a Diverse and Changing World,” led by writer, filmmaker and diversity trainer Lee Mun Wah, Feb. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Busch Student Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The event is part of the programming for the city-wide social justice public art project, Windows of Understanding: We See Through Hate. One can register for the program at aarp.cvent.com/HonoringOurDifferences. According to a press release, the program “will engage participants in a rich intergenerational and intersectional dialogue about ageism, racism, LGBQ/Trans-issues, and other issues and challenges that are faced today in our communities, neighborhoods, institutions, schools, and sometimes even our homes.”
In addition, Windows of Understanding artwork will be on display in venues throughout New Brunswick and Highland Park through Feb. 28, and there will also be walking tours, poetry readings, film screenings and more. For information, visit windowsofunderstanding.org.
Jungle book (1) from gabriel on Vimeo.
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