Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Philip Roth Unbound,’ Patti LuPone, NJ Festival Orchestra, more

by JAY LUSTIG
philip roth festival preview

PHILIP ROTH

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through March 23.

WORDS

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Newark Public Library will co-present “Philip Roth Unbound,” a three-day festival that, according to a press release, “will celebrate, challenge and explore the life, legacy and work of” Roth, the writer who died in 2018 and would have turned 90 on March 19.

The festival takes place March 17-19, mainly at NJPAC and the library, but also with bus tours of Newark and an event at Hobby’s Delicatessen.

Among the festival’s offerings will be a dramatic reading of an abridged version of Roth’s 2004 novel “The Plot Against America,” featuring Eric Bogosian, Jane Kaczmarek, S. Epatha Merkerson, Cynthia Nixon, Peter Riegert, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Waterston and others; and a preview of scenes from a stage adaptation of Roth’s 1995 novel “Sabbath’s Theater,” featuring John Turturro and Jason Kravits.

For the complete schedule, visit rothunbound.org.

MUSIC

The New Jersey Festival Orchestra, conducted by David Wroe, will present a concert titled “John Williams and the Music of the Silver Screen” — featuring soundtrack music by Williams (“Jaws,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, etc.) and other composers — March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Church in Springfield. The concert will raise funds for the grief support center, Imagine.

RAHAV

PATTI LuPONE

Powerhouse singer Patti LuPone — who released a live album, Don’t Monkey With Broadway, in 2017, featuring musical theater classics such as “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Being Alive,” “Something’s Coming” and “Some People,” as well as stories about her life and career — will present a show with the same title, March 23 at 8 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood, and March 25 at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The Belmar Arts Council plans to install a weatherproof piano to Belmar’s Pyanoe Plaza in honor of original E Street Band pianist David Sancious and his mother, Stelma, who also played piano. (Stelma Sancious allowed David and his friends, including Bruce Springsteen, to rehearse in the garage of her house on E Street in Belmar; this is how the E Street Band got its name.) A fundraiser for this project will be held at D’Jais Bar and Grill in Belmar, March 19 from noon to 7 p.m., with Holme (featuring Bobby Bandiera), The Pat Roddy Band, Stringbean & the Boardwalk Social Club, Tommy B & the Deep Blue Sea, Nikki Arrowsmith & Friends, The Danny White Band and others.

The Princeton Folk Music Society presents the duo Rakish — who play Irish, Scottish and American folk music — at Christ Congregation Church in Princeton, March 17 at 8 p.m. The duo, whose name is derived from the traditional fiddle tune “Rakish Paddy,” features violinist Maura Shawn Scanlin and guitarist Conor Hearn; Scanlin is a two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion and a winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Competition.

Incidentally, the concert will be streamed live on the Princeton Folk Music Society YouTube channel.

FAMILY

The Livingston Symphony Orchestra will present a family concert titled “Phil-Harmonic Grows Up” — and featuring music from Disney movies and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” as well as Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav in B Flat Minor and Beethoven’s 8th Symphony in F Major — at the Livingston High School Auditorium, March 19 at 2 p.m.

LES PAUL

VISUAL ARTS

“Les Paul: Thru the Lens,” a collection of photographs documenting the life and career of the guitarist and inventor, will run at the Pollak Gallery at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, March 20 to May 31. It’s a traveling exhibition, presented courtesy of the Les Paul Foundation.

Paul is well known, of course, for many reasons, including his crucial work in the development of the electric guitar and multitrack recording; the many pop hits he had (mainly with his wife, singer Mary Ford) in the ’40s and ’50s; and the nightclub appearances he made into his 90s. He was a longtime Mahwah resident and died in 2009, at the age of 94.

DANCE

The Peak Performances series will present the French dance company Cie L’Oublié(e)’s “Ombres Portées” — directed and choreographed by its founder, Raphaëlle Boitel — at the Kasser Theater at Monclair State University, in its U.S. premiere, March 23-24 at 7:30 p.m., March 25 at 8 p.m. and March 26 at 3 p.m. According to the Peak website, “Ombres Portées” represents “the crossroads of circus, dance, and theatre” and is “a vivid physical exploration of trauma, courage, and the volatility of our senses of balance and self”; its central character is “an energetic but wounded young woman looking for answers, and on a Kafkian quest for identity among numerous members of her family.”

Robert Montano in “Small.”

THEATER

Actor Robert Montano wrote and stars in “Small,” an autobiographical one-person play about his life, including the work he has done as a professional jockey and a professional dancer. The play will be seen off-Broadway in the fall, but in advance of that, Premiere Stages and Kean Stage will co-present it at Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Hudson Theatre Works in Weehawken will present Lillian Hellman’s classic drama “The Little Foxes” from March 16 to April 2. This 1939 play is about an Alabama family whose members are at war with each other over money.

REVIEWS

“Hercules” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through March 19)

“Quarter Rican” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through March 26)

“The Little Foxes” at Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken. (Through April 2)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)

“vanessa german: … please imagine all the things i cannot say …” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 25)

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through June 25)

“Komar and Melamid: A Lesson in History” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through July 16)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30, 2024)

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