Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Pipes of Christmas, Holiday Express, ‘The Nutcracker,’ more

pipes of christmas '22 preview

This year’s Pipes of Christmas concerts will take place in New York, Dec. 17, and Summit, Dec. 18.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Dec. 22.


This year’s 24th edition of the annual Pipes of Christmas concert — featuring holiday music with traditional Celtic instrumentation, and readings — will take place Dec. 18 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, as well as Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Both early shows are sold out.

The Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band will perform, as will The Solid Brass Ensemble, and musicians such as guitarist Steve Gibb, harpist Rachel Clemente, and cellist Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf. Actors James Robinson and Andrew Weir — both featured in the 1995 movie “Braveheart” — will read passages written by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns.

For a chance to win two tickets to either the 7 p.m. Summit or New York show, send an email with the words “Pipes-Summit” or “Pipes-NY” in the subject line to by 10 a.m. Dec. 16. Feel free to enter for both shows, if you want.



Guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson will present two pieces — “Amaryllis,” featuring her as part of a sextet, and “Belladonna,” featuring her with the string players of The Mivos Quartet — at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 18 at 3 p.m., as part of the Peak Performances series. This is a staged concert, with stage design by Aaron Copp.

Halvorson says of “Amaryllis,” “I started writing the music in 2020, when the world slowed and most activities came to a halt, and all I had was my guitar, a pencil, some staff paper, and a computer. The pleasure of imagining what the music might sound like kept me sane during that time and gave me a reason to push forward.”

Holiday Express is a group of Shore-based musicians who have been playing holiday music at hospitals, nursing homes, soup kitchens and other places in need of a little seasonal cheer, at no charge, every November and December for the last 30 years. The group also performs at benefit concerts that allow it to fulfill its philanthropic mission; two will take place at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Dec. 19-20 at 7:30 p.m.

The Outpost in the Burbs will present The Harlem Gospel Travelers, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m., as part of its New Voices series. Discovered and produced by Eli “Paperboy” Reed, the group makes music that is rooted in the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s but with original songs that reflect the realities of modern life. The show will feature an appearance by members of Montclair High School Honors and Madrigals Choirs, and take place at the First Congregational Church at 40 S. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair.

The “Hip-Hop Nutcracker” will be presented at NJPAC in Newark, Dec. 17 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.


NJPAC in Newark will present its annual production of “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” — a version of the classic with hip-hop break-dancing and contemporary music, with contributions from rapper Kurtis Blow — Dec. 17 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at its Prudential Hall.

Also, New Jersey Ballet will team with New Jersey Symphony for their annual joint production of “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 16 and 22-23 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 17-18 and 26 at 1 and 6 p.m., and Dec. 24 and 27 at 1 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown. The Dec. 22 performance will also be livestreamed.

Other performances of “The Nutcracker” will include:

“The Nutcracker,” presented by American Repertory Ballet at State Theatre, New Brunswick, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 1 and 5 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” presented by New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet at Sitnik Theatre at Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Dec. 17 at noon and 5 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 3 p.m.

“Jersey City Nutcracker,” presented by Nimbus Dance at Nimbus Arts Center, Jersey City, Dec. 16-18 and 21-23 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 10-11, 17-18 and 23 at 3 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” presented by Atlantic City Ballet at Caesars, Atlantic City, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” presented by State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine at Prudential Hall at NJPAC, Newark, Dec. 18 at 3 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” presented by Atlantic City Ballet at Strand Center for the Arts, Lakewood, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

A self-portrait by Paul Stanley.


Paul Stanley of the band Kiss will make an appearance at the Wentworth Gallery at The Mall at Short Hills, Dec. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m., in conjunction with a display of his art.

According to a press release, Stanley “returned to his passion for painting ten years ago by creating portraits and abstracts that are emotionally charged compositions. … He aims to maximize the direct, physical impact of his paintings through scale, texture, color and simplicity of images.”


NJPAC in Newark presents its free, annual Kwanzaa Family Festival, Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with dance and music performances and classes, plus face painting, storytelling, arts and crafts workshops, traditional Kwanzaa ceremonies, panel discussions, and more.

This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that the festival will be presented in-person.


Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo co-star in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The Tropicana Showroom in Atlantic City will screen the hit 1989 comedy “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., followed by a Q&A session with the film’s star, Chevy Chase.


“A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Algonquin Arts Theatre, Manasquan. (Through Dec. 18)

“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through Dec. 24)

“American Stories: Gifts From the Jersey City Museum Collection” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 30)

“The Sound of Music” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through Jan. 1)

“Twelfth Night” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through Jan. 1)

“Thread Hijack” at the Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton. (Through Jan. 8)

“RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film, 1978-2008,” works by rock photographer Jay Blakesberg at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Feb. 5)

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

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

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


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