Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Sister Act,’ Red Nose Day film marathon, Hollis Brown, more

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The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn presents “Sister Act,” June 1-26.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through June 2.


“Sister Act” will begin previews at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn on June 1, with the official opening night on June 5 and the last show on June 26.

The musical was adapted, of course, from the hit 1992 film comedy that starred Whoopi Goldberg. Featuring music and lyrics by veteran songwriters Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, respectively, the musical debuted in 2006 in Pasadena and was produced on Broadway in 2011 and 2012 (receiving five Tony nominations, including ones for Best Musical and Best Musical Score).

At the Paper Mill, the main role — Deloris Van Cartier, a “disco diva” who disguises herself as a nun in order to hide from her ex-boyfriend, a gangster — will be played by Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, who grew up in Newark and has performed in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” off-Broadway.

The Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven kicks off its summer season with “An American in Paris,” June 2-5, 8-12 and 14-18. The musical, which debuted in Paris in 2014 and ran on Broadway in 2015, includes George and Ira Gershwin-written classics such as “I Got Rhythm,” ” ‘S Wonderful,” “But Not for Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Stairway to Paradise.”



This summer’s series of free “Thursdays ROCK!” concerts at the Hall of Records in Freehold begins June 2 at 7:30 p.m., with a show by singer-songwriter James Maddock. The next few shows will be The Pat Roddy Band on June 9, Carnival Dogs on June 16 and The Weeklings on June 23, with other artists booked through the rest of the summer.

Joe Nolan of radio station WWZY-FM, 107.1 “The Boss” will do a First Day of Summer broadcast live from The Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavalette, May 27 at 6 a.m., with appearances by John Hampson of the band Nine Days, “American Idol” alumnus Cole Hallman, Academy Award-winning songwriter Franke Previte (“I’ve Had the Time of My Life”) and others. There will be no admission charge, and the event will include a giveaway of front row tickets to the show by Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, July 3.

The Chicken Fat Ball, an annual event sponsored by the New Jersey Jazz Society (but on hiatus since early 2020 due to the pandemic), will offer an afternoon of all-star swing music, May 30 at 1 p.m. at The Woodland in Maplewood. Musicians will include Warren Vaché, cornet; Harry Allen, saxophone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Gary Mazzaroppi, bass; Ken Peplowski, clarinet and saxophone; John Allred, trombone; and Paul Wells, drums.

The New York-based band Hollis Brown will play The Rolling Stones’ 1966 album Aftermath in its entirety, as well as its own songs, at Asbury Lanes, June 2 at 8 p.m., and at the Outpost in the Burbs at the First Congregational Church in Montclair, June 3 at 8 p.m. The Karyn Kuhl Band opens in Montclair only. Aftermath had different versions in the United States and the United Kingdom, as was not unusual at that time. The best known songs on the U.S. edition are “Paint It Black” and “Under My Thumb”: The U.K. edition also featured “Mother’s Little Helper,” though it did not have “Paint It Black.” (For a chance to win two tickets to the Montclair show, email by noon May 31 with “Hollis” in the subject line.)



The New Jersey Symphony‘s 2021-22 season is nearing its end, with five more concerts in June. The first three take place June 2-5, with Xian Zhang conducting and featured instrumentalists including Brennan Sweet, violin; Elzbieta Weyman, viola; and Kathleen Nester, piccolo. The concerts will be at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, June 2 at 1:30 p.m.; the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, June 3 at 8 p.m.; and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, June 5 at 3 p.m. The program will include Rossini’s Overture to L’italiana in Algeri; Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola; Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C Major; and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, “Italian.”


The “Laughs in the Loft” series at the South Orange Performing Arts Center began one year ago, and that anniversary will be celebrated at its 7:30 p.m. June 1 show, which will not take place in the series’ usual place — SOPAC’S multi-purpose Loft space. The show will take place on SOPAC’S main stage, with a lineup of Jessica Kirson, Usama Siddiquee, Jon Fisch and host Joe Larson.


Seventy photographs by Larry Hulst of musicians including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Lauryn Hill will be shown in “Front Row Center: Icons of Rock, Blues, and Soul,” an exhibition running at the Pollak Gallery at Monmouth University in West Long Branch from May 27 to July 15. Ken Womack, a professor of English and popular music at Monmouth and the author of several well-received books about The Beatles, will give a gallery talk about the photographs, June 2 at 5:30 p.m.



In 1985, British filmmaker Richard Curtis co-founded the Comic Relief charity; since then, it has raised more than $1 billion for various causes. Its annual Red Nose Day fundraising marathon was in March, but the U.S. branch of Comic Relief is having its own Red Nose Day May 26, with a special featuring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and others to be broadcast on NBC television. The Village as SOPAC movie theater in South Orange will host a Red Nose Day Marathon of its own that day, with proceeds going to Comic Relief. Six films directed and/or written or co-written by Curtis will be shown: “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (8 a.m.), “About Time” (10:30 a.m.), “Notting Hill” (1 p.m.), “Trash” (3 p.m.), “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” (6 p.m.) and “Yesterday” (8:30 p.m.).


“Systemized Language: Humming” by Jian Kwon at Paris Koh Fine Arts, Fort Lee. (Through May 28)

“Ride the Cyclone” at Berlind Theater at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through May 29)

“Theda Sandiford: Joyful Resistance” at Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster. (Through June 4)

“Exposed” at Black Box Performing Arts Center, Englewood. (Through June 5)

“Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 26)


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