Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: ‘After Midnight,’ Max Roach’s ‘Freedom Now Suite,’ more

by JAY LUSTIG
after midnight paper mill

The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn will present “After Midnight” from Jan. 31 to Feb. 25.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through Feb. 1.

THEATER

The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn will present “After Midnight,” a revue inspired by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 25. The show, which ran on Broadway in 2013 and 2014 and was nominated for the Best Musical Tony, features the poetry of Langston Hughes and songs written by or associated with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters and others. Dominique Kelley, who choreographed Paper Mill Playhouse’s recent world premiere of “The Great Gatsby,” choreographs and also co-directs (with Paper Mill Playhouse’s associate artistic director Jen Bender).

The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank will present “All Things Equal: The Life & Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. This biographical play was written by veteran playwright (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Curtains,” “Say Goodnight, Gracie”) and recording artist (“Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” “Him”) Rupert Holmes.

MAX ROACH, 1924-2007

MUSIC

The late drummer and composer Max Roach, who was born in January 1924, will be honored with a centennial-celebration concert at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., that will feature his 1960 “Freedom Now Suite,” co-written with lyricist Oscar Brown.

The show’s musical director will be drummer Nasheet Waits of Roach’s percussion group M’Boom. Performers will include singer Cassandra Wilson, poets Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and bassist Eric Revis. Newark mayor Ras Baraka, who is also a poet, will help open the program, along the group The Last Poets (who combine poetry with music) and poet Vincent Toro.

Roach died in 2007, at the age of 83.

Roach’s suite, released on the album We Insist!: Max Roach’s Freedom Suite, was inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement, and was written in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was in 1963.

New Jersey Hall of Famer Tommy James and his band The Shondells will perform at BergenPAC in Englewood, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. James, who grew up in Ohio and Michigan but has lived in New Jersey since the early ’70s, had a remarkable string of hits in the ’60s and ’70s — including “Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Draggin’ the Line” — and remains a dynamic concert performer.

JAMES MADDOCK

This year’s Light of Day WinterFest is mostly over, but there will be a show this weekend at The Outpost in the Burbs at The First Congregational Church in Montclair. It will take place Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and will be a “Songwriters in the Round” show featuring James Maddock, Anthony D’Amato (of Fantastic Cat), Danielia Cotton, Adam Ezra, Joe D’Urso, Amanda Cross & Derek Cruz, Emily Grove, Jake Thistle, Williams Honor members Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown, Jon Caspi, and Deni Bonet & Chris Flynn.

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Pete Francis will perform at Spanish Pavilion in Harrison, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. Francis began releasing solo albums during his years with the band Dispatch, and has continued since leaving the group in 2019. His recent PTRN SKY! includes songs that frankly address the depression and anxiety he has dealt with for most of his adult life. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Francis” in the subject line to njartscontest@gmail.com by 11 a.m. Jan. 26.)

• The Lords of 52nd Street, featuring former Billy Joel Band members Richie Cannata (saxophone), Liberty DeVitto (drums) and Russell Javors (guitar), will perform at the Newton Theatre, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.

F. Murray Abraham in “Amadeus.”

FILM

The Barrymore Film Center in Fort Lee will screen “Amadeus,” Jan. 27 at 7 p.m., with the film’s co-star F. Murray Abraham, engaging in a conversation about it with WQXR’s Elliott Forrest. Abraham won the Best Actor Oscar for playing composer Antonio Salieri in the 1984 movie, which is about the rivalry between Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

DANCE

The Union-based Carolyn Dorfman Dance company will present “The Legacy Project: A Dance of Hope,” Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. at The Wilkins Theatre at Kean University in Union, in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is Jan. 27.

The work will combine contemporary dance with interactive dialogue and, according to a press release, “honors Dorfman’s Eastern European roots, tragedy of the Holocaust, Jewish heritage, and the immigrant experience. … This work speaks to our ongoing issues with immigration, acceptance of others and learning to acknowledge and celebrate both our uniqueness and common humanness.”

Dorfman, a child of Holocaust survivors, said in the press release that “Each work is a ladle dipped into a historical cauldron of faith, loss, survival, and renewal. Each bears the mark of the trials and triumphs of my people and all peoples.”

BRETT GOLDSTEIN

COMEDY

• Brett Goldstein, who won two Emmys for playing Roy Kent on the TV series “Ted Lasso,” will perform standup at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. The show is recommended for those 15 and older.

REVIEWS

“Ibsen’s Ghost,” presented by George Street Playhouse at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. (Through Feb. 4)

“From Flame to Flower: The Art of Paul J. Stankard” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Feb. 4)

“Elana Herzog: Ripped, Tangled, and Frayed” at The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit. (Through Feb. 4)

“Night Forms” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through April 7)

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

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