Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: Aretha Franklin tribute, Southside Johnny, ‘Tartuffe,’ more

by JAY LUSTIG
Aretha tribute preview

CAPATHIA JENKINS

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through Feb. 22.

MUSIC

New Jersey Symphony will present “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” with singers Capathia Jenkins and Ryan Shaw, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown; Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. at The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; and Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. at The State Theatre in New Brunswick.

“I do not try to emulate her,” Jenkins has said of the show. “But what I do is bring myself to all the material. I think one of the things Aretha did so brilliantly was that no matter what she was singing she was always able to bring her soul and her honesty and her gospel roots to everything.”

Jenkins is a Broadway veteran whose credits include “Newsies,” “Caroline, or Change” and “The Look of Love.” Shaw also has performed on Broadway, in “Motown the Musical,” though he is better known as a Grammy-nominated recording artist.

Also coming up for New Jersey Symphony are four concerts that will feature Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as well as Richard Strauss’ Oboe Concerto and Reena Esmail’s RE/Member. The Symphony’s music director Xian Zhang will conduct, and violinist Eric Wyrick and oboe player Robert Ingliss will be featured.

The shows will take place at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 22 at 1:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.; The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.; and The State Theatre in New Brunswick, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will take requests in Asbury Park, Feb. 17.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will perform their annual February concerts at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Feb. 16-17 at 7 p.m. And these shows will have a special theme — “Requests From the Hat” — meaning that at least some of the setlist will be made up of songs requested by audience members.

The shows are being billed as a 50th anniversary shows for the Stone Pony. The nightclub opened on Feb. 8, 1974, and its first house band was The Blackberry Booze Band, which evolved into Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes in 1975. (Bruce Springsteen’s first Stone Pony appearance, by the way, is believed to be as an unbilled guest with The Blackberry Booze Band in September 1974.)

The Peak Performances series at Montclair State University will present an “Opera in Concert” — meaning not fully staged — production of “Blind Injustice,” Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. at Montclair State’s Kasser Theater. This 2019 opera, featuring music by Montclair State faculty member Scott Davenport Richards and a libretto by David Cote, is based on Mark Godsey’s 2017 book of the same name about six unjustly convicted and imprisoned people who freed themselves with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project.

Each performance will be followed by a conversation with two of the exonerated people portrayed in the opera.

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.

• The Tedeschi Trucks Band will kick off their Deuces Wild Tour with shows at The Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, Feb. 16-17 at 8 p.m. Little Feat — featuring three musicians from the band’s ’70s glory days (keyboardist Bill Payne, bassist Kenny Gradney and percussionist Sam Clayton) along with guitarists Fred Tackett and Scott Sharrard, and drummer Tony Leone — will open.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band will also perform (without Little Feat) at The Beacon Theatre in New York, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. and March 1-2 at 8 p.m.

Experimental jazz visionary Sun Ra died in 1993, but his Sun Ra Arkestra continues to play his songs under the leadership of his longtime collaborator, saxophonist Marshall Allen. They will perform at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m.

• The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra — the national orchestra of Bulgaria — will present an all-Beethoven program at The State Theatre in New Brunswick, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. The orchestra is led by principal conductor Derek Gleeson, and Ivaylo Vassilev will be featured on piano. The program will include Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture; Piano Concerto No. 5; and Symphony No. 7.

AL PEREIRA

STEVE KATZ

• Steve Katz — who has been a member of the bands Blood, Sweat & Tears and Blues Project, and has produced albums for artists such as Lou Reed and Elliott Murphy — will present a show in the “Storyteller Series” at Lizzie Rose Music Room in Tuckerton, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

The club describes the show as “An Evening of Song & Stories.”

Katz published a memoir, “Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?,” in 2015.

THEATER

The Centenary Stage Company will present “Tartuffe” — Molière’s classic comedy about a scoundrel who convinces a rich merchant that he is a pious man, with all kinds of mayhem ensuing — Feb. 16-18, 21-25 and 28-29 and March 1-3 at The Sitnik Theatre at The Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown.

Vivid Stage will present the 2003 musical “Gone Missing” at The Oakes Center in Summit, Feb. 22-25 and 29 and March 1-3. This show has been described as a “documentary musical” as well as “a musical about losing stuff.” It started with members of the New York-based company The Civilians interviewing people about things that had “gone missing” in their lives. Six actors will play more than 30 characters in this musical, which features a book by Steve Cosson, and music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.

REVIEWS

“Blind Injustice” opera-in-concert, presented by Peak Performances at Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. Music by Scott Davenport Richards, libretto by David Cote. (Through Feb. 18).

“After Midnight” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through Feb. 25)

“The Scarlet Letter” at Two River Theater, Red Bank. (Through Feb. 25)

“Ghetto Gods in Divineland” at Passage Theatre, Trenton. (Through Feb. 25)

“Expressive Impressions in Linoleum,” works by Tenjin Ikeda at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center. (Through Feb. 25)

“Afrofuturism: 100 Years After the Harlem Renaissance” at The Gallery at Paper Mill, Millburn. (Through Feb. 26)

“RIFT, or white lies” at Luna Stage, West Orange. (Through March 3)

“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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