Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: ‘Hip Hop Nutcracker,’ Brady Rymer, ‘Black Nativity,’ more

by JAY LUSTIG
hip hop nutcracker 2023 nj

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” will be presented in Newark, Dec. 23, and in New Brunswick, Dec. 29.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through Dec. 30.

DANCE

NJPAC in Newark will present its annual production of “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” — a version of the holiday-season classic with hip-hop break-dancing and contemporary music, plus rapping by hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow — Dec. 23 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at its Prudential Hall. “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” will also be presented at The State Theatre in New Brunswick, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.

The New Jersey Ballet and New Jersey Symphony’s joint production of “The Nutcracker” at The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, which began its 2023 run on Dec. 15, will continue with shows Dec. 21-22 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 23-24 and 26-27 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 23 and 26 at 6 p.m. A livestream will be offered for the Dec. 21 show; click HERE to order it.

Brady Rymer & the Little Band That Could will perform in Netcong, Dec. 30.

MUSIC

• Brady Rymer of the rock band From Good Homes also has been nominated for three Grammys as a children’s artist. He and his Little Band That Could will present a “New Year’s Eve EVE Countdown!” family concert, Dec. 30 at 11 a.m. at The Growing Stage in Netcong, with a New Year’s Eve-like countdown to noon.

Jillian Ludwig — a member of the Asbury Park music scene who was killed last month, at the age of 18, by a stray bullet in Nashville, where she was attending Belmont University — had started her own charitable music-education foundation, last year, called Playing It Forward. And Asbury Park artists including Waiting on Mongo, Kevian Kraemer, Arcadia, Good Morning Beautiful and Butterfly Garden will perform at a fundraiser for it titled “Play It Forward for Jillian,” Dec. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Grand Arcade of the Convention Hall/Paramount Theatre building in Asbury Park.

Every Halloween season, Hudson County musicians perform songs by more famous artists outdoors, at the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery. This year’s show went so well that they are going to do it again at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m., in a show titled “The Ghosts of Christmas Past.” The show will include tributes to Tina Turner (by We Don’t Need Another Whale, or Forget the Thunderdome), The Killers (by The Fabulous Las Vegas), Lady Gaga (by Howlin’ Bill & the Little Monsters), The New York Dolls (by Hudson City Rats) and Phoenix (by Quality Living From Versailles).

The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park presents “What a Wonderful Year,” Dec. 29-30.

Telegraph Hill Records will present “What a Wonderful Year,” billed as the Asbury Park music scene’s annual after-party to cap the year, Dec. 29-30 at The Wonder Bar. Performers on two stages will include Des & the Swagmatics, Cranston Dean, Jarod Clemons & the Late Nights, Surfing for Daisy, Via Ripa, Küf Knotz & Christine Elise, The Bryan Hansen Band, Kiersten Blue, Lake Champagne and Songbird, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.; and Alexander Simone & WHODAT? Live Crew, Natalie Farrell, The Foes of Fern, Big Boss Noff, Beauty, Heather Hills, Emerson Woolf & the Wishbones, Bobby Mahoney, We’re Ghosts Now and Space, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organizations The Project Matters (which supports aspiring artists and provides instruments for in-school music education) and “Asbury Park’s Got Talent” producer Interfaith Neighbors. There also will be a free pre-event reception at Transparent Clinch Gallery, Dec. 29 at 4:30 p.m., featuring performances by alumni of both organizations.

THEATER

The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank will present Langston Hughes’ 1961 “Black Nativity” — a “song play,” based on the Gospel of St. Luke, retelling the Nativity story via music, dance and poetry — Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. It was one of the first plays written by an African-American to be produced Off-Broadway, debuting there in 1961.

FAMILY

NJPAC will present its annual Kwanzaa Family Festival and Marketplace, Dec. 23 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with dance classes, arts and crafts, storytelling, face painting, a candle-lighting ceremony, vendors, performances (with audience participation) by Umoja Dance Company and Zawadi African Dance & Drum, and more.

The Field Station: Dinosaurs theme park in Leonia has put together a stage show, “Dinosaurs Dynamite!,” that it will present at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center, Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The show, which has been described as a “mix of science, silly and scary,” will feature music, puppets and more.

Art House Productions in Jersey City will present its annual “Affordable Art Show” through Dec. 23.

VISUAL ARTS

Art House Productions in Jersey City is presenting its annual “Affordable Art Show” — featuring 300-plus works from more than 90 local artists, all in the $25-$500 range — from 1 to 6 p.m. daily through Dec. 23 at its Art House Gallery at The Hendrix, at 345 Marin Boulevard. Cookies, cocoa and other treats will be offered at the closing reception, on Dec. 23.

REVIEWS

“Dead Ringers: Portraits of Abandoned Payphones,” photographs by Amy Becker at Gallery Aferro, Newark. (Through Dec. 21)

“The Brodsky Center at Rutgers University: Three Decades, 1986-2017” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 22)

“The Christmas Tree Farm” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through Dec. 23)

“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through Dec. 31)

“Fiddler on the Roof” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through Jan. 7)

“Spiral Q: The Parade” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

“Local Voices: Memories, Stories and Portraits” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

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