Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: ‘I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce,’ more

by JAY LUSTIG
lenny bruce new brunswick preview

Ronnie Marmo wrote and will star in “I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce” at The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Jan. 11-13.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through Jan. 11.

THEATER

The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center will present the biographical play “I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce,” written by and starring Ronnie Marmo, Jan. 11-13 at 8 p.m. The plays draws on Bruce’s stage and courtroom speeches about, Marno says in promotional material, ” ‘untouchable’ subjects that are in the news again now: religion, racism, immigration, xenophobia, gender inequality, sexual identity, the criminal justice system, capital punishment, bail reform, government aid, police brutality, corrupt capitalism, the opiate epidemic, marijuana legalization, censorship, I could go on and on. So here we are, over 56 years later, all the issues Lenny was fighting for are still so relevant and even radical. In certain ways, we’ve progressed since Lenny was with us, and in many, we have regressed.”

Joe Mantegna — whose acting credits include television shows “Criminal Minds” and “The Simpsons,” and who won a Tony for co-starring in “Glengarry Glen Ross” in 1984 — directed the play, which previously has been presented off-Broadway and elsewhere.

MUSIC

GRACE COPELAND

From left, Ezra Seltzer, Jeffrey Grossman, Daniel S. Lee and Nicholas DiEugenio of The Sebastians.

Music in the Somerset Hills will present the chamber group The Sebastians — in a program of music by Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and others — at The Mansion at Natirar in Peapack-Gladstone, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. The name of the New York-based group — made up of violinists Daniel S. Lee and Nicholas DiEugenio, cellist Ezra Seltzer and harpsichordist Jeffrey Grossman — was inspired by the middle name of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Jan. 11 will mark the 82nd anniversary of Clarence Clemons’ birth, and Jan. 6 at 7 p.m., Clemons’ son Jarod and his band The Late Nights will host a “Clarence Clemons Birthday Celebration” at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. Other performers will include J.T. Bowen (singer for Clarence Clemons’ band The Red Bank Rockers), The Jake Thistle Band and Billy Walton, and proceeds will benefit the Mary’s Place by the Sea wellness retreat for women with cancer.

The ambitious Genesis tribute band The Musical Box will celebrate the band’s 1973 album Selling England by the Pound with a re-creation of the band’s theatrical live show for its 1973-74 Selling England by the Pound Tour, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair.

Zakk Sabbath performs in Sayreville, Jan. 5.

Zakk Wylde, the singer and guitarist who has often worked with Ozzy Osbourne as well as fronting his own group Black Label Society, will perform music by Osbourne’s band Black Sabbath with his size project Zakk Sabbath at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, Jan. 5; and The Brooklyn Bowl in Philadelphia, Jan. 7.

Wylde is joined in the band by bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson (who has played with Osbourne as well, and worked with Rob Zombie) and drummer Joey Castillo (Danzig, Queens of the Stone Age).

Both shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include an opening set by the band The Native Howl.

• Ivan Julian— a member of the pioneering punk-rock band Richard Hell & the Voidoids in the ’70s and a mainstay of the New York/New Jersey rock scene since then — will present a solo show with “surprise special guests” promised, at The 503 Social Club in Hoboken, Jan. 7 at 5 p.m.

As part of the New Jersey Jazz Society’s “Jersey Jazz Live!,” series, singer-pianist Daryl Sherman and bassist Jay Leonhart will present a tribute to Bob Dorough, Blossom Dearie and Dave Frishberg at the Madison Community Arts Center, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m. Opening the show will be singer-violinist Jacquie Lee and guitarist Derek Campos.

The cover of Charles Busch’s book “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy.”

WORDS

The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick will present the world premiere of Charles Busch‘s play “Ibsen’s Ghost,” starring Busch himself, from Jan. 16 to Feb. 4. And Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., it will present Busch himself in a book signing and meet-and-greet for his recently released “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy” at Barnes & Noble at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison. (UPDATE: This event has been moved to Jan. 10, due to the threat of inclement weather.)

Busch has worked as both playwright (with credits including “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” and “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”) and an actor since the late ’70s. According to promotional material for the book, he “has created a unique place in the entertainment world as a playwright, LGBT icon, drag actor, director, and cabaret performer, with his extraordinary gift for both connecting with and channeling the leading ladies of show business.”

FILM

The ShowRoom Cinema in Asbury Park will kick off its “Made in Jersey” series with the Oscar-nominated 1980 movie “Atlantic City” (co-starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon), Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Other films in the series will include “Stardust Memories” (shot at various Shore locations), Jan. 16; “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (filmed mainly in West Caldwell), Jan. 23; and “Clerks” (filmed in Leonardo), Jan. 30.

Director Kevin Smith will discuss his 2008 comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” at a 7 p.m. Jan. 6 screening of it at his SModcastle Cinemas in Atlantic Highlands. According to a message on the SModcastle website, “Every Smodcastle show at which Kevin appears runs very, very long. The night usually starts 15 to 30 minutes late, then kicks off with a fundraising auction to support the theater (which includes rare one-of-a-kind props, mementos and signed items). Post-auction, there’s an intro to begin the main program, followed by a Q&A/Group Discussion after the movie ends. We suggest you plan your night accordingly.”

REVIEWS

“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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