Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: ‘Wuthering Heights,’ Toni Morrison exhibition, Terrance Simien, more

by JAY LUSTIG
wuthering heights preview

MAURIELE STEINKE

Jordan Laviniere will star in “Wuthering Heights” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 24.

THEATER

The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton will present a “reimagined” version of the classic Emily Brontë novel “Wuthering Heights” — featuring music, dance and puppetry — with the first preview on Feb. 23, opening night on Feb. 25 and the final show on March 12. According to the McCarter website, it’s a “revenge tragedy for our time.”

The adaptation and direction is by Emma Rice of the British theater company Wise Children, and debuted in 2021; this production is part of a Wise Children tour.

The Centenary Stage Company will present “The Ladykillers,” Feb. 17 to March 5 at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown. The play is adapted from the 1955 film co-starring Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers, a black comedy about a group of hapless criminals that was re-made in 2004, by The Coen Brothers, into a film of the same name starring Tom Hanks (and with the setting changed from London to Mississippi).

L.A. Theatre Works will present “Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom,” Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Nash Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg. This is a radio-play-style show inspired by behind-the-scenes stories having to do with the making of the classic sitcom, “I Love Lucy.”

• “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” — Moisés Kaufman’s 1997 play about the lawsuits the great British writer was involved in, in the 1890s — will be presented at the Nutley Little Theatre, Feb. 17-19 and 23-25. Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency” (meaning, basically, acts of homosexuality) and imprisoned for two years.

Shawn Colvin, left, with Marc Cohn and Sarah Jarosz.

MUSIC

Singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin and Marc Cohn, who both had their biggest hits in the ’90s, are teaming up with the younger Sarah Jarosz (who began releasing albums in 2009) for a tour that comes to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.; and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. All three will be onstage together for the entire show.

In a press release, Jarosz called Colvin and Cohn “two of my heroes” and said that their albums “are among my all time favorites and their songwriting and musicianship is an endless source of inspiration for me. Some of my earliest live music memories are seeing Shawn Colvin in Austin, and her performances really lit a fire within me to want to make music my life.”

• Remember Jones — who has presented complete-album shows in the past devoted to classics such as Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen — is debuting a new one, featuring Maroon 5’s 2002 debut Songs About Jane and more, at four venues this month. One of the shows will be at The Vogel at The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.

“This album came out as I graduated high school and I played it on a loop for months,” said Remember Jones in a press release. “It was the soundtrack to a very special time in my life. Its sound, writing, and stories reinforced the musician I wanted to be. This one is noteworthy and I’ve waited a long time to bring it to life.”

JAKE SPRINGFIELD

TERRANCE SIMIEN

In a show that is being promoted as “the first annual Mardi Gras in Cape May,” the Louisiana-based roots band Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience will perform at Exit Zero Ferry Station at Ferry Park in North Cape May, Feb. 17 at 6:15 and 8:30 p.m., with a New Orleans buffet dinner also available. (This year’s actual Mardi Gras day will be Feb. 21.)

Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck will host “George Harrison: A Tribute,” a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Banjo master Tony Trischka, singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton and the bluegrass group Cole Quest & the City Pickers will co-headline, with support by Eleanor Buckland, Sean Trischka, Ray Belli, Loren Daniels, Valerie Johnson, David Wofford and others.

The concert is part of a series that, previously, has included tributes to artists such as the late David Bowie and the late Prince. It is being presented in conjunction with the Relay for Life ACS fundraiser taking place in Glen Rock and Fair Lawn, June 3-4. (For information on that, visit relayforlife.org/grflnj.)

The annual Les Paul Concert at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah (Paul, who died in 2009, was a longtime Mahwah resident) will feature Zoë Keating. The concert takes place Feb. 18 at 8 p.m., and will be followed by a discussion with Keating.

Keating, an Emmy-nominated composer (for the HBO movie “Oslo), is an innovative performer who plays cello and uses a foot-controlled laptop to creates multiple layers of improvised sound in concert.

TONI MORRISON, 1931-2019

LITERATURE

“Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory” — an exhibition devoted to the creative process of the late writer Toni Morrison, who taught at Princeton University from 1989 to 2006 — will open at the Princeton University Library’s Milberg Gallery on Feb. 22, and run through June 4. It will be curated by Princeton assistant professor of English and African American studies Autumn Womack and is described in a press release as “the center of a community-wide exploration of how Morrison’s archive continues to influence the past, present, and future.” (Many Morrison-related events will take place at Princeton in the months to come.)

The university is home to the Toni Morrison Papers archive, which includes manuscript drafts, correspondence, photographs and more. The exhibition will include about 100 archive items, most of which never have been previously exhibited.

REVIEWS

“Clyde’s,” presented by George Street Playhouse at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. (Through Feb. 19)

“Living & Breathing” at Two River Theater, Red Bank. (Through Feb. 26)

“Torn Asunder” at Luna Stage, West Orange. (Through Feb. 26)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through June 25)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30, 2024)

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