Top 12 Arts Events of Week: Elvis Costello, ‘Raisin,’ NJ Symphony salutes John Williams, more

by JAY LUSTIG
Elvis Costello NJ preview

ELVIS COSTELLO

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through March 2.

MUSIC

• Elvis Costello recently finished a remarkable 10-show run at the Gramercy Theatre in New York. Most of the shows featured him solo or with his longtime pianist Steve Nieve, but the last one, Feb. 22, was his first of the year with his band The Imposters. Costello and the Imposters (Nieve, drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher, plus touring guitarist Charlie Sexton) are also doing a brief tour that comes to Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.; and The Wellmont Theater in Montclair, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.

The New Jersey Symphony will celebrate the music of John Williams with concerts at the Count Basie Center for the Arts, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.; Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.; and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. Constantine Kitsopoulos will conduct, and the program will include Williams’ music from movies including “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” three installments of “Star Wars,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and more.

DAVID WROE

The New Jersey Festival Orchestra will present Giacomo Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” — the Italian composer’s only comic opera, featuring one of his most famous arias, “O mio babbino caro” — at The Concert Hall at DeBaun PAC at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m., and Renaissance Church in Springfield, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. David Wroe will conduct.

Feb. 26 from 1 to 9 p.m., The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park will host its ninth annual “ShamRock ‘n Roll” concert, benefiting the Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Performers will include The Pat Roddy Band, Bobby Bandiera, The Little Silver Creek Band, JoBonanno & the Godsons, The Rafferty Brothers, Jimmy Shoez & the Magooz, and the Monmouth County Police & Fire Pipes and Drums.

Musicians on a Mission will present “Come to Your Senses,” a benefit for Special People United to Ride, Feb. 26 from 5 p.m. at The Gallery at Thompson Park in Lincroft. Musical performers will include Chuck Lambert, Pam McCoy, Izzy Miz, Sean Tobin and Kevin Daly, but the event is planned as a “feast” for all all five senses, and also will include visual art, food and drink, soap and candle vendors, massage and more.

The Special People United to Ride organization provides therapeutic equine activities for people with disabilities.

AXELROD PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

“Raisin” cast member Ethan Joseph rehearses.

THEATER

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal will present “Raisin” — the Tony-winning 1973 musical, based on Lorraine Hansberry’s classic drama “A Raisin in the Sun” — from Feb. 24 to March 12. Like “A Raisin in the Sun,” it’s about an African-American family living in Chicago in the 1950s, and the different visions that various family members have for building a better life for themselves. (Those purchasing tickets can get $10 discounts by using the code “NJARTS.”)

Romanian-French playwright’s Eugène Ionesco classic 1959 work, “Rhinoceros” — in which inhabitants of a small French town find themselves, one by one, turning into rhinoceroses — will be presented at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah, March 1-4 and 6-8. According to the school’s website, the play is “an early example of the Theater of the Absurd” and Ionesco “illuminates what it’s like when fascism takes over a town and examines the tension between people as they bicker and quarrel about minutiae and wrangle with the pressure to conform.”

The Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken presents the world premiere of the comedy “Quarter Rican,” March 1-26. According to the theater’s web site, it is about “the ins and outs of new parenting, mixed heritage, and what makes or breaks your child’s Latinx identity. Written by actor and Hoboken native Gabriel Diego Hernandez, the play tells the story of 30-something Danny as he visits the local kids’ playground — super cute baby in tow — and engages in hilarious banter and park bench philosophizing with another parent.”

White Eagle Hall in Jersey City presents “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” Feb. 25.

FILM

White Eagle Hall in Jersey City will screen the 1979 comedy “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” — starring The Ramones, who, playing their own punk-rock music, inspire fan fervor à la 1964 Beatlemania — Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. In addition, there will be a panel discussion featuring the film’s director (Allan Arkush) and producer (Michael Finnell) and longtime Ramones tour manager Monte A. Melnick, as well as a performance by the band Mala Vista.

Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., The Jersey City Theater Center will screen “The Hamlet Syndrome,” a 2022 documentary by Polish co-directors Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski about actors participating in a stage production that attempted to relate their experiences in the Russo-Ukrainian War to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (see trailer below). It will be preceded by “The Shadows,” a short film by Ukrainian director Polly Chesnokova about a lesbian couple living in Western Ukraine.

OTHER

A “Free First Thursday” event at the Montclair Art Museum, March 2 from 5 to 9 p.m., will have a “Carnivale” theme (celebrating the culture of the African diaspora) and featuring performances by the Caribbean Ensemble of the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and the African dance group Kofago; an art activity led by Yard School of Art instructor Mansa Mussa; a guided tour of the MAM exhibit “vanessa german: … please imagine all the things i cannot say …”; vendors from Black-owned businesses; a cash bar and food trucks, and more.

Sanford Josephson, an author and the editor of Jersey Jazz magazine, will give a talk titled “A Look at Black History Through Jazz,” Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Woodbridge Public Library. There is no admission charge, though pre-registration is recommended.

REVIEWS

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

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

“Passing Strange,” presented by Vanguard Theater Company at Vanguard Theater, Montclair (Through March 5)

“The Ladykillers” at Sitnik Theatre at Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown. (Through March 5)

“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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