Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Bettye LaVette, ‘Lunar New Year Celebration,’ more

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Bettye LaVette performs at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair on Jan. 29

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Jan. 30.


Soul singer Bettye LaVette had some success as a recording artist in the ’60s and ’70s, but was nearly forgotten for decades until she resurrected her career in the mid-2000s after moving from her hometown of Detroit to West Orange. Releasing a series of strong albums and dependably dazzling at her concerts, she is now widely regarded as one of our greatest living song interpreters. On her latest album, 2020’s Blackbirds, she sings songs associated with Black female singers such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Ruth Brown, as well as The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” She will perform at the Outpost in the Burbs at the First Congregational Church in Montclair, backed by keyboardist Evan Mercer, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to by 11 a.m. Jan. 27, with the word “LaVette” in the subject line.)

The New Jersey Symphony will usher in the Year of the Tiger with a “Lunar New Year Celebration” at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m., with Tong Chen and NJS music director Xian Zhang conducting the symphony in a combination of Chinese, European and American music, with contributions from pianist and soprano Chelsea Guo, the Peking University Alumni Chorus, the Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus (directed by Rebecca Shen) and the Edison Chinese School Lion Dance Team.

The London-based Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with music director Vasily Petrenko conducting and Kian Soltani featured on cello, will perform at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. The program will include Britten’s Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes; Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35; and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.


 Saxophonist Branford Marsalis‘ quartet, featuring Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner, performs at the Wilkins Theatre at Kean University in Union (as part of the Kean Stage series), June 30 at 3 p.m., and the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

As part of the American Song series at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, “Conversations in Concert: Celebrating the Songs of Leonard Bernstein,” taking place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, will feature jazz pianist Bill Charlap playing Bernstein-written songs from musicals such as “West Side Story,” “Candide” and “On the Town.” Also, Bernstein’s daughter Jamie Bernstein (whose 2019 memoir was titled “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein”) will engage in a conversation about him with the series’ host, Ted Chapin.

Singer Dara Tucker, backed by pianist Michael Kanan, will perform at the January Virtual Social of the New Jersey Jazz Society, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. Tucker’s most recent album, last year’s Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World , featured songs written by Carole King, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Donny Hathaway and others. The social will be streamed on as well as the organization’s Facebook and YouTube pages.


• Complexions Contemporary Ballet, featuring former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater members Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, will perform a program titled “Bach to Bowie” at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. Its “Bach 25” will be set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, while its “StarDust” will feature David Bowie songs such as “Space Oddity, “Life on Mars” and “Let’s Dance.”

Andrew Gardfield in “Tick, Tick… Boom!”


Oscar nominations won’t be announced until Feb. 8, but The Clairidge in Montclair has already started presenting “For Your Consideration,” a series of films that are likely to be nominated, or have already been nominated for other awards. The series began with “The Power of the Dog” on Jan. 25, and will continue with “The Hand of God,” Jan. 26; “Tick Tick… Boom!,” Jan. 27; “Don’t Look Up,” Jan. 28; “The Mitchells vs. The Machines,” Jan. 29; “The Lost Daughter,” Jan. 29; and “Procession,” Jan. 30. All screening are at 7:30 p.m., except for “The Mitchells vs. The Machines,” which will be at 12:30 p.m.

The Village at SOPAC in South Orange will honor Black History Month with a “Black Music in Film” series, beginning with “Dreamgirls,” Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 2 at 7 p.m., and continuing with “Cadillac Records,” Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.; “Ray” (about Ray Charles), Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.; “Get on Up” (about James Brown), Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.; and “Straight Outta Compton” (about NWA), Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. and March 2 at 7 p.m.

A 60-minute film featuring the rooftop concert portion of The Beatles’ “Get Back” documentary will be shown at IMAX theaters in the United States and England on Jan. 30. The film will be accompanied by an interview with its director and co-producer, Peter Jackson, and can be seen in New Jersey at the AMC Garden State 16 in Paramus and the AMC Rockaway 16, that day at 3 p.m. For more information and a listing of all locations, internationally, visit

“The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert” also will be shown at the IMAX Theatre at The Tropicana in Atlantic City, Feb. 11-13 and 16-17 at 1 p.m., with tickets going on sale Jan. 31 at 10 a.m.; visit The three episodes and approximately eight hours of “Get Back” — documenting about three weeks of The Beatles in the studio, in 1969 — are now streaming on Disney+, and will be released in DVD and Blu-ray form in the United States on Feb. 8.

A poster for “A Mile Square of Music, 1960-1970.”

 Lots has been written and said about the Hoboken music scene of the late ’70s to the ’90s. But not so much about the era that preceded it. “A Mile Square of Music, 1960-1970,” a new 30-minute documentary about Hoboken music during that decade, will debut on Facebook and YouTube, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m., with a Q&A session following. (see trailer below)

The West Orange Classic Film Festival, focusing on comedies this year, will start with the riotous Zero Mostel-led musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Essex Green AMC in West Orange, and continue with “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Feb. 6; “Bring Up Baby,” Feb. 20; “Young Frankenstein,” Feb. 27; “Some Like It Hot,” March 6; and “Buck Privates,” March 13. Joe Gilford, son of “Forum” co-star Jack Gilford, will speak after the Jan. 30 screening; other films will feature other speakers.


“1+1” at Black Box Performing Arts Center, Englewood. (Through Jan. 30)

“On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Feb. 27)

“Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through March 13)

“Bruce Springsteen Live!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through March 20)


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


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