Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Hercules,’ Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, William Shatner, etc.

hercules nj preview

The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn presents “Hercules” from Feb. 16 to March 19.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 16.

Bradley Gibson plays the title character in “Hercules.”


“Hercules,” a stage-musical adaptation of the 1997 animated film about the Greek demigod, will begin previews at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn on Feb. 16, with the official opening day on March 1, and the last show on March 19. Its co-stars include Bradley Gibson, whose Broadway credits include “A Bronx Tale” and “The Lion King,” as Hercules; and Tony winners Shuler Hensley (as the underworld god Hades) and James Monroe Iglehart.

The show was produced in New York (though not on Broadway) in 2019, and this will be a revised version of it. The songs, some of which were heard in the movie — including “Go the Distance,” which became a Top 40 hit for Michael Bolton — feature music by Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Newsies”) and lyrics by David Zippel (“City of Angels,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella”).

Camden Repertory Theater has started a run of Aishah Rahman’s “Unfinished Women Cry in No Man’s Land While a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage,” with the official opening taking place on Feb. 10 and the last show on March 25. The show features a live jazz band and tells two stories taking place on the same day in March 1955. One is set in a home for unwed mothers; the other shows the great jazz musician Charlie Parker on the last day of his life.

The Black Box Performing Arts Center, which is moving from one downtown Englewood location to another one, nearby, will have a “soft opening” event at the new space (at 8 E. Palisade Ave.), Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.: A staged reading of “The Agony and The Agony,” a comedy, by Nicky Silver, about an agoraphobic playwright. (Black Box PAC produced Silver’s dark, disturbing “Fat Men in Skirts” in 2021.)




In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will emphasize love songs, both positive and negative, at their “Stupid Cupid” concert, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

The club was the Jukes’ home base in their early days, in the ’70s, and they return to it at least twice every year, for an outdoor show in the summer and an inside show in the winter.

Deep Purple, featuring co-founding drummer Ian Paice and two musicians whose membership dates back to the late ’60s — singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover — performs at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. Joining them in the band are guitarist Simon McBride and keyboardist Don Airey.

The band — whose ’60s and ’70s hits include “Smoke on the Water,” “Hush,” “Highway Star” and “Woman From Tokyo” — was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe are on a co-headlining tour that comes to the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, Feb. 10-11 at 8 p.m. But who will perform last? The two bands have solved that eternal problem by alternating throughout the tour. And so Mötley Crüe will close on Feb. 10 and Def Leppard will close on Feb. 11.


Country-pop star Carrie Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones Tour will make its only New Jersey stop at the Prudential Center in Newark, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m., with Jimmie Allen opening. The tour is named after Underwood’s 2022 album, featuring the hits “Hate My Heart” and “Ghost Story.”

• Mystic Bowie and his Talking Dreads band, who specialize in reggae versions of Talking Heads songs, perform at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m., with P-Funk North opening.

Mystic Bowie himself has direct ties to the world of Talking Heads: He has performed with Tom Tom Club, the group led by Talking Heads members Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, and appeared on their 2000 album The Good, the Bad, and the Funky.

As part of its New Voices series, and in partnership with Out Montclair, the Outpost in the Burbs will present singer-songwriter Crys Matthews, with Stacia Thiel opening, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Montclair.

Matthews says of herself, “I’m a social-justice singer-songwriter from NC who now calls DC home. I’m a butch-identified, black, lesbian, woman who also happens to be a preacher’s kid — I’m the poster child for intersectionality. I believe deeply in Dr. King’s notion that ‘hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’ and I am using my music as a vehicle with which to spark that kind of revolutionary love.”



William Shatner will make appearances after screenings of the 1982 film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and at BergenPAC in Englewood, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.

Shatner, 91, said in an interview that if you attend, “you will have a transformational experience, because the film has been refurbished and it’s great color and great sound. And then I come out afterwards and answer questions about the film or about anything else that you might be curious about. And it is possible that the film, because it’s an emotional film, gives you an insight into your own life. And it’s possible that my answer (to one of the questions) might appeal to you in a transformational way. And you leave the theater somewhat differently than when you arrived.”

The third and final season of the Hulu TV series “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” — based on the life of the members of the hip-hop group The Wu-Tang Clan — will begin on Feb. 15. And that night, at 7 p.m., the season’s first episode will screen at Newark Symphony Hall, where some of the series’ scenes have been filmed. The screening will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. panel discussion featuring the show’s co-executive producer, Gail Barringer, its production designer, Nick Francone, and others.

The screening will be free (with free popcorn offered, too), but since the series is rated TV-MA, no one younger than 18 will be admitted.

Kathryn Grody and Mandy Patinkin.


Actors Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody, who have been married since 1980, started posting videos of themselves, just hanging out and talking, to social media, during the pandemic. And the videos became quite popular. So they will spend the evening of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, presenting a live version of that, titled “An Evening with Mandy Patinkin & Kathryn Grody,” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton. The event starts at 7:30 p.m.

The McCarter website promises a show “full of family stories, professional anecdotes, and glimpses into their 40+ years of mostly marital bliss.”

Patinkin — who is also a recording artist, and who has starred in Broadway musicals such as “Evita,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “The Wild Party” — will also perform in concert at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.


“Between Two Knees” at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through Feb. 12)

“Popcorn Falls” at New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch. (Through Feb. 12)

“Derrick Belcham: The You Voice” at MANA Contemporary, Jersey City. (Through Feb. 12)

“Michael Dal Cerro: The Infinite City” at Monmouth Museum, Lincroft. (Through Feb. 12)

“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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