Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Montclair Film Festival, NJ Symphony, more

by JAY LUSTIG
montclair film jon batiste preview

“American Symphony,” which will screen at the Montclair Film Festival, is a documentary about Jon Batiste and his wife.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Oct. 26.

FILM

New Jersey’s leading film festival, The Montclair Film Festival, runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 29 at various venues. One of the highlights of the first weekend should be a screening, Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m., of “American Symphony” at the Wellmont Theater. This is a documentary about the musician and composer Jon Batiste and his attempt to write a symphonic composition while his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad, battles leukemia. A question-and-answer session with Batiste, Jaouad and director Matthew Heineman will follow the screening.

Also on Oct. 21, director Todd Haynes will be interviewed by Stephen Colbert following the 7:30 p.m. screening, also at the Wellmont Theater, of Haynes’ “May December,” co-starring Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman and Charles Melton (Portman plays an actress who is portraying Moore’s character in a movie).

Jane Levy and David Strathairn in “A Little Prayer.”

For the first time, the Montclair Film Festival (see previous item) will venture into Central New Jersey to screen movies at the Basie Center Cinemas in Red Bank. “A Little Prayer,” a family drama starring David Strathairn, will be shown Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.; while the animated film “They Shot the Piano Player” (see trailer below), featuring the voice of Jeff Goldblum, will screen Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. “The Teacher’s Lounge” — German director Ilker Çatak’s drama about a young, idealistic schoolteacher — will be shown Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.

The three films are all being released from Sony Pictures Classics, which was co-founded by longtime Count Basie Center for the Arts board member Tom Bernard. “Giving more people the chance to watch independent film is crucial to nurturing love of the art form,” said Bernard in a press release “This is exactly how I discovered cinema as a kid growing up in New Jersey: in a theater, surrounded by other moviegoers.”

The New Jersey Horror and Film Festival, taking place Oct. 20-22 at The Showboat in Atlantic City, will feature screenings, panel discussions, vendors, cosplay, and appearances by actors, musicians and actor/musicians including Tony Moran, William Forsythe, Fred Williamson, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Alan Howarth, Bai Ling, Peter Criss (of Kiss), Carnie Wilson, Dave “The Snake” Sabo and Rachel Bolan (both of Skid Row), Jennifer Rubin, Cherie Currie and Bam Margera.

nj film listings

New Jersey Symphony will present “Jurassic Park” with live music in Morristown, Red Bank, Newark and New Brunswick.

The 1993 film “Jurassic Park” will screen with the New Jersey Symphony, conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos, playing John Williams’ Grammy-nominated score, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.; Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; and Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

MUSIC

The New Jersey Symphony, which launched its season last week, will perform again at Prudential Hall of NJPAC in Newark, Oct. 19 at 1:30 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 3 p.m.; the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.; and the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. Joseph Young will conduct, and Sterling Elliott will be featured on Schumann’s Cello Concerto. The program will also include Jessie Montgomery’s Snapshots (a NJS co-commission, in its East Coast premiere) and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

• The Players, featuring former members of Chicago (keyboardist-singer Bill Champlin, guitarist Keith Howland, bassist-singer Jeff Coffey) and Earth, Wind & Fire (drummer Gordon Campbell) will perform at the URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.

JAKE CLEMONS

After his uncle Clarence Clemons died in 2011, Jake Clemons became been playing saxophone with the E Street Band, and fitting in seamlessly. He also has proven to be an ambitious and accomplished solo artist, though, on his albums Fear & Love (2017) and Eyes on the Horizon (2019). He will bring his Jake Clemons Band to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., with the Eddie Testa Band and Jarod Clemons (Jake’s cousin, and Clarence Clemons’ son) opening.

The eighth in Glenn Alexander’s annual series of Pig Gig benefit concerts — taking place Oct. 22 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Italian American Hall in Scotch Plains — will feature a typically impressive lineup. Alexander, a Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes member, will perform with his own Shadowland band, featuring a “special guest,” Southside Johnny himself, on harmonica and vocals. Joining them in the lineup will be the Beatles-influenced power-pop band The Weeklings; the roots band The Lonesome Pines; Alexander’s Blue Americana duo with his daughter, singer Oria; singer-songwriter Anthony Tamburro; and, bringing a new element to this music-oriented event, comedian Mike Marino.

The admission charge includes the all-you-can-eat pig roast (with lots of other food, and drinks, included in the price) in addition to the six hours of music. There also will be a silent auction. Proceeds will go to the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation in honor of Alexander’s nephew Jay Alexander, who died of the disease in 2011.

Opera at Florham will present a program titled “Mayhem in Opera,” Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison. The concert will feature soprano Brenna Markey, baritone Patrick Wilhelm and artistic director Mary Pinto and, according to the Opera at Florham website, will “take listeners on a journey of Opera’s most beloved star-crossed lovers, cases of mistaken identity, and unrequited love-driven madness.”

ALAN PAUL

Alan Paul is a writer whose books include the recent bestseller “Brothers and Sisters: The Allman Brothers Band and the Inside Story of the Album That Defined the ’70s.” He is also a musician who sings and plays Allman Brothers Band music with the group Friends of the Brothers, which also features singer-guitarists Junior Mack and Andy Aledort (longtime collaborators of ABB members Jaimoe and Dickey Betts, respectively). Paul will discuss the book, and Friends of the Brothers will perform with guest Quinn Sullivan, at the Williams Center in Rutherford, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman met each other in the ’60s and remained friends and occasional collaborators until Garcia’s death in 1995. Grisman’s son Sam Grisman will pay tribute to the music they made together with a concert by his Sam Grisman Project, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City. Sam Grisman, a bassist, is joined in the group by drummer Chris J. English and multi-instrumentalists Ric Robertson and Aaron Lipp.

THEATER

Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, The Crossroads Theatre Company will celebrate the start of its 45th season with an event titled “Homecoming” and featuring an interactive drum circle and a tribute to the late Micki Grant and her 1971 musical “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” by April May Webb and her band, Sounds of A&R. Crossroads also promises live jazz, a “sneak peek” at the shows in its 2023-2024 season, and “plenty more surprises.”

REVIEWS

“The Pianist,” presented by George Street Playhouse at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. (Through Oct. 22)

“Hair” at Two River Theater, Red Bank. (Through Oct. 22)

“Romeo & Juliet,” presented by The Curtain at Nimbus Arts Center, Jersey City. (Through Oct. 22)

“Anne Trauben: Step Up on a Stool to Reach the Sky” at Watchung Arts Center. (Through Oct. 22)

“Mona Brody: Portals, Apparitions and Other Voices” at Watchung Arts Center. (Through Oct. 22)

 “The Woman in Black” at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through Oct. 29)

“Welcome to Matteson!” at New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch. (Through Oct. 29)

“In Whose Image?,” works by Valerie Huhn presented by The Arts Council of Princeton at the Taplin Gallery. (Through Nov. 4)

“Tracy Jones” at Art House, Jersey City. (Through Nov. 5)

 “Funny, Like an Abortion” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through Nov. 12)

“Searching for Drama,” works by Allan Gorman at BrassWorks Gallery, Montclair. (Through Dec. 15)

“It’s Not Paint!,” works by Lisa Lackey at Hillside Square Gallery, Montclair. (Through Dec. 15)

“The Brodsky Center at Rutgers University: Three Decades, 1986-2017” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 22)

“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)

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

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