Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000,’ ‘Sleuth,’ more


A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through March 12:

“Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the Netflix show that features robots making sardonic comments about horrendously bad movies, brings its “Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour” to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, March 6 at 8 p.m., and the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, March 7 at 7 p.m. The show’s creator and original host, Joel Hodgson, will be making his final live MST appearances on this tour, and sketches and songs are promised. The movie to be shown and commented upon at both shows will be 1960’s “Circus of Horrors.” The Netflix series is a revival of the cult-hit show, which started out on local Minnesota television in 1988 and later ran on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel.


From 3 to 6 p.m. March 7, Yo La Tengo will make its traditional contribution to the WFMU-FM/ fundraising marathon, playing donors’ requests live on their air with guest guitarist Bruce Bennett (of the band The A-Bones). “Pledge at least $100 and make a song request, and we will do our best to play it … We will not be consulting computers, phones or anything else to help us play these songs, relying strictly on our ‘wits’ and a lifetime of listening to records,” Yo La Tengo member Ira Kaplan posted on Facebook. Pledges can be made in advance here.


• Celine Dion brings her Courage World Tour to the Prudential Center in Newark, March 7-8 at 7:30 p.m. These shows are part of the vocal powerhouse’s first extensive world tour in more than a decade; from 2011 to 2019, she concentrated on an extended residency in Las Vegas.

The New Brunswick Jazz Project, which books artists regularly in New Brunswick venues, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, as well as 10 years of presenting female band leaders during the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month. Upcoming shows include The Vanessa Perea Duo, March 6 in the lobby of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center; The Chelsea Hughley Band, March 10 at George Street Ale House; The Sanah Kadoura Quartet, March 11 at Tavern on George; Najawa Parkins, March 12 at Tavern on George; The Mariel Bildsten Trio, March 17 at George Street Ale House; and The Danielle Illario Quartet, March 18 at Tavern on George. All the shows will be at 8 p.m. except for Perea, who will perform at 6.

The Montclair Orchestra, conducted by David Chan, will present a program titled “Ceud Mìle Fàilte” (Scottish for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”), March 8 at 5 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church in Montclair. The program will include Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies’ An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise (featuring bagpiper Kenneth Mackenzie); Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy (with violinist Richard Lin) ; and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scottish.”


Rock guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett, a former member of Genesis, will perform the band’s 1973 Selling England by the Pound album in its entirety, as well as his 1979 solo album Spectral Mornings and other songs, March 7 at 8 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood, and March 13-14 at 8 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood.

• Timothy Liam Smith has been a mayor and councilman in Roxbury Township, and is also an Irish tenor who has worked extensively in music and theater, and sung for three presidents. Centenary Stage Company will present him in a show titled “Act III: A Musical Journey,” March 8 at 2 p.m. at the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown. He’ll sing Irish favorites and other songs in a show described as a “wide ranging program about life, family and Smith’s love of the stage.”

Cornetist, pianist and composer Bix Beiderbecke, who became an important figure in the early history of jazz before dying in 1931 at the age of 28, was born on March 10, and cornetist and vocalist Mike Davis will honor him with a “Bix Beiderbecke Birthday Bash” at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. Davis will be joined by Ricky Alexander (reeds and vocals), Joe McDonough (trombone), Dalton Ridenhour (piano), Jay Rattman (bass saxophone) and Jay Lepley (drums).

March 7 at 7 p.m., The Joel Zelnik Trio (featuring Zelnik on piano, Gary Mazzaroppi on bass and David Cox on drums) will present a tribute to the late Bill Evans, with a screening of the 2015 documentary, “Bill Evans: Time Remembered” to follow at Ingalls Recital Hall in Rossey Hall at New Jersey City University in Jersey City. Evans, the pianist and composer, is known for his work with Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Stan Getz and countless others; a North Plainfield native, he died in 1980 at the age of 51. For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to with the word “Zelnik” in the subject line by noon March 6.



The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton will present the ingenious murder mystery “Sleuth,” with previews beginning March 10, the official opening night on March 14, and the last show on March 29. The cast includes the Tony-nominated Derek Smith as Andrew Wyke, a rich, eccentric mystery writer; and John Tufts as Milo Tindle, who is having an affair with Wyke’s wife. Written by Anthony Shaffer, “Sleuth” ran on Broadway from 1970 to 1973, winning the Tony for Best Play in 1971. It was also made into movies in 1972 (with Laurence Olivier as Wyke and Michael Caine as Tindle) and 2007 (with Caine as Wyke and Jude Law as Tindle).


Former United States senator, best-selling author, podcaster and former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member Al Franken will make appearances at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, March 7 at 8 p.m. and March 8 at 3 p.m. Franken won five Emmy Awards for his work on “Saturday Night Live” and 1977’s “The Paul Simon Special,” and Grammys in the Comedy Album and Spoken-Word Album categories. His film work includes 1995’s “Stuart Saves His Family,” based on his “SNL” character, self-help guru Stuart Smalley. He served as a senator from Minnesota from 2009 to 2018, resigning after being accused of sexual misconduct.


“Cézanne: The Rock and Quarry Paintings” opens at the Princeton University Art Museum on March 7, and runs through June 14. The exhibition will feature 15 paintings as well as other works and related material, and is described as “the first major exhibition to examine an essential but understudied aspect of the revolutionary French painter’s work: his profound interest in rock and geological formations.”

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