Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: NJ Symphony Orchestra, ‘Last Days of Summer,’ more

NJSO holst

Xian Zhang and members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Oct. 16:


The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 2019-20 season with concerts at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 3 p.m., and the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. The program will includes Holst’s The Planets — An HD Odyssey (featuring a film with high-definition NASA imagery); Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1; and Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth (with film by Mark DeChiazza).

Snider has said of DeChiazza’s film for her autobiographical Hiraeth, “We set about re-creating some of my father’s, uncle’s and my childhood experiences in North Carolina. The result is something hazy and atmospheric, somewhere between memory and dream.”

NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct the orchestra, with Heather J. Buchanan conducting the Women of Newark Voices.



Tony-winning actress Laura Benanti and her mother, Linda Benanti, will team up for a show titled “The Story Goes On,” Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Linda Benanti worked often as an actress, on Broadway and elsewhere, in the ’70s and early ’80s, but retired in order to raise Laura and Laura’s sister Marielle, and to teach (which she still does at her Linda Benanti Voice Studio in Kinnelon). A few years ago she began performing again, occasionally, with Laura.

The always adventurous, always surprising form of music known as prog-rock will be celebrated at the third annual ProgStock festival, the biggest event of its kind in New Jersey and one of the biggest prog festivals anywhere. It takes place at the Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway, Oct. 11 at 2:30 p.m. and Oct. 12-13 at 11 a.m., with music by Saga, Nektar, Brand X, 3.2 featuring Robert Berry, Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius, Rachel Flowers, Salem Hill, Randy McStine, Rocket Scientists, Disciple, Jane Getter Premonition, Phideaux, The Cyberiam and others. In addition to the UCPAC performances, there will be late-night sets at the nearby Waiting Room restaurant.

Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Todd Rundgren and Christopher Cross will be among the musicians performing songs from The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 double album (commonly known as The White Album) at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m.; and the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m.. Jason Scheff (formerly of Chicago) and Joey Molland (formerly of Badfinger) will also participate in the show, which is titled “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: A Tribute to The Beatles’ White Album.” The shows will feature some of the five musicians’ own material in addition to the White Album songs.


Rickie Lee Jones — whose June album, Kicks, features her versions of songs from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s ranging from “Mack the Knife” to America’s “Lonely People” and Bad Company’s “Bad Company” — will perform at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. “It is all part of what I heard growing up,” Jones has said of the album. “The radio played everything!” (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with the word “Jones” in the subject line to by 10 a.m. Oct. 14.)


The George Street Playhouse will begin previews of “Last Days of Summer,” its first production at its new home — the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center — on Oct. 15, with the official opening night on Oct. 25 and the last show on Nov. 10. Featuring book and lyrics by Steve Kluger (adapting his own novel) and music by Jason Howland, “Last Days of Summer” is about a friendship between a professional baseball player and a young fan in 1942, and features jazz and big-band soundsof the era.

The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton begins previews of the Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” Oct. 15, with the official opening night on Oct. 19 and the last show on Nov. 3. According to a press release, this production, which was adapted from Shelley’s novel by David Catlin, features Shelley herself as a character who “experiences a lifetime of love and passion, of tragedy and loss, all of which unfolds on page and stage as her characters navigate a new age of science and unintended consequences.”

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison begins previews of one of the Bard’s most beloved works, “Romeo and Juliet,” Oct. 16, with the official opening night on Oct. 19, and the last show on Nov. 17.

The Peak Performances series at Montclair State University presentss Lena Herzog’s “Last Whispers” at Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, Oct. 16 and 20 at 3 p.m.; Oct. 17-18 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. “Last Whispers” is a multimedia work, incorporating music and film, in which “the historical recordings of more than 40 endangered or lost languages come alive among the echoes of collapsing stars,” according to a press release.



The Morristown Festival of Books takes place this weekend, with a keynote speech by Preet Bharara — author of “Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law” — at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. (NBC News correspondent and MSNBC anchor Katy Tur moderates) and then a series of free talks and signings at various downtown locations, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as a closing “Pitchapalooza” at St. Peter’s Parish Hall, Oct. 12 at 5:15 p.m. Participating authors will include Meg Cabot, Val Emmich, Rick Atkinson, Andrew S. Lewis, Brenda Shaughnessy, Jen Malone, Kwame Alexander, Sarah Blake and Carl Zimmer.

• Tommy James of Tommy James & the Shondells fame will talk about and sign copies of his autobiography “Me, the Mob and the Music: One Helluva Ride” as well as his recent CD, Alive, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Clifton.


Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City presents the Atlantic City Comedy Festival this weekend, with Mike Epps, Bruce Bruce, Mark Curry, Tommy Davidson, TuRae and Don “D.C.” Curry, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.; and Sommore, Earthquake, Lavell Crawford, Kountry Wayne, Karlous Miller, DC Young Fly, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.


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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