Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Unmasked,’ Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, more

unmasked preview

The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn will begin previews of “Unmasked,” Jan. 30.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Jan. 30:


The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn will present the world premiere of “Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” with the first preview on Jan. 30, the official opening night on Feb. 9, and the last show on March 1. According to a press release, “Unmasked” is “a musical portrait” and “a concert for the theater” that “offers an intimate look at Lloyd Webber’s five decades in the spotlight and beyond, from his quirky family and bohemian youth in London to the creation of such smash hits as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Sunset Boulevard. You’ll hear new and sometimes unexpected interpretations of his best-loved songs, rediscovered gems, and some new material specially written for this production.”

“Unmasked” was co-written with Richard Curtis, the writer of movies such as “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Love Actually” (which he also directed), “Notting Hill” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”



Singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, formerly of the roots-rock band Green on Red, performs at the Outpost in the Burbs, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. The show will be at the First Congregational Church at 40 S. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair. David Nagler — whose latest album, The Appointees, was “informed and provoked,” he says, by Trump Cabinet members — will open. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Prophet” in the subject line to by 10 a.m. Jan. 24.)

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents a Lunar New Year Celebration, commemorating the start of the Year of the Rat, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark. NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct, and featured performers will include Chiara Taigi, soprano; Dashuai Chen, tenor; Hao Jiang Tian, bass; the Peking University Alumni Chorus; the Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus; Yuxiao Chen, xun (pottery flute); and the Edison Chinese School Lion Dance Team. The multicultural program will include Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture; Giuseppe Verdi’s “Sperate o figli” and “Va’ Pensiero” from Nabucco and “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata; Georges Bizet’s “Au fond du temple saint” from Les Pêcheurs de perles; “Kangding Love Song” (traditional); Giacomo Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi; Pietro Mascagni’s “Regina Coeli” from Cavalleria Rusticana; Franz Hehár’s “Lippen Schweigen” from The Merry Widow; Wang Lipang’s Overture to Dream of the Red Chamber (arr. Lang); “This Little Swallow” (traditional, arr. Nicholas Hersh).

Jazz great Dave Brubeck was born in 1920, and a concert by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet — featuring his son Chris Brubeck on bass and his son Dan Brubeck on drums, as well as guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb — at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m., is being billed as a celebration of his centennial. Dave Brubeck died in 2012 at the age of 91.


Debbie Gravitte, a Broadway veteran who won a Tony in 1989 for her work in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” brings her “Big Band Broadway” show, featuring the Russ Kassoff Little Big Band, to the Avenel Performing Arts Center. The run began on Jan. 22 and remaining shows are Jan. 24 at 2 and 8 p.m., Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 3 p.m.

The Light of Day festival ended last weekend, but House of Independents will present an “After-Fest” Light of Day event, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m., with Steve Forbert & the New Renditions performing Forbert’s 1979 breakthrough album, Jackrabbit Slim, in its entirety, as well as other songs.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers (not to be confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers) is a Scotland-based group that plays a form of music that they call “Bagrock” — i.e., rock music that incorporates bagpipes (see video below). They’ll perform at the Newton Theatre, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.


Like the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (see above), the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will welcome the Year of the Rat at NJPAC this weekend. Its shows will take place at 2 p.m. Jan. 25-26 at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater and feature a mix of traditional and modern dance.

Renee Zellweger in “Judy.”


This year’s Academy Awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 9, and between now and then, the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank will screen a number of nominated movies in its “Award Season Screenings” series, including “American Factory,” Jan. 26; “Judy,” Jan. 27; “Marriage Story,” Jan. 30; “Parasite,” Feb. 3; “The Lighthouse,” Feb. 4; “The Two Popes,” Feb. 5; and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Feb. 6. All screenings are at 7 p.m. and are being co-sponsored by the Asbury Park Music + Film Festival.


Jackson Galaxy, author and host of the Animal Planet reality show “My Cat From Hell,” brings a stage show titled “Total Cat Mojo Live” to BergenPAC in Englewood, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. According to the BergenPAC website, “Jackson’s mission is to educate people about cats and deepen the human and cat bond, while reducing the number of animals that end up in shelters. His live show will focus on how to improve pet and human relationships.” (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Galaxy” in the subject line to by 10 a.m. Jan. 24.)


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