Top 12 NJ Arts Events of Week: John Mayer, Isabella Rossellini, Stages Festival, more

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John Mayer will perform at the Prudential Center in Newark, March 11.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through March 15.


• John Mayer will kick off a rare solo tour — backing himself mostly on acoustic guitar and also, on some songs, piano or electric guitar — at the Prudential Center in Newark, March 11 at 8 p.m., with J.P. Saxe opening.

Mayer and Saxe also will perform at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The solo tour is scheduled to last until April 14. From early May to mid-July, Mayer is then scheduled to perform with Dead and Company, with dates including Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, June 15; and Citi Field in New York, June 21-22. The band — also featuring former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, plus Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti — has announced that this tour will be its last.

Five New Jersey Symphony musicians — violinist Eric Wyrick, bassist Ha Young Jung, horn player Chris Komer, trumpeter Garth Greenup and cellist Nayoung Baek — will be featured in the orchestra’s concerts at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, March 16 at 1:30 p.m.; the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, March 17 at 8 p.m.; the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, March 18 at 8 p.m.; and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, March 19 at 3 p.m.

NJS music director Xian Zhang will conduct, and the program will include Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville; Darryl Kubian’s The Well of Urðr – A Tone Poem for Three Soloists and Orchestra (New Jersey Symphony commission and world premiere); Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante; Bizet’s Selections from L’Arlesienne, Suites Nos. 1 & 2.



Actress Isabella Rossellini will present a show titled “Darwin’s Smile,” March 11 at 7 p.m. and March 12 at 3 p.m. at ArtYard in Frenchtown. According to the venue’s website, in the show, Rossellini “explores how empathy, that is at the base of acting, is also necessary for the studies of animal behavior (ethology). The show is both a lesson on evolution and acting. In her usual comical tones, she demonstrates how acting could be used to understand the mysterious nature of animals and their emotions. With humor and simple, innocent devices she plays on stage dogs, cats, chickens, peacocks, and, of course, Charles Darwin.”

Starting in March and continuing through May, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance presents its annual Stages Festival, with more than 50 free or low-cost in-person and online theater events — including fully staged shows, readings, workshops and classes — offered by many of the state’s theater companies. For complete listings, visit

The Black Box Performing Arts Center in Englewood will present a staged reading of Daniel Handler’s “Imaginary Comforts, or the Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit,” March 13-15 at 8 p.m. Handler is best known for his children’s book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” published under the pen name Lemony Snicket. According to a press release, the play is “a comedy about grief, the power of storytelling, and the difference between a rabbi and a rabbit.”


John Jiler, left, and “Sweet” Lou Odom co-star in “The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project.”

New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch presents the world premiere of “The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project,” March 9 through April 2. Written by John Jiler and featuring him along with musician “Sweet” Lee Odom, the play tells the story of the youngest child of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were controversially executed for espionage in 1953. He was adopted Abel and Anne Meeropol; Abel was a songwriter and poet whose most famous works include “Strange Fruit” (the Civil Rights Era anthem popularized by Billie Holiday) and “The House I Live In” (famously recorded by Frank Sinatra).


Rick Riordan’s popular 2005 novel “The Lightning Thief,” which is about a 12-year-old who discovers that he is a demigod, was made into a musical that ran on Broadway in and 2019 and 2020, and will be produced by the Growing Stage in Netcong from March 10 to March 26.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison annually presents shortened, family-friendly versions of The Bard’s plays. It will do so this year with “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” “Macbeth” will be presented March 11 at 11 a.m., with later shows on April 29 and May 6 and 13. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” follows at 2 p.m. March 11, with later shows on April 29 and May 12 and 14.

Joe Satriani’s painting, “4th of July Shortcake Guitar.”


Rock guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, who is also a painter, will make an appearance at the Wentworth Gallery at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, March 11 from 6 to 9 p.m., in conjunction with a display of his art titled “Beyond Reality.” Check out one of his works to the right.


• Jelani Remy, who has starred on Broadway in “The Lion King” and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” will be interviewed by actor and singer Robert Bannon at StageWorks at Studio 237 in Pompton Lakes, March 11 at 3 p.m. This event is part of Bannon’s “Broadway Lecture Series,” whose future installments will feature Jennifer Holliday, April 15; Kerry Butler, May 13; and Eden Espinosa, June 17.


The New Jersey Jewish Film Festival runs from March 12 to March 26 at JCC MetroWest in West Orange, opening, March 12 at 3 p.m., with “Only in Theaters” (see trailer below), a documentary about the Laemmle family and the art house movie theaters it has owned and operated in the Los Angeles area for decades.


The Newark Museum of Art will celebrate the unveiling of a new Harriet Tubman statue by Nina Cooke John and the reopening of its “Seeing America: 18th & 19th Century” galleries with “Community Day: Her Story/Our Story,” a free event (though registration is required) on March 11 featuring performances, art-making activities, gallery tours and more.

Activities will take place from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. at the museum and across the street at Harriet Tubman Square (formerly known as Washington Square Park). Performers will include the Yendor Theatre Company, hip-hop, spoken word and storytelling artist Fyütch, DJ Quin Bee, gospel singer Seychelle Elise, New Jersey Tap Ensemble and more.

According to a press release, the “Seeing America” galleries “reframe the Museum’s historical American art collection to foreground slavery and Black and Indigenous histories.”


“Wuthering Heights” at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through March 12)

“Raisin” at Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal. (Through March 12)

“Hercules” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through March 19)

“Quarter Rican” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through March 26)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)

“vanessa german: … please imagine all the things i cannot say …” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 25)

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through June 25)

“Komar and Melamid: A Lesson in History” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through July 16)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30, 2024)


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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