Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, ‘Songs for a New World,’ more

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Xian Zhang will conduct the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Newark, Oct. 8 and 10.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Oct. 14:


The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will return to the concert hall for the first time since the pandemic began, kicking off its 2021-22 season with concerts Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 10 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark. NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct and Daniel Bernard Roumain will be featured on violin on a program that includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7; the world premiere of Michael Abels’ “Emerge” (an NJSO co-commission); and Roumain’s Voodoo Violin Concerto, which reflects his Haitian roots.

Members of the Montclair Orchestra will perform in the Second Sunday Chamber Concerts series at Van Vleck House and Gardens in Montclair, Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. The program, titled “Strings of Autumn,” will include works by Richard Strauss, Antonin Dvorak and recent Morristown Beard School graduate Kailyn Williams. The concert is free, though there will be a suggested donation of $10.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has put together an “Autumn Night Music” series at its outdoor Back Yard Stage in Florham Park, with concerts by singer-actors (and alumni of STNJ plays and musicals) Elena Shaddow, Oct. 8; Benjamin Eakeley, Oct. 9; and Kate Baldwin, Oct. 15. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.

• Robyn Hitchcock, a native of London who now lives in Nashville, has been presenting weekly online shows during the pandemic. In October, though, the eccentric singer-songwriter has scheduled a tour that will take him from Virginia to Maine; it comes to the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m., and Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets to the Montclair show, send an email to by 3 p.m. Oct. 6 with the word “Hitchcock” in the subject line.)


The Jazz Room Series at the Shea Center for Performing Arts at William Paterson University in Wayne starts with an Oct. 10 concert by guitarist Russell Malone‘s quartet. Next up will be the Art Farmer Tribute Quintet (pianist Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Ron Blake, bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Yoron Israel and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt), Oct. 24; this event will also include the archive dedication for Farmer’s collection, which is being added to the William Paterson Living Jazz Archives. Later shows will include saxophonist Scott Robinson with the William Paterson University Jazz Orchestra, Nov. 7; and Ryan Truesdell leading a performance of the classic Miles Davis album, The Birth of the Cool, on Nov. 14.

All shows will be at 4 p.m., with meet-the-artist sessions an hour earlier at Shea Recital Hall.

The bands Jump Back, Nix, No Xquse, Revolver and Echo Charlie will perform at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., in a show titled Earthshare NJ Rocks and benefiting the environmental organization Earthshare New Jersey. The event was postponed from March because of the pandemic; tickets for the original show will be honored. WCBS Newsradio 880 reporter Tom Kaminski will host the event and also appear as a guest drummer.


Mignolo Dance Company will premiere “Visitor Parking,” Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. According to a post on, this is “a site specific immersive interdisciplinary piece rooted in contemporary dance that explores mental health issues and their implications. Audiences will traverse multiple levels of Metuchen’s Pearl Street Parking Deck engaging with dancers, visual art installations and original music created around the theme of mental health.”



The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn kicks off its 2021-22 season with “Songs for a New World,” which will begin previews on Oct. 13, officially open on Oct. 17, and run through Nov. 7. Audience size will be capped at 75 percent and other COVID Era protocols will be in effect, as well.

The play, a theatrical song cycle written by Jason Robert Brown, debuted off-Broadway in 1995 and has been produced on London’s West End and elsewhere. “It is literally about the journeys we all take as we face challenging decisions or an uncertain future,” said Paper Mill’s producing artistic director Mark S. Hoebee (who will also direct this production) in a press release. “After the unimaginable year and a half we all went through, I think it will prove the unquestionable power of theater to comfort and heal.”

The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank will present “I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce,” Oct. 8-9 at 8 p.m. This one-man play about the controversial satirist was written by and stars Ronnie Marmo, was directed by Joe Mantegna, and previously has been presented off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.

Luna Stage will present “The Frontera Project” outdoors at Lackawanna Plaza in Montclair, Oct. 7-10, and then at Luna Stage’s tented outdoor space in West Orange, Oct. 14-17. All shows are at 7 p.m.

The play is described on the Luna Stage website as a “joyous conversation” about life on the United States-Mexico border (in the San Diego/Tijuana area). It features American and Mexican actors, who speak in both English and Spanish, and it contains elements of theater, movement and music, as well as audience participation.

Stephen Temperley stars in “Nine Day Wonder.”

The Centenary Stage Company‘s Fringe Festival begins with “Nine Day Wonder,” which will be presented at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, Oct. 14 at 7:30 pm, Oct. 15-16 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. Written by and starring Stephen Temperley, “Nine Day Wonder” is a solo, one-act play about a contemporary man who somehow takes on another identity as Will Kemp, a British actor of Shakespeare’s time (and known for his comic work in Shakespeare’s plays), who famously danced from London to Norwich (about 125 miles) over nine days, as a publicity stunt.

Playwright Joanne Hoersch, who worked as a Playboy Club cocktail waitress in the ’70s, has written a play inspired by her experiences: “Bunnies,” which takes place at the New York Playboy Club in 1973 and will have its world premiere at Hudson Theatre Works in Weehawken, with direction by HTW artistic director Frank Licato, Oct. 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 10, 17 and 24 at 3 p.m. According to the HTW website, the play is about five women who “find themselves uplifted by the rise of feminism, haunted by the Good Bar murder and conflicted about their jobs as sex symbols, while they bond in humor and compassion.”


The Morristown Festival of Books and its associated KidFest will offer a variety of inside, outside and online events, Oct. 9 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and other locations. All are free. Participating authors will include Kimberly McCreight, Megan Miranda, David O’ Stewart, Courtney Zoffness, Lauren Willig, Sadeqa Johnson, Dan Gutman, Nick Bruel and David Ezra Stein.

• Jonathan Taplin broke into the music business as a tour manager in the ’60s, working with artists such as Bob Dylan and The Band, and Judy Collins. He later served as production manager for George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh”; produced Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets”; and co-produced the movie version of The Band’s “Last Waltz” all-star concert. A Princeton University alumnus, he will discuss his book, “The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life,” with Princeton university history professor and Bob Dylan expert Sean Wilentz, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at Labyrinth Books in Princeton.


The Maplewood Film Society will present “Frida Kahlo,” a 2020 documentary about the artist, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at The Woodland in Maplewood, with a post-screening discussion led by Mary Birmingham, curator of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.


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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