Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Gloria: A Life,’ ‘Paul Robeson,’ Jake Clemons, more

Mary McDonnell in 'Gloria'

Mary McDonnell will star in “Gloria: A Life” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 11:


Mary McDonnell, the two-time Oscar nominee (for “Dances With Wolves” and “Passion Fish”), will star in “Gloria: A Life,” a play about feminist, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem that will begin previews at the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Sept. 6, officially open on Sept. 14 and run through Oct. 6. The play was written by the McCarter Theatre Center’s artistic director, Emily Mann, and kicks off Mann’s last season there, in that role. It was directed by Diane Paulus Off-Broadway, last year, but has been restaged for the McCarter by Mann.

“Paul Robeson” — a play about the athlete, scholar, activist and actor, who graduated from Rutgers 100 years ago, in 1919 — will be the first production of the 2019-2020 season of the Crossroads Theatre Company, as well as Crossroads’ first play in its new home: The new New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Nathaniel Stampley — whose Broadway credits include “The Color Purple,” “The Lion King,” “Cats” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” — will play the title role. Written by Phillip Hayes Dean, “Paul Robeson” will begin previews on Sept. 5, officially open on Sept. 7, and run through Sept. 15.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison begins previews of the Bard’s comedy “As You Like It” on Sept. 11, with the official opening night on Sept. 14 and the last performance on Sept. 20.

The Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in Hampton will present Neil Simon’s 1963 comedy “Barefoot in the Park” (made into a movie in 1967, with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda), Sept. 10-12, 14, 17-19, 21, 24-25 and 27-29 and Oct. 1-3, 5-6, 8-12 and 14-16. Clarence Gilyard directs, though he is best known as an actor on television (“Matlock,” “Walker, Texas Ranger) and films (“Die Hard,” “Top Gun”).

The Grand Theatre in Williamstown will present “Frost/Nixon” — Peter Morgan’s 2006 play about the series of interviews that British television personality and journalist David Frost conducted with former president Richard Nixon in 1977 — Sept. 5-8 and 12-15.



E Street Band member Jake Clemons will celebrate the release of his album Eyes on the Horizon at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Sept. 7, with doors opening at 7 p.m. “This album is a lot different from anything I’ve done before, “ Clemons said in a press release. “My last album (Fear & Love) reflected a very personal and inward point of view. This one is definitely more outward looking. It’s really speaking to the troubles and travails we find in the world today.” Asbury Jukes guitarist Glenn Alexander and his Shadowland band will open; they’ve got a new album of their own, Knockin’ on the Door.

• Remember Jones will perform The Who’s landmark Tommy album in its entirety, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 8 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. This will NOT be a production of the musical “The Who’s Tommy,” which ran on Broadway from 1993 to 1995 and has frequently been presented elsewhere since then. This will be a concert version of the 24 songs on the double album. Joining Remember Jones as Tommy will be Lance Larson as Uncle Ernie, JaQuita May as The Acid Queen, Billy Walton as The Hawker, Daimon Santa Maria as Cousin Kevin, Taylor Tote as Sally Simpson, Bobby Lynch as The Pinball Wizard, and Rick Barry as The Specialist.

UB40 vocalists Ali Campbell and Astro left the group in 2008 and 2013, respectively, and now perform together under the name UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro. Their group will perform with Shaggy and Steel Pulse at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m., to close out the summer season at the Holmdel amphitheater.

The French-Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo — whose most recent album, Celia, pays tribute to salsa icon Celia Cruz — will talk about her career and perform in the “An Evening With” series at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m.



Wynton Marsalis will perform at a free, outdoor concert honoring jazz icons Nat King Cole and Art Blakey at J. Owen Grundy Pier (at Exchange Place) in Jersey City, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. This year marks the 100th anniversaries of the birth of both singer-pianist Cole (born March 17, 1919) and drummer-bandleader Blakey (born Oct. 11, 1919). Cole and Blakey died in 1965 and 1990, respectively. Marsalis will perform with the New Jersey City University Alumni Jazz Big Band at this concert, which will also feature singer-guitarist Allan Harris and singer Antoinette Montague. The NJCU Alumni Jazz Big Band, directed by Dick Lowenthal, presents concerts like this annually. This will be the seventh in the series. (UPDATE: Due to the prospect of rain, the concert has been moved to the Harborside Atrium at Harborside 2 at Exchange Place in Jersey City.)

Pianist Aaron Diehl will pay tribute to James P. Johnson — a New Brunswick native, most popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and an important figure in the development of jazz piano — in a free concert at the new New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.


The free, annual Dance on the Lawn festival takes place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. The event will feature a new, commissioned work choreographed by Oluwadamilare “Dare” Ayorinde as well as performances by New Jersey-based companies (Mignola Dance, Freespace Dance, Maurice Chestnut/Dance Therapy, 10 Hairy Legs), New York-based companies (Sofia Forero, The Heraclitus Project & Stefanie Rae William) and New Jersey schools (Linda D’Amico’s Academy of Dance, Lisa Bachelor’s Unique Performance Arts Center, Kathy Costa’s Danceworks & Company, Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts’ Performance Workshop Ensemble).


The Bicycle Film Festival — taking place at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, Sept. 7 — features 10 short films about some aspect of bicycling. Since launching in 2001 in conjunction with the urban bike movement, this traveling festival has held events in 90 cities, with more than a million attendees.



Actor Sean Penn will talk about his new novel, “Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn,” Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Ridgewood. According to its publishing company, the book “explores the deepest recesses of American politics and culture. Bob Honey, the disillusioned divorcee with a penchant for murder by mallet, weaves his way toward Washington DC for the ultimate showdown with a certain nefarious ‘landlord,’ but nothing is as it seems, and Bob will have more than just the government working against him.”

The Peak Performances series at Montclair State University will present “Falling & Loving,” a new collaboration between choreographer Elizabeth Streb and director Anne Bogart, at its Kasser Theater Sept. 24-29. In conjunction with that, the university’s George Segal Gallery (located near the theater) will present an exhibition, “Extreme: The PopAction Performance Art of Elizabeth Streb,” Sept. 4-29, with extended gallery hours the week of performances. The exhibition will include notebooks, videos, photographs, drawings and equipment related to Streb’s work.

Here is a preview of “Falling & Loving”:

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