Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Montclair Film Festival, Hoboken Arts and Music Festival, more

montclair film fest 2019 preview

Mindy Kaling in “Late Night,” which will be shown at the Montclair Film Festival.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through May 12:

New Jersey’s biggest film festival, the Montclair Film Festival, brings dozens of screenings and special events to various Montclair venues, from May 3 to May 12. Among the most notable offerings, in chronological order, are:

The festival’s opening film, “Wild Rose,” about a young ex-con (played by Jessie Buckley) trying to get her career as a country singer going and also take care of her family. Buckley will participate in a Q&A session after the screening, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater.

“Late Night” (see trailer below), which is about a late-night talk show host (Emma Thompson) who hires a female comedy writer (Mindy Kaling, who also wrote the film) for her previously all-male writing staff. May 4 at 4:30 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater, followed by a Q&A session with Kaling moderated by a guy who knows a little bit about hosting late night talk shows, Stephen Colbert. Kaling will also be interviewed by Colbert at the Wellmont Theater, May 4 at 1:30 p.m.

• “In Conversation With Ben Stiller,” moderated by Colbert, May 5 at noon Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School.

A screening of “Tolkien,” about “Lord of the Rings” writer J.R.R. Tolkien, followed by a Q&A session with actors Nicholas Hoult (who plays the young Tolkien), Lily Collins (who plays his future wife Edith Bratt) and director Dome Karukoski. Colbert will moderate the discussion, which will be broadcast live to theaters across the country via Fathom Events. May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater.

• “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” with a pre-screening performance by students in the Montclair-based Jazz House Kids program, and a post-screening Q&A session with director Stanley Nelson. May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.” Greenfield-Sanders will participate in a Q&A session. May 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater.


From left, Nell Williams, Viveik Kalra and Aaron Phagura co-star in “Blinded by the Light.”

• “Blinded by the Light,” based on a true story about a Pakistani-British Bruce Springsteen superfan. May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School, with a Q&A session with director/co-writer/co-producer Gurinder Chadha following.

Also coming up:


The jukebox musical, “The Cher Show,” opened late last year on Broadway and is still running, but you can see the real thing when Cher herself brings her Here We Go Again Tour to the Prudential Center in Newark, May 3 at 8 p.m. Nile Rodgers & Chic will play hits such as “Good Times” and “Le Freak” in their opening set.

Steven Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul are releasing a buoyant new retro-rock album, Summer of Sorcery, on May 3, and celebrate it with a concert at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, May 8 at 8 p.m. The band put out a comeback album, Soulfire, in 2017, but unlike that release, this one is devoted exclusively to new songs, previously unreleased in any form. On it, Van Zandt said in a press release, “I wanted to capture the excitement of that first summer of consciousness. That one special summer where you first fall in love with life, that thrill of just being alive.”

Despite its name, The Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest is also about music, with bands playing from noon to 6 p.m. May 5, on two stages. Performers will include The Weeklings, The Matt O’Ree Band, The Nerds, Decade (Neil Young tribute), Verdict and more. The festival’s location is the White Street parking lot in downtown Red Bank, and admission for anyone older than 10 is a $10 donation, with proceeds going to the Red Bank RiverCenter and other local organizations. (May 5 Update: This event has been cancelled, because of the weather.)


Hoboken’s free, annual Spring Arts and Music Festival takes place on the city’s main drag, Washington Street, May 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Washington Street. Buster Poindexter (aka David Johansen), best known for his 1987 hit “Hot Hot Hot,” headlines. There will be three stages (including one for children), plus art displays and vendors all along Washington Street. Other performers will include the Karyn Kuhl Band, Sonic Blume, Maxima Alerta, Gene D. Plumber, Debra Devi, the Joe Taino Group and Jeb Jones. (May 4 Update: Because of the threat of inclement weather, this event has been postponed to May 19.)

Monty Hall in Jersey City will present Bradstock, a tribute to the late Brad Morrison, May 4 at 2 p.m. Morrison was a band manager and producer who had his own record label, Absolute a Go Go, in the ’80s and ’90s. Performers will include Painted Birds, Spiral Jetty, The Wooden Soldiers, The Vestrymen, The Blasés, The Selves, The Woodshed Prophets, Duochrome, Peter Hutchison (Empire of Light), Must Be Dreaming and Super 400, and proceeds will go to Morrison’s children.

Guitarist and vocalist Lou Pallo — who first performed with Les Paul in the ’60s, and played with him regularly from the 1980s until Paul’s death in 2009 — will give a talk titled “My Time With Les Paul,” May 5 at 1:15 p.m. at the Mahwah Museum. (Paul was a longtime Mahwah resident.) The talk is free with museum admission, though advance reservations are recommended; email

Actor Donny Most, of “Happy Days” fame, will bring his Donny Most Band — with which he sings hits by Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and so one — to the County Seat Jazz & Blues Street Fest on West Main Street in Freehold, May 5. The event takes place from noon to 7 p.m., and also features crafts displays, vendors, fire and first aid trucks and more. Other performers will include the Chuck Lambert Band and the CMJ Jazz Band.



• Michelle Wolf, who somehow became a controversial figure after making some roast-like jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner (which is what comedians do at the White House Correspondents Dinner), will perform at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, May 3 at 8 p.m. Wolf hosts “The Break with Michelle Wolf” on Netflix and is a former contributor to “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”


David Hare’s drama “Skylight” — which was nominated for the Best Play Tony when it was first on Broadway, in 1997, and received the Best Revival Tony in 2015 for a production featuring Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy — will be presented at the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, with previews beginning May 3, the official opening night on May 11, and the last show on June 2. McCarter’s artistic director, Emily Mann, directed this production, which co-stars Mahira Kakkar and Greg Wood.


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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