Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘The Future of Montclair Film,’ Kelli Rabke, more

evelyn and stephen colbert montclair benefit

Evelyn and Stephen Colbert will talk about Montclair Film in a virtual benefit for the organization.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through May 10.


Montclair Film advisory board member Stephen Colbert will discuss the organization with his wife, Montclair Film board of trustees president Evelyn Colbert, in an online fundraiser titled “The Future of Montclair Film,” May 7 at 7 p.m.

Over the last decade, Stephen Colbert has presented a series of annual in-person conversations with celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon as fundraisers for Montclair Film. The last one was with Julia Louis-Dreyfus at NJPAC in Newark in December 2019; there was no event last year because of the pandemic.

The Colberts have lived in Montclair since 2000, and Stephen has presented many conversations as benefits for the organization over the last decade.

Acme Screening Room starts a Carpool Cinema drive-in series behind the Spokeworks building at 204 N. Union St. in Lambertville, with “The Birdcage” May 8. The blues-rock group Calla Bere & the Attitude will perform at 8 p.m., with the movie immediately following. This will be followed by “Love, Simon,” May 15 (preceded by singer Essie Riddle); “Abominable,” May 21 (preceded by cartoon shorts); and “Jaws,” May 22 (with pre-movie entertainment TBA).



• Kelli Rabke, the Broadway actress (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Les Misérables,” “Children of Eden”) and cabaret singer, presents a show titled “Tiny Giants: Petite Powerhouses From Garland to Gaga,” May 8 at 3 and 7:30 p.m. (with the later show also available for livestreaming) at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown. Rabke will be backed by a five-piece band and also perform songs associated with singers such as Édith Piaf, Bette Midler and Stevie Nicks. “The show is centered around the fact that some of the biggest female voices in history have come from the smallest women,” Rabke said in a press release. “As part of the ‘vertically challenged’ club myself, it felt like a natural fit for me to put together a show about it!”

Courtney Love, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze will be among the performers in a virtual tribute to the late Adam Schlesinger titled “Adam Schlesinger: A Music Celebration,” May 5 at 8 p.m. Schlesinger, who grew up in Montclair and was best known as a member of Fountains of Wayne, died in April 2020 of complications from COVID. The show was organized by Schlesinger’s Fountains of Wayne bandmate, Jody Porter, and is billed as “a mix of performances, stories and videos.” It is being recorded at The Bowery Electric in New York and will benefit that venue, as well as MusicCares. Other performers will include Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, Sean Ono Lennon, Jesse Malin, Nicole Atkins, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, Michelle Branch and many others

• Dionne Warwick, one of Twitter’s surprise breakout stars of 2020 as well as a first-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee this year (the inductees have not yet been announced), will present a Mother’s Day stream, with songs and stories, at 2 and 8 p.m. May 9. “At Home With You: All the Hits and More …” will be available through Mandolin.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Scott Sharrard — a member of Gregg Allman’s band for about 10 years before Allman’s 2017 death, and a current member of Little Feat — will perform with his own Scott Sharrard Band at Shanghai Jazz in Madison, May 7 at 5:45 and 8 p.m.

NJPAC in Newark is one of the partners in bringing the “Broadway by the Year” — which has been presented at Town Hall in New York for the last 20 years — to a national audience via a virtual series this spring. The 7 p.m. May 10 show will be titled “The Kander & Ebb Years” and feature numbers from musicals such as “Chicago,” “Cabaret” and “Kiss of the Spiderwoman,” performed by Beth Leavel, Ute Lemper, Tony Yazbeck, Natascia Diaz and Danny Gardner. Scott Siegel will host.


March 10 marked the 118th anniversary of the birth of the legendary 1920s jazz performer and composer Bix Beiderbecke. It’s a couple of months late, but cornetist Mike Davis will present a “Belated Bix Beiderbecke Back Deck Birthday Bash,” outdoors at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, May 6 at 7 p.m. (The stage will on the museum’s back deck, with listeners sitting in their own socially distanced areas.)



Also on the Morris Museum‘s back deck, May 9 at 7 p.m., the all-female string quartet Rhythm Method will present a Mother’s Day program titled “Hidden Mothers” and devoted to compositions by women: Elizabeth Maconchy’s String Quartet No. 3; Florence Price’s String Quartet in G; Leah Asher’s Shoulder to Shoulder and Amanda Maier-Röntgen String Quartet in A Major.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra kicks off a series of outdoor chamber music concerts on the grounds of the Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, May 6 at 6 p.m. The PSO Strings, conducted by Rossen Milanov, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings and Jessie Montgomery’s Strum.

As part of the Raritan River Music Festival, the Poorwill Lane Duo, featuring violinist Hyeyung Sol Yoon and cellist Gregory Beaver, will perform at the Blue Army Shrine Asbury (Warren County), May 8 at 4 p.m. The program will include works by Carlos Simón, Matthew Fuerst and Anjna Swaminathan, and the performance will be available via a live stream, as well.


“Art” — the thorny 1994 play by Yasmina Reza about what happens among three friends when one believes the all-white painting he has purchased, at a hefty price, is a masterpiece, and the others don’t — will be presented as Zoom readings featuring Pushcart Players artistic director Paul Whelihan, Jim Kempner and Christopher Redman, May 6-7 at 7:30 pm. The stream is free but donations to benefit Pushcart Players, a touring company specializing in arts education for children, will be encouraged.


Calpulli, the Queens, N.Y.-based company specializing in traditional Mexican dance, will present a Cinco de Mayo show at The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, May 5 at 7 p.m.



The Washington Business Improvement District will present a free Rock ‘n’ Roll and Steampunk Fair in downtown Washington (Warren County), May 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event “pairs the steam-powered Victorian Era energy of the classic science fiction genre with a punk and rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack,” according to a press release. Among the attractions will be vendors, activities and three musical acts: This Complete Breakfast, which plays punk covers of classic pop songs, plus originals; the duo Frenchy & The Punk; and and the band This Way to the Egress.

Attendees are invited to dress in Steampunk costumes, and prizes will be given to those with the best costumes.

Luna Stage in West Orange debuted “Vaccine Monologues” — an online collection of videos of actors, playwrights, activists and others sharing stories, both real and imagined, inspired by COVID immunization — on May 1, and will continue adding videos throughout the month. Luna artistic director Laura Kreith calls the current vaccination process “a moment where different elements, both physical and emotional, interact to form something new. Who will we be as individuals and a society when we emerge from our isolation? What have we learned? What do we take away?” The videos are free to view at


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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