Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Jay Blakesberg photo exhibition, Dodge Poetry Festival, ‘Richard II,’ more

morris museum blakesberg


This photograph of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Starship at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, in 1997, is part of the “RetroBlakesberg” exhibition at the Morris Museum in Morris Township.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Oct. 20.


The work of rock photographer Jay Blakesberg will be featured in “RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film, 1978-2008,” an exhibition that opens at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, Oct. 14 and runs through Feb. 5. Blakesberg is a Clark native who began his career at The Aquarian Weekly. The exhibition includes photos of The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Green Day, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips and others.


The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, which takes place every other year, is widely regarded as North America’s largest poetry event. This year’s edition will take place at NJPAC and other Newark venues, Oct. 20-23, with about 100 poets participating in readings, discussions, book signings, and poetry-and-music collaborations.

Participants will include former U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo; Pulitzer Prize winners Forrest Gander, Sharon Olds and Yusef Komunyakaa; Sandra Cisneros, Terrance Hayes, Aimee Nezhukumatahil, Kim Addonizio, Ellen Bass, Kwame Dawes, Camille T. Dungy, Nikky Finney, Carolyn Forché, Stephen Kuusisto, Willie Perdomo, Patricia Smith and Newark mayor Ras Baraka (who is a published poet).

Some of the events will also stream online.




The New Jersey Symphony, which kicked off its 2022-23 season last weekend, will continue with concerts at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 3 p.m., and at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. NJS music director Xian Zhang will conduct, and pianist Michelle Cann will be featured on Strauss’ Burleske for Piano and Orchestra. The program will also include Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, and Dorothy Chang’s Northern Star.

In response to the devastation recently caused by Hurricane Ian, salsa star Frankie Negrón, who grew up in Newark and is of Puerto Rican descent, will headline a Puerto Rico disaster relief benefit concert at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank launches a Jazz Brunch series, Oct. 15, with singer-trombonist Jeffery Miller, performing with guitarist Aaron Matson, pianist Miles Lennox, bassist Daniel Winshall and drummer Charles Goold, with a guest appearance by bassist Endea Owens.

A 26-year-old New Orleans native, Miller appeared on the HBO series “Treme” (as a student of trombonist Antoine Batiste, played by Wendell Pierce) and has worked with artists such as Trombone Shorty, Jon Batiste, Wynton Marsalis, John Legend and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Brunch will start at 11 a.m., with the music at noon.

The 18th annual Wildwoods ’50s, ’60s and ’70s Weekend takes place Oct. 14-15, starting with a 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 Dance Party at the Wildwoods Convention Center featuring The Cameos.

Oct. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be a free street fair at Fox Park, with music by Animal House, Rave On! and Sidestory; a classic car show; memorabilia vendors; and more. And a 7 p.m. Oct. 15 concert at the Wildwoods Convention Center will feature Tommy James & the Shondells, The Vogues, The Voice of Tribute starring Tommy C (as Frankie Valli, Lou Christie, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra) with a tribute to Bobby Rydell, and Nathaniel Cullors as the young Michael Jackson.


Jason Robert Brown — a Tony-winning composer whose credits include the musicals “Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “The Last Five Years,” “Honeymoon in Vegas” and “Mr. Saturday Night,” as well as the song cycle “Songs for a New World” — is also a recording artist and concert performer, and will appear at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Brown” in the subject line to by 2 p.m. Oct. 13.)

The Outpost in the Burbs presents singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman with drummer Tommy Larkins, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of Richman’s band The Modern Lovers’ self-titled debut album, which included the classic driving song, “Roadrunner.” The band (featuring future members of Talking Heads and The Cars) didn’t last long, but Richman has maintained a cult following since then with often-quirky songs about love, the innocence of youth, famous painters (he’s written songs about Picasso, Van Gogh, Dalí and Vermeer), cappuccino bars, parties on the beach and more. The show will be at The First Congregational Church of Montclair at 40 S. Fullerton Ave.

The Hudson West Folk Festival takes place at the Nimbus Arts Center in Jersey City, Oct. 15 from noon to 10 p.m., with The Ebony Hillbillies, Leslie Mendelson, J Pope & the HearNow, Jaimee Harris, Cole Quest & the City Pickers, Ari Hest, Ukrainian Village Voices and KJ Denhert.

The fest will also offer workshops on “Vocal Accompaniment and Guitar Technique” (by Harris) “The Asset of Style & Honoring Roots” (by Walter Parks), “Learn Ukrainian Folk Songs” (by Ukrainian Village Voices) and “Improvisational Singing” (by Jan Hittle and Pat Wictor).

The Jersey-based internet radio station will present a webathon titled Banding Together, benefiting the Spondylitis Association of America, Oct. 14-16, with performances by about 40 local artists, including The Wag, Diego Allessandro, Amanda Rose Riley, The Antoine Poncelet Band, Deena Shoshkes, Tony Tedesco, Sonofdov, Christian Beach, Catherine Wacha, Jason Didner, Teen Idle, The Clydes and Laree Cisco.

Jean Tafler as Margaret Hamilton.


As part of its Fringe Festival, the Centenary Stage Company will present the one-woman show, “My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories!,” at the Kutz Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, Oct. 20-23 and 27-30. Hamilton, who will be played by Jean Tafler, was the actress who was best known for portraying the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz.”

According to the Centenary website, this is “the amazing tale of the brains, heart and courage it took to be America’s most recognizable yet least known character woman … and of how a gentle kindergarten teacher from Cleveland scared the living daylights out of every last one of us. … Margaret Hamilton was more than the Wicked Witch of the West, and this show tells the before, during, and after she performed that iconic role.”

To launch its 2022-23 season, Luna Stage in West Orange will present the world premiere of a new adaptation by Zachary Elkind of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” featuring four actors playing 16 roles, Oct. 20-23 and 27-30 and Nov. 3-6 and 10-13.


The Growing Stage in Netcong presents “Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium,” Oct. 14-16, 22-23 and 29-30. The musical is adapted by John Maclay (book, lyrics) and Danny Abosch (music, lyrics) from R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series of humorous and mildly scary books for children.


“In the Court of the Crimson King: King Crimson at 50,” a new documentary about the progressive-rock band King Crimson, will have a one-night only theatrical premiere, Oct. 19, with theaters throughout the world screening it. The only New Jersey venue I am aware of that is participating is The Clairidge in Montclair, whose screening will take place at 7:30 p.m. that day. A “specially filmed introduction” is promised.

King Crimson leader Robert Fripp (one of the film’s co-producers) has called it “a grown-up film about working players living, dying, laughing, playing …”

The Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway will screen the documentary, “Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster,” Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Karloff is best known, of course, for playing the monster in “Frankenstein.” The film features commentary from directors Guillermo del Toro and Peter Bogdanovich, actors Ron Perlman and Christopher Plummer, film critic Leonard Maltin and others. The film’s producer, Ron MacCloskey, will introduce it and participate in a Q&A session after the screening.



Penn Jillette of the magic/comedy team, Penn & Teller, will sign copies of his Las Vegas-set novel “Random” — about the son of a gambling addict who inherits a $2.5 million debt to a gangster — Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. at Bookends in Ridgewood.


“Thou Shalt Not,” presented by Thinkery & Verse at Church of St. John the Evangelist, New Brunswick. (Through Oct. 14)

“The Wolves” at Berlind Theater at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through Oct. 16)

“Berta, Berta” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through Oct. 16)

“American Stories: Gifts From the Jersey City Museum Collection” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 30)

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

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


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