Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Montclair Film Festival, American Repertory Ballet, more

french dispatch montclair film festival

From left, Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Fisher Stevens co-star in “The French Dispatch.”

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Oct. 28:


The Wes Anderson-directed “The French Dispatch” (see trailer below) — co-starring Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Bill Murray and others — will be the kickoff film of this year’s Montclair Film Festival, screening at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Wellmont Theater. The festival will continue through Oct. 30, with some of the most notable offerings include the documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” followed by a Q&A session with Warwick and director Dave Wooley, moderated by Stephen Colbert, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. at the Wellmont; a conversation with Maggie Gyllenhaal, also moderated by Colbert, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at Montclair Kimberly Academy Upper School (with Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, “The Lost Daughter,” following at 4:30 p.m.); and a free screening of the animated movie “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m., outdoors at Lackawanna Plaza.

For a complete listing of films, panel discussions and more, visit

The new film “Learning to Live Together: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishmen” (see trailer below) will be shown at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Mad Dogs and Englishmen was a legendary 1970 rock tour —featuring Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge and others — that was immortalized in a hit concert album and movie. “Learning to Live Together” tells the story of that tour as well as a 2015 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tribute organized by the Tedeschi Trucks Band that featured Russell, Coolidge and other musicians from the original tour, plus guests such as Dave Mason and The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson.



• “It’s a party, it’s not a concert,” says E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg of his Max Weinberg’s Jukebox shows, which feature him and members of The Weeklings performing classic-rock covers requested by audience members. A typical show will feature songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The Who and so on. They will perform at one of New Jersey’s newest venues, the Carteret Performing Arts and Events Center, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. (For a chance to win a pair of tickets, send an email to by 11 a.m. Oct. 21 with the word “Weinberg” in the subject line.)

After having to skip its 2020 installment because of the pandemic, Glenn Alexander’s annual Pig Gig resumes, Oct. 24 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Italian American Hall in Scotch Plains. The lineup will include Southside Johnny (who will guest with Alexander’s Shadowland band) along with The Weeklings, James Maddock, The Lonesome Pines and Blue Americana. The Pig Gig, which gets its name from the pig roast that provides some of the food, benefits the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation in honor of Alexander’s nephew, Jay, who died in 2011 from the rare disease, at the age of 20.

Alexander, who plays guitar for Southside Johnny’s Asbury Jukes, fronts Shadowland, which features three current Jukes in addition to him (saxophonist John Isley, trumpeter Chris Anderson and trombonist Neal Pawley) and plays a mix of rock, R&B and blues that is similar to the Jukes’ mix. They will close the show. Blue Americana — the acoustic roots duo that Alexander forms with his daughter, Shadowland member Oria — will open it.

Guitarist Bill Frisell‘s duo concert with bassist Tony Scherr at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., will be preceded by a 5 p.m. screening of 2013 documentary “The Great Flood,” featuring a gorgeous soundtrack by Frisell, Scherr, drummer Kenny Wollesen and trumpeter Ron Miles. The screening, presented in partnership with the Montclair Film Festival, will take place at the Clairidge Cinemas and be followed by a question-and-answer session (moderated by singer-songwriter and film composer Scott E. Moore) with Frisell and director Bill Morrison. The concert will take place in the nearby First Congregational Church.

The Airplane Family will present a 50th anniversary tribute to the Blows Against the Empire concept album, released by Paul Kantner & Jefferson Starship, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. at the Newton Theatre. Performers will include Peter Kaukonen, who performed on the original album, as well as Slick Aguilar (Jefferson Starship, David Crosby), Tom Constanten (The Grateful Dead), Tom Karan (Rat Dog, The Other Ones), Robin Sylvester (Rat Dog, Live Dead), Mike Falzarano (Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage) and Clair Maloney.

Bernie Williams and Gil Parris.

Likely the only person to have been nominated for a Latin Grammy award and also to have played in a Major League Baseball all-star game, jazz guitarist Bernie Williams will perform at The Woodland in Maplewood, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The former Yankees centerfielder released his first album in 2003 and retired from baseball in 2006. His second album, Moving Forward, was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2009. At the Woodland, he will play in a quartet also featuring guitarist Gil Parris (the group is actually called the Bernie Williams-Gil Parris Quartet), bassist Will Lee and drummer Josh Dion. The Baker Street Trio, featuring Ace Williams, will also perform.

Warren Zanes — the author of the definitive 2015 Tom Petty biography “Petty,” a member of the 1980s band The Del Fuegos and an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right — will present a show titled “Remembering Tom Petty: A Night of Music and Stories” Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Hopewell Theater. Zanes will be joined by guitarist Chris Harford, drummer Ray Kubian and bassist Matt Kohut.

The Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra will kick off a new season — and welcome its new artistic director, Kyunghun Kim — with a “Movie Night” program at West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. Kim will conduct in an evening of music by composers John Williams (“Superman,” “ET the Extra-Terrestrial”), Ennio Morricone (“Cinema Paradiso,” “The Untouchables,” “The Mission”) and others.

Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway.

Singer-songwriters Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway will team up for a show titled “Deeper Than the Skin,” Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Troubadour Acoustic Concert Series at Morristown Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The show will also be available as a live webcast.

According to the Troubadour’s web site, “This is an examination in song and story of the issue of race in America by two of our favorite artists who have lived that issue, and come to grips with it. … (Harris and Greenway), born 3 days apart, one Black and one White, one from the North and one from the South, are both musicians, storytellers, students of history and world travelers. Their two separate narratives are forged into one powerful presentation aimed at finding common ground and helping others to do the same.”

Jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Dan Levinson will headline the 10th annual Diamond-and-Emerald Benefit Concert for the Morris Museum‘s Bickford Theatre, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. at the theater (at which Levinson has performed many times over the years). He will be joined at the show by trumpeter and singer Danny Jonokuchi, trombonist Doug Finke, pianist Conal Fowkes, bassist Jen Hodge and drummer Kevin Dorn.

To celebrate the addition of the Art Farmer Archive to the Living Jazz Archives at William Paterson University in Wayne, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Ron Blake, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Yoron Israel will perform Farmer’s music at the university’s Shea Center for Performing Arts, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the archive.

Farmer — a trumpeter and flugelhorn player, and composer — died in 1999 at the age of 71.



American Repertory Ballet will appear for the first time since the start of the pandemic at its home venue, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 2 p.m., with a program appropriately titled “Emergence.” This will also mark the first program curated under new ARB artistic director, Ethan Stiefel. Stiefel’s own “Wood Work” will be performed, as well as Amy Seiwert’s “World, Interrupted” (created on Zoom during the pandemic), Ryoko Tanaka’s ARB-commissioned “Saudade,” and David Fernandez’s “Mexican Music.”


The George Street Playhouse returns to in-person performances and kicks off its 2021-22 season with “Dear Jack, Dear Louise,” which will begin previews at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center on Oct. 26, officially open on Oct. 29, and continue through Nov. 21. Written by Ken Ludwig (whose other credits include “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Crazy for You” and “Moon Over Buffalo), the play is a true-life story about Ludwig’s father, an army captain, and his mother, an actress, falling in love with each other in the 1940s.

Two brothers who live together are obsessed with Charles Dickens’ classic novel “A Tale of Two Cities” and re-enact it, becoming all the different characters — when they’re not arguing with each other — in “A Tale of Two Cities Cobbled Together by the Brothers Lovejoy,” which will be presented as part of the Centenary Stage Company‘s Fringe Festival, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 22-23 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown. The Oct. 24 performance can also be viewed via online stream.


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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