Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Melissa Etheridge, ‘Annie,’ ‘Newsies,’ more

Melissa Etheridge will present Christmas shows at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, Nov. 25, and the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Nov. 28.

Here is a guide to notable arts events taking place around the state, through Nov. 28.


• Melissa Etheridge— who released a Christmas album, A New Thought for Christmas, in 2008— kicks off her Merry Christmas, Baby Tour at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m., and also performs at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Nov. 28. According to a press release, Etheridge will be performing “fan favorites and holiday classics such as ‘Merry Christmas Baby,’ ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ ‘O Night Divine’ and more.”

As its title implies, The Rebel, The Soul & The Saint Tour is quite eclectic, musically, featuring gospel star Kirk Franklin, R&B singer Ledisi and keyboardist and vocalist P.J. Morton, a member of Maroon 5 who also has also worked with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Lil Wayne. The tour comes to Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra will bring its 14th Christmas Rocks! Tour — combining swing and rockabilly version of holiday songs with Setzer’s usual material— tothe Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.

Bassist Buster Williams, whose résumé includes work with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell and countless others, as well as more than a dozen albums under his own name, will be honored at the 20th annual Giants of Jazz concert at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. Musicians who will be there to pay tribute to him include Cyrus Chestnut, Jimmy Cobb, Orrin Evans, Roy Hargrove, Stefon Harris, Jimmy Heath, Freddie Hendrix, Rufus Reid, Wallace Roney, Steve Turre, Lenny White and Reggie Workman.



Now that he’s done portraying the title character(s) in “Jekyll & Hyde” at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, Remember Jones will return to music, starting with a performance of Amy Winehouse’s classic retro-soul album, Back to Black, in its entirety with a 15-piece backing band at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Nov. 24. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton presents “La Parranda 4 PR (Party for Puerto Rico),” Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. This will be a benefit concert, with performances byTito “El Bambino,” Zion y Lennox, Almighty, Tempo, Tito Nieves, Luis Vargas and many others.

Salsa stars Andy Montañez, Tito Rojas, Frankie Negron and Tito Nieves will team up for a concert titledLo Mejor de Los ’90s (Best of the ’90s)atBergenPAC in Englewood, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m.

As part of the WhyHunger organization’s annual Hungerthon, the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park will present a benefit, Nov. 22, in the form of an evening of Bruce Springsteen covers byJoBonanno & the Godsons, Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Joe Rapolla & the Perfect Square, Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son, Jon Caspi & the First Gun, Dan Amato & the Sentimental Gentlemen, Stella Mrowicki and DJ Lee Mrowicki.

The long-running New Brunswick nightclub, The Court Tavern, has been closed in recent months, but will open, under new management, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m., with Dinosaur Eyelids, Tango Machina and other band, and a“Skanksgiving” show, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m., featuringThe Waffle Stompers, Backyard Superheroes, Behind Deadlines, Joker’s Republic and Disposable.

Beth Leavel stars as Miss Hannigan in “Annie” at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. Previews begin on Nov. 22.


• “Annie,” the perennially popular 1977 musical that won seven Tonys and features two of the best known songs to emerge from the world of musical theater over the last 50 years (“Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life”) begins previews at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, Nov. 22, officially opens on Nov. 26, and runs through Dec. 31.Tony winner Beth Leaveland Tony nominee Christopher Sieber will be featured as Miss Hanniganand Oliver Warbucks, respectively, withPeyton EllaandCassidy Pry alternating in the title role.

• “Newsies,” a musical based on a strike by young newspaper deliverers in 1899, did not do well when released as a film in 1992. But when it was converted into a stage production (with eight new songs) at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011, and then when it was brought to Broadway the next year, it fared much better, both creatively and commercially. The Centenary Stage Company will begin previews of its production of “Newsies,” Nov. 24 at the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, with the official opening on Nov. 26, and the last performance on Dec. 10.


There have been a few scattered performances of “The Nutcracker” in New Jersey so far this year, but once Thanksgiving it’s over, the pace is really going to pick up. This weekend, the holiday classic will be presented by American Repertory Ballet at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton,Nov. 24-25 at 2 and 5:30 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 1 p.m.; by Roxey Ballet at The Kendall Theater at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, Nov. 25-26 at 2 p.m. (and also Dec. 1-3); and by NJ Ballet at the Levoy Theatre in Millville, Nov. 26 at 2 and 5 p.m.

Garrison Keillor will make an appearance at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Nov. 28.


Former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor will tell stories, sing songs and, in all likelihood, tell some topical jokes at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m., with support from the Americana duo Robin and Linda Williams, who frequently guested on PHC.

The classic 1951 movie “An American in Paris,” starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, will be screened at Prudential Hall of NJPAC in Newark, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m., and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m., with live music bythe New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Constantine Kitsopoulos will conduct and Kelly’s widow and biographer, Patricia Ward Kelly, will host. George and Ira Gershwin wrote most of the music for “An American in Paris,” including the songs “Embraceable You,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “I Got Rhythm,” “ ’S Wonderful” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”

The Madison Downtown Development Commission will present its 12th annual Madison Holiday Arts Festival, with free music, dance, theater and visual art offerings in 11 venues, all within walking distance of each other, Nov. 24 from noon to 6 p.m. and Nov. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. For a list of all artists and venues go to

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