Top 20 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Darlene Love, Pipes of Christmas, Jerry Douglas, more



A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Dec. 18:


Powerhouse singer Darlene Love was one of the featured artists on one of the greatest holiday albums of all time, 1963’s A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “Marshmallow World” and other classic material at a shows billed as “Love for the Holidays,” Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wilkins Theatre at Kean University in Union, and “Darlene Love’s ‘Souled Out Christmas,’ ” Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.

Over the last two decades, the annual Pipes of Christmas concerts — devoted, mostly, to traditional takes on holiday classics — have become a tradition of their own, as well as a comforting, uplifting New Jersey institution. The show features bagpipes — and other instruments such as drums, harp, fiddles and organ — on holiday favorites such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Joy to the World” and “Amazing Grace,” with readings from Celtic literature interspersed between the musical numbers. This year’s shows will take place at the Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, Dec. 15 at 2 and 7 p.m., as well as at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets remain only for the 7 p.m. Summit concert.


Jerry Douglas — widely considered the world’s best dobro player — tours on his own when not on the road with Alison Krauss & Union Station or doing session work (his credits over the years range from Garth Brooks to Elvis Costello). He’ll be at Roy’s Hall in Blairstown, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m., with The Cirotti Trio opening.

• Holiday Express is a group of Shore-based musicians who have been playing holiday music at hospitals, nursing homes, soup kitchens and other places in need of a little seasonal cheer, at no charge, every November and December for the last 27 years. The group also performs at benefit concerts that allow it to fulfill its philanthropic mission; two will take place at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Dec. 16-17 at 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Banding, an annual benefit for Hoboken’s free Movies Under the Stars program, takes place Dec. 15 from 4:30 to 10 p.m. at Hoboken’s Elks Lodge. The show will feature holiday songs by Tom Vincent and The Hoboken Holiday House Band, Abbe Rivers, Jack Skuller, Deena & Jon of The Cucumbers, Lloyd United, Annalee Van Kleeck, Gene D. Plumber, The Lemons, The Sensational Country Blues Wonders, Jim Testa, Sputnik the Band, School of Rock, Elevator Pitch, Las Vandalays and others.

• The Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart, will present a “Holiday Celebration” at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. The concert will include a reading of the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known as “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) by Gov. Phil Murphy, and a section featuring projections of original illustrations from the children’s book, “The Polar Express” and excerpts from the score of the 2004 film that was adapted from it.


Banjo master Tony Trischka will head the lineup of holiday shows titled “Of a Winter’s Night,” featuring bluegrass and Americana holiday songs and taking place at the Christ Congregation Church in Princeton, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. (as part of the Princeton Folk Music Society series), and at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. (as part of the Society Cafe series). Phoebe Hunt, Dominick Leslie, Tim Eriksen and Larry Cook will also perform.

The Morris Choral Society, led by music director Jason Tramm, will present a concert titled “Baroque Jewels & Songs of the Season,” Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Morristown. The group will perform Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Midnight Mass, as well holiday songs, and the Express Male vocal group will make a guest appearance.


Hudson Theatre Works debuted a quirky holiday comedy, “And My True Love Gave to Me!,” last year, and will present it again, Dec. 13-14 at 7:30 p.m. Click here to read Jim Testa’s review of last year’s show.


New Jersey Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker,” featuring music by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, will be presented at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Dec. 13 and 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14-15, 21-22 and 27 at 1 and 6 p.m.; Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 26 at 3 p.m.

“The Nutcracker” will also be presented by …

… Atlantic City Ballet at Stockton Performing Arts Center, Galloway, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
American Repertory Ballet at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Dec. 13 at 8 pm., Dec. 14 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 1 and 5 p.m.
… the National Ballet Theater of Odessa at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Dec. 14 at 2 and 7 p.m.
Donetsk Ballet of the Ukraine, students of Miss Patti’s School of Dance and the Adelphi Orchestra, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 1 and 4 p.m. at Paramus Catholic High School.
New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, Dec. 14 at 1 and 5 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University.
… Atlantic City Ballet at Caesars in Atlantic City, Dec. 15 and 22 at 4 p.m.




Wesley Stace, also known as singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding, has assembled an amazing lineup for his “Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders — Holiday Edition” show — featuring music, readings and comedy — Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Strand Center for the Arts in Lakewood. Participants will include Kristin Hersh and Fred Abong of the band Throwing Muses; Alec Ounsworth of the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; singer-songwriters Josh Rouse and Dean Friedman; poet Robert Pinsky; and comedians Eugene Mirman and Dave Hill.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and his band Rogue Oliphant will perform at the Hopewell Theater, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. The show will feature readings as well as songs featuring Muldoon’s lyrics. Rogue Oliphant’s lineup is a rotating cast of all-star musicians; past collaborators (who won’t necessarily perform at this show) include Dana Colley (Morphine), Chris Harford (Band of Changes), Ray Kubian (Dean Ween Group), David Mansfield (Rolling Thunder Revue), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion), Cait O’Riordan (The Pogues), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and Warren Zanes (The Del Fuegos). (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Rogue” in the subject line to by noon Dec. 13.)

Lightwire Theater, semi-finalists on “America’s Got Talent” in 2012, will present a Christmas show titled “A Very Electric Holiday” at the Wilkins Theatre at Kean University in Union, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the Kean Stage series. The troupe utilizes dancers, puppets and glow-in-the-dark light to create characters and scenes. After the performance, cast members will talk to audience members about the technology that is used in the show.

The Peak Performances series presents Gandini Juggling in “Spring,” a work featuring jugglers and contemporary dancers, at Montclair State University’s Kasser Theater, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. “Spring” is choreographed by Alexander Whitley and features music by Gabriel Prokofiev; a press release describes it as a “kaleidoscopic dreamscape.” Here is a video trailer:

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