Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Gatz,’ Gladys Knight, Questlove, more

Gatz McCarter

MARK BARTON

From left, Laurena Allan, Gary Wilmes, Scott Shepherd, Annie McNamara and Kate Scelsa will appear in Elevator Repair Service’s “Gatz” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton.

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

THEATER

• “Gatz,” which will be presented by the Elevator Repair Service company at the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Feb. 15-17 at 2 p.m., is a theatrical presentation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby,” including every single word. It lasts nearly eight hours, including a dinner break and two short intermissions.

The Centenary Stage Company will present “An Enemy of the People” at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, Feb. 15-17, 20-24 and 28 and March 1-3. This 1882 play by Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen — about a doctor who takes an unpopular stand based on scientific evidence, and suffers consequences for it — concludes Centenary’s “What Is Truth?” series, which is part of the Gates Ferry Lecture Series.

Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, who co-starred as a married couple in the ’80s sitcom “Family Ties,” will reunite to perform A.R. Gurney’s play “Love Letters” at the Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the Kean Stage series. In the two-person play, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1990 (August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” won), a man and woman read from letters they have written to each other over a 50-year span.

The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center will present “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” at the duCret School of Art in Plainfield, Feb. 14-16 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. Written by Sarah Ruhl, the play is set in New York in the 19th Century and is about a doctor who invents the vibrator, and his curious wife. It ran on Broadway in 2009 and 2010 and received three Tony nominations (including one in the Best Play category), and also was a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist. Note: Audience members must be 18 or older.

Gladys Knight performs at BergenPAC in Englewood, Feb. 15.

MUSIC

• Gladys Knight‘s brilliant performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 was just the latest reminder of her incredible talent. The Empress of Soul will perform hits such as “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” as well as other songs at BergenPAC in Englewood, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m., with comedian Maureen Langan opening. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to njartscontest@gmail.com by midnight Feb. 13 with the word “Knight” in the subject line.)

For the second year in a row, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will present a Valentine’s Day-themed evening of love songs (and other material) at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. It’s titled “Stupid Cupid, Part 2,” and will take place Feb. 15, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Last year’s show included covers of The J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks,” David Ruffin’s “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me),” Jerry Butler & the Impressions’ “For Your Precious Love” and Mink DeVille’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” as well as many of the band’s longtime favorites such as “Having a Party,” “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and “The Fever.”

• Kinderhook (originally known as Kinderhook Creek) was a mainstay of New Jersey’s country-rock scene in the ’70s and ’80s, and though inactive in the ’90s and ’00s, it has been reuniting for occasional shows since 2010, and will celebrate the release of its self-titled album — its first studio album, ever — with a show at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m..

Inspired by the success of the “Hamilton” musical, singer and dulcimer player Anne Enslow and singer-violinist Ridley Enslow will present an “Alexander Hamilton Concert” at the Farmstead Arts Center in Basking Ridge, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. The Enslows will appear in period dress and perform on period instruments, and the program will include a hymn that Hamilton wrote and some of his favorite songs.

Jack Hanna with a baby tiger.

FAMILY

Presidents Day (Feb. 18) is also Family Day at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, with presentations of Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild Live” show (featuring live animals, videos and storytelling by the host of the syndicated TV series “Into the Wild”) at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. plus free activities, all day, inside and outside the theater, and at the nearby Heldrich Hotel. Attractions inside the theater will include the musical acts Bandits on the Run and Hopalong Andrew. Outside the theater, there will be ice sculpting demonstrations, a fire truck, a police ATV and costumed characters such as Elmo and Minions. And the hotel will host face painting, craft stations, workshops on subjects such as ballet, yoga, storytelling, and more.

“A Better Place to Be,” a play by Stephen L. Fredericks that was commissioned by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stage Exchange program, will have its world premiere at the Growing Stage in Netcong, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 16-17 at 4 p.m. It’s a timely play, exploring the journeys to America of Fredericks’ great-grandmother, in the late 1800s, and of a young Syrian girl, in the present, and utilizes poetry, music and folk tales. It is recommended for ages 12 and older.

QUESTLOVE

OTHER

• Questlove, drummer and leader of the band The Roots, and Imani Perry, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, will engage in a conversation titled “Living a Creative Life,” Feb. 15 at 9:30 p.m. at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton. This is a free event, though tickets are required. After the talk, Questlove will sign copies of his 2018 book about creativity, “Creative Quest.” The Roots have been a leading hip-hop band for more than 20 years and have also, since 2009, shown their versatility as the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Joining “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (an annual Halloween season show) and “Something Merry This Way Comes” (an annual holiday season show) this year at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison is “Something Romantic This Way Comes,” an evening of love stories, love songs and more, with complimentary champagne and sweets, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

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