Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: John Legend, ‘Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn,’ more

John Legend Legendary Christmas


A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Nov. 28:


• John Legend released his first Christmas album, A Legendary Christmas — featuring classics such as “Silver Bells” and “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas,” as well as six originals — on Oct. 26, and will bring his tour of the same name to the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Atlantic City, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.

• Paula Abdul was a major pop hit-maker of the late ’80s and early ’90s, though she later, of course, achieved a different kind of fame as a judge for “American Idol” and other TV reality shows. She’ll bring her first solo tour in 25 years, titled Straight Up Paula!, to BergenPAC in Englewood, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.

The hard-swinging Brian Setzer Orchestra brings its annual Christmas Rocks! Tour — featuring lots of holiday songs as well as some of Setzer’s regular material— to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m., and BergenPAC in Englewood, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m., with Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones opening.

The dependably dynamic Remember Jones will perform Amy Winehouse’s 2006 album Back to Black in its entirety, after a set of his own soul/rock/R&B material, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.


• “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn,” a stage production of the hit 1942 Fred Astaire/Bing Crosby movie — featuring some Berlin songs that were used in the original film (“White Christmas,” “Easter Parade”) and some that weren’t (“Cheek to Cheek,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby) — will be presented at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, with previews beginning Nov. 21, the official opening night on Nov. 25, and the last show on Dec. 30.


“Annie” cast members will include Osborn Focht, Gracie Nagle and Clementine.


Songs such as “Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and “Maybe” will be heard once again as the Centenary Stage Company presents the comic-strip-comes-to-life musical “Annie” at the Sitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, Nov. 23-25 and 28-30 and Dec. 1-2 and 6-9, at varying times.

“Magic of Lights,” at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel daily through Dec. 30 (except for Nov. 21), offers more than a mile of holiday-themed light displays that can be viewed from your car, as you drive through.

• The Growing Stage in Netcong will present a stage version of “Babes in Toyland” — featuring songs from Victor Herbert’s 1903 operetta, and inspired by the 1934 Laurel and Hardy Film that was adapted from it — through Dec. 16, with Saturday and Sunday performances at 4 p.m., a special opening night performance, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m., and a early starting time of 3 p.m. on Dec. 2 due to the Netcong Holiday Parade.


• “Nutcracker” season begins this weekend, with American Repertory Ballet presenting the perennial favorite at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Nov. 23-24 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 25 at 1 p.m.

Also, New Jersey Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” at the Levoy Theatre in Millville, Nov. 25 at 2 and 5 p.m.; and Roxey Ballet will offer it at the College of New Jersey’s Kendall Main Stage Theater in Ewing, Nov. 24-25 at 2 p.m., Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. (a school show), Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. (a sensory-friendly performance), Dec. 1 at 4 p.m., and Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

The cover of “Plum: How the Sugar Plum Fairy Got Her Wings.”


Actor Sean Hayes, best known for his work on “Will & Grace,” and his husband, composer Scott Icenogle, have written a children’s book, “Plum: How the Sugar Plum Fairy Got Her Wings,” and will sign it at Bookends in Ridgewood, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.


The first “Star Wars” movie — initially released in 1977, and later renamed “Star Wars: A New Hope” — will be screened, with live music by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Nov. 23 at 3 and 8 p.m.; Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Nov. 24 at 3 and 8 p.m.; and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m.

Roy’s Hall in Blairstown kicks off a series of black and white movies, every Wednesday night, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. with “The Big Sleep,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The series will continue Nov. 28 with “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”

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