August 15, 2018

PLANES AT THE PLANT: The former GM Fisher Body Plant in Ewing was converted to build torpedo bombers for the U.S. Navy during World War II. This photo and others are featured in “Changing Face/Changing Place: A Look at the Architectural History of the Trenton Area,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of FVHD Architects-Planners. The exhibit runs September 15 through January 11, 2019 at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park.

The Trenton Museum Society and FVHD Architects – Planners have announced an exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the full-service architectural design firm founded in Trenton in 1918 by PL Fowler. “Changing Face/Changing Place: A Look at the Architectural History of the Trenton Area,” will feature historical and architectural photographs, drawings, and artifacts from FVHD history. The exhibit will be in the second-floor galleries at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park from September 15 through January 11, 2019. An opening reception is Sunday, September 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. more

“FOUR SHADES OF GREY”: The work of photographer Jamel Shabazz is featured in “Love is the Message,” on display through September 22 at the BSB Gallery in Trenton. An opening reception is scheduled for August 25 from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Trenton Downtown Association has announced the third exhibit at BSB Gallery with the launch of “Love is the Message,” featuring the work of photographer Jamel Shabazz. A special opening reception with the artist is planned for August 25 from 5 to 9 p.m. Shabazz is also scheduled to conduct an Artist Talk on Saturday, September 8 from 3 to 4 p.m. “Love is the Message” will be on display through September 22.  more

You know, I’m a New York guy — Sonny Rollins, in People Magazine

By Stuart Mitchner

New York City, Christmas week 1948, St. James Theatre: Ray Bolger is performing “Once In Love With Amy” and life will never be the same for the ten-year-old in the balcony. He’s in the heart of the holiday city, suspended above a bright new world of sight and sound, captivated, taken out of himself, “in heaven,” watching a living man, in person, here and now, singing and dancing while a live band plays, and there’s nothing to do but laugh in sheer delight when the man on stage does a drunken gambit singing “You might be quite the fickle-hearted ro-ver, so carefree and bold, who loves a girl and later — “ hiccup “ — thinks it over, and justquits cold!” When the chorus comes round again — “Once you’re kissed by Amy, tear up the list, it’s Amy!” — Bolger stops singing to go cavorting around the stage in an ecstasy, so full of the song that singing isn’t enough, he’s catapaulted by the music, waving his arms, leaping about, calling on the audience to share the joy until the whole theatre is singing along, “Once in love with Amy! Always in love with Amy!” more

By Kam Williams

Although Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu) have been dating for a few years, they don’t know much about each other’s background. They both live in New York City, and Nick has never mentioned that he’s from one the wealthiest families in Singapore, and she’s never talked about how she was raised by an immigrant (Kheng Hua Tan) from China who was a single mom.

The difference in social status has not affected their relationship, because Nick is unassuming, and Rachel was able to take advantage of a great education and become an economics professor at NYU. In fact, Nick is seriously considering marrying her and he’s even picked out a diamond ring. more

From September 7 to October 7 in the Berlind Theatre, McCarter Theatre is hosting the world premiere production of “The Age of Innocence,” a tale of star-crossed lovers forced to choose between love and honor. The play is adapted by Oscar and Tony nominee (and Princeton University alumnus) Douglas McGrath and directed by Tony Award-winner Doug Hughes. About the production, McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann said: “What I love most about Douglas McGrath’s brilliant adaptation is how all of us — regardless of age, background, or varied experiences — look back on our past decisions and wonder ‘did I make the right choice?’ This production shows the universal truth behind the struggle of choosing one path over another.” Tickets start at $25 –­­­­­  to purchase, visit or call (609) 258-2787.

August 8, 2018

By Kam Williams

Back in the ’70s, Ron Stallworth became the first African American to join the Colorado Springs Police Department. The young, ambitious college grad was soon promoted to detective, and his first undercover assignment was to cover a Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins) rally when the Black Power advocate was invited to speak at Colorado College.

However, his most unlikely mission was to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Using his real name, he answered a KKK classified ad recruiting new members, not knowing what to expect.

When the organization contacted him by phone, Ron adopted a white accent and complained that his sister was dating a black man. That was all it took for him to get invited to the next Klan meeting and to secure a membership card signed by Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace). more

“HOMEFRONT ON THE WINGS”: This painting by Stacy D. is featured in “Healing in Nature,” on view through August 31 at the D&R Greenway Johnson Education Center in Princeton. The exhibit showcases artwork created by people who have benefited from HomeFront’s ArtSpace program.

D&R Greenway Land Trust has partnered with HomeFront’s ArtSpace program for the first time to present “Healing in Nature,” on view through August 31 in D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. 

This partnership showcases artwork created by homeless people who have benefited from the HomeFront Family Campus in Ewing, where calming influences and a healing garden enable a much-needed break.  more

“CIRKUS DIURNUS”: An exhibit of journals and sketchbooks by cultural anthropologist and trend-spotter Mikel Cirkus will be at the West Windsor Arts Center August 20 through September 7. An opening reception is Saturday, August 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. (Image courtesy of WWAC)

The West Windsor Arts Center presents “Cirkus Diurnus: Sketchbooks of a Traveling Artist,” a playful and profound exhibit of journals and sketchbooks running August 20 through September 7. An opening reception is on Saturday, August 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. 

The Center invites the public to explore the creative process of cultural anthropologist and trend-spotter Mikel Cirkus. From cities around the world, in 63 journals spanning nearly 40 years, Mikel set out to capture moments between the thought, the pen, and the paper — magic that is slipping away from our increasingly digital worlds.  more

How fearful/And dizzy ‘tis, to cast one’s eyes so low!

—Shakespeare, from King Lear

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s primal stuff, the fear of falling, the horror of being suspended in space, left hanging, the vicarious sensation of feeling the fall the way the Duke of Gloucester does as he falls without falling from the “dread summit … the crown ‘o the cliff” in Act 4, scene 6 of King Lear.

Edgar simulates the experience for his blind father, combining force of will with Shakespeare’s language the way a film director manipulates a submissive viewer, taking advantage of that age-old perceptual Open Sesame “the willing suspension of disbelief.”

Flash forward four and a half centuries and vast audiences are willingly giving themselves up to the cliffhanger dynamic of series television bequeathed by Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), who crafted classic manifestations of that primal fear, most famously in Vertigo (1958), which opens with Princeton alum Jimmy Stewart ‘32 hanging from a San Francisco rooftop and ends as the mystery woman played by Kim Novak falls to her death from the San Juan Bautista bell tower.  more

August 1, 2018

By Kam Williams

Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is starting her last week of middle school, and graduation can’t come soon enough for her. After all, the lonely, 13-year-old has just been voted “Most Quiet” by her classmates, despite being desperate to make friends.

Nevertheless, she finds herself routinely ignored because she’s overweight, pimply, and not from a prominent family. So, between being ostracized by the popular cliques and going unnoticed by the cute boy (Luke Prael) she has a crush on, Kayla leads a very solitary and unhappy existence.

It doesn’t help matters that she’s an only child, and that her well-meaning single dad (Josh Hamilton) doesn’t have a clue about how to connect with a daughter growing up in the Digital Age. The two barely talk to each other at the dinner table. She just scrolls through social media on her cell between bites while grudgingly giving monosyllabic responses to his questions about how her day went.   more

“HEBRIDES 8”: Artist Malcolm Bray presents a new series of paintings on paper opening August 10 at Galerie Stockton in the Stockton Market. The works are from his “Hebrides” series, inspired by the coastline of Scotland.

Opening August 10, Malcolm Bray presents a new series of paintings on paper at Galerie Stockton in the Stockton Market at 19 Bridge Street. Bray, who was born in England and now lives in the Stockton area, will present a group of large works from his “Hebrides” series, inspired by the coastline of Scotland. Bray writes, “Tucked away on the North West side of Scotland this fractured coastline is littered with islands, some drifting away from history. Celticness is everywhere, superimposed beyond memory…” more

“LOSS EVENT”: Ryann Casey’s photography exhibit, based on the U.S. National Park system, is at the James Kerney Campus Gallery at Mercer County Community College’s Trenton Campus through September 7. Each of her photos features two prints side by side that explore the intersection of personal loss and environmental degradation through the filter of memory and grief.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) in downtown Trenton has announced the opening of “Loss Event,” an exhibit by photographer Ryann Casey, who has created a series based in the U.S. National Park system. The show runs August 1 through Friday, September 7. A community reception and artist’s talk will be held Thursday, September 6 from 5 to 7 p.m., with the talk to start at 6 p.m. more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts has celebrated its 51st season with innovative programming this year.  The series closed its 2018 season last week by reverting to its classical roots with a return visit from the Daedalus Quartet, an ensemble with a strong performance and recording history of both 19th century and contemporary music. Violinists Min-Young Kim and Matilda Kaul, violist Jessica Thompson, and cellist Thomas Kraines presented a very recent American piece sandwiched between two pillars of the Classical period in Richardson Auditorium last Wednesday night, mesmerizing a sold-out house with sophisticated and refined playing.  more

They still represent the twentieth century’s greatest romance. — Derek Taylor, introducing The Beatles Anthology 3.

Fifty years ago today the Beatles completed the recording of “Hey Jude” at Trident Studios in St. Anne’s Court off Wardour Street.

I first heard “the Sistine Chapel of Rock and Roll” while driving a ‘62 Chevy Corvair along Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge well before the record’s official August 26th release. I’d been about to turn off the radio because the reception was breaking up (no wonder, if you believe Ralph Nader, who declared the Corvair one of the “most dangerous cars in history”) when out of a storm of static comes “Hey Jude” loud and clear, as if by magic, no build-up, no hype, no DJ preamble, just Paul McCartney calling me to attention, for in the shock of the moment, it sounded like “Hey you!” I swerved to the right, parking at a crazy angle in a no-parking zone, listening and listening and listening, three, four, five, six, seven minutes, but who’s counting when McCartney’s riffing in an ecstasy over a 40 piece orchestra and a chorus of thousands right there in my poor defamed Corvair. more

“THE CHILDREN’S HOUR”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “The Children’s Hour.” Directed by Maeli Goren, the play runs through August 5 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Teachers Karen Wright (Lydia Watt, left) and Martha Dobie (Allison Spann) face the calamity that is caused by a student’s malicious lie. (Photo by Aaron Olkin)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Children’s Hour is an edgy drama set in an all-girls boarding school. One of the students tells a malicious lie that disrupts the school, as well as the lives of the two women who run it. Another student is portrayed by a doll, manipulated by the actor who plays the fiancé of one of the teachers. Directed by Maeli Goren, Princeton Summer Theater’s bold production emphasizes the theatricality inherent in Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play. more

July 25, 2018

By Kam Williams

Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal), who are black and white, respectively, have been best friends since they were kids. Now in their 20s, they both still live in the rough Oakland neighborhood where they grew up, although it‘s been gentrifying in recent years.

The change in the neighborhood has made it hard for the two of them to get along with their new neighbors because Collin is a convicted felon on probation, and Miles has ghetto written all over him, such as the tattoos all over his body.

When Collin was paroled, Miles got him a job with the moving company where he works. more

Shakespeare will go on explaining us, in part because he invented us. — Harold Bloom

For relief from the post-Helsinki reality of July 2018, a time of chronic stress leading to sleepless nights and a condition that for lack of a better word could be called trumpache, I recommend 600 mgs of Shakespeare at bedtime. Love’s Labor’s Lost has done wonders for me; no more ringing in the ears from the blowhard echo of the Montana Trump rally where the Philistine-in-Chief heaped scorn on “a thousand points of light,” his predecessor George H.W. Bush’s ghostwritten metaphor for public service, possibly the only piece of poetry ever associated with the 41st president.  more

“JERSEY SHORE”: This painting by Lynn Cheng Varga is featured in “Celebrations” by Creative Collective Group, at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury. The exhibition runs August 4 to 25, with an opening reception on Sunday, August 5 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Gourgaud Gallery, located at 23A North Main Street in Cranbury, has announced its latest exhibition, “Celebration” by Creative Collective Group. It runs August 5 through August 24, with an opening reception on August 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. and an open studio on August 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

The Creative Collective Group is dedicated to fostering a creative and nurturing community for artists, artisans, and art lovers in Central New Jersey and beyond. Their goal is to provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere for inspiration for beginners and professionals as well as supporting the greater arts community through service.  more

MERCER COUNTY SENIOR ART SHOW: A sample of some of the entries in the Drawing/Non-Professional category at the 2018 Mercer County Senior Art Show, on display through August 3 at the Meadow Lakes Gallery in East Windsor. The art was created by Mercer County residents age 60 or older.

The 2018 Mercer County Senior Art Show is on display through August 3 at the Meadow Lakes Gallery in East Windsor.

The exhibit, which is sponsored by the Mercer County Division of Culture and Heritage and the Office on Aging, features original artworks created within the past three years, from drawings to paintings to crafts, by Mercer County residents age 60 or older. more

July 18, 2018

Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic! —Walt Whitman, April 1889

By Stuart Mitchner

The Good Grey Poet was speaking to his Boswell, Horace L. Traubel, whose notes of conversations between 1888 and Whitman’s death in 1892 were eventually published in the multi-volume series, With Walt Whitman in Camden. Walt went on to call baseball “America’s game.” It has “the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” more

“UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Uncommon Women and Others.” Directed by Daniel Krane, the play runs through July 22 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Mrs. Plumm (Carol Lee, center) serves tea to residents of North Stimson Hall, from left: Rita (Allison Spann), Kate (Kat Giordano), Susie (E Harper Nora Jerimijenko-Conley), and Leilah  (Michelle Navis). Photo by Sarah Golobish.

By Donald Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is delivering a polished production of Uncommon Women and Others at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. A press release for this season’s previous production, Tick, Tick…Boom!, states that it “sets the stage for a summer of performances that center around self-discovery as seen through critical turning points in our characters’ lives.” That theme — as well as pressure to succeed with personal and professional accomplishments by the time one reaches a certain age — is shared by this play, which was written by Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006). more

By Nancy Plum

No matter how much doubt is shed on the future of orchestral music, it is clear that there will always be composers looking for opportunities to present newly-created musical works. In Princeton, thanks to a collaboration among the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, four emerging composers have had the chance to explore in depth symphonic composition as part of the Fifth Annual NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute. Conductor David Robertson, Institute director and composer Steven Mackey and members of the New Jersey Symphony mentored four composers in creating significant musical pieces, as well as learning the business aspects of the field. This year’s Institute culminated last Saturday night in a public performance of four new one-movement works at Richardson Auditorium to an audience which has continued to grow over the five years of the Institute. Composers Jonathan Cziner, Brian Shank, Aaron Hendrix, and Natalie Dietterich spent last week in Princeton receiving an invaluable experience and education as a huge stepping stone in already successful careers. more

By Kam Williams

Since 1950, Rucker Park has been home to a popular basketball tournament that takes place on an outdoor court located at 155th Street in Harlem. Many promising prospects have honed their skills on the world famous proving ground en route to NBA careers: Kevin Durant, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “Dr. J” (Julius Erving), and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, to name a few.

Uncle Drew is a hilarious hoops movie that pays tribute to Rucker Park as well as to the athletes who have mesmerized generations of fans who have attended the annual summer classic. Directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), the picture stars the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving as the title character, but don’t expect to be able to recognize him under all the plastic makeup that turns him into a senior citizen. more

“FISHING ON CARNEGIE LAKE”: This painting by Helene Mazur is featured in “Plein-Air Painters of Princeton,” on view through July 25 at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Evelyne V. Johnson Gallery at 1 Preservation Place in Princeton.

What does Princeton have in common with Giverny? Its own corps of plein-air painters actively immortalizing natural scenes in and around the town. D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Evelyne V. Johnson Gallery shimmers with plein-air art just completed, on view through July 25. more

“Anywhere But Here: Mixed Media Works” by Ilene Dube is on view through August 9 at Northfield Bank, 280 Route 31 in Hopewell. Gallery and bank hours are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.