April 18, 2018

The West Windsor Arts Center will present “Cross Cultural Currents,” an exhibition showcasing four Chinese American artists, who are also professors at four New Jersey-based colleges and universities, from April 30 through June 22. The exhibition, which features the works of Chung-Fan Chang, Zhiyuan Cong, LiQin Tan, and Jing Zhou, highlights the cultural influences on their art. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, May 6, from 4-6 p.m. more

“BEIRUT/BIG BEN”: The black-and-white digital photography of Manal Abu-Shaheen will be featured in “Beirut: Theater of Dreams,” at Princeton University’s Bernstein Gallery in Robertson Hall. The exhibit runs April 23 through August 15, with an artist’s reception on Friday, April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.

An exhibition of black-and-white digital photography by Manal Abu-Shaheen, “Beirut: Theater of Dreams,” will open at Princeton University’s Bernstein Gallery in Robertson Hall on April 23. The exhibit will run through August 15, with an artist reception on Friday, April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free, open to the public, and sponsored by Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. more

By Stuart Mitchner

The sound is already in us and that sound is based on the heartbeat. — Cecil Taylor (1929-2018)

six-month-old male tuxedo cat is gazing out the window, mesmerized by a frenzy of birdsong, like a dawn chorus at dusk. He’s poised, tensed, all at once frustrated, excited, delighted by the sounds he can’t see. Since the birds are nesting in the hedge outside, the hedge seems to be singing, and so attentive is the cat in his search for the source of the song, it’s as if he’s finally, actually seeing it. He’s on his hind legs now, primed to pounce, except he’s a house cat, he’s never been in the wild, he’s hunting the sound not the birds, it’s all new to him, and the quick, shrill piping little cries he’s emitting are more like mimicry than mewing. He’s calling to the invisible birds and they’re calling back. more

BAKERSFIELD MIST: Performances are underway for Pegasus Theatre Project’s production of “Bakersfield Mist.” Directed by Peter Bisgaier, the play runs through April 22 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Maude (Donne Petito, left) and Lionel (Rupert Hinton) have a heated discussion about the authenticity of a painting. (Photo by John M. Maurer)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Bakersfield Mist is a tragicomedy in which Maude Gutman, an unemployed bartender, has purchased a painting from a thrift store. She believes that her acquisition is a Jackson Pollack masterpiece worth millions of dollars; the initial conflict arises when Lionel Percy, a haughty art expert, doubts the painting’s authenticity.  more

By Nancy Plum

Richardson Chamber Players journeyed into a new comfort zone this past weekend with a concert celebrating chamber pieces by African-American composers. The 11 members of the Chamber Players performing Sunday afternoon at Richardson Auditorium presented works ranging from the familiar Duke Ellington to a world premiere by one of the University’s own graduate students. A rare collaboration among Princeton University’s jazz and classical faculty, this concert not only showed the versatility of the Chamber Players musicians but also how far outside the box these individuals have traveled in their musical careers. more

By Kam Williams

On July 18, 1969, Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy (Jason Clarke) hosted a reunion in a rented cottage on Chappaquiddick, a tiny island just 150 yards off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The gathering was in honor of the Boiler Room Girls, six women who had worked on his late brother Bobby’s presidential campaign the previous year.

Around 11:15 pm, Kennedy left the party in his ‘67 Oldsmobile with one of those young staffers, 28 year-old Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). About an hour later, the car, driven by Kennedy, went down a dirt road and off of a wooden bridge. The driver lost control and the car landed upside-down in  Poucha Pond. more

April 11, 2018

Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world— Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968

By Stuart Mitchner

In the speech he delivered the night before the day he died, Martin Luther King imagined taking a “mental flight” across the Red Sea “through the wilderness on toward the promised land” to Greece and Mount Olympus, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, then to Wittenberg and Martin Luther, to Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and to the 20th century, “the bankruptcy of the nation,” and Memphis, Tennessee. more

“OUR TOWN — PRINCETON”: Carolyn Scott’s photographs will be featured from Sunday, April 15 through Friday, April 20 at the Center of Theological Inquiry, 50 Stockton Street, Princeton. The exhibit is a celebration of the people at the heart of Princeton, with personal histories of migration.

Scottish artist Carolyn Scott will present her photographs of the diverse community of Princeton in a week-long exhibition at the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) from Sunday, April 15 to Friday, April 20, opening each day at the Center’s Luce Hall, 50 Stockton Street, from 1 to 4 p.m. more

DIGITAL ART: Photographs by Cranbury digital Camera Club members are on display through April 27 at the Gourgaud Gallery at Cranbury Town Hall. The organization concentrates on digital photographic techniques and methods.

Photos from Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC) photographers are on display at the Gourgaud Gallery, located at Cranbury Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street in Cranbury, through April 27. The photos selected by the photographers for the show depict various themes and subject matter. The photographers are from Cranbury, Hightstown, Monroe, West Windsor, and other communities in Central New Jersey. Their work has been on display at various galleries throughout New Jersey.  more

By Kam Williams

It is 2045, a time when the planet has devolved into a desolate dystopia that is a combination of pollution, overpopulation, poverty, corruption, and global warming. Most of humanity lives in slums where they escape their misery by disappearing, via virtual reality, into the Oasis, a parallel universe co-created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg). Halliday is now in control of Oasis and Morrow is no longer associated with the firm.

The picture’s point of departure is an unrecognizable Columbus, Ohio, that is a devastated metropolis that has been reduced to a wasteland of vertical “stacks,” i.e. mobile homes that are piled  on top one another. We meet Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who is an orphaned teen who has been taken in by his Aunt Alice (Susan Lynch).  more

April 4, 2018

“COMBO MEAL”: A mixed media oil painting by Carley Hall is one of many pieces now displayed at the “Visual Arts Student Exhibition” in the Gallery at Mercer County Community College. The public is invited to an opening reception on Wednesday, April 4, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Visual Arts students at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) display their varied talents as the Gallery at Mercer presents its annual “Visual Arts Student Exhibition.” This exhibit, which features the best works by MCCC students, runs through Thursday, May 3. It is free and open to the public.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

If the seismic impact of the deaths of film stars could be measured, Jeanne Moreau’s might have scored a 7 or 8 on the Richter scale last August. Not so the death last week of Stéphane Audran, at least not in this country, where she is best known as the title character in Babette’s Feast (1987). Her stature in France was such that her passing was announced by the culture minister. Moreau’s was announced by President Macron.  more

By Kam Williams

Times have certainly changed when dramatic actresses can now play action heroes in blockbuster movies. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence had already been nominated for an Academy Award (Winter’s Bone) when she agreed to star as Katniss Everdeen in the adaptation of The Hunger Games trilogy. Alicia Vikander is following Jennifer’s lead by assuming the role of Lara Croft in the remake of the Tomb Raider. She had won an Academy Award (The Danish Girl), and also received critical acclaim for her performances in Ex Machina and Testament of Youth.  more

March 28, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

So you begin with the death of Virginia Woolf, on this day, March 28, 1941. Moved by the courage and compassion of her farewell message to her husband, you read her first novel, The Voyage Out, in which her alter ego, Rachel Vinrace, dies at 24 after finding herself in life and music, falling in love, becoming engaged, and moving you, again, because you’ve come to care for her as if she were a real person.

Then, with another world and another time still impinging on your own reality, you join the thousands on Hinds Plaza last Saturday afternoon, staring at the crystal-clear summer-blue sky, occasionally sensing subtle intimations of menace when the barking of dogs coincides with angry shouts aimed at one speaker who admitted to being a gun owner. Meanwhile, no doubt like others in the crowd, you’re acutely aware that only a few days earlier a gun-wielding man was shot dead just around the corner at Panera Bread after a half-day standoff.  more

“SLEEPYBOP”: Princeton artist Alison Kruse is headed to France for a creative residency. This recent painting is oil on wood board. More of her work can be seen at www.alisonskruse.com/paintings.

By Kam Williams

In classical music circles, they call a kid with promise a prodigy. In rock ’n’ roll, the buzz is about the best unsigned bands. Out in Hollywood, they like to refer to an emerging young actress as an ingénue.

But I don’t know if anybody ever coined a term for an up-and-coming painter with great potential. But if they did, that’s what they’d be calling Alison Kruse, New Jersey’s best kept secret. Until now. more

By Nancy Plum

The island of Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of Florida and just about the size of Pennsylvania, packs a wallop in performing arts and culture. Latin America and the Caribbean are known for indigenous dance forms and music full of percussion and brass, but Cuba also has strong roots in the Western European classical tradition. Cuba’s orchestral ancestry dates back to the 18th century, when the country’s major cathedrals paralleled their counterparts in Europe by establishing instrumental ensembles. Cuba joined the evolution of the symphony orchestra in the 19th century, and by the 1930s, Havana boasted two full symphonic ensembles. In 1959, one National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba emerged, and has been well representing the country worldwide since.  more

By Kam Williams

Ella (Helen Mirren) and John Spencer (Donald Sutherland) have been happily married for more than 50 years, and their love hasn’t diminished one iota in spite of his battle with dementia or by hers with brain cancer. Therefore, the inseparable couple resisted their doctors who wanted them to move into different healthcare facilities.

Instead, the 80+ year-olds decide to share one last vacation in their mothballed RV fondly called “The Leisure Seeker.” They plan to drive from Wellesley down to Key West where John, a retired English professor, hopes to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway. more

March 21, 2018

The Arts Council of Princeton was named Favorite Art Gallery in the 2018 JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards. Taneshia Nash Laird, executive director of Arts Council of Princeton, center, accepted the award from Allison Tratner, interim executive director of New Jersey State Council of the Arts, and Adam Perle, president and CEO of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, on March 14 at ArtPride New Jersey’s headquarters in the Lyceum Hall Center for the Arts in Burlington.

D&R Greenway Land Trust presents a special evening with renowned furniture designer Mira Nakashima on Thursday, March 22 (doors open 6:30 p.m., talk begins at 7 p.m.) at the Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. Admission costs $10 person.

Mira Nakashima, the daughter of legendary furniture sculptor George Nakashima, will tell the story of the family’s woodworking legacy, followed by a signing of her book, Nature, Form, and Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima. Nakashima pieces will be displayed and available for purchase, including a three-legged stool, candle holders, pencil holders, and bread boards. more

By Stuart Mitchner

To do justice to the music of Bach, you should “listen, play, love, revere, and keep your trap shut.” This in-your-face edict from Albert Einstein was scrawled in the margin of a letter, according to John Eliot Gardiner’s biography Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (Knopf 2013). Curious to see the German equivalent of “Keep your trap shut,” I checked online and came up with “Halte deine Falle geschlossen,” which seemed unlikely (too wordy) compared to “Halt die Klappe!” or “Halt den Schnabel!”

What ultimately matters is that March 21 is Bach’s birthday and rather than obeying Einstein, I’m plunging ahead in respect of the birthday equation, Einsten 3-14/Bach 3-21. more

By Kam Williams

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) would tell you that he’s a typical teen, except for the fact that he’s hiding one huge secret. He’s gay, but he hasn’t told his parents (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner) or any of his friends. He’s even dated a female classmate (Cassady McClincy) at Creekwood High to keep up the charade.

He’s well aware of the merciless teasing waiting for anybody who is brave enough to come out of the closet after witnessing the fate of Ethan (Clark Moore), who was bullied at the school after he revealed his sexual orientation.

Simon keeps his equilibrium by anonymously visiting an LGBTQ-friendly blog where he has found another gay student from Creekwood High. At first, they only support each other, however, over time their friendship blossoms into love. However, since they’re both using pseudonyms Simon has no idea who “Blue” is because both of them are understandably hesitant to reveal their true identities. more

“CROWNS”: Performances are underway for “Crowns.” Directed by playwright Regina Taylor, the musical runs through April 1 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. From left: Wanda (Stephanie Pope); Mother Shaw (Shari Addison); Jeanette (Rebecca E. Covington); Velma (Latice Crawford); and Mabel (Danielle K. Thomas) immerse Chicago teenager Yolanda (Gabrielle Beckford) in their community, history, and “hattitude.” (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Yolanda, an edgy Chicago teenager, is grieving over the loss of her brother, who has been shot. She has been sent to South Carolina to live with her grandmother, Mother Shaw, who introduces Yolanda to a group of women at her church. Each of these women has a unique life story — and hat, or “crown.” more

March 14, 2018

Imagination is more important than knowledge — it encircles the whole world.

—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

—Hamlet (1601–∞)

By Stuart Mitchner

If you were to measure their relative value in light of Einstein’s statement, Shakespeare would have the advantage because the works of his imagination can be apprehended while Einstein’s require a knowledge of mathematics and physics most people don’t possess. Unfair and illogical though it may be, the wonders of Shakespeare’s language supercede the relatively impenetrable wonders of Einstein’s theory. more

“I OF THE STORM”: Performances are underway for “I of the Storm.” Directed by Janice L. Goldberg, the play runs through March 18 at Passage Theatre. A homeless ex-convict, who used to be the vice president of a brokerage, shares his life story. (Photo by Michael Abrams)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre is presenting I of the Storm. With this production the company is continuing its series of monologues, Solo Flights. Writer and performer Richard Hoehler’s one-man show previously was presented in 2015, at the Playroom Theater, an off-Broadway venue. Subsequent performances have taken place at the Gym at Judson and the Cape May Stage. more

By Kam Williams

Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is a loyal employee at Promethium Pharmaceuticals who has been patiently waiting for his chance to share in the success from the company’s lucrative sales of medical marijuana in a pill form. Unfortunately, the naive Nigerian immigrant is unaware that the Chicago-based company’s CEO, Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton), has no intention of giving him a share of the profits.

Instead, Richard fills his head with promises of a lavish lifestyle like the ones he’s seen in rap videos. Furthermore, Harold has no idea that his boss is having an affair with his wife, Bonnie (Thandie Newton). In addition, Richard is in a relationship with his business partner, Elaine (Charlize Theron).  more