May 16, 2018

“TURNING OFF THE MORNING NEWS”: Performances are underway for “Turning Off the Morning News.” Directed by Artistic Director Emily Mann, the play runs through June 3 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. From left: Jimmy (John Pankow) and Polly (Kristine Nielsen) make a memorable, if undesirable, first impression on new neighbors Salena (Rachel Nicks) and Clifford (Robert Sella). (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

middle-aged father, Jimmy, nonchalantly announces his decision to shoot either his wife Polly and their 13-year-old son Timmy, or strangers at a mall. Polly attempts to ignore Jimmy’s behavior by focusing on her houseplant, and dreaming of going to heaven. Dysfunctional characters and horrifying events are viewed through the lens of a wholesome family sitcom. more

“BARBARA SIGMUND”: This stitched fabric page by Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert is part of the “Interwoven Stories International” exhibit, on view in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery at 102 Witherspoon Street through June 23.

The Arts Council of Princeton presents “Interwoven Stories International,” three-hole fabric pages, stitched with memories, places, and people, speaking to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment and creativity of an international stitching community. more

SMALL WORKS ART SHOW: Artist Paul Hoffman, a native of Hunterdon County, will be painting at the Small Works Art Show at 123 Main Street in Flemington on May 19 and 20. The art show will benefit Friends of Historic Flemington, which is working to preserve historic buildings in the town.

“Interested in original art by area artists? Come to the Small Works Art Show, and support local history at the same time,” says Catherine Langley, co-chair of the event, which will benefit Friends of Historic Flemington.

The show and sale will be Saturday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 20 from noon to 6 p.m., at 123 Main Street, Flemington. An artists’ reception is planned for Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m., with live music and refreshments. The public is welcome. more

This oil painting by Merrilee Drakulich is featured in “Layers of the Earth: From Core to Cloud,” on exhibit at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton through June 15. A reception is Friday, May 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

May 9, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

London burning. London blitzed. London embattled by the elements. It’s a subject that inspires bravura prose. Like the London at the opening of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, where there’s so much mud in the streets it is “as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.” This is a city where the smoke from chimney-pots makes “a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.” more

“THE CABIN, AHAB, AND STARBUCK”: “Frank Stella Unbound: Literature and Printmaking,” at the Princeton University Art Museum from May 19 to September 23, focuses on the role of literature in Frank Stella’s innovative printmaking. The exhibit commemorates the 60th reunion of Stella, PU Class of 1958.

Between 1984 and 1999, American artist Frank Stella executed four groundbreaking print series — each taking its inspiration from a literary text: Had Gadya, Italian Folktales, Moby-Dick, and the Dictionary of Imaginary Places. In the process, his creative practice evolved to create prints of unprecedented scale and complexity, through which he both achieved a technical and expressive milestone in fine-art printmaking and transformed his visual language in all media. more

“FIRST DANCE”: This painting by Diane Greenberg has been accepted for the “Ellarslie Open 35,” annual juried exhibit at the Trenton City Museum. The exhibit runs through July 1, with a Gallery Talk with award-winning artists on Sunday, May 20 at 2 p.m.

The Trenton Museum Society has announced the works accepted for the “Ellarslie Open 35,” now on display at the Trenton City Museum through July 1. The “Ellarslie Open” annual juried exhibit continues a long tradition of supporting area artists and bringing the finest in visual art to patrons and visitors. more

“FANTASY”: The works of Gail Bracegirdle, shown here, and Alla Podolsky are featured in “Life as We See It,” an exhibit at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville running May 10 through June 3. An artists’ reception will be held on Saturday, May 12, from 4 to 8 p.m.

“Life as We See It,” a new exhibit of works by Gail Bracegirdle and Alla Podolsky, opens at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville on May 10 and runs through June 3. A reception will be held on Saturday, May 12, from 4 to 8 p.m. more

“CAGED” IN REHEARSAL: Performances are underway for “Caged.” Directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, the play runs through May 20 at Passage Theatre. From left: cast members Nicolette Lynch, Brandon Rubin, Monah Yancy, and Ural Grant are rehearsing their parts. (Photo by Damion Parran)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre Company is concluding its season with the world premiere of Caged. Written by the New Jersey Prison Cooperative, this play is the synthesis of experiences shared by current or former inmates in the New Jersey prison system. The result is a cohesive, engaging drama in which an African American man struggles to protect his family — and preserve his humanity — in the face of poverty and incarceration. more

By Kam Williams

On March 3, 1991, five LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) officers were caught on camera viciously beating an unarmed black man who had led them on a high-speed chase instead of pulling over as directed. When the police cornered him, the driver, Rodney King, suffered a broken ankle, a broken cheekbone, multiple skull fractures, and chipped teeth in the subsequent assault by the police with their billy clubs.

A year later, riots broke out all over South Central Los Angeles after a jury acquitted all the officers involved in the arrest. Six days later, 63 people had died and thousands of businesses had been looted and burned to the ground, with over a billion dollars in damages. more

May 2, 2018

By Kam Williams

This critic prefers this kind of old-fashioned monster movie. Loosely based on the video game of the same name, Rampage is reminiscent of campy Japanese classics like Godzilla (1954), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964).

However, instead of decimating Tokyo, the gargantuan creatures here are located in Chicago. Also, Rampage is a big-budget spectacular that relies heavily on CGI and state-of-the-art special effects.

You know the drill. Some ordinary animals morph into mammoth man-eating beasts after a scientific experiment goes terribly wrong. In this case, we have a wolf, a crocodile, and an albino gorilla that mutate into predators. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Friends of the Princeton Public Library Book Sale, I’m finally reading the copy of Barnaby Rudge that was given to me by a British couple who inscribed it in memory of the evening we spent at the King’s Head (Dickens’s Maypole), the novel’s primary setting. If I hesitate to use “Dickensian” to describe this memorably thoughtful, kind, and caring couple, it’s because my understanding of the term conflicts with online definitions that stipulate “poor social conditions” and “comically repulsive characters.”  more

MAGNOLIA GLASS: This fused glass window by Karen Caldwell will be on view at the Sunflower Glass Studio in Stockton during the Sunflower & Friends Open Studio Tour on May 5 and 6 in Stockton. The event is in support of the annual Hunterdon Art Tour.

Sunflower Glass Studio in Stockton is participating in this year’s Hunterdon Art Tour, and Karen and Geoff Caldwell, makers of fused and stained glass windows, have invited artist friends from the Delaware River Valley area to set up booths surrounding their studio. “The Hunterdon Art Tour is an exciting venue connecting so many wonderful artists who live in our county,” says Karen Caldwell. “I wanted to make our location special and inviting for people, so I invited some very dear friends to participate with us.” Sunflower and Friends Open Studio Tour is May 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  more

“REVOLUTION”: This original watercolor was donated by artist Leon Rainbow for the Tombola lottery at the Arts Council of Princeton’s spring art and wine benefit, Pinot to Picasso, to be held on Friday, May 18. This year’s theme is “Vintage 1968: Vinyl & Velvet,” in honor of ACP’s 50th anniversary.

In celebration of the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) 50th year, the theme of their signature spring art and wine benefit, Pinot to Picasso, is “Vintage 1968: Vinyl & Velvet.” The “art party” will take place on Friday, May 18, 6-10 p.m. at the Technology Center of Princeton, 330 Carter Road. Approximately 400 guests are expected to attend the celebration to include a salon-style exhibition, gourmet tastings from local restaurants, wines from around the world, and dancing. more

By Nancy Plum

In a true “town and gown” collaboration, the Princeton University Orchestra presented one of its most substantial Stuart B. Mindlin Memorial Concerts ever this past weekend at Richardson Auditorium. Joined by the University Glee Club, Princeton Pro Musica, Princeton High School Women’s Choir, and three international vocal soloists, the orchestra put the crowning stroke on conductor Michael Pratt’s 40th anniversary season leading the ensemble. In performances Friday and Saturday night, more than 300 musicians took the stage for Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, requiring an extension to the stage at Richardson. Friday night’s opening performance showed this piece to be a work just as timely now as at its premiere in 1962, and proved to be music that musically pulls two world conflicts into contemporary times. In another achievement for the University Orchestra, the concert was broadcast live on local radio, and was to be rebroadcasted at a later date.  more

April 25, 2018

CREATIVITY, FOOD, AND FUN: The Arts Council of Princeton’s Communiversity ArtsFest is set for this Sunday, April 29, 1-6 p.m., featuring seven stages of continuous live entertainment and more than 200 booths. (Photo Courtesy of the Arts Council of Princeton)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton is looking forward to welcoming more than 40,000 visitors for the 48th annual Communiversity ArtsFest this Sunday, April 29, from 1-6 p.m.

With artists, art activities, continuous live performances on seven stages, more than 200 booths, and a wide array of foods and entertainments, Communiversity is presented by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) in collaboration with the students of Princeton University and the town of Princeton.  more

ARTS AND CRAFTS: This year’s Morven in May craft and plant sale weekend will feature the work of 36 contemporary craft artists from around the U.S. Clockwise, from top left, are works from Stephen Zeh, basketry; Erin Wilson, decorative fiber; Rick Laufer, furniture; and Paul Eshelman, ceramics. Held at Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, the event is open to the public on Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In early May each year, Morven Museum & Garden welcomes 36 contemporary craft artists from around the U.S. for its Morven in May, a craft and plant sale weekend raising funds for the organization. 

Lena Stringari, deputy director of The Guggenheim Museum, selected this year’s exhibitors, whose exquisite work in glass, ceramics, wood, decorative and wearable fiber, jewelry, furniture, metal, and basketry will be displayed in gallery-style booths under a grand tent on the museum’s Great Lawn, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton. more

“ATTIC CHAIR”: This oil painting by Heather Barros is part of “Humanesque,” running May 4 through May 22 at The Present Day Club in Princeton. The exhibition features work by the local artists’ collective Art+10. An artists’ reception will be held on Friday, May 4 from 5-7 p.m.

The art show “Humanesque” opens May 4 and runs through May 22 at The Present Day Club, 72 Nassau Street, Princeton, and features work by the local artists’ collective Art+10. Exhibition hours will be 2-4 p.m. weekdays, except Wednesdays. An artists’ reception will be held Friday, May 4 from 5-7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Ray Davies was envisioning the nightmare of Trumplandia 25 years ago in the last Kinks album Phobia and as far back as 1969 in lyrics like “I’m King Kong, got a hydrogen bomb … and so much money I can buy anybody who gets in my hair.” Then there’s “Powerman,” who’s “got money on his side … everybody else is just a sucker to him.”

In the Kinks rock musical Preservation (1974) a villain called Flash who “ruled with a fist … purchased all the land … plowed up fields and cut down trees,” doing it all “for a pot of gold and property speculation.” Besides songs like “Demolition” (“We’ll build a row of identical boxes and sell them all off at treble the profits”), you have “Flash’s Confession,” where Ray sings, “Been a cheat, been a crook, never gave … always took … crushed people to acquire anything that I desired. Been deceitful and a liar, now I’m facing Hell Fire.”

“Every time there’s a Trump,” Davies told the New Statesman in April 2017, “people say, ‘Revise Preservation.’” A month later he told The Guardian: “I’ve bumped into him a few times and it was all right. Like bumping into a bloke in a bar …. You get all the rhetoric when they’re trying to get into power, but as soon as they get the key to the front door, the pressure is on. He’s trying to run the country … and he only knows one way to get what he wants: total power.” more

“TITANIC”: Performances are underway for Playful Theatre Productions’ presentation of “Titanic.” Directed by Frank Ferrara, the musical runs through April 29 at the Kelsey Theatre. Above: Some of the affluent passengers on the ill-fated ship, and the cast members who portray them. (Photomontage designed by Ruth Kresge)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Titanic is being presented at the Kelsey Theatre. Audiences who liked the James Cameron film should enjoy the Broadway musical, which covers the same history with a different emphasis. The show examines the decisions leading up to the sinking of the ship, on April 15, 1912. It also surveys the lifestyles and romantic aspirations of the passengers and crew whose lives were affected by those choices. more

By Nancy Plum

One-act operas present unusual challenges to directors in how to combine them into an evening’s entertainment and the possibility of double casting. Two short operas often linked in one production are Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, creating an evening of 19th-century human drama. These two operas represent the school of verismo, in which composers portrayed the ugly realities of life, with ordinary people doing ordinary things — such as stealing each other spouses and killing one another off. Boheme Opera NJ presented Cavalleria and Pagliacci in a double bill this past weekend at The College of New Jersey’s Kendall Main Stage Theater, with a cast of nine principals who demonstrated that this regional opera company wastes no expense in seeking the highest level of talent. With a nod to its home base, Boheme Opera NJ set both of these productions in a late 1940s Italian-American community in northeastern United States, similar to what the Chambersburg section of Trenton might have been like in the years after World War II.  more

By Kam Williams

In 1972, Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) was a career U.S. diplomat serving overseas in Lebanon. He and his wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) were so comfortable living in the Middle East that they had decided to adopt Karim (Idir Chender), a 13-year-old Palestinian refugee.

This, despite the fact that unstable Lebanon had a history of falling into a state of unrest where warring factions faced each other for months, if not years. However, as a seasoned veteran, Mason knew how to keep the lines of communication open because the fighting starts once the talking stops. more

April 18, 2018

This acrylic and oil painting called “Meng’s Land” by Chung-Fan Chang will be on display at the West Windsor Arts Center’s exhibition “Cross Cultural Currents” along with work by four other Chinese-American artists who are also faculty at colleges and universities throughout NJ.

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

Original paintings from Princeton Junction artist Nalini Sawhney are on exhibit at the West Windsor Library through April 30. The paintings are from the artist’s “Water Views” collection, and feature a variety of seasons and global locals that span Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The works are a mix of acrylic, oil, and watercolor paintings on canvas. West Windsor Library is at 333 North Post Road in Princeton Junction.

“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