July 24, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

During the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, Ross and Matt, waved a magic wand and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime character in Eleven, the fugitive child with telekinetic powers played by Millie Bobby Brown.

In Stranger Things 3, the Duffers have conjured up a white rabbit surprise in the form of a romantic comedy that blends screwball fun and creature feature clout. No need to worry about spoiler alerts and such because when the dust clears what makes the ride worth taking has less to do with why or how or who gets slimed, who dies and who doesn’t, than with the old boy-girl, man-woman, person-person scenario that’s been delighting audiences ever since Shakespeare dreamed up the star-crossed lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hollywood paired Katherine Hepburn’s scatterbrained Susan with Cary Grant’s hapless paleontologist in Bringing Up Baby, where romance turns on the search for a lost dinosaur bone, a dog named George, and a leopard named Baby. The best thing about the spectacular doings of the Mindflayer in Stranger Things 3 is the challenge it offers the various amusingly human couples fighting, arguing, laughing and loving their way through life-and-death situations. When it comes down to choosing between human beings and special effects, it’s the human moments you hold close. Twenty-two years this side of Titanic, what stays with you, the sinking of a luxury liner or the romance between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack and Kate Winslet’s Rose?  more

By Nancy Plum

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra spent last week in Princeton coaching and guiding four contemporary composers in an immersive laboratory experience through which the talented participants received musical and practical feedback about their pieces, composing for a symphonic orchestra, and getting music published and performed in today’s market. Dichotomy, conflict, and ultimate hope seemed to be the overriding themes of the pieces resulting from this year’s Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, as these works were presented in a concert entitled Scores last Saturday night at Richardson Auditorium. Led by Romanian conductor Cristian Macelaru, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed four works of the Cone Institute’s composers, along with an East Coast premiere of Institute director and Princeton University professor Steven Mackey. more

The final concert of the Blue Curtain series at Pettoranello Gardens Ampitheater features the Afro-Cuban music of OKAN and Latin-jazz legend Charlie Sepulveda and The Turnaround, shown here. Bring picnics and blankets to the free concert, which starts at 7 p.m. on July 27. The ampitheater is at Route 206 and Mountain Avenue. The bad weather location is the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center.

“CELEBRATION”: This work by Aleksandra Seletskaya is featured in an exhibit of works by Creative Collective/Tuesday Colorists Groups, on view at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury August 4-30. An opening reception is Sunday, August 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Gourgaud Gallery, 23 North Main Street, Cranbury, will present “Celebration,” an exhibit by Creative Collective/Tuesday Colorists Groups, August 4 through August 30. An opening reception with the artists will be held on Sunday, August 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Gallery. Light refreshments will be served. All events are free and open to the public. more

“TRANSITION”: This 1965 work, originally commissioned for the J. C. Penney Headquarters Building in New York City, is featured in “The Poetry of Sculpture: Raymond Granville Barger (1906–2001),” on view through October 20 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., now features “The Poetry of Sculpture: Raymond Granville Barger (1906–2001),” on view through October 20.

Visitors have the opportunity to meander through the indoor and outdoor exhibition viewing objects from the museum’s permanent collection as well as several loans, many of which come from private collections. Rarely exhibited works from the 1930s provide insight into Barger’s early classical approach, while later sculptures signal his development as a symbolic abstractionist as well as a technical innovator.

While best-known for his monumental outdoor sculptures, including works for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Barger also created smaller-scale, more intimate works for interior spaces. His Transition, a 25-foot long bronze sculpture originally commissioned for the J. C. Penney Headquarters Building in New York City in 1965, has graced the Byers Garden at the Michener since the year after the museum opened. more

July 17, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
—William Wordsworth

The younger you are, the closer you are to the moon, whether it’s dangling in a mobile above the crib, or the funny-faced thing the cow jumped over, or the serene presence just outside the bedroom window you’re saying goodnight to as you serenade your drowsy two-year-old with the little book by Margaret Wise Brown. In the story made at once wondrous and intimate by Clement Hurd’s images, the moon is there with you, in the “great green room,” as close and as real as the teddy bears and the kittens and the telephone. I’m also thinking of the moonlight immediacy captured some 220 years ago by Samuel Taylor Coleridge when the author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner grabbed his notebook to jot down this entry about his first-born child: “Hartley fell down & hurt himself — I caught him up crying & screaming — & ran out of doors with him. — The Moon caught his eye — he ceased crying immediately; — & his eyes & the tears in them, how they glittered in the Moonlight!”  more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts ended its 2019 season last week with a return to the classics, as Canada’s Rolston String Quartet performed the final concert of the series. Formed six years ago at the picturesque and renowned Banff Arts Center in Alberta, Canada, the Rolston String Quartet provided a fitting close to a season featuring innovation by showing the future of classical music through the masterworks of the past. Violinists Luri Lee and Emily Kruspe, violist Hezekiah Leung, and cellist Jonathan Lo dazzled the audience at Richardson Auditorium last Friday night with their musicality and energetic approach to the works of string quartet masters Franz Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven bracketing a complex piece by 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti.

“Papa” Haydn is considered the father of the string quartet genre, which Beethoven subsequently pushed to new musical boundaries. Among Haydn’s most well-known string quartet compositions are those contained in Opus 76, the last complete set of the more than 60 quartets the composer wrote. Quartet No. 63 in Bb Major, the fourth of Opus 76, acquired the nickname “Sunrise” for its depiction of the sun coming up over the horizon, and the Rolston String Quartet brought out well the diverse shadings one sees in an early sunlit sky. In the first movement “allegro con spirito,” the Rolston players placed their musical emphasis on “con spirito,” energetically moving through the allegro with clean sforzandi accents and a light violin sound from Lee’s Baroque-era instrument. Lee and Kruspe also demonstrated especially sweet thirds between the two violin parts. more

SHAKESPEARE AND SOCK PUPPETS: The cast of Princeton Summer Theater’s “Puck’s Midsummer Mischief.” Shows are at the Hamilton Murray Theater, Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. through August 3. For tickets, call (732) 997-0205 or visit princetonsummertheater.org. (Photo by JJ Haddad)

Princeton Summer Theater’s annual children’s production brings together a William Shakespeare classic with sock puppets.

“I didn’t mean to write a children’s play about open borders,” Princeton Summer Theater (PST) playwright-in-resident Annika Bennett said. “But I guess that’s what I did.”

Bennett’s Puck’s Midsummer Mischief is her fourth children’s theater piece commissioned for Princeton Summer Theater. A Seattle-based playwright and arts administrator, Bennett created original works throughout her time at Princeton University (she graduated in 2015) and has found a niche writing plays for audiences of all ages. Her work is accessible for younger theatergoers and fun for older ones, and has a heavy emphasis on audience engagement. more

PERCUSSIVE SOUNDS: The 11th annual So Percussion Summer Institute is at Princeton University through July 27, bringing unique sounds on unique instruments to several locations around town. All of the public performances are free.

So Percussion, the Princeton University Edward T. Cone Ensemble-in-Residence, has begun the 2019 So Percussion Summer Institute (“SoSI”). Now in its 11th year, the two-week chamber music seminar is a summer cultural tradition in Princeton, with showcases of the range of percussion instruments included in the institute.

Free performances are being held through July 27 at locations on and off the campus, including the Lewis Center for the Arts, Small World Coffee, Hinds Plaza, and Fine Hall. This year’s institute centers on the “Culture of Collaboration,” drawing attention to the web of contributors involved in every successful artistic project. In addition to performances and an annual food-packing event for Arm in Arm (formerly the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County), the institute includes premieres of new pieces written by Princeton University graduate student composers, masterclasses with composers and performers, and open readings of participants’ works-in-progress by members of So Percussion. more

“DREAMING IN COLOR”: “Colors of Spring” by Debbie Pisacreta, above, and “Sunday in the Park” by Maxine Shore, below, will be featured in a two-person exhibit on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville August 8 through September 1. An opening reception is Saturday, August 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Fine artists Debbie Pisacreta and Maxine Shore will exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions in a two-person show, “Dreaming in Color,” on view August 8 through September 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is Saturday, August 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. more

“THE FIGURE A PORTRAIT MAKES”: This portrait by Ramie Ahmed is among works by ten current or former MCCC Visual Arts students to be featured in a new exhibit at MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton July 29 through August 23. A community reception is scheduled for August 2 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) in Trenton presents “The Figure a Portrait Makes,” contemporary interpretations of the genre of portraiture by ten current and former MCCC Visual Arts students. The exhibition runs Monday, July 29 through Friday, August 23.

The exhibit features photography by Ramie Ahmed, Timothy Dill, John Labaw, Elizabeth Mayer, Isaiah Mcrae, Julia Pfaar, Regina Ritter, Danielle Rackowski, Zac Santanello, and Grace Spencer. more

July 10, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

The performers in Friday morning’s backyard circus are identified in the Audubon guide as Common Grackles, “a very familiar species on suburban lawns, striding about with deliberate steps,” searching for insects, nesting “in small colonies,” and perching “in adjacent treetops to sing their creaking, grating songs.” What held me and had me smiling, however, was the visual music they were making as they gathered, one by one, on the long limb of a hemlock tree until six of them were sitting in a row, the limb rocking under them, as if they were sharing the fun. It may be a common sight for this common species, but I never saw it before and I doubt that I ever will again.

To go from watching birds riding a limb to reading Proust, who was born on July 10, 1871, is easier said than done, considering that each of the three volumes of the 1981 Random House edition of Remembrance of Things Past tops a thousand pages. With five days to deadline, all I can do is pack my knapsack with possibilities (birds, summertime, the seaside, the moon landing, the primal joy of victorious athletes) and prepare for the voyage by reading around in the edition of Proust’s Letters edited and translated by Minna Curtis. My guide is the 20-year-old English girl I encountered there. Proust’s biographer George D. Painter says it was “the beautiful Marie Nordlinger” who led Proust “near to the heart of the labyrinth.” Short and slender, “with delicate Pre-Raphaelite hands, dark eyes, full lips, and a look of warm sincerity and intelligence,” the talented young painter/sculptor from Manchester was “a godsend” in Proust’s struggle to translate John Ruskin into French. A note in my 1949 edition of the Letters says that she “not only initiated him into the English texts but supplied him with endless information and assistance” and was “the only woman younger than himself, highly intellectual and of his own social background with whom he ever seems to have carried on a friendship.”  more

By Nancy Plum

Of the trumpet, French horn, and trombone, the most familiar is likely the trumpet, thanks to a repertory of 17th and 18th-century music featuring the instrument. The French horn is also well known though a number of concerti over several centuries. The trombone, however, is rarely featured in orchestral settings, and is a pleasure for audiences to hear and see close up. Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts brought these three instruments together last Tuesday night at Richardson Auditorium with a performance by the New York Brass Arts Trio. Definitely an ensemble for the 21st century, the Brass Arts Trio is comprised of trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, French horn player David Jolley, and trombonist Haim Avitsur, who came together in this performance to demonstrate the power of their instruments within the finesse of ensemble playing.

Burgstaller, Jolley, and Avitsur are not only expert performers, but also imaginative arrangers; almost all of the pieces on Tuesday night’s program were arranged by one of them. The Trio presented works spanning three centuries, beginning with David Jolley’s arrangements of three sinfonias of Johann Sebastian Bach. In these short pieces, the three brass instruments were able to achieve appropriate lightness in melodic lines, as well as dynamic contrasts. Burgstaller found numerous opportunities for ornamentation in music tailor-made for a bright trumpet sound. more

“DEATHTRAP”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Deathtrap.” Directed by Annika Bennett, the play runs through July 21 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Sidney Bruhl, a playwright (C. Luke Soucy, left) implies to his wife, Myra (Kathryn Anne Marie) that he may kill a younger rival, in order to steal his script — leaving Myra to try to determine whether or not Sidney is joking. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater (PST) states that the mission of its 2019 season is to “explore love in all its forms.” The company’s previous production, Falsettos, was an obvious fit for this theme. That musical’s near-adolescent protagonist sings about his ambivalence toward love, but grows to feel compassion for his father’s terminally ill lover, despite the extent to which the latter disrupts the boy’s family.

In this context Deathtrap (1978), currently presented by PST, is a somewhat curious choice. This cerebral, darkly comic thriller by Ira Levin (1929-2007) — the author of novels such as A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Stepford Wives — chiefly is characterized by urbane banter, professional jealousy, and violence. There are brief displays of physical affection between characters, but to the extent that the theme of love is explored, it is subtle and confined to individual moments, rather than overarching. more

The 52nd season of the Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts closes on Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. with Rolston String Quartet at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. The concert will include Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet, Beethoven’s “Razsumovsky,” and “Metamorphoses Nocturnes” by Ligeti. Admission is free.

The 2018 recipient and first international ensemble chosen for the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America, Canada’s Rolston String Quartet also earned First Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. They then toured Germany, Italy, Austria, Canada, and the United States, followed by a two-year term as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence in the fall of 2017.

The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Chamber Music Residency. They take their name from Canadian violinist Thomas Rolston, founder and long time director of the music and sound programs at the Banff Centre.

Even though concerts are free, tickets are still required. Starting one week before each concert a block of tickets is available online through tickets.princeton.edu. Once the online tickets are “sold out” the remaining tickets will be available, first-come, first-served, at the box office on the day of the concert. There is a maximum of four tickets per party. Doors open for general seating one-half hour before the concert.

Visit www.princetonsummerchamberconcerts.org or call (609) 570-8404 for more information.

“IGNORE ME”: This large-scale sculpture is one of six now on view in “Rebirth: Kang Muxiang,” at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton through May 2020. The works are made from steel elevator cables from Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. (Photo by George Chevalier)

Now on view at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton, “Rebirth: Kang Muxiang” is an exhibition of six large-scale sculptures by Taiwanese artist Kang Muxiang, sited outdoors in the gardens. Massive yet graceful, the embryonic forms are made from steel elevator cables from Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. The works range in size, with the largest standing nearly 10 feet tall and weighing several thousand pounds.

Kang began his artistic practice with traditional woodcarving at the age of 13. Eventually turning to other media, the artist has also worked in bronze and stainless steel. In 2002, Kang spent a year living a largely solitary and primitive lifestyle on Guishan (Turtle Island), off the coast of Taiwan. This experience motivated him to create his Life series of sculptures that explores how our way of life impacts future generations.  more

“COLORS OF MEMORY”: This artist book created with laser cut woodblock and collograph plates is featured in “Reflections: Artist Books and Works on Paper by Maria G. Pisano,” on view at the Plainsboro Library gallery through July 31. An artist reception is Sunday, July 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Plainsboro Library Gallery presents artist books and works on paper by award-winning artist and Plainsboro resident Maria G. Pisano in “Reflections.” The exhibit runs through July 31, and an art reception will be held on Sunday, July 14, 2 to 4 p.m., with the artist on hand to speak about her work.

Pisano’s prints are a combination of collagraph plates and/or monotypes. Her artist books combine a variety of expressive forms, including drawing, painting, print and printmaking media, papermaking, text, and book design, making the book structure a complex and unique form of expression. more

July 3, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come. This is the essence of magic, which does not create but summons.
—Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

The term “Kafkaesque” has been loosely applied to a wide range of human situations, as often as not by people who have never read a word of Kafka and know nothing about the doings and undoings of K. in The Castle or Joseph K. in The Trial. The word came to mind again when I read about the “strange,” “off-the-wall,” “dysfunctional” history of the New York Mets in Friday’s New York Times (“Just Embrace It: Mets’ Eccentricity Is Worthy of Veneration”). But once I got past the instinctive associations prompted by those adjectives, I found nothing convincingly Kafkaesque in the incidents Victor Mather  cites. As he admits, the Mets don’t own the rights to eccentricity; after all, quirky, odd-ball behavior is one of the the National Pastime’s enduring charms.

As a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I paid special notice to the fact that “trouble started early” when the newborn 1962 Mets suffered the first of their 120 losses in St. Louis. There’s something closer to Kafkaesque, however, in the no-man’s-land of extra inning games that seem to go on forever. In a previous article, I quoted Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina’s father telling Yadi’s brother and fellow catcher Bengie that it was possible for a baseball game to last “forever” if no team scored. The idea that baseball could defy space and time sounded to Bengie “more like God than anything I heard in church.” As it happens, the game between the Mets and the Cardinals on September 11, 1974, lasted 7 hours and 45 minutes; it was 3:13 a.m. and only a thousand fans were still at Shea Stadium when the Cardinals won it 4-3 in the 25th inning. These days baseball’s infinitely fluid rules permit such marathons to be suspended, never to be made up, which leaves a confusion of possibilities both Kafka and Yogi Berra would have appreciated: apparently “it’s never over until it’s never over.”  more

By Nancy Plum

Although the violin, viola, and cello have changed little as instruments over the past century, music for this genre is continually evolving. Nowhere was this more evident this past week than in the Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts presentation of PUBLIQuartet, an ensemble of four musicians committed to stretching the instruments of the string quartet to new boundaries and stimulating new repertoire for the field. Violinists Curtis Stewart and Jannina Norpoth, violist Nick Revel, and cellist Hamilton Berry presented a program demonstrating that in the ensemble’s less than 10-year history, PUBLIQuartet has made a solid mark on American contemporary chamber music.

PUBLIQuartet’s performance last Thursday night at Richardson Auditorium was far from the conventional string quartet concert in its focus on music from very recent decades. When the living American composer John Corigliano is the “old man” of composers represented, PUBLIQuartet’s commitment to the latest in string quartet composition was clear. more

PRESTIGIOUS POST: John Devlin, former assistant conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, has been appointed music director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. (Photo by Suhail Mir)

John Devlin, the former assistant conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and most recently the music director of the Hawaii Youth Symphony, has been appointed music director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra (WSO) in West Virginia.

While with the PSO, Devlin conducted the Holiday POPS! concert, Saturday Evening POPS! with Sierra Boggess, and the world premiere of American Repertory Ballet’s Pride and Prejudice. Devlin also participated in pre-concert talks and hosted groups from Princeton Adult School attending PSO rehearsals. Most recently, he authored the program notes for each of the PSO’s classical series concerts. more

“RIVER RUNS”: This painting by JoAnn, a participant in HomeFront’s ArtSpace program, will be featured in the “HomeFront: Expressions of ArtSpace Exhibition” on view July 15 through September 6 at the West Windsor Arts Center. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, July 21 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The West Windsor Arts Council will present the “HomeFront: Expressions of ArtSpace Exhibition” July 15 through September 6 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Artspace is a program of Homefront, whose mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources, and expertise of the community.

Using art as a tool to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being, the goal of ArtSpace is to build self-confidence and nourish the spirit of its families. The “Expressions of ArtSpace Exhibition” will feature works of art created by the participants of this program. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, July 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. more

“MOON GODDESS AND RABBIT”: This ceramic piece, circa 600–900 A.D., is among 55 artifacts and artworks featured in “Legacy: Selections from the Gillett G. Griffin Collection, on view at the Princeton University Art Museum July 20 through October 6. Griffin taught and curated at the University for 52 years. (Photo Bruce M. White)

Gillett G. Griffin (1928-2016) was not only a respected curator, scholar and collector but also a teacher at Princeton University, where he taught and curated for 52 years. “Legacy: Selections from the Gillett G. Griffin Collection” celebrates Griffin’s eclectic tastes through a selection of artworks and artifacts from the thousands that he gave to the Museum (at his death, over 2,500 works joined the gifts of art Griffin, who held the title of emeritus curator of Pre-Columbian and Native American Art at the Museum, had made to the Museum in his lifetime). more

June 26, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Reviewers are upset with Martin Scorsese for violating documentary integrity in his just-released film Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, which is streaming on Netflix and on view in “select theaters.” Some notices even bill themselves as guides to “all the fake stuff Scorsese put in his new Bob Dylan movie.”

Figuring out “what’s true and what’s staged” seems beside the point when the main reason to see the film is the music, the ambiance, and above all the chance to witness Dylan unleashed. You’re right there in the line of fire, recoiling from the force of the words violinist Scarlet Rivera sees as “staccato bullets” even as she’s creating a conflagration of her own, never taking her eyes off him, zoning in on every line he shoots, every move, fiddling while Dylan burns. He’s too close for comfort, daubed in reverse-Minstrel-show white-face; you feel shaken, thrilled, chilled, with code words for American aggression coming crazily to mind, “Shock and Awe” for the bombing of Baghdad, and, yes, “Rolling Thunder” for the bombing of Vietnam.

Seeing the rapport between the violinist and the singer, the way Rivera reads Dylan as she plays, you understand why she’d say “I was with a living genius, on the level of a Shakespeare of our time” in an earlier film (Rolling Thunder and The Gospel Years, 2006). That was a decade before Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton Festival has stretched itself well into the challenging operatic stratosphere in its 15th anniversary season this year with its mainstage production of John Adams’ Nixon in China, which opened at McCarter Theatre Center’s Matthews Theatre this past Sunday afternoon. For this production, Festival Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk assembled a cast of both returning and new singers to the stage for a complex operatic production bringing humanity and poignancy to two controversial historic characters.

John Adams’ composed his 1987 opera Nixon in China to a libretto by American poet Alice Goodman, who is also an Anglican priest. The roots of Nixon in China, musically depicting Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China, were in a collaboration between Adams, innovative theater director Peter Sellars, and noted choreographer Mark Morris, from the viewpoint of the 1980s — a time when Nixon was an easy target for late-night comedians. Sellars claimed the opera idea came to him as an amalgamation of working on Franz Joseph Haydn’s 1784 opera Armida; reflecting on the Vietnam War, which had ended a decade earlier; and the writings of Henry Kissinger and Chairman Mao. Adams had been scoring a documentary on Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and was immersed in Wagnerian operas at the time, and saw the Nixon in China story as a musical opportunity to “find our mythology in our own contemporary history.”  The resulting production, a four-way international operatic commission premiered in Houston in 1987, was considered thought-provoking in its subject matter, fusing Wagnerian operatic idioms with popular American music genres in Adams’ trademark minimalistic compositional style and serving as a catalyst for future operatic treatments of current events. more

“FALSETTOS”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Falsettos.” Directed by PST Artistic Director Daniel Krane, the musical runs through June 30 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Jason (Hannah Chomiczewski, second from left) comes of age, with the unlikely help of the adults in his life: his mother Trina (Bridget McNiff, left); his father’s lover, Whizzer (Dylan Blau Edelstein, second from right); and his father Marvin (Michael Rosas, right). (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

My father says that love is the most beautiful thing in the world,” sings 10-year-old Jason, in a recurring motif in the musical Falsettos. “I think chess is the most beautiful thing, not love.”

Princeton Summer Theater opens its 2019 season — which, a press release promises, “will explore love in all its forms,” — with Falsettos. This provocative tragicomedy, which centers on a Jewish boy’s coming of age in a broken home, has a sung-through score by William Finn. Finn’s agitated music is mostly uptempo, though there are reflective ballads that prevent the show from becoming relentless. Finn’s lyrics are conversational, intricately rhymed, and often wry. Finn, who happens to be Jewish, is not unlike Mel Brooks in being unafraid to play with stereotypes. more