November 4, 2020

FESTIVAL OF MUSIC: Princeton Symphony Orchestra Music Director Rossen Milanov will introduce a special series of curated performances from the PSO archives to be broadcast on November 6, 13, and 20 at 8 p.m. on WWFM. (Photo by Stephen Pariser)

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) continues its long-standing partnership with WWFM, The Classical Network (89.1FM), with a special PSO Festival of Music consisting of curated performances from the PSO archives, and broadcast over three successive Fridays, November 6, 13, and 20 at 8 p.m.

The showcase spans orchestral music from the classical and romantic to modern and contemporary periods. Listeners will gain insights into the music and get to know the PSO’s Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov as he introduces each week’s program with radio host David Osenberg. All performances were recorded at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University and feature the Princeton Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Milanov.

“I am incredibly excited to bring the music of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra to WWFM’s listening audience,” said Milanov. “I hope that these broadcasts will help us relive again the excitement of some of the Orchestra’s most memorable performances from recent seasons.” more

Joyce DiDonato

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is collaborating with Princeton University Concerts and University Musical Society (University of Michigan) on “Sing for Today,” a series of short videos in which the opera star uses song as a lens through which to navigate current events and global concerns.

The first episode, available for free viewing at princetonuniversityconcerts.org and ums.org/singfortoday, taps into the energy of the 2020 General Election. In response to images of long early-voter lines across the country, DiDonato sings “This Land is Your Land” accompanied by guitarist Àlex Garrobéin in tribute to the voters. She then frames the song in conversation with Hamilton lead producer Jeffrey Seller, and with students Kai Tsurumaki (Princeton Class of 2023) and Saika Islam (University of Michigan Class of 2021) — members of the Poll Hero Project, dedicated to recruiting young people across the country to be poll workers. more

“Churchville in Autumn” by Susan Roberts is part of “Wish You Were Here: A Small Works Art Exhibition,” hosted by the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County and Visit Bucks County, on view December 1 through January 31. There is now a call for artists traveling throughout Bucks County, Pa., to create and submit postcard-sized (5”-7”, vertical or horizontal) original works in celebration of Bucks County locations. The deadline for entries is November 15. Register at bucksarts.org.

SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: From left, jewelry by East Coast Alchemy, totes and textiles from Jola House, and ceramics by Michael Brailove will be among the handmade offerings available at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market at Princeton Shopping Center on November 14.

The Arts Council of Princeton’s Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market will be held on Saturday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Princeton Shopping Center at 301 North Harrison Street.

Celebrating its 27th year, Sauce for the Goose offers shoppers the unique opportunity to purchase handmade pieces directly from 25 local artisans and crafters working in ceramics, textiles, jewelry, fine art, and more.

“Now, more than ever, the world needs more art,” said Adam Welch, executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton. “We are excited to partner with the Princeton Shopping Center to support and connect regional artists with the community in the beautiful, safe outdoor setting of the Princeton Shopping Center courtyard. We can’t wait to see you.” more

“THE THREE TREES”: This 1643 work by Rembrandt van Rijn will be the focus of a Princeton University Art Museum virtual event on November 10 at 5:30 p.m. Visit artmuseum.princeton.edu to register.

The Princeton University Art Museum has upcoming virtual events exploring Rembrandt, Latinx artists, and the study of human emotions in art and science.

“Inside the Curator’s Office: Stormy Weather, Rembrandt’s The Three Trees” is on Tuesday, November 10 at 5:30 p.m. Join Laura M. Giles, Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., class of 1970, curator of prints and drawings, for a close and contextual look at this recently acquired print, considered to be one of Rembrandt’s masterpieces in any medium.  more

DIRECT RELATIONSHIP: “I want to help people with their quality of life. It was my dream to become a country doctor and be able to help patients the way I want to care for them. There is a direct relationship between the patient and me. There are no intermediaries, and helping them get well is my only concern.” Dr. William P. Boxer is shown treating a patient in his home office in Pennington.

By Jean Stratton

A doctor who makes house calls? In 2020? This is news many people thought they would never hear again!

But William P. Boxer, MD, FACP will indeed come to see a patient at home, and this is part of the reason he decided to relocate his practice to Pennington this year.

“I wanted to have a home office, and I wanted to be able to offer home visits, explains Dr. Boxer. “I also came to New Jersey for the lifestyle, more land, the schools, and a slower pace. It fit in with my hope to be a country doctor.”

He does practice out of his home office in Pennington, where he lives with his wife and five children on a spacious property he calls Triple Creek  Family Farm. more

LIGHTNING STRIKE: Jeff Halpern holds the Stanley Cup after helping to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning to the title last month as the team topped the Dallas Stars in the finals. Former Princeton University men’s hockey star Halpern ’99 started coaching in the Tampa Bay organization after a 14-year playing career in the NHL. He was promoted to the Lightning as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season. (Photo provided by Jeff Halpern)

By Bill Alden

During his career with the Princeton University men’s hockey team in the late 1990s, Jeff Halpern got to lift a championship trophy.

High-scoring forward Halpern ’99 helped Princeton win the ECAC Hockey Championship in 1998 as the Tigers posted a 5-4 win over Clarkson in double overtime in the final at Lake Placid, N.Y.

After concluding his Tiger career a year later, Halpern went on to enjoy a 14-year run in the NHL but never experienced a championship campaign.

Turning to coaching, Halpern joined the Tampa Bay organization and was promoted to the Lightning as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

Last month, Halpern got to grasp the ultimate trophy in hockey, the Stanley Cup, after helping to guide Tampa Bay to the title as the Lightning defeated the Stars in the finals in six games in a series held in the NHL bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

For Halpern, getting to experience that moment is something he will never forget.

“I had a chance to lift it up,” said Halpern. “I have told people you have watched a movie your whole life like The Godfather and, all of a sudden, you are in the movie with the actors and with the scenery. It is a very surreal feeling to think of yourself in that moment.”

Halpern’s time at Princeton was a key stop on his path to that Hollywood ending.

“The biggest thing is the friendships I made with teammates; we spent a lot of time at the rink at practice and games,” said Halpern, a 6’0, 200-pound native of Potomac, Md. who tallied 142 points on 60 goals and 82 assists in his Tiger career and is the fifth-leading scorer in program history.

“One of the biggest things for my development was that we graduated eight or nine seniors after my freshman year, so going into my sophomore year I had the chance to play in almost every situation and play a lot of minutes. That was a really good chance to not just play at a high level in college but to get a big role.” more

NET GAIN: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Lucia Marckioni makes a volley in action last Wednesday in the Central West A (Group 4) sectional quarterfinals. Juniors Marckioni and Sophia Kim posted a straight-set win at first doubles to help top-seeded PHS edge eighth-seeded Watchung Hills 3-2. A day later,Marckioni and Kim earned another win in their flight but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 3-2 to fourth-seeded Hunterdon Central in the sectional semis. PHS finished the fall with a 12-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Losing four seniors from a squad that went 14-1 in 2019 and with COVID-19 concerns putting the fall season in doubt, there were a lot of question marks surrounding the Princeton High girls’ tennis team this year.

But with Princeton school officials giving the go-ahead to the 2020 campaign and freshmen Shaila Iyer and Eva Lependorf emerging as stars at first and second singles, respectively, PHS answered those questions, producing an 11-0 regular season record and winning the Colonial Valley Conference title.

“Just being able to get out on the court this season was really nice for everyone,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert.

“We were really impressed with how our regular season went. We didn’t lose a single flight during the regular season when people played in their correct positions.”

While PHS didn’t get to play on its home court for the Central West A (Group 4) sectional quarterfinals as damp courts moved the match to the Mercer County Park indoor tennis complex, the top-seeded Tigers edged eighth-seeded Watchung Hills 3-2.

“The win over Watchung Hills was very exciting; I am proud of the way the middle of the lineup was able to be solid for us,” said Hibbert, who got wins in the match from Eva Lependorf at second singles, junior Bella Lependorf at third singles, and the pair of juniors Lucia Marckioni and Sophia Kim at first doubles.

“I told the girls going into this match that they are going to be strong and to be prepared for that, don’t look at the record.” more

HEAD IN THE GAME: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Vanessa Ponce heads the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, senior midfielder Ponce tallied a goal to help PHS defeat Ewing 6-0. On Saturday, Ponce added another goal as the Tigers defeated Hightstown 3-0. PHS, now 6-2-1, hosts Lawrence High on November 4 before playing at Trenton Central on November 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Vanessa Ponce strives to jump start things offensively for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team from her spot in the midfield.

“I like controlling the ball, I just want to make sure that the tempo is right,” said senior midfielder Ponce.

“We are out here to play. We are taking it game by game. We have to take every opportunity and really make sure that we are taking advantage of that to be better.”

Last Wednesday, Ponce helped PHS take advantage of its opportunities, tallying a goal and doing some nifty playmaking as the Tigers defeated Ewing 6-0.

“We were just looking to get back to the place we were at the beginning of the season,” said Ponce.

“This game was kind of like Hamilton West (a 6-0 win on October 3). I think we did a good job.”

In the victory over Ewing, four other Tigers besides Ponce found the back of the net with junior Sophia Lis tallying two goals and an assist, freshman Casey Serxner notching a goal and an assist, and junior Megan Rougas and freshman Holly Howes chipping in one goal apiece.

“I think it helps with the team dynamic; it brings us ever closer because we try to put each other in the best positions as possible,” said Ponce, reflecting on the balanced scoring. “That is what makes it fun.” more

SUPER SUB: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Richard Wegmann brings the ball upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Wegmann came off the bench and scored two goals to help PHS defeat Hightstown 3-0. The Tigers, now 5-1-1, play at Lawrence High on November 4 before hosting Trenton Central on November 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Richard Wegmann may not be a starter for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team but he is emerging as a game-changing performer for the squad.

Last Saturday against visiting Hightstown, sophomore forward Wegmann came off the bench to tally a pair of first half goals as PHS went on to a 3-0 win over the Rams, improving to 5-1-1.

In reflecting on his reserve role, Wegmann enjoys bringing a change of pace for the Tigers.

“I am rested and I am ready,” said Wegmann. “I can come on and it is a bit of a surprise because I play a little differently than our other strikers. It is the dynamic of having two choices which is good for us. The coaches are telling me what I can do. If we are making some mistakes, they will point them out to me and I can try to make it better.”

Against Hightstown, Wegmann came on with 25:42 left in the first half and converted a feed from senior Ian Pompliano five minutes later for his first goal. With 13:13 left before halftime, Wegmann knocked in another one, keeping his focus in the middle of a traffic jam around the box.

“It was a great effort by Ian and I was lucky to be in the right spot,” said Wegmann, recalling his first tally. more

GOING TO GOAL: Princeton Day School field hockey player Haley Sullivan dribbles the ball up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Sullivan scored two goals to help PDS defeat Hun School 4-1. The Panthers, now 2-5, host Stuart Country Day on November 4 and then play at Bordentown on November 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was chilly last Saturday morning with the temperature hovering in the high 30s but Haley Sullivan kept warm by repeatedly charging to goal for the Princeton Day School field hockey team as it hosted Hun.

“That is my thing; I like getting those big open breaks and trying to get it in,” said PDS junior forward Sullivan.

Sparking the Panthers, Sullivan fired in two goals for PDS as the Panthers pulled away to a 4-1 win over the Raiders, improving to 2-5.

Sullivan and her teammates were determined to turn the table on Hun, having lost 2-1 to their local foes on October 23.

“We just had the energy back up, we were missing a few players last week so it was good to get everyone back,” said Sullivan. “It is good to come out and get a win.”

PDS displayed energy from the start, jumping out to a 1-0 lead with 9:27 left in the first quarter on a goal by Tessa Caputo. Early in the second period, Sullivan doubled the lead with her first tally of the day. A goal by junior Ally Antonacci increased the PDS margin to 3-0 midway through the quarter.

“We started off strong, we just wanted to get out and get a goal,” said Sullivan.

“We were defending much better, we were talking a lot more, connecting our passes and then getting those corners and getting them in goal.” more

WHIP SMART: Jim Stagnitta surveys the action in his role as the head coach of the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club of the Premier Lacrosse league (PLL). Stagnitta guided the Whipsnakes to a 12-6 win over the Chaos in the final of the PLL Championship Series this August. Now, Stagnitta is bringing his championship approach to the Hun School boys’ lacrosse program as he will be serving as the head coach of the Raiders. (Photo provided by the Hun School)

By Bill Alden

Over the last month or so, four pro leagues have crowned champions in playoff bubbles prompted by COVID-19 concerns with the Tampa Bay Lightning taking the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA title, the Seattle Storm prevailing in the WNBA, and the Los Angeles Dodgers coming through in the World Series.

Back in August, Jim Stagnitta showed how to coach a team to a championship in a bubble, guiding the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club to the title in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Championship Series held in Utah as they defeated the Chaos 12-6 in the title game.

For Whipsnakes head coach Stagnitta, keeping his team fresh mentally and physically was the main focus as the players were sequestered in Herriman, Utah from July 25-August 9.

“I think the challenge once you were there was literally about finding that balance between being able to train our guys and have practice but not overdo it,” said Stagnitta, noting that his team ended up playing six games in 15 days, going 6-0 on the way to the championship.

“Right from the beginning, even training camp, we worked on keeping them healthy. We never had a guy miss a game; we were the only team that didn’t have a guy miss a game. It was keeping that balance of keeping them sharp and continuing to play better and keeping everybody healthy and rested.”

With the Whipsnakes having won the title in the PLL’s inaugural season last year, coming up with an encore performance under the unique circumstances of 2020 was special. more

October 28, 2020

Color Me Mine hosted a Pumpkin Painting Party, featuring Halloween-themed pieces, on Saturday afternoon at the Princeton Shopping Center. Shoppers share their favorite scary movies in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

As new case numbers rise and schools open and shut, the Princeton Health Department notes that large and small private social gatherings where little or no COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place are major contributors to the upswing in infections.

“The irony here is that in-person learning in schools, returning to work, and indoor dining, likely because of the controls in place, are not major sources of COVID-19 infections,” said Princeton Press and Media Communications Director Fred Williams.

With Halloween coming on Saturday, Princeton police officials are urging the community to follow state and local COVID guidance, particularly in restricting indoor and outdoor gatherings. In past years, Williams noted, Franklin, Moore, and Jefferson Streets and the Ettl Farm community have seen hundreds of visitors on Halloween.

“There are no approved permits for any Halloween-related block parties or authorized street closures scheduled for mischief night or Halloween,” said Williams. “Additional police patrols and Safe Neighborhood officers have been assigned throughout the town to ensure the safety of those Princetonians celebrating Halloween.”

In their Monday, October 26 COVID-19 Update, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Princeton Council warned, “Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, typical Halloween parties, and COVID are a scary combination.” more

By Anne Levin

At its meeting Monday, Princeton Council voted in favor of ordinances establishing the positions of open space manager and human services outreach coordinator.

Members of Council and the public expressed support for the newly created posts, which have been discussed for years.

“I am here because more than 10 years ago I read an article in Town Topics that said because of budget cuts, the only person who spoke Spanish at Human Services was being laid off,” said Councilwoman Leticia Fraga. “So I volunteered. And here we are. I am so excited to move forward. It took a pandemic to make this happen, but Human Services will finally get the support they need.”

Councilwoman Mia Sacks commented, “It has also been about 10 years that the town has tried to create an open space manager position, so I am glad that the two can finally come in.”

Mayor Liz Lempert asked that the public spread the word about the new posts. “We’d love to get qualified applicants for these positions from the community,” she said. “Please help us because recruiting is most successful when you have a wide net.”

The positions will be posted on the municipal website at princetonnj.gov.

Lempert opened the meeting with a request that families consider non-traditional ways to celebrate Halloween this year. She has received numerous emails from residents worried that, because of the pandemic, trick-or-treating is not safe. more

By Anne Levin

A second round of funding for Princeton businesses struggling through the pandemic was welcome news to owners of stores and restaurants attending last week’s Virtual Business Forum, held by the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA). The Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund will once again accept applications starting November 1 for grants of up to $5,000.

The announcement came at the end of a meeting that also focused on issues related to staying open during the winter months, and the possibility of a weekend winter village in early December.

The initial round of funding distributed last month granted 70 businesses with $5,000 each. Princeton University, the founding donor, had pledged $250,000 and an additional dollar for dollar match to the first $100,000 received from additional donors. More than $100,000 was contributed by Stark and Stark, the Sands Foundation, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s, and FirstBank, among others.

With more than $100,000 remaining in the fund, it was decided to reopen the application process. According to information given at the meeting, applications will be reviewed and approved on a first-come, first-served basis. There is enough for up to 22 grants for qualifying businesses in Princeton. more

“CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN:” Jeffrey Scott Appelson, founder and sole proprietor of Jeffrey Scott, takes a stroll around Princeton dressed in one of his custom-made suits. He took over the business two years ago and looks forward to helping more gentlemen realize the rewards of dressing in style. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Appelson)

By Donald Gilpin

“Where it began,” Jeffrey Scott Appelson, founder and sole proprietor of Jeffrey Scott custom suit maker, mused, “I remember seeing pictures of myself, one in particular. My mother had dressed me in a pink T-shirt, black jeans, and high-top Nikes. I was 2-3 years old. Nice, thanks, Ma. Had me lookin’ good! To this day I still enjoy that type of streetwear style.”

JeffreyScott.com, with an office at 252 Nassau Street, caters to a rather exclusive clientele, with custom-made suits starting at $895 (tuxedos at $995) and “bespoke” suits at $1,495 (tuxedos at $1,595). Business has picked up since a drop in the early months of the pandemic, and Appelson, 34, sees many potential customers on the horizon.

“Princeton is a classy town,” he said. “Strolling through the streets is a good reason to dress up, look nice, and feel good, and I think a lot of gentlemen want to do that.  They just don’t know where to start or are afraid or don’t think a certain outfit will work for them.”

That’s where Jeffrey Scott comes in. “I partner with them and a personal stylist, and we team up to show them the possibilities,” Appelson added. “The feedback in confidence after we go through the process is extremely rewarding. That’s one of the biggest things I love about the job, when my clients feel good and want to wear their suits and feel confident and grateful. That’s amazing.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The COVID-19 pandemic may have shut down some businesses and forced schools to scale back in-person learning, but it has given Valerie Ulrich, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) grant writer and coordinator of special programs, the opportunity to ramp up her office’s contributions to the school community.

“The pandemic has created significant need in our community,” she wrote in an email. “However, in response, it has created robust giving as well. While I find myself very busy managing the variety of projects we have in progress, I’m also overwhelmed with gratitude at the generosity and how the community can come together to make a difference in the lives of others. It is truly rewarding  work.”

Internet for All, Remote Care Support, and racial literacy projects are just a few of the many grant-funded programs supporting the schools’ efforts to meet urgent needs in the district.

Ulrich, grant writer for the PPS since July 2018, Riverside Elementary School principal for two years before that, and a total of 27 years’ experience in education, reported a total of more than $2 million in grants that she is managing for the PPS in the coming fiscal year.

She noted the importance of the connectivity provided to 45 families through the internet for All program, “essential to the success of our students during remote learning.”  In partnership with Comcast’s internet Essentials and T-Mobile’s EmpoweredEd programs, the district is providing free internet for economically disadvantaged Princeton families. more

By Anne Levin

Marc Dashield, Princeton’s municipal administrator for the past six years, has announced he will retire in April 2021.

“I have dedicated my life to public service as a member of the United States military and in local and state government. After over 27 years of service, I find it time for me to retire,” he said in a statement. “Consequently, I intend to retire as the municipal administrator for Princeton in April of 2021. It has been a pleasure serving the mayor and Council and the residents of Princeton. I am proud to have led such an outstanding organization with some of the brightest and most talented public service professionals in local government.”

Dashield was hired to replace longtime administrator Bob Bruschi in 2014 after serving as Montclair’s manager since 2009. Previously, he was a Plainfield administrator for two years. Before going to Plainfield, he was chief financial officer of Franklin Township.

“Marc helped calmly guide Princeton through these early years of consolidation towards a truly united government,” wrote Mayor Liz Lempert in an email. “I appreciate his selfless service to our town, and wish him the absolute best in his next chapter.”

By Anne Levin

Clifford Brangwynne

Clifford Brangwynne is no stranger to winning awards. The Princeton University professor of chemical and biological engineering had 11 honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, to his name, before being named a Blavatnik National Awards Laureate this month.

The $250,000 award is the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to the country’s most promising, young, faculty-level scientific researchers. “Clifford Brangwynne, PhD, has transformed the field of cell and molecular biology through his discovery of what has been called a new state of biological matter,” reads a statement from the prestigious awards program.

All of this fuss hasn’t gone to Brangwynne’s head. “It’s a huge honor,” he said during a phone interview. “I think it’s the biggest award for young scientists, and I just make it because I’m just 42. There’s a big ceremony that’s incredibly black tie.’

Brangwynne, who lives in Hopewell with his family, grew up in the Boston area. “I was not somebody destined to do science or anything like that,” he said. “I come from a pretty working class background. My parents hadn’t gone to college. I wasn’t the kid with chemistry sets in the basement.”

Around high school, he started getting interested in science. At Carnegie-Mellon University, he thought about majoring in Spanish or psychology. He took a biology class. “I liked the phenomenology but not the memorization involved,” he said. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Is there really a composer who paints the infernal, the macabre, better than Liszt?

—James Huneker (1857-1921)

I’ve been listening to Horowitz Plays Liszt (Red Seal RCA) ever since the composer’s October 22 birthday. I hadn’t planned on doing Liszt for Halloween, at least not until I read the liner notes describing his fascination with the Faust legend, and how sometimes “one wonders whether it was Faust who attracted him or the Devil himself.” And how when Liszt embraced the church, he was dubbed “The Devil in Monk’s clothing,” alias “the diaboliszt,” who “feared God, but loved the devil.”

When I wrote celebrating Liszt’s 2011 bicentenary, the music that most impressed me was a recording by André Watts of “Fountains of the Villa d’Este.” I played the same piece in my personal concert hall (the front seat of a 2000 Honda CRV) on my way to the dentist the other day, saving Horowitz and “The Mephisto Waltz” for the drive back. While the “Mephisto” sounded much as I described it nine years ago — exhilarating, vehement, audacious — I was more aware of the “charlatan” Charles Rosen refers to in a chapter titled “Disreputable Greatness,” from The Romantic Generation. According to Rosen, “The early works are vulgar and great; the late works are admirable and minor.” For Rosen, it was “useless to try to separate the great musician from the charlatan: each one needed the other in order to exist.”

While “The Mephisto Waltz” seemed a good fit for Halloween, along with Poe and the usual suspects, I hadn’t counted on Horowitz’s rendition of “Funérailles,” which the liner notes describe as “one of the most persuasive funeral pieces ever composed.” Because Liszt dated it October 1849, “popular belief has singled it out as having been written in memory of Chopin,” who had died at the age of 40 on October 17. However, several Liszt biographers “prefer to believe” it was written to honor “other friends who had lost their lives in that year of political revolution.” more

TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER: Before renovations of the State Theatre in New Brunswick gets underway, the historic auditorium is auctioning off some of its seats.

State Theatre New Jersey has begun extensive renovations to its historic auditorium in anticipation of its 100th Anniversary in 2021. As part of the renovation, STNJ is auctioning off 20 historic theater seat pairs, seven VIP box seats, and 23 VIP orchestra pit seats.

Proceeds from the Seat Auction will benefit State Theatre’s Next Stage Campaign renovation plans aimed at ensuring accessibility throughout the theater and safety for all, including an elevator for access to all theater levels; upgrading patron amenities throughout the theater, backstage areas, and production equipment; and improving efficiencies in systems to reduce operational costs.

The Seat Auction bidding ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 30. Each item will go to the highest bidder. Winners will be contacted by a State Theatre representative by email on November 3 for pickup arrangements. An official certificate of authenticity from State Theatre New Jersey will accompany each item.   more

FEZZIWIG AND FRIENDS AT HOME: To keep the spirit of “A Christmas Carol” alive this year, McCarter Theatre is offering a specially curated box of activities.

While the pandemic has caused cancellation of McCarter Theatre Center’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, the organization’s artistic team has come up with a way to share the themes of the timeless story with an original gift box.

A Christmas Carol @HOME has curated items to create a version of the classic tale by Charles Dickens, while exploring activities and surprises. Each box can be used as a family activity or given as a holiday gift. Inside are individually wrapped envelopes with scenes that can be performed in person (or over Zoom), character sketch postcards to paint, color, send, or frame; and “conversation cards” to spark discussion around the story’s themes. more

“THE STREAM AT PHILLIPS’ MILL”: This painting by Patricia Clarkson is featured in Phillips’ Mill’s 91st Annual Art Show, on view online through November 1 at phillipsmill.org.

Those who appreciate art and like to support area artists have through Sunday, November 1, to view and purchase framed pieces, sculpture, and portfolio items from many of the region’s best artists at Phillips’ Mill’s 91st Annual Art Show  — online only this year due to COVID-19.

Twenty-three sculptors, 96 artists who submitted framed work, and 142 portfolio artists are included in the show. Initial funding to help set the show up was donated by community patrons and benefactors who also provided funds for awards including the Honored Artist award that was presented to Louis Russomanno for his Studio Light painting. There were 18 more awards presented that include cash prizes. Many of the awards are in honor or memory of area artists and art aficionados.  more

“REFLECTION”: “Autumn Vista” by Debbie Pisacreta, above, and “Leaning In” by Jane Adriance, below, are featured in their dual art exhibition, on view November 5 through December 6 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

Artists Jane Adriance and Debbie Pisacreta will exhibit paintings in an art exhibition entitled “Reflection,” running November 5 through December 6 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

The pandemic, and the resulting quarantine, forced many people to be isolated more. For Adriance and Pisacreta, this was a time of quiet reflection which affected the kind of paintings they produced, and the emotions they felt when painting.  more