June 15, 2022

The cast of “Albert Herring,” Benjamin Britten’s comic opera about a reluctant king and his pushy mother, is shown in rehearsal for the Princeton Festival’s production to be held under a tent at Morven Museum June 17 and 19, with Princeton Symphony Orchestra conductor Rossen Milanov on the podium. Cast members include local talent from Westminster Choir College and Westrick Music Academy, along with professionals from the U.S. and Europe. For tickets, visit princetonsymphony.org/festival.

PAYING TRIBUTE: Legendary entertainer Paul Anka comes to the State Theatre New Jersey on June 22 with “Anka Sings Sinatra: His Songs, My Songs, My Way,” in honor of his longtime friend Frank Sinatra.

The newly renovated State Theatre New Jersey presents Paul Anka in Anka Sings Sinatra: His Songs, My Songs, My Way on Wednesday, June 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $45-$95.

This tour will feature Anka paying tribute to his friend, one of the greatest entertainers ever to take the stage: Frank Sinatra. “The Anka Sings Sinatra tour will honor a great artist who has influenced me more than anyone else throughout my career, Frank Sinatra,” said Anka. “This show will also feature the hits that have spanned my career on this 65th anniversary year. It will be a night filled with his songs, my songs, my way!”

In 2021, Anka released a new album called Making Memories, a new collection of reimagined classics and new recordings. Making Memories features a duet with Olivia Newton-John, and also a newly reimagined version of his 1957 hit, “You Are My Destiny,” which Anka performs with the multi-national classical crossover vocal group Il Divo.  more

MCCARTER HONORS MORRISON: A special tribute to Toni Morrison is among the cultural events planned for McCarter Theatre’s upcoming season.

McCarter Theatre has announced its 2022-23 season featuring a lineup of theater, music, dance, comedy, spoken word, and family programming, plus a special Toni Morrison project in partnership with Princeton University.

In September the season kicks off with The Wolves, a play by Sarah DeLappe, directed by McCarter’s Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen, about a young women’s competitive high school soccer team. More theater includes Between Two Knees, a comedy and first play by The 1491s, best known for the hit FX’s series Reservation Dogs.

McCarter’s holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol, will return December 7-24. Tickets are now on sale. more

“TURNED AWAY”: This oil on canvas painting by Alan Goldstein is part of “(re)Frame: Community Perspectives on the Michener Art Collection,” on view June 18 through March 5, 2023, at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “(re)Frame: Community Perspectives on the Michener Art Collection,” on view June 18 through March 5, 2023.

The exhibition is a museum-wide initiative inviting multiple viewpoints based on culturally specific interpretations. Applying new lenses to Michener’s collection, guest curators and visitors will explore artworks’ social and environmental contexts beyond academic Euro-American art history.

“Each person’s personal experience, cultural background, and professional and scholarly interests influence how they understand a work of art and we want to embrace these varied interpretations,” said Laura Turner Igoe, Michener’s chief curator. “There are many ways to look at an artwork.”

Eight guest curators — Joe Baker, Reg Hoyt, TK Smith, and youth members of Doylestown’s Rainbow Room — have selected works from the Michener’s permanent collection to reveal new stories about identity and the environment in the Delaware Valley region. Historical and contemporary art selected by the curators include works by Diane Burko, Daniel Garber, Elaine Galen, Alan Goldstein, Richard Kemble, Harry Leith-Ross, Joan W. Lindley, Jan Lipes, Tim Portlock, Herbert Pullinger, Edward W. Redfield, William A. Smith, Robert Spencer, Dox Thrash, and William Earle Williams, some of which have never been on view.  more

“WORDLESS AURORA”: This photograph from David Ackerman’s “Sky Light” series is featured in “A Different Look,” on view June 18 through July 17 at Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography Gallery in Hopewell.

Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography Gallery in Hopewell presents “A Different Look,” an exhibit featuring the works of gallery members David Ackerman of Hopewell; Mary Leck of Monroe; Bennett Povlow of Elkins Park, Pa.; Barbara Warren of Yardley, Pa.; and special guest Daniel Goldberg of Quechee, Vt.; on view June 18 through July 17. Each artist has a different way of exploring and recording their photographic journeys. An artists’ reception will be held on July 9 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Ackerman points his camera skyward for his series “Sky Light.” He explores the shapes and colors of light from the sky using astrophotography and other techniques to capture the beauty of the heavens. A grand beauty that invites us to consider objects at the edge of and beyond our daily world.

Trees have fascinated Leck since, as a child, she climbed the apple tree in her yard. Perhaps it was the skinned knees that made her want to explore the textures in the series “Tree Bark Discovered.” These shots capture a special beauty of the smooth and rough tree coverings, often accentuated by light and color. more

June 8, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Do you want to feel how it feels?”

—Kate Bush, from “Running Up That Hill”

Three days after the May 24 Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, Matt and Ross Duffer’s Stranger Things 4 opened with a jarring series of shots showing the bloodied bodies of children. Rather than cut the sequence, which is flashed back to in subsequent episodes, Netflix covers the coincidence with an advisory, noting that the season was  filmed a year ago, and that, “given the recent tragic shooting,” viewers may find the opening scene “distressing.” Then: “We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable violence, and our hearts go out to every family mourning a loved one.”

The placement makes it possible to relate “unspeakable violence” to both the show and the massacre. However you read it, that’s not a good way to begin the fourth season of a school-centered show, especially not a season as wildly, graphically, and sometimes gratuitously violent as this one. The formulaic statement only sharpens the focus on this season’s excesses and the relative absence of the humor and character and other qualities that made Stranger Things special.

Building to an Ending

In an interview about ST 2 on ign.com, Matt Duffer shared his thoughts on the future of the series. Speaking of “the shows that we really look up to,” Duffer said Breaking Bad was his favorite because “it feels like it was never treading water … like it built to an ending that was very much intended from the beginning. It feels like a very, very complete show, and it just nailed the landing, so that’s the goal and the hope, and it’s really, really difficult. But hopefully we get there.”

Perhaps the fear of “treading water” explains why the Duffers are piling the action on in the new season, as if desperate to cover every base, every horror, every action sequence, every character, with the result that episodes go on too long, the first seven running for nine hours total.  more

By Nancy Plum 

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) wrapped up its 2021-22 Richardson Auditorium concert series with a program ranging from sublime to sprightly and highlighting three members of the Orchestra as soloists. Associate concertmaster and violinist Brennan Sweet, assistant principal violist Elzbieta Weyman, and assistant principal flute Kathleen Nester were featured in works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Vivaldi, with performances that demonstrated their own soloistic talents and presented rarely-heard sides of these composers. Led by NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang, the musicians of New Jersey Symphony found the perfect musical vehicle to close the season and launch summer.

Friday night’s concert at Richardson Auditorium began with a nimble and humorous opera overture by a youthful Gioachino Rossini. Even at a young age, Rossini knew how to create an operatic showstopper, and his 1813 “Overture” to L’Italiana in Algeri contained all the elements necessary to energize a 19th-century audience. One of Rossini’s compositional signatures was a slowly rising crescendo to a full orchestral sound, and Zhang led the New Jersey Symphony well through these dynamic swells while allowing teasing wind solos to emerge from the texture. Like many opera overtures of this time period, Rossini’s “Overture” took off in tempo after a graceful start. Wind solos conveyed saucy melodic themes, including from oboist Robert Ingliss, clarinetist Andrew Lamy, and flutist Bart Feller. The three wind soloists had quick lines to maneuver, all of which were well executed.  more

“THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA”: William Shakespeare’s comic adventure will hit the Kelsey Theatre stage June 10 through June 19. Pictured are Stephanie Hampton of Hamilton as Lucetta and Charlotte Kirkby of Ewing as Julia. (Photo: Shakespeare 70)

Shakespeare 70 is presents the comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Kelsey Theatre weekends June 10-19, on the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor.

One of Shakespeare’s most light-hearted plays, this coming-of-age comedy begins when young Proteus becomes smitten with his best friend’s lover while on a trip to Milan. Events spin out of control as romantic rivals face off. Shakespeare 70’s staging brings out all the usual suspects before journey’s end: young lovers, servants, and a band of outlaws as well as some unanticipated developments with disguised genders. There is even a mysterious dog.

“We are thrilled to present The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The show is fast and funny,” said director Janet Quartarone. “We set the show during the jazz era to surprise folks with an imaginative and enjoyable twist.”

Shows are Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11; 17 and 18 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18-$20. Visit KelseyTheatre.org.

“KRAFTWERK 3-D”: The revolutionary group comes to State Theatre New Jersey on Tuesday, June 14 at 8 p.m. as part of their North American tour. The concert brings together music, 3-D visuals, and performance art. (Photo by Out of the Black Photography)

The newly renovated State Theatre New Jersey presents “Kraftwerk 3-D” as part of their North American tour on Tuesday, June 14 at 8 p.m. This Kraftwerk concert brings together music, 3-D visuals, and performance art. Tickets range from $45-$160.

In April 2022, Kraftwerk released their Remixes compilation album. The compilation showcases Kraftwerk’s influence on Club and DJ culture, techno, and all forms of electronic dance music. Featuring 19 official remixes, it collates Kraftwerk’s own remixes alongside contributions from some of the world’s biggest DJs and producers including François Kervorkian, William Orbit, Étienne de Crécy, Orbital, Underground Resistance, DJ Rolando, and Hot Chip. The remixes are taken from various Kraftwerk’s music from 1991-2021. more

FREE PIANO CONCERT: Students of pianist Ingrid Clarfield, center, will perform a free concert open to the public at McCarter Theatre’s Berlind Theatre on Sunday, June 12 from 2 to 5 p.m.

On Sunday, June 12 from 2-5 p.m., students of pianist Ingrid Clarfield will perform a free concert open to the public at McCarter Theatre’s Berlind Theatre, 91 University Place. The program includes works by Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and two women composers, Amy Beach and Margaret Bonds.

For the past nine years, Clarfield has held piano recitals that included a fundraising component called Performathons. Students not only practiced for their recital, they also raised money to support child-related causes. This year, the money will support the Children’s Fund at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). more

George Hartpence

William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear returns to the stage in this area after a 20-year absence. From June 10-26, ActorsNET of Morrisville, Pa., presents the drama two decades after they first presented it in 2002.

The company’s Artistic Director Cheryl Doyle once again directs the play at the Heritage Theater along the Delaware River. The title role will be played this time by George Hartpence.

“When I was 12 years old,” Doyle said, “my Great Books Club read the play King Lear, and then I saw what has become a rather famous production at the Shakespeare festival in Stratford, Connecticut. I was immediately hooked on Shakespeare’s works, as a fan and a lifelong student. When ActorsNET started producing Shakespeare in 2001, I directed George Hartpence in Hamlet, and the next year George and I co-directed King Lear.

“Over the years,” she continued, “ActorsNET has produced more than a dozen Shakespeare comedies and tragedies (and our current king has been in all of them). It seems appropriate to return to King Lear in these uncertain times, as the play plumbs the depths of sorrow and anger while also reaching great heights of love and redemption.” more

“LATE SUMMER VIREO”: This watercolor painting by Beatrice Bork is featured in “Natural Influences,” her joint exhibit with Claudia Fouse Fountaine, on view June 9 through July 3 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on Saturday, June 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Natural Influences” is the perfect title for a show featuring acrylic and watercolor paintings by two artists whose love of the natural world is reflected in everything they paint. While Claudia Fouse Fountaine and Beatrice Bork differ in their methods, they are both inspired by feather and fur, leaf and stone.

“Natural Influences” is on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville June 9 through July 3. All are welcome to meet the artists at the opening reception on Saturday, June 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. more

Princeton Makes will host a Knit in Public Day at the Princeton Shopping Center on Saturday, June 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This is part of the world’s largest knitting celebration, with similar events happening around the globe that day. The event will take place in the center of the Princeton Shopping Center courtyard, and in the event of rain will take place inside the Princeton Makes store.

Knitters and the knitting-curious are invited to attend the event to share their love of knitting, techniques, and projects. The event is open to knitters, crocheters, and spinners. People are encouraged to bring a current project on which they’re working along with a chair to relax in while they work. 

Piroska Toth, organizer of the event and a co-op member at Princeton Makes, said, “This is a great way for the knitting community to get together and enjoy each other’s company and learn from one another.  Knitting, though done individually, has always been a communal activity that brings people together.  I’m thrilled that Princeton will be a part of this worldwide event.” more

Paintings by Catherine J. Martzloff are featured in “Colors of Hope,” on view through June 30 at The Bank of Princeton, 10 Bridge Street in Lambertville, during banking hours. Martzloff is a longtime New Jersey resident and currently lives in Cranbury.

ART AT NAKASHIMA: The “Golconde: Introduction of Modernism in India” reception and exhibit will be held at the Nakashima Foundation Arts Building in New Hope, Pa., on June 12. (Photo by Komal Sharma)

“Golconde,” a hidden gem and a treasure in India’s architectural history located in Pondicherry, has a special connection to the work and life of George Nakashima. As Nakashima shepherded the construction of the building, he was awakened to a higher consciousness which changed the course of his life forever, enabling him to manifest Karma Yoga in his own unique way — both in architecture and in furniture making.

The Nakashima Foundation will host a special “Golconde: Introduction of Modernism in India” exhibit and reception at the Nakashima Foundation Arts Building on Sunday, June 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. on the Nakashima property at 1847 Aquetong Road, New Hope, Pa.

“Golconde” itself is not open to the public — it remains a private sanctuary — a home for some of the residents who are members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This exhibit invites visitors to experience virtually its beauty and tranquility, as well as to learn about the story of its creation.

The “Golconde” exhibit was inaugurated at the University of Texas in Austin, then traveled to Chicago, Arizona, Seattle, and Virginia before arriving in New Hope. It is a glimpse into the “discovery” of “Golconde” by Pankaj and Christine Gupta, founding partners of VirMueller architects in Delhi in 2003. They discovered a building with an atmosphere of peace and beauty remaining intact since it was completed during World War II. more

SUMMER ART CAMPS: The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster offers a variety of weekly camps for children ages 5-15. Sessions begin June 20, and take place both in person and in a hybrid format.

Registration is underway for in-person Summer Art Camps offered by The Center for Contemporary Art (The Center). Ten weekly Summer Art Camps, from June 20–August 26, are offered for children ages 5-15 in half-day sessions. Art Camps take place in person with select camps being offered in a hybrid format.

Summer Art Camps allow children to develop important artistic techniques and learn about the principles of visual art, historical periods and well-known artists. All camps are led by professional, experienced, and creative teaching artists; provide a curriculum tailored to three individual age groups; and allow students to enjoy small class sizes with projects and themes which vary weekly.

Each week children ages 5-8 and 9-11 will spend the morning exploring drawing, painting, collage, and other mixed media projects, and pottery in the ceramics studio. In the afternoon, campers ages 9-11 will explore a wide range of subjects in depth such as drawing, painting, pottery, upcycled art, cartooning, manga/anime, and more.

Teens ages 12-15 may choose to spend their mornings or afternoons in an intensive art camp studying a single subject.  more

June 1, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Ho for Kansas, land that restores us
When houses choke us, and great books bore us!”

—Vachel Lindsay, from “The Santa Fe Trail”

The singing poet had a special place in his heart for the Sunflower State. Early in “Walking into Kansas,” the third chapter of Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (1914), Vachel Lindsay writes: “I have crossed the mystic border. I have left Earth. I have entered Wonderland. Though I am still east of the geographical center of the United States, in every spiritual sense I am in the West. This morning I passed the stone mile-post that marks the beginning of Kansas.”

Lindsay dates his crossing June 14, 1912. L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had been published in 1900. In those days it wasn’t “What’s the matter with Kansas?” Kansas was the state of the open road, the place to go “when houses choke us, and great books bore us.” more

Fans of chamber and baroque music can attend multiple weekday concerts during the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO)’s all-new Princeton Festival June 10-25, at a performance tent at Morven Museum and Garden and across the street at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Radio personality Rob Kapilow makes an appearance, and performing ensembles including Germany’s Signum Quartet, the Sebastians, the Festival Chorus, and the trio Time For Three will perform. All concerts are at 7 p.m.

Leading off the chamber music events is a cycle of Franz Schubert’s late string quartets. “What Makes it Great?” host Kapilow explores Death and the Maiden, a pillar of the chamber repertoire, on Monday, June 13 with a performance of the work by the Signum Quartet. The event is presented in partnership with WWFM, the Classical Network, which will livestream the event. Signum continues the quartet cycle with performances of the Rosamunde and String Quartet in G Major on Tuesday, June 14. These events are at Morven.

Thursdays at the Princeton Festival are devoted to Baroque music played on period instruments at Trinity Episcopal Church. On June 16, the 14-piece ensemble making up the Sebastians performs early music by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello and Johann Georg Pisendel in addition to that of Handel, J.S. Bach, and Vivaldi. Selections performed with the Festival Chorus on June 23 include Bach’s cantata Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden, BWV 47 and Handel’s Chandos Anthem “O Praise the Lord with One Consent,” HWV 254. Festival Director Gregory Jon Geehern conducts. more

On Saturday, June 11 at 6 p.m., the LOTUS Project and the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey will present a benefit concert for Ukraine at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Trenton, with a goal of raising $10,000 toward relief efforts.

The concert title, “O Vos Omnes,” is a reference to the Tenebrae vigil service during Passion Week in Christian circles — traditionally held as the darkest time of the year in Christian spirituality. Selections include Ukrainian art and folksongs and a variety of smaller pieces for string instruments and voices.

“Our board member, Omelan Kostoepksy, approached me about performing a Ukrainian benefit concert with Capital Philharmonic,” said Kate Mulligan, the newly-appointed executive director of the orchestra. “When I learned that The LOTUS Project already had a concert in the works, it only made sense for our ensembles to join forces for good in the city and for Ukraine.”

The concert features Ukrainian songs and compositions for chamber orchestra and vocal ensemble and will run approximately an hour long with no intermission. Included on the program is the East Coast premiere of a work by New Jersey native Frank La Rocca, who now lives in California. more

Erikka Reenstierna-Cates is among the dancers in American Repertory Ballet’s spring season finale at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, 11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, June 3-5. Titled “Movin’ + Groovin,’” the program features world premieres by choreographers Claire Davison, Ja’ Malik, and Caili Quan. Performances are June 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., and June 5 at 2 p.m. For tickets, visit arballet.org. (Photo by Eduardo Patino, NYC)

“THE SKY IS THE LIMIT”: This work is part of “The Glittering Outdoors,” an art show featuring paintings by Helene Mazur, on view June 7 through October 2 at The Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street.

Artist Helene Mazur seeks to reflect the beauty and the energy of being outside in fresh air. Her work transports the viewer on a journey. Building upon her prior plein air work, Mazur has taken to the studio to create this show producing larger pieces which enable one to immerse themselves in the locale. “The Glittering Outdoors,” a grouping of oil paintings mostly painted on beautifully prepared cradled boards, will be on display June 7 through October 2 at The Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street. The public is invited to a reception and opening on Sunday, June 12 from 4 to 6 p.m.

According to Mazur, each painting in the exhibit has been designed to take the viewer on an adventure to a place that inspires rejuvenation and serendipity. A delight to one’s senses, the colors, textures, and design have been chosen to stimulate the possibility of discovery. The subjects are inviting destinations both near and far including beach scenes, the mountains, flower gardens, and architecture from interesting vistas.

“Each new painting creates an adrenalin rush as I attempt to combine good design, color harmony, and the magic of the moment,” said Mazur. “Light, texture, weather conditions, and emotions are baked into every piece.” more

“INTERWOVEN STORIES”: An exhibition of the community stitching project “Interwoven Stories: The Final Chapter,” created by artist/activist Diana Weymar, opens on Saturday, June 4 at the Arts Council of Princeton with a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. This nationwide project, on view through July 2, includes more than 400 embroidered “pages.”

“Interwoven Stories: The Final Chapter,” the popular community stitching project created by artist/activist Diana Weymar (Princeton University ’91), has gone national and will return to the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery from June 4 through July 2. The exhibition of more than 400 embroidery pieces, stitched by participants from around the country and here in Princeton, opens with a free reception on Saturday, June 4 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Weymar facilitated “Interwoven Stories” as the Arts Council’s 2016 artist-in-residence, creating a special dialogue within the Princeton community. With some participants taking up embroidery for the first time, each stitcher received a fabric page resembling a blank sheet of notebook paper to stitch a story, honor beloved family or friends, or return home to a favorite place through needle and thread.

The response to this project exceeded organizers’ wildest expectations. Each page spoke to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment, and creativity of the community, and ultimately more than 100 completed pages were donated to “Interwoven Stories 2016” and displayed in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery to mark the culmination of Weymar’s residency. more

“NEWLY HATCHED”: This mixed media work by Ilene Dube is featured in “Color Play Times Two,” her joint exhibition with Karen Schoenitz, on view June 12 through August 20 at Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center in Plainsboro. An opening reception is on Wednesday, June 15 from 5 to 7 p.m.

West Windsor Arts, in partnership with Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center, presents “Color Play Times Two,” a two-person exhibit of paintings by Ilene Dube and Karen Schoenitz on view June 12 through August 20. An opening reception with refreshments will be held on Wednesday, June 15 at 5 p.m.

Dube and Schoenitz met through West Windsor Arts in 2009 when the nonprofit was operating as an arts council without walls. Dube, then president of the board of trustees and chair of the exhibition committee, had been organizing a plein air painting day at the West Windsor Farmers Market. Schoenitz learned about it through local media but, unavailable on the scheduled date, contacted Dube about how else she might participate. Dube, impressed with Schoenitz’s enthusiasm, added another day to the “paint out” and recruited Schoenitz for the exhibition committee and the board. Both artists live and work in West Windsor and remain active on the West Windsor Arts Advisory Council. more

May 25, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

“Good bookstores reflect a Whitmanian sense of self: they contain multitudes.”

—from In Praise of Good Bookstores

I found Jeff Deutsch’s In Praise of Good Bookstores (Princeton University Press $19.95) under Business & Career (341.45) at the Princeton Public Library. Which is why I almost didn’t find it. I had to ask a librarian for help. I can see why a book about bookstores by a man who runs one could end up in that Dewey Decimal dead zone, but Deutsch’s deceptively small volume is much too multitudinous to be squeezed into 341.45. While it’s true that you’ll pick up some information about managing Chicago’s Seminary Co-op, a vast bookstore with an imposing reputation, you don’t have to read far to know you’ve entered a wondrous realm on the far side of “business and career,” a bookstore utopia where the dead speak to the living in a society Deutsch has woven together with thoughts on books and life and the life in books, from Petrach to Pound, Epicurus to Emerson, Calvino to Conrad, and on beyond the beyond.

The Dylan-Whitman Matrix

Whenever I’m in the vicinity of Memorial Day, I run into Bob Dylan, born May 24, and Walt Whitman, born May 31, a liaison Dylan exploited in “I Contain Multitudes,” the first song on his album Rough and Rowdy Ways. Deutsch offers a line from Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” to describe what happens when bookstore browsers surprise themselves, finding “just the sort of book they were hoping for”: “Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.” Whitman’s thought needs more than one reading. The way it’s phrased is so striking, you can imagine it haunting the room at the Chelsea Hotel as Dylan was composing “Visions of Johanna,” and you wonder if it might have provoked something “out of the soul” of Robert Frost when he wrote “Mending Wall” (“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall / That sends the frozen ground-swell under it” ).

Another line from Whitman by way of Deutsch that led me straight to Dylan stresses the importance of taking “a more active approach to reading,” meaning that the reader has “to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay” (or in Dylan’s case, song or memoir) providing “the start or framework.” It’s not that “the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book.”

Dylan provides a demonstration in his freewheeling autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, where his version of a “good bookstore” is the voluminous library of the Greenwich Village couple he was living with at the time. He describes “a dark cavern with a  floor-to ceiling library…. The place had an overpowering presence of literature…. There were all kinds of things in here, books on typography, epigraphy, philosophy, political ideologies. The stuff that could make you bugged-eyed. Books like Fox’s Book of Martyrs, The Twelve Caesars, Tacitus lectures and letters to Brutus. Pericles’ Ideal State of Democracy, Thucydides’ The Athenian General a narrative which would give you chills…. It’s like nothing has changed from his time to mine.” more

“SHREK THE MUSICAL”: Theatre Intime and Princeton University Players have presented “Shrek The Musical.” Directed by Eliyana Abraham and Gabbie Bourla, it played May 20-22 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, from left, Princess Fiona (Ann Webb) is rescued by unlikely friends Shrek (Rafael Collado) and Donkey (Tobi Fadugba). (Photo by Emily Yang)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime and Princeton University Players have collaborated to present Shrek The Musical. The show entertained an enthusiastic mixed-age audience, which filled the Hamilton Murray Theater on opening night.

The 2008 Broadway musical’s often witty book and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapts the screenplays of the popular DreamWorks film series, which is based on William Steig’s 1990 picture book. The music — which incorporates elements of pop, R&B, and traditional musical theater — is by Jeanine Tesori. The show interpolates “I’m a Believer,” which is written by Neil Diamond.

This production is smoothly directed by Eliyana Abraham and Gabbie Bourla. They let the audience be a part of the action, by reserving a row of seats through which the cast often moves.

The crisp musical direction is by Giao Vu Dinh, assisted by Sam Melton and Chloe Webster. The band opens the show with a brief “Overture,” consisting of a series of triumphal chords followed by a bouncy march.

“The wry “Big, Bright, Beautiful World” shows the childhood experiences of Shrek (played by Rafael Collado) and Fiona (Ann Webb). At age 7, Shrek is sent to live on his own having been warned by his parents (played by Aria Buchanan and Matt Gancayco) that he will be shunned for his looks. Eventually he finds a swamp, where he is content to live alone.

Fiona blithely re-titles the show Fiona The Musical, and tells her story. As a child she is shut in a tower by her parents, King Harold (Andrew Duke) and Queen Lillian (Jacquelynn Lin), to await Prince Charming. more