Overture and beginners: out with the old, in with the new

State Theatre of NJ stage
State Theatre of NJ stage
The latest at Garden State theatres

New Jersey is heading into the winter months with many of the state’s live theatre venues offering seasonal and holiday-themed shows. This may be the busiest time of the year. Live theatre offers the gift of lasting memories, with outstanding actors, dazzling sets and costumes, as well as songs and dances in a variety of productions. Here’s an overview of what to expect for the next couple of months.

Luna Stage in West Orange presents Roan @ the Gates, a fictional investigation into cyber-security in the era of Cambridge Analytica and the proliferation of fake news. Performances are from January 31-February 24, 2019.

Continuing its 80th anniversary season, Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn presents on January 31, 2019 My Very Own British Invasion, a love story based in part on the life of Peter Noone, leader of the group Herman’s Hermits and set during the tumultuous years of the 1960’s. The show’s score features pop songs of the era. The production runs through March 3.

Two River Theatre in Red Bank continues its 20th anniversary season with the riotous comedy Noises Off, a backstage look at a traveling theatre company in the UK putting on a typical British sex farce. Performances are from January 12-February 3, 2019.

The George Street Playhouse, in New Brunswick, presents Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical. The show, written and performed by Laiona Michelle (seen last season in American Hero), examines Simone’s passionate journey from classical piano child prodigy to the High Priestess of Soul using the music she made famous during her career. The show runs through February 24, 2019.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, in Madison, closes out its season with a production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Jealousy, intrigue, deceptions, and a lost princess all come into play in one of the Bard’s darker comedies. The play runs through December 30, 2018.

Long Branch’s New Jersey Repertory Company, champion of new plays and new playwrights, kicks off with Apple Season. When Lissie and Roger return home for their father’s funeral, they encounter their childhood friend Billy. His unexpected offer pushes all three of them toward a reckoning with the past that none of them are ready for. The show runs January 10-February 10, 2019.

Princeton’s McCarter Theatre Center presents a play-with-music adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol through December 29. The new year is ushered in with a new play, The Niceties, in which a black student at an Ivy League University is called into her white professor’s office to discuss her thesis about slavery’s effect on the American Revolution. What starts out as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent and dangerous contemporary debate. The show runs from January 11- February 7, 2019.

Music, song, dance, and other performing arts offerings

Theatre is found at New Jersey’s many performing arts centers, as well as music, song, dance, and other performing arts offerings.

New Brunswick’s State Theatre presents the off-Broadway percussion & dance show Stomp from January 11-12, 2019 followed by the NJSO with guest artist Emanuel Ax on the thirteenth. Southern comedian Ron White performs January 17. NJSO returns with pianist Daniil Trifonov on January 26, 2019.

In Englewood, the Bergen PAC presents in January, The NJSO with guest artist Emanuel Ax appears on the 10th. Comedy troupe The Capitol Steps arrives on January 19th, while comedian George Lopez performs on January 26th.

Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts ends the old year with a bang, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes perform on New Year’s Eve. Entering 2019, comedian Jim Gaffigan performs January 11th and 12th; We Shall Overcome, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is presented on January 17th; and the NJSO with guest artist soprano Dawn Upshaw appears on January 19th.

The South Orange Performing Arts Center, has John Oates performing January 4th, while the Aaron Neville Duo is featured on January 12th.

The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown presents The Nutcracker with the New Jersey Ballet through December 27th. The Capitol Steps comedy troupe appears January 11th, while the NJSO with pianist Daniil Trifonov performs January 27th.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark presents the dance company Momix on January 19-20. NJSO makes two appearances on January 25th, once with Emanuel Ax and once with Daniil Trimafov. A discussion with Jeb Bush closes out the month on January 31st.

Looking to give the gift of theatre at a bargain price? Check out the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, offering discount tickets to many theatre productions. Just head to their website to find that unique present for a loved one — or for yourself!


Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.