NJPAC bounds into Spring

Programs run the gamut from Astonishing to Zany


April is the month associated with foolery, rainstorms, taxes and Paris. It’s also linked frequently to the word “enchanted.”


At NJPAC, the 30 days of April are filled with a kind of arts sampler – classical music, jazz, dance, family shows and more – to entertain and captivate audiences.


It’s a breathless schedule that jumpstarts the warm-weather season. Throughout April on the Prudential Hall stage, enchantments are found in the magical metamorphoses of Swan Lake or the muddy-puddle explorations of Peppa Pig come to life. Concert-goers are bound to get swept up in the grandeur of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony, unleashed by the players of the Munich Philharmonic.


“Artistic excellence and diversity continue to be hallmarks of our Spring season,” says David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Vice President and Executive Producer. “As always, our hope is to make all programs accessible and entertaining to the diverse audiences we serve.”


Here’s a look at NJPAC’s spellbinding April, followed by a preview of other enchantments found in Prudential Hall before summertime:


Taking it from the top, on the first of the month, trailblazing country-folk artist John Prine (“Angel from Montgomery,” “Paradise”) makes his NJPAC debut, in the company of singing-songwriting duo Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. A repertoire created over four decades is Prine’s calling card, and the double GRAMMY® winner has written poetic songs for the likes of Johnny Cash and Bette Midler. As Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters put it, “John Prine lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon.”


The aforementioned Munich Philharmonic arrives with conductor Valery Gergiev and guest pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard on April 2 as part of the Bank of America Classical Series. In addition to Beethoven’s Third and Richard Strauss’ Don Juan, the program showcases Aimard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in D for the Left Hand.


Prine’s fans may very well return on April 6 to hear the Somewhat Acoustic Tour of Jackson Browne. This Southern California rocker and hitmaker of “Running on Empty” and “Stay/The Load Out,” recognized for his work in social justice issues, also is joined by multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz in this NJPAC debut.


The tale of a tragic curse, broken by true love, is danced devotedly to Tchaikovsky’s famous score when Moscow Festival Ballet brings Swan Lake to Prudential Hall on April 15. The Russians, who are fearless in setting the barre for sublime interpretations of the Romantic ballets, feature a cast of 50 for this production.


April is also “Jazz Appreciation Month.” Wayne Shorter Weekend, co-presented with Rutgers-Newark and its Institute of Jazz Studies, is a new, springtime spin-off of the annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival held at NJPAC in the Fall. The event gathers noteworthy jazz masters in a salute to the Newark-born saxophonist (April 20-22). Read more here.


At the midpoint of this music-making, on April 21, is the return of six-time GRAMMY winner Gilberto Santa Rosa, known to his fans as El Caballero de la Salsa (“The Gentleman of Salsa”) and crowned “Tropical Music Artist of the Decade” by Billboard.


The British pig known as Peppa, star of her own animated TV series, brings her family members and the entire gang to the stage for the all-singing, all-dancing, all-snorting Peppa Pig’s Big Splash on April 27.  The show is designed to tickle preschoolers and their grown-ups through puppetry and the engaging antics of its costumed characters.


The month closes out on the 28th with the nostalgic, summery sounds of the Sixties as Beach Boy Brian Wilson marks 50 years of the iconic album Pet Sounds by performing it cover to cover. The lead singer-songwriter, who scripted classics like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows” and “I Get Around,” is appearing at NJPAC in what’s being billed as the final shows of the recently extended Pet Sounds tour. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is joined by Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in an evening that can only be described as fun, fun, fun.


Fast-forwarding into May and June, theater-goers will have an abundance of choices in music and dance, all leading up to the always hotly anticipated Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City free concert series. The vivid pageantry of Shen Yun – an all-new version of the music and dance spectacular from China – returns to Prudential Hall for a five-day, six-performance engagement (May 3-7). “Superb! Every performance was stunning,” raved WNYC, while The Chicago Tribune praised the troupe’s “nimble mastery.”


The annual homecoming of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a Mother’s Day Weekend tradition at NJPAC, unfolds from May 12-14 with bold and beautiful performances orbited by special events, dance workshops, boutique shopping in the lobby – and brunch with Mom at NICO Kitchen + Bar. NJPAC’s Principal Resident Dance Company performs its signature masterpiece – Revelations – and three New Jersey premieres. Opening night has a jazz-flavored theme.


“Certainly there is a tradition of mothers and Ailey – bringing your mother to see a performance and mother bringing you – and it seemed to fit into the whole performance,” says Robert Battle, the company’s Artistic Director. “Revelations has the feeling of a celebration. It amplifies all the things people are feeling about Mother’s Day already.”


A GRAMMY Award darling, jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall appears on June 16 as part of her World Tour. On June 25, Emmy-winning Jersey guy Bill Maher promises political needling and lots of belly-clutching laughs during his stand-up comedy tour. The former host of Comedy Central’s Politically Incorrect, currently at the helm of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is back at NJPAC to provoke the intellect with his hilarious takes on the world we inhabit.


Tonnino Baliardo and Nicolas Reyes, patriarchs of The Gipsy Kings, return to NJPAC on June 29 with their GRAMMY-winning band and the party song “Bamboléo,” which is back on the charts – thanks to its renewed popularity in the hit movie Sing. (The group is also heard on the soundtracks of The Big Lebowski and Toy Story 3.) Raising the roof with infectious dance rhythms – fiery flamenco, salsa and pop – is their business, and has been for more than 30 years.


“We are very excited to be back at NJPAC – last time we had an incredible experience,” enthuses Baliardo, who is the band’s lead guitarist, co-writer and co-producer. “Looking forward to a fantastic evening of Gipsy fiesta! Bring your dancing shoes!”


For tickets to these performances, visit njpac.org, call 1-888-GO-NJPAC (466-5722), or drop by the Box Office at One Center St. in downtown Newark.


March 21, 2017