Aug 13, 2015 View All News



Angela Thomas

Prana Marketing & Media Relations


[email protected]




Highlights include:

FY16 season sets new standard for diversity in programming

Speakers Series, poetry and readings make NJPAC
a centerpiece for community and cultural dialogues

Touring and broadcast bring programs to national audiences

All-star centennial salutes to Frank Sinatra, “The Kid from Hoboken”


(Sunday, May 10, 2015) NEWARK, NJ – When planning New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s 2015-16 season, NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber and Executive Vice President and Executive Producer David Rodriguez always consider the audience – which in New Jersey is richly diverse. They also look to world-class performers who reflect the tastes of those many communities.

But both are confident of a mutual result: that when visitors see their number-one stars at NJPAC, they’ll be inspired to return to hear a little variation on their favorite themes from another artist they’d like to get to know.

NJPAC is counting on many happy returns for its 19th and most expansive season, announced today. Just for starters, over 120 performances and events, expected to more than double before the schedule wraps up in June 2016, include stellar headliners in spectacular, 2,800-seat Prudential Hall; new commissions; innovative educational programs; large-scale, off-site events; and encores for the most popular festivals and series.

Highlights span the stand-up comedy of Jerry Seinfeld and a return engagement of Riverdance to the arias of operatic great Jessye Norman with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and several all-star, centennial salutes to Hoboken’s own Frank Sinatra.

“The new season is about great culture and entertainment, but it’s also about the sounds and sights of surprise,” Schreiber said. “Our hope is that our customers also join us for the events they want to know more about, that intrigue them. We designed this season with lots of performers we know our communities already love, and lots we believe they will love to sample.”

“It’s a season of connections,” added Rodriguez. “You may be a fan of dance who’s been introduced to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, and that might lead you to a performance of Mystic India. There’s a family of artists who will take you on a journey, culturally and artistically.”  

Due to the spectrum of programming choices, there are limitless ways for families to imagine encounters with the arts this season at NJPAC: A child who loves science learns about the universe from Neil deGrasse Tyson or about stretching the limits of physics from the Mythbusters. Younger audiences can be introduced to orchestral performance at Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert or through a new partnership with the Little Orchestra Society, which is presenting Babes in Toyland. Those who travel to Narnia by book or film gain an appreciation of modern dance at the world premiere of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by the 10 Hairy Legs dance company.       

Journeys and new discoveries apply to NJPAC as well this season. The Arts Center’s programs are reaching a rapidly expanding viewing public, due in large part to recently enhanced broadcast capabilities and equipment. Off-campus, satellite events tied to NJPAC gatherings like the TD James Moody Jazz Festival and NJPAC Stage Exchange – many offering free admission – are increasing in number.

And NJPAC serves as co-presenter of three off-site concerts: the salsa extravaganza RMM Combinación Perfecta Anniversary Concert on June 13 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center; The Masters of Ceremony – Hip-Hop Reunion on June 26 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall; and R. Kelly with special guest Floetry on July 18 at Newark’s Prudential Center (“The Rock”).

Back at home, NJPAC will be the locus of many of the activities planned for Newark’s 350th anniversary in 2016. Schreiber, who is Program Chair for the citywide celebration, also announces Newark History Society at NJPAC, a free, four-part series of dialogues about the past, present and future of the state’s largest city, co-presented by the Women’s Association of NJPAC.

“What does it mean to be an engaged cultural citizen? We think it means fun … the guarantee of a good time and the feeling of home that our patrons get from the moment they park their car and enter the building,” Schreiber concludes. “It’s something that one looks forward to experiencing: new artists, new art forms, and expanding one’s cultural universe. And the unique feeling that occurs when an audience and an artist connect as a community.”

Here are some newsworthy aspects of the 2015-16 calendar:

American Song

The Frank Sinatra centennial is celebrated on Dec. 12 (the exact date of his birth) by the leading interpreter of his songbook, pianist and singer Michael Feinstein, accompanied by a swinging big band. The Chairman of the Board also is feted with all-star salutes to The Real Sinatra Songbook on Nov. 9 and Sinatra at the Movies on May 28, 2016.

Concerts feature some of Broadway’s most luminous marquee names, notably Bernadette Peters on Oct. 16 and Laura Benanti on Nov. 21.

The public television series American Songbook at NJPAC (airing on NJTV, WNET and WLIW) returns for a Season Three taping on Oct. 25 and 26 in the intimate, 500-seat Victoria Theater. Six luminaries of the Broadway stage and the Manhattan cabaret scene, to be announced, perform in two sessions. The words-and-music program is hosted by Ted Chapin, President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company.

Two partnerships with radio outlets keep American Song flourishing at NJPAC and on the airwaves. Radio personality Jonathan Schwartz of WNYC is back in the host’s chair for Jonathan’s Choice, this season featuring guests Cyrille Aimée and Kate McGarry on May 7, 2016. Sirius XM Broadway insider Seth Rudetsky takes the title role in Broadway’s Best with Seth Rudetsky – and friends – on March 20, 2016.


NJPAC is the site of the world premiere of choreographer Randy James’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved and magical novel, this work is performed by James’ 10 Hairy Legs dance company, with special guests, on Jan. 30 and 31, 2016.

Dance events exclusive to NJPAC include the second-season return of The Hip-Hop Nutcracker featuring Kurtis Blow on Dec. 19. The well-received, Tchaikovsky mash-up, commissioned by NJPAC last season, embarks on a six-city tour during the holidays.

Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance, which began as a showcase for five state-based companies, now encompasses Jersey (New) Moves!, a component for four emerging young choreographers to stage original works at NJPAC under the mentorship of well-known dancemakers.

In addition to the arrival of two classical troupes from the Soviet Union (State Ballet Theatre of Russia with Romeo and Juliet on Dec. 6 and Russian National Ballet Theatre with Cinderella on March 10, 2016), balletomanes can look forward to the physically inclusive AXIS Dance Company from So You Think You Can Dance on Nov. 17, and encore engagements by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (May 6-8, 2016), Dance Theatre of Harlem (Jan. 15, 2016) and Kwanzaa Celebration: Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guest poet Sonia Sanchez on Dec. 19.


The improv virtuosos of Chicago’s famed Second City are back in the house for a second year, leading workshops for comedians of all ages in NJPAC’s Center for Arts Education. They circle back on Jan. 16, 2016 for an NJPAC-commissioned spoof about the crazy things we do for love, Hooking Up with Second City. NJPAC also hosts a work-in-progress direct from California’s La Jolla Playhouse, The Darrell Hammond Project, a solo show with one of Saturday Night Live’s best-loved impressionists on June 27 and 28.

The diversity of humor and humorists for 2015-16 ranges from Earthquake and Friends (June 20) and Jerry Seinfeld (Dec. 4) to Kathleen Madigan (Sept. 18), Russell Peters (Sept. 19-20) and Paula Poundstone (Dec. 12).


Acclaimed bassist Christian McBride, NJPAC’s Jazz Advisor, introduces a lively concert-and-conversation series titled One on One, featuring some of the country’s most recognized singers and instrumentalists. Look for guests Pat Metheny on Sept. 17 and Bruce Hornsby on Nov. 12.

A full announcement of programs for year four of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival (Nov. 7-15), sponsored by TD Bank, occurs in June. Among the events released today, jazzwomen take center stage in concerts with stride pianist Judy Carmichael and her trio (tenor saxophonist Harry Allen is special guest) on Nov. 8, and jazz divas Dianne Reeves and Sharon Jones (packing along the Dap-Kings) on Nov. 14. Five of the crème-de-la-crème of female jazz singers, chosen from a worldwide search, compete for the “Sassy” Award on Nov. 15 in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, named after Newark’s “Divine One.” Billie Holiday is another legendary centennial celebrant, so the Arts Education Department’s free Day of Swing – filled with family activities – pays homage on Nov. 14. Among the festival’s satellite events is a free discussion with spouses and widows of famed musicians, Jazz Wives/Jazz Lives, on Nov. 14 at the Newark Museum. And Newark’s “First Lady of Jazz,” Dorthaan Kirk, is back to present Dorthaan’s Place, NJPAC’s series of Sunday jazz brunches at NICO Kitchen + Bar. The T.S. Monk Sextet opens the season-long series on the last day of the festival.

TD Bank supports jazz at NJPAC throughout the season, including two solo piano recitals in Spring 2016 (Bill Charlap and Michel Camilo) and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, on Sept. 11. The JALC Orchestra plans a swinging salute to the music of Dizzy Gillespie and a 90th birthday tribute to the late Newark saxophone great (and Moody Jazz Festival namesake) James Moody.

Unique Events

The Irish music and dance sensation Riverdance 20 Years: The Anniversary Tour makes its only metro area stop at NJPAC for five performances, April 22-24, 2016. Another milestone, the 50th Anniversary of Alice’s Restaurant with folk music icon Arlo Guthrie, is a Thanksgiving tradition that audience members can share on Nov. 29. Beatlemania reigns with the return of RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles on Feb. 25, 2016. Celebrity raconteurs Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”) and Garrison Keillor appear on Oct. 7 and Jan. 24, 2016, respectively.

The hottest summer nights in Newark continue to be Thursdays in July and August at the free outdoor Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City concert series. The lineup opens with Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue on July 9 and includes George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, The Family Stone, Alice Smith and José Alberto “El Canario,” among others.

Conversations/Civic Engagement

A collaboration with Fairleigh Dickinson University, the seven-part New Jersey Speakers Series begins its second season at NJPAC on Oct. 8 with former CIA Director and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. Other speakers include neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta (Oct. 29) and documentarian Ken Burns (Nov. 19).

In addition to producing the Newark History Society at NJPAC dialogues, the Arts Center provides a free community forum in its home city by continuing Mayor Ras Baraka’s Believe in Newark: Town Halls with dates to be announced. The mayor leads an expert panel and Q&A in discussing the issues that most impact Newark’s citizenry. 

Conversation is an important element of NJPAC Stage Exchange, an initiative that couples dramatic readings of Jersey-centric, cutting-edge plays with insightful community dialogue. For its sophomore season, the Stage Exchange matches three promising Garden State playwrights with professional theaters in the state to produce full-length stageworks for those theaters’ 2016-17 seasons. Readings and discussion panels take place in Spring 2016. Admission is free.

Classical Music

A previously released season of six powerhouse concerts now includes dramatic soprano Jessye Norman accompanied by the NJSO on May 21, 2016.

NJPAC advocates music appreciation in young audiences this season by partnering with New York’s Little Orchestra Society for a live stage presentation of Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland on Dec. 13. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra provides the “soundtrack” for clips from the animated films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 in Disney Fantasia Live In Concert – On Tour on Feb. 19, 2016.


Tickets for all performances go on sale Friday, May 15 at 10 a.m. and may be purchased by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC (1-888-466-5722), online at, or in person at the NJPAC Box Office, One Center Street in downtown Newark. Through NJPAC’s Create Your Own series, patrons may combine three or more performances and save up to 15% per ticket. For more information on the Create Your Own series, parking, or other questions, please go to or call NJPAC Ticket Services at 1-888-MY-NJPAC (1-888-696-5722).


NJPAC is grateful to the following for their commitment to the 2015-16 season:

Bank of America Classical Series, with support from Smart Family Foundation/David S. Stone, Esq., Stone & Magnanini; Horizon Foundation Concert Series; World Music Series sponsored by American Express; Bloomberg (Dance Series), with support for Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Verizon (Family Series); PSEG Foundation (MLK Celebration); TD Bank Jazz Series; TD Bank, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and WBGO Jazz 88.3FM (TD James Moody Jazz Festival); The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and David S. Steiner and Sylvia Steiner Charitable Trust (American Songbook); Newark History Society and the Women’s Association of NJPAC; Chase, BD, Richmond County Savings Bank, Barnabas Health and Blue Moon (Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City).

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJPAC is a wheelchair accessible facility and provides assistance for patrons with disabilities.


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day.  As New Jersey’s Town Square, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city.  Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts.  NJPAC has attracted more than 9 million visitors, plus more than 1 million children, since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.  Visit or call 1-888-GO-NJPAC for more information.