Roxy’s Best Of… Newark, New Jersey

The Best of Newark, New Jersey, from art and culture to kid stuff to restaurants and shopping

Jan
12

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: Celebrating London’s 8th Birthday with Three BFFs and Cirque Eloize at NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey

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I love it when a plan comes together, and London’s 8th birthday party is well on its way.

Since we moved out to Mendham Township, New Jersey, from Manhattan’s West Village five years ago, we’ve had large celebrations for London and Maddie’s birthdays.  In an effort to get to know the girls’ friends and their families, we’ve always invited the whole class from Westmont Montessori or Mendham Township Elementary School, plus siblings, plus old friends, plus plus plus.  With London in the second grade and Maddie in first grade, we’ve settled in to a nice group of kid friends and adult friends, so this year I vowed that the girls’ parties would be different.  I reminisced about my birthday parties as a child:  5 guests when I turned five, 6 guests when I turned six, 7 guests when I turned seven, then for several years my parents scaled it back to my two or three closest friends for a special outing to a movie or a Yankee game or the circus.  Hmm… the circus, now that’s an idea!

As London and I talked about a special birthday outing with three of her BFFs (that’s “best friends forever,” for those not up on the latest girl talk), we did some online research and considered lots of options (Yankees opening day not until April, we saw Hannah Montana on tour last year, January way too cold for the zoo) and hit upon Cirque Eloize at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey.

If you haven’t heard about Cirque Eloize, I’ll share a few quotes from the NJPAC, Cirque Eloize, and Nebbia web sites:

  • Experience the sites and sounds of a European circus in a vibrant, fully-staged production that brings together a company of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and musicians to create a rich, fast-paced tango of emotions. Last seen at NJPAC with their eye-popping spectacle Rain, this world-renowned company returns with Nebbia, a brand new acrobatic extravaganza. Cirque Eloize passionately pursues artistic perfection—and achieves absolute magic.
  • Éloize: Pronounced [EL-WAZ] Éloize is a word that comes from the Magdalen Islands and means “flashes of heat lightning seen on the horizon.” An inspiration for the troupe’s seven founding members, this lightning symbolizes the heat and energy that feed the troupe’s spirit.
  • At the heart of the circus arts revival, Cirque Éloize has been creating moving performances filled with magic since 1993. Continually striving for artistic perfection, it is one of the leading companies in contemporary circus arts. Based on the multidisciplinary talents of its artists, Cirque Éloize expresses its innovative nature through theatricality and humanity, and combines circus arts with music, dance and theatre in a break-through and original manner. With six original productions to its credit, Cirque Éloize has presented more than 3,000 performances in 330 cities and 30 countries located around the world. Cirque Éloize has taken part in numerous prestigious international festivals and has conquered Broadway with its show Rain.
  • Nebbia, the third part of the Sky Trilogy directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, was launched in December 2007. Nebbia is a creation of Cirque Éloize in co-production with Teatro Sunil. Meaning fog in Italian, Nebbia explores the world of dreams and the imaginary. In the fog, you get lost, you find each other, but above all, you are confronted with the unexpected… Nebbia will once again plunge you into a
    poetic and sensitive universe mixing acrobatics to theatre in a subtle way…
  • From Author and Director Daniele Finzi Pasca: “From my very early age, I’ve been fascinated by acrobatics. Fascinated by the movement that defies the laws of gravity, that combines strength and lightness, precision, synchronicity, confidence, surprise and risk. I like what goes unexpressed in theater, the veiled, the gesture that remains invisible. When the sky is very low, we see things we don’t normally see. We travel in a world of memories, invented images, what we call dreams for the sake of convenience. To tell my tale of a childhood that is re-invented each time, I use geometries and the lucidity of acrobatic theatre danced on stage by an extraordinary group of performers.”

London and Maddie are really looking forward to the big day… they’re playing out every moment, from who sits where in our GMC Acadia on the way to NJPAC and back, to how it will feel to have one of those little balconies overlooking the stage all to ourselves and what flavor(s) of ice cream cake we should get for the after-party. Seating arrangements in the SUV are surprisingly crucial to London’s sister, Maddie, who is 13 months younger. Turning eight is a big deal in New Jersey, as this milestone brings an end to the cumbersome car booster seats required by law. So London will have her first trip without a booster, but Maddie must wait another year to graduate. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, London’s birthday party at NJPAC.

I designed some cool accordion-fold photo invitations at Kodak Gallery online, with photos from the Cirque Eloize web site interspersed with photos of London. The invitations look something like this:

Bring Out the Cirque… London Is Turning Eight!

Please Bring Your Mom and Join Us for

Cirque Eloize at NJPAC

2pm on Saturday, January 31st

Meet at London’s House at Noon for lunch. We’ll take two cars to NJPAC, and come back to the house for birthday cake after the show.

Our birthday group will attend the Saturday matinee, but you can choose from three performances of Cirque Eloize in Nebbia at NJPAC: Saturday, January 31st at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday, February 1st at 2pm.

VIP Events: The Salons at NJPAC

While planning London’s 8th birthday extravaganza, I considered a sleepover at our home after the show, as well as an elegant evening of dining at NJPAC’s Theater Square Grill, but we eventually opted for the simplicity of an afternoon matinee followed by ice cream cake at home. If you’re planning a unique event for an older child or adults (an extended family Easter or Mother’s Day outing, for example), you may want to consider the “NJPAC Salons” packages.

VIP Amenities include:

  • Seats in a private box for the performance of your choice;
  • Exclusive access to an intimate suite adjacent to your seats for entertaining;
  • Pre-paid parking; and
  • Pre-paid coat check.

Fine Dining includes:

  • 3-course dinner at NJPAC’s 3 1/2 star Theater Square Grill;
  • Specially selected wine pairings for every course; and
  • Dessert buffet in your private salon during intermission (yum!)

All-inclusive pricing:

  • 6-guest package $1,050 plus the cost of performance tickets
  • 12-guest package $2,100 plus the cost of performance tickets

Your VIP evening at NJPAC is just one phone call away… call Rose at 1-888-466-5722 and be sure to let her know that Roxy sent you!

Some upcoming NJPAC performances that work well for a party or event include:

  • Golden Dragon Acrobats (Sunday, February 22nd at 3pm): From bending into improbable shapes to forming human pyramids on moving bicycles, this internationally acclaimed troupe celebrates Chinese culture with time-honored traditions that date back 25 centuries. Perfect for the kids, and parents won’t be bored;
  • Fiddler on the Roof (Tuesday, March 10th through Sunday, March 15th): Chaim Topol returns to the role he immortalized in the Oscar-winning, big-screen version of Fiddler on the Roof. This revival of the Tony-winning musical, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, is driven by one of the most heartwarming scores in the history of musical theater, including favorites like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” What can I say…tradition! A great choice for the whole family;
  • Steve Tyrell (Saturday, April 25th at 7pm and 9:30pm): A wonderful cabaret performer doing all Burt Bacharach. If you have never attended Cabaret at NJPAC, it is something to try — a real grown up night out. Performances are in the Chase Room. The stage is set so you and your guests look out at the lights of the city. Seating is at little tables and there is food and beverage available.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Friday, May 08th through Sunday, May 10th) Rex, London, and Maddie treated me to Alvin Ailey on Mother’s Day last year, and we’re making it a Mother’s Day tradition again this year… maybe we’ll see you there?!
  • John Pizzarelli doing Sinatra (Friday, May 15th at 8:00pm)…a great Jersey night out.
  • Rain (Friday, June 12th through Sunday, June 14th): This Beatles Tribute was the hit of last season at NJPAC. It is back in June with 4 performances. Rain is a multi-media, multi-dimensional experience – a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens, and live cameras zoom in for close-ups. Perfect for corporate entertaining or a grown up birthday with a 60s theme.

Your VIP evening at NJPAC is just one phone call away… call Rose at 1-888-466-5722 and be sure to let her know that Roxy sent you!

Dec
18

A Holiday Treat: NJPAC Promotional Codes for Giselle, Cirque Eloize, and Golden Dragon Acrobats — Deadline Extended to December 30th

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If you’re like me, with less than a week until Christmas, you may have made a list and checked it twice, you may even have it divided into suitable gifts for naughty and nice, but you haven’t purchased and wrapped your gifts for everyone on the list….particularly if you’re still lacking the inspiration to surprise the most special people in your life.  We got our tree at Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ last weekend, and as you can see from the photo on the right, it’s a beauty.  I really started to get into the holiday spirit as we hung each ornament on the tree with care, and reminisced about which little shop in New York City’s West Village or Lambertville, NJ, each one came from, who picked it out (London and Maddie get to choose one special ornament each year) and when it came to be a part of our family’s holiday ornament collection.  We’ve been listening to Christmas songs on our iPod, pulling surprises out of the Advent Calendar every night, and London and Maddie have been wrapping up homemade gifts for everyone left and right.  Their mom, on the other hand, is a bit behind on the shopping and wrapping and I’m counting on the United Parcel man to deliver a bunch of goodies just in time.  The other members of Rex’s family — Grammy (Rex’s mom) plus London and Maddie’s three brothers, one sister, niece and two nephews — aren’t coming to celebrate with us until Saturday, December 27th, so Secret Santa has a little extra time to pull the extended family gifts together.

If, unlike me, you celebrate Hanukkah rather than Christmas, you’re just kicking back in your easy chair and waiting for the post-Christmas sales to get serious about your holiday shopping.  This year, Hanukkah starts at sunset on Sunday, December 21st and runs eight nights through Sunday night, December 28th.

For procrastinators of all faiths, I’ve got some terrific news:  NJPAC has extended the deadline to use the TREAT promotional code to buy your tickets to Giselle, Cirque Eloize, and Golden Dragon Acrobats.  Through Tuesday, December 30th, use coupon code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office and you’ll get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle, Cirque Eloize or Golden Dragon Acrobats. Discount is valid for Sections A, B, C, and D (no G or P) and expires December 30, 2008. Subject to availability and not valid on prior purchase.  This holiday promotion offers grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents or parents an amazing local opportunity to treat the young person in your life to the magic of live performance with a sweet holiday discount from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).. a unique holiday gift that promises a child-friendly cultural experience at a great value.

While I don’t mind explaining to London and Maddie that even Santa needs to cut back on the excessive amount of Barbies and plastic toys this holiday season, I have been searching for one or two meaningful, magical gifts that would keep Christmas special for my girls. As my most loyal readers know, Rex and I believe in encouraging our daughters’ passions (music, dance, gymnastics and tennis) and exposing them to a wide range of child-friendly art and culture. Just in case we have the next Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers musical talent hiding in our basement, London and Maddie have asked Santa for a drum set for their girl band, the Butter Bites. At first, I thought they were looking for the modern electronic kind, but I’ve become convinced they are seeking the old fashioned make-a-lotta-noise-till-mom-says-turn-it-down drums that I dreamed of as a third grader when I had a crush on the drummer in the Branchburg Central Middle School Band.  I will sleep soundly on Christmas Eve believing that Santa will deliver. Add that to the keyboard Santa left under the tree last Christmas, a second-hand guitar that needs to be re-strung, two microphones and a karaoke machine, and the Butter Bites will be all set to explore their musical passions over the long cold winter.

I have also committed to celebrating London’s 8th birthday with three of her closest girlfriends and their moms at the Cirque Eloize performance at NJPAC in January. We just received our tickets in the mail, and the girls are over the moon with excitement about it.  Over the past year, London and Maddie have enjoyed three different performances at NJPAC: Rex and the girls took me out to see Alvin Ailey on Mother’s Day and we were all so impressed that we’re headed back for this season’s Mother’s Day performance; we introduced the girls to a bit of Mom and Dad’s history through Twyla Tharp’s interpretation of the music of Billy Joel in “Movin’ Out”; and most recently experienced the magic of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats.  So we’ll be looking down from our own little box in the Grand Tier at the Saturday matinee performance of Cirque Eloize in Nebbia, and London and Maddie invite you to join us at a discount.

Cirque Eloize at NJPAC:

Experience the sights and sounds of a European circus in a vibrant, fully-staged production that brings together a company of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and musicians to create a rich, fast-paced tango of emotions. Last seen at NJPAC with their eye-popping spectacle Rain, this world-renowned company returns with Nebbia, a brand new acrobatic extravaganza. Cirque Eloize passionately pursues artistic perfection – and achieves absolute magic. Our gang will be celebrating London’s birthday at the Saturday matinee, but there are three magical Cirque Eloize performances of Nebbia scheduled: Saturday, January 31st at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Sunday, February 1st at 2:00pm. Use NJPAC discount code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 24th through December 30th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Cirque Eloize in Nebbia.

Giselle at NJPAC:

Using the choreography created by Marius Petipa in his definitive revivals, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Adolphe Adam’s beloved ballet – the timeless tale of a lovely yet fragile maiden, whose death from a broken heart dooms her to eternally roam the earth as a restless spirit. This sumptuous, traditional staging will be performed with full corps de ballet. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings Giselle to the stage at NJPAC on Sunday, January 18th at 4:00pm. Purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 30th using NJPAC coupon code TREAT and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle.

Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC:

From bending into improbable shapes to forming human pyramids on moving bicycles, this internationally acclaimed troupe celebrates Chinese culture with time-honored traditions that date back 25 centuries. The Golden Dragon Acrobats come to NJPAC on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00pm. Use NJPAC promotional code TREAT to Purchase tickets onlne by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office through December 30th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for the Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC.

Here in the Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, NJ), we’re operating on a winter storm warning tonight — visions of a snow day school closing filled with sledding and snowball fights and snowmen with carrot noses dance in our heads.  London, Maddie, Rex and I extend our warm wishes to all of you as you head out for another weekend of holiday shopping. Stay warm and safe and don’t forget to Shop Local NJ!

Dec
17

Paths to Impressionism Exhibit Draws to a Close at the Newark Museum, See It Before January 4, 2009

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While I was waiting for my regular New Jersey Transit train to New York City at the station in Bernardsville, NJ, I happened to notice a billboard promoting Paths to Impressionism, an exhibit of French and American landscape paintings from the Worcester Art Museum, at the Newark Museum.  The exhibit is drawing to a close, but you can see it now through January 4, 2009.

The Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102-3176. Phone (973) 596-6550

Dec
14

Think NJPAC for the Holidays… and Save with NJPAC Promotional Codes on Giselle, Cirque Eloize, and Golden Dragon Acrobats

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Over on my Roxiticus Desperate Housewives site, I’ve been running a weekly feature called Roxy Saves, where I’ve gathered promotional codes from online retailers and made suggestions for unique and inexpensive holiday gifts. Here at Roxy’s Best Of… I’ve been more focused on the “bricks and mortar” holiday savings available from our wealth of local New Jersey retailers, highlighted throughout the Roxy’s Best Of… community of local sites with a “Shop Local NJ!” tag.

While I don’t mind explaining to London and Maddie that even Santa needs to cut back on the excessive amount of Barbies and plastic toys this holiday season, I have been searching for one or two meaningful, magical gifts that would keep Christmas special for my girls. As my most loyal readers know, Rex and I believe in encouraging our daughters’ passions (music, dance, gymnastics and tennis) and exposing them to a wide range of child-friendly art and culture. Just in case we have the next Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers musical talent hiding in our basement, London and Maddie have asked Santa for an electronic drum set for their girl band, the Butter Bites. Add that to the keyboard Santa left under the tree last Christmas, a second-hand guitar that needs to be re-strung, two microphones and a karaoke machine, and the Butter Bites will be all set to explore their musical passions over the long cold winter.

I have also found an amazing local opportunity at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) for a special holiday gift that promises a child-friendly cultural experience at a great value. Over the past year, London and Maddie have enjoyed three different performances at NJPAC: Rex and the girls took me out to see Alvin Ailey on Mother’s Day and we were all so impressed that we’re headed back for this season’s Mother’s Day performance; we introduced the girls to a bit of Mom and Dad’s history through Twyla Tharp’s interpretation of the music of Billy Joel in “Movin’ Out”; and most recently experienced the magic of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. I’ve just committed to celebrating London’s 8th birthday with three of her closest girlfriends and their moms at the Cirque Eloize performance at NJPAC in January. The girls and I will be posting all about it as our plans come together.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with all of you the chance to treat the young person in your life to the magic of live performance with a sweet holiday discount from NJPAC. Use coupon code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 24th and you’ll get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle, Cirque Eloize or Golden Dragon Acrobats.  Discount is valid for Sections A, B, C, and D (no G or P) and expires December 24, 2008.  Subject to availability and not valid on prior purchase.

Giselle at NJPAC:

Using the choreography created by Marius Petipa in his definitive revivals, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Adolphe Adam’s beloved ballet – the timeless tale of a lovely yet fragile maiden, whose death from a broken heart dooms her to eternally roam the earth as a restless spirit. This sumptuous, traditional staging will be performed with full corps de ballet. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings Giselle to the stage at NJPAC on Sunday, January 18th at 4:00pm. Purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 24th using NJPAC coupon code TREAT and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle.

Cirque Eloize at NJPAC:

Experience the sights and sounds of a European circus in a vibrant, fully-staged production that brings together a company of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and musicians to create a rich, fast-paced tango of emotions. Last seen at NJPAC with their eye-popping spectacle Rain, this world-renowned company returns with Nebbia, a brand new acrobatic extravaganza. Cirque Eloize passionately pursues artistic perfection – and achieves absolute magic. Our gang will be celebrating London’s birthday at the Saturday matinee, but there are three magical Cirque Eloize performances of Nebbia scheduled: Saturday, January 31st at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Sunday, February 1st at 2:00pm. Use NJPAC discount code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office  by December 24th through December 24th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Cirque Eloize in Nebbia.

Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC:

From bending into improbable shapes to forming human pyramids on moving bicycles, this internationally acclaimed troupe celebrates Chinese culture with time-honored traditions that date back 25 centuries. The Golden Dragon Acrobats come to NJPAC on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00pm. Use NJPAC promotional code TREAT to Purchase tickets onlne by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office through December 24th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for the Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC.

Warm wishes to all of you as you head out for another weekend of holiday shopping.  Don’t forget to Shop Local NJ!

Dec
08

Ghost of Girl Scout Future: London and Her Brownie Troop Aspire to a Girl Scout Sleepover at NJPAC

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This past weekend, London and her Brownie troop celebrated the Ghost of Girl Scout Past, joining Daisies, Brownies, and Girl Scouts from the Mendham, NJ area for an old-fashioned Christmas caroling event out in front of Kings supermarket on Mendham’s annual Holly Walk.  While the girls were belting out holiday favorites like Frosty the Snowman and the Twelve Days of Christmas, I caught up with our troop leader and some fellow moms over hot chocolate as we shivered in the cold morning air.  We learned about our Brownie troop’s plans for the week, representing the Ghost of Christmas Present — a trip to the Gingerbread Wonderland at Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township.  And, though none of the moms I spoke with had a Brownie daughter who had actually stayed overnight for a slumber party (yet!), we dreamed of the Ghost of Girl Scout Future… an event for London and the girls in her Brownie Troop to aspire to as they grow up and become more independent:  a festive Girl Scout Sleepover at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey.

Over six hundred Girl Scouts attended the Friday, November 21st performance of Cats at NJPAC, and 263 Scouts stayed on after the show to participate in the overnight sleepover event. Girl Scout troops from all over the State of New Jersey, including the following towns, were represented that evening: Bayonne, Mountainside, Livingston, Great Meadows, Union, Irvington, Jersey City, South Orange, Clark, Maplewood, Plainfield, Rutherford, and Clinton. The event included a meet and greet (photos, autographs, etc.) with the cast of Cats.  The girls also participated in group actvities such as Miming and “Swap” — an exchange of mementos between the Scouts that encouraged girls from different troops and different towns to socialize with one another. We hear they actually got some sleep, ending the big night out with a sing-a-long.

Troops 917 and 460 from Livingston, NJ, wrote in to say a big THANK YOU! to NJPAC. “The overnight was well organized, age appropriate, and carried out without a hitch! It was a terrific idea to add the swaps, as it really added to their lasting memories of the event. Our girls had a wonderful experience, and are already looking forward to coming back next year. Thank you for all of your hard work and effort to create such a memorable experience for the girls.”

So, as long as the Girl Scouts don’t throw London and Maddie out because their mom can’t keep up on sewing their “Try It” patches onto their vests (tell me you’ve never considered using a stapler!), the girls are looking forward to the day when they can roll out their sleeping bags in the lobby of NJPAC and stay up all night with friends, old and new…

Nov
22

London and Maddie Have Spoken: Cats at NJPAC Is a “Must See”

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Before I share London, Maddie, Rex and Roxy’s thoughts on today’s performance of Cats at NJPAC, I’ll start by saying that there are still some tickets left for the final performance of Cats at NJPAC at 3pm tomorrow – Sunday, November 23rd. If you live in or near New Jersey and have no plans for Sunday afternoon, here’s your chance for some spontaneous family fun…grab a few of the remaining tickets (there’s not a bad seat in the house at NJPAC), take the kids and share a memory you’ll never forget.

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone.
In the lamplight the withered
leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan.

London was already bouncing up and down in her seat as we drove into Newark in our Red Jewel…the new GMC Acadia we bought at the end of September. “Mommy, is NJPAC the place where we saw those dancers on Mother’s Day? If it is, I love that place. There’s that giant disco ball that hangs from the ceiling all the way up at the top of the theatre…and it feels like we’re so close to the dancers!” I told the girls that I had read in the Star-Ledger that the Cats actually come out into the audience during the show.

As the lights went down in the theatre, the girls’ eyes widened as it turned out to be true and bright yellow glowing cats’ eyes appeared in the aisle next to our seats. When I saw Cats on Broadway over 20 years ago, I remember the sets, costumes and the special effects being impressive, even to a jaded college student. Today at NJPAC, I experienced it all over again, this time through my daughters’ eyes, filled with delight. The traveling set was even more amazing as I realized it had been put together for a four-day run at NJPAC, rather than “Now and Forever” on Broadway, and would be dismantled to move on to the next town after Sunday’s performance in Newark, New Jersey. Next week, Cats moves on to St. Louis, Missouri, followed by Costa Mesa, California, then San Antonio, Texas…and so on, giving families like ours around the United States the chance to get a taste of the Broadway classic without leaving their own hometown. I’ve certainly grown spoiled by the easy drive into Newark instead of the challenge of Times Square.
Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile like the old days
I was beautiful then, I remember
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Maddie, as always, was a bit skeptical about a Broadway musical. “Will they talk? Like in Peter Pan?” Even though Maddie loves to dance at Garden State Ballet, she has serious hesitations about shows in which the performers express themselves entirely through body language and movement. Singing would be a step up from dance alone, but Maddie was still seeking dialogue. I told her that the show was based on poems from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats” but warned that the poems had been set to music and she could expect the cats to break into song rather than conversation.

Maddie ended up having a terrific time, although the show was a bit longer than her 6-year-old attention span. Like most of the parents (and grandparents) who had brought their younger children to NJPAC this afternoon, I was glad to expose Maddie to live theatre instead of limiting her concept of entertainment to “watching something” on the Disney Channel.

Daylight
I must wait for the sun rise
I must think for the new life
And I mustn’t give in

When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And the new day will begin
Favorites? Roxy’s was the naughty Rum Tum Tugger, thrusting his pelvis like Elvis and bounding into the audience to pluck a young lady out of the crowd to dance in the aisle. Maddie was mesmerized by Grizabella the Glamour Cat and London favored Mr. Mistoffelees and his magic.

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies
Another night is over
Another day is dawning

Touch me
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun
– “Memory”: lyrics written by Trevor Nunn, based on poems by T.S. Eliot

In the end, for me, it is all about the memories….reminiscing about my first Broadway show (A Chorus Line), seeing Cats on Broadway, and creating new memories for London and Maddie. Since Cats left Broadway in September 2000, before London was born, NJPAC offered our family the unique opportunity to share a memory.

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Nov
22

Weekend Fun: We’re Off to See Cats at NJPAC!

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London and Maddie, Rex and I are very excited…we’ve been listening to the Complete Original Broadway Cast Recording of Cats for weeks in anticipation of todays big event: Cats at NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey). We’re heading out in a couple of hours to the 2pm matinee performance, so I will leave all of you with a video of Jellicle Cats to share in our weekend fun. Enjoy!

I can’t seem to embed the video here, so I’ll provide a link to the Jellicle Cats YouTube video on my Roxiticus Desperate Housewives site.

Nov
06

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jellicle Cats Are Coming to NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey: Tuesday, November 18th - Sunday, November 23rd

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Are you blind when you’re born? Can you see in the dark?
Dare you look look at a king? Would you sit on his throne?
Can you say of your bite that it’s worse than your bark?
Are you cock of the walk when you’re walking alone?

Because jellicles are and jellicles do
Jellicles do and jellicles would
Jellicles would and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do

When you fall on your head, do you land on your feet?
Are you tense when you sense there’s a storm in the air?
Can you find your way blind when you’re lost in the street?
Do you know how to go to the heaviside layer?

Because jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do

If I can still remember my own excitement about seeing Cats on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre over 20 years ago, when I was in my late teens or early twenties, imagine the jumping up and down that is going on with my own little jellicle cats, London and Maddie, as we approach the magical day when Rex and I are taking them to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats performed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey.
Can you ride on a broomstick to places far distant?
Familiar with candle, with book, and with bell?
Were you Whittington’s friend? The Pied Piper’s assistant?
Have you been an alumnus of heaven and hell?

Are you mean like a minx? Are you lean like a lynx?
Are you keen to be seen when you’re smelling a rat?
Were you there when the pharoahs commissioned the Sphinx?
If you were, and you are, you’re a jellicle cat

Jellicle songs for jelllicle cats

We can dive through the air like a flying trapeze
We can turn double somersaults, bounce on a tire
We can run up a wall, we can swing through the trees
We can balance on bars, we can walk on a wire

Not that London and Maddie really need any prompting to launch into gymnastic and acrobatic acts around the house, but Rex and I are already anticipating the basement performances that will be inspired by Cats.  I’ve downloaded the soundtrack to my iPod, and the girls have been busy practicing the words to favorites such as the opening “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” that I’ve shared with you here, “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser,” and the most-well-known-but-hard-to-sing-along-with “Memory.”  Maddie, who remains hesitant about ballet and modern dance performances expressed without words, was particularly pleased to hear so many enchanting lyrics.

Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

Can you sing at the same time in more than one key?
Duets by Rossini and waltzes by Strauss?
And can you (as cats do) begin with a ‘C’?
That always triumphantly brings down the house?

Jellicle cats are queen of the nights
Singing at astronomical heights
Handling pieces from the ‘Messiah’
Hallelujah, angelical Choir

The mystical divinity of unashamed felinity
Round the cathedral rang ‘Vivat’
Life to the everlasting cat!
Feline, fearless, faithful and true
To others who do-what

Jellicles do and jellicles can
Jellicles can and jellicles do
Jellicle cats sing jellicle chants
Jellicles old and jellicles new
Jellicle song and jellicle dance
Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

Cats is an award-winning musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, and jellicle cats come in all shapes and sizes, with magical names like Grizabella (the Glamour Cat), Mr. Mistoffelees, Old Deuteronomy, Skimbleshanks (the Railway Cat), Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser.

Practical cats, dramatical cats
Pragmatical cats, fanatical cats
Oratorical cats, Delphicoracle cats
Skeptical cats, Dispeptical cats
Romantical cats, Pedantical cats
Critical cats, parasitical cats
Allegorical cats, metaphorical cats
Statistical cats and mystical cats
Political cats, hypocritical cats
Clerical cats, hysterical cats
Cynical cats, rabbinical cats

Jellicle songs for jellicle cats

There’s a man over there with a look of surprise
As much as to say well now how about that?
Do I actually see with my own very eyes
A man who’s not heard of a jellicle cat?
What’s a jellicle cat?

What’s a jellicle cat??!! For those of you still wondering, the best way to answer the question is to check out the show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey. I scooped up amazingly close aisle seats in the front orchestra for Rex, London, Maddie and me as soon as they went on sale in May.  Luckily for those of you who waited until the last minute, there are still some Cats tickets available to each of the following performances:

  • Tuesday, November 18th at 7:30pm;
  • Wednesday, November 19th at 7:30pm;
  • Thursday, November 20th at 1:30pm and 7:30pm;
  • Friday, November 21st at 8:00pm;
  • Saturday, November 22nd at 2:00pm and 8:00pm;
  • Sunday, November 23rd at 3:00pm.

Our family is going to the Saturday matinee, so if one or more of Roxy’s loyal readers make it to an earlier performance of Cats at NJPAC, we’d sure appreciate it if you’d share your comments here at Roxy’s Best Of… and check back after the show on Saturday, November 22nd for a full report from London and Maddie, Rex and Roxy.

Nov
06

How Did Roxy Miss This One? Cheetah Girls at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey Next Thursday, November 13th

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Last year, around this time, I was a shoe-in for Mom of the Year, having obtained tickets to Hannah Montana at the Prudential Center for London, Maddie, and their adopted Singin’ Sister. This year, while our family has an attractive November calendar of events, including Cats at NJPAC and High School Musical Live at Paper Mill Playhouse, I let the Cheetah Girls slip through the cracks.

This morning, I received an e-mail alert from the Prudential Center in Newak, New Jersey:  Last Chance!  Don’t Miss the Cheetah Girls!  The Cheetah Girls bring their “Cheetah Girls One World Tour” to the Prudential Center next Thursday, November 13th. The members of the pop/R&B trio–Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan and Kiely Williams are on tour promoting their new movie “The Cheetah Girls One World” and its soundtrack.  The soundtrack features 12 hip-hop, R&B, and Indian-influenced songs. The movie’s anthem song and the soundtrack’s lead single “One World” will be featured in The Cheetah Girls’ set, along with favorites from the first two movies and soundtracks.

While London and Maddie have seen all three Cheetah Girls movies on the Disney Channel, I was just discussing with my friends Susan and Lynette that we all need a little bit of “down time” instead of adding more events to our calendar.  We had considered going away to South Beach for the girls’ long weekend off from school (New Jersey state teachers’ convention), but I’m glad we decided to just relax around the house and the neighborhood.  London and Maddie have been playing quietly in the family room, using their imaginations, while Rex and I work in the home office.

For those of you who need a bit more excitement in your lives, I clicked on the link to buy tickets and it looks like there are still great seats left for the Cheetah Girls (with special guests 535 & Clique Girlz) at the Prudential Center.  Apparently the Cheetah Girls (without Raven Symone) don’t have the crazy star quality that caused Hannah Montana tickets to sell out every concert within minutes, but I bet there are a lot of little Jersey Girls who would have a terrific time at this show.   Having seen Hannah Montana in concert there last year, London, Maddie and I can tell you that the Prudential Center was the perfect venue for a concert…clean, bright and new, without the hassle of heading all the way in to New York City.  I’ve also heard great things about the Pru Center from New Jersey Devils hockey fans.

Sep
03

I’ve Got My Tickets for Cats at NJPAC (the New Jersey Performing Arts Center) in Newark, New Jersey

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This past spring, I posted about two events that Rex, London, Maddie and I enjoyed at NJPAC (the New Jersey Performing Arts Center) in Newark, New Jersey.  We saw Movin’ Out, Twyla Tharp’s interpretation of Billy Joel, in June, and Rex and the girls took me out for a Mother’s Day treat to see Alvin Ailey.  Both shows were spectacular, so we decided to make Alvin Ailey at NJPAC a Mother’s Day tradition, and we also ordered tickets for Cats as soon as tickets for the 2008-2009 season were available.  It looks like they’ve got a lot of other great events lined up, including:

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia is performing Giselle on Sunday, March 2, 2009 at 4:00pm in Prudential Hall. Even though London and Maddie are continuing ballet with Miss Katie at Garden State Ballet this year, we haven’t purchased tickets to Giselle yet because Maddie still prefers her entertainment to include acting (speaking) and singing. Depending on her reaction to the Nutcracker at Christmastime, we may change our minds and take a chance on what will surely be an impressive performance. Using the choreography created by Marius Petipa in his definitive revivals, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Adolphe Adam’s beloved ballet about betrayal, revenge, and unrequited love.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (with special guest Sweet Honey In The Rock) returns to NJPAC in May 2009. Join the celebration as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, America’s cultural ambassador to the world, marks its 50th Anniversary of bringing African-American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition to the world’s stages. The genius of Alvin Ailey changed forever the perception of American dance; today, the legacy continues with Judith Jamison’s remarkable vision and the extraordinary artistry of the Company’s dancers. Beauty, spirit, hope and passion know no bounds. That is the power of Ailey. The powerful Sweet Honey In The Rock will join the company on stage in a new work co-commissioned by NJPAC.

The girls are most excited about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats, which is coming to NJPAC from Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 through Sunday, November 23rd, 2008. This theatrical blockbuster, one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history, is an enchanting spectacle for all ages, fueled by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s soaring score. The London Times calls it “one of the most exhilarating and innovative musicals ever staged.

NJPAC makes it so easy to order tickets with reasonable prices instead of having to go through scalpers. You can select a pre-designed series, securing the same seats for every show (Rex likes a seat on the aisle). Or, create your own series of any three, four, five, or more events — based on your interests and schedule. Either way, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of subscription: savings of up to $10 per ticket, guaranteed discounts all year, and the convenience of a flexible exchange policy if “something suddenly comes up.”