A Look Ahead at NJ’s Arts Scene in 2016

By Maddie Orton
Arts Correspondent

It was another banner year for New Jersey’s arts scene and it seems 2016 will follow suit. Among concerts, plays, exhibits and performances this past year saw: Ridgewood native Ali Stroker become the first actor in a wheelchair on Broadway in the revival Spring Awakening.

Paterson’s own Fetty Wap spread the love and the wealth by giving a free concert at his old high school. The rapper also gave $2,700 in cash to passersby at Garden State Plaza Mall.

George Takei talked at Rutgers, Misty Copeland visited Princeton — and shortly after became American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American female principal dancer — and Atlantic City brought crowds to the beach with Maroon 5 and Rascal Flatts concerts.

Big names will remain a big part of 2016.

Paper Mill Playhouse will host the world premiere musical “A Bronx Tale”, based on the film of the same title.

“If people are familiar with the movie, there was actually quite a bit of music used in the movie kind of as a background and soundtrack to the period,” said Managing Director Todd Schmidt. “Alan has taken that whole feel of those great doo-wop era songs of the 60s, and the turbulent times, and incorporated those into the music. It really adds a whole wonderful element to the story.”

“Alan” is Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken. Chazz Palminteri, the film’s screenwriter, wrote the book. At the helm is the film’s director Robert DeNiro along with four-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Zaks.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will welcome new Music Director Xian Zhang following conductor Jacques Lacombe’s six-year tenure.

If contemporary music is more your bag, Las Vegas’s long-running Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival will host its inaugural east coast concert this summer in Asbury Park.

Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum will continue to collect Rutgers Univerity-related photographs through its HereNow Digital Gallery. Images will be printed and installed in an exhibit celebrating the university’s 250th anniversary.

Of course, dance concerts, educational opportunities and much more will fill the arts calendar. At the end of January, this concourse leading from Newark Penn Station to the Prudential Center will be packed when Bruce Springsteen is back in town for The River Tour.