Fall Fun Guide

Fall Fun Guide Of course, there are more than enough cool things to do in South Jersey this autumn. But we wanted to sift through the hundreds of happenings to give you the best shows, concerts, events, and outings this side of the Delaware. To make it even easier, our guide to fall fun is organized by month through the end of the year. Now you can use this guidebook easily as the months pass! Forget rummaging through the newspapers every weekend, getting ink all over your hands, looking for something to do. We’re sure that this is going to be your cultural and social bible, so keep it in a safe place, away from the kids and pets…

As we head into the final leg of 2004, those seeking to be educated, enlightened, or just entertained will find satisfaction in the sights and sounds of South Jersey’s arts and entertainment culture. South Jersey Magazine has gone out and done the research for you and put together a summary of what we believe are the can’t-miss So-Je A&E events happening this last quarter before we usher in 2005…

With Halloween and the December holiday season growing closer, October winds up being a packed month.

On the musical side of things, Salem County’s Appel Farm Arts and Music Center, famous for their yearly folk festival, will host local folk-artist-turned-major-label-folk-artist-turned-local-folk-artist Susan Werner (Oct. 23rd).

At the end of the month, the Center will present The Rat Pack – Direct from Las Vegas, featuring “the best Rat Pack impersonators” performing songs, entertainment, and “comic banter.” (Oct. 28th)

If fun for you means a good scare, Broadway Theatre in Pitman will be showing the classic German silent horror film Nosferatu, which still terrifies even though over a half century has passed since it was made. This will be a truly silent movie experience, complete with the theatre’s classically-restored pipe organ providing the soundtrack. (Oct. 30th)

For a different kind of fright, explore real-life haunted houses using high-tech equipment with South Jersey Ghost Research at either of their two seminars. It’s a worthwhile alternative to the tired old haunted hayride. (Oct. 23rd in Washington Twp.; Oct. 29th in Glendora).

Not quite “scary” but still potentially mystifying, The Spencer’s Theatre of Illusion will put on a show at the Mainstage Center for the Arts in Blackwood. Associate Director of the Center describes the act as “high-energy and magic along the line of David Copperfield.” (Oct. 29th)

Theatre openings include Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at Haddonfield Plays & Players. The musical is subtitled “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and has made a recent appearance in the plot of Kevin Smith’s film Jersey Girl. (Oct. 21st-Nov. 13th). Also opening in October will be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, at the Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn. (Oct. 21st-Nov. 20th)

In addition to being a big festival month, November brings with it several additional theatre openings. Throughout the month of November, the Burlington County Footlighters will present James Joyce’s The Dead. The Footlighters’ website describes the play as “a musical celebration of Christmas at the turn of the 20th century”. (Nov. 5th-20th) Also, the East Lynne Theatre Company in West Cape May will perform Sherlock Holmes. Based on the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the performance is a staged reading with piano accompaniment, with the cast of nine portraying 16 different characters. (Nov. 5th and 6th)

Born in Osaka, Japan, classical violinist Midori’s career took flight after a string of concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 11. Appel Farm Arts & Music Center will feature a concert with the world-renowned musician as part of their Evening Concert Series. (Dec. 4th)

Meanwhile, at the Tweeter Center and on the other end of the musical spectrum, indie-rock pioneers The Pixies reunite for two shows. (Dec. 4th and 5th) Although media lately have made Bill out to be a grouch, there’s no doubt that after over 15 albums of live comedy, he’s got the ability to make us laugh. In December, Bill Cosby brings his act to the Commerce Bank Arts Centre. (Dec. 18th)

In theatre, Haddonfield Plays & Players close out their 2004 season with the family musical, Annie. The Surflight Theatre, keeping in theme with the season, will present Miracle on 34th Street. (Dec. 3rd-19th)

Other events in December also in tune with the holiday spirit: Music, Merriment, & Mistletoe is an afternoon holiday concert with the Haddonfield Symphony and special guest, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. If you’re trying to make the connection, Loeb is assistant conductor Benjamin Loeb’s sister. (Dec. 5th)

Christmas: The Season of Light at the Commerce Bank Arts Center is a chorale and orchestra Christmas concert with a live nativity scene. (Dec. 11th and 12th) The Chanukkah Story features Tony-nominated actress Tovah Feldshuh narrating the stories of Channukah accompanied by music from the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble at the Temple Emmanuel in Cherry Hill. (Dec. 12th)

Although it’s not exactly holiday-themed, the timing of tiny Medford’s Dickens Festival certainly brings to mind thoughts of Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol. The festival has even caught the attention of National Geographic, who praised the festival in their “Guide to Small Town Escapes.” Residents of Medford take to the streets in Dickens-period costumes. Street performers give oral renditions of Dickens’ stories. It’s a good time for all. (Dec. 3rd)

This brings us to New Year’s Eve. Why fight crowds in Times Square this year? Atlantic City rings in New Year’s Day with KC & The Sunshine Band at the Hilton Hotel & Casino, Tony Orlando at the Tropicana Casino, and Smokey Robinson at the Resorts Casino. South Jersey proves this year that we do schmaltz just as well as our neighbors in Manhattan!

Special Events
**4th Annual Cape May NJ State Film Festival (Nov. 18th-21st). Ron Rollet, Artistic Director for the Cape May NJ State Film Festival, is expecting this year’s event to be the biggest yet. The festival, says Rollet, has grown in attendance from 500 filmgoers at the first festival to 3,500 at last year’s festival. With staggering-sized venues, the festival is able to accommodate such a large number of guests. Events take place at the Congress Hall, the Franks Beach 4 Theatre, and the Cape May Convention Hall. “We’re growing and I think it’s because South Jersey has long-needed an independent film festival,” says Rollet.

Rollet, a resident of Cape May and former NYU film professor, is part of a jury that is currently and will continue to screen independent films until mid-October. A select few films will be chosen by the jury to be screened at this year’s festival. According to Rollet, 400-500 films are submitted to the festival each year, and out of that number, the festival will select only 50 independent shorts and 12 independent features. Rollet says, “The process is highly selective. The filmmakers that get in know that the films they submitted are really superior.”

Some of the films screened at last year’s festival included The Station Agent and Academy-Award nominated spelling bee documentary, Spellbound. Each year, the festival also presents an honorary award to an outstanding NJ film artist. This Governors Award has previously been awarded to Susan Sarandon and William Baldwin, as well as NJ film advocate Tom Colitsas. Rollet wants everyone to know that in addition to all these things, this festival’s about having fun.

“There are parties, a gala with all the stars and the filmmakers in attendance… We have wrap parties every night that go until 2 or 3 in the morning,” says Rollet.

**22nd Cape May Jazz Festival (Nov. 12th-14th) Lelah Eppenbach, director of the Cape May Jazz Festival, is looking forward to this year’s line-up. She explains, “Every year we try and up the ante as far as bringing in top-level performers.” Eppenbach is especially excited about Saturday night’s headliner, Regina Carter.

“She’s a jazz violinist who was the first jazz musician and African-American to play the legendary violin, Il Canone,” she says.

“Il Canone” is a 250-year-old violin once owned by Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini, who is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his extraordinary skill at the instrument.

“Her style is aggressive,” says Eppenbach. “I think it’ll challenge people’s ideas of how a violin can be played.”

Says Eppenbach, the festival will also be welcoming back two performers from last year’s festival, Little Jimmy Scott and Oscar Brown Junior. She says that the festival is expecting a good turn-out this year.

“The nature of our festival is performing at a small number of venues, and we’ve managed to keep it the same for a few years,” she adds. According to Eppenbach, those attending the festival can expect to see a variety of different types of jazz. “We’ve got straight-ahead jazz, but we’ve also got blues, gospel, and Latin jazz,” says Eppenbach. “We’ve posted everything on our website,” she adds.

Published in South Jersey Magazine, September 2004.
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