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This Week In The Arts: 9/25/20

By Gary Wien

This Week In The Arts: 9/25/20

Here's a look at five big stories in the arts this past week and links to the feature articles run at New Jersey Stage. Articles with links in the title have more information available. This week includes news about the Metropolitan Opera, Showroom Cinemas, Bruce Springsteen, The Princeton Festival, and NJ Stage Magazine.

1) The Metropolitan Opera Cancels Its 2020–21 Season Due to the Ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic

The Metropolitan Opera announced on September 24 that the ongoing health crisis has resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2020–21 season, but the company also announced ambitious artistic plans for its 2021–22 season, which will open with the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Blanchard’s opera is the first by an African American composer to be performed at the Met.

The Met made its painful decision to cancel the balance of the 2020–21 season based on the advice of health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center. Because of the many hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close quarters and because of the company’s large audience, it was determined that it would not be safe for the Met to resume until a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement. Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available.

“The inability to perform is taking a tremendous toll on our company,” said the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb. “Our future relies on making strong artistic strides, while collectively reducing our costs until the audience has fully returned,” he continued, citing audience surveys that indicate it will take time before the Met’s box office returns to pre-pandemic levels. “But we have faith that the members of our company and the public will understand why and how our return to normalcy must be managed. Meanwhile, we will continue with all of our digital media initiatives, which have kept the Met connected with our audiences here and abroad throughout the closure.”

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This Week In The Arts: 9/25/20

2) ShowRoom Cinemas Closes Indie Movie Theaters

ShowRoom Cinemas, which played a large role in the revitalization of Asbury Park's arts community and opened a second theatre in Bradley Beach last year, announced they will not reopen for business.  “It was a very difficult decision, but the reality is that we’re sinking under the weight of debt from being closed for six months,” stated co-founder Michael Sodano. 

Both locations were shuttered on March 16 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. On Labor Day weekend, Governor Murphy granted New Jersey movie theaters to reopen at 25% capacity with three days notice, which was not enough time for the independently run business to affect the changes necessary to restart movies on the big screen. 

“With 25% capacity and 100% expenses, the numbers just didn’t make any sense,” continued Sodano. “Simply keeping the doors closed cost a lot of money, but opening them at a quarter capacity would only lose more money faster.” 

The theater in Asbury Park has been in business since 2009, and developed a loyal audience for independent film over 11 years. Bradley Beach was opened in May of 2019 after 7 months of renovation.

"We are not in control of capacity, the product or the audience, and it is becoming clear that the effects of the pandemic will linger well into 2021,” said co-founder Nancy Sabino. "We'd love to see the theaters continue showing movies, we just can't afford to be the ones to make that happen any longer. We thank our loyal staff and devoted audiences for their support these past 11 years.” 

3) Springsteen Releases Lyric Video for “Ghosts" 

The second song from the upcoming record, Letter To You, was released on September 24th.  It’s a powerful rock and roll track that was inspired by the bands he’s been with over the years - most notably his first band, The Castiles.  As he told Rolling Stone Magazine, the realization that he was the last remaining member of that band hit him hard.

The video traces his career from The Castiles to the Upstage to bigger clubs, arenas, and stadiums. There’s new footage from the making of the album and poignant shots of Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici - two of the ghosts he’s singing about.  If there was ever one video that told his complete story, this is the one.

“Ghosts… running through the night / Our spirits filled with light / I need… need you by my side / Your love and I’m alive”

And for more Springsteen news... In honor of Bruce Springsteen's Birthday this year (September 23), the Spring Nuts put together a special cover of "Land of Hope and Dreams" with the help of Telegraph Hill Records and some other local Asbury Park Musicians to wish him a special one from their homes. 


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4) Richard Tang Yuk, Executive and Artistic Director, Leaves Princeton Festival

The Princeton Festival announced that Richard Tang Yuk, Executive and Artistic Director and one of the organization’s founders, has decided to leave the Festival.

“After 16 wonderful years with the Princeton Festival, I am excited to pass the reins to its next leaders and watch the Festival continue to thrive and move to the next level," said Tang Yuk. "I will forever cherish the great experiences I enjoyed at the Festival, which is so dear to my heart. They would not have been possible without the support and commitment of our Board of Trustees."

5) NJ Stage Releases Final Issue of Magazine

Well after six years of publishing and 999 articles, we are taking a break after issue 75 to reinvent the magazine and our website.  We thank you for being part of this journey and hope you continue on with us when the magazine returns with a new look.  The latest issue is available for free at www.NJArtsMag.com - click on the article title for complete information on the articles in this issue.

We've had a lot of fun putting together this magazine over the years and showcasing art in an interactive fashion.  Unfortunately, the pandemic has been a financial drain on us too.  We're cutting costs wherever we can and spending the next month completely redesigning and reinventing our website. The arts world completely shutting down was something we never expected.  These changes are necessary to survive. 

While the magazine will be taking a break, the daily site will continue with changes being made in the background. We're excited for this opportunity to reinvent New Jersey Stage. We're not going away; we're building for the future.


Web versions of magazine articles

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

originally published: 09/25/2020



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