MORRISTOWN, NJ - First Night Morris is celebrating its 26th anniversary Dec. 31 as one of New Jersey’s biggest and brightest First Night events — an alcohol-free, family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts where you can experience everything from a Metropolitan Opera star to inflatable dinosaurs.

There will be nearly 200 artists and 85 events in 24 venues representing dance, theater, music, world cultures, visual arts and children’s events.

For all 26 years, Morris Arts has been First Night Morris’ artistic programmer, securing topflight talents who attract thousands of people from Morris County and beyond.

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More than half of the program features new artists, or artists returning after several years, many of whom have performed at top venues, such as the White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera, and who have won international recognition, performed on national radio/TV, in major films and/or collaborated with superstars of performing arts.

Rock/Bluegrass/Blues:

The John Ginty Band, showcasing Ginty, who toured/performed with the Dixie Chicks, Jewel and Santana.

Silk City brings its blend of bluegrass, roots and honky-tonk music.

For gutsy, full-throated blues with a touch of funk, R&B, country and jazz, don’t miss the Cobra Brothers.

Jazz  and Swing: 

First Night would not be complete without jazz pianist, Rio Clemente and his inventive and sparkling improvisations.

Mauricio de Souza’s band Bossa Brasil offers smooth, Brazilian-tinted jazz  while James Langton takes it Nice & Easy, Swingin’ the Great American Songbook.

 

Broadway:

A Night of Broadway Stars transports the Great White Way to First Night, featuring Broadway performers singing unforgettable songs from Phantom, Wicked, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and other great shows.

 

Folk Music:

Catch the crystalline voice of singer/songwriter Christine DeLeon.

If you prefer musical satire, don’t miss John Forster, whose works were recorded by Judy Collins and Roseanne Cash.

Classical Music: 

Don’t miss Metropolitan Opera Soprano, Jennifer Check, who has sung under the world’s top conductors (Levine, Maazel, Ozawa) and will be joined by award-winning pianist, Andrew Rosenblum. 

First Night also offers the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the piano virtuosity of Laryssa Krupa (with her trio), the grand brass of Solid Brass Lite, and the Harmonium Choral Society.

You can even meet “Beethoven” himself as Dennis Kobray’s Meet the Musicians shares the life and works by the great composer.

World Cultures:

Includes the Korean Traditional Dance of Choomnoor; exotic Music of the Middle East, which spotlights Armenian oud master Ara Dinkjian and Turkish kanun virtuoso Tamer Pinarbasi. 

Melanie Mitrano performs haunting songs of Portuguese Fado and Brazilian song traditions, while Irish (and other) eyes will be smiling at the music of Irish Fiddler Brian Conway (with guitarist John Walsh).

Groove on good vibrations from The Didge Project which blends the sounds of the Australian aboriginal didgeridoo with world rhythms and tribal beats. 

And join in the salsa, merengue and tango with Daniel Herrera’s DREAMS dancers or infectious rhythms of Folk Music of Colombia with Viva Vallenato’s cumbia and vallenato.

 

Theater/Comedy?

Laugh into the New Year with Comedian Moody McCarthy, HypnoMarc’s Comedy Hypnotism, and Master Magician and Illusionist Great Scott! with his feathered partner Thurston (a blue/gold macaw).

Also Robert Costello becomes Abraham Lincoln; Lou Del Bianco tells the story of his grandfather, the Master Carver of Mt. Rushmore. 

The  Mayhem Poets blend poetry, hip hop, improv and stand-up comedy.

Kit’s Interactive Theater drafts the audience directly into the performance of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.

Storyteller Extraordinaire, Julie Pasqual, shariesstories from around the world.

 

Dance:

First Nighters can savor dazzling routines of New Jersey Tap Ensemble soloists Maurice Chestnut and Jeffry Foote, delight in the elegant beauty of Korean Traditional Dance of Choomnoori, enjoy Latin Dance with Daniel Herrera’s D.R.E.A.M.S. dancers, or try Square Dancing with Caller, Mary Moody.

Children’s/ Family Programs:

Who could resist Dinoman Dinosaurs or Rizzo’s Reptile Discovery?

Catch the clowns, face painting balloons, and organ grinder at The Children’s Fun Festival or visit Transformations Facepainting. 

Perennial favorite and skilled circus performer, Mr. Fish will be back to amaze audiences with Phenomenal Physics.

Younger Children (4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.): Hula hooping with Whirled Revolution, art making artist Samantha (“Sam”) Matthews’ Art 4 Kids, and Fun with LEGOs.

New to this year’s early session is the Korean Traditional Dance of Choomnoori, with dazzling costumes and choreography, and Square Dancing with Caller, Mary Moody.

Three visual arts exhibits (displaying over 300 artworks) and two sets of fireworks top off that magical evening known as First Night® Morris County. To check out the full lineup of artists, visit: www.firstnightmorris.com.

Admission (before Dec. 21: $20/ticket; $17.50 for 4 or more. Prices go up on Dec. 22. Every venue is indoors and a free shuttle will take you to nearly all locations.

For more information, the latest program updates, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, please visit the First Night® Morris County website at www.firstnightmorris.com or call (973) 455-0708.