The Montclair Arts Alliance presents Montclair Arts Festival 2017 – a four-day arts extravaganza featuring theater, visual arts, jazz, rock/R&B, opera, dance, performances for young audiences, interactive arts and more. The festival will take place Wednesday, November 29 through Saturday, December 2 at the historic United Way Theater, 60 South Fullerton Avenue.


Tickets prices are $20 for a single day ticket, $30 for a two-day ticket, $40 for three days and $50 for the four-day all-festival pass. Tickets may be purchased at



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DAY 1: Wednesday, November 29


The festival begins 6:00 p.m. with the opening of the art exhibit Improvisations at the 60 South Art Gallery located in the United Way Theater. The exhibit is curated by artist Joyce Korotkin and will feature works from 19 visual artists in mediums of painting, sculpture and art installations.


Improvisations features work by artists:


Anonda Bell· Mona Brody·Willie Cole·Lori Field·Samuel Iztueta·Elizabeth Jacobs·Peter Jacobs·Jennifer T. Ley· Fernando Mariscal·Deborrah Markette·Indigo Nelson·Karen Nielsen-Fried·Sharon Pitts·Yana Rodin·Ela Shah· Madeleine St. Jacques·Marilyn Stevenson·Jon Taner·Philomena Williamson


The exhibit opening includes a wine and cheese reception and music by harpist Violetta Norrie.


At 8:00 p.m., following the opening and reception, guests will move to the auditorium for an evening of jazz. Music will be provided by:


Jazz House Kids Organ Ambassadors Ensemble · Trio Mia Jazz · Scott Robinson/Seed Artists


Jazz House Kids, directed by Melissa Walker, recently celebrated their 15th Anniversary at NJPAC. The non-profit organization brings music education to local youth and is the founder of Montclair’s hugely successful annual Jazz festival.


Trio Mia Jazz, who plays both jazz and Brazilian music, recently held a CD release party at Trumpets.


Scott Robinson, a multi-instrumentalist and composer has been billed as the Man with the Six-Foot-Tall Sax and will be representing Seed Artists, founded by Executive Director Pheeroan akLaff, the internationally renowned drummer and composer.



DAY 2: Thursday, November 30


Five theater companies will perform sit-down and staged readings plus musical theater selections:


Culture Connection Theater · Sugar Mama Productions · UCC Players · Vanguard Theater Company · Theatre 167


6:00 p.m.
Culture Connection Theater, founded by Artistic Director and co-festival producer Elaine Molinaro, will present staged readings of Casting Away (Tashlich) and Visiting Day – two short plays by local playwright Gwen Orel.


6:50 p.m.

Sugar Mama Productions, founded by Raquel Bailey of HBO’s The Night Of, will present two of her students performing a monologue and musical theater song.


7:00 p.m.

UCC Players will perform scenes from “Motherhood Out Loud,” directed by Kathryn Osborne.


7:30 p.m.

The Vanguard Theater Company will perform a selection of songs from “Music Man” and highlights from their other productions.


8:00 p.m.

Theatre 167 will present a reading of J.Stephen Brantley’s play “PIRIRA,” directed by Ari Laura Kreith. The reading will be followed by a talk back.


DAY 3: Friday, December 1


United Way Theater will rock with the great sounds of four bands:


QWERT · Meg Beattie Music · The Fabulous Flemtones · Black Lace Blues

6:00 p.m.

QWERT band members include Chris Koch (guitar and vocals), Ian Smit (guitar) and Steve Meltzer (drums). QWERT recently brought their progressive rock to the Maplewood Porchfest, Maxwell’s in Hoboken and to Montclair’s own Trend Coffee & Tea House.


7:00 p.m.

Meg Beattie Music – Meg has been seen throughout Montclair at Trumpets Jazz Club, Montclair Center Stage, and the Parents Who Rock Benefit concert. She is slated to perform in an upcoming tribute to the Rock, Blues, Jazz and Folk music of Bonnie Raitt & Joni Mitchel at Jigg’s Corner in Butler, New Jersey.


8:00 p.m.
The Fabulous Flemtones, with Tim Engle (bass and vocals), Andy McGuire (guitar and vocals), Billy Karcher (guitar and vocals) and Orlando Staton (drums), recently animated Halloween celebrations at Tierney’s Tavern and the Zombie Music Festival at the Pour House Pints & Pies in West Orange.


9:00 p.m.
Black Lace Blues performs an original mix of Blues, Funk, Rock and other music genres. Musicians include festival co-producer Bruce Tyler (leader/founder/drummer), Brian Feldman (music director/guitar/lead vocals), Maxx McMahon (bass), Larry ‘The Lip’ Lipscultz (harmonica), and Hilly Ephros (keyboards). Black Lace Blues calls Montclair their hometown and performs in various venues in the tri-state area including Trend Coffee & Tea House, Diva Lounge, Towacofest at the Towaco Train Station and the Great Notch in Little Falls.


DAY 4: Saturday, December 2


From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. programming For Young Audiences will feature eight different companies in all disciplines of children’s and family-friendly performances including theater, music, dance, drumming, drama, opera, visual arts and interactive arts.


Arts Organizations and Artists include:


Pushcart Players · Montclair Early Music · Montclair Dance Collective presented by the Cool School of Performing Arts · Premiere Dance Theatre Workshop Kids · Montclair Academy of Dance and Laboratory of Music (MADLOM) · Opera Theatre of Montclair · A Mid-Summer’s Dreaming Theatre Company presented by the Summer Theatre Camp of Montclair


Tickets for children 12 and under are offered at a reduced price of $10.


Interactive artists include:


Indie Arts Montclair · Creativity Caravan · Jennifer Levine’s Soul Portraits


From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Jennifer Levine will be painting Soul Portraits in the United Way Theater lobby. Throughout the day, snap a pic with the Indie Arts Montclair (IAM) photo frame and make a book about yourself with the Creativity Caravan.


From 8:00-9:30 p.m. seven dance companies will perform modern and African dance. Companies include:


Padierna Dance Project · Premiere Dance Ensemble · DanceWorks & Company · Kyle Marshall Choreography · Freespace Dance · Umoja Dance Company

Premiere Dance Ensemble, directed by Shirlise McKinley, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of bringing dance education to all ages and professional dance to a wide audience.

DanceWorks Studios, directed by Kathy Costa-McKeown, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing serious dance training in a safe, nurturing and fun-loving environment. DanceWorks & Company will be performing two pieces from its repertoire: “Everybody Free” and “Radiant Self” choreographed by Kathy Costa-McKeown.


Daniel Padierna is a recent graduate of Montclair State University who will bring to the festival the world premiere of “America,” his newest work for 14 dancers.


Dancer and choreographer Kyle Marshall is currently performing on tour with the Trisha Brown Dance Company and recently returned from Japan. He was featured as the Emerging Choreographer in the 2016 Dance On The Lawn festival. His company will perform a new work for three dancers called “Lift,” which is set to the music of Reggae legend Bob Marley.


Freespace Dance, a contemporary modern dance company, is headed by Managing Director Lisa Grimes and Artistic Director Donna Scro Samori, a former principal dancer with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Company. The company’s permanent home, The Space, is a hub for movement artists.


Umoja Dance Company is a New Jersey based multi-cultural dance company established by Karen L. Love. Umoja presents a fusion of contemporary modern and West African dance, along with a full range of classes and workshops.


Be sure to visit the MAA Facebook page for updates and additional companies/artists.




The Montclair Arts Festival 2017 provides a means to showcase local artists and arts organizations and to establish the United Way Theater as a performance venue in Montclair and as a future Arts Center where non-profit arts organizations can find affordable, rentable, shared performance and arts space.


The Montclair Arts Alliance (MAA) is a newly-formed 501(c)3 arts service organization to the Montclair area arts community, with a mission to support local artists and arts organizations with joint-marketing, networking, advocacy, space and more. Join MAA to create a strong and cohesive service and advocacy arts organization. Membership information is on the MAA website at


MAA Board Members are:

President: Elaine Molinaro, Culture Connection Theater

Vice President: Mia Riker-Norrie, Opera Theatre of Montclair

Treasurer: Ian Finnell, Montclair Arts Advisory Committee

Secretary: Kathryn Osborne, UCC Players

Member-at-Large: Julienne Pape, Montclair Early Music


The Montclair Arts Festival 2017 is generously supported by the Montclair Township and is a two-year initiative of the Montclair Arts Advisory Committee to the Town Council. MAAC is a nine-member volunteer committee appointed by the Town Council for two-year terms. Current Committee members include: Elaine Molinaro (chair), Anonda Bell, Sara Brady, Ian Finnell, Shirlise McKinley, Mia Riker-Norrie, Kathryn Osborne, Bruce Tyler and Andre Weker. Council co-liaisons to the committee are Councilwoman Dr. Renée Baskerville and Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager.