Fun at First Night Morris:
Michael Schmidt attended First Night Morris as a boy, performed in it as young man, and now chairs First Night’s board.
Yet even he has difficulty grasping the scope of this New Year’s Eve extravaganza, which has grown over 21 years into a Morristown evening that encompasses nearly 80 performances spanning virtually every genre.
“Every year I’m reminded how magical the night is, and how much talent we have,” Michael said. “It’s easy to forget that over the course of a year. But we’re trying to remind people.”
Michael and fellow Morristown High School graduate Craig Schlosser, both in their sophomore year as directors, have helped nudge the event into the black–by a whisker–via aggressive promotion and sponsorship deals.
Yet for all the changes they have made, arguably their most important decision was to leave one thing unchanged: The talent.
The board resisted economic pressures to scale back First Night offerings; patrons young and old will be rewarded on Dec. 31 with everything from African drumming to Indian sitar, set in gorgeous churches, Morris County buildings and the Mayo Performing Arts Center for an alcohol-free night punctuated by two fireworks shows over the historic Morristown Green.
“I’m happy with the way it came together and think we have some truly outstanding performers on the roster,” said Dr. Lynn Siebert of the Arts Council of the Morris Area. Lynn has lined up the entertainers for seven years; the classical violinist wades through hundreds of performer websites, applications and shows to deliver a compelling mix.
Music categories include bluegrass (Stetson and Cia Cherryholmes Adkisson of Nashville fame; the Feinberg Brothers), classical (Harmonium, Laryssa Krupa, Solid Brass, the New Philharmonic of New Jersey) and jazz (Grover Kemble, Frank Vignola & Bucky Pizzarelli, Rio Clemente, the Warren Vaché Trio and Dan Levinson and Swing Wing, to name a few).
There also will be reggae (Random Test), rock (the British Invasion Tribute, teen Battle of the Bands), and world music (Barynya, the Sweet Plantain Quartet, and the David Glukh International Klezmer Ensemble).
DEC. 21, 2012
Morristown Deli, 7 Elm St.
4:45 pm ELI
5:30 pm Angry Politicians
6:30 pm Rachael Clinton & Becca Johnson
7:20 pm Room 4 Three
8:00 pm Faithless Loyalties
History buffs can hear a colonial ensemble or meet Mozart. Sports fans can sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame with the Yankees’ organist.
A drum-and-bugle-corps, four-handed piano, mimes, face-painting…it’s a lineup worthy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Where else can you find a flea circus, giant reptiles and a candidate for Queen of the United States? Or take a fully costumed voyage on the Titanic?
There even is a self-help category: Work on your attitude with a tongue-in-cheek hypnotist (Marshal Manlove), or heal thyself with a dose of medical comedy (Carla Ulbrich).
And all for $20, if you buy your badge by Dec. 26. A four-pack is $70. Starting on Dec. 27, admission will cost $25, and $90 for a four-pack. Badges can be purchased on the First Night Morris website or at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.
“First Night attendees should find something for virtually every taste…and all on a very high professional level,” promised Lynn Siebert.
MorristownGreen.com is a media partner of First Night Morris.
A VIDEO SAMPLING OF FIRST NIGHT 2013 ACTS:
Stetson and Cia Cherryholmes Adkisson:
Greg Giannascoli, marimba virtuoso:
Féraba, West African drumming, dance and tap
Frank Vignola with Bucky Pizzarelli, jazz guitar wizards