Bickford season: George Gee, John Sebastian, ‘Dog Story,’ Grover Kemble, and tailgate picnics, too

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian. Photo by Catherine Sebastian.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian. Photo by Catherine Sebastian.

From the Bickford Theatre:

Bickford Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season

Opens Sept. 28 with The George Gee Swing Orchestra

The Bickford Theatre 2017-18 season will include a blend of jazz, bluegrass, classical, pop and a trio of live theater offerings.

Subscription packages for the Main Stage productions are available and seats for most of this season’s shows are reserved. Tickets are available online or at 973-971-3706.

Food trucks, which proved extremely popular over the summer will be offered for concerts in September and October, so make plans to tailgate while the weather is still nice.


“We are pleased to present three wonderful plays this season,” said Artistic Director Eric Hafen.

“We begin with Bakersfield Mist, an Elliot Norton Award-winner for Best New Play, on Oct. 26. The show enjoyed a successful three-month run on London’s West End before heading to regional theaters around the world. This comedy-drama tackles vital questions about art and creativity while keeping the audience laughing with well-timed zingers.”

Also slated for this season are Accomplice by Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes and A Dog Story by Eric H. Weinberger and Gayla D. Morgan. The winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s “Edgar” Award, Accomplice was a Broadway hit called “the comedy thriller of all comedy thrillers.” It opens on Jan. 25, 2018.

And the musical A Dog Story, which received rave reviews during its limited Off-Broadway run in 2016, opens on April 12.

George Gee Swing Orchestra. Photo courtesy of George Gee
George Gee Swing Orchestra. Photo courtesy of George Gee

The Bickford Theatre is developing a reputation as a great place for jazz, and this season’s concerts underscore the buzz. The George Gee Swing Orchestra, one of the best big bands in the country, opens the season on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.

Led by the charismatic George Gee, the 17-piece band includes many top-flight jazz musicians including singer John Dokes, saxophonist Michael Hashim, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, and bassist Marcus McLaurine.

The Jazz Showcase roster includes both the expected and the unexpected. Among the returning veterans will be bassist and singer Nicki Parrott with Rossano Sportiello and Eddie Metz in October; hot jazz clarinetist Dan Levinson in both the fall and the spring; and the annual Bix Beiderbecke Birthday Bash in March.

The legendary 7-string guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli stops by in January as the theater celebrates his 92nd birthday. And the always popular singer/songwriter Grover Kemble will be joined by jazz pianist Jerry Vezza and his trio for an evening of great music and lots of laughs.

The theater is also pleased to have some new jazz stars on its stage. Swingadelic, the region’s “best little big band” pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in October; Chris Brubeck, the son of legendary Dave Brubeck, appears with his award-winning trio Triple Play in January; drummer T.S. Monk pays tribute to his famous father in February; and the extraordinary clarinetist Ken Peplowski salutes the great Benny Goodman in May.


The always popular A La Carte Series includes four shows this season. From Bach to Rock 2.0 on Oct. 8 features Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev, a prize-winning husband and wife duo who are delighting audiences around the world with their virtuosity, humor and wide-ranging repertoire.

Then on March 1, it is the dazzling Trio Da Paz, featuring Brazil’s most in-demand musicians, Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta, and Duduka da Fonseca.

On Sunday, March 4, the Garden State Philharmonic String Quartet salutes the music of Leonard Bernstein as the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth; and on May 6, the critically acclaimed concert pianist Christopher Johnson performs the New Jersey premiere of his gorgeous composition “Rhapsody on America the Beautiful” in his program A Portrait of American Music.


The Bickford Theatre’s Concert Series includes both old favorites such as Fireside Mystery Theatre on Oct. 1 and Carolyn Dorfman Dance on Nov. 16; and new stars including Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian and multiple blues award-winner Marcia Ball.

Marcia Ball. Photo by Bob Sekinger
Marcia Ball. Photo by Bob Sekinger

Appearing on Thursday, Nov. 30, John Sebastian will delight fans with the unique style that made him a favorite from Woodstock to Broadway. And Marcia Ball, the rollicking New Orleans-style pianist, brings the Mardi Gras spirit to the theatre on Feb. 10 just before Fat Tuesday.

Tickets may be purchased online at (973) 971-3706, or at the Bickford Theatre Box Office. Most shows will have reserved seating so order tickets early.

The Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre is at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morris Township, NJ, and offers free parking and full accessibility. Phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. Walk-up hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.


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