CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Arts & Entertainment State of the Art
Theatre Craft Fairs
My Gingerbread House
will host a craft fair on December 2, 3, 4 and 5 at 197 North Martine Avenue in Fanwood. For more information, please call (908) 3228317.
St. John Vianney in Clark will host a craft show on December 4 from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m.
Trailside Nature and Science Center will host its Holiday Nature Boutique on December 5. For more information, please call (908) 5274900.
Paper Mill Playhouse
in Millburn will present
Rags until Monday, December 13. For more information, please call (973) 3793717 or visit www. papermill. org.
Cranford Dramatic Club will perform Aladin
on December 4 and 5 at varying times. For more information, please call (908) 2767611.
The Westfield Art Association
will hold its 75th Annual Members’ Oil, Pastel & Sculpture Exhibition from December 11 to 14 in the Westfield Community Room.
The Union County Tree Lighting will be held on December 3 at the Watchung Stable in Mountainside. For more information, please call (908) 5274900.
Downtown Summit will host a Santa Parade and Santa’s Arrival on December 3. For more information, please call (908) 5221700 or visit www. suburbanchambers. org.
The 1999 Holiday Model Railroad Sound and Light Show will be held at The Model Railroad Club, 295 Jefferson Avenue, Union, on December 3, 4, 5, and 10. For more information, please call (908) 8649724 or visit www. tmrci. com.
Welcome Home to Westfield will host a Tree Lighting Ceremony today at 6: 30 p. m. at Open MRI of Westfield. Temple EmanuEl will hold a Lighting of the Menorah at 7: 15 p. m. with a Shabbat Service at 7: 30 p. m.
The Santa Claus Train Ride
will be held from 9: 45 a. m. to 1: 45 p. m. at the North Avenue Train Station. Free Trolley Rides will be set in downtown Westfield from 10: 30 a. m. to 4: 30 p. m. The Watson Highlanders Pipe Band will perform throughout town from 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. The Yuletide Carolers
will perform from 11: 30 a. m. to 12: 30 p. m. The Women’s Barbershop Quartet will perform from 1 to 3 p. m. throughout town. For more information, please call (908) 7899444 or (908) 2333021.
Crossroads in Garwood will welcome Sister Frenzy to the stage tonight, December 2; Doc Lawrence & The Blues Fix on December 3; Billy Hector on December 4 and Juggling Suns on December 8. A Jazz Jam will be held on December 7. For more information, please call (908) 2325666.
Union County Arts Center
will host a concert with Kathy Mattea on December 3. For more information, please call (732) 4998226.
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
By Michael S. Goldberger
Celebration Singers to Perform Holiday Concert in Cranford
CRANFORD — The Celebration Singers and the Celebration Children’s Choir will present their annual Holiday Concert on Friday, December 10, at 8 p. m. and on Saturday, December 11, at 3 p. m. and again at 8 p. m. at the Cranford United Methodist Church at the corner of Lincoln and Walnut Streets in Cranford. This year’s theme will be “Holiday Favorites.”
The first half of the concert will be a staged version of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” a oneact opera written in English by Gian Carlo Menotti.
“Amahl” tells the story of a poor, crippled shepherd boy living with his widowed mother who is visited by the Three Kings en route to Bethlehem. It tells of hardship, unselfish love and the triumph of goodness.
Deborah Eberts, a Westfield resident and member of the faculty of the New Jersey Workshop for the Arts in Westfield, will portray Amahl’s mother. Manny Gonzalez of Scotch Plains will play one of the Three Kings.
Featured in the concert’s second act will be a variety of traditional Christmas and Hanukkah selections, including “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” “A Jingle Bell Travelogue,” “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
A nonprofit community choral organization with 40 members, the Celebration Singers recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. The Children’s Choir is a tuitionfree ensemble which offers young people the chance to sing a variety of repertoires and to perform with an adult choir.
Tickets for the concert are $10 for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens and may be purchased in advance from any cast or chorus member or at the door the night of the concert.
Youngsters age 13 and under will be admitted for free to the
Three or four beheadings into Sleepy Hollow, a harumscarum take on Washington Irving’s venerable tale of love, greed and mysticism into the Hudson Valley, one gets the feeling that perhaps director Tim Burton is working in the wrong film.
Piffle to the dozen or so decapitations he eventually oversees here. A movie about the French Revolution would have afforded him the opportunity to behead almost a whole social class. Well, maybe next time.
Meanwhile, Burton makes do. What the filmmaker gives up in quantity, he makes up for in devotion to detail. Each artistically rendered toppingoff is more gruesome and terrifying than the last. In every instance, the rolling heads screech to an inyourface, centerscreen stare – the victim’s obscene look of horror confirming the obvious.
Think about it, though: Is perfection in this surgical specialty a worthy pursuit for a director of Mr. Burton’s caliber? And more importantly, is the end product worthy of our moviegoing time?
The short answer to both questions is an unmitigated “no.” But, the pity is, just like Terry Malloy (Marlin Brando) in On the Waterfront (1954), Sleepy Hollow “coulda been sumpin.” It “coulda been a contenduh.”
Arrogantly dismissing everything but the bare bone basics of the original tale, this rewrite by Andrew Kevin Walker makes the fatal mistake of confusing modernization for interpretation.
Pandering to what is perceived as the gust populi, he takes the easy way out. It is a shortsighted oversimplification of the artistic process, obviously meant to cash in on the current sliceanddice craze.
But, our higher instincts have to believe that a proper reworking of this classic legend that has survived in the national psyche for over 150 years had an essence worth tapping into. That there exists a deepseated animus which would not only do the work proud, but, ideally, also find a bigger and better audience than this Philistine version attracts.
Unfortunately, while the risktaking director has almost always displayed his uniquely bizarre sense of the macabre (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), ruminations here are run of the mill. Though, Sleepy Hollow has the trademark hue and trappings of a Burtonesque traipse through the highly imaginative nether world of the mind, the substance beneath the shell doesn’t match.
Likewise, something’s amiss in the characterization department. Heretofore, as either director or producer, Mr. Burton has rarely failed to infatuate via his pantheon on ghoulish and ghostly stick figures (The Nightmare Before Christmas) or his darkly drawn cartoonish beings (Batman, Batman Returns). Yet, when the screenplay calls for the sort of real humans that populate Washington Irving’s semimythic saga, he seems at a loss.
In this rendition, when the head count begins soaring in the Sleepy Hollow of 1799, just two days ride north of New York City, Knickerbocker detective Ichabod Crane is sent to find out why.
Portrayed by Johnny Depp in an assignment that seems to allude him, the scientific sleuth arrives with all manner of investigatory contraptions. Informing that some of the gumshoeing gizmos are of his own invention, the brighteyed bloodhound is painted as the spirit of the next century, a rational humanist with a quirky touch of whimsy.
A sharp contrast to the superstitionsteeped old burghers (all wonderfully cast) who run the village, he is hesitant to believe that Sleepy Hollow’s population is being decimated by, of all things, the headless ghost of a Hessian soldier out for revenge. He surmises that the citizenry shares a guilty secret. But what?
Of course, this earliest of American city slickers is in for a countrystyle education. And along the way, he falls head over heels for Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), daughter of Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), the hamlet’s wealthiest citizen.
As the Dutch damsel is for all intents and purposes betrothed to town heartthrob Brom Van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), this makes for a love triangle which is unenthusiastically mixed in with the greater convolutions at hand.
None of these relationships is terribly convincing, nor very interesting for that matter. And Miss Ricci, though looking like the American Girl Doll representing the era in question, fails to excite as the story’s romantic prize.
However, the exquisite cinematography combined with fantastic art direction functions like a time machine, magically transporting viewers back to the quaint but foreboding land where the Headless Horseman perpetrates his reign of terror. Sadly, a neither fish nor fowl script fails to jibe with the visual accouterments.
Depp is the outsider, the stranger, the sociologically divergent moral center come to bring reason to the misbehaving folk in the hinterlands, a la Spencer Tracy’s onearmed shamus in Bad Day At Black Rock (1955). There is promise. He reminds at first of a young Charlie Chan crossed with a rookie Sherlock Holmes.
But, when the plot can’t decide if it’s a gothic romance, a detective tale or a monster movie, Mr. Depp’s character sympathetically disintegrates into an equally uncertain entity. As the star of Ed Wood (1994) and Donnie Brasco (1997) is among this column’s favorite young actors, the thespic flub is here noted with a heavy heart. The rest of the film’s performances, though not without their colorful moments, are primarily window dressing.
All that remains is the gristle and gore. And though a piker compared to the mayhem Freddy Krueger usually manages to accomplish in this featurelength time, you might as well call this The Headless Horseman Meets Nightmare on Elm Street. With all of those decapitations and no strong focus at its core, Sleepy Hollow is left with very little to hang its hat on.
* * * * * * * * *
Sleepy Hollow, rated R, is a Paramount Pictures release directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Miranda Richardson. Running time: 110 minutes.
Special ‘Harry Potter’ Book Discussion Slated
At Fanwood Library
FANWOOD – Fanwood Memorial Library will conduct a book discussion on “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling on Thursday, December 9, at 7: 30 p. m.
Please read the book before attending in order to participate in the discussion. Copies of the book are available at the library.
For more information, please call the library at (908) 3226400.
Westfield Glee Club Honored At Arts, Humanities Reception
GIVEN WITH GLEE… Phyllis Brocimer, a member of the Cultural and Heritage Advisory Board, presented the confirmation of a 1999 HEART (History, Education, Art Reaching Thousands) Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders to Dale Juntilla, a member of the Glee Club. The club will conduct its Winter Concerts on Saturday, December 11, at 8 p. m. and Sunday, December 12, at 4 p. m.
WESTFIELD – The Westfield Glee Club was one of the arts organizations honored recently at the Arts and Humanities Reception held at the NUI Liberty Hall Center in Union.
The reception, which celebrated October as National Arts and Humanities Month and sponsored by the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, featured
a gathering of several arts, cultural, historical and heritage organizations throughout the county. Phyllis Brocimer, a member of
the Cultural and Heritage Advisory Board, presented the confirmation of a 1999 HEART (History, Education, Art Reaching Thousands) Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders to Dale Juntilla, a member of the Glee Club.
The Glee Club Project covers the commission of new music by composer Matthew Sklar, the winner
of the 1991 Westfield Glee Club Scholarship Award. Mr. Sklar is now a conductor of Broadway shows and an active composer.
Winter concerts will be performed on Saturday, December 11, at 8 p. m. at Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield and on Sunday, December 12, at 4 p. m. at the First Congregational Church in Westfield.
Tickets are available at the Music Staff in Westfield and at the door for a donation of $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens.
For more information, please call Mr. Juntilla at (908) 2320673.
Fanwood’s S. Allyn Schaeffer To Exhibit at Swain Galleries
S. Allyn Schaeffer
FANWOOD – S. Allyn Schaeffer, a Fanwood resident, will exhibit his oil paintings at the annual multimedia exhibit entitled, “Christmas Miniatures” from Sunday, December 5, to Friday, December 31, at Swain Galleries in Plainfield.
Seventeen artists from New Jersey will exhibit watercolors, pen and
Angel Songs Holiday Concert On Tap at Calvary Lutheran
CRANFORD – The Calvary Concert Series will present three area children’s choirs on Sunday, December 5, at 4 p. m. in a gift of seasonal holiday music for the public, entitled “Angel Songs.”
The concert will be presented at Calvary Lutheran Church in Cranford.
The children’s choirs from St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Parsippany, Trinity Episcopal Church in Woodbridge and Calvary Church will perform individually and join together to present “Calling All Angels” by Helen Kemp. Over 35 youngsters will perform.
Tickets for the concert are $10 for adults and $7.50 for senior citizens, students with identification and children. Tickets may be purchased by calling Calvary Lutheran Church at (908) 2762418. Tickets will also be sold at the door on a spaceavailable basis.
The next Calvary Concert Series program will be “Duets and Love
Songs,” presented by Fred Miller and Susan Whitenack on Sunday, February 6.
For more information about the concert series or to request a brochure, please call Calvary Lutheran Church.
LIFT YOUR VOICES... The Celebration Singers and the Celebration Children’s Choir will present their annual Holiday Concert on Friday, December 10, at 8 p. m. and on Saturday, December 11, at 3 p. m. and again at 8 p. m. at the Cranford United Methodist Church at the corner of Lincoln and Walnut Streets in Cranford. This year’s theme will be “Holiday Favorites.” Pictured above, the Celebration Singers perform in a spring concert held last June.
Tiny Tim Caroling Fund Scheduled for December 13
SCOTCH PLAINS – The Annual Tiny Tim Caroling Fund Drive has been scheduled for Monday, December 13, from 4 to 9 p. m.
Carolers will travel from house to house, singing Christmas Carols and will conclude their program at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Scotch Plains.
To join in the caroling, please call Mari McDevitt at (908) 2336513 or Anne O’Brien at (908)
7563079. Tiny Tim provides financial assistance to Scotch Plains and Fanwood children who need medical care and cannot afford it.
Contributions may be made directly to The Tiny Tim Fund, P. O. Box 181, Fanwood, 07023.
FANWOOD VIOLINIST… David S. Hilton of Fanwood will present a senior violin recital on Sunday, December 5, at 8 p. m. at Montclair State University, McEachern Music Building, Recital Hall, Room No. 15. David is a graduate of the private violin class of Stephen Wolosonovich, where he studied for five years. At Montclair State, David is a student of Oscar Ravina of the New York Philharmonic. His program will include works by Mozart, Bach and Copland. The public is invited free of charge. Upon graduation, David will be a violin teacher. For more information, please call (973) 6554743.
ink, pastels, calligraphy and acrylic works in the event.
The exhibit will open with a reception on December 5 from 2 to 4 p. m. The gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, 9: 30 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m., Saturdays from 9: 30 a. m. to 4 p. m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p. m.
For more information, please call (908) 7561707.
Looking for Local Stars?
Saturday matinee if accompanied by a paying adult. For further information, please call (908) 2418200.
Senior Group Plans Trip to See ‘Ballyhoo’
At Forum Theatre
SCOTCH PLAINS — The Scotch Plains Senior Citizen Advisory Committee will sponsor a trip to the Forum Theatre in Metuchen on Saturday, December 4, for an 8 p. m. performance of The Last Night of Ballyhoo.
Alfred Uhry’s Tonyaward winning play centers on the Freitag family’s efforts to find the right dates for Ballyhoo – the social event of the season – while the rest of the country is swept up in the excitement of the gala premiere of Gone With the Wind
in Atlanta. The cost is $25 for residents and $27 for nonresidents. The bus will leave from Green Forest Park at 7 p. m. and return immediately after the performance.
Interested individuals are asked to register for the trip as soon as possible at the Scotch Plains Recreation Office in the Municipal Building, 430 Park Avenue.
For further information, please call (908) 3226700.
String Quartet Slates December 5 Concert At St. Paul’s Episcopal
WESTFIELD – Friends of Music at St. Paul’s Episcopal will present The Elements String Quartet in concert on Sunday, December 5, at 4 p. m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on East Broad Street.
Trained by members of the Tokyo, Julliard, Cleveland and LaSalle Quartets, the p r o gram will include works by Bach, Mozart, Glazounov and holiday selections.
Members of the Quartet include violinists Kyoko Kashiwagi and Evan Mirapaul, violist Brett Deubner and cellist Peter Seidenberg.
The public is invited to attend. There is no charge for admission. For more information, please contact Charles Banks at (908) 2328506, Extension No. 17.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)