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First Night Brings 80+ Events to Morris County for New Year's Eve

Dec. 31 event offers a family-friendly celebration featuring music, dance, theater, comedy in more than 25 venues.

First Night Morris, the county's Dec. 31 alcohol-free celebration of the arts, is back to ring in 2014 with over 200 artists and more than 80 cultural events for the whole family in 25 venues.

For its 22 years of existence, Morris Arts has served as First Night’s artistic 
programmer, securing top-flight talents who attract thousands of people from throughout the state and beyond.  Nearly two-thirds of the program features new artists and artists returning after several years, many of whom have performed at major venues such as the White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden; have won recognition including Grammy awards and MacArthur “genius” grants; and have worked on television or films and with worldwide performing arts.

The music will encompass a variety of genres. 

On the jazz/rock front, you can hear rock star and Grammy winner John Ginty’s Band and a star-studded jazz lineup including guitar legends Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo and Gene Bertoncini. Enjoy gypsy jazz with “Boardwalk Empire“ clarinetist Dan Levinson and classic jazz with the “Bishop of Jazz,” pianist Rio Clemente.

If you're a musical fusion fan, catch Matuto’s unique mix of bluegrass and Brazilian sounds and groove with R&B keyboardist (and Yankee Stadium organist) Ed Alstrom, harmonica virtuoso Rob Paparozzi 
(of Blood Sweat & Tears, The Blues Brothers Band), the Cobra Brothers blues band and the blues kazoo stylings of the Philadelphia Jug Band. Or dig David Glukh’s virtuosic International Ensemble and its fusion of klezmer and Eastern European.

Music from the good old USA is celebrated when First Night pays homage to folk masters like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger through the Americana performance of troubadour Spook Handy.

Do world cultures intrigue you? Sample Chinese Theatre Works' Shadow Puppet show and BALAM’s performances of Balinese, Spanish and Baroque dancing. Barynya’s French Can-Can and Roma Gypsy will show off their fancy footwork, and feel the heat from the Conroy Warren Trio’s Caribbean music, Mariachi Citlalli of Mexico and Colombia’s steamy Salsaoco dancers.

Meet “President Abraham Lincoln,” composer “Franz Schubert” or “Nat Love,(a.k.a. Deadwood Dick),” a 19th century African-American cowboy! Love “Downton Abbey”? Learn the Minuet with In Good Company or enjoy 
Renaissance court music played on replica period instruments by the costumed Early Music Players of New Jersey.
 
Kids will delight in Dinoman’s Dinosaurs (with lifesize inflatable dinosaurs), Rizzo’s live reptile show, the Gizmo Guys comedy juggling act, illusionist Benjamin Lipman’s comedy magic, and Mr. Fish’s superb circus skills 
in knife throwing and bullwhips. This year’s new early session for younger children also features StoryFaces, where stories come to life through face painting, and Art 4 Kids, with fine artist Christine Wagner and Imagination LEGO! (building with LEGOS). The Children’s Fun Festival promises its lively mix of magic, juggling, costumed characters, mask making, balloon animals and face painting.

Feeling adventurous? Have Mentalist Marshal Manlove read your mind or experience the “alien” music of Kip Rosser on the theremin, the only instrument played without being touched.

First Night also gives you the chance to laugh your way into the New Year. Comedian Brad Trackman and Tom Lehrer-style musical satirist John Forster will perform, as will George Esparza’s new winter Flea Circus.
“Tap” your inner Terpsichore with NJ Tap Ensemble soloists, Maurice 

Two visual arts exhibits displaying collectively more than 200 works and two sets of fireworks top off the night.

To check out the full lineup of artists, visit the First Night website.

Tickets for First Night Morris are $20 per person or $17.50 each for four or more until Dec. 22 (when the price will rise). Admission covers all First Night events and a free shuttle will take you to all venues (all events are indoors).

For more info, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, call 973-455-0708.

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