WEEKEND: 60 MORE HOURS OF WINTER FUN

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Above: A cast of local high school students brings A LITTLE SHAKESPEARE: AS YOU LIKE IT to young theatergoers at Two River…while below, Ms. Lauryn Hill appears to have cancelled her (already previously rescheduled) Homecoming appearance at the Count Basie. (cast photo by Ozzie Rodriguez)

laurynFriday, February 7:

RED BANK: If we’ve learned anything from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it’s that springtime comes in turn to even the bleakest of wintry landscapes. So, with that warming thought in mind — well, that and the caveat that all events described herein are subject to change due to “no enemy but winter and rough weather” — we sally forth once more, where no groundhog dare tread.

While Two River Theater Company carries on with its vibrant and tuneful mainstage production of the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy, a talented troupe of high school performers have put together an intriguing bonus feature inside TRTC’s “black box” Marion Huber space. Adapted and directed by Jason McDowell-Green, A Little Shakespeare: As You Like It is a 75-minute version of the play, aimed at audiences age 9 and up, and designed “to fulfill the not-so-secret grand ambition of Artistic Director John Dias: to have some Shakespeare resonating in every corner of our theater, and to get everyone in our community turned on to the thrill of his exquisite language.” Red Bank Regional students Alicia Moeller and Patrick Monaghan are the lovestruck leads Rosalind and Orlando — and they’re joined in the cast by fellow RBR actors Halle Butler, Raquel Diaz and Alyssa Rogers, plus Michaela Farrell of Red Bank Catholic, and student players from several other Monmouth County high schools. Public performances, for which the actors will also be performing a score of original music by Shanna Jones, are Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 12 and 4 pm. Take it here for tickets ($15) and bios of the cast members — or here for tickets to the grownup version of the show that continues this weekend through February 16. 

ClantonScott1950s rock ‘n rollers Jimmy Clanton (above) and Jack Scott (below) are still alive and well…and they’re coming to Red Bank as part of an early Valentine’s Doo Wop extravaganza at the Basie.

RED BANK: Her 1998 solo debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill earned her an instant place in the pop pantheon, a gripload of Grammys, and a high-bar of expectations that prompted a relative fade from the inner-circle spotlight — while recent headlines have focused on her 2013 prison stretch for tax evasion. With a new song called “Consumerism” launched into the holiday shopping season mix, Ms. Lauryn Hill made a public “Homecoming” with a slate of theater-scale shows at venues in the greater NYC area. It’s an “intimate” tour that was originally scheduled to take the former Fugee to the Count Basie Theatre as the sole Garden State stop on the Jersey-born Hill’s road itinerary — a setting “where she can once again live and breathe the art that has brought her to the forefront of our psyches, and has earned her place as being one of the most prolific and thought provoking artists of our time.” That December 22 engagement was abruptly rescheduled to tonight, February 7 — but then the unexpected has always been the norm for a star whose highly personal path has seen her challenge the industry establishment, the pop-media radiation field, her own steadfast fans, and the accepted routines of art and commerce. Tickets ($79 – $89, with a $200 VIP meet ‘n greet option) can be reserved right here — or receive ONE FREE TICKET if you’re among the first 200 attendees who bring three of these specified non-perishable food items as a donation to the borough-based nonprofit Lunch Break: Spaghetti sauce, pasta, macaroni & cheese, shelf-stable milk, cereal, canned fruit (in its own juices), beans, canned or boxed soup, ketchup, mustard, jelly, oatmeal, syrup, pancake mix, crackers. CANCELLED! Visit Count Basie Theatre on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

NAVESINK: Scheduling conflicts may have bollixed last month’s announced production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, but the venerable Monmouth Players press on ever deeper into their “Season of Simon” by fast-forwarding to the third installment of the celebrated playwright’s autobiographical “Eugene Trilogy” — Broadway Bound, in which Simon’s alter ego Eugene Jerome and his brother Stanley (the characters previously featured in Brighton Beach Memoirs) find their careers as comedy writers gaining momentum — even as domestic secrets threaten to tear apart their family home. The comedy and the drama are served up with the traditional spread of homemade desserts, inside the Players homestage at the newly re-energized Navesink Arts Center. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8:15 pm, plus 2 pm on Sunday; call (732)291-9211 for tickets ($18) — and take it here for a feature story regarding the rebirth of the historic Navesink Library, on redbankgreen.

Saturday, February 8:

FAIR HAVEN: Winter, for all its savage charms, has a quiet beauty all its own — and those of us who are appreciative of such things are invited to join naturalist-botanist Bill Shadel at Fair Haven Fields Natural Area at 10 am, for a Winter Ecology Walk/Talk that examines the seasonal landscape and its ongoing life processes. Call (732)747-0241 x219 for additional info on this free two-hour activity; meet in the Ridge Road parking lot — and please leave your dog at home.

LINCROFT: A February tradition continues with the annual Art Show and Sale fundraiser event at Christian Brothers Academy. It’s a chance to view and select from the work of numerous local creatives, and it runs between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, with an on-premises cafe serving lunch, snacks and beverages.

RED BANK: For February’s installment of the monthly series of River Read: Words by the Navesink poetry events at the Red Bank Public Library, hosts Linda Muhlhausen and Gregg G. Brown welcome a pair of special guests. Known locally as the director of the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College, award-winning poet Suzanne Parker reads from her new book Viral — an extended elegy for the late Rutgers student Tyler Clementi — and other works. She’s joined on the 2:30 pm program by David Briggs, a “quintessentially New Jersey poet” who’s “inspired by contemporary American culture in all its glory, its faults, and its deep peculiarity.”

RED BANK: The season for Cupid cards, candy kisses and cooing cocktails comes early to the Count Basie Theatre this year, as the annual Valentine Doo Wop show returns to Red Bank with some fresh (if nostalgically familiar) faces on board. New to the mix is Jack Scott, the Detroit-bred rockabilly specialist who’s equally at ease with the swagger of “The Way I Walk” as he is with the swoon of “What In the World’s Come Over You.” He’s joined by dimpled teen idol and occasional actor Jimmy Clanton (“Venus In Blue Jeans“) — once upon a time possessor of perhaps the most awesomely alien sci-fi hair in pop music — plus R&B exciters Bobby Lewis (“Tossin’ and Turnin’“), The Clovers (“Love Potion No 9“) and The Jarmels (“A Little Bit of Soap“), in addition to the streetcorner-soul valentine vocalizing of classic doowops The Mystics (“Hushabye“), Cleveland Still & the Dubs (“Could This Be Magic“), and Joe Grier & the Charts (“Deserie“). It all commences at 7:30 pm; take it here for tickets ($45-$60).

Sunday, February 9:

RED BANK: It’s Darwin Day! And what better way to celebrate the legacy of Charles Darwin than to join the Red Bank Humanists for a special edition of their monthly forum at Red Bank Charter School (58 Oakland Street) that convenes at 10:30 am. Guest speaker Ed Joyce (President, Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) leads a free and public discussion of the ongoing “Evolution Controversy and its Church/State Implications” that addresses many of the hot-button issues in American society — with a Q&A session following, and a complimentary Darwin Fish Cookie for all. Call (908)675-6686 for more info.

LITTLE SILVER: The greenhouse at Sickles Market is the sub-tropical scene, as the local landmark — which has successfully operated its own Sickles On the Road Tours — partners with Excel Travel to host the first ever Monmouth County Vacation Expo. Between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm, representatives from leading travel and tour companies (Big Five, Seabourn, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Islands in the Sun) set up shop amid the exotic plants and flowers to plan and book cruises, safaris, honeymoons, family reunions, destination weddings and culinary expeditions — with on-the-spot discounts, and even some tropical-inspired live music to help set the mood.

RED BANK: It’s All Beethoven, all Sunday afternoon, as conductor Roy D. Gussman and the borough-based Monmouth Symphony Orchestra continue their 66th season of quality concert experiences at the Count Basie Theatre. Guest pianist Beth Levin joins the MSO for Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5, “Emperor,” on a program that opens with the Overture to “Fidelio”, followed by Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6, familiar to generations of Fantasia fans. The 3 pm concert is preceded at 2:15 by a pre-show talk, with Levin interviewed by MSO’s bass trombonist and program annotator Tom Avakian. Reserve tickets ($35) here.

LINCROFT: The annual “Chairish the Museum” fundraising promotion at the Monmouth Museum concludes with a big Silent Auction Finale, inside the Main Gallery at the Museum (adjacent to the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Brookdale Community College). Between the hours of 4 to 5:30 pm, guests can enjoy libations and light fare as they place their bids on this year’s collection of rescued/ salvaged chairs, mirrors, lamps, trays, tables, and vases that have been transformed into “works of art that are both sculptural and utilitarian” for the benefit of the Museum’s art and educational programs. It’s a one-of-a-kind project that’s seen the likes of Queen Latifah, Rachel Ray, Ralph Nader and others custom-decorate (or at least autograph) some of the entries in past editions — and tickets ($10 per person) or further information can be yours by calling (732)747-2266 x 5.

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