WEEKEND: THE GREENHOUSE HEATS UP

Home-Free-Colder-Weather-The-Sing-Off-VideoAbove: The champion vocalists from the NBC show THE SING-OFF come to Red Bank for two Friday night shows…while below, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ben E. King is the “Stand By Me” special guest, during a Saturday benefit concert at Red Bank Regional HS. 

ben-e-king-1337080315-view-0Friday, February 21:

RED BANK: Time was, a hidebound rule of show business stated that people would never pay to attend a live version of something they could see for free on TV each week — but nowhere has that been disproved more than the Count Basie Theatre, the venerable venue that’s regularly booked sold-out events starring some of the most fervently followed singers, comics, emcees, psychics, ghost hunters, dog whisperers, cake bosses and skinnygirls this side of the flat screen. Tonight, the Basie adds another hi-def highlight to the mix, as they host the first-ever touring edition of the hit NBC talent contest The Sing-Off. Home Free, the winners of this past season’s a capella competition, headline a program that also features fellow finalists Voiceplay and The Filharmonics — with a special guest performance by The Princeton University Footnotes. It’s a chance for fans to “be up close and personal with their favorite groups as they perform with no instruments and voices only” — and response has been such that they’ve added a second, earlier show (5:15 pm) to the 8 pm main event. Tickets ($29.50 – $69.50) can be reserved right here.

JoshJoyNashville Number-One-Son Josh Turner and VIEW vixen Joy Behar give their regards to the Count, with evening shows at the Basie on Saturday and Sunday. 

NAVESINK: It’s not exactly what you’d call a “feel-good” play — in fact, it’s being pitched as “not really suitable for children” — but when the community troupe Stone Church Players reconvene at All Saints’ Memorial Church (the historic “Old Stone Church” at the crossroads of Navesink and Monmouth Avenues), they’ll be putting forth a drama (on the subjects of mental health, relationships and personal choice) that was powerful enough to earn a Pulitzer. Seen on Broadway in the early 1980s (with Kathy Bates in a career-making turn), Marsha Norman’s ’Night, Mother is a duet between an aging widow, and the grown daughter who has moved back into her home — a divorced, depressed, and disabled woman who announces at the play’s outset that she intends to end her own life. Performances are this weekend only; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, as well as Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets ($10; half price for seniors) can be reserved by calling (732)291-0214.

NAVESINK: It’s the final weekend for the Monmouth Players production of Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound, as the Players press on ever deeper into their “Season of Simon” with the third installment of the celebrated playwright’s autobiographical “Eugene Trilogy” — 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 22:

LITTLE SILVER: No matter how viciously vortex-y it gets out there in February, the greenhouse at Sickles Market has always been a warm and welcoming place to beckon one in from the cold. This Saturday and Sunday, a February tradition continues between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm during the annual Artist Weekend. It’s the event in which some dozen local painters, sculptors and crafters showcase their handiwork in a friendly setting that heralds the imminence of the warmer weather to come, with all proceeds from art sales going directly to the artists. Forget Punxsatawney Phil and his ilk — this is the calendar happening that truly points the way past winter’s icy hump.

MIDDLETOWN: The monthly series of Saturday afternoon concerts at Red Bank’s Monmouth Conservatory Of Music resumes with a 4 pm visit from master harpsichordist and composer Timothy Broege — and if your familiarity with the not-commonly-encountered instrument goes no further than Lurch’s parlor recitals on the old Addams Family series, the harpsichord prowess of the Bradley Beach-based Broege (who’s also played piano in the jazz trio led by Red Bank native John Gronert) make this a primer not to be missed. Add to that the Conservatory’s White Street location in the heart of the downtown experience, and you literally can’t miss it ($20 suggested donation; free for under age 18).

RED BANK: He was the proud poppa of what’s been branded the Most Played Song of 2010 — a little old Number One hit by the name of “Why Don’t We Just Dance” — but if you want to know what Josh Turner has done for us lately, take it down to the Count, where the serial Nashville hitmaker makes a Basie bow at 8 pm, in a show presented by Thunder 106.5 radio. Still touring hot and heavy behind his celebrated 2012 album Punching Bag, Turner brings his leading-man looks and surefire showman skills to the top of a bill that further features the Red Bank return of Liv Devine. Tickets ($29-$89) gettable right here.

LINCROFT: You may have likened your own school days to an “Orwellian” experience at some point — but you haven’t truly known 1984 until you’ve viewed it through the eyes of a cast that hadn’t even been born yet in that actual year of Macintosh and MTV. George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel receives a theatrical staging by the students of the Theater program at Brookdale Community College, with the final two performances (Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm) taking place inside the Performing Arts Center — and tickets quite popularly priced at $5 per.

RED BANK: At 8 pm, it’s the first of several preview performances for the Two River Theater Company production of Pinkolandia, playwright Andrea Thome’s tale of two Chilean sisters — living with their family in 1980s Wisconsin — who find their place within a private country of their own devising, even as their parents struggle with their own place in the American Dreamscape. Take it here for tickets to the show that opens on February 28 — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on this and other upcoming offerings from TRTC.

Sunday, February 23:

LITTLE SILVER: Alright kids; it’s your grandparents’ music — maybe even your great-grandparents — but when Ben E. King takes the auditorium stage at Red Bank Regional High School, the great R&B crooner brings a portfolio of exhilarating, awe-inspiring hits (“Stand By Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” and Drifters classics like “Save the Last Dance for Me”) that almost transcend time and place. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer goes back to school as the special guest of Tim McLoone & the Shirleys, during a benefit concert for the Red Bank Regional School District, presented by the Red Bank Regional Education Foundation. The Jazz Band from Little Silver’s Markham Place School also performs on the 3 pm program, for which reserved “King Circle” seating is available for $40. Reserve regular admissions ($20 adults; $10 for seniors, students or staff) right here.

RED BANK: Years of near-daily network TV exposure served neither to dull Joy Behar‘s standup comedy edge, or her desire to keep those skills honed before theater-size audiences. The veteran talk show personality, author, and comedy queenpin returns to the Count Basie Theatre in a 7 pm show for which the top ticket also includes a meet ‘n greet with the star. Reserve ‘em ($25-$79) right here.

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