WEEKEND: RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY

MusicManGroup_718x370The cast of THE MUSIC MAN brings the Broadway evergreen to ‘Two River City’ for five concert-style performances this weekend. Below, Jersey music Jedi master Glen Burtnik leads an all-Shore team of guests to the Basie stage on Saturday, for a SUMMER OF LOVE salute to the sounds of the original Woodstock festival. (Above photo courtesy NJPAC)

Friday, March 14:

glenburtnik-4-kurdzukjpg-907ec69606a7eef9RED BANK: “Seventy Six Trombones.” “Marian the Librarian.” “Til There Was You.” “Ya Got Trouble” (right here in River City). If you’ve seen but one golden-age Broadway classic performed by a class of drama-club kids, a community of earnest amateurs or a summer-stock touring troupe, it was probably The Music Man, the 1957 Tony winner in which traveling con man Professor Harold Hill brings an outlandish scheme — and, in the process, a healthy dose of life, love, laughter and music — to the stodgy folk of a circa-1912 Iowa small town. What you probably haven’t seen is a Music Man brought to you by an African American cast and director — and this weekend, Two River Theater Company offers up five chances to catch a talent-packed production that’s being presented in cahoots with Newark’s NJ Performing Arts Center.

picture-5The distinctive Red Bank visions of artist Mike Quon come to the banks of the Navesink for a Friday night opening

“It’s Meredith Willson’s show all the way,” explains director Robert O’Hara about the show that’s being presented concert style (with onstage six-piece band, and limited costumes and props) for five performances this weekend. “this is not a different version…it’s simply a classic American musical that I’ve always been a huge fan of. The townspeople still have Irish names…hey, I have an Irish name…and accents.”

In the Two River staging, River City is envisioned as a place not unlike the sort of communities established by former slaves in the years following the Civil War. Isaiah Johnson tops the twelve-actor cast as the charismatic con artist, with Stephanie Umoh as piano teacher Marian Paroo, and supporting players that include Myra Lucretia Taylor, seen recently to fine comic effect in TRTC’s As You Like It. The show, which opened last night, continues in Red Bank on Friday (8 pm), Saturday (3 and 8 pm) and Sunday (3 and 7 pm), before heading up to NJPAC for four performances between March 21-23. Take it here for tickets — and take it around the corner for more doings these days and nights, right here in Two River City.

RED BANK: The son of a golden-age Disney animator and a student of Pop Art mover and shaker Ed Ruscha, graphic designer and illustrator Mike Quon has forged a strong brand that spans the MadMan world of advertising and the no less insane world of fine art. His ecstatically bold brushwork illustrations and logos have been seen everywhere from Times Square and downtown Tokyo to the Sydney Olympics and the US Air Force Art Collection —— and his subjects have ranged from the Guggenheim Museum and the Italian Alps, to the Red Bank Train Station and downtown Broad Street. Beginning with a reception tonight from 7 to 9 pm, the artist’s latest visions of “Red Bank landmarks, streetscapes and favorite locations” are on display at The Oyster Point Hotel, in an exhibit of “dynamic and colorful new paintings on canvas, watercolors, works on paper, mixed media, collage and drawings.” Call (732)530-8200 for more info.

LINCROFT: It’s a challenge for sure: take just 24 hours to write a short skit or one-act play, build the set, rehearse the lines, and perform it in front of an audience. And tonight from 7 to 10 pm, it’s a challenge taken up by the students of the Theater Club and Creative Writing Club at Brookdale Community College, as the Theater 24 project takes the stage of BCC’s Performing Arts Center, with the results on display and free of charge to the public. Take it here for more info.

RED BANK: The most anticipated St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the greater Green may have marched last weekend, but here on the cusp of the big day, the Count Basie Theatre welcomes a visit by the touring company of Irish dancers and musicians known as Celtic Nights, who return with their new epic 2.5 hour production The Emigrant’s Bridge — a “stirring tale of a people’s struggle to find their place in the world” that “effortlessly intertwines beautiful ballads, striking choreography, and a compelling storyline to form a vivid link with Celtic heritage.” Tickets ($25 – $45) can be reserved right here.

Saturday, March 8:

LITTLE SILVER: The volunteer fire company hosts its St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Little Silver Firehouse from 3 to 10 p.m. Featuring traditional Irish fare, an open bar, children’s activities and live music by Paddy and the Pale Boys.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $45 per adult or $55 at the door, $10 per teenager (13-20), and children 12 and under are free. Advance tickets are available here via PayPal or credit card, or by contacting Marty Screen at mscreen11@gmail.com

RUMSON: It’s been called “the most enjoyable of all Jewish holidays” — Purim, a festival that’s as much about costumes, silliness and noisemakers as it is family gatherings, synagogue service and giving tzedakah to neighbors in need. Beginning Saturday evening, Congregation B’nai Israel keynotes a “Purimpalooza” that begins with a 7:30 pm Purim Service and Megillah Reading. Sunday morning sees a day of family-friendly events that include the annual Purim Carnival (boasting rides, games, face painting, snacks, prizes, gift auction and magical entertainment), and even something called a “Despicable Purim Family Service.” Find all the details in a feature story here, on redbankgreen‘s All Good section.

RED BANK: Whether you’re too young to have experienced the original Woodstock Art and Music Festival… or you stayed home that weekend and caught Led Zeppelin in Asbury Park… or you were actually there and still managed to miss it, the Count Basie Theatre offers up one more chance to take it all in, minus all the rain, mud, blood, breakdowns, backed-up toilets and thruway jams.

A sequel to the successful series of tribute shows led by Brunswick-bred, Asbury-based singer/ songwriter/ impresario Glen Burtnik, the Summer of Love Concert IV finds the veteran of Beatlemania, Styx and the 21st century successor to the Electric Light Orchestra conducting an allstar/ All-Shore team of guest musicians commemorating the 45th anniversary year of those days on Yasgur’s farm. Expect to hear on-the-money, you-are-there recreations of music by Santana, Richie Havens, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, John Sebastian, The Who, Sly and The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Sha-Na-Na, Canned Heat, Country Joe and The Fish, Joe Cocker, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Arlo Guthrie — as well as late 60s stuff from the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Rascals, Procol Harum, The Doors, Scott McKenzie, The Zombies, The Turtles, The Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Melanie, Otis Redding, plus “other music and video surprises.” Tickets ($20 – $99) can be reserved right here.

Sunday, March 16:

RED BANK: Talk about thinking outside the box, or in this case the bottle. While wine and cheese have been an inseparable pair for as long as anyone can recall, we have it on good authority that this Sunday evening, CHEESE will slip away to the Molly Pitcher Inn for a fling with a new and ever more popular partner — BEER, as repped by Bernard Johnson of Quebec-based brewery Unibroue (“the first North American beer maker to use a brewing method inspired by the two-centuries-old tradition developed by Trappist monks in Europe — particularly in Belgium”). Stephen Catania of Red Bank’s own Cheese Cave hosts a guided tour of Beer and Cheese pairings, followed by a themed inspired dinner by Molly Pitcher Executive Chef Bill Roll. Call (732)747-2500 to reserve a place at the 5 pm event ($65 plus tax and gratuity), and to find out more about a special discounted room rate from the Molly.

RED BANK: In the latest edition of the free Tower Hill Concert Series at First Presbyterian (Tower Hill) Church of Red Bank, director of music ministries Adam Peithmann conducts the assembled voices of the Oratorio Choir — an organization featuring singers from a variety of central NJ churches and community choruses — in the annual presentation of a major classical work. Spotlighted in the 7 pm program will be Joseph Haydn’s dramatic, fiery and triumphant Mass for Troubled Times (aka the “Lord Nelson Mass”). A free-will offering will be taken to benefit the church’s local and international mission programs, including ongoing storm recovery assistance.

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