RED BANK: OGRE ACHIEVERS AND MORE

JustinManciniMichaelRandazzaBobMiraJohnMaschioAbove: The cast of LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR brings the Monmouth Players’ “Season of Simon” to a rollicking close in Navesink…while below, SHREK: THE MUSICAL kicks off the 2014 slate of shows from Red Bank’s Phoenix Productions at the Count Basie.

Fiona-ShrekWhen the borough-based Phoenix Productions returns to the Count Basie Theatre this weekend, it’ll be kicking off its 2014 season of musical entertainments at the venerable venue — a local tradition that has seen the 25-year old Phoenix company up the ante considerably in terms of production values. Beginning Friday, April 25, the community stage troupe will be commandeering the Basie boards for six performances of a family favorite that’s as recently minted as it is minty green: Shrek the Musical, the stage adaptation of William Steig’s children’s book characters (and more to the point, the even more popular Dreamworks animated films). Jay Giberson stars as the unseemly ogre (and unlikely hero), with Carly Nelson as feisty Fiona, Aaron Lee Battle as wisecracking sidekick Donkey, and Anthony Preuster as Lord Farquaad, the bad guy with a ‘short’ temper. The show under the direction of Rick Joyce continues for two weekends, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm, through May 4. Tickets are priced between $20 – $32, and can be reserved right here, with tix also on sale for the upcoming Phoenix stagings of Grease and The Sound of Music.

hatchedThe Treehouse Shakers bring HATCHED: LIFE ON THE FARM, their interactive theatrical experience for young audiences, to the stage of Two River Theater for three Saturday performances.

Although their ambitious “Season of Simon” — the maiden voyage for their newly re-energized Navesink Arts Center — took its share of lumps from schedule conflicts and the peskiest winter in recent memory, the Monmouth Players conclude the 2013-2014 slate with a return engagement of a favorite from seasons past, Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Continuing Doc Simon’s semi-autobiographical excursion into his professional past, the 1993 comedy uses the playwright’s experiences as a staff writer for the late TV kingpin Sid Caesar to craft a cohesive framework for personal dynamics and a plethora of gags. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:15 pm (Sunday’s matinee is sold out) — and the show continues (with that justifiably famous spread of homemade desserts) through May 3. 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.

While the dynamite Two River Theater Company production of Trouble in Mind enters its final weekend (catch our review here on redbankgreen), TRTC’s branded Bridge Avenue artspace plays host on Saturday to the Treehouse Shakers Dance & Theatre Company, with an interactive production for the youngest of young theatergoers, ages 2 to 6. Described as a movement piece that uses puppets and minimal dialogue, Hatched: Life on the Farm engages the imagination in its portrayal of hatchling chicks, a wobbly calf, baby birds, and other barnyard animals, as they all explore their new world. The troupe offers up three performances (10 am, 1:30 and 4 pm); take it here for schedule details and tickets ($15 ages 2 to 6; $20 adults and older kids).