“Didn’t we just do this?” joked Two River Theater Company founder Robert Rechnitz, as he stepped up to the podium in the sleek auditorium named for his wife Joan and himself. The TRTC founder joined artistic director John Dias, managing director Michael Hurst and special guests on Monday evening, for an event that’s become a much-anticipated ritual in Red Bank — the unveiling of the upcoming season at Two River’s branded Bridge Avenue arts center.
Spanning centuries-old classics and modern milestones from both sides of the Atlantic — and fulfilling its stated mission of “leading, not following public taste,” with an unprecedented three world premieres — the 2014-2015 slate of mainstage productions stands as one of the company’s most ambitious yet; a schedule that had Rechnitz praising the acclaimed regional theater as “a school, slyly disguised as a place of entertainment…we want to fill the place, but on our terms, and yours.”
Take it just around the corner, for the details on the season that kicks off on September 13.
The School for Wives (September 13 – October 15, 2014). The 1662 farce by French master Moliere — a sharply comic rumination on love and marriage, told in verse — is back in a translation by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Richard Wilbur. Broadway star Michael Cumpsty, who returns to Two River as director of the forthcoming Third, performed selections from the script which will be helmed by the acclaimed Mark Wing-Davey (who, as actor, is best known for his turns as Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
Camelot (November 15 – December 14, 2014). The Lerner and Loewe musicalization of T.H. White’s King Arthur novel The Once and Future King becomes Two River’s first foray into a big and fully staged Broadway tunefest. Director and Frasier co-creator David Lee (TRTC’s Present Laughter) promises a treatment that will reclaim the story’s youthful energy from the long-held perception of Arthur as middle-aged monarch — while singer Michael Lowney (just named to People magazine’s list of Sexiest Singles) captivated the crowd with his rendition of “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (December 19-22, 2014). The best known stories of the brilliant children’s author Eric Carle come to life in a one-weekend staging by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia; a show for the youngest of young theatergoers, that TRTC education director Kate Cordero called “wonderful, clever, funny and heartfelt.”
Absurd Person Singular (January 10 – February 1, 2015). One of the best known plays by the award winning British master Alan Ayckbourn — a study of two couples that follows TRTC’s My Wonderful Day from 2012 — arrives in a new staging by comedian turned director Jessica Stone.
Guadalupe and the Guest Room (February 14 – March 5, 2015). Two River’s Marion Huber “black box” space is the setting for this “gentle, loving, human” world premiere play by Tony Meneses — in which a Mexican woman’s daughter’s sudden death leaves the mother struggling to connect with her American son in law; looking past the cultural and language barriers to find common interest in the most unexpected places. Daniella Topol (TRTC’s Wind in the Willows Christmas) directs.
Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine (April 11 – May 3, 2015). Actor, director, writer and Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (who brought two of August Wilson’s dramas to the Red Bank stage) returns, this time at the helm of his own original, world premiere script — a character study of an African American man with a past, and a white woman with an Upper West Side address.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (April 23 – May 1, 2015). The program called A Little Shakespeare — in which a cast of teen actors from area high schools perform an abbreviated version of a classic from the quill of the Bard —returns to the Huber space for a spirited workout on Shakespeare’s most kinetic comedy.
Be More Chill (May 30 – June 21, 2015). The TRTC schedule extends right up to summer’s doorstep, with a season-closing world premiere musical developed in cahoots with the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University. Based on a humorous novel by wunderkind author Ned Vizzini, the show featuring songs by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz looks at what happens to kids in a New Jersey high school, when a newly invented supercomputer pill transforms former underdogs into the Cool Kids.
Check the Two River website for updated info on season subscriptions and individual tickets to shows in the 2014-2015 — and take it here for tickets to Third, about which more to come here on redbankgreen.