RED BANK: STEWART CREW COMING TO TOWN

jon-stewart-1-121612-2Whether or not Jon Stewart, seen above at a Basie event in 2012, shows up Thursday, his collaborators, and satirical spirit, will be in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Basie academy 062216Though he’s cultivated a grey beard since backing away from his desk at The Daily Show 16 months ago, Jon Stewart hasn’t exactly adopted a hermit-like existence.

He’s made memorable appearances on the programs of former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. He’s been busy with his wife, Tracey, in establishing a new home for rescued farm animals. A new book titled “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests,” has rekindled interest in his legacy. Oh, and he signed a four-year contract with HBO that had media observers salivating over the possibilities.

While Stewart’s still-untitled HBO project is said to be readying for debut by March, a live audience on the Greater Red Bank Green is slated to get an advance taste Thursday night, when the Count Basie Theatre mounts a special Evening of Comedy spotlighting its writers and performers.

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RED BANK: MORGAN PICKS UP THE PIECES

tracy-morgan-mag-1Tracy Morgan brings his standup act to the Count Basie stage for two shows Friday night.

“I’ve tapped into something, man, that nobody else can talk about,” Tracy Morgan said in an interview with a national wire service earlier this year. “I went to the other side and came back bearing gifts… and I’m gonna share all those gifts with my fans.”

In case you missed the headline-making news, the Emmy nominated cast member of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock was referencing his near-death experience in a June, 2014, limo crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, an accident that killed his friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, and left Morgan comatose with multiple injuries, necessitating a lengthy process of physical therapy and speech rehabilitation.

Undaunted, the Bronx-born “cringe comic” (and co-star of films like Cop Out and the forthcoming Fist Fight) has taken to the road once more on a route that leads to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Friday night.

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RED BANK: JAMIAN’S HOSTS ‘COMIC BOOK MEN’

jamians-doorscomic-book-menJamian’s Food and Drink on Monmouth Street in Red Bank will host a season-six premiere party Saturday for “Comic Book Men,” the AMC cable show set in film director Kevin Smith‘s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, on Broad Street.

The free-admission party begins at 8:30 p.m. and, weather permitting, will include a screenings of classic episodes on the back patio. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: YOK-TOBERFEST IS ON AT BASIE’S

david_sedaris_5004Best-selling author and humorist-storyteller David Sedaris (above) returns to the Count Basie stage on Thursday night…while Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (below) bring their impishly improv’d interactions back to Red Bank on Saturday.

mochrie-sherwoodEven the most polarized of next-door neighbors could use a good shared laugh experience these days — and even as our Count Basie Theatre continues to reinforce its reputation as a premier stop for big-time touring comics, two separate events in the coming nights serve to point out that  live comedy is a big tent, with room for more than just the tried and true stand-up standard.

Returning to the Basie boards for a third (or is it fourth?) appearance tomorrow night, October 13, author and essayist David Sedaris once again displays the audience-friendly skills that have allowed him to transfer his celebrated sense of humor from the printed page (Holidays On Ice, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and other best selling collections of essays, observations and occasional tall tales) to the performance stage, as witness his Grammy nomination for the audio version of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. It’s a dexterity that’s allowed him success in formats ranging from Off Broadway theater to public radio and even children’s books — with a road show that will find him reading from his excerpted works, riffing on recent events, and interacting with the audience, sometimes in ways that might give pause to even the most “fearless” of comedy-club commandos.

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RED BANK: BASIE ROLLS (WITH) THE DICE

Andrew Dice ClayThe old greaser’s pompadour has thinned; the paunch squeaks and strains against the trademark leathers, and the glasses could have come straight off the face of your great-aunt Totsie — but let no one say that the biggest/baddest of standup comedy’s many self-proclaimed Bad Boys has lost any modicum of his mojo at the mic.

Besides, even the most outrageously offensive rants, rhymes and roast-ready insults of Andrew Dice Clay read anymore like Tuesday morning’s tweets from the 2016 Presidential campaign playbook. And when “the only performer ever banned for life from MTV” (or first contestant ever thrown off Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” or SNL host who inspired the most cast member walk-outs) takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Thursday night, August 25, he’ll be once more ascending a career rollercoaster that’s taken him from multi-night sellouts of Madison Square Garden, to a humbling stint beneath the low ceilings of basement comedy clubs — and a return to form in front of theater-sized crowds.

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RED BANK: KEVIN SMITH FILM TO DEBUT HERE

yoga-hosers-johnny-deppHarley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp and Lily-Rose Depp co-star in “Yoga Hosers,” the new feature film by Kevin Smith. Below, the cake that Cake Boss Buddy Valastro made for Smith’s birthday appearance at the the Count Basie Theatre in 2010.

ksmithcakebossThe last time filmmaker/ actor/ Smodcaster/ writer/ King of Most Media Kevin Smith commandeered the Count Basie Theatre for a public birthday celebration, it was with an August 2010 Q&A session that saw his milestone 40th and magnificent head immortalized in buttercream by a fellow Jersey celeb soon to establish Red Bank cred: “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.

The multi-platform cult figure (and self-described “fat guy who got thrown off the plane”) may have left Leonardo for Los Angeles years ago — but as he approaches his 46th birthday, he returns to the borough of his birth; the town he gae its big-screen close-up in features like “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma;” a burb that sits at the nexus of the comix multiverse courtesy of the Smith-owned Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash and the AMC TV series Comic Book Men.

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RED BANK: SPIRITS AND SOULS ARE WILLING

marianne-w-thechalkboardmagBest-selling author and spiritual lecturer Marianne Williamson takes the Count Basie stage on Thursday night, and “happy medium” Kim Russo (below) channels spirits in a June 23 appearance.

kim-russo-2014-bio-photo-1600x1999They don’t sing, they don’t dance, they don’t “work blue” with the jokes, and they don’t even perform live cooking demos on the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

But self-help authors, celeb motivators and superstar mediums of the current touring circuit remain a major attraction for audiences across the continent — and Red Bank’s most venerable of venues continues to be a welcoming home for many of them and their fans.

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RED BANK: MONKEES SWING BACK TO BASIE

Monkees Micky Dolenz Peter TorkOriginal Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork — or the 2016 editions of same — celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Pre-Fab Four” with a Sunday night return to the Count Basie stage. 

Along a media superhighway studded with pop-cultural milestones, one boulder-size birthday looms especially large here on the threshold of summer 2016. And this Memorial Day weekend, the Count Basie Theatre does its part to celebrate the golden jubilee of a genuine boomer-era phenomenon when it hosts a 50th-anniversary tour appearance by the Monkees.

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RED BANK: A STAR-STUDDED NIGHT @BASIE

degrasse tyson mirmanComedian Eugene Mirman, right, joins affable astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson for a special live edition of their StarTalk program tonight in Red Bank. 

During his “meteoric” rise from little-known planetarium director to instantly (and internationally) recognized spokesman for the importance of science in our daily lives, Neil deGrasse Tyson has often used humor to convey his passionately plain-spoken message that a curiosity about our ever-awesome universe has a place in our popular culture — and that an education in science is something to be celebrated, not shied away from.

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LITTLE SILVER: CHANNEL 11 COMES TO RBR

RBR Channel 11RBR Interactive Media student Haley Watson (left) was interviewed by WPIX Channel 11 reporter Lisa Mateo (right), while cameraman Dave Kimmel filmed the piece for a segment aired during WPIX coverage of the New York Car Show.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The Interactive Media classes at Red Bank Regional High School had the cameras turned on them recently, when WPIX 11 Morning News visited RBR to film a segment about distracted driving awareness.

WPIX 11 correspondent Lisa Mateo reported on Mr. Carl Grillo’s students, who were busy filming this year’s #RBRHSDBD Safe Teen Driving Campaign Public Service Announcement on distracted driving. The on-air reporter also graciously agreed to a cameo appearance in the student-made PSA.

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RED BANK: JUST BROWN AND SERVE

Food Network star Alton Brown takes the Count Basie stage for a presentation that just might get a bit messy.

morsels smallThe last time the Count Basie Theatre designated a “splatter zone” in the front seats was during the farewell tour of the notorious melon-mauling comedian Gallagher. But when the TV personality and best-selling author Alton Brown visits the venerable venue this Wednesday night, the patrons in row A (and maybe B and C) will sit duly forewarned — while the plastic ponchos, we are assured, will be “larger and more protective.”

The occasion is the Red Bank whistle-stop of Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science, an audience-engaging stage presentation that the Food Network star is in the process of bringing to some 40 U.S. cities.  Read More »

MIDDLETOWN: A CURTIN CALL FOR FRIENDS

Cathy-CurtinCatherine Curtin, co-star of the hit Netflix series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, visits Middletown Library on April 30 for a “Meet the Actress” event dedicated to the library’s projects and programs.

Press release from Friends of the Middletown Township Public Library

On the Emmy winning Netflix dark comedy series Orange Is the New Black, Catherine Curtin quickly made a vivid impression as Wanda Bell, the manipulative and mean-spirited Corrections Officer that the native New Yorker describes as “the wrong person in charge;” a “jealous, intimidating, bitchy and angry” martinet who rules her little realm by playing it any which way but nice.

When Curtin visits Middletown Township Public Library on Saturday, April 30, however, she’ll find herself receiving a warm and heartfelt welcome by a roomful of friends — the Friends of the MTPL, hosts of a “Meet the Actress” fundraiser dialogue event dedicated to funding the programs of the library at 55 New Monmouth Road.

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RED BANK: DAVID CROSS TAKES BASIE STAGE

David Cross“Making America Great Again” has been a rallying cry for more than one TV-tested public speaker this season — and if there are, as suggested, two Donald Trumps, then there must be as many iterations of David Cross as the market will bear.

Back on the road for his first large-scale standup tour since 2009, Cross backs the campaign bus up to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for an appearance Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: MEGASTARS TO LIGHT UP BASIE

SOPHIA-LOREN_470x350Screen siren Sophia Loren (above) graces the Count Basie stage Thursday, and Broadway dynamo Patti LuPone (below) follows one night later.  

Patti LuPoneWait, $425 for a single ticket to the Count Basie Theatre? This had better be something special — like, a “once-in-a-lifetime, VIP, limited meet-and-greet” opportunity with one of the world’s most recognized and iconic leading women of film.

Turns out it really is that, as the Red Bank landmark adds to its list of beyond-legendary visitors (Cary Grant, George Carlin, Ringo Starr) with a Thursday-night appearance by Sophia Loren, the Italian-born international movie star and style pacesetter.

And it’s just the first of two events in a row to feature female performers who’ve won worldwide acclaim.

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RED BANK: HE’S LIVE, JIM!

Shatners_World-770-525x306Pop-cultural icon comes to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Friday night. 

Unlike the planet-dominating Skynet of the Terminator movies, it’s unclear as to exactly when William Shatner became self-aware. But from the moment it happened, this world has not been the same. And for about 90 minutes Friday night, the Red Bank area audience will be offered an opportunity to plug into the old-soul consciousness and galaxy-spanning ego that lords over Shatner’s World.

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RED BANK: BEAM US UP, BASIE

Shatner Khan“KHAAANNNN!” The coming of the mighty Shatner is heralded at the Count Basie Theatre with a three night Kirk-out of films in the classic STAR TREK franchise. Below,Middletown’s own Billy Van Zandt as the “Alien Boy.” 

Billy Van Zandt Alien Boy Star TrekThe famous boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre have hosted a veritable Who’s Who of larger-than-life luminaries, from the crowned heads of Hollywood (Cary Grant, Mickey Rooney, Myrna Loy, Al Pacino) to the brightest lights of the performing arts stage (Idina Menzel, Martha Graham, Marcel Marceau); from comedy kingpins (George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Stephen Colbert) to reality-TV sensations; from music monuments (James Brown, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, Ringo Starr) to homegrown heroes Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.

That said, not even borough-born Count Basie himself commanded the kind of build-up being granted the showbiz legend who arrives at station stop Red Bank on February 5: actor, author, director, spokesman and ultimate song stylist William Shatner.

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RED BANK: STAR-POWERED STEPPING

DWTS 16A cast of terpsichorean talents takes to the Basie boards for two Wednesday shows, as ‘Dancing With the Stars Live!’ rolls into town.

One can easily make the case that they’re the real stars of ABC TV’s Dancing with the Stars: the dedicated choreographers, instructors and professional performers charged with the task of making the C-list celebrity likes of Rumer Willis and Bindi Irwin (and Bristol Palin, Tom DeLay, Tucker Carlson, Jerry Springer…) dazzle like Ginger and Fred.

With more than 20 seasons and 300-plus episodes in the books, the prime-time phenom has seen its share of drops, drama, and drastic injury-related substitutions. But when the touring production known as Dancing With the Stars Live! takes to the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for two shows this Wednesday, the franchise will reside in the hands and light-fantastic feet of the folks who lend poetry to its motion.

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RED BANK: BASIE WHETS THE ‘APPETITE’

jacques-pepinCristianCeppasCeleb chef Jacques Pépin, above, gets things cooking at the Basie this afternoon. (Photo by Christian Ceppas)

appetiteContinuing with the ever-eclectic menu of entertainments that has distinguished and defined its audience-pleasing mission, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank serves up a new slate of offerings under the “Appetite Chefs” series banner in coming hours and days, starting with a matinee appearance Saturday by the Original Iron Chef himself and continuing next Wednesday by a beloved master of Italian cuisine.

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RED BANK: A DEAD-ON TRIBUTE

dead-on-live-02Multi-instrumentalist Marc Muller leads his grateful jam-mates in a Halloweekend edition of Dead On Live, Friday night at the Count Basie — while “The Price Is Right LIVE” summons in November’s sweeps-month with interactive high-energy style.

All who doubt that the Dead walk the earth during the season of the Great Pumpkin should consult the arcane and eldritch works of Professor Marc Muller for the last word on the subject — as the multi-instrumental master (and Monmouth University faculty member) summons the thing known as Dead On Live for a special Halloweekend concert, this Friday at the Count Basie Theatre.

Set to rise at 8 pm, it’s a special double-header installment of the project in which Muller and his ace musician friends explore the history of the Grateful Dead with setlist-intensive scholarship and spirited jamming. Featured on the Mischief Night program will be a “Dead On Live with Strings” set in which members of the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra join the band for orchestrally augmented arrangements of Dead favorites, climaxing with the epic “Terrapin Station” in its note-for-note entirety.

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RED BANK: A NEVERENDING TALENT SHOW

bannerThe All Star Tour edition of America’s Got Talent LIVE! (above) takes it to the Count Basie stage Tuesday, and  the Celtic songcraft of Loreena McKennitt (below) makes for an intimate evening’s entertainment this Thursday.  

Loreena-McKennitt-loreena-mckennitt-26282360-393-500As the crowds who snatched up deeply discounted tickets during last week’s annual $10 sale could attest, there’s always a little something for everyone at the year-round talent show that is Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — and the coming nights are another study in entertaining eclecticism, as crowdpleasing contestants from a hit realiTV series share midweek space with a world-traveling storyteller, and the return of some pioneers in the art of political parody.

 

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TINTON FALLS: DRIVING A GREAT PEOPLE STORY

kickstarter_20152Besides sharing his name with the always civic-minded Captain America, videographer Steve Rogers maintains a not-so secret identity as the creator, producer, host and high-mileage guy behind the wheel of Driving Jersey, the hyperlocal public television series that rolls into its fifth season on New Jersey Public Television this fall.

Like Vic Rallo’s Eat! Drink! Italy and other independently produced regional PBS programming, Driving Jersey depends entirely on the support of  regional sponsors, with a much greater emphasis on contributions from “viewers like you” than what commonly funds nationally broadcast fare like Masterpiece and Nova. And, at the start of a season that promises a portrait of “an extraordinary public music teacher from Tinton and the amazing results she gets from her students using a ‘unique’ teaching style that emphasizes courage, love and inspiration,” captain Rogers is giving a curbside call-out to area residents who appreciate the opportunity to see themselves and their neighbors in a setting that reclaims the concept of “reality TV” in a way that’s refreshingly devoid of scripting, manipulative editing and the studio-bound same-old.

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RED BANK: LIVE ‘IDOL,’ PIANISTS & LIGHTFOOT

The Piano Guys, above, make an encore appearance at the Count Basie Theatre on August 4. Veteran troubador Gordon Lightfoot, below, returns to Red Bank on August 6.

GordonLightfoot-500x333An up-close and in-person look at TV’s latest crop of primetime music American Idols. An area encore by a surprise sensation spawned via YouTube. And a raconteuring retrospective from a veteran who did it the hard way, along that endless highway…

It’s all lined up in the nights to come on the history-basted boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie stage.

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RED BANK: BASIE’S STAR-STUDDED STANDUP

KevinJamesmarcMaronTop-of-their-game comedy kingpins Kevin James (Saturday; two shows) and Marc Maron (Sunday) bring their crowd-tested mojo to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on a busy weekend of laughs.

So you’ve just made serious news-cycle headlines by booking the President of the United States on your garage-based podcast. Or, you’ve watched as your big-screen starring vehicles have racked up nearly a billion bucks in worldwide box office. If your name is Kevin James or Marc Maron, however, you’ll never truly ditch the itch to return to the live-audience roots that set it all in motion — and this weekend, the Count Basie Theatre hosts two of the hottest names in comedy, as they keep their very different standup skills honed before appreciative crowds at the area’s premier theater-scale Chuckle Hut.

This Saturday, June 27 finds the amiable star of TV’s King of Queens (and cinematic franchises that include Paul Blart, Mall Cop and Grown Ups) leaving the Segway in the wings and treading the Basie boards for a pair of shows that spotlight the largely family-friendly, New York working-dude brand of observational humor that’s formed the foundation of his phenomenal showbiz run. continues to Tickets to the 7:30 pm show ($49 – $89) are still available here. Then take it here for tix to Saturday’s 9:30 pm event, or take it around the bend for something completely different.

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RED BANK: THIS HEAT TAKES THE CAKE, BOSS

buddy valastro 061115 1 buddy valastro 061115 3With temperatures pushing 90, Carlo’s Bake Shop owner Buddy Valastro kept cool at the Red Bank Marina Thursday prior to taping an episode of his TV show, ‘Cake Boss.’ He’s seen at right with marina owner Steve Remaley and Remaley’s 11-year-old son, Christopher, who took Valastro and a film crew crabbing in the Swimming River.

Spoiler alerts: the show involves a cake in the shape of a crab, and temperatures Friday and Saturday are expected to be only slightly cooler, peaking in the mid-80s. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)