RED BANK AREA SCHOOLS BIG BASIE WINNERS

OPENING-NUMBER-BASIE-AWARDS-2016A multi-school ensemble, led by Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama winner Laura Diorio, opened the Basie ceremony. (Photo by Andrew Musser – Count Basie Theatre)

HOT-TOPIC_03Students and faculty from five Red Bank area schools dominated the balloting in the 11th annual Basie Awards, presented  Wednesday night to honor excellence in Monmouth County high school theatrical productions.

Musicals and dramatic presentations from Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank Regional, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, Mater Dei Prep and Middletown High School South combined to take or tie for top honors in 17 of 27 categories.

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RED BANK: WHO’S UP FOR BASIE AWARDS?

MHSS American Idiot Ayo OladejiThe Middletown South production of Green Day’s “American Idiot” (above) score big in musical nominations — while RBR’s Patrick Monaghan (at right below, with Davis Bush) earned a dramatic acting nomination for “Amadeus.”  (Photo above by Ayo Oladeji)

Amadeus Davis Bush Pat MonaghanIt’s Red Bank’s own homegrown answer to the Tonys, the Obies, and any other major accolade for live stage performance. What else but the BASIES, the awards that honor tomorrow’s talents today — or rather this Wednesday, May 18, when the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank once again celebrates excellence in dramatic and musical productions among Monmouth County high schools, with the presentation of the 11th annual Basie Awards.

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RED BANK: A WALK WITH LIFE AND ART

calpulli2The dancers and musicians of Mariachi y Calpulli Mexican Dance Company perform at the Count Basie on Cinco de Mayo, capping Thursday’s MoCo ArtWalk experience in Red Bank.

MoCo-Walking-TourIt’s being billed as the first in a new series of “MoCo Artwalks,” and hosted by the folks at the Monmouth County Arts Council and designed to give arts aficionados a strolling/rolling and altogether unique perspective on some fascinating goings- on in and around the MoCo (Monmouth County) Arts Corridor — a scintillating strip of station stops along the Matawan-to-Manasquan stretch of the North Jersey Coast Line.

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RED BANK: A SPLASHY DEBUT FOR PHOENIX

little mermaidsCat Tierney, seen at right with the other Daughters of Triton, stars as Ariel in the staging of “The Little Mermaid that begins a Red Bank run Friday night. (Click to enlarge)

littlemermaid2016After rising to the occasion last year with such gravity-defying entertainments as Mary Poppins and Peter Pan, the folks at Phoenix Productions in Red Bank dive deep for their inaugural production of the 2016 season: the Disney musical The Little Mermaid, which surfaces for a two-weekend run at the Count Basie Theatre.

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RED BANK: A BARD AT THE END OF THE WORLD

Actor-singer-composer-musician Rinde Eckert talks about creating the music for the Two River Theater production of “Pericles,” which begins previews this weekend. (Video courtesy of the Two River Theater.)

Even as passionate a cheerleader as Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias is forced to admit that Pericles, Prince of Tyre is “one of Shakespeare’s plays that has frustrated his fans” —  the result of its being “most obviously the result of a quirky collaboration with another playwright (or two).”

A sprawling smorgasbord of mythology and melodrama that boasts sensational plot points (incest! pirates! sexual slavery!) and more scenery than can be chewed through in a single sitting, the late-period romance fairly begs, as Dias declares, for “an interpretive team of theater artists who love it for the splendor of its quirks, while working to bring its disparate selves together.”

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RED BANK: TWO RIVER TOASTS ARTS ANGELS

Joan_and_Bob_Rechnitz_Ed_Zipprich_Ivan_PolonskyTwo River Theater Company co-founders Joan and Robert Rechnitz were joined on the evening of March 28 by Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich and philanthropist Ivan Polonsky, for the 2016-17 Season Announcement event at Two River’s Bridge Avenue arts center. Some 100 of the stage company’s major donors and supporters attended a special reception in the lobby prior to the 7:30 p.m. program, mingling with TRTC artistic director John Dias, Tony nominated actor-director Michael Cumpsty and other artists involved in the new slate of shows that begin in September 2016. A full rundown of the new schedule, including season subscription information, can be found here. (Photo by Teja Anderson)

RED BANK: DOLLS GO TO HEAD OF THE CLASS

Broadway DollsAs a lead actor in Broadway’s HAIRSPRAY, Hollie Howard (center) paid her dues, eight shows a week. As the co-star and creator of  The Broadway Dolls, the Colts Neck resident has assembled a troupe of young “triple threat” veterans from some of the biggest hits of the New York stage — and on Saturday, May 21, the Dolls will be the featured attraction for A Little Taste of Broadway, a benefit event presented by the Navesink Business Group and hosted at Two River Theater. A fundraiser for capital improvements at St. James Elementary School, the 6:30 p.m. affair boasts cocktails and food samplings from such Red Bank restaurants and purveyors as Teak, Bistro, Greek Eats, Dish, San Remo, The Cheese Cave, Lil’ Cutie Pops, and The Vintage Cake — in addition to a set of hits from crowdpleasing shows like WICKED, RENT, JERSEY BOYS and more. Take it here for tickets ($85), which include the show, tastings and (beer, wine, soda) beverages.

RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES RETURN TO TRTC

johndiasTwo River Theater Company artistic director John Dias, above, directs a musical that he co-wrote, and Madeleine George, below, the theater’s first Playwright in Residence, will see her comedy — which is set in Red Bank mounted next season.

madeleine georgeThere are encore appearances by favorite actors. Re-visits to the words and works of Shakespeare and August Wilson. No less than three shows making their world premieres — including one set within “a larger-than-life version of Red Bank.”

When Two River Theater Company unveiled its 2016-2017 schedule of productions Monday night, it did so in a fashion that’s become a real rite of spring on Bridge Avenue: with the company’s celebrated artistic director John Dias joined on stage by creative people representing the comedies, dramas, musicals and multi-media experiences that will illuminate Two River’s stages beginning in September.

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LINCROFT: BARD BIRTHDAY BASH AT BCC

BCC Shakespeare-GroupLocal actors stage a performance of William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at Brookdale Community College in 2013. The school’s Performing Arts Center is inviting everyone to get into the act, during the sixth annual Shakespeare Read-A-Thon in April.

Press release from Brookdale Community College

On Thursday, April 21, Brookdale Community College will celebrate the 452nd birthday of William Shakespeare, with the sixth annual Shakespeare Read-A-Thon at the Lincroft campus.

Between 6 to 8 p.m., residents of all ages are invited to dress as their favorite Shakespearean character and join friends, family and fellow community members in a collaborative reading from the Bard’s works, held inside BCC’s Performing Arts Center.

This year’s program will celebrate the women of Shakespeare, shining a spotlight on the most memorable moments involving female characters such as Lady Macbeth, Rosalind, Juliet, Miranda and Desdemona. Individual and group readings of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets are encouraged. Spectators are welcome as well.

“This annual celebration encourages people to try out their reading and acting skills, but more so to conquer their apprehension over Shakespeare’s language,” said Brookdale English Professor James Cody. “It shows that Shakespeare can be fun.”

Refreshments will be served during the April 21 event, for which parking in Lot 1 is recommended. For more information, contact Professor James Cody at jcody@brookdalecc.edu or call (732)224-2681.

RBR’S MONAGHAN AN OUT-LOUD WINNER

Patrick MonaghanPress release from Red Bank Regional High School

On March 17, Red Bank Regional High School senior Patrick Monaghan of Little Silver came in second in the very competitive New Jersey Regional Poetry Out Loud State Championship. This was the second visit to the competition’s stage for the celebrated RBR thespian, who has won the Regional competition for the past two years.

For his performance at the College of New Jersey, Patrick performed William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes as well as two other selections: Or by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Ode to the Midwest by Kevin Young.

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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: MILLION $ MARCH ON MONMOUTH

Million_Dollar_QuartetA momentous musical meeting between (left to right) Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley powers MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, when the Broadway hit brings its national tour to the Count Basie Theatre for two Saturday shows; followed closely by legendary crooner Johnny Mathis on Sunday. 

It’s the stuff that pop-music lore and legend is made of — a 1956 in-studio meeting and impromptu jam session between four young alumni of Sam Phillips’ celebrated Sun Records stable: Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis (at the time a session player who’d yet to release a record), and the Memphis label’s most earth-shaking graduate, Elvis Presley. Made all the more amazing due to its happening organically, even accidentally (and tempered by the fact that, according to recorded evidence, Cash bailed after the photo was taken), the session that would come to be called “The Million Dollar Quartet” would eventually inspire a “jukebox” style musical that would play successful engagements on Broadway, in Vegas and numerous other destinations.

When the touring production of Million Dollar Quartet arrives at the Count Basie Theatre for two shows this Saturday, March 18, it will ignore the gospel-oriented material that made up the actual session, in favor of a surefire salvo of hits that mixes the artists’ Sun-era signatures (“Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line”) with Elvis blockbusters like “Hound Dog.”

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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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