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WEEKEND: 60 MORE HOURS OF WINTER FUN

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Above: A cast of local high school students brings A LITTLE SHAKESPEARE: AS YOU LIKE IT to young theatergoers at Two River…while below, Ms. Lauryn Hill appears to have cancelled her (already previously rescheduled) Homecoming appearance at the Count Basie. (cast photo by Ozzie Rodriguez)

laurynFriday, February 7:

RED BANK: If we’ve learned anything from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it’s that springtime comes in turn to even the bleakest of wintry landscapes. So, with that warming thought in mind — well, that and the caveat that all events described herein are subject to change due to “no enemy but winter and rough weather” — we sally forth once more, where no groundhog dare tread.

While Two River Theater Company carries on with its vibrant and tuneful mainstage production of the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy, a talented troupe of high school performers have put together an intriguing bonus feature inside TRTC’s “black box” Marion Huber space. Adapted and directed by Jason McDowell-Green, A Little Shakespeare: As You Like It is a 75-minute version of the play, aimed at audiences age 9 and up, and designed “to fulfill the not-so-secret grand ambition of Artistic Director John Dias: to have some Shakespeare resonating in every corner of our theater, and to get everyone in our community turned on to the thrill of his exquisite language.” Red Bank Regional students Alicia Moeller and Patrick Monaghan are the lovestruck leads Rosalind and Orlando — and they’re joined in the cast by fellow RBR actors Halle Butler, Raquel Diaz and Alyssa Rogers, plus Michaela Farrell of Red Bank Catholic, and student players from several other Monmouth County high schools. Public performances, for which the actors will also be performing a score of original music by Shanna Jones, are Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 12 and 4 pm. Take it here for tickets ($15) and bios of the cast members — or here for tickets to the grownup version of the show that continues this weekend through February 16. 

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FRENCH TWISTS ON CLASSIC TALES AT RBR, RFH

tartuffeKatherine Kennedy (Avon), Alicia Moeller (Shrewsbury), and Eliana Swartz (Little Silver) rehearse the female lead roles in the Red Bank Regional Theatre Company updating of Moliere’s classic comedy TARTUFFE, opening Wednesday, November 20.

One’s a re-imagining of a French adventure classic, that’s more about the slapstick than the swashbuckle. The other takes the most timeless of comedies by the 17th century French playwright Moliére, and transplants it to the 21st century. When two area high schools present their fall drama productions this month, a couple of beloved tales from the land of the baguette promise to pick up more than a few laughs in the translation.

It all starts at 7 pm on the evening of Wednesday, November 20, when the Red Bank Regional High School Theatre Company presents a new take on Tartuffe, the play-in-rhyme by Molière that remains timeless due to its scenario of a con artist who hides behind the persona of a man of the cloth; the better to cheat a rich man out of his fortune and his frau. Set in the world of the 21st century, the 1664 classic (transplanted to a Dallas-like setting when it was staged by Two River Theater Company several seasons back) continues inside the school’s Red Bank Regional Theatre with 7 pm showtimes on Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22. Audiences can choose from either of two shows (2pm and 7 pm) on Saturday, November 23, and a final 3 pm matinee will be presented on Sunday, November 24.  Tickets are $12 ($7 for students and seniors) and can be purchased directly on the school website, at by calling 732-842-8000, ext. 227.

Over at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, the RFH Tower Players get set to raise the curtain on “a hilarious retelling of the classic Dumas tale of derring-do,” when they unveil The Three Musketeers: All Swash and No Buckle.”

Set in 17th century Paris and written by playwright Pat Cook, the story follows a young D’Artagnan (Christopher Brodsky) as he meets up with the Three Musketeers — Athos (John Chiarella), Aramis (Andrew Maris), and Porthos (Laurence Morales).

D’Artagnan desperately wants to join the Musketeers troupe, but first he must prove himself by winning a sword fight and attempting to preserve the reputation of the Queen (Jackie Dixon) by helping the Musketeers finding her “missing” necklace — which she had gifted to her love interest, the Duke of Buckingham (Matthew Hughes).

Will D’Artagnan prevail to earn the respect of the Musketeers and the love of the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting, Constance (Mallory McGill)? With the help of some seriously silly narrators, audiences will find out as they follow the misadventures that occur on the roads leading from France to England and back again.The hijinks include sword fights, several star-crossed lovers, a race on stick-horses, a blackmailing Cardinal (Sean Loughran) and his equally conniving assistant (Christopher Tuttle), a fund-raising telethon, and a cast filled with zany characters.

Over 45 members of the Tower Players troupe will be featured in the ensemble of the production, with Suzanne Sweeney at the helm as Director. Props and costumes are under the direction of Carole Malik, and set design under the supervision of Dino Pagano. Sound and lighting are under the direction of Matthew Leddin. Students participating in Stagecraft, a course offered at RFH, are also creating the set designs.

The Three Musketeers: All Swash and No Buckle will be presented in the school auditorium on the evenings of November 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm. The Sunday matinee will be featured on November 24 at 1 pm. Admission $10 for the general public, and $6 for students with ID cards.

Tickets will be sold in the lobby of the RFH auditorium for an hour and a half before each performance. Tickets may also be purchased in advance at the Box Office, which is located in the RFH lobby and will be open to the public from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. on November 11, 18 and 21.