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RED BANK: A BARD OF EDUCATION, AT TRTC

LilShakes1A cast and crew of teens from local schools rehearse A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, the annual “Little Shakespeare” production  that presents four public performances this weekend. (Photos courtesy of Two River Theater Company)

They hail from Red Bank Regional, Markham Place Middle School and Rumson Country Day School — and they meet by moonlight in the enchanted woods outside Athens, as conjured by William Shakespeare in his most kinetic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Actually, the forest faeries, passionate young lovers and amateur actors of the Bard’s most magical mystery tour will assemble inside the “black box” performance space at Two River Theater this week. And when the imaginary curtain goes up on this Midsummer Night for 10 performances between April 23 (Shakespeare’s birthday) and May 1, it will mark the latest in a new series of annual productions presented   under a program entitled “A Little Shakespeare.”

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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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