AsULikeItMiriam A. Hyman and Jacob Fishel in ‘As You Like It’ at the Two River Theater, above.  Scott Szegeski’s print impressions of vintage “fish surfboards” at Salon Concrete. (Top photo by T.C. Erickson)

Friday, February 14:

sg-prints-14RED BANK: Valentine’s Day — that interlude of cabernet and clinking cocktail glasses; of candlelight coronas, candy kisses and cardboard cupids — also sounds a keynote for the final weekend of As You Like It, the Shakespeare play on stage at Two River Theater.

Michael Sexton’s take on the Bard’s characteristically convoluted “comedy of cross-dressing heroines and triumphant heroes” comes complete with some of the author’s funniest gags and laugh lines, some solid comic turns (by Brendan Titley and former Cosby Show regular Geoffrey Owens), and a double-dynamite lead role by Miriam A. Hyman as the exiled beauty Rosalind and her flannel-shirted alter ego, Ganymede. Throw in some savvy use of song (put forth with gusto by J.D. Webster) and you’ve got a fine point of entry to the Shakespearean perspective on romance, mating, and gender politics. Take it here for tickets to the last round of shows 8 pm Friday; 3 and 8 pm Saturday; 3 pm Sunday).

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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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GeoffreyOwensFormer COSBY SHOW cast member Geoffrey Owens is BACK, as Jaques — and Two River Theater Company’s got him, as previews begin this weekend for TRTC’s production of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT.


As a regular for the last seven seasons of The Cosby Show, Geoffrey Owens was part of a pop-cultural juggernaut that TV Guide named as The Greatest Sitcom of the 1980s; a Reagan-era repository of positive role models and fatherly sweaters that consistently topped the Nielsens — before ultimately being toppled by The Simpsons and other heirs to the throne of tubeland’s most dysfunctional modern family.

While his recurring role as Cliff Huxtable’s occasionally opinionated but nice-guy son-in-law Elvin allowed him to have the odd moment of good-natured fun with Bill Cosby’s proven shtick, it wasn’t until returning to the stage that the son of former U.S. Congressman Major Owens discovered a surprising specialty — as a sought-after interpreter of the comedic and tragic characters from the quill of Wm. Shakespeare.

Seen recently on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet (with Orlando Bloom), Owens has starred and co-starred in major productions of Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and many others — including a Joseph Papp-produced As You Like It that brought him to the Broadway boards as Orlando, the exiled young noble and dashing leading man of the Bard’s “comedy of cross-dressing heroines and triumphant heroes.” Beginning this weekend, the actor returns to As You Like It‘s “Forest of Arden” setting for the first in a series of preview performances this Saturday night, January 25.

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muchTonight’s free screening of director Joss Whedon’s 2012 film of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING kicks off a series of special events, keyed to Two River Theater Company’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT.

It’s described as “a comedy of cross-dressing heroines and triumphant heroes,” one in which a company of vivid characters “must learn to confront their own fears and limitations — and surrender to romance.”

When the Two River Theater Company production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It goes up in previews on January 25, its entrance will have been heralded by a slate of special events designed to spark new interest in the Bard’s 400-year old play across all segments of the audience. It’s a schedule that includes an open rehearsal, informative discussions, a dedicated poetry slam — even a special “Little Shakespeare” adaptation, custom-crafted for school-age theatergoers.

Before all that, however, TRTC revisits another Shakespearean comedy — one that it staged back in 2011 — when the branded Bridge Avenue performing arts center hosts a free screening of the 2012 cinema adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Superstar director Joss Whedon took a break from shooting the Avengers blockbuster to assemble a nimble no-star cast (including Marvel’s Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg) for this contemporary take on the “merry war” of courtship and marriage, filmed (in black and white) in and around Whedon’s own home. The movie shows at 7:30 pm tonight, with free tickets reserved through the Two River box office — and attendees will have the opportunity to win a Joss Whedon Prize Pack that boasts a bevy of Buffy, Firefly and Marvel superhero collectibles.

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two-river-theater-extTwo River Theater Company invites young actors ages 9 to 12 to audition on October 14 and 15, for a special teen version of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT to be performed at the theater in February 2014. (click to enlarge)

Press release from Two River Theater Company

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, announces the launch of a new program, A Little Shakespeare, as part of its expanded education programming in its 20th Anniversary Season.

In February 2014, during the run of Shakespeare’s As You Like It in the Rechnitz Theater, Two River will present a 75-minute version of the play adapted and directed by Jason McDowell-Green in its black-box Marion Huber Theater. The production will be performed by high-school students for audiences of young people ages 9-12; there will also be three performances open to the general public. Auditions are scheduled for Monday, October 14 and Tuesday, October 15. Actors with musical ability are encouraged to audition. For more information, including the complete rehearsal and performance schedule, visit tworivertheater.org or contact Heidi Schoenenberger at hschoenenberger@trtc.org.

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