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RED BANK: BASIES GO TO RFH, RBC, RBR

Phoenix Productions exec director Tom Martini — pictured fifth from left, during the 2015 ribbon-cutting of the troupe’s new Chestnut Street headquarters — was honored with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award during the 12th annual Basie Awards on Wednesday night. (photo by Rich Kowalski) 

Students and faculty from five high schools in the greater Red Bank area were honored for excellence in high school theater productions — and the co-founder of a favorite borough-based performing arts company received a Lifetime Achievement recognition — when the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony took place at the Count Basie Theatre on the evening of May 24.

The big winner among local schools was Red Bank Catholic High School, whose nine nominations for the spring production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella resulted in three Basie wins: for Shawn Mack (Outstanding Musical Direction), Samantha Siriani (Outstanding Supporting Actress), and Kelly Gemellaro (Outstanding Choreography, shared with Jacqui Fisher for the Middletown High School South staging of The Producers).

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RED BANK: ‘BASIES’ BUZZ IN THE AIR TONIGHT

The Red Bank Regional production of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ has garnered seven nominations in the Basie Awards for excellence in local high school theater, as the 12th annual ceremony rolls out the red carpet tonight.

In a pop-culture landscape that’s littered with the sharp metal edges of way too many awards and honors, you could make the case that this is the only trophyfest that matters — the kind that recognizes, nurtures and inspires the next generation of acting, singing, dancing and technical talent.

When the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony takes the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight, May 24, students and faculty from nearly 20 public, private and parochial high schools in Monmouth County — seven of them located here within the Greater Red Bank Green — will be vying for a chance to deliver their acceptance speech, in a field that, in the words of Basie education director Yvonne Lamb Scudiery, continues “to set the bar higher and higher, resulting in outstanding professional quality work…and certainly making the job or our evaluation team a very difficult yet gratifying one.”

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RED BANK: ‘BOBFEST’ OF DYLAN, WAR & PEACE

A promo video recaps the history of the annual Bobfest salute to Bob Dylan, which returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday night.

When he first offered an impromptu birthday toast to Bob Dylan during a 1999 set at the old Downtown Café in Red Bank, Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno didn’t harbor any thoughts of making Bobfest an annual thing, let alone an ever-expanding phenomenon with a life and passionate following all its own.

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RED BANK: MCC AWARDS VOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS

Press release from Monmouth Civic Chorus

Students from Red Bank Regional High School and Middletown High School North were among the vocally talented New Jersey high school seniors  awarded a total of $3000, as part of The Monmouth Civic Chorus scholarship program for 2017. The awards will be presented on June 2 during the “Northern Lights” Chorus concert at St. Mary Church, located at 1 Phalanx Road in Colts Neck.

A $1000 first-place award went to RBR student Ashleigh Dannielle Wolf; a member of the school’s Concert and Chamber choirs, as well as the New Jersey All State Treble and Mixed Choirs, the All State Opera Chorus, and the New Jersey All Shore Chorus, whose scholarship she also won in 2017. A resident of Freehold, Ashleigh plans to attend the Eastman School of Music.

A $700 award went to MHSN student Richard Cardile, who has performed with the school’s Concert and Chamber choirs, as well as the High School North singing group Acapella. A member of the New Jersey All Shore Chorus, New Jersey All State Mixed Chorus and the Middletown Assembly of God Church Choir, Richard plans to attend Montclair State University.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY TO PLAY MARINE PARK

Music lovers are expected to line the slope at Marine Park to hear the New Jersey Symphony. Restrooms now under construction are visible at top left. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

RiverFest may be off the calendar, but there will be at least one night of music in Red Bank’s Marine Park this summer.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra plans to christen the newly refurbished park with a free, open-air concert in July.

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RED BANK: SUNSET SONATA AT ST. THOMAS

Celebrated young pianist Nicolas Namoradze visits Red Bank’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church Saturday for the latest in a new series of Impromptu Classical Music Recitals.

Aficionados of vocal and instrumental classical music already know the borough of Red Bank (plus its landmark Tower Hill Church and Count Basie Theatre) as the area’s undisputed headquarters for such cultural commerce — a welcoming harbor for everything from the Monmouth Symphony and Monmouth Civic Chorus, to the New Jersey Chamber Singers and the Monmouth Conservatory of Music.

If there remains something of a “best kept secret” on the scene, it would have to be St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the West Side house of worship (at 26 East Sunset Avenue) that recently became the area’s host venue of choice for the highly regarded touring presentations known as the Impromptu! Classical Music Recital Series. And this Saturday night, the series returns to Sunset as the church’s grand Yamaha piano welcomes the expert touch of the celebrated 24-year old composer-pianist Nicolas Namoradze.

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RED BANK: A FRONTIER FUNDER AT TWO RIVER

Two River Theater.

Although it’s a brand-spanking-new addition to the growing crop of world premieres from Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company, the upcoming production The Ballad of Little Jo represents the culmination of a years-long process, through which the borough-based stage troupe nurtured and developed the highly anticipated musical adaptation that closes out its 2016-’17 season in grand style.

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ON THE GREEN: AUTHORS SERVE UP MEMORIES

George Severini of Dorn’s Classic Images (above left) joins co-author Rick Geffken for a Thursday evening presentation keyed to their book “Lost Amusement Parks of the North Jersey Shore.”

A must-see presentation on some of the most fondly remembered attractions of our local Shore — and not one but two encore appearances by a best-selling beach-read favorite — are booked in this Thursday, May 11 for galloping gourmets and nostalgia buffs alike.

It begins tomorrow afternoon at Red Bank’s Molly Pitcher Inn, during the Fourth Annual Scholarship Luncheon for the Northern Monmouth County Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) — an affair at which members of the community are invited to join in an afternoon filled with fun, good food and the opportunity to hear from the New York Times bestselling author, Mary Kay Andrews.

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RED BANK: ‘PARIS’ IN THE SPRING

Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane and  Arnaud Viard star in ‘Paris Can Wait,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

It maybe has some catching up to do with the likes of Cannes, but when it comes to being a mecca for first-run independent/”arthouse” feature films, Red Bank has long led the local pack — a fact that’s attributable primarily to White Street’s Bow Tie Cinemas (and its predecessor, Clearview Cinemas).

For most of the new millennium, the downtown movie house has done duty as official host venue for a series of sneak-preview screening events, spotlighting festival-favorite indies before they go into general release. Part of a long-running partnership between borough-based nonprofit Monmouth Arts and Sony Pictures Classics (the major distributor whose president, Tom Bernard, makes his home in Middletown), the series unspools once more this Thursday, May 11, with a 7:30 p.m. showing of “Paris Can Wait.”

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RED BANK: HABITAT EVENT RETURNS FOR 2017

Following a successful 2016 inaugural event that collected more than $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, the nonprofit’s food and wine tasting fundraiser “A Taste for Homes” returns to The Oyster Point Hotel on the evening of Monday, May 15.

Scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m., the event “will showcase local restaurants, wineries, coffee and dessert specialists and will include entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, gift auction and silent auction to celebrate the impact and difference that volunteers and companies can make to provide people in the community with a decent place to live.”

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RED BANK: CURCHIN ‘OPEN’ TO SUGGESTIONS

The Curchin Group accounting firm seeks input on beneficiaries for their annual “Curchin Open” indoor golf fundraising event.

Press release from The Curchin Group

The accounting firm The Curchin Group has announced that they are now accepting essay submissions to determine the nonprofit beneficiaries of the 12th Annual Curchin Open, a nine-­hole indoor miniature golf tournament.

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RED BANK: JAZZED AND ENCHANTED

Master of ceremonies Bob Tuzzo (above) and the Belle Tones (below) are among the performers joining Joe Muccioli’s Red Bank Jazz Orchestra Saturday night at the Two River Theater.

The partnership of the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project with the Count Basie Theatre has yielded some swingin’ly successful results, from the young-musician Jazz Arts Academy to April’s recently wrapped Talkin’ Jazz series; and from December’s annual Sinatra Birthday Bash to other big-stage events showcasing our very own Red Bank Jazz Orchestra.

That said, just as Red Bank’s connection to America’s classical music is bigger even than the legendary “Kid from Red Bank” Count himself, so too does the Jazz Arts brand bust out of the boundaries of the Basie from time to time — witness the summertime slate of open-air concerts at Riverside Gardens, or the Summer Jazz Cafe series that candle-lights up the warm weekend nights at Two River Theater.

This Saturday night, the organization under the artistic direction of conductor-arranger-scholar Joe “Mooche” Muccioli returns to the Two River stage for the latest edition of what’s fast become a rhythmic rite of spring — the fundraiser concert event known as ‘An Enchanted Evening of Song.’

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RED BANK: A FORTUNE HAPPY HOUR

The T. Thomas Fortune House, as it appeared in November and as it’s expected to appear after rehabilitation. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Not so many months ago, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank was a place whose own fortunes were in doubt, prior to the announcement of a development deal (reported here in redbankgreen) that set the deteriorating structure on the path to a new life as a community resource “dedicated to human rights, journalistic integrity, (and) advancement for all people.”

The announcement was certainly a happy one for the volunteers of the T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee — and on Thursday, May 25, the nonprofit entity hosts “a festive night out to celebrate the rebirth, now underway, of the National Historic Landmark and support the opening of our soon to be T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center,” as well as the legacy of the pioneering 19th century African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

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RED BANK: A REFILL FOR EMPTY BOWLS

Press release from JBJ Soul Kitchen 

Bowls will once again bloom in the gardens of the JBJ Soul Kitchen the weekend of May 20 and 21, when the Empty Bowls Project returns to 207 Monmouth Street. With the motto Every Bowl Feeds a Soul, the event brings together artists, teens, and community members to help raise awareness of hunger in our area.

This is the third year that hundreds of handmade bowls in every shape, size, and color will be on display in the organic garden of the Soul Kitchen. Before the event, the Monmouth Arts Teen Arts Festival and Art Alliance of Monmouth County create the many bowls. On Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, patrons may select a bowl for a $20 donation, and, while supplies last, receive a canvas Monmouth Arts tote to carry their bowl home.

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RED BANK: BASIE SEEKS TEEN OPERA VOICES

Press release from Count Basie Theatre 

The Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy today has announced a summer residency with famed Los Angeles Opera director Eli Villanueva, on a summer opera camp program for vocalists aged 10-17.

The two-week intensive, open to students of all vocal types, begins with auditions on Saturday, May 20 — and culminates with a pair of performances of Brundibar, the famed children’s opera originally staged at the Theresientadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. Needs-based scholarships will be available to those students who qualify.

The public performances will take place on Saturday, August 19 at the Count Basie Theatre and on Sunday, August 20 at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River.

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RED BANK: LAST CALL FOR FEST ENTRIES

Press release from Indie Street Film Festival

Attention independent filmmakers – Sunday, May 7 is the final submissions deadline for the second annual Indie Street Film Festival (ISFF), set for July 26-30, 2017.

Taking place at multiple theatrical venues in Red Bank — including the historic Count Basie Theatre, the Two River Theater, Bow Tie Cinema and Red Bank Middle School —  the festival will host attendees from around the world, but will maintain the grit and hard-working attitude that both New Jerseyans and Independent filmmakers have shared for decades.

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RED BANK: ART, ABANDONED AND SEDUCTIVE

Ellen Martin’s ‘Abandoned’ series of photographs (above) are on display beginning Thursday at the Oyster Point.

From painted portraits of nature’s splendor to photographic captures of commercial ruins and other scenes of gorgeous desolation, the galleries  of the Greater Red Bank Green offer up an eyeful in the days and nights to come with an art walk that begins Thursday evening with a new installation on the walls and walkways of the Oyster Point Hotel.

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RED BANK: FOOD FEST TO PACK PARKING LOT

More than 20 local food purveyors will be present  when the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest commandeers the White Street municipal parking lot this Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

While the recent cancellation of Riverfest has left a hole in Red Bank’s yearly segue into summer, fans of strolling smorgasbords and top-down tunes needn’t wait too long to get their festival fix — as this Sunday, the White Street municipal parking lot will be the scene for the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest.

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RED BANK: ‘BEAUTY’ ON THE BASIE STAGE

The interlude between the end of April and beginning of May signals the traditional rising up of a real Red Bank institution — Phoenix Productions, the borough-based theatrical company that for more than two decades has presented its musical entertainments on the boards of one of the region’s most legendary stages: the Count Basie Theatre.

This Saturday sees the curtain go up on the first of the 2017 offerings from the Phoenix fun factory — and, it as they did with last year’s season-opening production of The Little Mermaid, the troupe will be delving into the Disney Broadway playbook for a fresh and family-friendly staging of the romantic fantasy perennial, Beauty and the Beast.

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RED BANK: A RE-THINK PIECE AT BORO HALL

Amy Goldsmith of Clean Water Action.

Press release from Clean Water Action

On the evening of Tuesday, May 9, the nonprofit organization Clean Water Action will host a public-welcome presentation on its award-winning ReThink Disposable initiative, during the meeting of the Red Bank Environmental Commission.

Amy Goldsmith, NJ Director of National Clean Water Action and a Red Bank resident, will make the presentation at the commission’s 7 p.m. meeting inside Borough Hall.

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RED BANK: CURTAIN UP FOR BASIE KIDS

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Each year, the historic Count Basie Theatre welcomes thousands of students to experience live art — and for many, it’s their first or only opportunity to do so. From classical music with modern twists, to the diversity of Asian and African artistry or historical plays like I Have a Dream, the Basie allows students to dream forward through the experience of culture and artistic expression.

Last week, the theatre announced its participation in the OceanFirst Charity Challenge, a crowdsourcing fundraiser which will assist the Basie in raising money for its “Curtains Up For Kids” educational performance program for schools.

Individuals are encouraged to visit thebasie.org and click the “Curtains Up For Kids” icon, which will take them to a page where donations can be taken, and individuals and schools can spin off their own fundraisers to assist the cause.

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RED BANK: PADILLA ‘WOMEN’ ON THE WING

The cast of ‘The Women of Padilla’ share a cathartic moment in the Tony Meneses play that concludes its world premiere engagement this week at Two River Theater. (photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Beginning with a 1 p.m. performance Wednesday, seven opportunities remain for the general public to catch The Women of Padilla, the latest in an ever-growing portfolio of plays that have made their world premiere on the Red Bank stage of Two River Theater.

Written by Tony Meneses (whose previously produced project here was Guadalupe in the Guest Room), the drama is an ensemble piece that reflects an ongoing commitment by the theater company to develop and promote new works by Latino creators. It’s also a succinct and slightly surreal piece with an underlying universal quality — a glimpse at the home front in a time of seemingly eternal war, as well as the ways in which we find family, build community, and latch onto gossamer wings of hope whenever something important goes missing from our lives.

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RED BANK: A SENSES-FRIENDLY SUMMER CAMP

As part of its 2017 Summer Theater Camp, Red Bank’s Two River Theater will offer its first classes for students with autism ages 10-17, plus a special “sensory-friendly” performance of the play ‘The Way Back Home’ on June 10.

Press release from Two River Theater Company

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, has announced two new initiatives designed to support young people on the autism spectrum, and welcome them to the theater.

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RED BANK: CYMCA HOSTS HEALTHY KIDS

Press release from The Community YMCA

This coming Saturday, April 29, marks the the annual appearance of Healthy Kids Day, a free community event, hosted by The Community YMCA, to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active now and all summer long hosting.

Between the hours of noon to 3 p.m., the Y’s Family Health and Wellness Center (166 Maple Avenue in Red Bank) will be the scene for a fun afternoon in which families will enjoy face painting, Kids Hip/Hop and Zumba, a Teddy Bear Clinic led by Hackensack Meridian Medical Health and Riverview Medical Center’s ER staff, race relay and free throw contests, Giant Jenga, a gift card raffle to local businesses, and more.

Healthy snacks from Wegmans and giveaways will be available. Families interested in a healthy start to summer can sign up for a special priced three-month membership.

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