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“Medicated” Pete McHeffey is one of the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank teaming up to raise funds for veterans in a special Wednesday evening event on Front Street.

They’re called the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank LLC — “a collective of local musicians and performing artists bound together to raise both funds and awareness.” You know them as the folks who entertain regularly at venues that range from your favorite neighborhood watering hole to the summertime sidewalks of Street Life, and in some instances they’re “the people that you meet when you’re walkin’ down the street.”

But every so often these artists convene like some jukebox Justice League, to address a cause dear to their hearts and musician’s souls — and this Wednesday evening, the occasion is a concert and CD release party for those who’ve served in the United States military.

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Casey Affleck stars in tonight’s showing of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, one of the heavily favored Oscar contenders being presented on the Count Basie screen at a pleasingly retro ticket price.  (Amazon Studios)

It happens every year at this time: the kind of awards-season buzz that turns the most casual-viewing couch potato into the most discerning of armchair film critics and festival adjudicators. As the February 26 airdate of the 89th Academy Awards draws closer, film fans scramble to catch up with as many of the nominated features as there are hours in the week — and the Count Basie Theatre is there to meet them, with a special slate of screenings that spotlights some of 2016’s most acclaimed releases, at a price of admission that’s a throwback to some twenty years ago.

The schedule that kicked off on January 31 with the noir western Hell or High Water (four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture) continues tonight, February 15, with a 7 p.m. screening of a “little” movie that’s made a big splash with audiences from here to Sundance: the drama Manchester By The Sea.

Set in the Massachusetts coastal town of that name, the tale of old wounds, second chances and heavy burdens stars Casey Affleck in his Golden Globe winning turn as Lee, an emotionally scarred handyman who’s forced to return to his old hometown when he’s named the guardian of his recently deceased brother’s teenaged son. Coming out of left field to score six major Oscar nominations — for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor (young Lucas Hedges), Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife), plus Kenneth Lonergan’s original screenplay and direction — the film is all the more impressive for having catapulted its distributor Amazon Studios into the big leagues of Oscar-lauded contenders.

A presentation of the Count Basie Theatre Cinema Society, tonight’s showing of Manchester by the Sea plays at Monmouth County’s longest continuously operating movie venue for just $5 per ticket (or free of charge, for Cinema Society members). Buy two admissions for $15, and receive a $10 concessions vouchers — and take it here to reserve.

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Pictured are student models from last year’s very successful Latino Scholarship Fashion Show, sponsored by Red Bank Regional’s school-based program The SOURCE. This year’s show takes place 12 p.m. on February 26, at the Oyster Point Hotel.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Fund, operating under the auspices of The SOURCE at Red Bank Regional High School, is helping to make dreams come true through its scholarship program. Founded over ten years ago, this program assists qualifying Latino students at RBR in affording their dream of college.

To benefit the scholarship, the foundation is sponsoring a fashion show and gift auction on Sunday, February 26 from 12 to 3 pm, at the Oyster Point Hotel, 146 Bodman Place in Red Bank.

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It’s one of William Shakespeare’s most raucous comedies; one that indicates that even the celebrated Bard wasn’t above cranking out a “popular demand” money shot. Picking up the character of Sir John Falstaff from the two parts of Henry IV — and plunking the portly, cowardly, boastful and besotted knight down into a farcical fracas of amorous misadventure and comical come-uppance — The Merry Wives of Windsor does its job within a relatively short running time, and with a relatively economical cast of 20 characters.

Or does it? According to Eric Tucker (pictured), co-founder and artistic director of NYC’s Bedlam Theater, the circa-1600 play can be brought to life just fine by a company of no more than three very busy actors — and tonight, February 13, Two River Theater offers the public a free-of-charge chance to watch director Tucker in action, as he works with his modestly scaled (but expansively skilled) cast in an Open Rehearsal at the Bridge Avenue arts center.

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Rocker Tommy Stinson, below, is the special guest performer for Sunday events at Brookdale Radio (above) and Jack’s Music.

Veteran listeners of 1980s-’90s college and alternative playlists know him as the spiky-haired, plaid-suited, juvenile delinquent bassist and sometime vocalist of Twin Cities punk pioneers the Replacements. His road since then has seen him play a stint with elusive superstar act Guns ‘N Roses (including the recording of unreleased sessions with both of his former bands), establish an on-again/off-again with ’90s alterna-rockers Soul Asylum, and emerge every now and then with a solo project under the name Bash & Pop.

This Sunday afternoon, Tommy Stinson is a man about town on the Greater Red Bank Green, when the upstate New York resident plays a pair of free intimate sets during two special events — the first at Brookdale Community College radio station 90.5 The Night, and the other at downtown Red Bank landmark Jack’s Music Shoppe.

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Singer-dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward (above) are special guest Valentines of the New Jersey Symphony this Friday night at the Basie, and star conductor Xian Zhang (below) leads the orchestra back to Red Bank on February 25.   

When it secured the services of the internationally celebrated Xian Zhang as principal conductor last year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra upped the ante on its bid to earn a place among the New York region’s premier musical organizations.

Now, the orchestra returns to its coastal New Jersey venue of choice — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — with a February slate that stands as a virtual valentine to its own versatility, whether waltzing across the works of the old masters or doing a Tin Pan Alley tapdance through the Great American Songbook.

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Press release from Red Bank Humanists

Since 2005, the Red Bank Humanists have used the February edition of their monthly forum to celebrate International Darwin Day.  The goal of Darwin Day is to inspire people to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth, as embodied in the life and work of Charles Darwin.

On the morning of Sunday, February 12, RBH will host the latest in its monthly series, hosted at the Red Bank Charter School, 58 Oakland Street. The program, going on from from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon, is open to the public and admission is free — and the theme for Darwin Day 2017 is “The Self-Domestication of Humans,” featuring guest speaker Ron Flannery (pictured).

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Contributors to Jon Stewart’s new HBO project — including writer Brendan O’Hare, above, in the guise of obsessive basketball fan — make an encore appearance at Count Basie’s Performing Arts Academy Thursday.

As they did two months ago, writers and other contributors to Jon Stewart‘s hush-hush new HBO-project-in-the-works are scheduled to take a stage Thursday night in what one of them called a “dope little room that probably was a garage three weeks ago.”

Hey, a little respect: that “dope little room” next door to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre was once a Wa-Wa convenience store, we’ll have you know.

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Internationally acclaimed 13-year-old pianist Adam Jackson visits Red Bank’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church Sunday for the first in a new series of Impromptu Classical Music Recitals.

There are prodigies, and then there are prodigies — the kind of undeniable talent that simply rockets to the head of the class, unconstrained by any seeming lack of life experience, and forcing observers to concede that their performance has “often surpassed those of seasoned adults.”

Classical music lovers on the Greater Red Bank Green can see and hear one in action this Sunday.

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Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Competitors have been announced for the regional Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex county round of the annual, national Poetry Out Loud competition, hosted by the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy on Tuesday, February 7.
The 10 a.m. competition will choose two winners, who will advance (along with the winners of five other regional rounds), to compete in the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, to be held on March 9 at The College of New Jersey’s Mayo Concert Hall at The Center for the Arts. From there, one state champion will advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

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Robert De Niro in ‘The Comedian,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

It’s the latest entry in a series that’s offered a first look at features by Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola. And this Thursday, audiences here on the Greater Red Bank Green have an opportunity to catch Robert De Niro in The Comedian one day prior to its going wide on screens from coast to coast.

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Close To YouLisa Rock (center) and her band pay homage to the 1970s pop hits of The Carpenters in the stage show ‘Close to You,’ coming Thursday to the Count Basie. Jenna O’Gara (below) is among the singers going Back to the Eighties with Jessie’s Girl in a Friday night concert.   

Jenna O'Gara Jessie's GirlIt’s a non-alternative fact that some of the most legendary names in the music business — the Beatles, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead — have plied their trade on the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, represented (in spirit if not flesh) by a bold new breed of note-perfect, big budget traveling tribute extravaganzas.

Following on the heels of a weekend that saw the annual appearance of the ever-popular Elvis Birthday Bash (and a genuinely star-studded, sold-out recreation of The Band’s Last Waltz concert), the Basie keeps the tributes going this Thursday and Friday with some spot-on salutes to the 1970’s pop of The Carpenters, as well as the superstars (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince) who defined the MTV era of the 1980s.

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On Wednesday, January 25, Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank hosted its “Project Community Cares” event in support of the Monmouth County Point-In-Time Survey of the homeless population.  The event featured a winter coats and clothing giveaway, health screenings, meals, resource information and more, with Monmouth County residents who have been under-served and marginalized also given the opportunity to register for social services that are available throughout the Bayshore area. Pictured are the volunteers of Pilgrim who participated in the event. (not pictured: agency volunteers and allied health care personnel who serve throughout the day).  For further information about Pilgrim’s Community Outreach initiatives, please call (732)747-2343.


Monty Python Holy GrailMonty Python co-founder John Cleese (at lower left in above photo, and below in 2016) makes his Count Basie Theatre debut introducing a Sunday evening screening of the 1975 comedy classic ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’

John CleeseYou know you’ve drifted into uncharted cultural waters when the co-founder of the most cheerfully anarchic comedy institution of all time likens your nation’s new presidential administration to a “pirate ship” — with the man who famously brought you the “Dead Parrot” sketch going on to brand the skipper of that ship as “delusional.”

Having returned in recent years to his British birthplace (where he advocated for Brexit-ing the European Union) after some two decades as a resident of the United States, John Cleese comes to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for the first time this Sunday, when the self-described “writer, actor and tall person” hosts a special screening of one of his troupe’s finest celluloid moments, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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rb 27 linden 012417doug-cavanaughTwo years after the death of its owner, the house at 27 Linden Place in Red Bank is slated for demolition this week.

Doug Cavanaugh, seen at right in 2009 painting a hitching post he installed outside the house, left the property in his will to Saint James Roman Catholic Church, whose schools he’d attended.

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RBCS-MLK800pxPress release from Red Bank Charter School

Students at Red Bank Charter School took to the streets last Monday, January 16, carrying signs while marching through the community to mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The exercise was part of a series of events held at the school on Martin Luther King Day, to teach students about the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.

The day began with teachers in every classroom handing out bagels to students, an exercise designed to create fellowship among students. Students also created a CNN-like news program in which they produced segments about the Dr. King, the Taliban, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversy over their own school.

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sebastian-maniscalcoStandup comic Sebastian Maniscalco brings it to the Basie stage for an unprecedented six-show engagement this week.

What’s Wrong With People? Aren’t You Embarrassed? Why Would You DO That?!

For stand-up comedy star (and asker of those signature queries) Sebastian Maniscalco, the real question would have to be why wouldn’t he — as in, why wouldn’t a hard-working, dues-paying veteran of the nation’s “tough rooms” continue to surf a still-swelling wave of momentum that’s seen the onetime waiter hailed as no less than Stand Up Comedian of the Year?

While the Chicago native might seem an overnight sensation to some, his was a path that had as much to do with countless open-mic sign-ups and bowling alley gigs as it did his hit cable TV specials, popular podcasts, and high-profile appearances on Fallon, Conan, and Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars. When he comes to Red Bank for the first time this Thursday evening, the restless observer of modern mores will be forced to park it here for a spell, as he fulfills a commitment for six — count ’em — headlining shows on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

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Mia Barron as Sandy in ‘Hurricane Diane’ by Two River Theater playwright-in-residence Madeleine George (below).

madeleine-georgeTo get right to the sell point, it’s a play that’s set in Red Bank — maybe not that real-world Call In the Authorities/ Retail Churn Red Bank we know so well from redbankgreen, but a representation of coastal suburban living that manages to capture a distinctly Monmouth County set of mind.

It’s there in a cozy cul-de-sac neighborhood that a quartet of local women find themselves drawn to a strange visitor who blows into town like a game-changing superstorm — a “lesbian separatist permaculture gardener from Vermont” who stands out from the pack of lesbian separatist permaculture gardeners, in that she is in fact the Greek god Dionysus, come to enact a new agenda “in the dying days of the American empire, as the planet warms and the oceans rise.”

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project-fx-2017Press release from Count Basie Theatre

PROJECT FX 2017, the Count Basie Theatre’s statewide student film competition presented by Bank of America, is live at www.projectFXbasie.com. Starting now, students enrolled at any New Jersey high school or college can visit the site to learn about entering the competition, with an internship experience with Sony Pictures Classics, a high-end Sony camera and $1,000 cash at stake as the contest’s grand prize.

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, the Count Basie Theatre will proudly host the daylong PROJECT FX Festival, which will include workshops with film industry professionals, plus a showcase of the top vote getters in both the high school and college categories.

PROJECT FX is open to students enrolled in any New Jersey high school or college as of September 1, 2016. Students now have until Sunday, February 5 (extended from the originally announced date of January 15) to enter their films, which will then be judged upon by a panel of regional and industry-wide experts. Last year’s PROJECT FX competition and festival attracted more than 80 high school and college applicants from throughout the state. Go here to view last year’s finalists.

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9u-trll-east-teamThe season of wintry weather may have descended upon the local baseball diamond, but January means thoughts of “Play Ball!”, as the first month of the calendar year represents registration time for Two River Little League.

trll-logoCome spring time, recreation baseball and softball will be in full swing as TRLL begins its fourth season. Founded in 2013, the league welcomes young residents of Red Bank, Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Fair Haven and Rumson.

Participation in the league has grown each year, and in 2016 the league had its first tournament champion when the 9U TRLL East team (above) won the highly competitive NJ District 19 baseball tournament.

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PILGRIM baptistSpecial guest speakers, music, prayer services, a walk and a talk with local law enforcement professionals are all on the agenda, during an extended Social Awareness Weekend keyed to Martin Luther King Day, and hosted by Pilgrim Baptist Church and Monmouth Reform Temple.

[See UPDATE below]

While the calendar of federal holidays marks just one official day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — this coming Monday, January 16 — Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church believes that King’s work is too important, and still very relevant to our time, to be encapsulated within one 24 hour period. That’s why, beginning on Friday evening and following through the next three days, the Shrewsbury Avenue congregation sponsors a “Social Awareness Weekend” that carries forward a special collaboration with another long-established house of worship: Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls.

It’s a relationship that’s formed the foundation of a local tradition in recent years; one that continues for a third annual edition on January 13 with a Friday evening Shabbat service at MRT — a 7 p.m. all-welcome observance that features special guest speaker Diem Jones, executive director of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Arts Foundation.

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timhogan_nancymulheren_jennifersmith_rmc-board-room_3930master_webPhilanthropist Nancy Mulheren (center) is pictured with Riverview Medical Center president Timothy Hogan and RMC Foundation exec director Jennifer Smith, at the Foundation’s recent board meeting.

The fourth quarter board meeting of the Riverview Medical Center Foundation was a significant occasion for Nancy Mulheren, as it marked the close of the Rumson resident’s two year tenure as the Foundation’s chair. The real estate manager who has served on the RMCF board since 2011 wasn’t quite finished, however,  as she will continue to serve as a trustee of the organization.

She also used the occasion to announce a $1 million dollar pledge to Riverview and Meridian Health Affiliated Foundations’ comprehensive campaign, Giving Heals — a gift, made through the NYC-based JAM Anonymous Foundation, that is dedicated to improving clinical outcomes at the Front Street facility.

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