Constantinemaroulis2714015_2Judas Priest! It’s that guy from Idol as Iscariot, with the singer from Almost Queen as Jesus (we kid you not)!


House is in reruns; the Basie‘s about to go dark til autumn; you’ve got no gas to go any farther than the Arts Center, and the talent there just topped the $500 mark for the first time.

Is that what’s botherin’ ya, bunky? A dearth of entertainment options? Well, it’s time to take stock of the situation — community summer stock, that is, the season for which begins to heat up just about this time each year in the greater Red Bank oRBit.


Broadway bus trippers may not bat an eyelash at the prospect of Brooke Shields or Brady Bunch Brothers filling in for two-week runs in their favorite musicals, but when someone tells you that notorious American Idol runner-up Constantine Maroulis will be appearing as Judas in a local community production of Jesus Christ Superstar — with Jesus himself portrayed by the frontman for the tri-state’s pre-eminent Queen tribute act — well, you’ve just gotta spit-take your MiJovi.

It’s all true: veteran producer-director Mark Fleming (fresh off the Van Zandt-Milmore comedy Wrong Window at Brookdale Community College) will open the new summer season of his long-running Premier Theatre Company this Friday, with season-four finalist Maroulis and Freddie Mercury channeler Joe Russo in a new production of the early smash by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

The show, which runs nine performances through June 28, goes up at the Henderson Theatre (on the grounds of Christian Brothers Academy) off Newman Springs Road in Lincroft. As a special treat there will be opening pop/rock sets by such area performers as Rick Barry, Eric Ginsberg and musical director Anthony D’Amato. Tickets ($26 general admission) are sure to be snapped up by curious idolators; they can be reserved at the Henderson website, where you’ll also find info about upcoming Premier revivals of Damn Yankees and The Fantasticks.

Statusquo_2Phoenix Productions returns with its smash staging of Disney’s High School Musical, just one of the summertime entertainments going up this weekend in and around Red Bank.

Well, it might not star Clay Aiken, or even Harry Connick Jr. (who toplined the cast in a recent Broadway revival), but George Abbott’s 1950s musical The Pajama Game — with songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross — is a fun outing that’s more than just a relic of its Mad-Men era.

Built around the unusual theme of love in the midst of labor unrest at a garment factory, the tunefest comes to the Barn Theatre at Thompson Park (just a note’s throw from the Henderson) as the first in the Monmouth County Parks System’s traditional summer slate of shows. It goes up next Friday (June 20) at 8p, it continues with six performances through June 29. Tickets ($15 general admission) may be reserved by by calling 732.842.4000, ext. 1. While you’re on the line, ask about their upcoming production of Seussical: The Musical, as well as their children’s theatre series.

It was just last year that one of the savvy moms at Red Bank-based Phoenix Productions convinced the board of the venerable nonprofessional company to try a one-weekend run with a little thing called Disney’s High School Musical, a TV-spawned sensation that most of the older folks in the troupe were completely unfamiliar with.

One sold-out run later, the board appears to have gotten the message that HSM is a force of nature to be reckoned with, one engineered to sell great big blocks of family-excursion seats. With producer Wendy Dobbs and director Tom Frascatore along for the ride once more, the tween-pop tale of cliques, clulessness and cleanybopper love takes to the Basie boards this Friday for a six-show run that continues through June 22. Tickets ($22-29) may be reserved at the Count Basie website.

Phoenix will return in November with a grand-scale take on another Disney property, Beauty and the Beast, at the newly refurbished Count.

More to come in the not too far-flung future, including the latest in director John Bukovec’s Summer Shakespeare Festival productions (this one a starlit look at the starcrossed lovers Romeo and Juliet) outdoors at Brookdale Community College; plus a promising production of the inside-out sex farce Noises Off at the underutilized Holmdel Theatre Company, where famed actor and educator John Astin will deliver a pair of one-man fundraiser performances later this month.

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