Red Bank’s venerable Count Basie Theatre, which had its opening on November 11, 1926 as the Carlton Theatre (featuring The Quarterback, starring silent screen stud Richard Dix) continues to earn its a hard-earned rep as one of the premier performing arts centers in the region with a beehive-busy, seven-day schedule of entertainments being offered this week.
In an era when too many of its contemporaries have been reduced to a scratchy picture in some Images of America paperback, the Basie now undergoing a major facelift it maintains a level of activity that would pancake buildings half its age.
It’s a lineup that kicks off tonight with a show that sold out in a Tron-speed jiffy standup stuntster Daniel Tosh (above), whose sublimely snarky Comedy Central web-clip show Tosh.0 should add a touch of multimedia mayhem to the comic’s mic routine.
Sellout or no, tomorrow is another day and there’s more where that came from, happening at the Count’s crib.
Tuesday night at the Basie: a special screening of THE PROMISE, the documentary feature on Bruce Springsteen and the making of the seminal DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.
TUESDAY: THE PROMISE screening event. Hot on the heels of the Rolling Stones’ special re-release of Exile on Main Street comes an even grander gift idea although you’re probably gonna need a bigger coffee table to accommodate it. It’s a newly remastered, deluxe and expanded three-CD/three-DVD edition of Bruce Springsteen‘s milestone 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, and its November 16 release has been heralded in recent weeks by an HBO documentary entitled The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. As reported here on redbankgreen, the feature by director Thom Zimny will get its only NJ screening (and by screening we mean in hi-def, on a 40’x17′ screen) tomorrow night at 7p, with the Basie the house where the Boss performed Darkness in its entirety at a 2008 fundraiser concert giving a 50-percent discount off the $10 ticket price with a special offer to diehard Boss buffs. Ticket reservations and full details right here.
WEDNESDAY: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. They’re not the first all-Zep tribute act to tread the Basie boards, but surely the first with a bloodline pedigree. Not only is Jason Bonham the rightful heir to the drumkit throne of the late John “Bonzo” Bonham, he’s actually had a truth-in-advertising Led Zeppelin Experience (’twas he who bashed the skins during the band’s one-off 1988 reunion appearance) in between his dalliances with hairmetal outfits and FM-era retreads. This one’s branded as a “multimedia event,” with admission starting at $45 and a top ticket of $169 (portions of which go to the Basie’s Restoration Fund) gaining VIP access to “the very best seats in the house, plus a complimentary drumhead, a pre-concert reception with an autograph and photo opportunity with Jason Bonham.” Take it here for reservations and complete details.
THURSDAY: Wanda Sykes. Theatergoers know the Basie as the sort of venue where a happy artist/audience matchup is the stuff of a long-term relationship and making her return on November 4 is a comic who’s fast becoming a Red Bank regular. An Emmy winner for her cable standup specials and a familiar face on TV (whether her own series or The New Adventures of Old Christine), Wanda Sykes is that plainspeaking best friend you probably never had, that opinionated but caring neighbor who’s here to slap us on the path to righteousness. Link to tickets (plus info on a special promotion with McLoone’s Rum Runner benefitting the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy program) available here.
FRIDAY: Girls Night, The Musical. A UK import that made its Off Broadway debut in 2007, the crowd-pleasing show by Louise Roche comes to Red Bank for one night only on November 5 as part of the current nationwide tour. Described as “Desperate Housewives meets Mamma Mia!,” Girls Night stars Sonya Carter, Renee Colvert, Laurie Gardner, Justine Hall and Carly Sakalove as five friends (one of whom happens to be dead) out for a “wild and outrageous girls night out at a karaoke bar.” The show comes fully loaded with such instantly recognizable anthems as Its Raining Men, I Will Survive, Lady Marmalade, I Say a Little Prayer and Girls Just Want to Have Fun; tix can be reserved right here.
SATURDAY: Louis CK. Also making a triumphal return to Red Bank is the balding, bearded, t-shirted comic whose 20-plus years as an Emmy-winning writer (Conan OBrien, David Letterman, Chris Rock) and many more years as a bewildered but observant regular guy helped his short-lived HBO series Lucky Louie mount a subversive, winningly foulmouthed attack on the Everybody Loves Raymond family sitcom template. The “CK after truth” is back (sans TV wife) in the series saddle with his FX show Louie and back doing what he does best in front of a live audience on November 6, with tix gettable here.
SUNDAY: The West Point Jazz Knights FREE Concert. We don’t often equate drill-team precision with improvisation and bop-style experimentation, but few legendary generals ever claimed victory simply by staying in formation and in advance of Veterans Day (which also happens to be the theatre’s official birthday), the Basie boards are the parade grounds for this elite and highly mobile unit of US Military Academy Band members. Having served with such COs as Benny Goodman, Jon Faddis and Randy Brecker, they’ll be “recreating the sounds of the great Big Band jazz ensembles, and playing innovative original compositions and arrangements” in a 3p concert for which admission is FREE although reservations are required and can be made right here.
Following a brief birthday break, the action picks up again at the Basie on November 12, with the return of Red Bank’s own Phoenix Productions in their staging of The Full Monty (about which more to come here on the ‘green) followed by a full house of favorites that includes Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Tracy Morgan and an unprecedented three-night stand by Lewis Black. Take it here for updates and particulars.