Two River Theater artistic director John Dias presents IN THIS HOUSE, the first in a new series of staged musical readings, beginning Monday night at the Bridge Avenue artspace.
By TOM CHESEK
Things are seldom at a serene standstill inside the Two River Theater, the Bridge Avenue space whose creative team is right now prepping for previews of the latest mainstage production, Candida.
The classic play by George Bernard Shaw makes its Red Bank bow on Tuesday about which more to come next week in redbankgreen. In the meantime, John Dias, artistic director of Two River Theater Company (the entity that’s the brainy matter within the brick and mortar of the Two River performing arts center) has some equally exciting things happening around the house, from the troupe’s upstairs offices to the street-level “black box” of the Marion Huber room.
That upper-level news has to do with the formation of the company’s first-ever literary department an operation charged with identifying, nurturing, developing and realizing new and noteworthy works for the stage. It’s a project that Dias made no secret of when we first interviewed him in September of last year and, with the official appointment of Leigh Silverman as Associate Artist at TRTC, Dias has the “producing partner, literary manager sort of person” he’d been on the lookout for.
The youngest woman ever to have directed a Broadway show and a theater pro with a highly regarded eye for new plays Silverman has developed and debuted works from such premier playwrights as David Henry Hwang and Eve Ensler, and directed The Practice star Dylan McDermott in The Treatment Off Broadway.
With two new projects in the works on New York and Chicago stages, Silverman who worked with Dias on the Tony-nominated production of Well in 2006 joins the Red Bank team as it gets ready to inaugurate a much-anticipated slate of staged readings of new musical shows at 7:30p on Monday, March 21, with a single performance of the all new tunefest In This House.
Broadway veteran Jerry Lanning and TV’s Mary Beth Peil visit Two River Theater for a reading of the musical IN THIS HOUSE, co-written by pro footballer-turned-Grammy winner Mike Reid.
Described as “an intimate chamber musical about two married couples at different stages of life and the chance encounter that brings them together,” the show, featuring music by Cincinnatti Bengals tackle turned Grammy winning country composer Mike Reid and lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger (who wrote the book with Reid and Jonathan Bernstein), In This House is directed by Michael Cumpsty, an Obie award winning stage and screen actor in his own right.
Starring in this special one-night event will be Jerry Lanning (who traces his pedigree to the original cast of Mame!) and Mary Beth Peil (of the TV series Dawson’s Creek and The Good Wife). They’re joined by Brynn O’Malley and Nicholas Rodriguez as the younger couple.
TRTC subscribers got a taste of the new series at a preview announcement event last December, when a group of students and alumni of the Musical Theater Writing program at NYUs Tisch School of the Arts (including Tony winner B.D. Wong, who fans of Law and Order Special Victims Unit will recognize as police psychologist Dr. Huang) performed a selection of alternately funny and moving songs from eleven musical works in progress among them a new take on A Clockwork Orange, and Schlesinger’s fact-based frontier tale The Ballad of Little Jo.
Keep an eye on the ‘green for more fast-breaking news and further announcements regarding all that’s new and exciting at Two River Theater and stay tuned for more “Jersey Shaw,” when we talk to Candida director David Staller in the week that will be.