TONY SMILES ON TRTC’s ‘BREL’ TROUPE

forrest-mcclendon-1Actor (and newly minted Tony nominee) Forrest McClendon joins already-Tony’d director Dan Ostling when Two River Theater Company begins its engagement of JACQUES BREL on May 17.

Just hours after Monday night’s announcement of the upcoming 2011-2012 schedule at Two River Theater Company, the Red Bank-based company had some additional, equally exciting news to share — an alert that added luster to the forthcoming final production of the current season, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

On Tuesday, the American Theatre Wing made public the nominees for the 2011 Tony Awards — and among the candidates for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical was Forrest McClendon, whose work in the tragicomic Kander-Ebb opus The Scottsboro Boys was one of 11 nominations garnered by the show.

With Boys having closed its initial Broadway run, McClendon is now deep into rehearsals in Red Bank as a member of the ensemble charged with bringing the revue of sharply written cabaret classics by the Belgian Brel to the Red Bank area audience for the first time.

But any hopes that the actor entertained of enjoying sole bragging rights on Bridge Avenue were short-lived, however, when it was announced that the (noncompetitive category) Regional Theatre Tony went this year to Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company — a troupe founded by Dan Ostling, the director and scenic designer of TRTC’s Brel.

That two Tony-lauded talents should find their way to the same Red Bank production might have popped a monocle or two back in the day. As Two River artistic director John Dias reinforced in Monday’s presentation, however, this is a company that regularly attracts recipients of major honors — not just the Tony, but the Drama Desk Award and the Obie. In addition to McClendon, the Brel cast boasts young veterans of such Broadway shows as Miss Saigon, Mamma Mia and Everyday Rapture.

Sightings of Tony winners may soon become as common in Red Bank as nesting songbirds on Sandy Hook, as Al Pacino (2011 Best Leading Actor nominee for The Merchant of Venice) comes to the Count Basie Theatre for a June 1 fundraiser — and already awarded a 2011 Tony for Excellence in the Theater is William Berloni, the legendary animal trainer who spent about a week in town recently when he worked with Phoenix Productions on their April production of Annie.

More on Brel (which ends its Red Bank run with plenty of time for McClendon to make it to the June 12 Tony ceremony) to come in these pixelated pages — while individual tickets (as well as subscriptions for the 2010-2011 season) are available now via the TRTC website.