RED BANK: CURTAIN UP THIS WEEKEND

Sound SchoolLindsay Wood as Maria joins the Phoenix troupe in bringing ‘The Sound of Music’ to the Basie boards beginning this Friday — while Moliere’s ‘The School for Wives’ receives a bold new production design, as Two River Theater opens an all-new season with a Saturday night preview.

One is that family favorite that you grew up on, the one where “the hills are alive,”while the other is a new take on a theatrical classic that’s nearly old as them thar hills.

While Red Bank’s world-class professional Two River Theater Company and Red Bank’s community players Phoenix Productions would seem to approach their art from totally different places, there’s a common mission to give the audience a production that’s awesome to behold: a show that makes for the centerpiece of a memorable night out.

This weekend, the resident semipro stage company at the Count Basie Theatre returns to the famous boards with a revisit to The Sound of Music, the last and, some say, greatest of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s catalog of game-changing musicals.

While the fact-based story of Maria Von Trapp and Austria’s Von Trapp Family Singers doesn’t have the history-making sweep of South Pacific or Oklahoma! – and carries echoes of the earlier King and I –  it’s got a score full of songs that can’t be denied: “My Favorite Things,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and more. In the Phoenix production that opens on Friday, September 12 (and continues with five more weekend performances through September 21), Lindsay Wood stars as Maria, with David Fusco (Captain Von Trapp), Todd Aikens (Max) and Kathy Marhold (Mother Abbess) heading up the supporting cast.

Also in the cast are six students from the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Red Bank Regional High School — including Eliana Swarz (Little Silver) as teenaged Liesl Von Trapp, and Bobby Davis (Shrewsbury) as her local crush Rolf. Jaclyn Gisondi (Shrewsbury), Jillian Lamanno (Little Silver), Victoria Aumack and Dana Brown (both Union Beach) perform members of the ensemble. Take it here for tickets, priced from $20 to $32 — and take it around the corner for more.

The last time that Two River Theater Company tackled the works of Molière, it was with a transposition of the 17th century French farceur’s masterpiece Tartuffe, to the Southfork-like setting of a Texas oil dynasty. When the master’s oft-revived comedy The School for Wives raises the curtain on a new TRTC mainstage season, it will stay firmly rooted in France — not the France of 1662, but a 1950s scene inspired by French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless) and photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The production design comes courtesy of two Broadway veterans — Tony winning scenic designer David Gallo (The Drowsy Chaperone) and costume designer Emily Rebholz (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike).

Bringing Richard Wilbur’s English translation of the original French script to the Two River stage is Brit-born Mark Wing-Davey, an in-demand director whose projects include many productions for the Public Theater, NY Theatre Workshop and Shakespeare in the Park — and who as an actor is well known to a certain segment of the populace as the two-headed Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s working in Red Bank with a cast that includes TV/movie character actor Robert Stanton (Dennis the Menace, Law & Order, Orange is the New Black), along with sibling team Bree and Carson Elrod. Going up in previews this Saturday, September 13, The School for Wives opens on September 19 and continues through October 5 with a mix of matinee and evening performances. Tickets ($20 – $42) can be had right .

More on The School for Wives to come here in the paperless pages of redbankgreen — and stay tuned for updates as well on Phoenix Productions, poised to move into spacious new headquarters in the months ahead (and holding auditions at their current Monmouth Street rehearsal space for their upcoming production of Spamalot, on September 13, 15 and 16 — check here for details).