RED BANK: MUSICAL THEATER IS KING

Dias 101The Victoria G. Mastrobuono Library at Two River Theater is the setting as Two River artistic director John Dias, right, delivers a talk on the American art form of Musical Theater, in advance of November’s production of CAMELOT.

With a formidable resume of credits that include Joseph Papp’s iconic Public Theater and his own celebrated productions, John Dias brought a real connection to the upper echelons of the American stage, upon becoming artistic director of Two River Theater Company a few seasons back. And as evidence of the respect in which Dias is held by his peers, his productions have brought TRTC’s Bridge Avenue auditorium audience members that have included Joel Grey, Bernadette Peters, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Rickman and TCM’s Robert Osborne, to name but a few.

The Two River A.D. has also brought a set of welcome new traditions to Red Bank, from his opening-night toasts to his illuminating and invaluable program notes for each new production. This Thursday evening, October 30, he’ll be hosting the latest in a recently minted series of engaging discussions — this one centered around the theme Musical Theater 101.

Presented in the theater building’s elegant Victoria G. Mastrobuono Library, the free, public-welcome lecture on the modern stage musical — its roots, and its evolution as one of the most truly American of art forms — serves as an appetizer for TRTC’s upcoming production of Camelot, a show that goes up in previews beginning November 15.

Directed by David Lee (co-creator of TV’s Frasier), the venerable Lerner and Loewe tunefest represents a rare musical for the Two River team, and a rarer-still foray into one of the tried-and-true evergreens of most-revived shows. Where once upon a time this show was the exclusive province of middle-aged warhorses like Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, however, the retelling of the legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table spotlights a young and energetic cast — topped by London West End veteran Oliver Thornton in his Stateside debut.

Dias, who offered Shakespeare 101 and Moliere 101 lectures in advance of other recent Two River shows, will be joined by TRTC literary manager Anika Chapin for the 7:30 presentation. Stay tuned to redbankgreen for more on Camelot — and take it here to RSVP for the free Thursday event.