RED BANK: VOICES & VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS

Vienna Boys CODAThe touring company of the venerable Vienna Boys Choir takes the Count Basie stage on Monday, December 15 — following a weekend of NUTCRACKER performances presented by Company of Dance Arts, and choreographed by Peter Anastos. 

The notion of Red Bank as the area’s unofficial Capital of Christmas Entertainment — and the landmark Count Basie Theatre as a veritable Santa’s Workshop of seasonal diversions that range from the sacred to the silly (and, in one upcoming instance, even the playfully profane) — is reinforced big-time over the course of the next week-and-change. Keep it tuned to redbankgreen for the details as they unfold — and keep it glued to the Basie seats for a ten-day sleighride that begins this very afternoon, December 13.

Like the Monmouth Civic Chorus presentation of Handel’s Messiah that preceded it on the Basie boards, the annual staging of the Tchaikovsky ballet The Nutcracker by the borough-based Company of Dance Arts is one of those hometown traditions without which it simply “wouldn’t be Chrismas” —  a staple signifier of the holiday season in Red Bank for 29 years and counting, and an institution that’s employed the talents of generations of performers (in addition to drawing multi-generational audiences to its performances). Choreographed by the nationally renowned Peter Anastos — and mixing guest soloists from New York dance companies with local professionals and the young students of the CoDA company — the colorfully costumed production inaugurated its 2014 schedule with a special Friday morning school show on December 12, and returns for four public performances (1 pm and 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday). Despite ever-changing casts — and the often significant ways in which both the Count Basie Theatre and Red Bank have changed over the past 30 years — the ballet remains a direct link to a simpler “small town” era of community life, and a great generator of memories, regardless of whether you’re seeing it for the first time or the 29th.

Tickets to any of the four performances of The Nutcracker ($20 – $40) can be reserved here.

If there’s one stage tradition that predates even Red Bank’s Nutcracker, it’s The Vienna Boys Choir, the internationally legendary institution (aka Winere Sängerknaben) that first performed — and strictly for royals in those days — circa 1498. It wasn’t until some 410 years later that the Choir first shared their vocal gifts with the general public — and while no original members of that 1918 roster remain, the Austria-based nonprofit company has been busily building its instantly recognizable brand ever since; singing for an estimated half a million people each year, and operating four separate touring units under the names Bruckner, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.

It’s the current US touring Choir that makes its Basie debut on Monday evening, December 15, with a selection of Christmas hymns and carols expected to share the program with the traditional waltzes and lieder of the group’s native Austria — and possibly even some surprises from the contemporary music soundscape.Take it here for tickets ($25 – $45) to the 7:30 pm concert.