calpulli2The dancers and musicians of Mariachi y Calpulli Mexican Dance Company perform at the Count Basie on Cinco de Mayo, capping Thursday’s MoCo ArtWalk experience in Red Bank.

MoCo-Walking-TourIt’s being billed as the first in a new series of “MoCo Artwalks,” and hosted by the folks at the Monmouth County Arts Council and designed to give arts aficionados a strolling/rolling and altogether unique perspective on some fascinating goings- on in and around the MoCo (Monmouth County) Arts Corridor — a scintillating strip of station stops along the Matawan-to-Manasquan stretch of the North Jersey Coast Line.

Pericles TRTC 4-15-16 223 Pericles, by William Shakespeare Music and lyrics by Rinde Eckert, Choreography by Dan Knechtges, Directed by David Schweitzer Scenic Design: Caleb Wertenbaker Costume Design: Gabriel Berry Lighting Design: Christopher Akerlind © T Charles Erickson Photography tcepix@comcast.netA behind-the-scenes look at Two River Theater’s quirky musical production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles” (above) is among the stops on the debut MoCo ArtWalk Thursday.

For the inaugural event this Thursday, May 5, the MCAC explores its literal backyard beginning at 3:30 p.m., with a four-part tour of Red Bank’s “theater district” that commences at the council’s storefront headquarters at 105 Monmouth Street (the Count Basie Theatre building).

First stop on the ArtWalk is the nearby rehearsal studio space of Phoenix Productions, the long-running theatrical troupe whose production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid continues this Friday through Sunday at the Basie (take it here for tickets to any of those performances). Team Phoenix — who marked their move to the expansive new space on Chestnut Street with a gala affair one year ago — will offer ArtWalk participants a behind-the-scenes look at the multifaceted effort that goes into staging one of its family-friendly entertainments beneath the grand Basie proscenium, from the in-house scenery shop and promotions department, to the prop and costume archive that serves as a chronicle of the company’s quarter-century history and “let’s put on a show” spirit.

From the semi-pro Phoenix operation, ArtWalkers will head a couple of blocks north to Two River Theater, the branded Bridge Avenue homestage to the celebrated professionals of Two River Theater Company. A cocktail mix-and-mingle in the gleaming arts center’s lobby will be followed by an “on-stage set tour” keyed to TRTC’s current production of William Shakespeare’s Pericles. Created by Caleb Wertenbaker (and delightfully cluttered with details that include mementos from previous Two River shows), the scenic design offers up an unorthodox “bar at the end of the world” setting for the Bard’s sprawling saga of lost loves and epic quests across storm-tossed seas and ancient ports of call. It’s a playful, tuneful re-imagining of a relatively neglected Shakespeare work, adapted by multi-platform artist Rinde Eckert (interviewed here on redbankgreen). Go here for  Tom Chesek’s review of the production on, and take it here for tickets to remaining performances of the show that continues through this Sunday, May 8.

Crossing the tracks to Lambs & Wolves, participants in the ArtWalk event can take advantage of an “Art Inspired Makeup Demo” presented by the staff of the salon at 66D Bridge Avenue. It’s an opportunity to get in sync with the spirit of Glen Goldbaum’s eight-year-old West Side business, which together with sister salon Glen Goldbaum 72 has played host to numerous art openings, parties and book-related events.

Circling back to the Basie, ArtWalkers will cap the afternoon/evening by taking in a special Cinco performance by Mariachi y Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, the Queens-based, 16-member troupe of musicians and dancers under the artistic direction of Alberto Lopez that’s brought its tribute to the sounds, steps, styles, heart and soul of the Mexican-American community to audiences across the continent. Expect “warm, generous dancers and a mostly female band” plus “eye-popping costumes” and even a finale with flying machetes in the 7:30 p.m. event, for which individual (non-ArtWalk) tickets can be reserved here.

Tickets for the May 5 MoCo ArtWalk are $40 per person ($30 for MCAC members), and include admission to the Mariachi y Calpulli show at the Basie, as well as the cocktail reception at Two River and all other components of the tour. Call (732) 212-1890 ext. 3 to reserve.