RED BANK: VEGAS TO BROADWAY VIA BASIE
Donny and Marie Osmond, below, bring the holiday cheer and more to the Count Basie Monday… followed by a twice-as-nice engagement by the touring company of the hit musical ONCE, seen in the promo video above.
To paraphrase the signature song of a certain fondly recalled TV variety series, it’s a show that’s a little bit Christmas, a little bit something else.
The entertainment-packed November/December schedule at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre makes for especially interesting sked-fellows this time of year — with the holiday season getting into early jingle via offerings like Phoenix Productions’ A Christmas Story: The Musical and this past Monday’s seasonal spectacular starring Brian Setzer, even as recently featured acts like Joe Bonamassa and The Pretenders have offered up a happy-humbug alternative to any potential reindeer overkill.
This coming Monday, one of the most disarmingly wholesome (and apparently ageless) acts in all of American popular culture makes its Red Bank stand, when Donny and Marie Osmond take to the Basie boards for a tinsel-shiny show that promises to “mix the holiday songs and spirit of their early television specials and recordings with a nostalgic look back on their storied career.”
Once upon a time a top-rated attraction on picture-tube television, the two most enduringly popular members of the showbiz Osmond clan have reconvened in recent years for an extended-run engagement at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas — a mix of song, dance, casino glitz and family-friendly comedy that’s garnered genuine raves for its entirely un-campy, un-ironic charms. It’s an ever-so-slightly scaled-down roadshow version of that production that rolls into Red Bank, with the siblings’ individual hits (“Paper Roses,” “Puppy Love”) sharing space with favorite duets (“It Takes Two,” “A Little Bit Country…”) plus a selection of Christmas carols and pop hits, for which tickets ($79 – $199) can be reserved right here.
Once was a surprise hit on the screen, in an age of Imax 3D megaplex blockbusters — and an even more surprising smash when it made its way to Broadway, where it picked up eight Tony awards (including for Best Musical) in 2012. A classic guy-meets-girl bagatelle with an intimately scaled energy, an infectious song-filled spirit and an ingenious twist to its staging, the professional touring production of the musical Once comes (not once but twice) to the Basie stage this Tuesday and Wednesday, November 29 and 30.
In the original 2007 indie film, actor-singers Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová starred (and performed their own score of songs, including the Academy Award winning “Falling Slowly”) as a struggling Dublin street busker and a young Czech woman (with a daughter by the name of Ivanka) whose interest in his music rekindles his passions for life, love and the pursuit of major label stardom. In a series of vignettes, the two bond over the joys of making music, the possibilities of the future, and the intricacies of vacuum cleaner repair.
First produced Off Broadway in 2011 and transferred successfully to the big stage, the live version of Once frames the songs of Hansard and Irglová with a cast that also doubles as the show’s orchestra, playing all of the instruments onstage. The setting of a saloon also plays a prominent role in the proceedings (an acclaimed 2014 professional engagement in Asbury Park commandeered an entire defunct nightclub for the occasion), with many of the productions incorporating a working onstage bar that serviced theater patrons at intermission.
The existing bars at the Count Basie will stand ready to serve when the show presents two 8 p.m. performances, so take it here for tickets ($39 – $89) — or go here for more info on the many upcoming “not necessarily the holidays” events at the Basie, including the annual Sinatra Birthday Bash (12/4), Norah Jones (12/6), and An Evening of Comedy starring the contributors to Jon Stewart’s new HBO show (12/8).