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RED BANK: BASIE TO OPEN NEW VENUE

The Vogel features socially distant tables. (Photo courtesy of Basie Center. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njAfter seven months in darkness, the Count Basie Center for the Arts plans to snap the lights back on in October.

The Red Bank venue announced Tuesday that it will again host indoor performances with the opening of The Vogel, seating audiences of up to 150 in a new space built for up to 800.

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RED BANK: BASIE TAKES OVER MOVIE THEATER

For several months, posters outside the pandemic-idled Bow Tie Cinemas have read: “This is not a Hollywood ending. This is a Red Bank beginning.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njDespite facing an uncertain post-pandemic future itself, Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts has added a two-screen movie theater to its portfolio.

The entertainment juggernaut has taken over the former Bow Tie Cinemas venue on White Street, the Basie said in an announcement Monday.

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RED BANK: HOSPITALS CLAIM BASIE MARQUEE

red bank nj count basie hackensack meridian marqueeThe new name, Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, applies to the historic performance space, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

It may always be best known to locals as ‘the Basie,’ but Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent entertainment venue is nothing if not prolific with monikers.

On Friday, yet another new one went up on the Monmouth Street marquee that bears the name of the town’s most famous son.

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RED BANK: BASIE NOW ‘CENTER FOR THE ARTS’

The rollout of the new name will begin immediately, theater officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Marking the start of a new chapter — and the end of that whole ‘theater or theatre?’ conundrum — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre has been rebranded the Count Basie Center for the Arts, officials said Monday.

The name reflects the 92-year-old venue’s present and future as a “campus,” where performance art is learned, developed and staged, said Basie chief executive officer Adam Philipson. Read More »

RED BANK: BASIE STARTS MASSIVE EXPANSION

Dozens of local politicians and players in the arts world turned out for the event. Below, Basie board members Steven Van Zandt and his wife, Maureen Van Zandt. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A $23 million expansion of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre formally got underway Wednesday, beginning what’s expected to be a 20-month endeavor to turn the Vaudeville-era venue into a powerhouse for live performance and arts education.

The aim, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt told an al fresco gathering, is “to make Red Bank an example to the rest of the county of what it is possible to do” in elevating the arts.

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RED BANK: BASIE TO ABSORB CONSERVATORY

Vladislav Kovalsky, below, plans to fold the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, which he’s headed since 1998, into the Count Basie Theatre.

In a move that further cements its place at the heart of the Greater Red Bank Green’s cultural life, the Count Basie Theatre plans to merge the borough-based Monmouth Conservatory of Music into its existing suite of musical training and performance programs.

In a statement released Wednesday, the theater’s board of directors detailed a plan to assume operations of the 53-year-old MCM as a component of the Basie’s slate of specialized instruction programs in jazz, classic rock and Broadway-style performing arts.

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RED BANK: BASIE PIMPS STAGE TO PRESS

Signage touting the Asbury Park Press brand will be installed in front of the stage and projected elsewhere in the venue before and after shows. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After some 90 years as a lights-down sanctuary from the outside world, visitors to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre will be greeted by heavy pre- and post-show branding by the Asbury Park Press starting Tuesday.

According to an “exclusive” report about itself Monday, the Neptune-based Press will have its name in lights throughout the entertainment space: in front of the stage, on a drop-down screen, and on the walls before and after performances and during intermissions.

“You will be seeing an act that is performing on the Asbury Park Press Stage,” Basie CEO Adam Philipson is quoted as saying.

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RED BANK: BASIE PLANS MASSIVE EXPANSION

Basie expansion 1 102615An architect’s rendering of the expanded Count Basie Theatre includes additions on the east and west sides of the existing structure. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank’s Vaudeville-era Count Basie Theatre is in for a massive, $20 milion expansion that will turn it into a “creative campus” dedicated to the performing arts in coming years, officials said Monday.

Incorporating adjoining properties acquired in recent years, theater officials plan to “move toward our longtime vision of an entire city block dedicated to the performing arts,” Tom Widener, chairman of the theater’s board of trustees, said in an announcement released Monday morning.
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RED BANK: BASIE UNVEILS NEW ARTS SPACE


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Guests mingled in the new Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy Monday. Below, Yvonne Lamb Scudiery and Mayor Pasquale Menna spoke at the unveiling. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

cbpac 092115 1Old-timers will recall its days as a WaWa, but its future is as a laboratory for the arts.

So say officials at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy about the onetime convenience store that is now the academy’s home.

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RFH, M’TOWN SOUTH WIN BIG AT BASIES

3muskThe Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School staging of THE THREE MUSKETEERS won Outstanding Drama honors at the ninth annual Basie Awards, Wednesday night.

Productions of Evita by Middletown High School South and The Three Musketeers by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School took top honors at Wednesday evening’s Basie Awards, the ninth annual installment of the Count Basie Theatre’s celebration and recognition of excellence and achievement in high school theatre.

Both Evita and The Three Musketeers nabbed Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production trophies for their respective categories – Evita for musicals and The Three Musketeers for drama. Combined, the productions took home an astounding ten Basies, including The Three Muskeeters’ Christopher Brodsky for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, Christopher Tuttle for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama and the trophy for Outstanding Lighting Design in a Drama.

In addition to earning hardware for overall production and direction, Evita also earned awards for Outstanding Choreography (Jacqui Mazza) and Outstanding Chorus in a Musical.

The Basies also bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan and Robert Rechnitz, who founded the renowned Two River Theater Company two decades ago.

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BASIE GOES WEST FOR NEW CEO

Adam Philipson being interviewed on SCVTV Newsmaker of the Week in June. (Image courtesy of SCVNewsmaker.com, Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Count Basie Theatre‘s search for a new chief executive officer has ended on the West Coast.

The Red Bank nonprofit announced Monday that it has hired Adam Phillipson, managing director for the past four years at the Santa Clarita Performing Art Center at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, to run the performance space on Monmouth Street.

Justine Robertson, a Rumson resident hired as interim CEO in June, will become chief operations officer, reflecting management strengths honed running a family-owned for-profit theater in Hartford, Connecticut for 18 years.

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RED BANK: GYM PLANNED FOR CORNER SITE

The former home of Atlantic Glass on Maple Avenue is getting a tenant after a long vacancy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallA high-visibility Red Bank building gets a makeover for use as a gym; movie screenings return to White Street; and an insurance agency takes over a storefront.

Read all about them in this early autumn edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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RED BANK: DINING ‘PLAZAS’ ON THE TABLE

Customers dining in the sidewalk seating area of Robinson Ale House on Broad Street in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank officials have formed a committee to “creatively expand outdoor capacity for restaurants and retail sales” as the town embarks on a post-COVID-19 recovery.

One idea the committee is expected to chew over: use of public spaces for outdoor dining.

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RED BANK: INDIE FILM FEST SET FOR SUMMER

basie screen 070114The big screen at the Count Basie Theatre, seen here during a live broadcast of the 2014 World Cup, will serve as the home screen for a film festival scheduled to run in July. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ClapboardKept on a restricted diet for the past eight years, Red Bank-area fans of independent movies will finally get to binge again this summer.

An outfit called Indie Street — in conjunction with Red Bank RiverCenter, three major entertainment venues and even the borough middle school — is planning screenings of as many as 30 films over five days in July.

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RED BANK: A RED-CARPET, NAME-DROP NIGHT

Drummer_Carmine_Appice_(right)_works_with_Basie_Rockit!_students_in_advance_of_their_Vanguard_Awards_performance_on_August_29th.Legendary rock drummer Carmine Appice, above at right works with members of the Rockit! band in preparation for Saturday’s show, which also honors local music legend Bobby Bandiera, below.

bandieraA lieutenant governor, a captain of industry and a rock ‘n roll field marshal are the honorees — with some music royalty in the house — when the Count Basie Theatre presents its 2015 Vanguard awards in Red Bank Saturday night.

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RED BANK: PHOENIX LAUNCHES NEW HQ

PhoenixPhoenix Productions exec director Tom Martini (fifth from left) brandishes the scissors as the ribbon is cut for the theater company’s new home on Chestnut Street. Assisting during the May 8 gala party were (left to right) company president Lindsay Wood, plus board members Holly Hankins, Michael Dalberg, Bob Brown, Andrea Zawadzki, and James Marhold. (photos by Rich Kowalski)

It was a gala fundraiser and celebration unlike just about any other — one in which the “springtime casual” dress code abandoned the stodgy formalwear in favor of (in at least one case) full pirate regalia — an affair in which the microphone was commandeered for soaring Broadway-quality voices, rather than snoring speeches.

But then, this was no ordinary occasion for Phoenix Productions, the borough-based community stage company that recently fulfilled an ambitious relocation to (and renovation of) a spacious new rehearsal studio, craft shop, storage space and executive office complex at 59 Chestnut Street. More than a hundred guest well-wishers, community sponsors and alumni from past shows joined the Phoenix board of directors on the night of May 8, to cut the ribbon on the troupe’s new headquarters, to raise funds for ongoing projects, and to celebrate an entertainment legacy of more than a quarter century in song and in style.

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