on borrowed time 4‘On Borrowed Time’ continues its run at the Two River Theater, above. Judith Krall Russo, below, talks tea and women in history at the Eastern Branch Monmouth County Library Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, September 27:

SONY DSCSHREWSBURY: Alexander Saulon leads a discussion about social media sites and how to use Skype and Facebook to stay connected with family and friends at the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library. The discussion begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

RED BANK: Keep up with the Jonzes at the Walt Street Pub for some Friday night entertainment. The Jonzes are sure to please with their eclectic musical range from heavy metal to reggae, pop, dance, and more. The music begins at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

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kirk jirks 2 100211Local faves Brian Kirk and the Jirks, above, return for the fourth Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival on Sunday. Below, Touch-a-Truck parks it at the Red Bank Middle School Saturday in a fundraiser for the Monmouth Day Care Center. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, September 20:

IMG_0008 (745x1024)LINCROFT: Carpe diem at TEDxNavesink, where attendees will get to experience 25 live talks in addition to livecast sessions from the “TEDxCity2.0” conference. TED is a nonprofit organization devoting to sharing “Ideas worth Spreading.” The nine-hour day is filled with sessions on topics like redrawing our oceans, repicturing paradise, remapping the self and more. The sold-out event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center and is followed by a light reception. Newman Springs Road.

RUMSON: The second annual Canterbury Arts: A Tapestry of the Arts show features works by New Jersey artists, with all proceeds going to Outreach Grants to benefit Lunch Break, Family Promise, HABcore, 180 Turning Lives Around and more.The three-day exhibition kicks off Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Saint George’s-by-the-River Episcopal Church. Tickets include a wine, beer, and hors d’oeurves/dessert and admission to all days of the show. Reserve tickets in advance. Tickets are $10 day admission, $40 reception (in advance), $50 at the door. 7 Lincoln Avenue.

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The orchestra seats have been covered in plastic at the Count Basie for tonight’s appearance by fruit-smashing comedian Gallagher. Still: pity the housekeeping crew. Troubador Pat Guadagno, below, is at Jamian’s Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, August 8:

SHREWSBURY: Take a ride over to the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library as big rigs from Shrewsbury Public Works line up for touch-a-truck. Big Truck Day is both kid and adult friendly, and begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

SHREWSBURY: The Master Gardeners of Monmouth County demonstrate vermicompost, using worms to make nutrient-rich soil at the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch. The compost demonstration begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

MIDDLETOWN: The Manga Club gets a special visit from voice actress Michele Knotz – voice of May in Pokémon as well as video games, audio books and more – at the Middletown Main Library. J*Con: A Manga Club Special Event, features food, games, anime, manga, prizes, cosplay, as well as a Q&A with the manga star. Register in advance online, the event begins at 12:30 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

RED BANK: Dig Into Reading at the craft party hosted at Red Bank Public Library, where kids can create rock paintings and animal fossils. The party lasts from 3 to 4 p.m. 84 West Front Street.

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Kimberlee Thornton, self-styled “production mom” for the reality show “Comic Book Men,” rocks a superhero cape on Broad Street in Red Bank Monday to mark the start of taping for the show’s third season. “Comic Book Men,” set in film director Kevin Smith‘s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, will again run on the AMC cable channel in the fall, having moved last season from Sunday nights to Thursdays. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


A promo video for ‘Eat! Drink! Italy!,’ Red Bank restaurateur Victor Rallo’s new TV show, which gets a launch at the Basie Saturday night. Below, a rousing night of patriotic songs fills the First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill Sunday. (Click to enlarge)


Friday, July 5:

RED BANK: The Josh Zuckerman Band stops by the Walt Street Pub for an energetic Friday night set. The show beings at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

RED BANK: Blues rock  guitarist Matt O’Ree and band perform at Jamians Food & Drink.  The show begins at 8 p.m. 79 Monmouth Street.

SHREWSBURY: Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library hosts a discussion on Treasures of the Monmouth County Parks, including an update on the status of the park system post-Hurricane Sandy for this edition of First Friday for Seniors. The discussion begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

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The Fab Faux play the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ at the Basie Saturday night. Navesink River Rowing offers free introductions to the sport Sunday. (Click to enlarge)


Friday, June 21:

MIDDLETOWN: Meditate and relax at the Middletown Public Library Falun Dafa cultivation class.  Designed to improve mental and physical wellness, Falun Dafa is a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice that uses a series of exercises, meditation and development of the heart and mind (Xinxing). The class runs from 2 to 4 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

RED BANK: “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for another side-splitting stand-up routine. Tickets are $29, $39, $49 and $99. The comedy starts at 8 p.m. 99 Monmouth Street.

RED BANK: The Jukebox Criminals steal the show at the Downtown, starting at 10 p.m. 10 West Front Street.

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Guitar slinger Matt O’Ree rocks Jamian’s, and an exhibit of contemporary at at Gallery U are among the weekend highlights. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, June 7

SHREWSBURY: Stay in touch with old friends using new technology. Alexander Saulon demonstrates how to use Skype and Facebook to connect with friends and family by using the guide he created to teach his mother. He will also discuss Internet security issues associated with social media websites. First Friday for seniors starts at 11 a.m. Middletown Public Library, 1001 Route 35.

RED BANK: VASARA, a group exhibition of contemporary art, celebrates its opening reception at Gallery U featuring mixed-media artwork by more than 20 talented artists. The reception runs from 6 to 9 p.m. 80 Broad Street.

RED BANK: Marty & the Martians invade the Walt Street Pub. The show starts at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

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Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty, Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, and Jade King Carroll make their Two River Theater directorial debuts during the just-announced 2013-2014 season.


As John Dias tells it, “We want to make sure we’re doing work that you want to see.”

The nationally renowned producer and artistic director of Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company was at the podium Sunday night, addressing an audience of supporters during an event that’s become a highly anticipated rite of spring: the announcement of TRTC’s next season of mainstage presentations.

The 2013-2014 schedule that begins on September 14 marks a genuine milestone, as it represents the 20th anniversary season for the troupe founded by Robert M. and Joan Rechnitz, a company that staged its first productions at Monmouth University before spending several years at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre and eventually moving into its own branded Bridge Avenue building in May of 2005.

Introducing his third season’s selection of classic comedies, modern American dramas and original musicals, Dias praised the slate as one that meets three crucial criteria: honoring the theater’s mission, bringing in “some of the exciting artists working in the theater today,” and reflecting the two-decade history of TRTC. The 20th Anniversary season, for which subscriptions will soon be made available, unfolds just around the corner.

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Yumi restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright is now back in business, adding to the growing list of stores coming back on line in the hurricane-battered borough. The eatery features sushi and “neo-Asian” cuisine. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty, left is at the center of a “vortex of neurosis,” as Nöel Coward’s “Present Laughter” comes to Two River Theater in a production directed by “Frasier” co-creator David Lee, right. 


Just about one year ago, actor Michael Cumpsty — then a Tony nominee for his role as Judy Garland’s accompanist in the Broadway engagement of “End of the Rainbow” — stood on the stage of Red Bank’s Two River Theater and introduced the project that “will bring me back to Red Bank, which is where I want to be.”

The project in question is “Present Laughter,” the 1942 comedy by the multifaceted Sir Noël Coward, and a play that Cumpsty described as being about “an aging matinee idol, who throws everyone around him into a vortex of neurosis… kind of like [my] life.”

Beginning Saturday and for the next three weekends, the British-born veteran of more than 20 Broadway shows — and screen parts that include Nucky Thompson’s associate Father Ed Brennan on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” — steps into the role of Garry Essendine: frothy farceur, master manipulator, debonair devil, and a character written by Coward as “a bravura part” for himself.

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At the Basie Saturday afternoon: dogs and cats rescued from shelters and given a new, ahem, leash on life as circus performers. Matt O’Ree, below, brings his guitar chops to Jamian’s tonight.  (Click to enlarge)

Friday, May 3:

RED BANK: The high-energy Marty and the Martians make their debut in a series of Friday night appearances at the Walt Street Pub, playing an upbeat set including hits by Neon Trees, U2, Foo Fighters and more. The show begins at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

RUMSON:  Join the electro-acoustic/pop/rock singer Brian Bisbee at Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn, 132 East River Road, at 9 p.m.

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Greg Russo records an interview with Sea Bright resident Joey, who declined to give his last name, for a video blog. Below, cubicles set up for private consultations in the borough community center. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


Six months removed from Hurricane Sandy, Sea Bright residents are still grappling with recovery and rebuilding challenges.

According to the borough’s volunteer coordinator, Frank Lawrence, many residents continue to face an uphill battle with insurance and construction issues, financial woes and severe emotional strain.

To help its residents deal with these overwhelming problems, the borough has partnered with several local and national charities to put together the Sea Bright Resource Center, a place where case managers, counseling services and more are readily available free of charge.

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Reunited once more for their most ambitious tour in over 25 years, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong take it to the boards of the Count Basie on May 1 for an evening of  mirth, music and munchie-inducing classic routines.


Is this any way to observe 420 Day? If you’re the elder stoner statesmen Cheech and Chong, you’ve spent that nationwide celebration of cannabis culture in seemingly uncharacteristic fashion —  up before the sun, doing tightly scheduled rounds of press, and interfacing with fans on social media platforms that range from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and everything short of Christian Mingle.

Truth be told, Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong have a collective work ethic that’s seen them embrace new tech, new formats and new channels of distribution almost as fast as they’re dreamed up — and, with their first big tour in over 25 years now underway, the Grammy-winning kings of most media have a lot of lost time to make up.

On Wednesday, Cheech and Chong’s Third Reunion Tour finds the gold-plated “cult” stars of stage, screen and stereos heading into Red Bank for an 8 pm appearance at the Count Basie Theatre in which the pair recreate many of the classic, bongwater-basted sketch routines from their smash comedy records of the 1970s — a post-Woodstock era that routinely saw single releases like “Basketball Jones,” “Earache My Eye” and “Sister Mary Elephant” crashing the Top 40 charts (and causing as much angst among radio programmers as among parents of the nation’s easily corrupted youth).

It’s a debut for the duo, in the borough that claims a couple of their spiritual offspring — Jay and Silent Bob — as “homegrown” favorites. It’s also a chance for the veteran comedy team to promote the first new Cheech and Chong project in a generation — the soundtrack to the feature-length Cheech and Chongs Animated Movie!, with nine all-new songs augmenting a cartoonified collection of vintage vignettes from such discs as Cheech & Chong’s Wedding Album, Los Cochinos, and Big Bambu (coincidentally, Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! kicked off its tour of screenings and podcasts on 4/20).

With Marin having stretched his mainstream chops in recent years (through projects that ranged from playing cops on network TV series to producing a series of children’s music albums) — and with Chong’s intermittent screen appearances overshadowed by a controversial 2003 federal prison sentence (documented in detail here) for selling drug paraphernalia online — the stock characters of the street-savvy Chicano and the eternal hippie look to take on new dimensions of time and tide and life experience.

4/20 came and went without a scheduled phone interview — but an apologetic Chong called the Comedy Desk at redbankgreen the following evening to bring us up to date. Flip the record over for more, man…

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Sudden pop star Ryan Beatty, seen here in a video shot recently on Broad Street, returns to Red Bank with a show at the Basie tonight. (Click to enlarge)


Friday, April 12:

MIDDLETOWN: Manga fans mingle at the Middletown Public Library for the bi-monthly Manga Club meeting. The event is free and begins at 3:30 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

RED BANK: Overnight web celebrity teen sensation Ryan Beatty, whose EP made number one on iTunes – and who made the girls swoon when he popped in recently at Yo Mon yogurt on Water Street  – makes an appearance at the Count Basie Theatre after an opening set by Jackson Harris. Call to reserve VIP Meet and Greet Passes ($65) 732.842.9000, or buy general tickets $15. The concert starts at 7 p.m. 99 Monmouth Street.

RED BANK:  “The Electric Baby” continues production at Two River Theatre through May 5. This adult drama, by award-winning playwright Stefanie Zadravec, follows the lives of three strangers and traces how their paths cross in ways they’d never imagine. Tickets are $24 to $42 and the show begins at 8 p.m. 21 Bridge Avenue.

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The Two River Theater has a full weekend in store, with a play opening Saturday and a Kids’ Day Sunday. Below, Geri Grey’s photo, ‘Many Hands,’ from the Sprung! show at Gallery U. (Click to enlarge)


Friday, April 5:

LINCROFT: Visit Brookdale Community College for the opening reception of Cotillion, the AFA Student Art Show, featuring works by Brookdale’s second-year fine art students. The reception will take place in the Center for Visual Arts Gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. The work will be on display until April 17. 765 Newman Springs Road.

RED BANK: SPRUNG! A group exhibition of contemporary art kicks off opening night at Gallery U. Celebrate and admire the work of more than 18 artists from 6 to 9 p.m. 80 Broad Street.

SHREWSBURY:  The Monmouth County Library hosts “Delectable Desserts: A First Friday for Seniors Program.” Watch the chefs from Atria Tinton Falls demonstrate their culinary skills as they whip up some decadent desserts. Sample the sweets and learn how to make the dishes featured; recipes will be available. Admission is free and the event starts at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

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Ming Chen, right, talking smod with Michael Zapcic at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash last month.  (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)


Bites2_SmallAMC’s Comic Book Men, a reality TV show set at Red Bank’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash that airs its season finale tonight, features a cast renowned for snide and jaded banter on the world of comic books, movies, and television.

Throughout their playful, occasionally ball-busting discussions conducted online on ‘smodcasts‘ that anchor the show, store employee Ming Chen tends to be the brunt of the jokes due to his laid-back, friendly and unassuming disposition.

Chen, 38, started on his path to comic book heaven in 1996, while attending the University of Michigan. There, he studied everything from economics to organic chemistry, until he found himself skipping class to follow his true passion: web design. Chen says he “fell backwards” into his life as a professional nerd after he created a fan website for Kevin Smith’s movie ‘Clerks,’ which prompted Smith to offer him an internship. Since then, Chen has formed lifelong friendships with Smith and the cast, which includes Bryan Johnson, Michael Zapcic, Walt Flanagan, and “Steve-Dave.” This chemistry, Chen says, is what creates the show’s natural feel.

redbankgreen sat down with Chen, who also hosts the show “Puck Nuts” and is often featured on the podcast “Tell ‘em Steve-Dave,” for an installment of our infrequent Human Bites feature, which focuses on people and their passions.

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Push is at the Downtown tonight.


Friday, March 29

RED BANK: The Woman’s Club of Red Bank hosts the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation‘s Juke Joint Johnny’s Birthday Bash to raise money for the JSJBF and Woman’s Club Scholarship programs. The Anthony Reckless estate will be open for a night of entertainment and relaxation. Guests can sit on the porch or roam through the beautiful rooms of the estate while listening to jazz and blues music in a warm setting. The event is BYOB and light snacks will be served. The event will run from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and admission is a suggested $10 donation. 164 Broad Street.

RED BANK: There’s free yoga at Red Bank Public Library, with a session led by Amy Novak from 1 to 2 p.m. No registration is required, but you will need to supply your own mat. 84 West Front Street.

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The Daily Show political correspondent John Oliver brings his mordant wit to the Basie, and former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand is at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional to to discuss his book, below. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, January 11

LINCROFT: The Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College hosts the 23rd annual expo of home improvement contractors, vendors and manufacturers, a three-day event showcasing everything from spas to sponges, and every helpful/healthful thing between. Hours are from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, 11 to 8 Saturday, 11 to 5 Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 kids 12-17, under 12 are free. Newman Springs Road/Route 520.

RUMSON: Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, paralyzed in a game, talks about his effort to recover, as described in his book, ‘Believe: My Faith and the Tackle That Changed My Life’ (available at River Road Books). 7 to 10 p.m. 74 Ridge Hill Road.

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Mayor Dina Long at the annual reorganization of borough government Saturday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


Though it was an eventful, tumultuous year in this small beachside community, Sea Bright’s 2013 mayor-and-council reorganization meeting brought no major shakeups Saturday.

“We thought it was important at this time to keep things consistent,” Mayor Dina Long told redbankgreen shortly after she began her second year at the helm of local government.

“We definitely didn’t want to create new obstacles at this time,” she said. “We just wanted to help everyone and everything return to normal, or the ‘new normal’ as it should be called, because things will never be quite the same after Sandy.”

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Funnyman Artie Lange, seen at the mic as co-host of the NICK & ARTIE SHOW, returns to the Count Basie Theatre on Saturday in advance of his new book CRASH AND BURN.


Google the name Artie Lange and you’ll get way too many references to the phrase “train wreck.” Even for a public figure who’s never shied away from candid discussion of his substance abuse issues, on-air meltdowns and multiple stints in rehab, it seems a bit harsh — as if the star of standup stage, screens and satellite is being dogged by a destiny that comes rushing up like the proverbial northbound train on a southbound track.

Still, if you’re one of the famously Too Fat to Fish funnyman’s legion of loyal fans, you cannot look away — and this Saturday night, you’ll get another local look at the Jersey-bred jokester who’s mined genuine gold from pain, substance abuse, self-loathing and suicidal depression, when the boards of  the Count Basie Theatre creak for an encore stand by Lange.

A followup to a sold-out Basie gig of a few seasons back, the show finds the comic (best known for his long tenure on the Howard Stern radio show) at one of his intermittently scheduled career high points: as co-pilot of a new sports-talk vehicle (Nick & Artie with Nick Di Paolo); as a theater-filling Phoenix who keeps flapping back up from a series of personal and professional fails; and as author of a soon-to-be-released memoir entitled, wait for it, Crash and Burn.

The Lively Arts Desk at redbankgreen got the skinny on the Crash and Burn from Lange, and it’s just a flip of a page away.

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A camera crew with HowardTV On Demand, Howard Stern’s uncensored cable channel, spent Tuesday in the Red Bank Public Library and on the streets of town with resident Peter McHeffey, known to Stern fans as “Medicated Pete.” The segment, hosted by Howard100 reporter Jon Leiberman, left, will focus on a day in the life of Pete, who lives with Tourette’s Syndrome. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)


Dunbar Repertory Company presents Gail Wynn Huland El’s “dark comedy” GREEN HONEY LOVE in the Count Basie Theatre’s second-floor rehearsal space beginning tonight.


In a cubby of culture that’s long been home to some best kept secrets of local life, most interesting things have happened not so much under our collective noses, but just one flight of stairs over street level. We’re thinking here of McKay Imaging Gallery; the makeshift comedy club at the Dub; and Gerda Liebman’s Gallery 135 inside Monmouth Street’s Red Bank Community Church.

Beginning this Friday, August 17, and continuing for eleven more performances through September 2, the Monmouth County-based community stage troupe Dunbar Repertory Company returns with a new offering at the Count Basie Theatre — not the ornate auditorium of the venerable venue, but the second-story rehearsal space that’s often used for the educational programs of the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy.

Produced by Brookdale Community College faculty member (and participant on the Basie board) Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr., the play Green Honey Love comes to local audiences courtesy of the company that’s brought the annual Black Nativity stage show to the Count’s crib in the Christmas season. Here at the tail end of summertime’s dog days, the Dunbar team switches gears, from reverently joyful to raucously joke-filled.

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LAST COMIC STANDING semifinalist Erin Jackson, top, headlines Red Bank’s first-ever Comedy in the Park event, while (L-R) Tim Belford, emcee Chris Covert and Matt Perkins set the stage for the free show Wednesday night.


Like somewhat more ornery (and somewhat less romantic) cousins to the vampires of legend, stand-up comics are true creatures of the night — or, more to the point, creatures of the nightclub. Which is why, day or night, it’s unusual to find them doing their thing in the Great Outdoors, breathing in the fresh atmosphere, swatting away junebugs and skeeters like so many Chuckle Hut hecklers.

On Wednesday night, however, Red Bank Parks and Rec offers up something that few if any have attempted here in the season of beach chairs and blanket bleachers: an open-air Comedy in the Park event that lets loose its crack-up Krakens in the pleasant waterfront setting of Riverside Gardens Park.

As “free-range” as it is free of charge, the 8 pm program is headlined by Erin Jackson, a season six semifinalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and a frequent sighting on Comedy Central, BET and TV Guide Channel. The daughter of Washington, DC will be joined on the bill by a contingent of Jersey Jokers — among them a familiar figure who’s fast becoming an impresario in local laugh-maker circles.

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Justine Robertson, who revived a family-owned theater in her native Hartford, Connecticut, is the new interim CEO of the newly restructured Basie. (Click to enlarge)


Elbowing aside its CEO of the past decade, the board of the Count Basie Theatre has decided to merge the operation of the Red Bank stage with the theater’s fundraising counterpart, and has hired a Rumson woman to run the restructured entity on an interim basis, the theater announced Thursday.

Justine Robertson, a 27-year Rumson resident, replaces Numa Saisselin, who was widely credited for having steered the Monmouth Street theater from leaky-roofed money pit to a refurbished and financially stable cultural gem.

Saisselin, a onetime stagehand who colleagues say is more comfortable directing a load-in and negotiating band contracts than schmoozing potential donors, assumes the title of chief operating officer of the not-for-profit enterprise, answering to Robertson, who starts work on Monday.

With its choice, the theater signaled a shift in emphasis the nuts-and-bolts booking acts and theater upkeep to winning contributions from deep-pocketed individuals, Robertson said in an interview with redbankgreen.

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