Although it’s a brand-spanking-new addition to the growing crop of world premieres from Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company, the upcoming production The Ballad of Little Jo represents the culmination of a years-long process, through which the borough-based stage troupe nurtured and developed the highly anticipated musical adaptation that closes out its 2016-’17 season in grand style.
Folk singer Joe Crookston takes the mic at the Unitarian Meetinghouse this Saturday at the latest in the slate of Earth Room Concerts.
A little more than a year since sounding its first note in spring 2016, the Earth Room Concert Series at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation has established itself as a successful and genuinely “alternative” outpost in the midst of a big music-mad backyard.
Even as other area towns and venues have made a name for themselves as go-to places for classical music, jazz, blues, bluegrass and rock, the organizers of the Earth Room series sensed something of a deficit when it came to connecting folk music fans with national/international touring acts — the kind who often couldn’t stake out a place to play, other than the odd summertime festival.
More than 20 local food purveyors will be present when the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest commandeers the White Street municipal parking lot this Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
While the recent cancellation of Riverfest has left a hole in Red Bank’s yearly segue into summer, fans of strolling smorgasbords and top-down tunes needn’t wait too long to get their festival fix — as this Sunday, the White Street municipal parking lot will be the scene for the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest.
Beginning with a 1 p.m. performance Wednesday, seven opportunities remain for the general public to catch The Women of Padilla, the latest in an ever-growing portfolio of plays that have made their world premiere on the Red Bank stage of Two River Theater.
Written by Tony Meneses (whose previously produced project here was Guadalupe in the Guest Room), the drama is an ensemble piece that reflects an ongoing commitment by the theater company to develop and promote new works by Latino creators. It’s also a succinct and slightly surreal piece with an underlying universal quality — a glimpse at the home front in a time of seemingly eternal war, as well as the ways in which we find family, build community, and latch onto gossamer wings of hope whenever something important goes missing from our lives.
But West Street residents pressed for, and failed to obtain, changes to aspects of the plan that they worry will direct more traffic onto their block, some of it from motorists using the theater lot simply to avoid street traffic.
By JOHN T. WARD
Scratch another big outdoor event from the calendar: this year’s Red Bank Riverfest is off.
The cancellation followed a dispute over money, with the borough claiming it had been shorted last year, and an event organizer saying the town had “nickeled and dimed” the food-and-music festival until it was no longer viable.
As their name suggests, they’ve galavanted around the globe in every kind of (atmospheric and political) climate; played in front of Soviet premiers and princes and presidents and popes; and served as cheerfully anarchic ambassadors for the sweet science of basketball, and by extension the sort of barnstorming spirit that made America famous.
But where the Harlem Globetrotters almost met their match was in the run-up to a certain winter-storm-that-wasn’t-quite-all-that, by the name of Stella.
While the most storied franchise in sports entertainment was forced to postpone its March engagement at Brookdale Community College due to a prudent tilt to the side of caution, the nearly annual matchup of courtside vaudeville and venue couldn’t possibly be held back for too long — and on Wednesday and Thursday, the Globetrotters return to the Robert J. Collins Arena on BCC’s Lincroft campus for a two-night stand of slamdunk sleight o’ hoops on their worldwide Winter Tour.
Previews for ‘The Women of Padilla’ start this weekend at the Two River Theater. Below, playwright Tony Meneses.(Click to enlarge.)
In a 2015 redbankgreen interview, Tony Meneses confessed he “had a sense from the start that I was never gonna make money as a playwright, that it had to mean something more to me than that.”
The Guadalajara-born, Brooklyn-based dramatist was speaking about Guadalupe in the Guest Room, a comedy-drama with a personal slant that made its fully staged world premiere at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.
Linguist David J. Peterson discusses his creation of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for ‘Game of Thrones’ at Brookdale Community College this Thursday. (Click to enlarge)
In an age when many of the planet’s lesser-spoken dialects are feared to be on the verge of dying out, it might surprise you to note that the art of language invention is on the rise — and that a thirty-something guy from California named David J. Peterson is surfing the crest of this man-made wave.
A cult celebrity, thanks largely to his work on TV’s Game of Thrones, for which he crafted the Dothraki and Valyrian languages, and the Marvel Universe franchise — where his Dark Elf dialogue made beautiful music in Thor: The Dark World — Peterson has been sparking renewed interest in constructed linguistics through YouTube videos and personal appearances. And this Thursday, the man who can truly claim to have “the best words” will have the podium when he comes to Brookdale Community College. in Lincroft
Jazz chanteuse Champian Fulton (above) is among the guest speakers — while Ella Fitzgerald and “Kid from Red Bank” Count Basie are among the topics — when the annual Talkin’ Jazz series returns Monday.
“If you can play — if you can show me something, whoever you are — I’m listening,” said Red Bank-based jazz maven Joe “Mooche” Muccioli in these paperless pages several years back. It was a statement that underscored the democratic attributes of jazz music — and at the same time, it served to drive home the point that a true jazz player has got to go beyond talking that talk, and walk that walk.
During the National Jazz Appreciation Month of April, however, it’s also about talking the talk — particularly when the spoken word serves to illuminate the music that’s been called America’s one truly homegrown art form.
Kirsten Maxwell, above, and Matt Nakoa, below, perform Saturday night at the latest in a series of Earth Room Concerts.
While local folk music artists have occasionally been able to get face-to-face with audiences at annual festivals, coffeehouses and libraries, there just hasn’t been a consistent venue for national folk performers to ply their trade among the rock clubs, cover-band bars and theater-size stages of eastern Monmouth County.
That is, until the folks at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation initiated their series of Earth Room Concerts.
The backstage area of Red Bank’s Two River Theater is about to get bigger, if a plan in the works gets a green light from borough officials.
Scheduled for consideration by the zoning board next week, the plan calls for the construction of an architecturally bold addition to the existing theater for rehearsal spaces, costume-making and the building of props and scenery, according to documents on file.
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.
By JOHN T. WARD
Having worked his magic in creating a dazzling new gallery downtown last year, art collector Kenny Schwartz has now turned his attention to a factory on Red Bank’s West Side.
There, in the former home of B&C Custom Wood Stairs and Rail, at the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard and South Bridge Avenue, the auto dealer is creating a custom-frame shop to serve walk-in customers, major museums and galleries, including his own Detour Gallery, on Clay Street.
In an interview that appeared in our paperless pages several years back, famed choreographer Moses Pendleton shared his thought that “if people appreciate what I do, if they go out from one of our performances with a little less gravity in their skip, then I’ve been successful.”
Since 1971, when he co-founded the revolutionary Pilobolus dance company, Pendleton has done his part to fight the good fight against gravity — both the stodgy old natural law, and the sort of attitude that too often keeps a “fine arts” institution from having a joyful sense of humor about itself. When he left Pilobolus to forge the meeting of movement and stagecraft magic known as MOMIX, the self-described “avant gardener” renewed his mission of “exploring new and surprising ways to move and bend.” And when the troupe returns to the Red Bank stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, they’ll be newly exploring one of the works that made them one of the most celebrated forces in modern dance.
Bruce Hornsby, above at lower right, joins fellow Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs for a Monday night matchup at the Basie, followed on Thursday with a much-anticipated appearance by the Hot Sardines, below.
Picture this: you’re a celebrated, Grammy-winning musician and songwriter whose seemingly effortless mastery has seen him move with past the often artificial barricades of classic rock but your most immediate identifier remains the smash hit single that launched you out of the gate a generation ago. And that, fans, is just “The Way It Is.”
Undaunted, Bruce Hornsby continues to embrace that “elephant in the room” signature song with a “vibrantly expansive” new arrangement that stands as one of the highlights of his current tour — an ambitious itinerary that finds him stepping onto the stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight in the collaborative company of another multi-faceted music maker, his friend and fellow Grammy getter Ricky Skaggs.
When William Shakespeare put quill to parchment and began work on The Merry Wives of Windsor, he probably wasn’t laboring under the illusion he might create something to be dissected by critics and scholars for hundreds of years to come. The more immediate tastes of the popular audience were calling out to him, and with Wives the busy Bard had the opportunity to spin one of his most crowd-pleasing creations — Sir John Falstaff, the portly and roguish companion to the future king in the two parts of his historical drama Henry IV — into a rowdy (and cheerfully out-of-time) little knock-down farce.
Beginning this Saturday night, the Two River Theater offers Red Bank audiences not one but two rather unique takes on one of Shakespeare’s silliest comedies: one an intimately scaled three-actor adaptation that goes in search of the play’s “dark undercurrent;” the other an abridged full-cast version showcasing a talented company of high school age performers.
Among the five acts scheduled to perform at Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church this Sunday, the Last Whipporwill Bluegrass Band, above brings traditional bluegrass “as God and Monroe intended it.”
Like the jazz-and-blues house parties held on the last Friday of each month at the Red Bank Woman’s Club — and the regularly scheduled classical recitals at the White Street home of the Monmouth Conservatory — the libraries, community centers and places of worship on the Greater Red Bank Green have a long tradition of connecting music lovers with specialized sounds in a way that’s intriguingly under the radar, and off the beaten path.
This Sunday afternoon, another of the area’s “best kept secrets” raises its voice once more, as Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church plays host to a Bluegrass Stage Show and Jam that’s engaging, illuminating — and even interactive, should such things strike your fancy.
What do you do when your beloved surfboard gets stolen from your driveway? Well, first, you call the cops. Then, if you’re media maven and Red Bank resident Brian Donohue, you go wide, using your job as a video reporter to rally everyone within reach on a hunt for your most prized possession.
By JOHN T. WARD
They’ve been evicted so many times it’s almost funny, and the comedians who brand themselves as Improv Jam are about to lose their current home, in Red Bank.
But they haven’t lost their sense of humor, and comedy lovers — including those willing to surrender their cellphones to the cause — can catch them at their antic best every Saturday night, for free, on Monmouth Street.
Singer-dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward (above) are special guest Valentines of the New Jersey Symphony this Friday night at the Basie, and star conductor Xian Zhang (below) leads the orchestra back to Red Bank on February 25.
When it secured the services of the internationally celebrated Xian Zhang as principal conductor last year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra upped the ante on its bid to earn a place among the New York region’s premier musical organizations.
Now, the orchestra returns to its coastal New Jersey venue of choice — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — with a February slate that stands as a virtual valentine to its own versatility, whether waltzing across the works of the old masters or doing a Tin Pan Alley tapdance through the Great American Songbook.
Contributors to Jon Stewart’s new HBO project — including writer Brendan O’Hare, above, in the guise of obsessive basketball fan — make an encore appearance at Count Basie’s Performing Arts Academy Thursday.
As they did two months ago, writers and other contributors to Jon Stewart‘s hush-hush new HBO-project-in-the-works are scheduled to take a stage Thursday night in what one of them called a “dope little room that probably was a garage three weeks ago.”
Hey, a little respect: that “dope little room” next door to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre was once a Wa-Wa convenience store, we’ll have you know.
There are prodigies, and then there are prodigies — the kind of undeniable talent that simply rockets to the head of the class, unconstrained by any seeming lack of life experience, and forcing observers to concede that their performance has “often surpassed those of seasoned adults.”
Classical music lovers on the Greater Red Bank Green can see and hear one in action this Sunday.
When last we looked in on the Monmouth Players, that longest-running of all area community stage troupes was offering up a holiday-season production of A Long Christmas Dinner, a Thornton Wilder playlet in which a single dining room serves as the setting for a century’s worth of action, with a small cast playing multiple generations of characters in the life of an American home.
When the players resume their Season of Classics this weekend (their 63rd overall, if you can wrap your head around that), it will find them still lurking about the dining room — or more precisely, The Dining Room, an ensemble “comedy of manners” that packs its own playfully experimental edge.