IN oRBit: WIDE AWAKE IN ARTVILLE

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The news that cheese actually promotes healthy sleep should be cause for some concern on the wine-‘n-cheese reception circuit, since patrons of your garden-variety boring art show would be in danger of nodding out into the hummus — but fortunately, over at Red Bank oRBit, we don’t have that problem.

In fact, today’s edition of redbankgreen‘s satellite site for local culture vultures offers no less than ten eye-opening events taking place this week, in all conceivable nooks and crannies of the area’s fertile artscape. It’s a tour that takes in a special Black History Month exhibit, an annual show and sale at a local school, a cowboy-themed display at one of our finer hotels, and a special appearance by The Venerable Lama Pema Wangdak of Tibet (pictured).

All this plus the best of what’s already up on the walls, in and around the greater Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: THIS ISN’T ‘NAM, THIS IS BOWLING

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“It’s great to see it on the big screen with a lot of people,” Jeff “The Dude” Dowd told Red Bank oRBit back in 2008, as he prepared to host a screening of The Big Lebowski at the Count Basie Theatre. “Plus they have a bar!”

The Coen Brothers‘ cult film that used the real-life Dude as inspiration for its underachieving protagonist (a phenomenon that’s spawned dozens of Lebowski Fests, books, social “not-works” and downmarket merch opportunities) is back — not in your living room, but in the entirely appropriate setting of the Asbury Lanes, the retro rec center turned atom-age alley of the alternative arts.

It’s both a bowling tourney and a benefit for the nonprofit ArtsCAP organization, and we’ve got the details  you’ll need — but that’s not all. Order in the next ten minutes and we’ll throw in absolutely FREE a new series of no-charge classic movies on the big screen of the Count Basie Theatre — a schedule that starts Thursday night with 1984’s  Amadeus and continues with eight more events, including two (The Goonies and The Magnificent Seven) this very weekend. These coming attractions have been approved for all audiences, and you’ll find ’em right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: A WINTRY MIX FOR MIDWEEK

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Granted, it’s still the darkest days of the cultural offseason, but in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, we’ll remind you that there’s never nothing happening here in our prime-cut filet of the Shore — where the dreariest weeks of midwinter still manage to kick the crap out of much of the rest of the map.

There’s a chance, for example, to make some noise with the pots and pans alongside one of the Shore’s favorite chefs. High-profile appearances by a Nobel Prize nominee, a real live TV medium, and one of the great voices of New York rock radio. Opportunities for artists and media types to network (or not-work, as the case may be). Free (or wee-fee) screenings of recent motion pictures.

So, whether you’re getting up early to catch a big and free BCC appearance by author and activist Greg Mortenson (pictured), or heading out at night to catch psychic psensation Lisa Williams at the Basie or support your neighbor’s band, we’ve got the alternative to the umpteenth Office marathon — with a weeklong forecast of heavy participation — right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: HEDDA, THE DOLLS & BOSS PIX

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The things we do on Saturday night are often best not viewed by light of day — but fortunately, Mike Black didn’t get that memo. The ace photographer has shared with us his amazing series of images (featuring guest star Bruce Springsteen, Joe Grushecky, Eddie Kowalczyk and a Soprano or two) from last Saturday’s Light of Day concert in Asbury Park — and you’ll find them EXCLUSIVELY in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit.

But talk about a harsh morning-after: if you’re that trio of tragic heroines from Jacqueline Susann‘s Valley of the Dolls, you’ve just downed a Crayola-box of pills, broken every TV taboo of the MadMen era and been through more wig-pulling, gutter-meltdown crash ‘n burns than a season’s worth of cable clip shows. But the biggest indignity is yet to come, as the one and only Queen of Green Hedda Lettuce returns this Saturday to screen the 1967 camp classic that starred Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins and the genuinely tragic Sharon Tate.

The famed drag performer and comic chanteuse (who always manages to remain one crisply dressed salad no matter what night or morning it may be) will be shredding the film with a live custom narration, interactive skits and much more — and we’ve got the exclusive commentary track from La Lettuce herself, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: EDDIE AND THE PROFESSOR

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joncaspismall1We’re not outright suggesting that audiences prefer their rock and pop performers to play dumb, but if you’re Jon Caspi (left) — college professor and expert in his field by day; aspiring singer and songwriter nights and weekends — you do what you can to keep those aspects of your existence separate but equal. And yet, as we find out in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, the good doctor’s particular area of scholarship informs his songwriting in a way that’s found its most compelling outlet in Eddie Knows!, the “rock novel” that he released independently last year.

In a 2009 appearance at the Red Bank Public Library, the Holmdel resident previewed the story-songs from the CD in a way that caught the attention of Mike Sodano — avowed Caspi-an and co-owner of The Showroom, the Asbury Park screening space that we’ve regularly praised for its continuing adventures outside the Jujyfruit-box of what a movie house could and should be. This Saturday, Caspi and the Showroom partners present the world premiere of a live multimedia theatrical experience adapted from Eddie Knows! — an experience that’s managed to sell out both of its scheduled performances.

Undaunted, we pay a visit to the prof to find out more about the evolving project, and you’ll find the deep details on the double life of Dr. C — ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: TWO ON THE AISLE @ TWO RIVER

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Ever since we launched our satellite site for all things locally cultural, Red Bank oRBit has brought you the bar-none best coverage of the Two River Theater and all who sail with it — not just the mainstage productions from the borough-based professional troupes Two River Theater Company, but the many “guest events” and interesting characters (Springsteen and BonJo; Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alec Baldwin; Robert Wagner and Kevin Smith) who’ve passed this way through town.

This weekend brings two more special guests to the 2RT stage — starting with national headliner funnyman Mike Marino, who performs on Friday in a Laugh Out Loud comedy event dedicated to the benefit of the Monmouth County nonprofit 180 – Turning Lives Around. Then on Saturday, it’s a night of spiritual songs featuring Joshua Nelson (above), the one-of-a-kind, Oprah-approved Next Big Thing who puts his own soulful gospel spin on traditional Jewish music.

We’ve got the particulars, along with some helpful reminders of what’s going up onstage on Bridge Avenue in the weeks to come, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: WINE ‘N CHEESE IN WINTER

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The unofficial art walk is back — and baby, it’s cold outside — but over at Red Bank oRBit, we’ve got enough virtual wine and cheese to warm whatever cockles haven’t turned deep purple and broken off by now.

In today’s edition, we look in on a local institution that most folks tend to speed by on its stretch of converted cowpath — but at fifty years and closing in on 500 members, Shrewsbury’s Guild of Creative Art is scarcely a secret, best-kept or otherwise. With its latest show Edgy to Avant Garde, New Jersey’s largest artist cooperative is turning the corner on the next half century in surprising style.

We’ll also remind you about two big events opening this weekend at the Monmouth Museum: the 31st annual Monmouth County Arts Council Juried Exhibition, and the fourth appearance of an offering that’s brought out the best in all concerned — Chairish The Museum, the fundraiser auction in which dozens of creative local people (including Queen Latifah, seen at work on a piece for last year’s event) build and/or hand-decorate some pretty splendid seating. We’ll pull up the details, including which famous folk participated in this year’s round of whimsical chairs.

All this and more — whether currently hanging from the walls or going up soon — from galleries, restaurants and libraries near you. So bid on it, sit on it, just git on it, and we’ll be here to show you around, in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE

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It might not feel that way, but we’re slowly and surely creeping our way out of the longest, darkest days of the year by milliseconds — and each year around this time, Shore music fans like to celebrate with a little thing called the Light of Day concert.

Actually, as we explain in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, the Shore-born concert now in its tenth year — a stars-and-stalwarts benefit for promoter Bob Benjamin‘s ongoing efforts to aid Parkinson’s Disease research — has arrived a couple of months later than usual, due to the fact that it’s grown into an international phenomenon. The 2009-2010 tour crisscrossed Europe in December, and this weekend it returns to its Asbury Park roots (with a prehistory that traces back to Red Bank’s old Downtown Cafe) with no less than six separate events, featuring nearly 60 different acts performing at a half dozen venues.

Named after an otherwise forgotten 1987 movie, the series has also drawn the onstage participation of a stellar cast topped by that film’s songwriter (Bruce Springsteen) and star (Michael J. Fox). This year’s Saturday night main event is toplined by LIVE frontman (and Andre Agassi lookalike) Ed Kowalczyk (above) in one of his first solo apperances, with LOD linchpin Joe Grushecky, John Eddie, Nicole Atkins, Jay Weinberg and circus superstar Bello Nock among the weekend’s wonders.

We’ll bring you words from Glen Burtnik and other members of the Light Brigade, along with the updated schedule details and more pertinent links than a Parks Sausage factory, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: ReVISION, ON A NEW PAGE

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Over in the pixelated pages of Red Bank oRBit, we dote on the doings of our area’s professional stage troupes — Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company, and NJ Rep in Long Branch. And, every so often, we like to remind our readers that there’s a third group of passionate pros based in the greater Red Bank orbit — one that’s been nominally “homeless,” although that’s one of the projects they’re working to address right at this moment.

ReVision Theatre Company of Asbury Park is the energetic group of “hermit crabs” that’s made itself at home in such oddball settings as the roundhouse Carousel building and the Bingo hall of the city’s VFW. While we wait on word of their upcoming summer season of shows, the ReVisionaries have put together a tidy little package to provide storytime thrills during the quiet-time interlude of the Jersey Shore winter/spring.

Entitled Readings from Asbury Park, it’s a free monthly series of staged readings, spotlighting new plays and musicals and allowing the audience to weigh in on what they’ve seen. The event kicks off this coming Monday, with a pair of experienced TV actors featured in the Jeff Hughes script In the Jersey City Moonlight. Best of all, it takes place at The Showroom, the nifty little neighborhood nickelodeon that’s really pushed the envelope on what a movie house could be. We’ve got a newsreel with ReVision’s David Leidholdt (above) and your coming attractions of future offerings, with more weekend picks to come on Friday, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: THREE KINGS, BEARING GIFTS

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When you introduce someone to the music of Elvis, it’s like you’re handing them the key to the universe.”

So we’ve been told by Scot Bruce (left), actor, singer, musician, and — particularly around this time of year — a much-in-demand channeler of the look, sound and essence of the young Elvis Presley. With the 75th birthday of the Memphis Flash coming up this weekend, Elvis is Everywhere, as they say — and today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has the details on a trio of performers who’ll be descending upon our area in a casual contest to prove whose kung foo is King.

On January 15, Bruce returns to Red Bank for the sixth straight year, joined at the Count Basie Theatre by Mike Albert (as the 70s Vegas-era Elvis) in a doubletrouble duet we like to call the Elvis Birthday Bash. Before all that, we welcome back to the Brighton Bar (on the King’s actual January 8 birthdate) that ace of rockabilly aces Robert Gordon, the sixtysomething singing sensation who, while he’s never positioned himself as an Elvis tribute artist, honors the memory of the King in both letter and spirit with his big “smooth fine bourbon of a baritone” and his most recent release It’s Now or Never.

It’s all here, still in the building and Takin’ Care of B, only in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: FOR THE LOVE OF MIC

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OPEN MIC! They just might be among the most dreaded words in the English language, connoting a level of show business just one cut above office-party karaoke.

But for a handful of dedicated souls, the applause of a small but appreciative crowd is worth more than a million viral-video views — and in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, we run down the best and most inspired of the amateur-hour action.

We’ll take you to Rumson, where singer and author Carol Barbieri (left) joins guitar great David Crowton for a newly transplanted Monday night event. We’ll revisit Barbieri as she plays guest host to a monthly series in Atlantic Highlands; we’ll show you how you can walk in the footsteps of giants at clubs like the Stone Pony and the Brighton Bar; and we’ll remind you about long-running weekly favorites in Red Bank and Asbury, respectively hosted by Rob Dye and Joe Harvard.

Then tune in tomorrow, when we ring up college guy Harvard as the Big Man on Campus prepares to celebrate his birthday in hi-profile style, this weekend at the Lanes.  Just sign your name, dust off your old accordion and reach for the stars — today, tomorrow and til Last Call comes down, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: A TOAST TO MR. NEW YEAR’S

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You remember New Year’s, don’t you? Once an occasion that combined the classy sophistication of beer-pong with the naughty thrill of sleep deprivation, it’s the one stop on the calendar that can cost even more than it promises. But if the thought of spending one more post-midnight moment watching Dick Clark give his wife a jellyfish kiss leaves you colder than  a Times Square curbside, may we humbly nominate one of our own for the ceremonial title of MISTER New Year’s Eve.

With a decade of December 31 concerts at the Count Basie Theatre to his credit, Southside Johnny Lyon is no latecomer to this game, having seen it all — from the Y2K buggery of 1999 to the “Y go on” of 2008 — as he and the Asbury Jukes deposited local audiences safely and swingingly on the other side of New Year’s time and time again. While Southside and his marvelous organization tune up for their eleventh annual Red Bank ring-in, we here at Red Bank oRBit raise our glass this day to the man, the band, and the plan that’s made this tradition one of the many fine things about living where we do.

Then stop in at our checkpoint tomorrow as we run down a bevy of countdown options, any and all of them a grand alternative to yet another 40-hour Twilight Zone marathon. Be kind to your bartenders, your bridge tenders, your servers of chicken tenders, and we’ll “see you next year,” right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: STRING THEORY IN MOTION

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DO pay attention to that man behind the curtain, as Red Bank oRBit returns from holiday break with a look at a long-running local attraction that’s as brilliantly conceived and executed as it is unique to our fair Shore — although, if you’re older than six years old, you may not have been clued in on it.

Paper Moon Puppet Theatre is the brainchild of Middletown resident Jim Racioppi, whose 14 seasons on the custom-scaled stage at First Avenue Playhouse continue into the new year with a beautiful marionette ballet of The Nutcracker. In today’s edition, we meet the master puppeteer/ director/ designer and his crew, as they enter into a busy week that includes an extra midweek performance in Atlantic Highlands, AND a special Wednesday visit to the kids’ room at the Red Bank Public Library.

It’s one of the best kept secrets on the local arts scene — and you’ll read all about it, as we stay up late to see off 2009, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: BOUNCING INTO NEXT WEEK

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If there’s an extra bounce in our step over at our satellite arts ‘n entertainment site Red Bank oRBit, it might be due to the fact that we’re poised to take a few days off to catch our breath, catch up with some backlogged tasks and otherwise catch grief for having ignored our holiday commitments til the last minute. Or, it could be that we’re pleased to offer you an exclusive feature (accompanied by some fine original images by ace rock photog Mike Black) on The Bouncing Souls, the Brunswick-bred but Shore-based band that’s almost surreptitiously become an exponentially expanding cultural phenom like few others.

With 20 years of punkrock fury under their belts and a hotly anticipated new release about to drop, the band returns to Asbury Park this weekend for its annual Home for the Holidays stand of concerts — an event that’s grown to an unprecedented FOUR sold-out nights at the Stone Pony, plus TWO separate tour documentaries screening at Asbury’s Showroom, AND a pair of after-party blasts at the inimitable Asbury Lanes. It’s the biggest thing (arguably the ONLY thing) happening around these parts in the days and nights between Christmas and New Year’s.

In today’s edition, Dustin Racioppi talks to Bouncing guitarist and all-around Old Soul Pete (The Pete) Steinkopf (above) about the happy and totally unforeseen circumstances that brought the band to its present perch — a Jersey cult following status that, Racioppi says without hyperbole, rivals only that of The Boss and The Misfits. With a run that extends through next Tuesday, December 29, the Souls are a fitting way to bounce ourselves clear into next week, when we’ll return, right back where you found us, in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBiT: DIG IF YOU WILL, A POET

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Following a weekend in which many of us spent our time digging out from winter’s sneakiest of previews, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit offers a chance to dig on the presence of one of New Jersey’s most consistently confrontational, controversial (but incandescently energetic) international celebrities— a man who, at the recently celebrated age of 75, has scarcely stopped generating fervent followers or fevered foes.

Poet, professor, pioneer of the Black Arts Movement, paragon of social protest — Amiri Baraka (right) has all these identifiers in his column, but it’s through his longtime standing as one of the most astute observers of jazz music that the Newark native visits Red Bank this weekend, as Gilda Rogers and Frank Talk Art Bistro host the author in a Kwanzaa-time reading from his new book Digging: The Afro American Soul of American Classical Music.

Monmouth County poet and artist Kathy Polenberg chats with Professor Baraka as we near a brief holiday break — then tune in tomorrow as Dustin Racioppi examines the burgeoning cultural phenomenon that is The Bouncing Souls, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: MATTERS OF LIFE & DEATH

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There’s an appearance by a local author, whose chronicle of her recovery from a devastating head injury details her experiences between this world and the next. An original musical written by two composer friends as a way of dealing with loss, and the mystery of where it is that we go when we die. A play performed by and for high school kids as a tool to combat teen violence and suicide. Each one a matter of life and death, and all of them taking place this Sunday within the greater Red Bank oRBit.

Today’s edition of our satellite site brings you to the Left Bank of Red Bank, where Kim Widener inaugurates her new NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts with a visit by Noelle McNeil (above), the Little Silver student whose book Heaven Exists is fast becoming a word-of-mouth sensation.

From there it’s over to the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, where CBS exec (and frequent telecommuter to the Howard Stern show) Vinnie Favale of Lincroft offers a sneak preview of songs from his original musical drama Hereafter. Finally, we look in on Ralph Colombino of Eatontown’s Actor’s Playground, who presents another free public performance of William Mastrosimone‘s award winning Bang Bang You’re Dead in Shrewsbury.

It’s all here, the sweet and the hereafter, along with a passel of picks to come in this hectic holidaze weekend, in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: FANS BUY ‘BORN TO RUN’ COTTAGE

Rbo_3bIn an exclusive, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit reports that three Bruce Springsteen fans, including one from Lincroft, have purchased the Long Branch house where the rocker wrote ‘Born to Run‘ and other songs from his 1975 breakthrough album of the same name.

They paid $280,000 for the 828-square-foot West End cottage just so no one else would buy and tear down what they see as a rock and roll shrine.

“We don’t want it to ever be anything than what it is,” co-buyer Kim McDermott tells oRbit, the entertainment news companion to redbankgreen.

IN oRBit: A VISIT FROM ST. (BURT)NIK

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With the calendar ticking off the days til the 25th, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit brings you an exclusive interview with a character who, once each year, journeys here from some frozen far-north outpost to set up shop with some crafty helpers — on a mission to bring toys, clothes and essentials to our neediest neighbors.

If you guessed our “get” was Saint Nick, well, that’s close enough for rock and roll, we suppose. It’s actually the saintly Glen Burtnik (right), who returns to the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday night for the nineteenth edition of his long-running Xmas Xtravaganza, an annual Good Samaritan groovefest that’s helped even more people than it’s managed to crowd onto the stage.

A veteran of both Styx and Beatlemania, the hitmaking singer and songwriter (he’s just returned from the Russian front on a tour with the latest edition of Electric Light Orchestra) is also famous for his little black book of big scary friends — an unspecified set of which will be showing up in Red Bank for this weekend’s concert. We’ve got the goods from Glen right here — along with a reminder about a special day of care and feeding at Jack’s Music — in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit does it up in shades of Blue and Brown — courtesy of a boisterous benefit bash that’s toplined by some of the Shore’s finest Blues masters and mistresses, along with a revival of a musical adapted from the works of a true philosopher king of the funnies.

That show is You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the stage adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts characters and the latest family-friendly offering from Two River Theater Company. It’s a fresh look at the timeless humor of that most sublime strip, and we’ve got a Q&A with Charlie Brown himself — otherwise known as Doug Hara (above), the actor who, believe it or no, played the manipulative messenger of mischief Puck in TRTC’s recently wrapped production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After that it’s a break for lunch — an unusually late lunch, on Thursday night down in Bradley Beach, where roots-music impresario Michael Patrick  presents a special Jam Away the Blues benefit for Red Bank’s own Lunch Break nonprofit. With the likes of Sonny Kenn, Matt O’Ree and Chuck Lambert on board, the event’s got cred to spare — and we’ve got the roadhouse rundown, only in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: CHRISTMAS @ THE COUNT’S CRIB

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit runs down a particularly action-packed week of Christmas-themed music at the Count Basie Theatre — with Santa Basie workshopping a six-day schedule that begins with a Tuesday/Wednesday stand by Tim McLoone (right) and the wondrous wall of sound that is Holiday Express.

It’s an engagement that’s followed in short order by a Christmas gift from Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love (Thursday), the fourth annual Christmas concert by Middletown’s globe-trotting Christian artist Nancy Scharff (Friday), the nineteenth Xmas Xtravaganza starring Glen Burtnik (Saturday), and a tradition without which it just wouldn’t be Christmas in Red Bank — the  Monmouth Civic Chorus performing Handel’s Messiah in concert on Sunday.

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But that’s not all. Order in the next ten minutes and we’ll throw in the details on the return of art dealer Emily Asher Neiman (left) to the banks of the Navesink, as Emily and some well-known artist friends set up shop at the Front Street space formerly occupied by DesignFront. It’s a limited-time run that’s keyonoted on Thursday evening with a reception and benefit for the borough-based nonprofit Where Peace Lives.

It’s all here, as we help you sort out a hectic week of frantic fundraising, holiday heck-raising and maybe even a bluesy barn-raising, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: THE MEENAN OF CHRISTMAS

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luke-bonnenfantIt had to happen: Ebenezer Scrooge is back, pretty much everywhere on local stages for the next couple of weekends (including one portrayal by ever-boyish classic TV personality John Davidson), and if you’ve been doing your best to avoid the old cuss, you just might be missing out on something special over at Monmouth U.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has an interview with Red Bank’s David J.V. Meenan, adapter and director of A Christmas Carol, going up Friday at the Pollak Theatre. Veteran theater-weirders might recall the semi-retired Meenan from his spectacular productions at the Basie (and at his own short-lived Royale Theatre) back around a decade ago; he’s rested and ready to wrangle a cast of dozens (including the always precocious Tiny Tim, pictured) for a one-weekend revival of a show that was last seen in 2001.

Then stay tuned to redbankgreen‘s satellite site for another wintry weekend’s worth of stuff, including Bad Santas and Good Samaritans; beached poets and blues paragons; Angry Drunks and other Cracked Nuts, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: SINATRAS SING, THE BASIE SWINGS

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It’s December in Red Bank, a time when we gather to celebrate a certain birthday in song and sense of community — we’re talking of course about Frank Sinatra, the Jersey-bred Chairman to the Boss, a cultural icon who’d be turning 94 years young this weekend had his career not been cut prematurely short at age 82.

This Friday sees the third annual Sinatra Birthday Bash at the Count Basie Theatre, a recently minted tradition that assembles a pretty wild variety of vocal talent to honor the lasting legacy of the Kid from Hoboken (as well as his collaborations with our own Kid From Red Bank). They’ll perform in front of the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece organization arranged and conducted by borough-based bandleader and globetrotting jazz scholar Joe Muccioli.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit offers up an exclusive interview with the man called Mooch, on this thing called Jazz and what it takes to stage a swingin’ session under the (hopefully not so swingin’) chandelier of the Count’s crib. Read all about it, in Red Bank oRBit — and tell ’em Joe sent ya.

IN oRBit: STOP US IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS

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Approaching the war in Afghanistan by the numbers can be a tricky thing. But while our nation debates the scope and scale of our latest troop commitment, over in Long Branch it all boils down to two guys — the last couple of Jews in the last synagogue in Kabul, during the last days of the Taliban. The fact that they hate each other’s guts is just the dusting on the cake, in the new play Two Jews Walk Into A War.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has an interview with James Glossman (right), for whom this is but the latest project he’s done for New Jersey Repertory Company. While he’s not quite a household name, the director regularly works with some of the best in the business — everyone from Ed Asner and Jack Klugman, to Stephen Colbert and Fred Savage — and we’re happy to have him here.

Find out his not-so-secret secret for getting actors to do anything he asks them to do — along with the latest seasonally cool forecast from The Orb — right here in Red Bank oRBit.

IN oRBit: KEEPING IT LIT, ALL WEEK

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As you probably gathered from our pixelated pages, we at Red Bank oRBit have a thing for words, whether doing it by-the-book or via the noble blurt of the spoken spiel. In today’s edition we run down four worthwhile events going on in and around the greater orbit — all of them linked by nothing less or more than the power of words to compel, cajole, console or confront.

There’s Hungarian-born novelist Joseph Kertes, coming to Red Bank’s Two River Theater on Tuesday to discuss Gratitude, his historical novel of one family’s Holocaust. There are the Dickman Brothers (identical twins Matthew and Michael, above), the enfants terribles of modern American poetry who visit Monmouth University on Wednesday afternoon. There’s E. Benjamin Skinner, the journalist who penetrates the shadowlands of the modern slave trade in A Crime So Monstrous (he’ll be at Brookdale Community College on Wednesday night). And there’s Asbury Park’s homegrown spoken word artist TIGGA, who has some powerful things to say about his city in a special Thursday night program at The Showroom.

We’ve got the deep-dish detail on all these offerings (with way more to come all this week), as we count down to the final rattling breaths of the Naughty Aughties, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: COOKIN’ WITH TUCKERBERRYS

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Who sez print is dead? Certainly not the pixelated pages of Red Bank oRBit, where you’ll probably find more good and interesting stuff about books (and their bookmakers) than in any medium this side of, well, books. They also make a great gift idea!

In just this last week-and-change alone, the oRBit desk brought you news and interviews with rookie novelist Ralph Nader and with Red Bank’s resident star children’s author Elise Primavera — to say nothing of a feature on the wordsmithing wig-out that is the Long Branch Poetry Festival. In today’s edition, we bring you a Q&A with the Tuckerberrys — that’s Jill Eikenberry & Michael Tucker, your TV pals from L.A. Law — as they head to the Shore this weekend for an appearance promoting their new book, Family Meals.

And no, it’s not a cookbook, Twilight Zone fans — rather it’s an inspiring true-life story of how one modern American family came back together (“became more Italian,” as Tucker tells it) when Jill’s elderly mom required round-the-clock care. And if that sounds like a downer, well, you haven’t read the book. Meet the Tuckerberrys — today in Red Bank oRBit!