StreetLife veteran act the Wag performing on Broad Street in 2014.
Press release from Red Bank RiverCenter
In an annual call for talent, Red Bank RiverCenter is seeking experienced street performers — musicians, magicians, and other entertainers — to entertain downtown Red Bank this summer.
Entertainers will be selected through open auditions and presented through RiverCenter’s popular StreetLife program, now in its 16th year. Interested artists are invited to take part in auditions beginning 6 pm on Thursday, March 10, at the Count Basie Rehearsal Studio (99 Monmouth Street, 2nd Floor) in Red Bank.
It’s a special performance keyed to young audiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder when the Count Basie Theatre hosts the Berenstain Bears Thursday afternoon.
It’s being described by the Count Basie Theatre as “sensory-friendly… a judgment-free, comfortable environment for families who would otherwise be reluctant to attend a live theatre performance.”
It’s a very special Thursday matinee of The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters the Musical — and when the touring production based on the beloved children’s book characters of Stan and Jan Berenstain rolls into Red Bank on Thursday, it will represent the first in a projected series of events benefitting POAC Autism Services in its mission to raise awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
When the red carpet is rolled out for the 11th annual Basie Awards on May 18, the Count Basie Theatre will do more than issue its customary honors for excellence in area high school theater and performing arts. The ceremony will also be the setting for the awarding of four arts impact scholarships — the Moser-Taboada Arts Impact Scholarship, the Monmouth Medical Center – Barnabas Health Arts Impact Scholarship, the Monmouth County Freeholders’ Basie Scholarship for Continuing Education and the new Siciliano Landscape Company Arts Impact Scholarship.
The Monmouth County Freeholders’ scholarship will be awarded to a student attending a New Jersey-based college in the fall — and Basie board members are urging all interested students to prepare their applications now.
Bobbie Bandiera, above, will bump Roy Orbison to pay homage to the changeable David Bowie at the Count Basie Theatre in April. (Click to enlarge.)
Press release from Count Basie Theatre
Two weeks ago, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank announced a concert event featuring Bobby Bandiera’s Jersey Shore Rock n’ Soul Revue, and its tribute to an artist who’s long loomed as a genuine inspiration for the veteran Shore scene singer and guitarist: Roy Orbison.
The forecast calls for indoor snow, timely spirits and much music, as A CHRISTMAS CAROL heralds a week of holiday entertainments on the Count Basie stage.
The dizzyingly jam-packed days of December continue apace at the Count Basie Theatre, where the stage of the area’s most Christmassy performing arts center receives visitations by holiday-themed entertainments hailing from points near and far.
Here are three, one each for the next trio of nights.
An 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
Red 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. Read More »
Middletown’s own local guy made good, musician-actor-producer-activist Steven Van Zandt, is pictured outside the Count Basie Theatre in a 2008 file photo. Van Zandt, his wife Maureen and five other area residents were named as the newest members of the Basie’s boards of trustees and directors. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Entertainers Maureen and Steven Van Zandt are among seven area residents who have been elected as the newest members of the boards of trustees and directors for the Count Basie Theatre. The couple, who were previously named recipients of the Basie’s inaugural Vanguard Awards, join a roster of new board members that also includes Kainos Capital partner Sarah Bradley, marketing professional Robert Chandler, Grunin Foundation director Jeremy Grunin, River Capital Group chairman Mario Monello, and Meadowbrook Industries owner-president Peter T. Roselle.
For Steven, it’s the latest manifestation of a long association with the historic venue, where he performed (back in its days as the Carlton Theatre) a now-legendary 1977 concert in which he subbed for an ailing Southside Johnny as frontman of the Asbury Jukes, the Stone Pony house band that he co-founded in the early days of that Shore circuit landmark.
The longtime Springsteen lieutenant, bandleader, songwriter, actor (The Sopranos, Lillyhammer), human rights activist, radio personality and producer — whose latest project is a well-received new album from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love — teamed with the Boss and fellow E Streeters for a 2008 benefit show at the Basie, and joined Maureen in helping coordinate a recent performance by Rockit for Kids, the Basie’s in-house “school of rock program,” in conjunction with the 2014 Vanguard Awards ceremony.
Pollstar magazine, the leading concert industry trade publication, has released its list of the top-selling live performance venues in the world – and Red Bank’s historic Count Basie Theatre has come in at number 40.
With sales of nearly 85,000 tickets through June 30, the Basie sold more tickets than some of the biggest theatres in the world; namely Radio City Music Hall, and the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The first half of 2015 falls in line with the Basie’s current three-year trend of escalating ticket sales, capacity percentage and show totals. In 2014, just over 213,000 people attended a Count Basie Theatre event, more than any previous year. And during its 2014-15 fiscal year, the venue operated at nearly 75 percent paid capacity — meaning that, on average, the theatre was three-quarters full for every event.
Student performers from over a dozen area schools are the stars of the show at Wednesday’s tenth annual Basie Awards.
Broadway has its well-established Tonys; Off Broadway its Obies — and every other branch of show business its various Grammys, Emmys, and Academys. And when the 10th annual Basie Awards roll out the red carpet in front of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Wednesday night they’ll be doing what they’ve done so well: honoring tomorrow’s talents in the performing arts, both on stage and behind the scenes.
The Count Basie Theatrehas announced the awarding of three arts impact scholarships, to be presented during the 10th annual Basie Awards ceremony. The theatre’s yearly celebration and recognition of excellence and achievement in high school theatre will take the famous stage on the evening of Wednesday, May 20.
Last year’s Basies marked the debut of the Moser Taboada Arts Impact Scholarship, made possible by the Moser Taboada law firm in Shrewsbury. This year, two additional scholarships will be awarded: the Monmouth Medical Center/ Barnabas Health Arts Impact Scholarship,and the Monmouth County Freeholders’ Basie Scholarship for Continuing Education.
Clockwise from top left: Jinglebell fundraiser concerts featuring Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express (December 18), Brian Kirk and the Jirks (December 20), Darlene Love (December 21) and Bobby Bandiera (December 22) provide the driving soundtrack to the holiday homestretch in the nights ahead.
The countdown to Christmas 2015 represents anything but a wind-down at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, where a fast-moving flurry of high-profile benefit concerts promises to keep the place buzzing like Santa’s workshop-slash-fulfillment center during the holiday homestretch.
From the most big-hearted of local music mainstays, to the vintage hitmakers whose records landed on many a Boomer-era wish list — and on into the next generation of Shore scene stalwarts — the Basie boards will resound with a Wall of seasonal Sound, every note of it dedicated to a great cause and an all-’round generosity of spirit.
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.
Student performers from over a dozen area schools are the stars of the show at Wednesday’s ninth annual Basie Awards, recognizing excellence in high school theater productions around Monmouth County.
Broadway has its Tonys; Off Broadway its Obies — and every other branch of show business its various Grammys, Emmys, Academys and more. But when the red carpet rolls out and the figurative flashbulbs pop outside the Count Basie Theatre on May 21, the only awards that matter will be The Basies, the ninth annual edition of which commandeers the Count’s stage for a public-welcome program that begins at 7 pm.
Established by the education arm of the Count Basie Theatre Foundation, the awards honor and recognize excellence in drama and musical productions among Monmouth County high schools. The producers of Wednesday night’s event promise “the biggest Basies ever” — one that will shine a spotlight on the next generation of stage talents, even as it presents a lifetime achievement award to a couple of major figures on the region’s theater scene.
Who’s that behind those Tourism Grants? Left to right, Red Bank RiverCenter’s Jim Scavone and Amanda Lynn are pictured with Visitors Center director Margaret Mass at a May 2013 Red Bank Flavour event. (Click to enlarge)
Press release from Red Bank RiverCenter
Red Bank RiverCenter, in conjunction with the Red Bank Visitors Center, was awarded a $20,000 Cooperative Marketing Grant for 2014. The grant, available to organizations throughout the entire State of New Jersey, was applied for through the New Jersey Department of Tourism in June 2013, and will be used to expand Red Bank’s award-winning advertising campaign, “Escape for a Little While.”
The ad campaign will reach Washington, D.C., Connecticut, New York State, Pennsylvania, and Canada to encourage tourists and visitors to visit and stay in Red Bank, as well as the entire Jersey Shore.
The Count Basie Theatre and the Red Bank Borough School District are thrilled to announce a new, free children’s choral program, The Central Jersey Youth Chorale,beginning in the Fall of 2013.This free program, open to all Monmouth County students grades 4-8 as of 2013, is scheduled to run from October through June, and will be under the musical direction of Kristopher Zook, local conductor, composer and vocal music educator from Red Bank Regional High School. Rehearsals will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-6 pm at the Red Bank Middle School, 101 Harding Road, Red Bank.
Students wishing to audition for the performing ensemble should prepare a song that reflects their vocal strengths for one of the two audition days, Monday, October 7, or Wednesday, October 9 at 5:00 PM in the Red Bank Middle School Auditorium.
Kenny Vance and the Planotones bring their supersmooth doo-wop to the Basie Saturday night. Below, quilts will be on display at the Middletown Township Public Library Saturday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
Friday, February 8
RED BANK: Psychic Lisa Williams will use the Count Basie Theatre stage at 8 p.m. to demonstrate her other-worldly abilities for $35-59 entry tickets. 99 Monmouth Street.
Saturday, February 9
SHREWSBURY: Stop by the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a free workshop with materials to create handcrafted valentines for that special someone. 1001 Route 35 North.
LITTLE SILVER: From 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sickles Market will offer a step-by-step tutorial on how to create beautiful floral arrangements, from assembly to aftercare. For $40, each participant will be able to take home their own five-inch glass cube filled with hydrangeas, gerber daisies, rose, and wax flowers. Space is limited and advance registration plus payment is required. 1 Harrison Avenue.
MIDDLETOWN: Rebeccas Reel Quilters, an organization specializing in lessons and workshops for quilting enthusiasts, will be displaying their work at the public library at 1 p.m. Admission is free to those wishing to come and admire. The exhibit will continue during regular library hours through March 1. 55 New Monmouth Road.
RED BANK: Kids five years old and up are welcome at a free craft party from 2 to 3 p.m. at Red Bank Public Library, where they can create their very own Valentines, including lollipop flowers and heart-shaped suncatchers. Registration is required. 84 West Front Street.
RED BANK: The Count Basie will host a Valentine concert at 7:30, featuring Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Terry Johnson’s Flamingos, Willie Winfield and the Harptones, Lewis Lymon and the Teenchords, Cleveland Still and the Dubs, Lenny Dell and the Dimensions and The Chantels. Tickets are $40-50. 99 Monmouth Street.
LINCROFT:Brookdales Performing Arts Center will welcome jazz pianist Joe Accurso, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and guitarist Doug Clark at 8 p.m. for a cheap ($15-17 tickets) but jammin good time. Newman Springs Road.
Sunday, February 10
LITTLE SILVER: Sickles Market invites parents and kids to spend some quality time together and decorate one large heart shaped sugar cookie and six cupcakes to take home, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Only kids ages 6 to 12. Spaceis limited and advance registration plus payment ($25) is required. 1 Harrison Avenue.
RED BANK:Red Bank RegionalsTHE SOURCE hosts a benefit at Buona Sera for the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Program for Latino students. The $40 admission includes a fashion show, lunch and coffee bar, plus a 50/50 raffle and raffle basket auction. 50 Maple Avenue.
MIDDLETOWN: TheCreative Writing Majors of Red Bank Regional High School’s Performing Arts Academy will put on a free performance at the Main Library at 2 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.
RED BANK: The Monmouth Symphony Orchestra will perform at Count Basie at 3 p.m. featuring Haydn, Shostakovich, and Aaron Copland’s ‘An Outdoor Adventure.’ Tickets are $35. 99 Monmouth Street.
LINCROFT: Postponed from last week due to inclement weather, the Chairish the Museum Silent Auction Finale Benefit at the Monmouth Museum features over 50 chairs decorated and designed by local artists, all of which are available for purchase.‘Libations and light fare’ will be served during the 4 to 6 p.m. event. All proceeds from the $10 tickets benefit the educational programs at the Museum. 765 Newman Springs Road.
RED BANK:First Presbyterian Church will welcome young instrumentalists from Juilliard School and other prestigious academies at 7 p.m. as part of the free Tower Hill Concert Series. 255 Harding Road.
Borough schools Superintendent Laura Morana was joined by new Basie CEO Adam Philipson and director of education Yvonne Lamb Scudiery during her monthly press meeting at middle school Tuesday to help detail the Kennedy Centers upcoming workshops for teachers, designed to help them understand the importance of performing arts as a part of overall education.
Frank Sinatra and Count Basie seen suiting up for an episode of the 1960s TV variety show Hollywood Palace return in spirit this Friday night, when the Skinny Kid from Hoboken is celebrated in song at the venue named for the legendary “Kid from Red Bank.”
By TOM CHESEK
Call it Frank’s World a land that stretches from the Hoboken clamhouses, where a young and skinny Frank Sinatra first sang for his supper, to the Atlantic City casinos and big-town auditoriums where the established entertainer played to sellout crowds well into his eighth decade. And in between, a thousand pizza joints and ristorantes where the Sinatra soundtrack has never stopped.
Frank’s World took a beating all around when Hurricane Sandy swaggered through the region a catastrophe that birthed a bevy of benefit concerts and allowed the area’s professional musicians to step up in the way that musicians have long been known to do. It’s a phenomenon about which Joe Muccioli observes, “I know people who have been on call to take part in all sorts of benefit events who are themselves in the same boat as the hardest-hit people in the area.”
The conductor of the 18 piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra (and artistic director of the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project) returns to the Count Basie Theatre this Friday for one of his most passionate pet projects the Sinatra Birthday Bash, the sixth annual edition of which takes the famous stage of the place named for one of Sinatras favorite partners in swing, William Count Basie, at 8 pm.
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.
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.
By TOM CHESEK
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 Lovecomes 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.
Singer, songwriter and Little Silver native Greg Trooper opens for Clint Black at The Y’s Goin’ Country for Kids benefit concert Saturday night at the Count Basie.
By TOM CHESEK
While he doesn’t usually make the short list of well-known musicians who’ve called the Jersey Shore their home, Little Silver native Greg Trooper has an uncanny knack for being on the scene wherever music happens or is just about to happen.
The 56-year-old singer and songwriter was present and accounted for when the NYC folk clubs summoned forth a bold new crop of performers in the 1970s and ’80s. He was at large in Austin when that Texas town was tearing up the country music rulebook and in Nashville when a next-generation Music City began to attract veteran Shorecats like John Eddie and Garry Tallent.
On Saturday, Trooper returns to Red Bank the setting of many an after-school hangout back in the day for a major benefit concert presented under the name Goin Country for Kids. A fundraiser for the Strong Kids Program at THE Community YMCA, the 8 pm show at the Count Basie Theatre finds Trooper appearing in support of country superstar Clint Black himself a momentary son of the greater Red Bank green (and if you don’t believe us, check the NJ Wall of Fame at Murphy’s on Broad Street).
The solo acoustic set is expected to draw from his 25-year catalog of recorded work a discography that includes 2011s Upside Down Town, in which the darker vocal tones of the mature Trooper make a gritty but satisfying fit with a lyrical style that was always world-weary and wise beyond the composers years. The acclaimed songwriters songwriter would see his vivid vignettes interpreted by performers from Steve Earle (Little Sister) and Vince Gill (We Wont Dance) to Lucy Kaplansky (The Heart) and Billy Bragg (Everywhere).
Working with such sought-after producers as Buddy Miller, Dan Penn and Tallent, Trooper has employed sensibly spare arrangements (spotlighting fiddles, pedal steel, accordion and some quietly intense guitar) in a way that presaged what we now call Americana even as it avoided the potential embarrassments of Opryland fad and fashion.
redbankgreen has some Q’s and A’s with Trooper below. If you missed the Clint Black interview earlier this week, thumb it over to here.
Middletown’s Nancy Scharff and a heavenly host of helpers present their annual celebration of Christmas in words and music Friday at the Count Basie Theatre.
As the founder of Nancy Scharff Ministries, Middletown-based Christian music artist Nancy Scharff is a globe-trotting singer-songwriter, choirmaster, music educator, producer, conductor, facilitator and a shepherdess tending her flock so there’s no question she can be a one-woman show when the situation warrants.
But when the curtain goes up on the Count Basie stage this Friday night, December 16, the celebration entitled Nancy Scharff: Christmas The Gift of Love teams the diminutive dynamo with an orchestra of 16 players, a six-piece contemporary Christian pop band, an ecumenical choir (featuring, in past performances, some 65 voices), an all-star gospel ensemble, a children’s choir that’s numbered as many as 80 kids plus “Three Tenors” tenoring, and some two dozen bell choir ringers ringing.
Do the math and it tallies up to nearly 200 performers a total that doesn’t even take into consideration the expected opportunities for the audience to get into the act.
The 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys with John Cowsill at far left, plus Bruce Johnston and Mike Love front and center returns (minus John Stamos) to Red Bank on August 23.
By TOM CHESEK
It’s been a long time, longer than the days prior to the passing of Dennis and Carl Wilson, since the original members of The Beach Boys shared a ride or the same side of the conference table at a lawyer’s office.
The American institution that’s fast approaching its golden anniversary in show business split into two factions around the time of the landmark Pet Sounds sessions in 1966 the studio-bound residency of Brian Wilson and the hard-touring, crowdpleasing roadshow skippered by Mike Love. And despite intermittent attempts at reconciling for albums and tours, the dichotomy abides to this day in the more or less separate-but-equal live shows fronted by the first cousins turned frenemies.
When the 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys rolls into theCount Basie Theatre for a late-summer’s indoor concert on Tuesday, August 23, the core of Mike Love and Bruce Johnston (the successful singer/ songwriter/ producer whose 45-year history with the band hasn’t stopped him from being “the New Guy”) returns to the scene of some well-received sets of recent years as well as memorable nights featuring Brian and his band The Wondermints. The two senior Boys will preside over a pretty awesome cavalcade of canonical hits delivered by a crack team of craftsmen that includes veteran John Cowsill (from the bands that gave us both “867-5309 JENNY” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”) although the on-again, off-again stuntcasting of TV star John Stamos as drummer/ vocalist appears not to be in the cards for the Count’s crib.
The story of the Beach Boys is a way-stranger-than-fiction saga that takes in madness, child abuse, mind control, Charles Manson, multi-generational laboratory-level drug use, untimely death and tons of litigation. The story of America, in other words; all set to a soundtrack of the most achingly gorgeous “teenage symphonies” ever devised in a crossfire of inspiration and aspiration.
redbankgreen spoke to Mike Love polarizing figure, energizing frontman, boosterizing flagwaver for environmental causes, transcendental meditation and not-so-gentle politics from the Boys’ tour stop outside Philadelphia; turn the record over for more.
Playwright Billy Van Zandt is in the hot seat for an April 30 fundraiser for the Middletown Cultural and Arts Center.
By TOM CHESEK
No, Billy Van Zandt to quote the late great Red Buttons and his signature shtick on countless Dean Martin roasts “never got a dinner.” But on the night of Saturday, April 30, he’ll be getting his very own Evening.
Unlike other Monmouth County folks who went Hollywood in a big way, the comic playwright, producer and performer has, with his longtime collaborator Jane Milmore, maintained a pretty dynamic profile on the area’s artscape particularly over at the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College, where the Van Zandt-Milmore tagteam has taught, established a scholarship and regularly premiered such new works for the stage as You’ve Got Hate Mail, currently enjoying a hit Off Broadway run at The Triad in Manhattan.
As one half of a bicoastal stage/screen writing partnership, the half brother ofSteve Van Zandt spends about half his time here on the greater Red Bank Green often with his sons and his better half, actress and author Adrienne Barbeau. None of which is to suggest that Billy Van Zandt ever does anything halfway, however.
Scheduled for 7:30p on April 30, An Evening with Billy Van Zandt(it even rhymes withAn Evening with Cary Grant) presents the 1975 graduate of the old split-session Middletown High School in an “up close and personal” forum, in which he’s expected to offer advice to aspiring actors and writers and to share some pretty priceless stories from his travels as a young actor in major motion pictures, and an Emmy nominated writer-producer for sitcoms both legendary (Newhart) and look-it-up (Bless This House).
Moderated by actor Jeff Babey (who, as a member in good standing of the Van Zandt-Milmore stock company, is similarly not known to do things in moderation), it’s a circus that manages to involve everyone from Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, and Tom Cruise, to Wiliam Shatner, the Wayans Brothers and Andrew Dice Clay and that’s just for appetizers. It’s also a benefit for the educational programs of the Middletown Township Cultural & Arts Council, hosted at their spacious (and criminally under-utilized) Middletown Arts Center, located just seconds from Red Bank and steps from the township’s NJ Transit train platform. The redbankgreen Drama Desk met up with BVZ at the Broadway Diner recently, to kvetch and ketchup on current events.