Search Results for: Count Basie Center for the Arts

MARCHING OUT WINTER’S END AT THE BASIE

david-bromberg-2Master multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg makes his annual pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre this weekend.

We’ve sprung ahead, clock-wise, and have arrived at the middle of March with the feeling that the roar of the late-winter lion will soon enough succumb to the bleating of the lamb.

While it’s still technically not springtime just yet, a typically busy gust of activity at the Count Basie Theatre sounds the keynote for the coming months — suggesting that we’ve all made it over the wacky-weather hump. Or is it Humperdinck?

Whatever you do, never suggest that his godzillions of female fans are anywhere near “over” the British-born singer who’s been seducing ’em in song since the Fab Four were still touring. When the eternal King of Romance often known “simply” as Engelbert returns to Red Bank on the heels of his 40th Anniversary Tour, he’ll be effectively extending Valentine’s Day well into the season when many of us give up Russell Stover assortments and Pink Champale for Lent — with tickets for tonight’s Humper-palooza available here — and much more Basie-based excitement right around the corner.

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ROOM FOR ‘NATIVITY,’ AT THE COUNT’S CRIB

lorrainedarrellLorraine Stone is in the cast, and Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. directs, as BLACK NATIVITY comes to the Count Basie stage for the first time on December 30.

By TOM CHESEK

If you’ve been in (or anywhere near) the Count Basie Theatre recently, you probably noticed that the venerable venue is a house of traditions throughout the holiday season — a host harbor for Christmas concerts, New Year’s blasts, allstar benefits, Nutcrackers and Scrooges — all of them staples of local life.

Beginning Thursday, December 30, the Count’s crib opens its curtain for the first time on a homegrown edition of a stage tradition that’s become the centerpiece of community Christmas celebrations, from Boston to Seattle and lots of big-league towns between.

First produced on Broadway in 1961, Black Nativity combines the Gospel of St. Luke with the poetry of the late Langston Hughes and a set of folk spirituals and hymns for a theatrical experience that’s often custom-tailored to every town it appears in. It’s the kind of presentation in which the stage swells with local children; in which hometown preachers play a big part and the Three Wise Men are often cast from the ranks of neighborhood civic and business leaders.

For several seasons, the play staked a Shore area home at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre, in a production by producer-director Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. and his Dunbar Repertory Company. A Brookdale Community College faculty member and a participant on the Basie’s board, Willis has kept busy in recent years with such projects as the annual Juneteenth Urban Arts Festival in Long Branch and winter’s upcoming staging of A Raisin in the Sun at BCC.

The redbankgreen Drama Desk caught up with the director as he found “room at the inn” for a re-established Yuletide tradition, here in Red Bank.

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SINATRA AND BASIE, TOGETHER IN RED BANK

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John Alden of Middletown (left) and Cara Smith of Rumson (right) pay tribute to the Chairman, as Red Bank’s Joe Muccioli (center) and the Jazz Arts Project present the fourth annual Sinatra Birthday Bash this Friday night.

By TOM CHESEK

It happens every December over at the Count Basie Theatre — and, in a surprise twist, it has nothing whatsoever to do with red-cheeked nutcrackers, reformed misers and various rockings around the Christmas tree.

It’s the Sinatra Birthday Bash, the fourth annual edition of which goes up on Friday night in Red Bank. Produced by the borough-based Jazz Arts Project, the concert offers a chance to hear a variety of voices pay tribute to the iconic Chairman of the Board, who would have marked his 95th lap around the sun this Sunday. They’ll be saluting Ol’ Blue Eyes in song with the accompaniment of the 18 piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra — and they’ll be doing it on the stage of the venerable venue named for one of Sinatra’s favorite frequent collaborators, William “Count” Basie.

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FULL FRONTAL PHOENIX, AT THE BASIE

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Scenes from the Phoenix Productions staging of the hit musical THE FULL MONTY, featuring Rumson’s Andrew Newsome (center at left) and Middletown’s own Tom Frascatore at the end of the not-so-thin blue line.

By TOM CHESEK

As the resident community stage troupe at the landmark performing arts venue that is the Count Basie Theatre, the people of borough-based Phoenix Productions have been known to bare their souls onstage, give audiences a fresh look at fifty-year old classics, and drop everything for the sake of their art. But until now, no one said anything about The Full Monty.

Adapted by Tony winner Terrence McNally from the surprise hit British movie of the same name, Monty the musical centers around a bunch of laid-off, beaten-down blue collar joes living in the rust-belted, beer-bellied, kielbasa-fed world of (non)working class Buffalo. They’re a group of guys who have lost not just their jobs, but their station as breadwinners in their families. With the help of a clever score by David Yazbek, they find a way to earn cash, win back a measure of self-esteem and maybe even get back into shape, by forming their very own male stripper revue for the local ladies.

The show, which has proven to be a popular property in revival, opens tomorrow night and continues for the next couple of weekends as the final offering of the 2010 Phoenix season — and, to answer your question, a company insider assures redbankgreen that yes, they will be “going the Full Monty” (and no, it’s apparently not an extended engagement).

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BASIE STARTS BRISK MONTH WITH BUSY WEEK

daniel-toshNot bad for an 84-year-old.

Red Bank’s venerable Count Basie Theatre, which had its opening on November 11, 1926 as the Carlton Theatre (featuring The Quarterback, starring silent screen stud Richard Dix) continues to earn its a hard-earned rep as one of the premier performing arts centers in the region with a beehive-busy, seven-day schedule of entertainments being offered this week.

In an era when too many of its contemporaries have been reduced to a scratchy picture in some Images of America paperback, the Basie — now undergoing a major facelift — it maintains a level of activity that would pancake buildings half its age.

It’s a lineup that kicks off tonight with a show that sold out in a Tron-speed jiffy — standup stuntster Daniel Tosh (above), whose sublimely snarky Comedy Central web-clip show Tosh.0 should add a touch of multimedia mayhem to the comic’s mic routine.

Sellout or no, tomorrow is another day — and there’s more where that came from, happening at the Count’s crib.

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JAZZ ARTS ACADEMY’S IN SWINGIN’ SESSION

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Veteran jazzman and Hammond B3 ace Radam Schwartz works with teen musicians at the Count Basie Theatre as part of the Jazz Arts Academy program that kicks off this weekend. Inset: the combo of next-generation jazz stars who provided the soundtrack to the annual Jazz Arts Project party in Red Bank. (Photos courtesy of Jazz Arts Project)

By TOM CHESEK

The scene at Joe Muccioli‘s Red Bank backyard on a recent Sunday was one swinging soiree, a BBQ bash that went well beyond the suburban norm of storebought salads, skeeters and citronella.

The occasion was the annual meeting/ barbecue of the borough-based Jazz Arts Project, the nonprofit arts entity for which the man called “Mooch” serves as artistic director. And the guests at the home shared by hosts Cathy Zuravnsky and Joe ran to the likes of Valery Ponomarev, the Russian born trumpet ace (and charter member of Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers)  — not to mention Art Topilow, the eminent oncologist who moonlights as a concert pianist.

Up on the deck that doubled as an impromptu stage, SNL vet Joe Piscopo entertained the crowd with his signature Sinatra stylings (an act he’ll reprise at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club when he appears with Mooch and the 10-piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra on October 23).

But the biggest impression of the afternoon was probably reserved for the event’s featured “house” band, a sextet of teenaged — in some cases even tweenaged — student jazz musicians that boasted the chops of next-generation trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr. It was an unexpected surprise that served as a keynote to (and a perfect lead-in for) an equally surprising announcement.

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BASIE DOC A ‘CLEAR’ TRIBUTE TO RBC GRAD

severclearscottiVideo footage, shot in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by former Marine lieutenant (and Red Bank Catholic graduate) Mike Scotti, forms the core of SEVERE CLEAR, the documentary feature screening on September 11 at the Count Basie Theatre. It’s a fundraiser for the Reserve Aid organization, as well as a tribute to Scotti’s RBC classmate Beth Quigley, who was killed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

By TOM CHESEK

Even though it falls this year on an event-packed late summer Saturday, the approach of September 11 can’t help but spur some moments of reflection for anyone who made their home in and around the Red Bank green on that day in 2001.

It’s impossible not to flash back to where you were on 9/11 — whether it was the newly opened Riverside Gardens, whose walls and walkways became the area’s unofficial town square for makeshift memorials and candlelit vigils. Or the commuter ferry docks of the Bayshore, where scores of dazed and dust-covered escapees from Ground Zero were hosed down and given a chance to get their bearings. Or particularly hard-hit Middletown, where a walk-through monument garden would sprout up adjacent to the township’s train station.

As a First Lieutenant on active duty with the 1st Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, Mike Scotti remembers quite well where he was as the planes hit the towers — and the fact that, as he explains, he was playing craps in a casino in Darwin, Australia, illustrates both the real element of surprise involved and the speed with which the military response was effected.

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RED BANK ARTS ON TAP FOR STATE AWARDS

two-river-theater-extAmong the candidates for ‘best professional theater’ is the Two River Theater.

Several mainstays of Red Bank’s celebrated arts venues and entertainment scene, including two whose future ties to town are uncertain, are up for the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards for 2009.

The Two River Theater CompanyCount Basie Theater and the Borough of Red Bank are all nominated. So is the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, which may not happen at its usual spot in Marine Park this June due to major construction there.

Also on the ballot is the capricious Red Bank International Film Festival, which went on hiatus for 2008 and popped up again last May, shrunken and no longer actually in Red Bank.

But those whose box offices still buzz within the borough borders are imploring anyone with a mouse and internet connection to support their local arts scene as it competes against the state’s other nominees.

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AT LAST: BUSTING OUT THE BASIE BUST

basie-bustA likeness of William ‘Count’ Basie has now been relocated from its temporary spot in the Red Bank train stationhouse to the plaza outside.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

James Joyce has his smack dab in the middle of Dublin. Cal Ripken Jr. has his in Baltimore. Even Frank Zappa has one in Lithuania. And come Friday, Count Basie will have his in Red Bank.

Tucked away inside Red Bank’s train station shelter for years, the bust of Red Bank’s native son, William “Count” Basie, one of jazz music’s greatest composers, has now been moved to a more prominent location outside the Monmouth Street train stop. Tomorrow, local officials and fans will hold a re-dedication ceremony for the bronze bust.

For the kid from Red Bank, it’s the very least the borough could do, says Gene Cheslock, who, along with Ray Brennan, purchased the bust back in 2004 to commemorate Basie’s one-hundredth birthday.

“It was lost inside, and not in a noticeable area. Now you can’t miss it,” Cheslock, line Brennan a Little Silver resident, with some serious roots in Red Bank, said. “It’s sort of like the completion of the circle.”

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RED BANK’S RED CARPET: THE BASIES

PiscopoAwards host Joe Piscopo says he was saved by high school theater.

It’s the local high school equivalent of… well, just call them the Basies.

The Count Basie Awards, to be precise, an annual set of honors recognizing outstanding achievement in the dramatic and musical productions of Monmouth County’s high school theater companies.

Sponsored by Moser IP Law Group and hosted at the Count Basie Theatre, it’s an honor that’s grown in stature every year since its inception. And tomorrow night, teens and faculty from all corners of the county will gather at one of the best-known entertainment venues on the East Coast to compete for top bragging rights in acting, singing, dancing and directing.

Scheduled to be recorded for DVD release, the event is to feature musical numbers by several of the nominees, along with a celebrity guest host, a fiftysomething guy whose name is synonymous with the Garden State: who else but SNL alum (and frequent Red Bank day-tripper) Joe Piscopo?

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BRUCE AT BASIE: ALBUM-ORIENTED ROCKING

Img_6727Springsteen signs autographs before last night’s show.

Bruce Springsteen gave fans something to gush about last night, according to the accounts we’ve seen so far.

His show with the full E Street Band at the Count Basie Theatre included complete, start-to-finish renderings of two LPs from the mid-1970s: ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘ and (after an intermission) ‘Born to Run.’

Never before in concert had the band played even one album straight through, according to the fanzine Backstreets. In one of several rapturous reviews published this morning, Backstreets invoked a six-night run at the Red Bank venue in 1976 (then known as the Monmouth Arts Center):

An E Street Band theater show — finding them packed tighter than ever on a small stage like this, with Nils, Patti, and Soozie all added to the line-up since the theater days — would have been exceptional enough, but the four Perfect Album Sides of the setlist put this one over the top.

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SLEDGER: BASIE BOOTSTRAPPED ITSELF

Img_4595Running the Basie more like a commercial promoter than an ‘arts’ organization has boosted the venue’s fortunes, CEO Numa Saisselin says.

With a whale of concert scheduled for tonight — at mega-whale prices — the Count Basie Theatre today is the subject of an insightful page-one story in today’s Star-Ledger that examines the venue’s startling reversal of fortune over the last six years.

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Tonight’s fundraiser by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, says Sledger reporter Peggy McGlone, “is the latest in a string of successes for the 1,500-seat theater, where creative programming and a loyal audience have translated into sustained growth in attendance, events and box office revenue.”

The key to success where other venues its size and mission are struggling? A contrarian approach fostered by CEO Numa Saisselin, according to McGlone.

Take the Springsteen show, a benefit for the theater’s upcoming renovation. Basie officials figured people would pay more for the chance to see local-boy-turned concert-phenom Springsteen in their intimate theater.

But $14,900 extra?

“The original reaction was ‘This is so crazy. It can’t possibly be done,'” said Saisselin, sitting in his modest office overlooking Monmouth Avenue. “But then, we have done crazier things.”

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BLACK COMEDY, AND OTHER BASIE SELLOUTS

Lewisblack1Hold onto your lederhosen, Little Kraut: Lewis Black darkens the stage for two nights this week in the latest of a string of sold-out shows at the Count Basie Theatre.

By TOM CHESEK

You would think this was a sweet point in time to be Lewis Black.

The gravel-voiced gadfly — already a household name thanks to his “Back in Black” vignettes on The Daily Show — has much to hype this season. His new weekly TV show Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil just made its debut on Comedy Central. A forthcoming book, Me of Little Faith, is poised to blow the lid off this organized-religion thing. And he continues to sell out venues across the USA with his own Black-label blend of vein-popping vitriol.

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So why, then, is Lewis Black not smiling? Why does “the most indignant, exasperated man in America” continue to rant, rave and rail against the many real and/or imagined indignities, hypocrisies and stupidities of modern American life?

Because we wouldn’t have it any other way — and when the Yale-educated social activist slash leather-jacketed curmudgeon takes to the soapbox with his high-decibel, slightly Tourettes-inflected stand-up act, there’s no finer music.

Having consistently filled the house in recent years, Black and his longtime opening act John Bowman return to the boards of the Count Basie Theatre for not just one but two sold-out shows, tomorrow and Wednesday night. If past Basie gigs are any indicator, Black will tweak topics both global (wars on terror, prez-candidates in peril and public figures in spectacular freefall) and strictly local (both comics have been known to have some fun with the name of Red Bank’s landmark restaurant The Little Kraut) — with a salvo of bunker-busting F-bombs and all the surgical delicacy of a pair of explosive-charge bolt cutters.

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BASIE, TWO RIVER GET BIG FUNDING BUMPS

Both the Count Basie Theatre and the Two River Theater Company were major beneficiaries of whopping state funding increases as part of an effort to “create parity” among arts organizations, according to today’s Star-Ledger.

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The Basie’s fiscal year 2008 grant from the state Council on the Arts soared by 42 percent, to $223,325, up more than $94,000 from 2007, and the Two Rivers’ allotment doubled, to $139,477, from $69,183.

“We think it represents an acknowledgment by the council of the growth we’ve had over the past couple of years,” Two River managing director Guy Gsell told the Asbury Park Press. “We’re serving a wider geographic area, and have had an incredible period of growth.”

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RED BANK: MARQUEE TOUTS OPTIMISM

red-bank-basie-marqueeIts lineup of shows canceled under the near-lockdown we’re living with to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank has repurposed its marquee.

The marquee now displays messages of “optimism from our local heroes,” the Basie said in a press release. They include quotes from part-time borough resident Jon Stewart and other New Jersey stars.

More below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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VIRUS IMPACTS: CLOSINGS & CANCELLATIONS

red bank foodtown 031220The paper products shelves at Red bank’s Foodtown were nearly bare Thursday evening. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge.)

Here’s a quick look at some impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local programming on the Greater Red Bank Green.

This list is far from comprehensive and does not include school schedule changes previously reported by redbankgreen.

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VIRUS UPDATE: YMCA SEEKS TO LIMIT SPREAD

red bank ymcaThe organization says its procedures “will continue to evolve” along with news about the coronavirus. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[See update below]

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s YMCA is asking members whose children attend schools that have closed due to coronavirus concerns not to visit the facility.

Here’s a quick overview of precautionary measures being taken on the Greater Red Bank Green in light of COVID-19:

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RED BANK: APARTMENT REVIEW BEGINS

red bank 121 monmouth stAn elevation showing the Monmouth Street side of the proposed Salerno project. (Rendering by SOME Architects. Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[UPDATE: The February 20 hearing for this project has been rescheduled at applicant’s request. No new date yet.]

By JOHN T. WARD

A proposed 59-unit apartment project should be allowed to exceed Red Bank’s height and density limits based on the objectives of the borough’s master plan, its architect testified Thursday night.

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RED BANK: A HARD RAIN’S GONNA FALL

red bank count basie 012320CEO Adam Philipson led a hard-hat-wearing contingent on tour of new facilities under construction at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank Thursday. Opening dates for the expansion are still under wraps.

Meantime, while rigid headwear may not be needed, a hard rain’s gonna fall on Greater Red Bank Green Saturday. Up to two inches is expected, along with strong winds, before sunshine returns Sunday, according to the National Weather Service

Check out the extended forecast below. (Photo by John T. Ward.  Click to enlarge.) Read More »

RED BANK: APARTMENT PROJECTS PLANNED

red bank 121 monmouth street A rendering of the Monmouth Street side of the project proposed by Michael Salerno. (Rendering by SOME Architects. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njSixty-nine new apartments would be built on the edge of downtown Red Bank if two projects pending before the planning and zoning boards  win approval.

One would replace a building that holds a place in rock ‘n roll history as the home of Big Man’s West, a club owned by late saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

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RED BANK: FOOD TRUCKS UP FOR DISCUSSION

johnny's 1 111113John Yarusi risked a summons when he parked his Johnny’s Pork Roll truck on Wallace Street in a short-lived experiment test of borough law in 2013. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njIs Red Bank ready at last to unlock the gates that keep out food trucks?

The idea of easing restrictions on food truck operations came up at last week’s borough council workshop meeting, as it has in the past. But this time, it’s not being summarily rejected by the agency that promotes the downtown business district.

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