RED BANK: ‘PARIS’ IN THE SPRING

Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane and  Arnaud Viard star in ‘Paris Can Wait,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

It maybe has some catching up to do with the likes of Cannes, but when it comes to being a mecca for first-run independent/”arthouse” feature films, Red Bank has long led the local pack — a fact that’s attributable primarily to White Street’s Bow Tie Cinemas (and its predecessor, Clearview Cinemas).

For most of the new millennium, the downtown movie house has done duty as official host venue for a series of sneak-preview screening events, spotlighting festival-favorite indies before they go into general release. Part of a long-running partnership between borough-based nonprofit Monmouth Arts and Sony Pictures Classics (the major distributor whose president, Tom Bernard, makes his home in Middletown), the series unspools once more this Thursday, May 11, with a 7:30 p.m. showing of “Paris Can Wait.”

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RED BANK: HERE’S THE BALDWIN- KLINE THING

Alec-Baldwin-Kevin-Kline-333x250The first time Alec Baldwin took to the stage of Red Bank’s Two River Theater, it was for a 2009 fundraiser, during which the leading man of silver screen (“The Hunt for Red October”) and Broadway stage (“A Streetcar Named Desire”) participated in a Q&A for the benefit of the local Junior League.

By the time Baldwin returned to the Bridge Avenue space two years later, he had netted two Emmys, a couple of Golden Globes and a SAG Award for his work on the sitcom “30 Rock.” That appearance found the actor taking part in an entertaining panel discussion with the Tony-nominated frequent Two River artist Michael Cumpsty — a chat moderated by TRTC artistic director John Dias, who made no secret of his desire to secure Baldwin’s services for a future mainstage production in Red Bank.

When Baldwin makes his scheduled appearance at Two River this coming Monday, he’ll have added to his list of conquered media (movies, TV, live drama, commercials, voice mails) a new one: podcasting. And, he’ll be bringing along a fellow multi-platform performer with a formidable set of skills.

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BALDWIN & PAL: UNPLUGGED AND ELECTRIC

dias-baldwin-and-cumpsty-photo-by-mike-mclaughlin2Alec Baldwin and Michael Cumpsty (right) join Two River Theater artistic director John Dias (left) for an “unscripted and unrehearsed” UNPLUGGED fundraiser at the Bridge Avenue artspace Monday night.

By TOM CHESEK

According to Alec Baldwin, there’s a certain comfort to be found in the eight-shows-a-week Broadway grind, in that “at 8pm I know exactly where I’ll be, who I’ll be with, and what I’ll say.”

As for an admittedly “confessional” Michael Cumpsty, the British-born actor allowed that “I feel more myself when I’m playing someone else.”

The two stage veterans were in a casually confessional mood on Monday night — with several hundred eavesdroppers listening in on the unscripted and unrehearsed conversation — as Two River Theater hosted a full house for an intimate evening of scenes and stories presented under the name Baldwin. Cumpsty. Unplugged.

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TRTC: ALEC BALDWIN, UNPLUGGED, WITH PAL

alec-baldwinTwo years after his last and only visit, actor Alec Baldwin returns to Red Bank’s Two River Theater next month for a night of…

Well, chat, mostly. The pre-Internet kind, that is. Only, with a couple of hundred people looking on.

Baldwin and his friend and acclaimed Shakespearean Michael Cumpsty will settle in for an extended conversation focused on their work in, and shared love of, live theater, TRTC artistic director John Dias tells redbankgreen.

“He’s quite a formidable theater actor,” says Dias, a friend of Baldwin since they crossed paths working on a 1998 production of ‘MacBeth‘ at New York’s Public Theater, where Dias was the dramaturg and Baldwin had the lead. “He’s quite a persuasive force.”

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IN oRBit: HOT FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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Even if he’s not your political bag of tea, you’ve probably watched with some semblance of grudging respect while Alec Baldwin up and made off like Madoff with several entire movies, even when he was only in them for a handful of minutes. But such is the appeal of the smooth star of stage and screen (and, briefly, message machine); a man who’s “known as much for polarizing politics, paternal peccadillos and personal-life pugnacity as for his powerhouse performances.”

What he’s also justifiably famous for is being an interview subject of strong opinions and rare candor — and it’s as an interview subject that Baldwin comes to the stage of the Two River Theater this Saturday, for an informal Q&A with the audience entitled An Evening with Alec Baldwin. It’s a fundraiser for the Rumson-based nonprofit Junior League of Monmouth County, and today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has the details from the JLMC on how this hotter-than-hot star — a double-whammy Emmy winner for 30 Rock and the newly named co-host of the next Oscars — dropped everything to do a solid for this local volunteer organization of women during their annual Home for the Holidays weekend.

It’s all here, along with a slideshow of scenes from this week’s Taste of Two Rivers restaurant expo at the Bridge Avenue arts center, only in the pixelated pages of Red Bank oRBit.

IN oRBit: GONNA RAISE SOME FUNDS

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has the first-out-of-the-box word on an upcoming appearance by Alec Baldwin, star of stage, screen and, well, message machine.

Baldwin will be visiting he Two River Theater this November for an informal Q&A, a fundraiser for the Rumson-based Junior League of Monmouth County and its slate of volunteer programs; we’ve got the details and the pertinent links. And if Baldwin’s not your political bag of tea, we hear there’s still tix available for Jackie Mason at the Basie this weekend.

We’ve also got the scoop on an event going on this Sunday at the Middletown Arts Center: a fundraiser for the 4H Kids for Kids and their efforts in helping The ARC of Monmouth mount its annual Spring Prom for our developmentally disabled friends and neighbors. Josh Zuckerman and Beth Arentsen are the headliners for a pair of shows. Besides a penchant for volunteering their considerable talents, the two singer-songwriters share a fine guitar player in Steve DeVito. We’ve got an exclusive chat with Steve, the organizer of this annual concert and one of the genuine good guys on the local music scene, right here where you’re forever reading it first — Red Bank oRBit.