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Joe Ronga, Dan Peterson, Madelyn Monaghan and Joseph York are off to see THE WIZARD OF OZ, in the stage adaptation of the ultimate “road picture” going up this weekend from Phoenix Productions.

It’s a winning strategy that’s served very well indeed: open in April with a family-friendly favorite; follow up in July with a dance-oriented show that draws on all the youthful energy available in the summer season. Return in September with a “golden age” classic for longtime audiences. Then, after you’ve made the nut for the year, close things out in November with something a little newer, edgier, more artistic.

When Red Bank’s own Phoenix Productions kicks off its milestone 25th season of lavish musical entertainments this weekend, they’ll be kicking it in style at the landmark venue that’s been their home stage for 23 of those 25 years — the Count Basie Theatre. And, they’ll be filling the seats of the Count’s castle with the friends and family members of a cast of some 40 players, as The Wizard of Oz becomes the latest upholder of the community theater company’s yellow-brick gold standard.

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Dan Peterson reprises the PRODUCERS showstopper “I Want to Be a Producer,” when Phoenix Productions celebrates its 25th anniversary this Saturday at the Count Basie.

They come from all walks of life — suits and students; public servants and professionals; homemakers and hobbyists. Some have even made a go at show business as a career — but if the hundreds of actors, singers and dancers who have appeared with Phoenix Productions have one great thing in common, it’s that they get to strut their stuff on the same stage that’s hosted the likes of Tony Bennett, George Carlin, Al Pacino, Cary Grant, and a Boss named Bruce.

That stage is of course the Count Basie Theatre, where for eight weekends out of each year the folks at Red Bank’s resident community theater company offer up an array of musical favorites that have ranged from old favorites (Annie, Fiddler, The King and I) to new phenoms (High School Musical, Hairspray, Rent). And this Saturday night, February 25, the Basie will serve as host venue for 25 Years of Phoenix: An Evening of Music and Memories — an event in which over two dozen veterans of past Phoenix productions perform a set of signature tunes from 20 of the more than 100 shows that Phoenix has mounted since their first summer-stock endeavors in 1988.

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