By TOM CHESEK
With its first mainstage production (Intimate Apparel) of the 2010-2011 season, Two River Theater Company managed to hit one out of the park a feat that set the bar pretty high for everything to follow, but is ultimately just another reason to swing for the fences with its latest, which begins previews tonight.
In Opus, by classical musician-turned-dramatist Michael Hollinger, “personalities clash, tensions rise, and four musicians grapple with how far they will go to achieve excellence,” as the members of a string quartet are forced to scramble to replace a temperamental star player who’s fired just days before the biggest concert of their careers.
Described by its director as “a play about a quartet with five actors,” it’s an ensemble piece that numbers among its players a familiar face from one of the most popular TV shows of the past 25 years none other than Geoffrey Owens, who played the Huxtables’ son-in-law Elvin on The Cosby Show for seven of the hit sitcom’s eight seasons. The stage/screen actor (son, by the by, of former Congressman Major Owens) is joined onstage by Craig Baldwin, Anjanette Hall, Saxon Palmer, and Kevin Kelly (seen previously in TRTC’s All My Sons).
About that director. He’s named Matthew Arbour, and he’s a local guy “making good” by his own estimation having grown up in Little Silver, graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, and gone on to become a sought-after theater professional whose projects have won acclaim from Manhattan to Missouri. A beyond-busy Arbour planted it for a few minutes during “tech week,” to give redbankgreen the dope on Opus and otherwise.