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Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The Count Basie Center for the Arts has been approved for a $100,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support mindALIGNED, the organization’s collective impact initiative in the areas of professional  development for educators,  creative teaching strategies, artist residencies and arts experiences.

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Press release from Count Basie Theatre

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $25 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $100,000 to the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre for its mindALIGNED collective impact initiative. More →


The classic-rock conservatory kids of the Count Basie’s Rockit! program hit the Basie boards Saturday with a salute to the Summer of Love. 

It goes without saying that none of the dynamic young vocalists and instrumentalists of Rockit! at the Basie were around for 1967’s fabled Summer of Love — and chances are excellent that few if any of their parents were, either. So perhaps their grandparents could tell them a thing or two about life a half a century ago, when the air was charged with ready-or-not change and momentum, not to mention patchouli oil.

Of course, you didn’t have to be there with flowers in your hair to recognize that the year was a pivotal one for the popular culture in general, and a fast-maturing rock music in particular. So when the kids from Rockit! take to the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank this Saturday evening, they’ll be channeling the spirit of the era’s most game-changing album — and welcoming an in-the-flesh veteran of a genuine hit-making institution.

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Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The nonprofit Count Basie Theatre announced this week the receipt of a generous grant from the Toms River-based OceanFirst Foundation.

According to Maria Sorensen, the Basie’s Vice President of Development, the grant in the amount of $18,750 “will support our school bus-in program, as well as our Performing Arts Academy’s children’s opera camp.”

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Contributors to Jon Stewart’s new HBO project — including writer Brendan O’Hare, above, in the guise of obsessive basketball fan — make an encore appearance at Count Basie’s Performing Arts Academy Thursday.

As they did two months ago, writers and other contributors to Jon Stewart‘s hush-hush new HBO-project-in-the-works are scheduled to take a stage Thursday night in what one of them called a “dope little room that probably was a garage three weeks ago.”

Hey, a little respect: that “dope little room” next door to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre was once a Wa-Wa convenience store, we’ll have you know.

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jon-stewart-1-121612-2Whether or not Jon Stewart, seen above at a Basie event in 2012, shows up Thursday, his collaborators, and satirical spirit, will be in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Basie academy 062216Though he’s cultivated a grey beard since backing away from his desk at The Daily Show 16 months ago, Jon Stewart hasn’t exactly adopted a hermit-like existence.

He’s made memorable appearances on the programs of former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. He’s been busy with his wife, Tracey, in establishing a new home for rescued farm animals. A new book titled “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests,” has rekindled interest in his legacy. Oh, and he signed a four-year contract with HBO that had media observers salivating over the possibilities.

While Stewart’s still-untitled HBO project is said to be readying for debut by March, a live audience on the Greater Red Bank Green is slated to get an advance taste Thursday night, when the Count Basie Theatre mounts a special Evening of Comedy spotlighting its writers and performers.

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Lisa Bagwell PizzaRecycled-materials sculptures by Lisa Bagwell are among the art works featured during the Zero Waste Arts Fest, going on September 17 and 18 at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook.

Press release from Monmouth County Arts Council

On Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, the Monmouth County Arts Council invites the public to take part in a weekend of free family fun — in which the arts intersect with the wonders of our local environment — during the inaugural Zero Waste Arts Fest (ZWAF).

Going on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic Fort Hancock area of Sandy Hook, ZWAF represents a partnership  between Monmouth Arts and Gateway National Recreation Area Sandy Hook Unit. The event also marks the culminating phase of a larger Gateway to the Arts grant project, a $20,000 award that Monmouth Arts received from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2016, to honor both the 50th anniversary of the NEA and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

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Drummer_Carmine_Appice_(right)_works_with_Basie_Rockit!_students_in_advance_of_their_Vanguard_Awards_performance_on_August_29th.Legendary drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck) is shown working with students of the Count Basie’s Rockit! program in 2015. The classic-rock conservatory kids hit the Basie boards on Saturday with a program entitled, “Rock and Roll Goes to the Movies.”  

It’s been an unfathomably long time — at least a couple of generations before any of the student musicians of Rockit! at the Basie were born — but there was a day when the presence of a youth-oriented rhythm bopper like “Rock Around the Clock” on a major-studio movie soundtrack represented a societal sea-change, one that threatened to spill soda-fountain milkshakes into the riot-torn streets and tilt the earth off its axis more surely than the atomic arsenals of any Commie (or possibly Martian) power.

Since then, of course, Hollywood has more than made its peace with the jukebox. Uncle Oscar and cousin Grammy soon discovered a mutually lucrative method of keeping the cashboxes ka-chinging. Entire film vehicles were engineered around performers who had never so much as appeared in a school pageant. Rockers became actors and even directors. The carefully curated and licensed soundtrack album became an art form unto itself.

On Saturday night, the kids from Rockit! return to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank for a whirlwind tour of that cultural crossroads where “Rock and Roll Goes to the Movies.”

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jacquie-lee-nbc-630x359 copyTHE VOICE finalist Jacquie Lee (pictured) and Grammy nominee Charlie Puth are among the graduates of the Count Basie Theatre’s Performing Arts Academy, the new session of which is accepting registrations now for its spring 2016 classes.

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Online registration for spring classes at the Count Basie Theatre’s Performing Arts Academy is now open at theBASIE.org/education. Classes for young thespians, rock stars in the making, vocalists and other creative types are available for students this session.

Classes run throughout March, April, May and June, with tons of daily options for students. On Mondays, the Academy’s “Kids On Stage” classes and its “Beginning Acting” and “Teen Audition Techniques” take center stage, while on Tuesdays, “Broadway Bound” and “Acting For TV And Film” are session highlights. Wednesday titles include “Dialects and Diction,” “Teen Improvisation” and private one-on-one vocal coaching classes, while Thursdays offer students lessons in show choirs, beginning acting and advance acting for teens.

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EvanKrachmanTopShrewbury playwright Evan Krachman debuts a new drama in  as The Count Basie Performing Arts Academy is the scene for a Halloween reading of PRESS TO TALK, presented by the Asbury Park-based Black Box collective.

Since taking over the Monmouth Street space formerly occupied by Phoenix Productions, the Count Basie Theatre’s Performing Arts Academy has put the onetime Red Bank WaWa store to multi-tasking use. That includes an arrangement with the Black Box Asbury Park collective that’s seen the “multi-cultural arts incubator” presenting such original theatrical works as the recent Toms River Anthology by Black Box board member (and Middletown High School South teacher) Alexis Kozak.

This Saturday afternoon, and for one Halloween matinee only, the academy hosts the collective in a staged reading of the new drama by a playwright from the Greater Red Bank Green: Press to Talk. by Evan Krachman.

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CJYC BasieThe Central Jersey Youth Chorale is auditioning young vocalists for a new season of performances in and around the Count Basie Theatre.                    

Press release from the Count Basie Theatre

Back for a second season after its inauguration in 2013, the Central Jersey Youth Chorale invites students in grades 5 through 8 to audition for the CJYC, a free program of the Count Basie Theatre and the Red Bank Borough School District.

Auditions will be held at the Basie building on Monday, September 15 and Wednesday, September 17, beginning at 5 pm. The CJYC program is scheduled to run from October through June 2015, and will again operate under the musical direction of Kristopher Zook, local conductor, composer and vocal music educator from Red Bank Regional High School.

Students should prepare a song that reflects their vocal strengths. Once accepted, weekly rehearsals will be held on Mondays from 5-6 pm and Wednesdays from 5-6:30pm at the Count Basie Theatre. This year’s CJYC will perform at local community events and concerts, and in conjunction with select acts on the main stage at the Count Basie Theatre. The group’s repertoire will reflect a wide variety of styles and genres of choral music.

The number of students accepted into the CJYC is limited, so interested participants are urged to contact (732)224-8778 x125 to reserve an audition time — and read on, for more about the Fall Session of classes at the Basie.

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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.”


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 Sinatra’s favorite partners in swing, William “Count” Basie, at 8 pm.

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