Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Competitors have been announced for the regional Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex county round of the annual, national Poetry Out Loud competition, hosted by the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy on Tuesday, February 7.
The 10 a.m. competition will choose two winners, who will advance (along with the winners of five other regional rounds), to compete in the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, to be held on March 9 at The College of New Jersey’s Mayo Concert Hall at The Center for the Arts. From there, one state champion will advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

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Alexis Kozak (horiz) COLORPlaywright and Middletown High School South faculty member Alexis Kozak premieres his original script, “Toms River Anthology,” at the Count Basie Theatre’s new Performing Arts Academy on June 12.

As Alexis Kozak explains things, it’s “a meditation on death in New Jersey,” one that “toys with the question of why we pass through Toms River, but why Toms River won’t just g–damn die?!”

Beginning on Friday, June 12 and continuing for three performances over the weekend, Kozak will host the world premiere of his original play Toms River Anthologynot in Toms River but in the new Red Bank headquarters of the Count Basie Theatre’s Performing Arts Academy (the onetime WaWa store at 111 Monmouth Street that until very recently served as rehearsal space for the Phoenix Productions stage troupe).

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Crew members from the Count Basie Theatre’s Performing Arts Academy prepare the set for Wednesday night’s seventh annual Basie Awards show.

To all those who believe that there are simply Too Many Award Shows — well, we certainly won’t argue the point.

That said, when the red carpet rolls and the paparazzi bulbs pop this Wednesday evening on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, it may just herald the only trophyfest that matters — possibly even a ground-floor investment in the next generation of acting, singing, dancing talent on the greater Green.

The Basie Awards extravaganza that goes up Wednesday night at the Count Basie Theatre will mark the seventh annual edition of the program that recognizes excellence in drama and musical productions among Monmouth County high schools. It’s an event that’s boasted such guest hosts and presenters as E Street busker Max Weinberg and Tony nominee Lou Liberatore, as well as SNL veterans Joe Piscopo and Siobhan Fallon Hogan. But it’s really all about the kids, of course — and when the Basie envelopes are fumbled open on the landmark stage, a collection of young performers from 19 local high schools (including five in the Red Bank area) will be among those hoping that this can be the first milestone item in a glittering trophy case.

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