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RED BANK: FESTIVAL SERVES FILMS & EVENTS

A portion of the colorful mural painted earlier this month on the Catherine Street wall of Kitch Organic heralds the second annual coming of the Indie Street Film Festival, co-founded by Jay Webb, below.

To Wanamassa resident Jay Webb, losing oneself in the flickering lights of a hushed, darkened room is only part of the joy of a film festival for cinephiles. Another is getting together and gabbing about what they’ve seen, and who’s doing what in an art form wholly dependent on collaboration.

Which is one reason the schedule for the second edition of the Indie Street Film Festival, which returns to Red Bank next week, is studded with community events in between screenings of some 60 films.

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RED BANK: LOCAL STARS ON THE ‘WEST SIDE’

Christa Dalmazio of Middletown and Mason Kugelman of Rumson star as Maria and Tony in the Phoenix Productions staging of ‘West Side Story’ at the Count Basie Theatre.

It’s been a staple of the Phoenix Productions playbook for nearly 25 years, one of those crowd-pleasing Broadway perennials to which the Red Bank-based semipro stage company has made regular revisits.

Still, it’s been some 10 seasons since West Side Story has received a fully-fleshed Phoenix staging. And when the curtain goes up this Friday night at the Count Basie Theatre, it will reveal an old favorite that’s infused with new energy, courtesy of a youthful cast of newcomers highlighted by two residents of the Greater Red Bank green.

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RED BANK: FAB FAUX SPINS ‘REVOLVER’

The Fab Faux take the Basie stage Saturday for a full-on recreation of the revolutionary Beatles album ‘Revolver.’ (Photo by Michael Weintraub)

In a season that’s justifiably obsessed with the golden anniversary of a little phonograph record by the name of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it might be easy to overlook the album that truly made the Pepper platter possible: Revolver, the 1966 Beatles release that kicked off the Fab Four’s focus on studio projects in earnest — and an idea-packed long-player that more than a few observers consider to be the greatest rock album of all time.

For the 16th edition of what’s become a dependable signifier of summer in Red Bank, the super-sessionman Beatle-reboot known as the Fab Faux takes the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Saturday night for a performance of Revolver in its entirety, plus a mixed set of classic hits.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY ‘FINALE’ AT BASIE

Conductor Xian Zhang discusses the New Jersey Symphony’s season-finale concerts, which include at stop in Red Bank Saturday night.

It was an eclectic slate of programming, one in which sought-after international soloists and the works of the old masters shared the stage with modern Broadway babies and romantic favorites from the contemporary pop playlist.

For its season finale at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks out the jams in classically classical fashion Saturday under the baton of celebrated conductor Xian Zhang.

But as redbankgreen regulars know, the concert won’t be the last opportunity for locals to hear a symphony this summer.

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RED BANK: BASIES GO TO RFH, RBC, RBR

Phoenix Productions exec director Tom Martini — pictured fifth from left, during the 2015 ribbon-cutting of the troupe’s new Chestnut Street headquarters — was honored with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award during the 12th annual Basie Awards on Wednesday night. (photo by Rich Kowalski) 

Students and faculty from five high schools in the greater Red Bank area were honored for excellence in high school theater productions — and the co-founder of a favorite borough-based performing arts company received a Lifetime Achievement recognition — when the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony took place at the Count Basie Theatre on the evening of May 24.

The big winner among local schools was Red Bank Catholic High School, whose nine nominations for the spring production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella resulted in three Basie wins: for Shawn Mack (Outstanding Musical Direction), Samantha Siriani (Outstanding Supporting Actress), and Kelly Gemellaro (Outstanding Choreography, shared with Jacqui Fisher for the Middletown High School South staging of The Producers).

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RED BANK: ‘BASIES’ BUZZ IN THE AIR TONIGHT

The Red Bank Regional production of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ has garnered seven nominations in the Basie Awards for excellence in local high school theater, as the 12th annual ceremony rolls out the red carpet tonight.

In a pop-culture landscape that’s littered with the sharp metal edges of way too many awards and honors, you could make the case that this is the only trophyfest that matters — the kind that recognizes, nurtures and inspires the next generation of acting, singing, dancing and technical talent.

When the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony takes the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight, May 24, students and faculty from nearly 20 public, private and parochial high schools in Monmouth County — seven of them located here within the Greater Red Bank Green — will be vying for a chance to deliver their acceptance speech, in a field that, in the words of Basie education director Yvonne Lamb Scudiery, continues “to set the bar higher and higher, resulting in outstanding professional quality work…and certainly making the job or our evaluation team a very difficult yet gratifying one.”

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RED BANK: WHERE ARE THE GARAGE PLANS?

Five developers have submitted proposals regarding the White Street municipal parking lot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Seven weeks after receiving proposals for a possible new downtown parking garage, the Red Bank council may release them this week, Councilman Mike Whelan tells redbankgreen.

But the disclosure still hinges on legal roadblocks thrown up by former Councilwoman Cindy Burnham, who sued the town over the plan immediately after she left office.

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RED BANK: ‘BOBFEST’ OF DYLAN, WAR & PEACE

A promo video recaps the history of the annual Bobfest salute to Bob Dylan, which returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday night.

When he first offered an impromptu birthday toast to Bob Dylan during a 1999 set at the old Downtown Café in Red Bank, Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno didn’t harbor any thoughts of making Bobfest an annual thing, let alone an ever-expanding phenomenon with a life and passionate following all its own.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY TO PLAY MARINE PARK

Music lovers are expected to line the slope at Marine Park to hear the New Jersey Symphony. Restrooms now under construction are visible at top left. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

RiverFest may be off the calendar, but there will be at least one night of music in Red Bank’s Marine Park this summer.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra plans to christen the newly refurbished park with a free, open-air concert in July.

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RED BANK: BASIE SEEKS TEEN OPERA VOICES

Press release from Count Basie Theatre 

The Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy today has announced a summer residency with famed Los Angeles Opera director Eli Villanueva, on a summer opera camp program for vocalists aged 10-17.

The two-week intensive, open to students of all vocal types, begins with auditions on Saturday, May 20 — and culminates with a pair of performances of Brundibar, the famed children’s opera originally staged at the Theresientadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. Needs-based scholarships will be available to those students who qualify.

The public performances will take place on Saturday, August 19 at the Count Basie Theatre and on Sunday, August 20 at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River.

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RED BANK: ‘BEAUTY’ ON THE BASIE STAGE

The interlude between the end of April and beginning of May signals the traditional rising up of a real Red Bank institution — Phoenix Productions, the borough-based theatrical company that for more than two decades has presented its musical entertainments on the boards of one of the region’s most legendary stages: the Count Basie Theatre.

This Saturday sees the curtain go up on the first of the 2017 offerings from the Phoenix fun factory — and, it as they did with last year’s season-opening production of The Little Mermaid, the troupe will be delving into the Disney Broadway playbook for a fresh and family-friendly staging of the romantic fantasy perennial, Beauty and the Beast.

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RED BANK: CURTAIN UP FOR BASIE KIDS

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Each year, the historic Count Basie Theatre welcomes thousands of students to experience live art — and for many, it’s their first or only opportunity to do so. From classical music with modern twists, to the diversity of Asian and African artistry or historical plays like I Have a Dream, the Basie allows students to dream forward through the experience of culture and artistic expression.

Last week, the theatre announced its participation in the OceanFirst Charity Challenge, a crowdsourcing fundraiser which will assist the Basie in raising money for its “Curtains Up For Kids” educational performance program for schools.

Individuals are encouraged to visit thebasie.org and click the “Curtains Up For Kids” icon, which will take them to a page where donations can be taken, and individuals and schools can spin off their own fundraisers to assist the cause.

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RED BANK: BASIE TO ABSORB CONSERVATORY

Vladislav Kovalsky, below, plans to fold the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, which he’s headed since 1998, into the Count Basie Theatre.

In a move that further cements its place at the heart of the Greater Red Bank Green’s cultural life, the Count Basie Theatre plans to merge the borough-based Monmouth Conservatory of Music into its existing suite of musical training and performance programs.

In a statement released Wednesday, the theater’s board of directors detailed a plan to assume operations of the 53-year-old MCM as a component of the Basie’s slate of specialized instruction programs in jazz, classic rock and Broadway-style performing arts.

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RED BANK: WORDS AND JAZZ ON MONMOUTH

Jazz chanteuse Champian Fulton (above) is among the guest speakers — while Ella Fitzgerald and “Kid from Red Bank” Count Basie are among the topics — when the annual Talkin’ Jazz series returns Monday. 

“If you can play —— if you can show me something, whoever you are —— I’’m listening,” said Red Bank-based jazz maven Joe “Mooche” Muccioli in these paperless pages several years back. It was a statement that underscored the democratic attributes of jazz music — and at the same time, it served to drive home the point that a true jazz player has got to go beyond talking that talk, and walk that walk.

During the National Jazz Appreciation Month of April, however, it’s also about talking the talk — particularly when the spoken word serves to illuminate the music that’s been called America’s one truly homegrown art form.

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RED BANK: STUDENT FILMFEST RETURNS

Sock Monster,’ by Middletown South sophomore Victoria Pater, is among the finalists in the High School category of this year’s Project FX festival at the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday.

High school and college student filmmakers from all over New Jersey — including two from here on the Greater Red Bank Green — are among the finalists who will see their short works displayed on the big screen of the historic Count Basie Theatre when the Project FX statewide film competition invites the public to its third annual festival this Saturday.

Sponsored by Bank of America and presented in partnership with Sony Pictures Classics, the contest assembles hundreds of short-form narrative and documentary entries each year, showcasing young talent in acknowledgment of the DIY revolution that’s placed pro-grade videography and editing tech into the hands of aspiring filmmakers everywhere.

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RBR SOPHOMORE AN OUT-LOUD FINALIST

Red Bank Regional sophomore Shea Grant (second from left) is pictured with Yvonne Scudiery of the Count Basie Theatre, co-finalist Danyal Malik, and Poetry Out Loud program coordinator Kay Potucek during the recent Poetry Out Loud competition at the Basie.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Shea Grant of Little Silver , a sophomore at Red Bank Regional High School, was one of two finalists in the regional Poetry Out Loud competition, held on February 7 at the Count Basie Theatre.

A drama major in RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Shea performed three poems for the competition: “Personal” by Tony Hoagland, “Larkinesque” by Michael Ryan, and “Friendship after Love” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

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RED BANK: BASIE PIMPS STAGE TO PRESS

Signage touting the Asbury Park Press brand will be installed in front of the stage and projected elsewhere in the venue before and after shows. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After some 90 years as a lights-down sanctuary from the outside world, visitors to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre will be greeted by heavy pre- and post-show branding by the Asbury Park Press starting Tuesday.

According to an “exclusive” report about itself Monday, the Neptune-based Press will have its name in lights throughout the entertainment space: in front of the stage, on a drop-down screen, and on the walls before and after performances and during intermissions.

“You will be seeing an act that is performing on the Asbury Park Press Stage,” Basie CEO Adam Philipson is quoted as saying.

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RED BANK: MOMIX IN THE MIX AT BASIE

Choreographer Moses Pendleton brings his MOMIX dance company back to the Count Basie Theatre on Sunday for a new look at their classic work, ‘Opus Cactus.’

In an interview that appeared in our paperless pages several years back, famed choreographer Moses Pendleton shared his thought that “if people appreciate what I do, if they go out from one of our performances with a little less gravity in their skip, then I’ve been successful.”

Since 1971, when he co-founded the revolutionary Pilobolus dance company, Pendleton has done his part to fight the good fight against gravity — both the stodgy old natural law, and the sort of attitude that too often keeps a “fine arts” institution from having a joyful sense of humor about itself. When he left Pilobolus to forge the meeting of movement and stagecraft magic known as MOMIX, the self-described “avant gardener” renewed his mission of “exploring new and surprising ways to move and bend.” And when the troupe returns to the Red Bank stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, they’ll be newly exploring one of the works that made them one of the most celebrated forces in modern dance.

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RED BANK: BURRY NAMED TO BASIE BOARD

Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry, seen in a file photo from January 2016, is the newest member of the Count Basie Theatre’s Board of Directors. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The nonprofit Count Basie Theatre announced yesterday the appointment of Monmouth County Freeholder and open space / historic preservation advocate Lillian Burry to its Board of Trustees.

Burry was elected to the board as a special meeting to fill a vacancy which expires in June 2018. The board’s annual elections and meeting are held in May.

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RED BANK: HORNSBY, SKAGGS & HOT SARDINES

Bruce Hornsby, above at lower right, joins fellow Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs for a Monday night matchup at the Basie, followed on Thursday with a much-anticipated appearance by the Hot Sardines, below.

Picture this: you’re a celebrated, Grammy-winning musician and songwriter whose seemingly effortless mastery has seen him move with past the often artificial barricades of classic rock but your most immediate identifier remains the smash hit single that launched you out of the gate a generation ago. And that, fans, is just “The Way It Is.”

Undaunted, Bruce Hornsby continues to embrace that “elephant in the room” signature song with a “vibrantly expansive” new arrangement that stands as one of the highlights of his current tour — an ambitious itinerary that finds him stepping onto the stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight in the collaborative company of another multi-faceted music maker, his friend and fellow Grammy getter Ricky Skaggs.

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RED BANK: BASIE TOUTS ARTS IMPACT OPS

While we normally shy away from “Big Check” photos, this image of Bobby Bandiera (fourth from left) presenting a a $91,000 award to The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties illustrates the fundraising power of Bandiera’s holiday Hope Concerts, the 2016 edition of which brought in over $200,000 for designated beneficiaries at Foodbank, Two River Theater, and the arts education programs at Red Bank Middle School.

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The Count Basie Theatre has announced the availability of five Arts Impact scholarships available to Monmouth County high school seniors graduating in 2017.

This year, the Basie will proudly offer five scholarships: the Moser-Taboada Arts Impact Scholarship, the Monmouth Medical Center – RWJBarnabas Health Arts Impact  Scholarship, the Monmouth County Freeholders’ Basie Scholarship for Continuing Education, the Siciliano Landscape Company Arts Impact Scholarship, and the new Steven and Jaime Schultz Arts Impact Scholarship. 

The Monmouth County Freeholders’ scholarship will be awarded to a student attending a New Jersey-based college in the fall. Each will award a recipient $2500 towards their freshman year of higher education. Deadline for applying for the program is 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17.

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RED BANK: A COUNT-DOWN TO THE OSCARS

Casey Affleck stars in tonight’s showing of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, one of the heavily favored Oscar contenders being presented on the Count Basie screen at a pleasingly retro ticket price.  (Amazon Studios)

It happens every year at this time: the kind of awards-season buzz that turns the most casual-viewing couch potato into the most discerning of armchair film critics and festival adjudicators. As the February 26 airdate of the 89th Academy Awards draws closer, film fans scramble to catch up with as many of the nominated features as there are hours in the week — and the Count Basie Theatre is there to meet them, with a special slate of screenings that spotlights some of 2016’s most acclaimed releases, at a price of admission that’s a throwback to some twenty years ago.

The schedule that kicked off on January 31 with the noir western Hell or High Water (four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture) continues tonight, February 15, with a 7 p.m. screening of a “little” movie that’s made a big splash with audiences from here to Sundance: the drama Manchester By The Sea.

Set in the Massachusetts coastal town of that name, the tale of old wounds, second chances and heavy burdens stars Casey Affleck in his Golden Globe winning turn as Lee, an emotionally scarred handyman who’s forced to return to his old hometown when he’s named the guardian of his recently deceased brother’s teenaged son. Coming out of left field to score six major Oscar nominations — for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor (young Lucas Hedges), Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife), plus Kenneth Lonergan’s original screenplay and direction — the film is all the more impressive for having catapulted its distributor Amazon Studios into the big leagues of Oscar-lauded contenders.

A presentation of the Count Basie Theatre Cinema Society, tonight’s showing of Manchester by the Sea plays at Monmouth County’s longest continuously operating movie venue for just $5 per ticket (or free of charge, for Cinema Society members). Buy two admissions for $15, and receive a $10 concessions vouchers — and take it here to reserve.

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RED BANK: ONCE AGAIN, IMPROV IN A JAM

Audience members twist the limbs of Improv Jam members Chris Rearick and Mike O’Keefe during a recent skit. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

They’ve been evicted so many times it’s almost funny, and the comedians who brand themselves as Improv Jam are about to lose their current home, in Red Bank.

But they haven’t lost their sense of humor, and comedy lovers — including those willing to surrender their cellphones to the cause — can catch them at their antic best every Saturday night, for free, on Monmouth Street.

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RED BANK: A VALENTINE IN MUSIC AND DANCE

Singer-dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward (above) are special guest Valentines of the New Jersey Symphony this Friday night at the Basie, and star conductor Xian Zhang (below) leads the orchestra back to Red Bank on February 25.   

When it secured the services of the internationally celebrated Xian Zhang as principal conductor last year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra upped the ante on its bid to earn a place among the New York region’s premier musical organizations.

Now, the orchestra returns to its coastal New Jersey venue of choice — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — with a February slate that stands as a virtual valentine to its own versatility, whether waltzing across the works of the old masters or doing a Tin Pan Alley tapdance through the Great American Songbook.

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RED BANK: PARKING FORUM OPENS ‘DIALOGUE’

Red Bank “is losing its position as a walking community” in part because of a lack of parking, said Joel McFadden, a White Street jeweler who served as event moderator.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to get a “dialogue” going with residents about the need for a downtown parking garage, Red Bank merchants hosted a town hall meeting that drew dozens to the borough middle school Monday night.

There, members of the Red Bank Business Alliance served up their perspectives on what they see as a longstanding problem that’s worsened in recent years under a changeover from a retail economy to one driven by restaurants and entertainment.

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