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The Monmouth Conservatory of Music’s new home, at 65 Chestnut Street, features a giant mural on the facade. Below, violin teacher Bettina Forbes in the new building. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
By JOHN T. WARD
It may always be best known to locals as ‘the Basie,’ but Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent entertainment venue is nothing if not prolific with monikers.
On Friday, yet another new one went up on the Monmouth Street marquee that bears the name of the town’s most famous son.
By JOHN T. WARD
By JOHN T. WARD
Marking the start of a new chapter — and the end of that whole ‘theater or theatre?’ conundrum — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre has been rebranded the Count Basie Center for the Arts, officials said Monday.
The name reflects the 92-year-old venue’s present and future as a “campus,” where performance art is learned, developed and staged, said Basie chief executive officer Adam Philipson. Read More
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. Read More
“Giving Tuesday,” founded in 2012 by New York City’s 92nd St. YMCA and the United Nations Foundation, was originally a “response to commercialism and consumerism” during the holiday season. It has since turned into an international day of giving.
Next Tuesday, Nov. 28, the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre will join forces with 94.3 The Point and The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation for a day-long, live broadcast from the Basie to raise funds for the Veterans Tickets Foundation, or Vet Tix.
It’s been described as “a love letter to women of color,” one that “reveals heartfelt emotions about intimacy, sexual responsibility and overcoming adversity.” Credited to author and producer Yetta Young — but acknowledged by her as a collaborative effort that features the input of some dozen different women — the intimate theatrical experience entitled Butterfly Confessions has spread its wings and its message to communities from coast to coast, including audiences right here in Red Bank who enjoyed it for the first time in the spring of 2016.
Dozens of local politicians and players in the arts world turned out for the event. Below, Basie board members Steven Van Zandt and his wife, Maureen Van Zandt. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A $23 million expansion of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre formally got underway Wednesday, beginning what’s expected to be a 20-month endeavor to turn the Vaudeville-era venue into a powerhouse for live performance and arts education.
The aim, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt told an al fresco gathering, is “to make Red Bank an example to the rest of the county of what it is possible to do” in elevating the arts.
Joseph York (The Prince), Alison Levier (Cinderella) and Gina Teschke (Little Red) are among the storybook characters going “Into the Woods,” when Phoenix Productions stages the Sondheim musical at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre. (Photos courtesy Tom Martini)
On a weekend that marks the official curtain-up for Two River Theater’s season-opening production of A Raisin in the Sun, two of the area’s longest established community stage companies are offering up something for those who get a thrill from first-nighting — with fresh local looks at a couple of Broadway favorites from the 1980s and 1990s.
When last we looked in on Red Bank’s own Phoenix Productions, the resident theatrical troupe of the Count Basie Theatre was marking its turf with a revisit to West Side Story — an early success for the young lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and an indicator of great things to come. When the company’s 2017 season resumes this Friday, September 15, it will once again look to the Sondheim playbook — and to the storybook realm of the Brothers Grimm — with a musical journey Into the Woods.
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.
While the venerable venue once known as the Carlton can trace its cinematic lineage way back to the silent-screen age, the grand auditorium of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre put in many decades of service giving the local moviegoing audience what it couldn’t always get at home — from glorious technicolor and stereophonic sound to that all-important enticer known as air conditioning.
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.”
Everybody on the bus: those merry pranksters of the Happy Together Tour are back on the road for a frankly amazing 33rd annual time-trip back to those transistorized, ever so slightly psychedelicized days when American pop-rock bands took up harmonies against the British invaders — and the bubblegum-music bubble had yet to pop.
When the 2017 tour rolls into Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre this Saturday night, it will once again serve as a fundraising vehicle for the Light of Day Foundation, the nonprofit for Parkinson’s Disease research that each January delivers a jolt of star-quality benefit concerts in Asbury Park and elsewhere. And racing to the head of the class once more will be the tour’s historic headliners, the Turtles.
With a display of carved-surfboard art, a New Jersey premiere screening of Dave Made a Maze and a DJ’d after-party at three separate venues, the second annual Indie Street Film Festival officially got underway in Red Bank Wednesday evening, ushering in a four-days-and-nights slate of screenings, panels, workshops and get-togethers with an admirable “Cannes-do” spirit.
A project of the fillmajer cooperative Indie Street (working in partnership with Red Bank RiverCenter), the sequel to last year’s inaugural event looks to make a long-running “tentpole franchise” of the venture. It’s a multi-venue happening that offers plenty of reasons to visit the borough’s theaters, restaurants and nightspots — or even its best-kept-secret middle school auditorium — during that time of year when the beaches make their biggest bid for buzz.
One’s a platinum-plated instrumentalist whose smooth stylings have seen him top the charts as a bandleader and make beautiful music with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Stevie Nicks. The other’s a pioneer of slapping/thumping funk bass technique who wowed the crowd at Woodstock, climbed the Billboard R&B charts and took his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Together on the road this summer, Dave Koz and Larry Graham are living proof that jazz is a big tent, and when the co-headliners roll into Red Bank this Wednesday, they’ll be sounding the keynote to the 2017 Summer Jazz Fest schedule at the Count Basie Theatre.
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.
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.