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RED BANK: BASIE AWARDS FOR H.S. THESPIANS

Christian Brothers Academy’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ presentation at the Basie Awards Wednesday night.

Winners were announced [Wednesday] evening at the 13th annual BASIE AWARDS, honoring excellence in high school theater in Monmouth County.

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RED BANK: BASIE NOW ‘CENTER FOR THE ARTS’

The rollout of the new name will begin immediately, theater officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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 »

RED BANK: BASIE LANDS $100K NEA GRANT


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. Read More »

RED BANK: BASIE #GIVING BACK TO VETS

The domed ceiling of the Count Basie Theatre. Below, Linda and Jay Grunin. 

“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.

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RED BANK: ‘BUTTERFLY’ ALIGHTS AT BASIE

Lorraine Stone, left, as Sojourner Truth, is among the cast members in Dunbar Rep’s ‘Butterfly Confessions,’ a play by Yetta Young (right) that returning to the Count Basie Theatre. 

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.

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RED BANK: BASIE STARTS MASSIVE EXPANSION

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.

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ON THE GREEN: TWO TICKETS ON THE AISLE

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.

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RED BANK: ROCKIT & A RASCAL TO ROCK BASIE

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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RED BANK: IT’S COOL, AND FREE, AT THE BASIE

The Count Basie’s free summer film series continues on Tuesday with screenings of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and Guardians of the Galaxy.’ 

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.

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RED BANK: HAPPY TOGETHER AGAIN

The Turtles’ Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan — aka “Flo and Eddie” — return to Red Bank at the helm of the hit-packed Happy Together Tour, the 2017 edition of which buses into the Basie on Saturday.

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.

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RED BANK: INDIE FILM FEST GETS UNDERWAY

Lead festival organizer Jay Webb, right, with guests at Wednesday night’s opening reception on the patio of the Count Basie Theatre. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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.

Take it here for info on individual event tickets and festival passes — and read on, for a rundown of goings-on between through Sunday. Read More »

RED BANK: SUMMER JAZZ SERIES RETURNS

Saxman smoothie Dave Koz joins funky bassmaster Larry Graham for a summit of musical styles as the Count Basie Theatre inaugurates its Summer jazz Fest series this Wednesday. 

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.

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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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