PHOENIX RISES TO THE OCCASION FOR 25th

Dan Peterson reprises the PRODUCERS showstopper “I Want to Be a Producer,” when Phoenix Productions celebrates its 25th anniversary this Saturday at the Count Basie.

They come from all walks of life — suits and students; public servants and professionals; homemakers and hobbyists. Some have even made a go at show business as a career — but if the hundreds of actors, singers and dancers who have appeared with Phoenix Productions have one great thing in common, it’s that they get to strut their stuff on the same stage that’s hosted the likes of Tony Bennett, George Carlin, Al Pacino, Cary Grant, and a Boss named Bruce.

That stage is of course the Count Basie Theatre, where for eight weekends out of each year the folks at Red Bank’s resident community theater company offer up an array of musical favorites that have ranged from old favorites (Annie, Fiddler, The King and I) to new phenoms (High School Musical, Hairspray, Rent). And this Saturday night, February 25, the Basie will serve as host venue for 25 Years of Phoenix: An Evening of Music and Memories — an event in which over two dozen veterans of past Phoenix productions perform a set of signature tunes from 20 of the more than 100 shows that Phoenix has mounted since their first summer-stock endeavors in 1988.

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‘CUTTING EDGE’ ENTERTAINMENT AT BASIE

sweeneyAttend the tale of SWEENEY TODD: David Weitzer is the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Ali Gleason the lady with those curiously popular meat pies, when Phoenix Productions brings the Sondheim smash to the blood-red banks of the Navesink.

By TOM CHESEK

Those of you who neglected to adjust your clocks this past weekend have extra cause to be confused during this interlude of snow before Halloween and of store aisles that ring with jingle bells sometime north of Columbus Day.

When the curtain comes up on the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre on Friday, Red Bank’s own Phoenix Productions will have extended the season of the witch right up to Thanksgiving’s threshold — with a major mounting of Stephen Sondheim’s operatic, ghoulishly Grand Guignol musical Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The Tony-lauded “black operetta” — making its Red Bank debut hot on the heels of an Asbury Park production by Lincroft-based Premier Theatre Company — has apparently joined Dracula and Rocky Horror as something of a Halloween signifier in the years since the screen version that starred Johnny Depp as the man with the razor (and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, maker of distinctive meat pies). Still, ghoulish as the storyline is, director Tom Frascatore suggests another, altogether different reason to tremble at the name of Sweeney Todd.

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