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setzer-photoBrian Setzer (above) and his swingin’ Orchestra sound the keynote on a week’s worth of music at Basie’s place; a smorgasbord of sounds that includes appearances by Travis Tritt, The Duprees, and the Difford-Tilbrook partnership that brought you Squeeze (below).

Glenn Tilbrook & Chris Difford at Union Chapel on 8 November 2014.

Glenn Tilbrook & Chris Difford at Union Chapel on 8 November 2014.

Over at the Count Basie Theatre — where the coming of December heralds a packed schedule of Christmastime confections, right up to the doorstep of New Year’s — the twelfthmonth’s earliest days and nights offer up a buffet that includes music both seasonally standard and all-seasonssecular, in addition to the sort of golden oldies that comprise a sacred songbook in themselves. Arriving in town this Wednesday, December 2 atop a hybrid sleigh that’s fuel-injected with a little bit of each, Grammy-getter Brian Setzer returns with his big-axe Orchestra on an annual Christmas Tour that finds the onetime Top Cat of The Stray Cats suiting up for a set that tumbles selections from his three albums of Yuletide yippee with Stray Cat signatures (“Rock This Town,” “Sexy + 17”) and vintage jukebox juggernauts from the likes of Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley and more. It’s a big show that breaks down all humbug resistance with its rockabilly-roadrace pace and the frontman’s road-tested panache in the role of guitar-slinging retro leader of the 18-piece big band. Tim Lowman, the high-energy one-man blues-shock band known as Low Volts, opens the 7:30 pm festivities, so fly here for tickets ($58 – $118) — and flip the record over for more.

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Above: A cast of local high school students brings A LITTLE SHAKESPEARE: AS YOU LIKE IT to young theatergoers at Two River…while below, Ms. Lauryn Hill appears to have cancelled her (already previously rescheduled) Homecoming appearance at the Count Basie. (cast photo by Ozzie Rodriguez)

laurynFriday, February 7:

RED BANK: If we’ve learned anything from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it’s that springtime comes in turn to even the bleakest of wintry landscapes. So, with that warming thought in mind — well, that and the caveat that all events described herein are subject to change due to “no enemy but winter and rough weather” — we sally forth once more, where no groundhog dare tread.

While Two River Theater Company carries on with its vibrant and tuneful mainstage production of the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy, a talented troupe of high school performers have put together an intriguing bonus feature inside TRTC’s “black box” Marion Huber space. Adapted and directed by Jason McDowell-Green, A Little Shakespeare: As You Like It is a 75-minute version of the play, aimed at audiences age 9 and up, and designed “to fulfill the not-so-secret grand ambition of Artistic Director John Dias: to have some Shakespeare resonating in every corner of our theater, and to get everyone in our community turned on to the thrill of his exquisite language.” Red Bank Regional students Alicia Moeller and Patrick Monaghan are the lovestruck leads Rosalind and Orlando — and they’re joined in the cast by fellow RBR actors Halle Butler, Raquel Diaz and Alyssa Rogers, plus Michaela Farrell of Red Bank Catholic, and student players from several other Monmouth County high schools. Public performances, for which the actors will also be performing a score of original music by Shanna Jones, are Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 12 and 4 pm. Take it here for tickets ($15) and bios of the cast members — or here for tickets to the grownup version of the show that continues this weekend through February 16. 

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