RED BANK: TRTC REGRETS CASTING CHOICES

The reading’s cast includes, in top row: Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Kevin Isola and Karl Kenzler; bottom, Bebe Neuwirth, Duane Noch, Gregory Noll, Steven Skybell, Phillipa Soo and Sam Waterston. (Two River Theater photo. Click to enlarge.)

[UPDATE: On July 31, the Two River Theater announced a cancellation of this event, with automatic refunds to be made to ticketholders. In addition, the theater said it is “planning a public forum to continue this complex conversation about representation in the theater.”]

Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company issued an apology Tuesday for “not having cast more artists of color” in a star-studded play reading scheduled for next week.

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WEEKEND: IDEAS, MUSIC, FOOD, ART & TRUCKS

kirk jirks 2 100211Local faves Brian Kirk and the Jirks, above, return for the fourth Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival on Sunday. Below, Touch-a-Truck parks it at the Red Bank Middle School Saturday in a fundraiser for the Monmouth Day Care Center. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, September 20:

IMG_0008 (745x1024)LINCROFT: Carpe diem at TEDxNavesink, where attendees will get to experience 25 live talks in addition to livecast sessions from the “TEDxCity2.0” conference. TED is a nonprofit organization devoting to sharing “Ideas worth Spreading.” The nine-hour day is filled with sessions on topics like redrawing our oceans, repicturing paradise, remapping the self and more. The sold-out event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center and is followed by a light reception. Newman Springs Road.

RUMSON: The second annual Canterbury Arts: A Tapestry of the Arts show features works by New Jersey artists, with all proceeds going to Outreach Grants to benefit Lunch Break, Family Promise, HABcore, 180 Turning Lives Around and more.The three-day exhibition kicks off Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Saint George’s-by-the-River Episcopal Church. Tickets include a wine, beer, and hors d’oeurves/dessert and admission to all days of the show. Reserve tickets in advance. Tickets are $10 day admission, $40 reception (in advance), $50 at the door. 7 Lincoln Avenue.

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TRTC OPENS SEASON ‘ON BORROWED TIME’

HoganGreyVeteran character actor Robert Hogan (left) stars in ‘On Borrowed Time,’ the season-opening Two River Theater Company production directed by Broadway legend Joel Grey (right). 

By TOM CHESEK

It’s a moving pre-war story of life, love, death and devotion, set in small-town America, shot through with a plain-speak wit and eloquence, and featuring an ensemble cast of young and old actors.

It’s not Our Town, but On Borrowed Time, a fantasy that also made its bow in 1938 — and beginning this weekend, Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company celebrates the play’s 75th anniversary with a new production that kicks off the troupe’s own 20th anniversary season. It also marks a homecoming of sorts for a genuine Broadway legend.

The script by playwright and screenwriter Paul Osborn concerns an elderly “Gramps,” whose young grandson “Pud” is left in his care after Death — personified as one Mr. Brink — claims the boy’s parents and grandmother. Wanting to keep Death away from his own doorstep — and seeking to fend off Pud’s money-grubbing aunt Demetria — Gramps employs a little wishing magic and wily wisdom to trick Mr. Brink into becoming trapped in the old man’s apple tree. When Death takes a holiday, what seemed like a victory soon poses its own set of problems.

A hit in its original run, the play was made into a film with Lionel Barrymore in 1939. Two years later, a nine-year-old performer by the name of Joel Grey stepped into the part of Pud, inaugurating a long-playing stage career that would see him win a Tony (and an Oscar, for the same role) as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.

With TRTC’s season-opening production, Grey (whose Broadway roles in recent years have included Wicked and Anything Goes) returns to On Borrowed Time — this time as director.

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TRTC’s 20th SEASON: AS YOU LIKE IT

Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty, Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, and Jade King Carroll make their Two River Theater directorial debuts during the just-announced 2013-2014 season.

By TOM CHESEK

As John Dias tells it, “We want to make sure we’re doing work that you want to see.”

The nationally renowned producer and artistic director of Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company was at the podium Sunday night, addressing an audience of supporters during an event that’s become a highly anticipated rite of spring: the announcement of TRTC’s next season of mainstage presentations.

The 2013-2014 schedule that begins on September 14 marks a genuine milestone, as it represents the 20th anniversary season for the troupe founded by Robert M. and Joan Rechnitz, a company that staged its first productions at Monmouth University before spending several years at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre and eventually moving into its own branded Bridge Avenue building in May of 2005.

Introducing his third season’s selection of classic comedies, modern American dramas and original musicals, Dias praised the slate as one that meets three crucial criteria: honoring the theater’s mission, bringing in “some of the exciting artists working in the theater today,” and reflecting the two-decade history of TRTC. The 20th Anniversary season, for which subscriptions will soon be made available, unfolds just around the corner.

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