Long-time Red Bank Regional High School faculty member Joe Russo was honored at the 2015 Basie Awards with the Basie Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts Education. The school’s first and only drama teacher and theater director retires this year, following a distinguished 32-year career with RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy. Pictured are: RBR art teacher Claudia O’Connor, senior Justin Giegerich, senior Noah Beller, Joe Russo, junior Patrick Monaghan, senior Eliana Swartz, Katherine Kennedy, and RBR tech teacher Carl Grillo. Monaghan and Kennedy also won Basie Awards for Best Actor and Actress in a drama, during the May 20 ceremony in Red Bank.
Broadway has its well-established Tonys; Off Broadway its Obies — and every other branch of show business its various Grammys, Emmys, and Academys. And when the 10th annual Basie Awards roll out the red carpet in front of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Wednesday night they’ll be doing what they’ve done so well: honoring tomorrow’s talents in the performing arts, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Benedick (Patrick Monaghan, Little Silver) kneels before his Beatrice (Katherine Kennedy, Avon), as the Red Bank Regional VPA drama majors rehearse their lead roles in the school production of Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, opening November 20 at RBR.
Press release from Red Bank Regional High School
It’s a bit more than three years since William Shakespeare’s classic couple Beatrice and Benedick — a pair of combatants in “a merry war” known as Much Ado About Nothing — were last seen onstage around the greater Red Bank Green. But while the occasion (the season opener for the professional Two River Theater Company) and the talent (Tony-nominated superstar director Sam Buntrock; Obie-winning leading man Michael Cumpsty; Tony-nominated leading lady Kathleen Meisle) set the bar high for all who dared to follow, that’s hardly the sort of thing to deter the students of the Visual and Performing Arts program at Red Bank Regional High School.
Beginning on the evening of Thursday, November 20 and continuing for two more performances through November 23, the VPA drama majors present the Bard’s circa-1600 comedy of battling sexes, courtship intrigues and (eventually) reconciled lovers as their fall dramatic production on the RBR Theatre.
Katherine Kennedy (Avon), Alicia Moeller (Shrewsbury), and Eliana Swartz (Little Silver) rehearse the female lead roles in the Red Bank Regional Theatre Company updating of Moliere’s classic comedy TARTUFFE, opening Wednesday, November 20.
One’s a re-imagining of a French adventure classic, that’s more about the slapstick than the swashbuckle. The other takes the most timeless of comedies by the 17th century French playwright Moliére, and transplants it to the 21st century. When two area high schools present their fall drama productions this month, a couple of beloved tales from the land of the baguette promise to pick up more than a few laughs in the translation.
It all starts at 7 pm on the evening of Wednesday, November 20, when the Red Bank Regional High School Theatre Company presents a new take on Tartuffe, the play-in-rhyme by Molière that remains timeless due to its scenario of a con artist who hides behind the persona of a man of the cloth; the better to cheat a rich man out of his fortune and his frau. Set in the world of the 21st century, the 1664 classic (transplanted to a Dallas-like setting when it was staged by Two River Theater Company several seasons back) continues inside the school’s Red Bank Regional Theatre with 7 pm showtimes on Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22. Audiences can choose from either of two shows (2pm and 7 pm) on Saturday, November 23, and a final 3 pm matinee will be presented on Sunday, November 24. Tickets are $12 ($7 for students and seniors) and can be purchased directly on the school website, at by calling 732-842-8000, ext. 227.
Over at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, the RFH Tower Players get set to raise the curtain on “a hilarious retelling of the classic Dumas tale of derring-do,” when they unveil The Three Musketeers: All Swash and No Buckle.”
Set in 17th century Paris and written by playwright Pat Cook, the story follows a young D’Artagnan (Christopher Brodsky) as he meets up with the Three Musketeers — Athos (John Chiarella), Aramis (Andrew Maris), and Porthos (Laurence Morales).
D’Artagnan desperately wants to join the Musketeers troupe, but first he must prove himself by winning a sword fight and attempting to preserve the reputation of the Queen (Jackie Dixon) by helping the Musketeers finding her “missing” necklace — which she had gifted to her love interest, the Duke of Buckingham (Matthew Hughes).
Will D’Artagnan prevail to earn the respect of the Musketeers and the love of the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting, Constance (Mallory McGill)? With the help of some seriously silly narrators, audiences will find out as they follow the misadventures that occur on the roads leading from France to England and back again.The hijinks include sword fights, several star-crossed lovers, a race on stick-horses, a blackmailing Cardinal (Sean Loughran) and his equally conniving assistant (Christopher Tuttle), a fund-raising telethon, and a cast filled with zany characters.
Over 45 members of the Tower Players troupe will be featured in the ensemble of the production, with Suzanne Sweeney at the helm as Director. Props and costumes are under the direction of Carole Malik, and set design under the supervision of Dino Pagano. Sound and lighting are under the direction of Matthew Leddin. Students participating in Stagecraft, a course offered at RFH, are also creating the set designs.
The Three Musketeers: All Swash and No Buckle will be presented in the school auditorium on the evenings of November 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm. The Sunday matinee will be featured on November 24 at 1 pm. Admission $10 for the general public, and $6 for students with ID cards.
Tickets will be sold in the lobby of the RFH auditorium for an hour and a half before each performance. Tickets may also be purchased in advance at the Box Office, which is located in the RFH lobby and will be open to the public from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. on November 11, 18 and 21.