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RED BANK: ‘HURRICANE’ WATCH AT TWO RIVER

Mia Barron as Sandy in ‘Hurricane Diane’ by Two River Theater playwright-in-residence Madeleine George (below).

madeleine-georgeTo get right to the sell point, it’s a play that’s set in Red Bank — maybe not that real-world Call In the Authorities/ Retail Churn Red Bank we know so well from redbankgreen, but a representation of coastal suburban living that manages to capture a distinctly Monmouth County set of mind.

It’s there in a cozy cul-de-sac neighborhood that a quartet of local women find themselves drawn to a strange visitor who blows into town like a game-changing superstorm — a “lesbian separatist permaculture gardener from Vermont” who stands out from the pack of lesbian separatist permaculture gardeners, in that she is in fact the Greek god Dionysus, come to enact a new agenda “in the dying days of the American empire, as the planet warms and the oceans rise.”

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RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES RETURN TO TRTC

johndiasTwo River Theater Company artistic director John Dias, above, directs a musical that he co-wrote, and Madeleine George, below, the theater’s first Playwright in Residence, will see her comedy — which is set in Red Bank mounted next season.

madeleine georgeThere are encore appearances by favorite actors. Re-visits to the words and works of Shakespeare and August Wilson. No less than three shows making their world premieres — including one set within “a larger-than-life version of Red Bank.”

When Two River Theater Company unveiled its 2016-2017 schedule of productions Monday night, it did so in a fashion that’s become a real rite of spring on Bridge Avenue: with the company’s celebrated artistic director John Dias joined on stage by creative people representing the comedies, dramas, musicals and multi-media experiences that will illuminate Two River’s stages beginning in September.

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RED BANK: THE PLAYWRIGHT’S THE THING

RubenTonyMadeleineTwo River Theater welcomes five playwrights to the stage — including, from left, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tony Meneses and Madeleine George — to discuss what it takes to bring a script from paper to production, in a free event Wednesday.   

They’re the people from whom it all springs — the bravura performances, the award-winning costumes and sets, the audience-dazzling technical effects — although a good half the time you won’t even find them lurking around the catering tables on opening night.

But if playwrights privately grouse that they often get even less respect than a Rodney Dangerfield rap record, there exists in Red Bank at least one local cubby of culture where the Word is given its due. And on Wednesday, a diverse and distinguished group of dramatists will gather to discuss the never-easy process through which the scripted idea becomes a fully realized moment.

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‘MAMMOTHS’ TO A GOOD HOME, AT TRTC

madeleinemrcedesMercedes Herrero (right) stars as a slightly dizzied Dean in SEVEN HOMELESS MAMMOTHS WANDER NEW ENGLAND, the “academic sex comedy” by Madeleine George (left).

By TOM CHESEK

Saturday, October 15, marks a momentous occasion for Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company: the first preview performance of an all-new, never-before-seen play, developed by artistic director John Dias and the team of creative people at TRTC’s branded Bridge Avenue artspace.

An original comedy by Madeleine George — a college professor and writing teacher whose résumé includes some of the  best-known universities and correctional facilities in the state of New York — the show called Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England is pitched as an “academic sex comedy,” one recommended for mature audiences on the basis of “simulated sex between prehistoric college students and contemporary lesbians.”

In the production (going up inside the Two River building’s “black box” Marion Huber Theater space) under the direction of Obie winner Ken Rus Schmoll, a small-college administrator named Dean Wreen (Mercedes Herrero) must contend with the budget-axe amputation of the struggling school’s Natural History museum — at the same time that her ex-girlfriend Greer (Deirdre Madigan) re-appears to further complicate things with the Dean’s much younger current partner, Andromeda (Flor De Liz Perez).

Throw in a campus caretaker (Joel Van Liew) who apparently lives in the basement — and a come-to-life couple of Early Man exhibits (Lauren Culpepper, Jon Hoche) who “take us through the history of human relationships, without moving a muscle” — and you’ve got what Dias has championed as a play that “weaves together screwball comedy and academic satire with a truly profound view of contemporary relationships, and the different ways that people make a family.”

Dias, who’s made good on his promise (in a previous interview here on redbankgreen) to bring “a couple” of world premiere shows to local audiences — the other is In This House, opening in March 2012 — sat down with the Drama Desk to talk about what we can expect to see when the Mammoths lumber into town (spoiler alert: it’s NOT a stage full of trained elephants)…

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