RED BANK: THE BRIGHT SIDE OF ARTHUR

Arthur_&_his_Laker_GirlsKing Arthur (Michael Chartier) is attended to by the Laker Girls in MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT, the very silly musical opening at the Count Basie Theatre this weekend, as the season-capping entertainment from Phoenix Productions.

Ah, Camelot — the wise and good King Arthur; the glory that was the Round Table. The Lady of the Lake and her Laker Girls; the “schlapping” fish, the nasty rabbits, the holy hand grenades and the Knights Who Say “Ni.”

Wait, what? Actually if it’s the classic Lerner-Loewe musical Camelot you’re looking for, take it to Two River Theater for the all-new production that goes up in previews November 15. But if, on the other hand, you’re in the market for as irreverent a Broadway tunefest as has ever made off with the holy-grail Tony, head down Monmouth Street to the Count Basie, where Monty Python’s Spamalot holds court for the next two weekends.

The season finale offering from the Basie’s resident nonprofessional stage troupe Phoenix Productions — one that represents the borough-based company’s first visit to the hit show “ripped off” by Python’s Eric Idle from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail — the 2005 crowdpleaser has become a fast favorite of school and community players across the land. Opening on Friday night, November 14, and continuing through Sunday, November 23, the production boasts a rather unique connection to local Arthurian lore and legend.

Read More »

‘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.

Read More »