RED BANK: THEATER ADDITION APPROVED

A rendering of the proposed addition to the left of the existing theater and fly tower at center, as seen from the northeast. (Rendering by Kaplan Gaunt Desantis Architects. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s Two River Theater won raves from neighbors, and zoning board approval, Thursday night for a plan to expand its non-performance space.

But West Street residents pressed for, and failed to obtain, changes to aspects of the plan that they worry will direct more traffic onto their block, some of it from motorists using the theater lot simply to avoid street traffic.

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RED BANK: MISSION HOUSE WINS OK

st crispin's 030316Architect Ned Gaunt’s rendering of the proposed St. Crispin’s Social Ministry House on the St. Anthony of Padua campus. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

At a hearing packed with supporters, and without a peep of objection, Red Bank’s zoning board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to a plan by St. Anthony of Padua parish to build a new social services facility on Herbert Street.

“They’ve obviously been very beneficial to the town,” said board member Sean Murphy, citing the church and its volunteers. “Unfortunately, the need is growing, but we’re very fortunate to have them.”

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RED BANK: FOUR MAYORS… AND SOME FRIENDS

lee kuo 050115lock menna 050115The first-ever Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball brought together three ex-mayors, the current one and some 250 of their friends at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Among those in attendance: former Councilwoman Sharon Lee and restaurateur Victor Kuo, above, and Pastor John Lock, with Mayor Pasquale Menna, at right.

Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the Red Bank Public Library and the Parker Family Health Center.

redbankgreen grabbed dozens of photos during the cocktail hour overlooking our beautiful Navesink River. Click the “read more” to see who else was there. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: TRTC SHOW HONORED WITH GRANT

Joe and JoeJoe Iconis and Joe Tracz, creators of the new musical BE MORE CHILL, have been honored along with Two River Theater by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The show begins its world premiere run May 30 at Two River Theater. 

Press release from Two River Theater Company

Two River Theater Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, is proud to announce that the Doris Duke Chaitable Foundation has awarded the theater a generous grant of $125,000 to support its upcoming production of Be More Chill, a new musical written by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, with choreography by Chase Brock and direction by Stephen Brackett. The grant will also support an ongoing relationship between Two River Theater and the team of Iconis and Tracz.

Two River is one of only five theaters in the country awarded this honor in the first round of the DDCF’s new, two-round Theatre Commissioning and Production Initiative, which supports large-scale work by American playwrights and encourages long-term relationships between theaters and writers.

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LATINO COMMUNITY URGED TO SHARE STORIES

RuizTanyaAlban(L-R): Director Jerry Ruiz and playwright Tanya Saracho (pictured with actor Carlo Albán during a past edition of the annual CROSSING BORDERS festival at Two River Theater) invite Red Bank’s Latino community to the first in a series of Storytelling Workshops on Saturday, April 26.

Press release from Two River Theater Company 

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, a generous $40,000 grant through the foundation’s Building Demand for the Arts program. The initiative, which launched last year, funds inventive partnerships that create new methods for reaching the public and developing their interest in and access to the performing arts.

Two River Theater will host a residency for Tanya Saracho (an award-winning playwright and writer on TV’s Girls, Looking, and Devious Maids) and director Jerry Ruiz (curator of Two River’s annual Crossing Borders festival of new Latino plays and free community programs) to build demand for theater among Latino audiences. Through the Duke residency, Saracho and Ruiz will create and lead storytelling workshops (utilizing both writing and multimedia) for Red Bank’s Latino community, bringing them into direct contact with the process of creating theater and allowing them to experience the art form as something that is vital and relevant to them. As a result of this project, Two River will commission Saracho to write a play that speaks directly to experiences and challenges that are specific to this community, which will be developed at the theater and directed by Ruiz.

Two River Theater invites Red Bank’s Latino community to participate in the first community workshop on Saturday, April 26, 2014. No experience is necessary to join. The workshops are open to all people who identify as Latino or Latina, regardless of national or ethnic background, and young people, women, and transgender people are especially encouraged to participate. Workshops will include opportunities for the participants to talk, share stories, and play games, using storytelling models devised by Saracho. In addition to the workshops, participants will be invited to events, shows, and programs at Two River throughout the year, all free and at no cost. For information, interested community members should call (732)936-8843.

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ETHAN LIPTON LOVES HIS JOB, AT TRTC

Playwright-singer-songwriter Ethan Lipton brings a jaunty and knowing look at disenfranchisement the Two River Theater’s “black box” starting Saturday. (photo by Heather Phelps-Lipton)

By TOM CHESEK

Time to give the pink slip to those working-class-hero rockers with their too-easy arena anthems. The clock-punching, cubicle-crawling, real-deal working stiff in all his/her “permanent part time” glory has a new musical mouthpiece — and it’s a middle aged, mustachioed, suit-and-tie spinner of songs and stories by the name of Ethan Lipton.

Over the course of several indie albums and the odd orphan track, the Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter and playwright is a man whose frankly honest and devastatingly funny sketches of modern millennial life have regularly tweaked and/or tipped such sacred cows as pet lovers, parents, police, the Greatest Generation and the tawdry ritual of the holiday gift basket. It’s all delivered with a certain jaunty good cheer over arrangements that mix lazybones back-porch blues and blue-yodel Americana with hotel-lounge jazz and the many moods of Randy Newman, Warren Zevon or early Tom Waits.

At the same time that he was brewing up his own peculiar musical cup o’ soup, Lipton was honing his craft as a dramatist — one of whose plays (Luther) was hailed last June by the New York Times as a “wine-dark satire… both hilarious and horrifying,” and another of whose plays (Red-Handed Otter) recently made its world premiere at the Off Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre.

Somewhere along the line, the California native wed his way with words to songsmithing savvy — and the result was No Place To Go, a song-cycle described as “a musical ode to the unemployed” and inspired by the artist’s own experiences with sudden job loss, dislocated self-esteem and whatever dark passenger brings a grown man back to his parents’ doorstep. Commissioned by NYC’s venerable Public Theater, the show made its premiere inside the Public’s Joe’s Pub earlier this year — earning its creator an Obie Award, a Village Voice cover and a December trip to the UK, where the work will be seen as part of the annual All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival.

Before that, however, No Place To Go makes itself quite at home inside the Marion Huber “black box” space at Red Bank’s Two River Theater, for an extended engagement that’s being helmed by Leigh Silverman — acclaimed director of the show’s run at the Public, and not coincidentally associate artist with the borough-based Two River Theater Company.

The Drama Desk at redbankgreen spoke to Ethan Lipton on the eve of the show’s run of previews — a string of performances that begins tomorrow night, October 6, and continues to the doorstep of Opening Night on October 19.

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TRTC: ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH

A slew of classic characters from the pens of Shakespeare, Coward and Wilson and more will tread the boards of the Red Bank stage this season.  (Click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

“I feel like I’m having a dream,” the playwright and performance artist Lisa Kron said as she faced a capacity crowd at Two River Theater Monday night.

“In high school, we, the theater people, were like the outcasts,” she said. “This is the pep rally we never had.”

The occasion for the spirited assembly was the annual new-season announcement  by Two River Theater Company — one of the most highly anticipated such events in New Jersey stage circles, and one presided over by John Dias, now in his second season as TRTC’s artistic director.

As introduced by the nationally renowned producer and some celebrated associates, the 2012-2013 schedule builds upon the successful template established in the current 2011-2012 season — a season that climaxes with the production of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s My Wonderful Day, going up in previews on May 15.

Utilizing both the mainstage Rechnitz auditorium and the “black box” Marion Huber space at TRTC’s branded Bridge Avenue arts center, the new slate of eight shows mixes classics of the English language with new American voices; intimate solos with exquisite ensembles, and new faces with a whole lot of returning favorites — with words from the likes of Noel Coward, August Wilson and a guy by the name of Shakespeare.

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THERE’S A NEW M.D. IN THE HOUSE AT TRTC

michaelhurstrbg2By TOM CHESEK

Following a nationwide talent search, Red Bank’s  Two River Theater Company has hired a new managing director — and you read it here Hurst.

Michael Hurst, that is. The Asbury Park resident and Rutgers grad (seen here  in a photo courtesy of Jenelle Kappe Photography) replaces the recently departed Tom Werder as the “nuts ‘n bolts” exec at the Bridge Avenue artspace, and will be taking an active hand in the newly announced 2011-2012 season of entertainments from TRTC.

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