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MIDDLETOWN: ‘GIANTS OF SCIENCE’ POP BY

Their not-so-secret identities include familiar names that span centuries: founding father Ben Franklin, inventor Thomas Edison, anthropologist Dian Fossey and Silicon Valley visionary Steve Jobs. Considered together, they’re the American Giants of Science — a superteam with a mission to rekindle a young nation’s intellectual curiosity in a tech-driven age when scientific inquiry appears under siege.

On Wednesday morning, explorers aged 7 and up are invited to take part in an interactive “whirlwind tour through time,” with the point of departure the Middletown Township Public Library.

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MIDDLETOWN: PLAY ASKS, ‘SAUCE’ OR ‘GRAVY’?

Middletown Arts Center is the setting for a weekend-long serving of the musical dramedy ‘They Call It Gravy, We Call It Sauce!’

Is it “gravy” or “sauce?” Why do Neapolitans cut off the vowels at the end of words? And just what the heck is “bru-shetta?”

These and other long-simmering issues are placed on the front burner with They Call It Gravy, We Call It Sauce!, a traveling “musical dramedy” that camps out at Middletown Arts Center for a weekend-long engagement that begins Friday night.

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RED BANK & MIDDLETOWN: T-REX RETURNS

A 15-foot-long T-Rex puppet from Field Station: Dinosaurs, seen here in 2012, returns to the Red Bank Public Library Tuesday. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

He’s scaly, maybe a bit scary, some 15 feet long, and usually spotted in the company of a singing paleontologist known as the Dinosaur Troubador. He’s the traveling T-Rex from Bergen County attraction Field Station: Dinosaurs, and he’s returning to libraries in Red Bank and Middletown this week.

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ON THE GREEN: SEINE, CLIMB OR KAYAK

It’s Climb Time in Lincroft again as the Monmouth County Park System moves that portable mountain to the grounds of Thompson Park for another free instructional session.  

A chance to take a “drop in” kayak tour of a scenic waterway… a hands-on, close up look at local marine life… and an opportunity to climb a mountain face in Monmouth County.

They’re all on tap in the coming week around those public places that make life on the Greater Red Bank Green a recreational pleasure — and brought to you by the people of the Monmouth County Park System.

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MIDDLETOWN: BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE

Can a butterfly delicately flapping its wings somewhere on Earth set off a chain of world-shaking events half a planet away? If so, it stands to reason that anyone who ignores an opportunity to do some butterfly spotting at Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown is potentially passing up some truly epic levels of excitement.

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MIDDLETOWN: WHEREFORE ART ROMEO? HERE.

For years, it’s been the resident community theater group at a local landmark church nestled in a corner of Middletown. But if that description suggests a slate of shows no more challenging than the umpteenth revival of Arsenic and Old Lace, then let it be known that the Stone Church Players aren’t about to be intimidated by the likes of William Shakespeare.

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MIDDLETOWN: A LIFE’S PASSION ON DISPLAY

In his description for “Bad Girl” (above), the late Alexander John Goldenberg stated that the painting “started out as a dysfunctional relationship metaphor for chemotherapy, but as I worked on it, I realized that it was really about the transformation and healing that I’ve been going through for the past year.”

The artist — who transported the seven-by-four-foot wood-panel artwork some 1,600 miles in a nearly nonstop trek to a Michigan competition — passed away one year ago. In celebration of a man “who lived his passion, not cancer,” his family has curated a solo show of his paintings that will be on display beginning Thursday at Middletown Township Public Library.

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RED BANK: BASIES GO TO RFH, RBC, RBR

Phoenix Productions exec director Tom Martini — pictured fifth from left, during the 2015 ribbon-cutting of the troupe’s new Chestnut Street headquarters — was honored with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award during the 12th annual Basie Awards on Wednesday night. (photo by Rich Kowalski) 

Students and faculty from five high schools in the greater Red Bank area were honored for excellence in high school theater productions — and the co-founder of a favorite borough-based performing arts company received a Lifetime Achievement recognition — when the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony took place at the Count Basie Theatre on the evening of May 24.

The big winner among local schools was Red Bank Catholic High School, whose nine nominations for the spring production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella resulted in three Basie wins: for Shawn Mack (Outstanding Musical Direction), Samantha Siriani (Outstanding Supporting Actress), and Kelly Gemellaro (Outstanding Choreography, shared with Jacqui Fisher for the Middletown High School South staging of The Producers).

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RED BANK: ‘BASIES’ BUZZ IN THE AIR TONIGHT

The Red Bank Regional production of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ has garnered seven nominations in the Basie Awards for excellence in local high school theater, as the 12th annual ceremony rolls out the red carpet tonight.

In a pop-culture landscape that’s littered with the sharp metal edges of way too many awards and honors, you could make the case that this is the only trophyfest that matters — the kind that recognizes, nurtures and inspires the next generation of acting, singing, dancing and technical talent.

When the 12th annual Basie Awards ceremony takes the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight, May 24, students and faculty from nearly 20 public, private and parochial high schools in Monmouth County — seven of them located here within the Greater Red Bank Green — will be vying for a chance to deliver their acceptance speech, in a field that, in the words of Basie education director Yvonne Lamb Scudiery, continues “to set the bar higher and higher, resulting in outstanding professional quality work…and certainly making the job or our evaluation team a very difficult yet gratifying one.”

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M’TOWN LIBRARY PRIZES SUMMER READING

mtownPress release from Middletown Township Public Library

Middletown teens entering grades 6 to 12 are invited to take part in the Teen Summer Reading Program at Middletown Township Public Library, presented this year under the theme Build a Better World.

From June 26 through August 18, the library is challenging middle and high school students of Middletown to read five books over the summer, with a prize awarded for every book read. Prizes include Applebees Ice Cream Sundae certificates, Chipotle meal certificates, Hole-in-One Golf gift certificates and SkyZone Jump Passes, as well as free books.

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ON THE GREEN: A TIME-TRIPPING WEEKEND

The Allen House in Shrewsbury’s Historic District is just one of many history-kissed homes, museums and houses of worship open for public perusal during the annual Weekend in Old Monmouth.

It’s a step back in time that includes Little Silver’s Parker Homestead — at more than 350 years of age, a house that’s every bit as old as the colony of New Jersey; the homes and graves of rebel patriots and Tories alike; and centuries-old structures that have served as worship houses, museums and even venues for some Reckless Steamy Nights.

If it’s the first Saturday and Sunday in May, this must be the Weekend in Old Monmouth — and if you’re sufficiently curious about the rich history of the place where you live, there’s never been a better time to get acquainted with the Greater Red Bank Green’s historic sites.

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MIDDLETOWN: FOR EARTH DAY, VISIT A PARK

A “Roving Naturalist” guided tour of Tatum Park’s hiking trails is among the activities scheduled at county parks throughout Middletown Township for Earth Day.

Saturday, April 22 marks the annual observance of Earth Day, and with our not-so-gently-used home planet in need of more TLC than at any time in its history, the Monmouth County Park System is offering several ways to raise awareness of local earth-friendly programs at its sites in Middletown Township.

In addition, Saturday marks the annual return of two popular events at neighboring facilities on Middletown’s Red Hill Road — both of them enhancing the Earth Day experience, and all of it designed to better acquaint local residents with several genuine public jewels of the Greater Red Bank Green.

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MIDDLETOWN: DAZE OF THEIR ‘PRIVATE LIVES’

Seen here in a 2015 staging of ‘Present Laughter,’ the Monmouth Players return to the Noel Coward canon with a production of ‘Private Lives’ that begins Saturday.

It was a time when the Garden State Parkway had miles to go until completion, and Neil Simon had yet to pen his first play. Way back in 1953 — well before the arrival of professional playhouses to the sleepy bedroom communities of Monmouth County — a fledgling theatrical company by the name of Monmouth Players chose as its first fully staged production Blithe Spirit, a ghostly farce by a then very-much-alive Noël Coward.

Over the years — some 63 of them, in fact — the Middletown-based players have made numerous return trips to Sir Noël’s well, not just for encores of Spirit but for Present Laughter (staged as recently as 2015) and, beginning this Saturday, a fresh look at the vitriolic valentine known as Private Lives.

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RED BANK: CHORUS HOSTS AUDITIONS, GALA

Dr. Ryan Brandau directs members of the Monmouth Civic Chorus during a past concert event. The Red Bank-based arts organization will be conducting scholarship auditions for high school seniors, and hosting its annual gala fundraiser, both on April 29.

Press releases from Monmouth Civic Chorus

A set of auditions for prospective scholarship applicants — and a gala fundraising dinner/auction with a Broadway theme — add up to a busy April 29 for the Monmouth Civic Chorus, the borough-based vocal organization that performed its most recent concert at Red Bank’s Tower Hill Church.

More than $2500 in scholarship funds will be awarded by the MCC this year to vocally talented New Jersey high school seniors who plan to pursue higher education. The Chorus now under the direction of Dr. Ryan Brandau will be conducting auditions by appointment on April 29, with an application deadline of the preceding Saturday, April 22.

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MIDDLETOWN: MAKERS DAY COMES TO MTPL

Press release from Middletown Township Public Library

On Saturday, March 25, the third annual New Jersey Makers Day will celebrate, promote and introduce Maker Culture to people of all ages throughout our state — and Middletown Township Public Library will be proud to serve as a participating site.

Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., all are welcome to visit MTPL’s headquarters on New Monmouth Road and discover the values associated with making, tinkering and STEAM-based learning. The day offers something for everyone, from science experiments and robotics, to sewing, art, LEGOs and more.

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M’TOWN: NEW MUSIC MINISTER, NEW PROGRAM

Press release from Westminster Presbyterian Church

Guest performers, new voices in the choir, and an upcoming Christian Contemporary Music Coffee House are just some of the new ideas featured in an innovative music program developed by Erika Sayar, the new Minister of Music at Middletown’s Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC).

Since joining the Tindall Road congregation last July, the Wall Township resident has revitalized WPC’s Sunday Service music with several new special events and projects.  A guest soloist series has showcased popular Irish tenor Sean Hennessey, the soulful sounds of DeBorah White, and WPC church member/ well-known Shore music scene performer BethAnne Clayton — while all are invited to attend a new public-welcome offering on March 31.

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MIDDLETOWN: DURANG, IN SMALL DOSES

Ever had a weekend of Durang? You know, one of those interludes in which your every human interaction — whether a disastrous date, a stress-inducing so-called vacation, or a simple trip to the store for a can of tuna — borders on the absurdly surreal?

Fortunately, we have the celebrated Christopher Durang, seen at right, to provide a road map of sorts through these needlessly complicated, often over-thought encounters. And beginning this Saturday, we have Middletown’s Monmouth Players at the wheel of the tour bus.

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M’TOWN: ALL SAINTS HOSTS ST. PAT’S DINNER

Press release from All Saints Church

All Saints’ Church in Navesink (The Old Stone Church), one of the founding members of the Atlantic Highlands Area Association of Community Churches (AACC), is holding a St. Patrick’s Dinner on March 18 in its Parish House.

The proceeds will support work of the AACC Food Pantry to provide wholesome food for its clientele, as well as to support the outreach efforts of All Saints’ Church.

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LITTLE SILVER: A SATURDAY NIGHT SINATRA

When he’s not donning a tux for the annual “Sinatra Birthday Bash” concerts at the Count Basie Theatre or tributes to other entertainers of the pre-rock era, Dave DeLuca tours libraries, schools and other public venues all over the Greater Red Bank Green with such one-man presentations as “Rat Pack Flashback” and “That’s Amore.”

This Saturday, he returns for a “Saturday With Sinatra” tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes that brings him to a novel locale.

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MIDDLETOWN: PLAYERS DISH UP FINE ‘DINING’

The cast of ‘The Dining Room’ is mostly under the table as the Monmouth Players present A.R. Gurney’s engagingly experimental ensemble comedy for six performances.

When last we looked in on the Monmouth Players, that longest-running of all area community stage troupes was offering up a holiday-season production of A Long Christmas Dinner, a Thornton Wilder playlet in which a single dining room serves as the setting for a century’s worth of action, with a small cast playing multiple generations of characters in the life of an American home.

When the players resume their Season of Classics this weekend (their 63rd overall, if you can wrap your head around that), it will find them still lurking about the dining room — or more precisely, The Dining Room, an ensemble “comedy of manners” that packs its own playfully experimental edge.

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M’TOWN: ALL SAINTS HOSTS MASTERY CLASSES

allsaintsPress release from All Saints Church

Have you ever wanted to learn baking, cooking, or another hobby that you always meant to explore? Or attend an informational workshop on pets, the arts, and other fun topics? All Saints’ Memorial (the historic “Old Stone Church”) has announced a new monthly series of Mastery Classes, with guest leaders joining us each month for workshops that run from 1 to 2 hours in length.

The proceeds from the classes benefit our Community Outreach programs, and provide funding for the upkeep of our National Historic Landmark Buildings and grounds. There is no age limit for participation (bring your family and friends), and the sessions start with the following two scheduled events:

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M’TOWN: LOCAL SPCA TO HOLD V-DAY BRUNCH

MCSPCA brunchPress release from Monmouth County SPCA

The Monmouth County SPCA has announced that their annual Valentine’s Day Brunch will be held at the beautiful and exclusive Navesink Country Club in Middletown Township, on Sunday, February 12.  Last year’s event sold out and raised over $38,000 for the animals in their care.

This year’s event will feature a variety of new and exciting attractions including a “Tunnel of Love” photo booth, jewelry chance auction and chance basket items plus much more with­ underwriting opportunities still available.

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MIDDLETOWN: IT’S ALL FREE AT THE LIBRARY

Ghostbusters-2016The 2016 remake of ‘Ghostbusters’ screens for free at Middletown Library as part of a program that also features a Sunday afternoon “one-man musical” performance by veteran recording artist Danny Rongo, below. 

Danny Rongo smallFrom junior chess to “dress for mess;” from writers’ workshops to Pokemon swaps, the folks at the Middletown Township Public Library have built a schedule of wintertime events, clubs and activities that form a welcome mat for all ages and all corners of the Greater Red Bank Green.

It’s an ongoing slate of programming that continues through the coming weekend with a tale of true-life adventure, a “one man musical,” and a movie matinee — all free of charge.

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MIDDLETOWN: A WILDER WAY TO HOLIDAY

mp_long_christmas_dinner_121016_aLeft to right: Kelly Cibrian, Lori Renick, Kevin Huelbig and Carolyn Robertshaw appear with Grace Modla (below) and Brandon Guerriero (not pictured) in ‘A Long Christmas Dinner,’ the Monmouth Players production going up this Saturday at the Navesink Arts Center. (Photo by Grace Modla)

grace-modlaWhen the Monmouth Players sounded the 2016-’17 season’s keynote back in August with “An Evening with Thornton Wilder,” they did so not in the auditorium of their Navesink Arts Center homestage, but in the more intimate setting of the historic building’s beautifully refurbished reading room/ lobby — a space that formerly served as part of Middletown Township library system.

Beginning Saturday and continuing through December 18, the elegant book-lined room makes for a made-to-order setting, as the Players take another walk on the Wilder side with the 1931 ensemble piece “A Long Christmas Dinner.”

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MIDDLETOWN: A WINTER 1ST AT STONE CHURCH

allsaintsThe Greater Red Bank Green has never lacked for historic churches and meetinghouses, and beginning this weekend one of its most picturesque places of worship — All Saints Memorial — will be initiating an all-new tradition at the landmark “Old Stone Church” (located at the crossroads of Navesink and Monmouth Avenues, just inland from Route 36). Going on over the course of three days, December 9 through 11, the first annual Winter Festival offers a rain-or-shine range of attractions that include homemade refreshments, handcrafted gifts, kid-friendly activities — and, as a centerpiece, a Live Nativity scene on view at the church’s historic carriage-shed outbuildings.

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