LITTLE SILVER: MUCH MORE ADO, AT RBR

MuchadoaboutnothingBenedick (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.

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A MERRY WAR ABOUT ‘NOTHING,’ AT TRTC

buntrockcumpstyTony-nominated director Sam Buntrock, left, and Obie winning actor Michael Cumpsty bring Shakespeare’s comedy MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING to the Red Bank stage beginning this weekend at Two River Theater.

By TOM CHESEK

Flash back to the evening of May 2. The folks at Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company were proudly unveiling the 2011-2012 season of mainstage entertainments at their branded Bridge Avenue arts center — their first under the purview of artistic director John Dias, and the first to offer an expanded schedule of seven productions (plus a holiday-season family show) at both of the building’s performance spaces.

For several magical minutes, however, the auditorium named for TRTC founders Robert and Joan Rechnitz was the bully pulpit of a special guest — British-born actor Michael Cumpsty, a major presence on Broadway and Off-Broadway stages (he won a 2006 Obie award for playing no less a role than Hamlet) and a sought-after specialist in the works of one William Shakespeare.

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