A QUARTET FOR FIVE IN MIDDLETOWN

opusEric Walby, Charles Deitz, Heather O’Scanlon, Bob Mira and Blll Rogers make beautiful (and otherwise) music together in OPUS at the Navesink Library Theatre in Middletown.

Now enjoying a record-setting 58th season in Middletown, the Monmouth Players – under the banner of the Not Necessarily the Players – bring up the lights and music for strings Friday night on an ensemble piece that was done by Two River Theater Company a little over a year ago: Opus, the “quartet for five” by classical musician turned playwright Michael Hollinger.

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BRAVOS FOR ‘OPUS’ AT TWO RIVER THEATER

anjanette-hall Anjanette Hall, who plays the wide-eyed new member of a string quartet, at the opening-night reception at the Two River Theater on Saturday. Former ‘Cosby Show’ star Geoffrey Owens, below, plays the cellist. (Click to enlarge)

geoffrey-owens

Opus,’ a piquant drama about a fractious string quartet that’s commanding the mainstage at Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company through November 14, is getting some positive ink.

In the Star-Ledger, theater critic Peter Filicihia calls Michael Hollinger‘s play, which focuses on the effect that a shattered romantic relationship has on the quartet, “bittersweet but delicious.”

“Director Matthew Arbour has orchestrated the 90-minute show with loving care,” Filichia writes.

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TRTC ‘LIKE HOME’ FOR ‘OPUS’ DIRECTOR

matthew-arbour-102310Director Matthew Arbour oversees an ensemble cast that includes a COSBY SHOW veteran as the play OPUS begins its run this week at Two River Theater. (Click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

With its first mainstage production (Intimate Apparel) of the 2010-2011 season, Two River Theater Company managed to hit one out of the park — a feat that set the bar pretty high for everything to follow, but is ultimately just another reason to swing for the fences with its latest, which begins previews tonight.

In Opus, by classical musician-turned-dramatist Michael Hollinger, “personalities clash, tensions rise, and four musicians grapple with how far they will go to achieve excellence,” as the members of a string quartet are forced to scramble to replace a temperamental star player who’s fired just days before the biggest concert of their careers.

Described by its director as “a play about a quartet with five actors,” it’s an ensemble piece that numbers among its players a familiar face from one of the most popular TV shows of the past 25 years — none other than Geoffrey Owens, who played the Huxtables’ son-in-law Elvin on The Cosby Show for seven of the hit sitcom’s eight seasons. The stage/screen actor (son, by the by, of former Congressman Major Owens) is joined onstage by Craig Baldwin, Anjanette Hall, Saxon Palmer, and Kevin Kelly (seen previously in TRTC’s All My Sons).

About that director. He’s named Matthew Arbour, and he’s a local guy “making good” by his own estimation — having grown up in Little Silver, graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, and gone on to become a sought-after theater professional whose projects have won acclaim from Manhattan to Missouri. A beyond-busy Arbour planted it for a few minutes during “tech week,” to give redbankgreen the dope on Opus and otherwise.

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