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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RED BANK: FAB FAUX SPINS ‘REVOLVER’

The Fab Faux take the Basie stage Saturday for a full-on recreation of the revolutionary Beatles album ‘Revolver.’ (Photo by Michael Weintraub)

In a season that’s justifiably obsessed with the golden anniversary of a little phonograph record by the name of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it might be easy to overlook the album that truly made the Pepper platter possible: Revolver, the 1966 Beatles release that kicked off the Fab Four’s focus on studio projects in earnest — and an idea-packed long-player that more than a few observers consider to be the greatest rock album of all time.

For the 16th edition of what’s become a dependable signifier of summer in Red Bank, the super-sessionman Beatle-reboot known as the Fab Faux takes the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Saturday night for a performance of Revolver in its entirety, plus a mixed set of classic hits.

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RED BANK: ‘MAUDIE’ THURSDAY AT BOW TIE

Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke star inhe bio-pic feature ‘Maudie,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge.)

She was the very definition of an “outsider artist:” a young woman crippled by arthritis and living a below-radar existence as a housekeeper in a Nova Scotia fishing village, whose colorful way of seeing the world elevated her to the status of Canada’s most cherished folk-art painter. Just as unlikely, and equally compelling, is the bond between Maud Lewis and her employer, the relationship at the heart of the biographical feature film “Maudie.”

A 2016 festival favorite that’s slated for general release in the United States on Friday, the film from director Aisling Walsh gets a sneak-peek screening Thursday as part of a special series at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

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RED BANK: AN ART GALLERY GALLIVANT

Stillwell House Fine Art & Antiques in Red Bank is the newest local stop on a walking gallery tour presented by Monmouth Arts, the latest edition of which happens Tuesday evening.

Like a street procession that picks up new and willing participants as it rolls along, the regularly scheduled “MoCo Art Walks” hosted by the folks at Monmouth Arts have morphed into excursions that serve to showcase some of Red Bank’s best-kept secrets among its artier nooks and crannies.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY ‘FINALE’ AT BASIE

Conductor Xian Zhang discusses the New Jersey Symphony’s season-finale concerts, which include at stop in Red Bank Saturday night.

It was an eclectic slate of programming, one in which sought-after international soloists and the works of the old masters shared the stage with modern Broadway babies and romantic favorites from the contemporary pop playlist.

For its season finale at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks out the jams in classically classical fashion Saturday under the baton of celebrated conductor Xian Zhang.

But as redbankgreen regulars know, the concert won’t be the last opportunity for locals to hear a symphony this summer.

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RED BANK: AN ARTIST’S ‘SALON’ AT CONCRETE

The paintings of Franki DeSaro are on display at Salon Concrete beginning Saturday evening.

The early days of June offer up a bumper crop of art happenings in and around Red Bank — simply scroll through recent posts on redbankgreen for the details on current installations at the Art Alliance, Detour Gallery, Middletown Library, the Guild, and Monmouth Museum for proof.

But one of the downtown area’s most forward-thinking hair salons is preparing to transform itself into an artist’s “salon” of an altogether more luminous sort.

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RED BANK: STREETLIFE BUSKS OUT ALL OVER

Luminous hula-hoop artist Eryka Andrex in performance during a past edition of Red Bank StreetLife, the weekly summer sidewalk concert series that returns to town Saturday. 

If it’s the start of June, it must be time for the return of Red Bank StreetLife, the summertime Saturday series of live entertainment that commandeers the sidewalks, storefronts and bumpouts of the borough’s business district beginning — and, for the first time in its 17-year history — on the third Thursday of June and July.

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RED BANK: ‘LITTLE JO’ GETS ACTUAL BALLADS

Teal Wicks (second from left) is the title character — and Daniel K. Isaac, Jane Bruce and Eric William Morris lend solid support — as the screen-to-stage musical adaptation “The Ballad of Little Jo” begins previews at Two River Theater. (Photo by Amanda Crommett)

In the 1993 film The Ballad of Little Jo, director Maggie Greenwald told the story of Josephine Monaghan, a young 19th-century woman from a proper Boston family who adapts to a life of self-exile in an Idaho frontier town by living her life as a man.

While the movie left the actual ballads at the door, a handful of creative people heard the music in its fact-based tale. And beginning with its first preview performance this Saturday, Little Jo adapts to life in the 21st century in its new incarnation, as a musical stage production from Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company.

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RED BANK: A DETOUR INTO LABUA LAND

“After Vespers” is among the paintings by Michael LaBua at Detour Gallery in Red Bank.

“The work primarily consists of large-scale oil paintings which are rendered in a form of detailed realism, typically fashioned within series,” Detour Gallery says in promotional material about the exhibit showcasing the work of Michael LaBua that comes to Red Bank this weekend.

“Between these series, you begin to see the unraveling of LaBua’s mind.”

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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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RED BANK: ‘BOBFEST’ OF DYLAN, WAR & PEACE

A promo video recaps the history of the annual Bobfest salute to Bob Dylan, which returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday night.

When he first offered an impromptu birthday toast to Bob Dylan during a 1999 set at the old Downtown Café in Red Bank, Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno didn’t harbor any thoughts of making Bobfest an annual thing, let alone an ever-expanding phenomenon with a life and passionate following all its own.

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RED BANK: MCC AWARDS VOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS

Press release from Monmouth Civic Chorus

Students from Red Bank Regional High School and Middletown High School North were among the vocally talented New Jersey high school seniors  awarded a total of $3000, as part of The Monmouth Civic Chorus scholarship program for 2017. The awards will be presented on June 2 during the “Northern Lights” Chorus concert at St. Mary Church, located at 1 Phalanx Road in Colts Neck.

A $1000 first-place award went to RBR student Ashleigh Dannielle Wolf; a member of the school’s Concert and Chamber choirs, as well as the New Jersey All State Treble and Mixed Choirs, the All State Opera Chorus, and the New Jersey All Shore Chorus, whose scholarship she also won in 2017. A resident of Freehold, Ashleigh plans to attend the Eastman School of Music.

A $700 award went to MHSN student Richard Cardile, who has performed with the school’s Concert and Chamber choirs, as well as the High School North singing group Acapella. A member of the New Jersey All Shore Chorus, New Jersey All State Mixed Chorus and the Middletown Assembly of God Church Choir, Richard plans to attend Montclair State University.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY TO PLAY MARINE PARK

Music lovers are expected to line the slope at Marine Park to hear the New Jersey Symphony. Restrooms now under construction are visible at top left. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

RiverFest may be off the calendar, but there will be at least one night of music in Red Bank’s Marine Park this summer.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra plans to christen the newly refurbished park with a free, open-air concert in July.

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RED BANK: SUNSET SONATA AT ST. THOMAS

Celebrated young pianist Nicolas Namoradze visits Red Bank’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church Saturday for the latest in a new series of Impromptu Classical Music Recitals.

Aficionados of vocal and instrumental classical music already know the borough of Red Bank (plus its landmark Tower Hill Church and Count Basie Theatre) as the area’s undisputed headquarters for such cultural commerce — a welcoming harbor for everything from the Monmouth Symphony and Monmouth Civic Chorus, to the New Jersey Chamber Singers and the Monmouth Conservatory of Music.

If there remains something of a “best kept secret” on the scene, it would have to be St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the West Side house of worship (at 26 East Sunset Avenue) that recently became the area’s host venue of choice for the highly regarded touring presentations known as the Impromptu! Classical Music Recital Series. And this Saturday night, the series returns to Sunset as the church’s grand Yamaha piano welcomes the expert touch of the celebrated 24-year old composer-pianist Nicolas Namoradze.

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RED BANK: A FRONTIER FUNDER AT TWO RIVER

Two River Theater.

Although it’s a brand-spanking-new addition to the growing crop of world premieres from Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company, the upcoming production The Ballad of Little Jo represents the culmination of a years-long process, through which the borough-based stage troupe nurtured and developed the highly anticipated musical adaptation that closes out its 2016-’17 season in grand style.

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ON THE GREEN: AUTHORS SERVE UP MEMORIES

George Severini of Dorn’s Classic Images (above left) joins co-author Rick Geffken for a Thursday evening presentation keyed to their book “Lost Amusement Parks of the North Jersey Shore.”

A must-see presentation on some of the most fondly remembered attractions of our local Shore — and not one but two encore appearances by a best-selling beach-read favorite — are booked in this Thursday, May 11 for galloping gourmets and nostalgia buffs alike.

It begins tomorrow afternoon at Red Bank’s Molly Pitcher Inn, during the Fourth Annual Scholarship Luncheon for the Northern Monmouth County Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) — an affair at which members of the community are invited to join in an afternoon filled with fun, good food and the opportunity to hear from the New York Times bestselling author, Mary Kay Andrews.

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RED BANK: ‘PARIS’ IN THE SPRING

Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane and  Arnaud Viard star in ‘Paris Can Wait,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

It maybe has some catching up to do with the likes of Cannes, but when it comes to being a mecca for first-run independent/”arthouse” feature films, Red Bank has long led the local pack — a fact that’s attributable primarily to White Street’s Bow Tie Cinemas (and its predecessor, Clearview Cinemas).

For most of the new millennium, the downtown movie house has done duty as official host venue for a series of sneak-preview screening events, spotlighting festival-favorite indies before they go into general release. Part of a long-running partnership between borough-based nonprofit Monmouth Arts and Sony Pictures Classics (the major distributor whose president, Tom Bernard, makes his home in Middletown), the series unspools once more this Thursday, May 11, with a 7:30 p.m. showing of “Paris Can Wait.”

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RED BANK: HABITAT EVENT RETURNS FOR 2017

Following a successful 2016 inaugural event that collected more than $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, the nonprofit’s food and wine tasting fundraiser “A Taste for Homes” returns to The Oyster Point Hotel on the evening of Monday, May 15.

Scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m., the event “will showcase local restaurants, wineries, coffee and dessert specialists and will include entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, gift auction and silent auction to celebrate the impact and difference that volunteers and companies can make to provide people in the community with a decent place to live.”

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RED BANK: CURCHIN ‘OPEN’ TO SUGGESTIONS

The Curchin Group accounting firm seeks input on beneficiaries for their annual “Curchin Open” indoor golf fundraising event.

Press release from The Curchin Group

The accounting firm The Curchin Group has announced that they are now accepting essay submissions to determine the nonprofit beneficiaries of the 12th Annual Curchin Open, a nine-­hole indoor miniature golf tournament.

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RED BANK: JAZZED AND ENCHANTED

Master of ceremonies Bob Tuzzo (above) and the Belle Tones (below) are among the performers joining Joe Muccioli’s Red Bank Jazz Orchestra Saturday night at the Two River Theater.

The partnership of the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project with the Count Basie Theatre has yielded some swingin’ly successful results, from the young-musician Jazz Arts Academy to April’s recently wrapped Talkin’ Jazz series; and from December’s annual Sinatra Birthday Bash to other big-stage events showcasing our very own Red Bank Jazz Orchestra.

That said, just as Red Bank’s connection to America’s classical music is bigger even than the legendary “Kid from Red Bank” Count himself, so too does the Jazz Arts brand bust out of the boundaries of the Basie from time to time — witness the summertime slate of open-air concerts at Riverside Gardens, or the Summer Jazz Cafe series that candle-lights up the warm weekend nights at Two River Theater.

This Saturday night, the organization under the artistic direction of conductor-arranger-scholar Joe “Mooche” Muccioli returns to the Two River stage for the latest edition of what’s fast become a rhythmic rite of spring — the fundraiser concert event known as ‘An Enchanted Evening of Song.’

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RED BANK: A FORTUNE HAPPY HOUR

The T. Thomas Fortune House, as it appeared in November and as it’s expected to appear after rehabilitation. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Not so many months ago, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank was a place whose own fortunes were in doubt, prior to the announcement of a development deal (reported here in redbankgreen) that set the deteriorating structure on the path to a new life as a community resource “dedicated to human rights, journalistic integrity, (and) advancement for all people.”

The announcement was certainly a happy one for the volunteers of the T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee — and on Thursday, May 25, the nonprofit entity hosts “a festive night out to celebrate the rebirth, now underway, of the National Historic Landmark and support the opening of our soon to be T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center,” as well as the legacy of the pioneering 19th century African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

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RED BANK: A REFILL FOR EMPTY BOWLS

Press release from JBJ Soul Kitchen 

Bowls will once again bloom in the gardens of the JBJ Soul Kitchen the weekend of May 20 and 21, when the Empty Bowls Project returns to 207 Monmouth Street. With the motto Every Bowl Feeds a Soul, the event brings together artists, teens, and community members to help raise awareness of hunger in our area.

This is the third year that hundreds of handmade bowls in every shape, size, and color will be on display in the organic garden of the Soul Kitchen. Before the event, the Monmouth Arts Teen Arts Festival and Art Alliance of Monmouth County create the many bowls. On Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, patrons may select a bowl for a $20 donation, and, while supplies last, receive a canvas Monmouth Arts tote to carry their bowl home.

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