‘CANDIDA’ REVIEWS: A FRESH LOOK AT SHAW

cremin-diasSue Cremin, who has the title role in ‘Candida,’ with TRTC artistic director John Dias after Saturday’s opening-night show. Below, former ‘Cosby Show‘ star Geoffrey Owens, right, returned to the TRTC, where he starred in ‘Opus‘ earlier this season, and ran into former ‘Frazier‘ star David Hyde Pierce. (Click to enlarge)

hyde-pierce-geoffrey-owensEarly reviews of the Two River Theater Company‘s new production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Candida‘ find it a fresh take on a play that made its debut in 1898.

Star-Ledger theater critic Peter Filichia says the Red Bank production nears its conclusion with a moment of suspense, something not usually associated with the play’s author.

And Asbury Park Press reviewer Tom Chesek (who also writes for redbankgreen) says director David Staller “has revealed a play that’s actually contemporary at heart.”

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THEATER FOUNDERS GIVE RIVERVIEW $5M

rechnitzes-032611Bob Rechnitz, right, with wife Joan and Two River Theater board member Paul Kaylor at Saturday night’s opening of ‘Candida.’ (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogo rightA planned $15 million revamping of the operating rooms at Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center has gotten a big boost from a Middletown couple.

Joan and Bob Rechnitz, founders of the nonprofit Two River Theater Company, have donated $5 million to the effort, the hospital announced Monday morning.

Riverview officials called it one of the largest single gifts in the hospital’s history, and said a portion of the funds would be used to construct a conference and educational center designed to attract “superior surgeons with niche specialties” to lectures and symposiums.

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SUIT CALLS 51 MONMOUTH DEAL ‘ILLEGAL’

51-monmouthTwo property owners want the former borough hall returned to Red Bank as a public asset. (Click to enlarge)

As anticipated by Mayor Pasquale Menna, a lawsuit has been filed challenging Red Bank’s settlement of litigation earlier this year over the former borough hall and police station at 51 Monmouth Street.

The suit, filed by Maple Cove activist Cindy Burnham of Fair Haven and lawyer Bill Meyer of Tinton Falls, claims that both the original sale of the building to a nonprofit children’s organization in 2000 and the settlement of litigation over that deal earlier this year were “illegal and improper.”

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QUIET WEEK ON THE STREETS OF RED BANK

rbpd-patrolcarThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of March 18 to March 25, 2011. The information appears here unedited.

Theft occurring on 3-20-11 at Riverview Plaza. Victim reported that a Blackberry cell phone was stolen from room. Ptl. Dawn Shields.

Theft reported on 3-23-11 at Spring St. residence. Victim reported that unknown person(s) stole checks from her residence. Ptl. Jorge Torres.

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SEARCH FOR HEADLINE A TOTAL BUST

napoleon-bustStrapped in for safety, a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte has been a passenger in Nick Tracy’s car in recent days as the 21-year-old Toms River man and the French emperor prepare to move in together in an apartment in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

LITTLE ELBOW ROOM AS YMCA GETS MAKEOVER

kristen-sidunKristen Sidun of Little Silver says she doesn’t mind the temporarily cramped conditions. Below, a schematic of the interior changes underway. (Click to enlarge)

cymca-floor-plans-0311They’re sweating it out cheek-by-jowl at the Community YMCA in Red Bank these days.

A major interior renovation project that began earlier this month forced the temporary displacement of dozens of workout machines to unfamiliar places in the 40-year-old Maple Avenue facility. Stationary bikes are now crammed into two corners of a walking-and-running track, while Cybex resistance machines, their digital displays dark, share space with an already crowded free-weights room in the basement. Large portions of the main level and second floor are off-limits construction zones.

The disruptions are expected to be short-lived, as contractor Charles Hembling & Sons of Shrewsbury works two shifts, eyeing a completion goal of late May.

But in the interim, with the Y’s 8,000 members continuing to use the facility, it’s a little like changing the oil on a moving car, says Y president and CEO Lisa Christian.

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TACO TIME IN RED BANK

surf-taco-openCynda Raffensperger, forefront, and Emilie Hansen, take in the view of Broad Street while catching lunch at Surf Taco, which opened Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With no advertising, and not even a storefront sign, Surf Taco opened for business in downtown Red Bank Thursday, and the place was immediately humming.

“It’s been a good turnout, and it’s all kind of word-of-mouth,” chain owner and founder Rob Nagel said.

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CHURCH, CAR WASH & DELI SWITCH ON SOLAR

butchs-solarThe roof at Butch’s Lube ‘N Wash. (Photo courtesy of Garden State Solar; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It wasn’t long after Paul Stout snapped on the lights at his Rumson business for the first time using solar power that he realized he’d made the right move installing the 48 panels on his roof.

“The first day it was turned on, I saw savings,” said the owner of Butler’s Deli. “It’s immediate.”

Three years, thousands of dollars and 55,000 pounds of unused carbon later, Stout scoffs at the notion that installing solar panels is too expensive or labor intensive.

“It’s the greatest thing in the world,” he said, watching his electric meter dial backwards as the system fed electricity back into the power grid one recent sunny afternoon. “I’m happy with it.”

Stout may have racked up years of savings in the pocket and reduced his carbon input drastically, but others in the area are just discovering the advantages solar energy can bring.

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BIKE & WALK PLAN GETS A SHEPHERD

willis-rossanoJenny Rossano, seen here in 2009 with Safe Routes Red Bank co-founder Jim Willis, will help coordinate the integration of a recent bike and pedestrian study with the town’s master plan. (Click to enlarge)

It’s probably a stretch to call her the borough’s bike czar. But Red Bank is about to get an official advocate for safe walking and biking.

Jenny Rossano of Worthley Street is expected to be named as a volunteer liaison to the borough planning and zoning boards to help spot potential conflicts with a recent study of pedestrian and bicyclist safety by Urban Engineers, a Philadelphia planning firm.

“I don’t want to be a czar of anything,” Rossano says with a laugh. “I just don’t want all this work that Urban Engineers did to be pushed under the carpet.”

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‘CANDIDA’ MOMENTS WITH A SHAW APOSTLE

candidaposter1The Shaw must go on: Two River Theater Company offers up four nights of previews for George Bernard Shaw’s CANDIDA beginning Tuesday.

By TOM CHESEK

First of all, it’s pronounced CAN-did-uh. Say it like Can-DEE-dah, and you’re referencing a 1970 hit by Tony Orlando & Dawn. Or you could be talking about a yeast infection.

Speak it as intended, however, and you’re stylishly dropping the name of a sharply written comedy classic that represented an early success for the great George Bernard Shaw. The centuries-spanning, Nobel Prize (and Oscar) winning, Irish-born wit and human rights champion was last seen on the stage of the Two River Theater with a topical (if threatening to topple) production of Heartbreak House a couple of seasons back. Beginning with the first of four preview performances on Tuesday night, Two River Theater Company puts on a Shaw once more, with a major revival of the 1898 Candida.

The new TRTC artistic director John Dias inherited this project — in which the strong and supportive wife of a respectable clergyman must make a choice between her husband and a passionate young poet who enters her life — when he took over the creative reins last September. Master facilitator that he is, Dias set about matching the play to a director who, more than anybody else in the business, has kept the soul and wisdom of “G.B.S.” readily accessible on our cultural GPS.

As the founder of NYC’s Gingold Theatrical Group, the actor-producer-director David Staller initiated a little undertaking called Project Shaw — a mission by which every one of Shaw’s full-length plays, skits, one-acts and puppet shows would be performed (often with all-star casts and sometimes for the first time in the United States) as a “concert” style reading. Having successfully presented all 65 of them (and having turned right back around and started up all over again), Staller has arrived at station stop Red Bank to direct Sue Cremin, Steven Skybell and Will Bradley in Two River’s Candida — and it was there that the redbankgreen Drama Desk caught up with this expert on all things Shavian.

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RED BANK: BOATS, BONDS & BUREAUCRACY

boat-slipsThe newly rebuilt marina at Marine Park will no longer be reserved exclusively for Red Bank residents. (Click to enlarge)

Boat slips at Marine Park, a bond to cover pension costs and the red tape involved in opening a new business were among the topics tackled by Red Bank’s elected officials earlier this week.

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MOBILE FOOD MAY FIND A SPOT IN TOWN

adam-sobelCinnamon Snail owner Adam Sobel appears to have persuaded Red Bank officials to carve out a spot he and other mobile vendors can compete for. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi: click to enlarge)

Adam Sobel’s push for mobile food vending on the streets of Red Bank inched forward this week.

The owner/chef/driver of the popular Cinnamon Snail vegetarian and organic food truck came away from Wednesday night’s borough council meeting with a pledge that the governing body would look into creating a dedicated spot near the train station that mobile food vendors could compete for.

But the location under discussion isn’t one that Sobel, the presumptive lead candidate for the license, is sold on.

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LOCATION AN ISSUE FOR COMMUNITY GARDEN

sharon-lee-031611Councilwoman Sharon Lee details her objections to a request to create a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library. (Click to enlarge)

A push for the creation of a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library ran into some mud Wednesday.

Big question: whether that’s the best place for it.

Smaller question: how much will it cost to install a dedicated water line, and who will pick up the tab in these cash-starved times?

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SNOW GETS SOME BLAME FOR TAX HIKE

plow-stuckA borough plow stuck in the snow on Mechanic Street on December 27. The cost of the storm is about to sock Red Bank property owners. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank property taxes may rise again this year.

Blame the usual culprits of climbing health insurance and pension costs. Add in a steep increase in refunds for tax appeals. But don’t forget the snow.

Yes, the bill for the blizzard of December 26 & 27, which paralyzed the region for days afterward, has come due.

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MORE WILD TURKEYS

fh-turkeys-031611 lincroft-turkeysIs there an ornithologist in the house? Earlier this week, readers sent us photos of five wild turkeys spotted on the streets of Red Bank and Fair Haven. Today, Colleen Donovan saw five in her neighbor’s yard on Harrison Avenue in Fair Haven, above. And Linda Snyder sent us the shot at right, taken on Leedsville Drive in Lincroft on March 10.

Can someone explain the sudden appearance of wild turkeys, and whether this might be the same gaggle on the move? (Click to enlarge)

BUONA SERA LANDS ACCESS TO PRIZED LOT

buona-sera-parking2Buon Sera now has dibs on a primo parking lot in downtown Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

park_it_021By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A parking lot once coveted by Red Bank officials is doing double duty, but still for the private sector.

Buona Sera restaurant now has nighttime and weekend dibs on a lot at the corner of Monmouth Street and Maple Avenue that’s reserved during school hours for Red Bank Catholic High School.

The popular restaurant and catering hall entered into a contract with property owner Stavola Leasing to use the lot last week, said Buona Sera owner Chris Mariano.

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‘IMAGINE’ NATION, AT TEEN ARTS 2011

teenartsA sampling of featured works from recent presentations of the Monmouth County Arts Council’s annual Teen Arts Festival — the 2011 edition of which opens with a reception tonight at Brookdale Community College.

With bureaucrats and administrators taking a palette knife to public arts funding these days, a nonprofit entity like the Red Bank-based Monmouth County Arts Council must often rely on some very well known friends.

When it came time to plan the 2011 edition of the annual Teen Arts Festival, MCAC Education Director Sandy Taylor turned for inspiration to a public figure who was taken from this world nearly two decades before some of this year’s featured artists were even born — John Lennon, alpha Beatle and composer of the stately peace anthem “Imagine.”

The most famous song of Lennon’s post-Beatles career has in turn served as the inspiration for a collection of original artworks by some 65 students of area middle schools and high schools — the centerpiece of the festival that opens tonight, and continues through Friday at Brookdale Community College.
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RIVERVIEW GETS PASS ON KIDNEY-STONE SUIT

hot-topic left smallNew Jersey’s state appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a back-injury patient who claimed doctors at Riverview Medical Center failed to inform him of x-rays showing he also had a large kidney stone.

In its decision of last Thursday, the Appellate Division ruled that a Superior Court judge was correct to dismiss a medical negligence claim by John Cifaretto, who underwent a series of treatments for the stone and claimed he suffered permanent kidney damage.

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CHARTER TEACHERS TO SHARE IN $100K GRANT

Charter2By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Three years’ worth of student achievements at the Red Bank Charter School put the school at the top of a national list to receive a heavy infusion of cash — and a boost in morale — for its teachers and administrators.

The school’s 19 teachers and seven adjuncts will share $100,000 in incentive money from the New Leaders for New Schools’ Effective Practice Incentive Community for overseeing “breakthrough student achievement gains” in standardized state test scores the last three years, according to an announcement from the benefactor organization.

Of the 18 schools selected for the grant, the charter school was one of only four to receive the Gold Gain Award, the highest attainable level.

The funneling of additional cash into teachers’ pockets, who took a pay freeze this school year, is not only a professional reward, but a personal one, Principal Meredith Pennotti said.

“They felt affirmed,” Pennotti said. “They took the hit last year because it’s what we needed, so to have this reward affirmed by a credible organization was really gratifying.”

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WANTED: STREETLIFE PERFORMERS

img_6371721Buskers, like this unidentified trio from Streetlife 2009, are warming up their pipes for the 2011. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Dust off yer geetar, groom your rabbit and brush up on your Marcel Marecau gestures. Auditions for StreetLife are right around the corner.

And if you want to be on one of Red Bank’s corners performing this summer, this is your chance to showcase your talent.

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A TURKEY OF A CAPTION

turkeysfh-turkeysSomething you don’t see every day in Red Bank: Julie Cassidy snapped this cellphone shot of five wild turkeys on McLaren Street Monday morning. There’s a wisecrack somewhere in this but we can’t think of it. Suggestions? [Update: Turns out the turkeys were also in Fair Haven Monday morning, as seen in the shot at right, taken on Lake Avenue by Patrick Corbett. (Click to enlarge)

ROUNDING UP WOMEN TO HELP GIRLS

nicole-corre-030811Go-getter Nicole Corre pauses for a moment on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogoNicole Corre, an inveterate helper-outer, needs some help.

Somewhere between finishing up a master’s in public policy at Rutgers, working full-time as a labor trends researcher and training for the Georgia Marathon this weekend — the first of two she plans to run this year — the Red Banker is trying to get a charity rolling.

Hey, even Type A personalities can’t do it all themselves.

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DRUG BUST NEAR SCHOOL NABS TWO

rbpd-patch- rightThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of March 4 to March 11, 2011. The information appears here unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring at Broad Street on 3-4-11. Victim reported that unknown person painted graffiti on business sign. Ptl. Jorge Torres.

Attempted Shoplifting occurring at E. Newman Springs Road on 3-4-11. Victim reported that unknown male subject attempted to steal a bottle of liquor without paying for same. Actor fled but without the bottle of liquor. Ptl. Michael Campanella.

Burglary occurring on 3-6-11 at Tower Hill Drive. Victim reported that unknown subject stole an IBM laptop, three silver men’s bracelets and one man’s watch from residence. Ptl. Dawn Shields

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HUNDREDS MARCH IN ABORTION PROTEST

protestAn anti-abortion march sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton starting at St. Anthony of Padua in Red Bank ended in a peaceful protest outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Newman Springs Road in Shrewsbury Saturday. Hundreds participated, and despite concerns expressed by Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich that it could attract violence, the event was peaceful. Red Bank police reported no problems. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)