Open Mike: Humorists Michael Phillips-Anderson and Michael O’Keeffe take the stage of Two River Theater for a special TEDx Navesink presentation on September 25, prior to the 8 pm show of THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES.
They’ll be taking their act to Monmouth University in West Long Branch for their next event in 2015, but before they decamp for campus, the organizers of TEDxNavesink have one more parting event to offer the Red Bank audience — and it comes not with a taps salute, but with a comedy-club rimshot of sorts.
Something of a cross between a sophisticated “salon” and a standup showcase, the Thursday evening presentation returns TEDx to Two River Theater — scene of the sold-out 2014 event — for a special keynote to the September 25 performance of Two River Theater Company’s The School for Wives. Going up at 6:30 pm — and featuring refreshments and drinks by local purveyors Sickles Market and Carton Brewing, the program preludes TRTC’s production of the 17th century French farce by Moliere with a couple of 21st century speakers on the art of comedy — and the ways in which humor, politics and popular culture tend to intersect, despite all attempts to put on a straight face.
British actor, director and educator Mark Wing-Davey brings a dream project to Red Bank, with a bold new realization of the 17th century comedy THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES that opens this week at Two River Theater.
When he’s donning the mortarboard of serious academia, Mark Wing-Davey serves as chair of the graduate acting program at NYU’s venerable Tisch School of the Arts. When he puts on an altogether different hat (or head), he’s the actor best identified with the role of the double-header despot Zaphod Beeblebrox, in various radio, video and stage dramatizations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of sci-fi satires by Douglas Adams.
An in-demand director from coast (UC Berkeley’s Pericles) to coast (the McCarter Theatre premiere of Greensboro: A Requiem with Philip Seymour Hoffman), the Brit-born Wing-Davey has been hitching a ride to Red Bank of late; reuniting with former Public Theater colleagues John Dias and Michael Hurst for a dream project of sorts: the 17th century comedy The School for Wives. The 1662 classic by the French farcemaster Molière is onstage now at Two River Theater as the first “back to school” session of the new 2014-2015 mainstage season.
The story of wealthy Arnolphe, the naïve young thing that he cultivates as his future Perfect Wife — and the ways in which the carefully micro-managed scheme backfires on the schemer — is on stage for three more preview performances (Wednesday at 1 pm and 7 pm; Thursday at 8 pm); opening on Friday night and continuing with a mix of matinee and evening shows through October 5. Stage and screen character actor Robert Stanton heads the cast as Arnolphe, with Phillipa Soo as the not-so naive Agnes, and Korey Jackson as her hopeful suitor Horace. They’ll be performing the best-known English translation of the original French text, by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Richard Wilbur.
Check the Two River YouTube page for a video in which the director details the creation of the show’s distinctive visual conceptualization — including the “phallic” features and “pubic triangle” of the set design by Tony winner David Gallo — then take it around the corner for the redbankgreen Drama Desk conversation with Mark Wing-Davey.
Lindsay Wood as Maria joins the Phoenix troupe in bringing ‘The Sound of Music’ to the Basie boards beginning this Friday — while Moliere’s ‘The School for Wives’ receives a bold new production design, as Two River Theater opens an all-new season with a Saturday night preview.
One is that family favorite that you grew up on, the one where “the hills are alive,”while the other is a new take on a theatrical classic that’s nearly old as them thar hills.
While Red Bank’s world-class professional Two River Theater Company and Red Bank’s community players Phoenix Productions would seem to approach their art from totally different places, there’s a common mission to give the audience a production that’s awesome to behold: a show that makes for the centerpiece of a memorable night out.