In the acclaimed stage show An Evening with Groucho, the actor-director gets to be all that and more, as his spot-on channeling of the classic comic force of nature Groucho Marx comes to the Count Basie Theatre for the first time. Performed with piano accompaniment, minimal set and trademark makeup, the 90-minute, all-ages friendly tour de farce mixes canonical Marxist quotes, anecdotes from a life in show business, signature silly songs (“Hooray for Captain Spalding,” “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady”), and — in a bracingly contemporary touch — an interactive element that finds Ferrante/Groucho duckwalking the theater aisles. “Fully one-third of it is improvised,” says Ferrante. “That’s what Groucho’s magic was, really – the ability to create comedy on the spot.” Get your tickets ($19 – $49) right here — and when you take it ’round the corner for more Weekender wonderment, tell ‘em Groucho sent you.
The RE:Image Film Festival brings the inspirational work of young filmmakers to Red Bank — along with the spotlighted feature presentation of the drama GIMME SHELTER — in an all-day Sunday program sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton.
Friday, April 4:
LINCROFT: Rant if you must against millennial Broadway’s plundering of the pop cultural rummage sale (movies, comics, Billboard charts, public-domain novels, movie sequels) — but the ongoing raid on good taste yielded one of its happiest and most hilarious hybrids when Monty Python’s Spamalot scored a hit with audiences who were hungry for some comic amputations, killer rabbits, coconut horses, and good old fashioned “Fish Schlapping.”
Python’s Eric Idle adapted the 1975 cult comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the respectable stage, tossing in Life of Brian‘s insanely catchy “Bright Side of Life” and enough laughs for a dozen normal musical entertainments. Now at loose in the hinterlands, the pillory/parody of King Arthur lore and legend comes to the greater Green for the first time, courtesy of the theater program students at Brookdale Community College. Performances — all at the Performing Arts Center on the main BCC campus — continue at 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays, as well as 2 pm Sundays, through April 13. Tickets ($12 general admission; discounts for seniors, BCC staff and students) can be reserved by calling (732)224-2411.
Saturday, April 5:
RED BANK: A favorite of Red Bank’s youngest residents — and one that, parents take note, “starts on time and is over in a flash” — the annual Easter Egg Hunt returns to the lawn of Eastside Park, Harrison Avenue at 12 pm sharp — and this year there’s a rain date of Sunday, April 13, in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s relocation indoors. Also promised are great prizes, with the Easter Bunny scheduled to make a special appearance as well — so “bring a basket and a camera.”
MIDDLETOWN: The ongoing series of free chamber concerts, hosted by Red Bank’s Monmouth Conservatory Of Music at Middletown Township Public Library, resumes with a 2 pm visit from master harpsichordist and composer — joined by soprano Katherine Harris in a “Music From Old Middletown” program that marks the township’s 350th birthday year with some of the greatest period-perfect hits of the 17th and 18th centuries. If your familiarity with the harpsichord goes no further than Lurch’s parlor recitals on the old Addams Family series, the keyboardist’s mastery of his not-commonly-encountered instrument (and his illuminating way with a backstory) make this a primer not to be missed.
RED BANK: It’s like something straight out of a Busby Berkeley musical — farm girl comes to the big city; goes from unknown to Broadway lead, and back to struggling trouper. Takes her career in her own hands by calling up her fellow under-employed ladies of the stage and crafting “an all-female revue with a sexy rock n’ roll twist” that becomes an international touring sensation, from here to such faraway whistle-stops as China and Dubai. Call it the Broadway Dolls and you’ve got a surefire hit, one that takes the stage of the Count Basie for a one-nighter that goes up at 8 pm.
Created by and co-starring former Hairspray lead Hollie Howard (a recent transplant to Monmouth County, where she keeps house with her producing/life partner Ryan Fause of Red Bank’s PWM Advisory Group), the project known as Broadway’s Original Girl Group mixes vintage showtunes, 60s girl group oldies and 21st century radio pop into a slick presentation that co-stars “triple threat” pros from such maor Broadway productions as Flashdance, Legally Blonde, Memphis, Rent, Titanic, The Wedding Singer, and Wicked. Opening the show (with a tap number set to “Singin’ in the Rain”) are the young students of Bayshore Academy of Dance — and for all you ticketholders, the evening kicks off at 5 pm with a Girls Night Out VIP Shopping Event and Happy Hour that features martini/cocktail specials, hors d’oeuvres, and a smorgasbord of area vendors (check here for details), with a portion of proceeds dedicated to the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy. Reserve tickets ($20 – $89, with VIP option including a meet ‘n greet with the cast) right here.
RED BANK: At 8 pm, it’s the first of several preview performances for the Two River Theater Company production of Trouble In Mind, the too-rarely revived 1955 comedy-drama by the trailblazing African American playwright Alice Childress. Perhaps best remembered for her young adult novel A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, the actor-author-activist won an Obie award for this “backstage” portrait of a multi-racial theatrical troupe, a play-within-a-play about a Southern lynching, and the fireworks that fly when the show’s black leading lady (Brenda Pressley of TRTC’s In This House)questions the inaccuracies and stereotypes being perpetuated by her white director (fellow Two River returnee Steven Skybell). Celebrated director Jade King Carroll — who views the late Ms. Childress as “an amazing activist and humanitarian,” one that “opened doors for so many people, myself included,” works with a cast that further features Robert Hogan, the octogenarian character man of stage and screen who starred in Two River’s recent On Borrowed Time. Previews continue through April 10; Trouble In Mind opens on April 11 and continues through April 27. Take it here for schedule details and tickets — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on this and other upcoming offerings from TRTC.
NAVESINK: Although their ambitious “Season of Simon” — the maiden voyage for their newly re-energized Navesink Arts Center — took its share of lumps from schedule conflicts and the peskiest winter in recent memory, the Monmouth Players conclude the 2013-2014 slate with a return engagement of a favorite from seasons past, Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Continuing Doc Simon’s semi-autobiographical excursion into his professional past, the 1993 comedy uses the playwright’s experiences as a staff writer for the late TV kingpin Sid Caesar to craft a cohesive framework for personal dynamics and a plethora of gags. Performances are tonight at 8 pm plus Sunday at 2 pm — and the show continues (with that justifiably famous spread of homemade desserts) every Saturday night (as well as select Friday nights and Sunday afternoons) through April 27. Call (732)291-9211 for tickets ($18) — and take it here for a feature story regarding the rebirth of the historic Navesink Library, on redbankgreen.
Sunday, April 6:
RED BANK: Is it AUTUMN already? As it turns out, the Red Bank Street Fair — an outdoor event that’s historically commandeered the sidewalks and vehicular traffic lanes of Broad and Monmouth Streets each September — is returning for an encore Springtime sighting this Sunday. More than 200 artists, crafters and vendors are promised (along with “25,000 spectators”) for the happening that happens between the hours of 11 am and 5 pm. There’s free admission, free Sunday parking, and more information available by calling (908)654-1400, with proceeds raised to benefit the borough’s first responders.
RED BANK: It’s not the south of France or the ski country of Utah, but the coming of the RE:IMAGE Film Festival to Red Bank serves to shine a light on a collection of “artists and filmmakers who deliver inspiring, uplifting and faith-filled messages through film and digital media.” Sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton, the “celebration of the moving image and how it reflects God’s love in our world” takes up residence at the Count Basie Theatre for a day-long (11 am to 9 pm) program of short film screenings in three competitive categories (High School, College/Young Adult and General contests), with filmmaker panels, guest speakers, awards ceremony and more. There’s also a special presentation of the 2013 feature film Gimme Shelter, with Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, James Earl Jones and Brendan Fraser in a story of a 16 year old girl who struggles with choices and decisions upon learning of her pregnancy. Writer-director Ron Krauss and Kathy DiFiore (author of the book upon which the screenplay is based) will be appearing live at the Basie; take it here for a detailed schedule, and here for tickets ($8 -$12).
LINCROFT: Brookdale Community College throws open its doors for a Spring Open House event at the school’s Robert J. Collins Arena and Recreation & Events Center (Lots 6 or 7). Between noon and 3 pm, high school students, adult learners, career changers and their families are invited to tour the campus, speak with faculty members and current students, learn about financial aid, and find out about BCC’s degree and certificate programs.