Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ed Laub Trio Presents “The Kenny Rankin Project,” Wed., June 27th, Shanghai Jazz, 7-9 PM

The Ed Laub Trio: The Kenny Rankin Project

WHEN: Wednesday, June 27th, 7-9 pm
WHERE:
Shanghai Jazz, 24 Main Street, Madison
For Reservations: Call: 973.822.2899
Online: http://www.shanghaijazz.com/index.html

A tribute to the late Kenny Rankin

With featured artists:

  • Ed Laub - Guitar & Vocals
  • Martin Pizzarelli – Bass
  • Bill O’Connell – Piano

To download the track "This Happy Madness (Estrada Branca)" for free, go to https://edlaub.com/dland enter the code 892f-dy19

REVIEW: LOUD, BRASSY “SONGBIRD” @ TWO RIVER THEATER MORE CONCERT THAN DRAMA

By Ruth Ross

What with bad weather, illness and personal travel, I hadn’t gotten to review any of Two River Theater’s productions of the 2017-2018 season. Thus, it was with great anticipation that I trekked down to Red Bank to catch their final offering, Songbird. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, for instead of a penetrating and clear-sighted mirror of Nashville music society, the play is more a string of individual musical numbers than a play with music.

Following the basic plot outline of Anton Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, this new musical by Michael Kimmel, with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard, is a tiresome mess that, despite its energetic performances, remains uninvolving. There’s so much singing that after 45 minutes, I wondered when the dramatic action would begin; a substantial conversation lasting longer than 10 words didn’t occur until an hour into the performance. The rest was filled with often smart-mouthed chitchat and lots of country songs—18 in all—none of them furthering the plot line.

Songbird  TRTC 6-8-18  283
Songbird
Written by Michael Kimmel
Music & Lyrics by Lauren Pritchard
Based on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
Two River Theatre Company  6/8/18
SCENIC DESIGNER : Jason Sherwood
COSTUME DESIGNER : Sarah J. Holden
LIGHTING DESIGNER : Aaron Porter
SOUND DESIGNER : Broken Chord
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR : Ada Westfall
WIGS DESIGNER : David Bova

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography
tcepix@comcast.net

Songbird is the tale of famous country singer Tammy Tripp, who has returned fresh off a national tour to the Nashville bar and music venue owned by her brother Soren and managed by her best friend Pauline and her husband Samuel to hear her son Dean debut his song. Tammy brings along her much-younger songwriter boyfriend Beck, who turns the head of Dean’s girlfriend Mia. When she runs away with Beck, Dean attempts suicide by hanging, bringing Tammy home again to indulge in some lukewarm mothering. Ultimately, though, Mia reappears, rejects Dean’s heartfelt protestations of love and declares her continuing feelings for Beck, causing Dean to leave the bar and step in front of an oncoming tractor trailer. (above: Felicia Finley, center, as Tammy Trip, with the Company)

Songbird  TRTC 6-8-18  058
Songbird
Written by Michael Kimmel
Music & Lyrics by Lauren Pritchard
Based on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
Two River Theatre Company  6/8/18
SCENIC DESIGNER : Jason Sherwood
COSTUME DESIGNER : Sarah J. Holden
LIGHTING DESIGNER : Aaron Porter
SOUND DESIGNER : Broken Chord
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR : Ada Westfall
WIGS DESIGNER : David Bova

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography
tcepix@comcast.netCountry music’s preoccupation with themes of unrequited love, jilting, nostalgia for the place one couldn’t leave fast enough would seem perfect for Chekhov’s 1895 comedy with its focus on the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters. Indeed, Kimmel does create Nashville counterparts for Chekhov’s central characters, the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin (Beck), the ingenue Nina (Mia), the fading actress Irina Arkadina (Tammy Tripp), and her son, the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev (Dean, right with Tripp). Chekhov’s eponymous seagull becomes a bluebird, a symbol of happiness in many cultures, that Dean kills with his truck.

But compressing Chekhov’s four acts into two and making room for the show’s songs often results in caricatures rather than three-dimensional characters. Tammy (Felicia Finley) is a narcissistic country-pop star, more interested in her career than motherhood and determined to hang onto her young lover Beck. What gets lost in Finley’s portrayal is that Tammy’s star is fading; her single reference to smaller venues and crowds is tossed off so casually that it’s easily missed. She flounces around the bar, throwing her fame in everyone’s face (especially that of her former bandmate Pauline) and commenting very loudly and dismissively of her son’s musical effort. It’s very hard to work up any sympathy for her.

Songbird  TRTC 6-8-18  196
Songbird
Written by Michael Kimmel
Music & Lyrics by Lauren Pritchard
Based on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
Two River Theatre Company  6/8/18
SCENIC DESIGNER : Jason Sherwood
COSTUME DESIGNER : Sarah J. Holden
LIGHTING DESIGNER : Aaron Porter
SOUND DESIGNER : Broken Chord
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR : Ada Westfall
WIGS DESIGNER : David Bova

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography
tcepix@comcast.netEric William Morris’s Beck garners a bit more sympathy, at least until the penultimate scene when Mia reveals a hard truth about their relationship. He longs to write better songs, not just fluff like “Highway Fantasy” for the masses. He’s flattered by the ingenue’s attention and lets himself be seduced by it; but he pragmatically throws his lot in with Tammy and the fame that comes with that relationship. As the ingénue Mia, Ephie Aardema (left, with Morris) is winsome at first, but becomes cruelly calculating when a better gig than singing Dean’s new wave music (the sappy “Wandering”) comes along. Sheltered by her Baptist parents, she’s easily snowed by Beck’s interest in furthering her career. Of all the female characters, Aardema’s Mia feels the most genuine and poignant.

Songbird  TRTC 6-8-18  244
Songbird
Written by Michael Kimmel
Music & Lyrics by Lauren Pritchard
Based on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
Two River Theatre Company  6/8/18
SCENIC DESIGNER : Jason Sherwood
COSTUME DESIGNER : Sarah J. Holden
LIGHTING DESIGNER : Aaron Porter
SOUND DESIGNER : Broken Chord
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR : Ada Westfall
WIGS DESIGNER : David Bova

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography
tcepix@comcast.netHiding her vulnerability with zingers and booze, Kacie Sheik’s sulky Missy (right, with Bob Stillman as Soren) ably navigates the most complex romantic triangle in the play. Besotted with Dean, who rejects her, she in turn rejects Dean’s best buddy Rip, eventually marrying him for convenience before realizing his true worth. Her snappy repartée garners lots of laughs, even as it hides her pain. Wearing his pain on his chest, Dean (Marrick Smith) mopes around most of the time; his annoying character is so busy chasing Mia that he fails to engage in life, eventually taking his when things don’t work out.

Songbird  TRTC 6-8-18  119
Songbird
Written by Michael Kimmel
Music & Lyrics by Lauren Pritchard
Based on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
Two River Theatre Company  6/8/18
SCENIC DESIGNER : Jason Sherwood
COSTUME DESIGNER : Sarah J. Holden
LIGHTING DESIGNER : Aaron Porter
SOUND DESIGNER : Broken Chord
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR : Ada Westfall
WIGS DESIGNER : David Bova

Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson
© T Charles Erickson Photography
tcepix@comcast.netPauline and Doc (Kelly Karbacz and Drew McVety, left) are more likeable, even though she’s cheating on the amiable if dim Samuel (Andy Taylor). And Bob Stillman as Soren lends gravity to the proceedings, especially because his mortality is evident from the first cigarette he lights up to the final one that almost does him in.

Despite the script, the cast is to be commended for its musical chops. Everyone sings and plays an instrument, pulling one off a wall or a stand whenever the need to warble arises. The music, a mix of folk, bluegrass and pop-country, is generally rousing; however, I found myself wishing for more quiet interludes. But the talented cast performs the catchy lyrics naturally, in addition to performing Marc Kimelman’s nifty choreography very well. Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch keeps the action humming along, sometimes a bit too quickly so that the nuanced themes are glossed over and feel unimportant.

If you like country music, you’ll like Songbird. With songs often performed for the heck of it, however, you might feel shortchanged, and if you seek character development, you won’t find much. Had I not been told that Songbird was and updated country version of The Seagull, I might have enjoyed the production better. True to Two River Theater’s reputation, the production values are terrific and the performances superb, even if the material isn’t quite the same character.

Songbird will be performed at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, through July 1. For information and tickets, call the box office at 732.345.1400 or visit www.tworivertheater.org online.

Photos by T. Charles Erickson 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Annual Scholarship fundraiser - a jazz concert

10th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Concert: JD 3 Trio

WHEN: Sunday, June 24th, 4pm
WHERE
: Horseshoe Lake Bandshell, 72 Eyland Ave, Succasunna
ADMISSION: free
Don't forget, if the weather is bad, the show will go on, it will just move to inside the theater, at the same time. See you at the bandshell.

The Joe Davidian Trio ("JD3") is an American jazz trio comprised of three "up-and-coming jazz musicians whose music is lyrical and accessible." Bandleader and pianist Joe Davidian lives in New York City where he performs regularly, including appearances with jazz legends Chester Thompson, Ira Sullivan, Joe Lovano, and Duffy Jackson. Davidian's passion for jazz education has landed him professorships at University of Vermont, Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State University, and he also maintains an active roster of private piano students in NYC.

Bassist Dr. Jamie Ousley, voted "Best South Florida Jazz Musician of 2011," is Professor of Jazz Bass at Florida International University in Miami, FL. Ousley has performed extensively in Japan and South America and his recording "Back Home" reached #10 on national jazz radio charts.

Austin McMahon, (RHS 1999), has released two albums (Many Muses, Many Muses Vol. 2) under his own name, and played on over fifty commercially released recordings. McMahon has performed in Italy, Germany, Finland, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, and most recently in China (December 2017). He currently teaches at New England Conservatory in Boston, MA and taught jazz improvisation at Harvard University from 2010-2015.

The Joe Davidian Trio performs a mix of original works and jazz standards with an emphasis on memorable melodies from Broadway shows and classic movies. They have been touring internationally since 2000, presenting concerts and giving masterclasses on improvisation and ensemble playing. In April of 2017, JD3 released their third album Live at the Jazz Cave: Volume Two, which documents a "best of" from a four-year span of performances at the Nashville Jazz Workshop.

Free Summer Concerts

Thursday Nights at the bandshell at 7pm, unless marked otherwise. In case of inclement weather, event will be held in the Investors Bank Theater

Free Library Concerts

Monday Nights at the Roxbury Library Gazebo at 7pm. In case of inclement weather, event will be held in the Roxbury Library

Kids' Theatre & Improv Workshop in Holmdel This Summer

Kids' Theatre & Improv Workshop

WHEN: Saturday mornings 10:00 am - 12:00 pm , July 14th through August 4th
WHERE:
Duncan Smith Theater: 36 Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel NJ
TUITION: $80
Register Now. Please email info@holmdeltheatrecompany.org for more info

Class size limited—reserve now!

Classes are held at the

Does your child love to use their imagination? Tell stories? Get silly? If so, this is the perfect opportunity for them to do all that and more! Through this 4-week workshop, kids will learn the basics of theatre and improvisation through fun improv games that will get them actively involved in what they are learning, empowering them to express themselves creatively through acting and storytelling!

The class is being taught by Rachel Brudner, a rising senior at Muhlenberg College majoring in Theatre, who has had the pleasure of participating in several shows at Holmdel Theatre Company. Her professional credits include performances at Two River Theater and Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT, recording audiobooks for Little Fox, an ESL website used in schools internationally, and singing in children's videos for Mother Goose Club. She teaches a weekly theatre class at Jefferson Elementary in Allentown, PA, and is currently interning at TADA! Youth Theatre in NYC. She is thrilled to be returning to instill the same passion for theatre in kids that she gained from working on productions at HTC!

The class is suited for children ages 8-12

RVCC’S MAGIC CAMP SPOTS DISAPPEARING! GET YOURS TODAY!

Kevin Spencer's Magic Camp

RVCC MAGIC CAMP 2018

WHEN: Session I (AM) Ages 8 – 10,  July 9 - 13, 9am-12pm. Session II: (PM, with the exception of Fri., July 13) Ages 11 – 16 , July 9 - 12, 2pm-5pm; July 13, 9am-12pm (with session I campers). A combined performance with campers from both sessions will take place at the Theatre on Fri., July 13 at 7pm.
WHERE:
The Theatre at RVCC, 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg
TUITION: $150
Each session is limited to 20 campers. Kevin provides all materials for participants including their magic box and all magic tricks that will be learned throughout the week. (CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO)

Register Your Magician Today
VISIT OUR WEBSITE

International Magician of the Year, Kevin Spencer, teaches campers how to perform incredible tricks with everyday objects. This week-long, half-day camp combines learning magic tricks with storytelling, music, theatre and creative movement. Through the art of magic, campers will explore their curiosity, develop their magical creativity, and discover new confidence. Students will perform tricks with ropes, cards, rubber bands, paperclips, money, and even participate in a big illusion! Campers also will learn how to select music and write a script to go along with their presentation. At the end of the week, they will perform a live show for family and friends that surely will baffle and amaze!



Popular Play Reading Series Returns to Madison

WHERE: F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Ave., Madison (on the Drew University campus)
TICKETS: $18
Buy Tickets Now!

This Tony-nominated play, based on the novel that inspired the celebrated film of the same name, is something we're considering for a future production. Offer up your opinion after you hear our actors bring this tale about an idyllic and liberating Italian holiday to life. It was hailed "a magical triumph" by the Los Angeles Times.

Click here for directions to the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre and for information about FREE parking.

Whitehouse Wind Symphony Presents Free Outdoor Concert in Branchburg

Whitehouse Wind Symphony Logo

WHEN: Tuesday, June 26th, at 7:00pm
WHERE
: White Oak Park on Baird Street in Branchburg
ADMISSION: free; donations will be accepted to benefit the band, a non-profit group comprised entirely of volunteer musicians

The Whitehouse Wind Symphony, a community band under the direction of Branchburg resident James P. Sheeley, Jr., will give a free concert. The concert is presented by the Branchburg Department of Recreation. The program will feature patriotic selections and marches, music from Disney films and other films such as “Star Wars,” and from Broadway musicals such as “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Sound of Music.”

Audience members of all ages are encouraged to bring picnic blankets and chairs. In the event of inclement weather, the announcement to postpone or cancel this concert will be made on the band’s website (whitehousewindsymphony.org) and Facebook page (facebook.com/whitehousewind).

The Whitehouse Wind Symphony was founded by conductor emeritus Casey Bork on April 15, 1996.  It is dedicated to presenting the best in all varieties of wind band literature. Since its founding, the band has grown rapidly, attracting experienced musicians as regular members from all over New Jersey, as well as New York City and eastern Pennsylvania. It is now comprised of approximately 50 amateur and professional musicians who perform together regularly to enthusiastic audiences throughout central and northern New Jersey.  For more information, including information about future performances, please send an email to whitehousewindsymphony@gmail.com.

Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through funds administered by the Hunterdon County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

Dreamcatcher Jr. Summer Theatre Camp: just a few spots left!

WHEN: Classes run July 9 to 27, Monday - Friday, 9am to 3pm
WHERE:
Oakes Center, 120 Morris Ave., Summit

Dreamcatcher Junior is a three-week theatre experience in Summit, NJ. It combines building skills through study with theatre professionals in a variety of subjects with the opportunity for students to create and perform their own play.

Read more

http://www.dreamcatcherrep.org/#!summer-theatre-conservatory/ctfi

"The Dreamcatcher program continues to be one of the most positive experiences she engages in. She feels fully herself when she is there and the life skills she has learned in the program continually enhance her interactions out in the world." -Barbara Powers

Summer Jazz Series at Rutherfurd Hall starting July 27th at 7:30 pm: Get tickets now!

Jazz at Rutherfurd Hall - 2018 Summer Series
This series is expected to sell out!
The Big Bands have a limit of 110 seats for each event!
www.RutherfurdHall.org

Buy Now - Click here for online tickets at Rutherfurd Hall

Art Center and Summit Free Public Library Present Morgan O’Hara: Handwriting the Constitution

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Morgan O’Hara: Handwriting the Constitution

WHEN: Thursday, June 28, from 4–7 PM
WHERE: The Summit Free Public Library, 75 Maple Street, Summit, NJ, 07901.
All are invited to participate!

On Inauguration Day in January 2017, Morgan O’Hara sat in the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library and began to copy the United States Constitution by hand (above). Soon, others joined her, and by the end of her session, seven additional people had participated. She has held sessions every month since, with new people contributing each time. “Hand copying a document can produce an intimate connection to the text and its meaning,” said O’Hara. “The hand writer may discover things about this document that they never knew, a passage that challenges or moves them. They may even leave with a deeper connection to the founders and the country, or even a sense of encouragement. It is important for us to become more intensely aware of our rights as citizens so that, should history begin to impinge upon these rights, we will recognize what is happening in time to act.”

For more information, visit the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey at artcenternj.org and the Summit Free Public Library at summitlibrary.org. To set up a handwriting session, visit handwritingtheconstitution.com or email to handwritingtheconstitution@gmail.com.

About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
For 85 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center’s renowned studio school, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year.

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is located at 68 Elm Street in Summit, New Jersey. Adult and children’s group tours are available throughout the year. Gallery Hours:  Monday to Wednesday and Friday, 10 AM–5 PM; Thursday, 10 AM–8 PM; and Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM–4 PM. Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours. Visit artcenternj.org for more information.

Support
Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided in part by the Walter V. & Judith L. Shipley Family Foundation, the Wilf Family Foundations, and Art Center members and donors.

interACT Summer Camp Enrollment now open!

ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

WHEN: Aug 6-17, 2018
WHERE
: Baird in South Orange, 5 Mead St., South Orange NJ 07079

It's summertime which means interACT Theatre Productions Drama Camp is upon us! Children entering 2nd - 6th grades will learn acting, playwriting, musical theatre performance, choreography and other fundamental theatre skills. Working as an ensemble, the children will collaborate to create their own original theatre piece, which will be performed for an audience on the final day of camp! Camp will be under the instruction of SOMS' Music Teacher JAKE EZZO. Children may register for 1 or 2 weeks. Each week will have a similar format, but 2 completely different themes.

Registration is accepted through the Baird:

  • Week 1 Here
  • Week 2 Here
  • or in person at the Baird in South Orange, 5 Mead St., South Orange NJ 07079

Check Out What’s Happening in Morris County!

Morris County Park Commission

butterfly walkBUTTERFLY WALK WITH THE NORTH AMERICAN BUTTERFLY ASSOCIATION

June 22

Join experts on this walk through the beautiful meadows of Bamboo Brook in search of late spring butterflies. Click here to learn more.


beets COOKING DEMONSTRATION: BEETS CAN’T BE BEAT

June 24

Soup, salad, entree, and even dessert. We make an entire meal based on this one versatile vegetable – the beet. Check it out here.



open gates

MORRIS COUNTY COMMUNITY GARDEN OPEN GATES WEEKEND

July 14 & 15

Discover the beauty and diversity of Morris County’s Community Gardens through the people, plants, and planting techniques that make gardens thrive. Tour the many gardens, discover how to start one in your town, and learn more about growing your own food. I want to learn more.


tiny totsTINY TOT TUESDAYS

Tuesdays: July 10-31

Explore the sandy beach and beautiful water of Sunrise Lake with your toddler on select Tuesday mornings in July, while enjoying exclusive access before the lakes open to the public. This special program is designed for children age 4 and under. Click here for more info.