Category Archives: Two River Theater

Last weekend to catch Two River Theater’s ‘Women of Padilla’

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Tony Meneses new play, “The Women of Padilla,” is about eight women who are married to eight brothers who are away fighting an unknown war for an unknown cause that seems never-ending.

The title refers to the family’s last name and seven of the women spend hours together daily talking, eating, arguing, and laughing in a series of short scenes during the 90-minute play featuring an all-Latina cast. Continue reading Last weekend to catch Two River Theater’s ‘Women of Padilla’

Bedlam director delivers darker ‘Merry Wives’ at Two River Theater

Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O'Connell and Nicole Lewis in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)
Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O’Connell and Nicole Lewis in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)

The second the lights come up on the set of the Two River Theater’s  “The Merry Wives of Windsor” you know this production is not your grandmother’s Shakespeare.

Sir John Falstaff (Jason O’Connell) is handcuffed to a bed with a ball gag in his mouth and wearing very little else. Mistress Ford (Nicole Lewis), in black baby-doll lingerie, stands next to the bed holding a gun.

The location is a seedy motel room strewn with clothes, liquor bottles, and garbage. It’s decorated with bulls’ horns, paint-by-number art, and a multi-colored carpet that hides all stains. Projected on the wall are the words “Right Now.”

Continue reading Bedlam director delivers darker ‘Merry Wives’ at Two River Theater

‘Lion in Winter’ to roar at Two River Theater

Dee Hoty (Eleanor of Aquitaine) and Michael Cumpsty (Henry II) in "The Lion in Winter" at Two River Theater directed by Tyne Rafaeli, lighting by Jennifer Tipton, scenic Design by Kristen Robinson and costumes by Andrea Hood. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson)
Dee Hoty (Eleanor of Aquitaine) and Michael Cumpsty (Henry II) in “The Lion in Winter” at Two River Theater directed by Tyne Rafaeli, lighting by Jennifer Tipton,
scenic Design by Kristen Robinson and
costumes by Andrea Hood. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson)

Between them, actors Michael Cumpsty and Dee Hoty have been in 29 Broadway shows and earned four Tony Award nominations.

They pop up often as guest stars on TV shows filmed in and around the New York metro area, including “Blue Bloods,” “Law and Order,” “Elementary,” “Madam Secretary” and “Smash.” They also do the occasional feature films.

Asked what they prefer doing, the answer was a resounding “being on the stage,” especially in regional theaters such as the Two River Theater where they open tomorrow night in “The Lion in Winter” in the lead roles of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Continue reading ‘Lion in Winter’ to roar at Two River Theater

Theater jobs: What is a Director of Production?

Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor's dress from its current production of "The Lion In Winter" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.
Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor’s dress from its current production of “The Lion In Winter” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.

Wonder what some of those titles in your theater program mean? Meet Lauren Kurinskas, Director of Production at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. No, she doesn’t direct the play, but she tells a lot of people behind the scenes what to do.

She joined the company in April 2012 as an Associate Production Manager and was promoted to her current job in October 2013. She handles all aspects of the shows staged by the professional theater company, which includes helping to create the season schedule and making sure each set is built on time; liaison between artistic and technical staff; oversee a staff of 23, plus find housing for visiting artists and facility rentals; running meetings and participating in long-term planning. Whew! Continue reading Theater jobs: What is a Director of Production?

Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

Crossing Borders logoThe 2016 Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, launches tomorrow. It’s a 5-day celebration (Aug. 3,-7) of new plays by Latino writers with food and music. And it’s free. What’s not to like?

Two River’s outreach year-round within  its community is exemplary, especially to area Latinos and African-Americans. It’s what all nonprofit theaters should be doing. Continue reading Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

‘I Remember Mama’ at Two River Theater is a Mama you will remember

If you want to know what else there is to be learned from the old play “I Remember Mama,” visit its current non-traditional production at Two River Theater that ends on Sunday. Bring your mom, if you’re still lucky to have one.

“I Remember Mama,” based on Kathryn Forbes’  memoir “Mama’s Bank Account,” was adapted for the Broadway stage by John Van Druten (1944), who turned ; turned into a movie (1948) and TV series (1950s), before returning to Broadway (1979) as a musical lasting a mere 108 performances.

Continue reading ‘I Remember Mama’ at Two River Theater is a Mama you will remember

Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline plan live podcast to raise money for 2 River Theater

Kevin Kline (left) and Michael Palin in a scene from the film "A Fish Called Wanda." Kline earned a Best Supporting Oscar for the role.
Kevin Kline (left) and Michael Palin in a scene from the film “A Fish Called Wanda.” Kline earned a Best Supporting Oscar for the role.

Alec Baldwin returns to the main stage at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ,  on June 20 with actor Kevin Kline to tape an interview for the his podcast, “Here’s the Thing.”

His last public visit at the highly respected and adventurous regional theater company was for a 2011  fund-raising event “Alec Baldwin, Michael Cumpsty Unplugged.”  That sold out.

Continue reading Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline plan live podcast to raise money for 2 River Theater

Two River Theater’s ‘Pericles’ an epic theatrical event

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OK. Let’s just say it up front. “Pericles” is a play with problems and  almost nobody understands it. It’s one of Shakespeare’s last plays and some scholars believe he had a not-too-talented collaborator for half of it. It’s hardly ever staged because it doesn’t sell well.

But none of that deterred the Two River Theater company in Red Bank, NJ, from putting it on their  adventurous 2015-16 season schedule that includes an all-male “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” and the upcoming all-female “I Remember Mama.”

Continue reading Two River Theater’s ‘Pericles’ an epic theatrical event

2 River Theater reveals 2016-17 season with classics, and new works

Two River Theater tonight announced its 2016-2017 season, which  includes Michael Cumptsy as Henry II in “The Lion in Winter” and Ruben Santiago-Hudson directing August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”  Cumpsty and Santiago-Hudson, comfortable on NYC stages, bring their Broadway level work to regional theaters. Both men are returning to what they consider their second home which 2River fans are happy about.

Continue reading 2 River Theater reveals 2016-17 season with classics, and new works

2 River Theater’s ‘Ropes’ ties together 1 estranged father and 3 brothers

Mexican playwright Barbara Colio has written a work translated by Maria Alexandria Beech that is a universal story about forgiveness, love, and loss as three brothers accept an invitation from their estranged father watch him create his greatest tightrope walking stunt ever. It features (from left) Luis Moreno as Presley, Varín Ayala as Paul, and Gabriel Gutiérrez as Prince. (PHOTO) T Charles Erickson
“Ropes” features (from left) Luis Moreno as Presley, Varín Ayala as Paul, and Gabriel Gutiérrez as Prince. (PHOTO) T Charles Erickson

“Ropes,” a new play, is about three brothers who rarely talk or see each other but come together at their estranged father’s behest to travel thousands of miles to see him walk a tightrope one last time.

Written by Latin American playwright Bárbara Colio, translated by Maria Alexandria Beech, and directed by Lisa Rothe, this work could be about three brothers from any country in the world.

It focusses on siblings who still remember hurts and slights from childhood, are wildly different from each other as adults, who briefly join together in a united journey while bickering the entire time, and return home somewhat changed but still questioning their places in their world.

This play was part of Two River’s 2013 Crossing Borders festival of new Latino plays where then, and now, English- and  Spanish-language performances are scheduled. But there is nothing overtly Spanish about this work. These guys could be Russian, Australian or  American. While almost all of its 80 minutes is set in airports, we don’t know which ones. The ultimate destination is never mentioned. Do any of them live in a Spanish-speaking country?  It’s baffling to me, but, whatever.

The sons are named after famous singers:

— Luis Moreno plays Presley, the eldest son and a successful businessman in construction. He has a wife he loves, but he doesn’t want to be a father — yet. She isn’t much liked by his siblings and the feeling is mutual. He bought them all first class plane tickets, dresses expensively and expects to lead.

— Varin Ayala plays Paul (the cute Beatle), the middle brother who is one year younger that Presley and acts kind of like a referee. We don’t know what he does for a living but repeatedly reminds dos brothers he doesn’t have enough vacation time to get together often. He’s lonely and would like to meet the woman whom he sees from his balcony every day walking her dog.

— Gabriel Gutierrez is Prince, three years younger than Presley, who blames his constant crying as a baby for driving  their father out of the family. If Prince has a job, he never talks about it. He takes his shoes off ever chance, dresses casual, travels with a backpack only, and wears his hair in a top knot. He has a terminally ill girlfriend.

In "Ropes," three brothers rendezvous at an airport to travel to meet the father who abandoned them as children and now is the most famous tightrope walker of all time. The sons are played by Gabriel Gutierrez (from left) as Prince, the youngest brother; Varín Ayala as Paul, the middle brother, and Luis Moreno as Presley, the oldest brother.(PHOTO) T Charles Erickson
In “Ropes,” three brothers rendezvous at an airport to travel to meet the father who abandoned them as children and now is the most famous tightrope walker of all time. The sons are played by Gabriel Gutierrez (from left) as Prince; Varín Ayala as Paul, and Luis Moreno as Presley. (PHOTO) T Charles Erickson

These siblings really don’t seem to have anything in common except for their father and crazy cat-loving mother who only talks to Paul and, he says, only responds in monosyllables. No wonder they never socialize. If it sounds depressing.

It’s only after the three men get into a physical fight with each other, miss their connecting flight, and get drunk in the airport bar do they seem to get along. And they mostly talk about their dad, the guy who wants them to see his greatest and last stunt as a tightrope. walker … excuse me, aerial artist.

There is not much mystery about how the show will end. And whether the siblings will ever get together for that talked about trip to their old lake home in a red convertible — which sounds like a great idea — seems very unlikely.

The actors all are fine in roles that don’t have much depth. Director Lisa Rothe makes good use of the small Marion Huber Theater, a black box that seats maybe 80 people for this play.

Nacelle Sissons’ set is minimalistic but fascinating, especially with lighting by Mary Louise Geiger. The audience sits at an angle and a long concourse-like airport walkway runs in front of us, also at an angle. It’s about three feet off the ground with airport doors behind it far right and left. Open-air boxes serves as seats and are moved around. Above the stage are three tightropes. Each is headed in the same direction but at different heights and different angles, never touching. They remind me of the three brothers — moving forward, just not on the same path. Do these ropes bind them together or pull them apart?

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