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.”
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.
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?→
The 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?
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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?