Category Archives: Two River Theater

‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ opens in two weeks at Two River Theater

Poster image for "Dancing at St. Patrick’s Day is in the rearview mirror but two weeks from today Brain Friel’s  “Dancing at Lughnasa,” winner of the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, begins performances at Two River Theater in Red Bank. Opening night is April 20.

Friel’s play — set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa — is considered a modern masterpiece about the Mundy sisters, five unmarried women who live together in County Donegal, on the west coast of Ireland. Their brother, Father Jack, has just returned from 25 years as a missionary in Uganda.

The story is based on the memories of the narrator, Michael, the grown-up illegitimate son of one of the sisters. He also speaks the lines of his 7-year-old self about that summer, when everything seemed to be on the brink of change. Continue reading ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ opens in two weeks at Two River Theater

Two River adjusts season so Santiago-Hudson can helm NYC ‘Othello’

Exterior of Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ.
Exterior of Two River Theater Company in
Red Bank, NJ.

Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, is swapping out  “Ooo-Bla-Dee,”  written by Regina Taylor and the last play of the season  (June 9-July 1), for “Songbird,” written by Michael Kimmel with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchards, so that Ruben Santiago-Hudson  can make his directorial debut at Shakespeare in the Park with “Othello” in Manhattan.

Well that certainly beats “My dog ate my script” excuse. And congrats Mr. RSH. Hope to snag one of those free tickets this summer

Santiago-Hudson was nominated in 2017 for a Tony for Best Direction of a Play for “Jitney,” which also featured Two River Theater regular Brandon J. Dirden. Continue reading Two River adjusts season so Santiago-Hudson can helm NYC ‘Othello’

Comic book hero El Coqui stars in new Latino play at NJ’S Two River Theater

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El Coqui, a small nocturnal arboreal frog native to Puerto Rico with a  high-pitched call that was introduced into Hawaii and southern Florida, now has invaded New Jersey.

But in this case El Coquí is a human-sized Puerto Rican superhero who gets his power from a vejigante carnival mask in the world premiere play “El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank now through Feb. 4.

Written by Matt Barbot and directed by Jose  Zayas, the play questions individual and national identity and explores what it means to be Latino or not Latino enough in contemporary America via the superhero/comic book genre. Continue reading Comic book hero El Coqui stars in new Latino play at NJ’S Two River Theater

Two River Theater’s staging of ‘Earnest’ is absolutely delightful

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It’s always amazed me how insults delivered with an upper-class English accent don’t sound so harsh.

For instance, “I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result,” which appears in Act II of the laugh-a-minute  comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde.

Yes, Wilde was Irish, not English, and not upper class. As one of the best-known personalities of his day and one of the greatest wits of all time, his words held up a mirror to the rigid and, at times , severe class system of late Victorian England while writing one of the funniest plays ever. Continue reading Two River Theater’s staging of ‘Earnest’ is absolutely delightful

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ cast deliver performances in a play not to be missed

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“You people,” says the man from the all-white Clybourne Park Welcoming Committee — repeatedly —to the Younger family living in a one-bedroom rundown apartment on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s.

He’s so polite that the Younger family, at first, believe Mr. Lindner (Nat DeWolf) is sincere until it becomes clear he’s not. He’s there to offer them more money than the purchase price of their new three-bedroom house so that their neighborhood won’t be sullied by black people.

The dream of leaving a cramped cockroach invested apartment where the shared bathroom is down the hall, for an airy suburban home with a yard waiting for a garden, is so visceral it took them a few minutes to realize his visit was about race, not open arms.

Continue reading ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ cast deliver performances in a play not to be missed

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ opens tonight at Two River Theater in Red Bank

The Younger family's hope for achieving their dreams is at the center of "A Raisin In the Sun" featuring Jasmine Batchelor (Beneatha Younger), Owen Tabaka (Travis Younger), Brenda Pressley (Lena Younger), Brandon J. Dirden (Walter Lee Younger) and Crystal A. Dickinson (Ruth Younger) in at Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO) T Charles Erickson
The Younger family’s hope for achieving their dreams is at the center of “A Raisin In the Sun” featuring Jasmine Batchelor (Beneatha Younger), Owen Tabaka (Travis Younger), Brenda Pressley (Lena Younger), Brandon J. Dirden (Walter Lee Younger) and Crystal A. Dickinson (Ruth Younger) in at Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO) T Charles Erickson

“Raisin in the Sun” opens tonight at the Two River Theater Company in Red Bank with a cast that would do a Broadway production proud. It includes Jasmine Batchelor (Beneatha Younger), Nat DeWolf (Karl Lindner), Crystal A. Dickinson (Ruth Younger), Brandon J. Dirden (Walter Lee Younger), Willie Dirden (Bobo), Charlie Hudson III (Joseph Asagai), Brenda Pressley (Lena Younger), Owen Tabaka (Travis Younger), and York Walker (George Murchison). Andrew Binger and David Joel Rivera play the Moving Men.

Continue reading ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ opens tonight at Two River Theater in Red Bank

‘Ballad of Little Jo’ opens tonite at Two River Theater in Red Bank

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Cindi Lauper is writing the songs for the upcoming “Working Girl” Broadway musical. Cher’s life and career is to be the source of a 2018 Broadway show. But long before that, another woman was making her  way in a man’s world (even if she was incognito) and her story was adapted for the stage as “The Ballad of Little Jo.”

The  musical first staged in 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company — based on a real story made into a 1993 movie of the same title written and directed by Maggie Greenwald — continues through Sunday, June 25, at the Two River Theater Company, 21 Bridge St., Red Bank, NJ.

Set in the late 19th century, “The Ballad of Little Jo” is inspired by a real-life story of American optimism, according to the press release, and infused with a score that evokes the folk ballads of pioneer America. It tells the story of a woman named Josephine Monaghan, originally from Boston and where unmarried  pregnant daughters are banished as disgraceful, makes her way to a tough Idaho mining town where she lived as a man called “Jo” for nearly 20 years.

Continue reading ‘Ballad of Little Jo’ opens tonite at Two River Theater in Red Bank

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