Category Archives: Two River Theater

On the way to Two River Theater’s ‘Forum,’ things got much, much funnier


Two River Theater’s “Forum” isn’t just funny, it’s hysterical, hilarious, uproarious, delirious, crazy. It’s a scream with plenty of that coming from both the stage and the audience. With an all-male cast, the 1962 musical comedy hit under the superb direction of Jessica Stone seems like a new show for modern times.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing not to like about this show that continues in Red Bank (NJ) through Dec.13. I’m hoping to catch another performance myself.

Continue reading On the way to Two River Theater’s ‘Forum,’ things got much, much funnier

Superb ‘Seven Guitars’ extends 2 River’s journey with August Wilson

The full company of August Wilson’s "Seven Guitars" at Two River Theater. From left: Charlie Hudson III (Red Carter), Brittany Bellizeare (Ruby), Crystal A. Dickinson (Louise), Jason Dirden (Canewell), Kevin Mambo (Floyd Barton), Christina Acosta Robinson (Vera), and Brian D. Coats (Hedley).  PHOTO: T Charles Erickson
August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” at Two River Theater features, from left, Charlie Hudson III (Red Carter), Brittany Bellizeare (Ruby), Crystal A. Dickinson (Louise), Jason Dirden (Canewell), Kevin Mambo (Floyd Barton), Christina Acosta Robinson (Vera), and Brian D. Coats (Hedley). PHOTO: T Charles Erickson

“Seven Guitars,” the 1940s segment of August Wilson’s 20th century Pittsburgh Cycle, is receiving a glorious staging at the Two River Theatre Company in Red Bank (NJ) through Oct. 4.

The company has a knack for hiring good people to mount and perform in its shows and should be applauded for signing  Brandon J. Dirden for his directorial debut. (As an actor we saw him here in 2012’s “Jitney” and  “Topdog/Underdog,” and earlier this year in the world premiere of  Reuben Santiago-Hudson‘s “You’re Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine.” Two River doesn’t always take the safest route to fill seats, which is just one reason why this company is so very interesting.

Continue reading Superb ‘Seven Guitars’ extends 2 River’s journey with August Wilson

‘Be More Chill’ speaks to teens about being cool, and its consequences

Will Connolly (center) stars as Jeremy Heere in the world premiere of "Be More Chill" at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The company includes, from left: Paul Whitty, Gerard Canonico, Lauren Marcus, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Hsu, Jake Boyd and Katlyn Carlson. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson Photography)
Will Connolly (center) stars as Jeremy Heere in the world premiere of “Be More Chill” at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The company includes, from left: Paul Whitty, Gerard Canonico, Lauren Marcus, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Hsu, Jake Boyd and Katlyn Carlson. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson Photography)

If you were in high school, knew you would never be a  cool kid, never get a date, always getting shoved into lockers and labeled a loser — would you take a pill that could reverse all of that?

Well, duh, of course!

In the world premiere of the dynamic new musical “Be More Chill” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank (NJ) through June 21, Jeremy Heere learns there is a way out of nerddom and grabs it with gusto.

Continue reading ‘Be More Chill’ speaks to teens about being cool, and its consequences

World premiere musical ‘Be More Chill’ opens tonight at Two River

 

For actor Gerard Canonico, hitting the sweet spot is all  about artistic collaboration and a new, edgy musical is the best way to achieve that goal.

Tonight he opens in the world premiere of “Be More Chill,” a new musical with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz being staged by the Two River Theater company in Red Bank, NJ

It’s based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini about a high school student who considers himself a loser, is tormented by bullies, invisible to girls.  Then he learns about “squips”—a quantum computer in pill form that once ingested communicates with your brain. It could be his ticket to the high school hero highway.

Continue reading World premiere musical ‘Be More Chill’ opens tonight at Two River

2 River Theater schedules all-male ‘Forum,’ plus all-female ‘I Remember Mama’

The Two River Theater company announced its 2015-2016 season Monday night before an applause-happy crowd and it includes an all-male Plautus-inspired production of “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” and an all-female staging of “I Remember Mama” in which none of the 10 actresses are under age 65.

Now that’s something you don’t see very often at the country’s top regional theaters.

Continue reading 2 River Theater schedules all-male ‘Forum,’ plus all-female ‘I Remember Mama’

Two River Theater invites public to chill with regular free events

Exterior night image of Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank, NJ.
Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank, NJ.

Nonprofit theaters around the country have been adding value to their brand for years with such things as pre- and-post-performance talks. Two River Theater in Red Bank (NJ) has really thrown itself into building a community by offering lots of free audience-pleasing events other than a 6-play season.

Image of Two River Theater's artistic director John Dias.
Two River Theater’s artistic director John Dias.

On Monday (May 11) the regional theater, under the artistic direction of John Dias, announces its 2015-’16 season. But instead of sending out a press release to local media, the public is invited  to reserve a free ticket in the 399-seat main stage space and hear what’s on the schedule from the directors, artistic staff, and actors who will be part of the season. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event is followed by a reception.

Continue reading Two River Theater invites public to chill with regular free events

‘Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine’ tackles tough talk about race in USA


No matter how much you study the Harlem Renaissance or the Great Migration, read books by famous black authors or listen to Thelonius Monk, you will not really know what it is like to be black in America unless you are black.

But Judith, an earnest, well-educated white woman in Ruben Santiago-Hudson‘s exciting new play “Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine,” believes she can.  Zeke, a black man working at a homeless shelter, knows that she can not.

This is the fulcrum on which this play revolves. Like an approaching  tornado, the 100-minute play begins calmly. But soon we feel a change in the air as an ill wind begins to pick up. Before you know it the tempest hits full force — metaphorically twisting words and meanings and intent — before it quickly passes leaving bewilderment and resentment in its wake. It’s a wild ride that ends too quickly and without resolution.

Continue reading ‘Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine’ tackles tough talk about race in USA

Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s new play about race now at Two River Theater

 

Looking forward to seeing Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s “Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine,” a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race this weekend at Two River Theater. It couldn’t be more timely with an upcoming presidential election and news cycles that often include stories of black men being killed by white cops.

Running through May 3 at the regional theater in Red Bank, NJ, the world-premiere wants audiences to stay for post-play discussions following every performance. That’s certainly one way to get people of various races together to talk.

Written and directed by Tony Award-winner Santiago-Hudson, the 90-minute play centers on an  Upper West Side dinner party invitation that brings an unlikely group together. Two River’s website says it “… brings humor and poignancy to one of the most potent conversations in American life. In our shared history, we all sing the blues. But are your blues sweet like mine?”

Continue reading Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s new play about race now at Two River Theater

Actor Michael Cumpsty shows ‘slap-sticky’ side at Two River Theater

Image, from left, Michael Cumpsty (Ronald), Mary Birdsong (Marion), Scott Drummond  (Geoffrey) and Liz Wisan (Eva) in Absurd Person Singular at Two River Theater.
From left, Michael Cumpsty (Ronald), Mary Birdsong (Marion), Scott Drummond (Geoffrey) and Liz Wisan (Eva) in Absurd Person Singular at Two River Theater. (T Charles Erickson Photography)

“English” actor Michael Cumpsty has only appeared once in a professional theater production in the country where he was born. The rest of his career in major movies, major TV series and major Broadway plays and musicals has been on this side of the Atlantic.

The Tony-nominated actor currently is appearing at Red Bank’s Two River Theater in the six-character ensemble comedy “Absurd Person Singular” through Feb. 1.

Continue reading Actor Michael Cumpsty shows ‘slap-sticky’ side at Two River Theater

Michael Cumpsty talks about life as an actor on Broadway, in New Jersey

Image of  Rebecca Hall as Young Woman and Michael Cumpsty as Husband in 'Machinal'
Rebecca Hall as Young Woman and Michael Cumpsty as Husband in “Machinal” on Broadway, which ran from Jan. 16 through March 2, 2014.

One of the great things about being a journalist is access. You get to talk to lots of folks that others can’t. For me, that means conversing with theater people. Today, that meant talking to Michael Cumpsty, who starts previews Saturday in the Two River Theater Company’s “Absurd Person Singular” by Alan Ayckbourn.

Continue reading Michael Cumpsty talks about life as an actor on Broadway, in New Jersey