The creative cabal behind L!VE Asbury Park — Carlos Armesto, Alecia Brooks and Michael Thomas Murray — have announced their inaugural season, and it kicks off later this month with a special one-night show at The Press Room.
“We’re the Dream Team!” enthused Carlos Armesto from the stage of The Press Room, the Bruce-blessed, downtown AP destination rockbar co-owned by Alecia Brooks. “We know we’re gonna do this…we’re confident that we have the support and know-how to get it all done!”
That’s the sort of supercharged, uber-the-top language that begs backing up under most any circumstances — but when the speaker is the founder of NYC’s theatre C and the guy who’s directed several of the most dynamite professional stage productions ever seen round these parts, well, we’re listening; we’re listening.
The occasion was a little thing called IGNITION!, the official launch party for L!VE Asbury Park — the newly formed, not-for-profit theater and entertainment concern which, as reported back in January on upperWETside, is gearing up to present its inaugural slate of musically-minded stage shows here in various corners of the city Where Music Lives. Armesto (the troupe’s Artistic Director) and Brooks (Creative Producer) were joined last week at the Bangs Ave watering hole by fellow members of the L!VE Board of Directors (including board prexy Robert Weiner), as well as resident music impresario Michael Thomas Murray and a roomful of invited guests, dignitaries and wellwishers. When the fuse was lit, the crowd got a luminous look at the first of the events to sail under the L!VE banner.
Kirsten Holly Smith IS Dusty Springfield, when L!VE Asbury Park pays tribute to the late ‘n iconic White Queen of Soul on Saturday, March 24 — and Bob Angelini IS the new interim Artistic Direcotr of Asbury’s ReVision Theatre Company.
Even if you know little to nothing about the late British pop singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dusty Springfield, you’ve heard her signature hits from the 1960s — the Mod bubblegum bounce of “I Only Want to Be with You” and “Wishin & Hopin;” the Bacharach cool of “The Look of Love;” the dramatic sweep of “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me;” the soulful stance of “Son of a Preacher Man.” Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover the seminal LP Dusty in Memphis; her connections to artists ranging from The Carpenters to Led Zeppelin; her standing as an out ‘n proud public figure that helped give her career a late-1980s boost when she collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on “What Have I Done To Deserve This?“
Dig even deeper and you’ll no doubt have been converted to the First Church of Springfield by that point — all the more reason to break for The Press Room on the night of Saturday, March 24, the setting for the first rock-musical show presented under the L!VE banner, An Evening with Dusty Springfield.
Actress-singer-writer Kirsten Holly Smith — a specialist in all things Dusty who’s developed and starred in her own Springfield jukebox stage bio (a venture co-produced by CSI’s Jorja Fox!) — will be delivering a cross-generational cross-section of hits, backed with the full faith and fury of a band led by maestro Murray, who’s been closely involved with the show’s development toward a possible Off Broadway run. Admission for this show’s a mere five bucks general admission; keep looking in on the L!VE website for more details.
The nights of June 22, 23 and 24 are scheduled to see the first fully staged offering from the L!VE laboratory — a production of John Cameron Mitchell’s glam/camp 1990s Off Broadway howler Hedwig and the Angry Inch for which the host venue has yet to be announced. Towering inferno Chris Hall joined Murray and combo on stage to belt out several selections from Hedwig — and while Hall’s name hasn’t been formally attached to the project, it’s a natural fit for the actor/singer who cut a memorable figure as Frank N. Furter in ReVision Theatre‘s 2010 production of The Rocky Horror Show. Stay tuned for the pertinents on this “exciting interactive experience.”
On July 21, the little-but-loud 2012 L!VE season climaxes with a “major, major, huge blowout fundraiser concert” spotlighting one of the successful properties that Armesto, Brooks and Murray worked on together for ReVision — The Who’s Tommy, presented at the Paramount Theater in a concert format that Armesto promises will “pick it up fifty notches, with a gospel choir and everything.” Proceeds from the one-nighter (deep details on which will surface soon enough) will benefit the L!VE company’s future programs — an ambitious vision that encompasses a full season of four mainstage shows, a workshop series, and an educational program operated in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth County (soon to relocate its own operations to Asbury Park).
“Asbury Park gets us,” said Armesto, whose other ReVision team-ups with Brooks and Murray include the musical gang drama Kingdom and a spectacularly satisfying Spring Awakening. “There’s such an amazing singular vision in this town, and you guys get what we’re trying to accomplish.”
THIS JUST IN: Speaking of ReVision Theatre Company, the professional company that made its homestage at Asbury’s quirky roundhouse Carousel building for the past few seasons endured some agonizin’ ReAppraisals of its own following the resignation of all three Producing Partners prior to the completion of the 2011 schedule (a slate that wrapped in December with a scaled-back staging of A Christmas Survival Guide).
That show’s co-director Bob Angelini, who many of you might know as the longtime artistic director of Ocean Township High School’s West Park Players — and still others might know as a detective with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, an office from which he recently retired — has accepted the position of Interim Artistic Director for the upcoming 2012 slate of ReVision offerings, a fifth anniversary season that’s due to be announced sometime in early Spring. A veteran board member and occasional cast member (ReV’s Full Monty, yet), the Ocean resident has directed for Phoenix Productions and other area troupes — and “retirement” to him apparently means a stepped-up level of activity as a professional actor (he’s been seen on TV’s 30 Rock, PanAm and Blue Bloods) and director (2011′s The Fourth State of Matter at NYC’s Theater for the New City).
Angelini, whose 2007 high school production of The Laramie Project made regional headlines (basically, the principal was being a dick), goes on record as “humbled by ReVision Theatre’s confidence in me…I look forward to leading ReVision’s milestone fifth season and keeping our loyal supporters entertained throughout the year.”