MAX WEINBERG is THINKING INSIDE the (Juke)BOX

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, June 14 2018

In a seven-day Asbury interlude that boasts no less than Bruce Springsteen among its headlining musical attractions, why opt to spend Saturday night hovering over a jukebox stocked with very-well-played 1960s and 70s hits?

Why? Because the hit-dispensing device in question is Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, the people-pleasing project personally curated and conducted by Max Weinberg himself. For this raucously retro-rocking (and hyper-currently interactive) touring attraction, the dapper timelord who’s long steered the back of the firetruck for the E Street Hook ‘n Ladder Company has secured the expert services of Messrs. Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, and John Merjave — together comprising three of The Weeklings (profiled a few weeks back in this space), and collectively joining with Mighty Max to form a Kollege of Musical Kno’ledge whose fab faculty wrote the book when it comes to encyclopedic mastery of the rock, pop ‘n roll canon.

With a setlist determined by the audience’s choices from a video menu of some 300 songs (including a bunch of Springsteen selections, although no “Born to Run”), the act that takes the stage of the Stone Pony on June 16 claims its immediate origins in an idea from Weinberg’s manager Mark Stein — plus a bit of acknowledged inspiration from a 1986 Elvis Costello tour, in which the set was shaped by spinning a giant Wheel of Songs. But its roots draw from every aspect of the drummer’s career; from his singular stewardship of the E Street beat, to his long tenure as a network talk-show bandleader, and (perhaps most importantly) his formative years “growing up as a Jersey musician.”

“As a drummer, playing those 9 pm to 2 am club dates, you had to know how to play everything…Dixieland, cha cha, merengue…and whatever was playing on the radio, which was extraordinary eclectic in those days,” says the North Jersey native who famously honed his chops in contexts that ranged from Broadway pit orchestras, to one of the region’s leading bar mitzvah bands.

“I enjoyed impersonating other drummers…and I had a knack for where if I heard a song just once or twice, I’d learn it.”

With his early pre-Bruce forays into the land of the fast-thinking, hard-working cover bands — and his 40-plus years affiliation with a superstar songsmith who’s never been shy about working some of his own fave record-party oldies into his live sets (“Quarter to Three,” “Twist and Shout,” “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck”) — Weinberg bore unique witness to the universal power of a well-placed, generational touchstone tune. And when the “classic Jersey bar band” found itself performing for crowds of more than 100,000 in places like Barcelona, another special bit of dialogue between musicians and audience began to manifest itself. Continue reading

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IT’S A SEVEN DAY WEEKEND FOR MUSIC FANS, JUNE 14-20

From classic Disco, Celtic punk and showband Soul — to Western swing, Millennial folk-alt-pop and even Gypsy dub — the days and nights to come represent a “seven day weekend” of sonic options in and around the bars, boards, bistros and bowling alleys of Asbury Park (or, looked at a different way, “just another week” here in that place Where Music Lives). So, even if you weren’t one of the lucky-lotto winners for a chance to see Bruce Springsteen perform the bottled-bubbly re-launch of the refitted SS Asbury Lanes, there’s still plenty of uber-classic to ultra-contemporary sounds for the asking (including the present-tense projects of not one but two Bruce-band drummers), and we’ve got a crazy calendar countdown of the highlights right here and now — along with a couple of exciting things happening in the realm of modern classic films and pop art nouveau — with the full accounting of weekly listings appearing in the printed pages of Asbury’s fightin’ fun-tab, The COASTER!

THURSDAY, June 14 delivers a special-treat act from ‘cross the pond to the sidewalkside windows of the Wonder Bar, when the long-running Leedsmen The New Mastersounds bring their organ-driven brand of so-cool-it’s-hot funk grooves to the Asbury circuit, on a perfect-matchup bill that finds the Shore’s own Hammond B-3 flying ace Matt Wade joining local funk-faves Waiting for Mongo for an opener set that’s an organ-ic meal in itself. Doors open at 8 pm, with tix ($25) reservable at wonderbarasburypark.com.

Meanwhile, over at downtown’s awesomely all-purpose auditorium House of Independents, the band MACK play what’s being billed as their final show, on a Thrillsday bill with Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, The Burns and Tula Vera. Doors open at 7:30 pm, with eminently affordable $10 admission gettable at houseofindependents.com or in person/across the street at Lola’s European Café.

Working a territory that spans everything from bordertown Tex-Mex to Music Row country to the Latin-infused sounds of their native Miami, the Grammy winning, ultra-eclectic band of roots rockers The Mavericks have resisted easy branding every bit as much as their namesake livestock — but on FRIDAY, June 15, Raul Malo and the 2018 lineup of the long-established band (reunited a few years back to great) find themselves corralled for a couple of hours inside that venerable venue the Paramount Theater. Still riding the momentum of their 2017 self-release Brand New Day, the band takes the stage in an 8 pm show for which tickets ($18-$37) are available from ticketmaster.com.

The night starts at the earlybird hour of 4:30 pm, when the gates of the Stone Pony SummerStage swing open for an outdoor outing by the LA-based dance-pop (by way of neo-soul) six piece Fitz and the Tantrums. The combo co-fronted by Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs appears with the X Ambassadors in a show for which tickets ($35 advance/ $45 d.o.s.) are at stoneponyonline.com.

Arguably the most unusual match-up of venue and vaudeville within the busy week happens at the Lakehouse complex HQ of The Asbury Park Music Foundation at 7 pm, when The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd Anthony Fantano brings his brand of hip hop hilarity (purveyed under his alter ego Cal Chuchesta) and multi-media mayhem (courtesy of his award winning vlog The Needle Drop) to a fundraiser event on behalf of the Asbury Park Music Foundation’s educational programs, with admission ($15 advance; $20 d.o.s.; $40 VIP option) gettable from the APMF website.

Over at the space-age saucer that was the legendary boardwalk HoJo’s, original Springsteen Band drummer (and R&R Hall o’ Famer) Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez joins fellow Shore scene stalwart Paul Whistler in their dynamic duo project Dawg Whistle, downstairs at Robinson Ale House, while Bruce backing vocalist Layonne Holmes joins the ten-piece showband Motor City Revue for a topside turn at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club. Both sets start at 8 pm, with admission to the upstairs show priced at $20.

Speaking of the Dropkick Murphys — which we will be, momentarily — former DMs vocalist Mike McColgan brings his Boston-bred Street Dogs to the House of Indies for an 8:30 pm set and a $16 ticket…while garage-goth Britpunks The Horrors (pictured) make their local debut, bringing everybody down (but in a good way) at the newly ball-polished Asbury Lanes, in a 9 pm set for which tix ($18) can be gotten at asburylanes.com…then at 10 pm, the latterday landmark Langosta Lounge brings back the one-of-a-kind singing cowboy sounds of Jet Weston and His Atomic Ranch Hands to the boardwalk restaurant’s stage, for a set of truly vintage country-western crooners that’s unlike anything else you’ll experience Shoreside this season.

Then, at the party-starting hour of 11 pm, connoisseurs of classic DISCO are encouraged to take it just a few dance steps into nearby Neptune (and a couple of hours later into the heart of the nightlife), where The Headliner musters up a must-see bill honoring the numerous influences that supercharged modern club dance music in the 1970s and 80s. It’s a three-for-all highlighted by Carol Douglas, whose trailblazing hit “Doctor’s Orders” rewrote the prescription for danceable R&B way back in 1974 — and the beat continues nonstop with Cory Daye, (pictured), whose vocals helped put the swing into the Dr. Buzzard blockbuster “Cherchez La Femme” in 1976 (as well as subsequent solo outings and projects with Kid Creole and the Coconuts). Representing the early 1980s is the 21st century incarnation of Lime, the Quebecois dance-synth duo whose hitmaking legacy (“Your Love,” “Babe We’re Gonna Love Tonight”) survived the divorce of original husband-wife members Denis and Denys LePage — as well as Denis’s transgender rebranding — through the onstage performances of singers Rob Hubertz and Joy Dorris.

SATURDAY, June 16 brings some legendary localoids back to the Stone Pony stage, courtesy of E Street Band timelord Max Weinberg’s Jukebox; a collaboration with The Weeklings’ Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger and John Merjave about which more deep-dish detail can be found elsewhere on this same space…meanwhile the House of Indies highlights Asbury’s own prolific/eclectic millennial rockers Deal Casino in a record release event keyed to their ep Isadora Duncan. Tickets are $8 for the 7:30 pm show that further features Sonic Blume and Well Wisher, and Haunt Club.

From legendary locals we go to The Undesirable Tenants, the name bestowed upon a project that spotlights the skills of veteran Shore music makers Rich Oddo, Phil Rizzo and Bon Jovi tour guitarist/ championship bluesman Matt O’Ree (pictured), joined for a 7:30 pm set at The Saint by Tom Donovan and the double-drumming brothers Gonzalez. Tickets are a recession-busting ten bucks, from thesaintnj.com…back at the Langosta Lounge, Jersey alterna-rock legend Don Dazzo (Whirling Dervishes, Everlounge) plays special guest DJ for a 10 pm Mermaid Dance Party designed to wet the whistle for the upcoming fourth annual Asbury Park Promenade of Mermaids, about which much more to come in these pixilated pages.

From SUNDAY Jazz Brunch at McLoone’s (10:30), to live music on the Wonder Bar’s Yappy Hour Deck (3 pm) and the return of the Sandy Mack Sunday Jam at the Asbury Hotel’s Soundbooth Lounge (4 pm), the so-called Day of Rest offers NO rest for wicked-cool music fans on June 17, as the Stoney SummerStage opens its gates at 5 pm for a twi-night doubleheader that pairs Boston’s gloriously shillelagh-kicking Celtic punks the Dropkick Murphys with the West Coast’s own similarly festive Flogging Molly, in a frantic fleadh for which tickets ($50.50) can he had at stoneponyonline.com…then at 7:30 pm, Alec Ounsworth and the 2018 edition of his long-running Philly-based alt-pop band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah take the House of Independents stage, with an “open your mouth say aahhh”  intro set by another Asbury area favorite, Dentist. It’s $18 from houseofindependents.com or the cross-Cookman box office.

The big story on an unusually manic MONDAY, June 18 is of course the pre-announced surprise appearance by Bruce Springsteen, taking the night off his Broadway engagement to officially bless the remade/remodeled Asbury Lanes in the company of Boss-photog Danny Clinch and his Tangiers Blues Band. It’s a sold-out event staged in benefit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County (with a lucky hundred Asbury Parkers having been awarded sought-after tix in an online lottery last week), and it’s topped by Portugal. the Man, with the Grammy winning hitmakers (“Feel It Still”) from Wasilla, AK making their own Asbury debut in the 8 pm concert that’s made national headlines.

Not to be outdone, the House of Indies offers up another local debut for an act that’s generated a great deal of excited buzz, the improbably named duo I Don’t Know How But They Found Me. Composed of former members of Panic! At the Disco and Falling in Reverse, the bass-and-drums band has been playing hide-and-seek with record labels for a couple of seasons now; their music — with heavy strains and veins of 70s glam and 80s new wave — is on display in a 7 pm show (opened by Cherry Pools), for which tickets are priced at $15.

While TUESDAY is generally the province of Café Artiste Songwriters Showcase at Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center, the Lanes resets the pins on June 19 for yet another Asbury first: an appearance by Brit millennial popster Bishop Briggs, who’s touring on the momentum generated by her full-length debut Check Your Scars — this after having already scaled the Billboard charts, appeared on national TV, toured with major acts and made good on top festival stages. Doors open 7 pm and tix are $20 for the show, with opening set by LIFT.

WEDNESDAY may represent a daunting working-week hump for some, but out on the sands of the Anchor’s Bend seaside stage (just off the north end of Convention Hall), the segue into summer is smooth, as Shoreggae perennials the Predator Dub Assassins work a June 20 entry in their weekly sandy stand; one that presages the June 21 coming of the 2018 Jams on the Sand series…at House of Independents, the air is charged with electricity, as veteran Britpunks Charged GBH (the first word is often silent) join Piñata Protest, School Drugs and Nervous Triggers for an Asbury whistle-stop on their frankly awesome 40th anniversary tour, with showtime at 7:30 pm and tix at $20.

All this and it’s not even officially Summer yet…tune in next week…and there’s still more where that came from, with the full listings of live and DJ music available in the printed precincts of The Coaster.

SCREENS: CARY ELWES presents THE PRINCESS BRIDE

A made-in-mainstream-Hollywood cult classic if ever there was one, Rob Reiner’s 1987 film of William Goldman’s fractured-fairytale novel The Princess Bride continues to win new generations of fans — and on the evening of Saturday, June 16, Asbury Park’s oldest standing movie house invites one of the movie’s major stars to step out from the storybook screen, for an in-person Evening with Cary Elwes that brings the actor (and author of the 2014 book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride) to the Paramount Theater stage for a live appearance. The leading man discusses his dream role of swashbuckling Westley, his co-starring cast of vivid characters, and the film’s path from moderate box-office success to world conquest, during a Q&A session that follows the 7:30 pm screening. Available tickets are $39.50 in advance from ticketmaster.com, with copies of Elwes’s book available for purchase at the event.

SIGHTS: BEYOND POP ART at Parlor Gallery

When it first turned heads (and set the fine art world on its ear) more than 60 years ago, Pop Art was already an avenue that looked simultaneously forward and back — an in-your-face commentary on modern American life that drew from decades of hard-sell images (product packaging, comic books, movie star iconography, various accepted social wisdoms), to paint a portrait of a consumerist culture amusing itself into mutually assured extinction.

It also represented a fun and thrilling ride that hasn’t shown signs of slowing down here in Twitter-speed 2018, and beginning this Saturday evening, June 16, Asbury Park’s premier Pop Art paradise — that’s Jenn and Jill’s ever-seductive Parlor Gallery on the downtown “arts block” — presents Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, a new group show that examines “Art Beyond Pop” through the curated contributions of more than a dozen different explorers of the realm. Opening with a free public-welcome reception between 7 and 11 pm (and continuing at the 717 Cookman Ave space through a date TBA), the display is highlighted by works from Greg Gossel (above left), whose nationally and internationally exhibited creations offer “a visual history of change and process that simultaneously features and condemns popular culture.” Of special interest to art enthusiasts — although not necessarily reproducible in the proverbial family newspaper — is Bri Cirel (above right) and her series of “Dicks,” a hilarious running tour of art history that lovingly parodies the work of everyone from Magritte to Haring, through the twists and turns of the male member.

Also featured are works by Peter Adamyan, Craig Skibs Barker, BNS, Michael Forbes, Ray Geary, Joshua Horkey, Indie 184, Trevor Mikula, Andy Pawlan, Dominique Steffens, David Williams, and Andre Veloux.

Two River Theater musical ‘Songbird’ is a Seagull with a Nashville twang

Broadway leading lady Felicia Finley stars as country singer Tammy Trip in the musical SONGBIRD, onstage this weekend at Two River Theater in Red Bank.  Photo by KEVIN THOMAS GARCIA

Published in the Asbury Park Press, June 8 2018

“This project is AMAZING,” offers Felicia Finley, in regard to her starring role in “Songbird,” the critically acclaimed musical that makes its New Jersey premiere as the season-closing production at Red Bank’s Two River Theater. “I mean, how do you explain this to people?”

Moments later, the actress and singer attempts to address her own question, with the view that “it’s very Jerry Springer at times…these people aren’t shy about showing their emotions!”

A late substitute addition to the Two River schedule (the previously announced “Oo-Bla-Dee” will instead be presented in June of 2019), and a show that made a big impression during its 2015 run at NYC’s 59E59 theater, “Songbird” is actually a loose adaptation and musicalization of Anton Chekhov’s 19th century drama “The Seagull,” with the action transposed from the Russian countryside to the country music capital of Nashville, and the play’s once-grand actress Irina Arkadina reborn as Tammy Trip, a fast-dimming recording star who returns to her old honkytonk haunt to reunite with the son she left behind during her pursuit of fame — and, perhaps, make amends by giving the young musician a leg up on his own dreams of stardom. 

The opportunity to “chekhov” such a bucket-list acting milestone, and in such a novel fashion, seems made-to-order for the Broadway veteran who “grew up singing bluegrass” in her native Appalachian region of North Carolina — and whose showbiz ambitions revolved more around becoming a ballerina or an entertainment lawyer, than the dynamic performer who wowed crowds as Linda in the original cast of “The Wedding Singer” (a show on which she met her future husband, theatrical director Paul Stancato), as well as in a celebrated two-and-a-half year turn as Tanya in “Mamma Mia!” Still, it’s the leading lady who expresses awe at becoming part of a company that boasts several carry-overs from the Off Broadway production — an experience that’s “been a joy, to say the least.”

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THE SOURCE OF THE NILE REVEALED, AS WILLIE HOSTS A BIRTHDAY BASH

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, June 7 2018/ photos by Cristina Arrigoni

Across the sands and seas of centuries, the world’s scientists, adventurers and spiritual leaders have debated a precise location for The Source of the Nile — that elusive point from which all life, energy, wisdom, passion, and good times flow forth into the fertile land. If only they’d thought to ask that guy sitting there in Washington Square Park with the Buddy Holly guitar, the classic-cool leather and shades, and the gloriously aspirational coif that’s just this much closer to heaven — had they done so, Willie Nile could have told them that it all begins “in the heart…the beating heart, where rock and roll comes from.”

“Rock and roll is about shared experience, and expression,” says the electrified singer-songwriter and street-philosopher king who emerged fully formed from the gritty NYC folk/rock clubscape of the late 1970s — and who marks his milestone 70th birthday on June 7. “Rock and roll is at its best when it’s pissed off…when it’s in love…and when it’s out of its mind, all at the same time.”

A Buffalo-bred signifier of a New York/NJ scene and sound that stretches from Brill Building pop and coffeehouse Dylan, to the big-hearted punks of Max’s and CB’s — and such fellow troubadors as Garland Jeffreys, Jim Carroll, Richard Barone, Steve Forbert, elder statesman Lou Reed, and hungry young Bruce Springsteen — Willie Nile is well known around Asbury Park as an Honorary Shore Rocker; one who’s shared many a stage with Bruce and the E Street gang as both gracious host and special guest. At an age when many of his contemporaries are dozing off to Matlock reruns, this “active adult” has some red-hot irons in the fire — including an all-new album (Children of Paradise, slated to drop on July 27), and a June 9 Rock and Roll Birthday Bash that finds the septuagenarian Willie primed to blast out all the candles on the cake (and take his trusty axe to that piñata), right here in his favorite seaside city.

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IT’S WHAT’S UP FOR WEEK OF JUNE 7-13

There’s a little Kurt VILE to go with your Willie NILE…an overhauled ENGINE of passionate punkery, and some warmed-up ELTON from pop-cultural pre-history…mixed-doubles TENNIS served up at the Lanes, and a surprisingly “secret” scene sounding off down on the island of ST.JOHN’S. We’ve got your recommended rundown of happenings in and near Asbury town, right here/ right now…and we’ve got your FULL complement of music, movie, art, theater and MORE, exclusively in the printed pages of Asbury Park’s fightin’ weekly, The COASTER!

SOUNDS: Early Elton at House of Indies

Long before the platform boots and peacock glam of the Yellow Brick Road/Capt. Fantastic era, a relatively shy pop performer named Reg Dwight re-invented himself as Elton John, and furnished the fireworks through a sophisticated songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin, plus a series of passionately purveyed studio albums that have stood the test of time. With the unique contribution to the tribute-bandscape known as Early Elton, Asbury Jukes keyboardist Jeff Kazee joins with bass-playing bandmate John Conte and Fab Faux drummer Rich Pagano for an experience that channels those 60s/70s signatures — especially the WABC-FM concert released as the stripped-down and seminal live album 11-17-70 — in fantastic fashion. The trio makes a house call to the House of Independents for a 7:30 pm Friday set for which tix ($30) can be reserved at houseofindependents.com — or from the official box office ‘cross Cookman Ave at Lola’s European Cafe. Continue reading

Fundraisers, festivals, fantastick showtunes on Shore stages in June

Marcos Santana (second from right) directs cast members Jim Schubin, Lilly Elliot, and James Judy, in the production of the Disney musical NEWSIES going up this weekend at the Axelrod PAC in Ocean Township. (photo courtesy Axelrod Performing Arts Center)

Published in the Asbury Park Press, June 1, 2018

Sure, the ads will have us know it’s the season of bride and groom; of Dad and Grad…but June is every bit as much the month of those who are MAD for the bumper crop of summer-stage musicals, as well as all the other delights (from top-down Shakespeare to bottoms-up farce) of the season. We’ve got a buffet platter fixed and waiting for you, right here.

Extree! Extree!

It had its world premiere here in New Jersey, at Paper Mill Playhouse, going on to a Tony-winning Broadway run and a nationwide tour — and beginning tonight, June 1, Newsies stakes out a hot corner of the Garden State as the latest professional production at Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center. Adapted for the stage from the 1992 live action Disney film — and featuring a score of songs composed by the celebrated Alan Menken — the show dramatizes the causes and effects of the New York Newsboys Strike of 1899; a landmark of Gilded Age labor struggles that impacted the “news wars” of competing publishing moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Working under the direction and choreography of Broadway veteran Marcos Santana, a cast of NY stage veterans is toplined by Jim Schubin as the activist newsie Jack, with James Judy (the Newsies national tour) as Pulitzer, Lilly Elliot as crusading journalist Katherine Plumber, and N’Kenge (Broadway’s Motown: The Musical) as Medda, unofficial den mother to the ragamuffin newsboys. Newsies runs fourteen performances through June 17, with tickets ($38-$42 adults) available at axelrodartscenter.com.

If it’s June, it must be time for a return visit to Long Beach Island, where the born-again Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven follows up last year’s successful re-opening with a new season of musical entertainments, children’s theater and concert attractions. It all gets going on Wednesday, June 13, with an “everything old is new again” musical that sets a score of signature songs by George and Ira Gershwin to a storyline clash of elegant socialites and boorish bootleggers. Playing thirteen performances through June 24, Nice Work If You Can Get It is followed in short order by the Webber-Rice milestone Jesus Christ Superstar, with the gospel-based rock opera going up for a total of nineteen matinee and evening performances between June 26 and July 15. Ticket reservations and full schedule details for these and other upcoming events can be found at http://www.surflight.org.

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A FERBER FEST, AND A WORLD PREMIERE, MAKE AN EXCITING JUNE AT NJ REP

The great American playwright and novelist Edna Ferber is the focus of a weekend-long “Five by Ferber” festival, featuring never before seen stage adaptations of the author’s stories at New Jersey Repertory Company’s new West Ends Arts Center. 

Published in the Asbury Park Press, June 1 2018

There’s a weekend-long tribute to an American woman of letters whose life and literary legacy continue to resonate in these times — and a new play that mines its “dark comedy” from touchy themes of remorse, responsibility, redemption, and revenge. All of it making its world premiere in this month of June, and all going on at two different Long Branch locations of New Jersey Repertory Company.

Happening right now at the West End Arts Center (132 West End Ave.) — the reborn and repurposed public school building that’s the focus of some very ambitious plans by NJ Rep — the festival known as “Five by Ferber” shines a well-deserved spotlight on Edna Ferber (1885-1968), the late playwright and fiction writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1924 novel So Big. A daughter of the midwest and (like Long Branch-born Dorothy Parker) a member of the fabled Algonquin Round Table, the vanguard feminist collaborated with Table-mate George S. Kaufman on several Broadway hit plays (Stage DoorThe Royal FamilyDinner at Eight) — and new generations of fans have been introduced to such sprawling, socially conscious epic novels of American life as CimarronCome and Get It and Giant through their popular Hollywood adaptations, while Show Boat served as the basis for the groundbreaking Kern-Hammerstein musical of the same name.

With “Five by Ferber,” NJ Rep artistic director SuzAnne Barabas teamed with the author’s great niece Julie Gilbert to curate a quintet of new short plays, each of them adapted from a Ferber short story by a female playwright. The program presented at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1 features “salon readings” of Gilbert’s own adapatation of Mother Knows Best, as well as two one-acts from writers who’ve enjoyed a past association with the Shore-based professional company — That’s Marriage by Marisa Smith (NJ Rep’s Mad Love) and The Sudden Sixties by D.W. Gregory (author of the acclaimed Radium Girls).

The scripts — which look at the concept of Love through the missed opportunities, hard choices, and constant challenges which define it for all too many people — are followed up on Saturday, June 2 by Julie Weinberg’s adaptation of Ferber’s You’re Not the Type, plus Every Other Thursday by Sheilah Rae and Debra Barsha. Like many of the author’s works, the stories center around women who find themselves at a crossroads in career and life — or who harbor pursuits and desires that confound others’ expectations of them.

The “Five by Ferber” festival concludes on Sunday, June 3 with a sixth “bonus” attraction; a “concert reading” of a long-lost Ferber adaptation by a fellow Pulitzer winner, the late Texas native Horton Foote. Based on the hard-working and inspirational central character from So Big, the full-length script Selina Peake will be performed at 4 p.m. in a special one-time arrangement through the Ferber and Foote estates. Tickets for each of the individual programs in “Five by Ferber” are priced at $25, with festival passes available for $75, and discounts offered for NJ Rep subscribers. Call 732-229-3166 or visit njrep.org for reservations and additional details. Continue reading

IT’S WHAT’S UP FOR WEEK OF MAY 31 – JUNE 6

SINATRAS at The Saint, in a my-way three-way…a triple RAINBOW sighting, across Wesley Lake…a Disco founding godfather, topside at Tim’s…NEWSIES stake out a hot corner, in Deal Park…prehistoric prog/alt-metal monsters, sailing the seas of the SummerStage…and an early glimpse of Deja-NEW from a Hall-of-Fame walrus with a second wind in his wooden-ships sails, closing out the MU school year in style. We’ve got your WHAT’S UP recommends here on the cusp of the June moon…and we’ve got the WHOLE megillah of music, movies, art, theater, and comedy in and around Asbury town, ONLY in the print pages of that fightin’ fun-tab, THE COASTER!

SOUNDS: Trashcan Sinatras at The Saint

The Scottish band that’s marking its 33rdyear of existence with a North American tour returns to Asbury Park’s boxcar berthplace of rock and roll (where they appeared as recently as last September) in an acoustic three-piece format TONIGHT, May 31, with a “One Night, Two Albums” program that finds the core trio (Francis Reader, John Douglas, Paul Livingston) performing their early LPs Cake and I’ve Seen Everything in their entirety, as well as a selection of subsequent stuff. It’s a stay-seated, no-talking, “Asbury Café style” show — but fun, y’know? — and it starts in timely fashion at 7 pm, with tix (an eminently affordable $10) available at the door or thesaintnj.com. Continue reading