Asbury Park’s Brett Colby (center) IS Mister Bungee, as William Finn’s offbeat (and somewhat autobiographical) musical A NEW BRAIN comes to the intimate setting of The Starving Artist at Days Restaurant, courtesy of Ocean Grove’s NENAproductions. Available tickets…which are close to selling out as we post this…can be reserved by calling 732-988-1007. (Photo courtesy of NENAproductions Theater Project)
(Published in the Asbury Park Press, March 2, 2018)
March, and its attendant awards-season hangover, may come on like a lion — but Shore theatergoers might find more than a few opportunities to catch up with some recent Tony favorites (and a genuine Tony winning legend) before the month takes it on the lam. We’ve got the roundup right here.
From such dynamic recent productions as a “Jekyll & Hyde” that starred Shore singing sensation Remember Jones — to the announcement that Broadway’s original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, will be stepping into the role of Miss Hannigan in a Fall 2018 staging — artstic director Andrew De Prisco and the creative team at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center continue to position the Ocean Township venue among the region’s most dynamic forums for musical entertainments. Beginning this weekend, another of APAC’s favorite guest artists, director-choreographer Luis Salgado, returns to the building’s Vogel Auditorium with a highly anticipated follow-up to his 2017 take on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.”
Adapted from E.L. Doctorow’s sprawling novel of early 20th century America (and its 1981 film version), the musical “Ragtime” also boasts a crucial Shore connection, in that the Tony-winning score’s lyricist Lynn Ahrens (“One On This Island,” “My Favorite Year,” “Seussical”) is a 1966 graduate of Neptune High School. The writer collaborated with composer Stephen Flaherty and playwright Terrence McNally on the stage show that examines the still-young nation through the dramatic intersect of three facets of society — the comfortable upper middle class, the immigrant experience, and an African American community ready to take the cultural spotlight — through an eclectic playlist of music that folds in popular marches, gospel, Eastern European traditions and, of course, those subversive new syncopations of ragtime.
Salgado, whose Broadway credits include “On Your Feet,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and the original cast of “In the Heights,” directs a young cast that embodies characters ranging from the fictional dramatic flashpoint and ragtime pioneer Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Alex Gibbs), to such real-life figures as scandalous socialite Evelyn Nesbit (Ashley Eder), Emma Goldman (Julie Galorenzo), and Booker T. Washington (Richard Coleman). Preformances of “Ragtime the Musical” are March 3, 10, 17, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m.; March 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 3 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on March 17. Visit axelrodartscenter.com for tickets ($38-$42 adults) — as well as details on a High School Preview Night scheduled for Friday, March 2. Continue reading