So why did I leave the relative comfort of my air conditioned and heavily “fanned” railroad flat for three days at the shore? It just so happened that I, coincidently, booked three theatrical events for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, July 23rd – 25th.
Saturday was a performance of XANADU by the ReVision Theatre in the Carousel building just off the Boardwalk at the border of Ocean Grove and Asbury Park (on the AP side). I had been there last year to see ReVision’s production of THE BIKINIS.
I have never seen the movie (Gene Kelly’s last musical), a famous financial and artistic bomb, and had no intention of paying $100+ to see the Broadway production. But the intimate setting of the Carousel building was a great venue and the show turned out to be a lot of fun. It is more a spoof of the movie than an adaptation, with some new twists thrown in, and its “in-jokes” were a big part of the fun. The cast was great, especially Kira (the muse Clio, who as part of her human disguise, decides to adapt an Australian accent).
I actually didn’t mind joining the rest of the audience in porcine imitations. Hand fans were given out with the playbills, which helped a bit, and I was able to cool off during intermission by standing in front of a large electric fan.
Unfortunately the last performance was July 24th, so it is no longer playing. The next ReVision production at the Carousel building is RUDE AWAKENING, perhaps the last musical I would ever want to see.
FYI, before the evening’s performance I had my usual lobster bisque and Veal Sinatra at Giamano’s in Bradley Beach. Between courses the lights went out, some kind of selective brown out (the light on the men’s room sign and apparently the electricity in the basement was working – but lights in other buildings on the street, and the street lights, were also out). The brown out did not affect the ability to cook, and I was able to finish my, as usual, excellent dinner entree. But with no air conditioning it was getting too uncomfortable to stay for dessert and coffee, so I managed to save some money and avoid some calories as well.
Sunday was a matinee “community theatre” performance of SOUTH PACIFIC at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County, just off Route 71 in Deal.
This was one of three new (to me) theatre companies I discovered in a recent NEW JERSEY magazine article on what to do down the shore. The others were the NJ Repertory Company in Long Branch, where I saw THE JUDY HOLIDAY STORY a few weeks back, and a theatre in Spring Lake, where I will be seeing THE SOUND OF MUSIC in mid-August.
I was somewhat disappointed with the “Our Gang” community theatre in Ocean County earlier in the year, but was very pleased with this company. The semi-professional, although not Equity, leads, and the rest of the cast, were excellent, as was the orchestra (often a bit “iffy” in community theatre). It was as professional a production as any I have seen at any Equity house.
The Sunday matinee I attended was the final performance of the run, so again you will not have the opportunity to see it. You can click here for a YOU TUBE “ad” for the show. No future theatrical productions are currently advertised, though there are some good concert offerings (see end of post). I look forward to returning here in the future.
Saturday and Sunday I stayed in Neptune, and managed to get two loads of laundry done while there. Despite, or perhaps because of, the excessive heat the shore was “chock-a-block”. After breakfast on Monday morning I headed south on the Parkway to Beach Haven on Long Beach Island for my third performance.
It was a bit cooler on LBI, and I was able to enjoy bay breezes while reading my latest mystery book in one of the gazebos in the park behind the Bay Village mall.
My reason for visiting LBI was a 6:00 pm performance by the John Pizzarelli Quartet at the Surflight Theatre. The quartet is made up of, as Jonathan Schwartz introduces them each year on his Christmas show, “everybody in the world named Pizzarelli” – John, his brother Martin on base, and, a surprise addition, his father Bucky – and drummer Tony Tedesco. It is the ultimate cabaret act, and they did their cabaret act of American popular standards. Bucky, at age 85, is still a nimble guitarist showing no signs of aging.
It was a reunion of sort for John – in the audience was his, and his brother’s, 5th grade teacher, a fellow musician with whom he played in the eighth grade, and a member of his high school class. Also in the audience was Jo Anne Worley, who will soon be appearing at Surflight with Cindy Williams in the female version of the ODD COUPLE.
As expected the quartet did the long version of I LIKE JERSEY BEST, including the various “cover” versions by Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, and Billy Holliday among others. During the song John commented, “it is good to have an audience that understands the song”.
During the early years of my tenure at the Summit Art Center (now the Center for Visual Arts of New Jersey) John and Bucky appeared together at one of the Sunday jazz concerts. Unfortunately I was the receptionist that day and could not watch their performance as I had to stay in the office and answer the phones. Now, some 25+ years later, I finally get to see the show.
It was a perfect ending to a 3-day week-end of great performances!
FYI, the Axelrod Center will host John Pizzarelli in concert (“A Special Evening Featuring the Songs of Frank Sinatra With the Swing 7 Band”) at 8:00 pm Thursday, August 18th. If you go you may see me in the audience.