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Red Bank Theater Watch: Learn Some Skills, Laugh a Little and See August Wilson's Jitney

Check out what's happening at Count Basie and Two River Theater this week.

Learn some skills this week at , as the Songwriter’s Workshop with Gordon Brown returns on Friday, Jan. 27, and Tango 101: An Introduction to Argentine Tango heats up the stage on Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29. 

Also on the schedule this week is comedian John Pinette and a production of Intergalactic Nemesis, a graphic novel brought to life on stage. Over at , August Wilson’s Jitney opens on Sunday, Jan. 29, and will run through Feb. 19.

On Friday, Jan. 27, the hugely popular Songwriter’s Workshop with Gordon Brown returns to the Basie. Presented by the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy, this workshop helps songwriters channel their creativity and feelings, resulting in top notch songs and lyrics.

Brown is a NJ native who has written full records for his bands Highway Nine, Samhill and Mr. Reality. Brown has also worked with major Nashville songwriters and new artists Alex Brumel, Rick Barry, Jerzy Jung, Natalie Stovall and Corey Wagar. Wagar is a new country artist, and Brown co-wrote her debut single Hurricane. The song is currently creeping its way up the country charts, and is in heavy rotation on the Jersey Shore's very own Thunder 106.

In his workshops, Brown urges students to center on the process of expressing feelings, one of the most crucial elements in any good song. Brown helps build students confidence and helps give them the “courage to say what you need to say.”

Brown has spent the past year on the road performing and touring with Natalie Stovall, Jessie James and Corey Wagar. His workshop is presented by the Count Basie Theater Performing arts academy.

On Friday, Jan. 27, comedian John Pinette takes the stage. Pinette is best known for incorporating ethnic accents and impressions of various characters such as The Chipmunks, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and others into his act. He is also occasionally known to burst out into song while on stage.

In 1999, Pinette was named Stand-Up Comedian of the Year by the American Comedy Awards, and also received a Gemini Award nomination for his televised performance at the Montreal Comedy Festival in 2000.

Pinette has also made a few television appearances. He was a regular on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and had a cameo in an episode of Seinfeld. In 2004, Pinette joined the touring cast of the musical Hairspray in the hilarious role of Edna Turnblad. His stand out performance led him to receive a role in the 2005 Broadway production, which he continued until 2006.

On Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29, Count Basie heats up with the 2 ½ hour tango class, An Introduction to Argentine Tango for Absolute Beginners with Sergio Segura.

This introductory class will teach students the basics of the Argentine Tango, the sultry dance that originated in Buenos Aires. Students will learn all the basics, including musicality, walking, turning, correct postures and couple connections.

Instructor Sergio Segura has a passion for teaching, which will be evident to students as they receive individual attention to help them gain a deeper understanding of the dance, and to build confidence in their dancing skills. 

Sergio Segura developed the Learn Argentine Tango dance system and has produced five Tango teaching DVDs. He founded The School of Traditional Argentine Tango (now known as Strictly Tango NYC) in New York City.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, a production of Intergalactic Nemesis will take over Count Basie. Based on the popular comic book, Intergalactic Nemesis is described as a “live action graphic novel spectacular, a staged production featuring big screen panel-by-panel projections of the comic book artwork.”

The plot of Intergalactic Nemesis revolves around the biggest threat to life on Earth as we know it: an impending invasion of sludge monsters from the planet Zygon. Three actors will perform the voices and the sound effects will be provides by a keyboardist, bringing the comic book to life on stage. 

On Sunday, Jan. 29, August Wilson’s Jitney begins its run at Two River Theater. Considered one of American theater’s finest writers, Wilson is known as the “greatest chronicler of the African American experience.” Wilson was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama for his series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle.

Jitney is set in 1977 Pittsburgh in a makeshift storefront depot for gypsy cab drivers. The play shows how men needed to hustle to make a living as jitneys—unofficial, unlicensed taxi cab drivers. During the play, the men share stories and gossip, and the station owner must confront his son when he returns home from prison.

Jitney is not known for its remarkable plot, but for its “poetry of ordinary life,” in the way Wilson’s words capture the essence and humanity of each man as they tell their stories and share their slice of life.  The New York Times writes that “Jitney holds its audience in charmed captivity.”

Schedule:

Friday, Jan. 27, 2012: Songwriter’s Workshop with Gordon Brown, 6 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 27, 2012: John Pinette, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012: Tango 101: Introduction to Argentine Tango, 3 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012: Intergalactic Nemesis, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012: Tango 101: Introduction to Argentine Tango, 3 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012-Feb. 19, 2012: Jitney, Two River Theater (see website for days and showtimes)

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