Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC) will host a Funk-Raising evening to benefit the development of 54 — the musical, the first project selected for its new works initiative. The evening, featuring selections from 54, will be held June 17 at 8 PM at The House of Independents (HOI) in Asbury Park, NJ.
54 — the musical features a book by playwright and actress Renée Bang Allen and is described as a “combination of a book musical, environmental/immersive theater event and juke box show.”
“In my opinion, 54 – the musical reinvents the musical genre…it’s a completely new twist on a dance musical,” says company general manager Bob Angelini, the founding Board President and former artistic director of ReVision Theater in Asbury Park. “This new show is revolutionary in many ways: it’s not only an engaging story with a familiar, authentic, ‘funky’ score, it’s also an immersive audience event that engages and encourages real participation …unlike traditional outside-looking-in theatre.”
Performers for the upcoming benefit include Ace Young as Brian Cherry, N’Kenge as Tonya Love, Terence Archie as Cliff Knight, Renée Bang Allen as Robyn Connors and Frankie Grande as drag queen chanteuse “Coco de Grand Prix.”
The production is directed by Rachel Klein with choreography by Liz Piccoli.
The new musical is described as such: “Picture yourself standing outside the doors of the most infamous discotheque of all time, Studio 54. The red velvet rope teases your legs as a supercilious and intimidating bouncer points to you, beckoning you into a place only a select few are lucky enough to explore. You brush past the unlucky ones and enter into a world of glamour and excess. The disco beat vibrates through your body like a tribal rhythm as you approach the dance floor where the club’s chanteuse, Coco de Grand Prix, sits on a giant crescent moon suspended from the ceiling delivering her signature song. You are escorted to a seat in the shadows where you sit, unnoticed, to follow the story of Robyn Connors, a privileged divorcée and one-hit wonder, whose dream is to return to the spotlight and headline the hottest club of all time, Studio 54. When she bumps into Cliff Knight, front man for the funk band The Black Knights, she finds herself falling in love with someone who is on the other side not only of the music scene but also of the racial divide. When Cliff’s frustrated ex-girlfriend Tonya Love learns of their affair, she arranges for Robyn’s rock ’n’ roll brother Brian Cherry to play in the band—one of several attempts to see that Cliff and Robyn never lay hands on each other again. As the characters’ desires and problems escalate, the room suddenly explodes as our ensemble erupts into a chicly choreographed hustle on the dance floor which now opens to the audience, allowing you to either become part of the action or just continue to drink in the sights and sounds surrounding you.”
For tickets, priced $54, call the APAC box office at (732) 531-9106 or visit Axelrodartscenter.com. Sponsorship tables (four people) are also available.