Maureen McGovern Will Carry It On at Two River Theater; Season Also Includes Michael Cumpsty

By Kenneth Jones
25 May 2011

Michael Cumpsty
Michael Cumpsty
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Maureen McGovern will star in her "musical memoir" Carry It On in the 2011-12 season of Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The season will also feature such artists as Sam Buntrock, Michael Cumpsty, Nicholas Martin, Nilaja Sun and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The coming season (the first chosen by artistic director John Dias) represents a programming expansion to eight plays on the two stages of the resident Equity theatre outside of New York City.

Two new works recently developed at Two River — Madeleine George's play Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England and the musical In This House, written by Mike Reid, Sarah Schlesinger, and Jonathan Bernstein — will go on to full productions in the company's smaller space, the 100-seat Marion Huber Theater.

The 2011-12 season will launch with Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Sam Buntrock (a 2008 Tony Award nominee for directing Sunday in the Park With George) and starring Broadway's Michael Cumpsty (Copenhagen).



The schedule also includes No Child…, the play about New York City schools, written and performed by Nilaja Sun; director Ruben Santiago-Hudson's production of August Wilson's Jitney; and Alan Ayckbourn's My Wonderful Day, directed by Nicholas Martin, all in the larger 350-seat Rechnitz Theater.

Two River will also present Honk! A Musical Tale of The Ugly Duckling as its annual family production during the holiday season.

Here's the Two River season at a glance:

Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sam Buntrock
Sept. 10-Oct. 2
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

"Shakespeare's great and witty romantic comedy. The production will be directed by Tony Award-nominee Sam Buntrock and star acclaimed Shakespeare actor Michael Cumpsty (winner of an Obie for his performance as Hamlet at Classic Stage Company) as Benedick. Buntrock and Cumpsty have previously collaborated on the recent Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George and Take Flight at McCarter Theatre."

In This House
Music by Mike Reid
Lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger
Book by Jonathan Bernstein and Sarah Schlesinger
Oct. 15-Nov. 6
Marion Huber Theater

"An intimate chamber musical, In This House is the fourth collaboration from the team of Sarah Schlesinger and Grammy Award-winning composer Mike Reid, a Nashville songwriter. The musical evokes the universal experience of being in love and the challenges and rewards of navigating a relationship, through the accidental meeting of two couples — one at the beginning, the other at the end of their time together."

No Child…
Written and Performed by Nilaja Sun
Directed by Hal Brooks
Nov. 1-20
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

"Nilaja Sun will perform her multi-award-winning, tour-de-force solo performance based on her experiences as a teaching artist in the New York public schools. Transforming herself into a multitude of characters, Sun captures the voices of students, teachers, parents, janitors and more, and shows — with tenderness, insight, and humor — the transformative power of art."

Jitney
By August Wilson
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Jan. 31-Feb. 19, 2012
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

"Actor, director, and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs August Wilson's Jitney, the eighth in his Pittsburgh Cycle of plays about the African-American experience in the 20th century. Wilson's first full-length play, is set in the 1970s, in a station for jitney (or unlicensed cab) drivers. As an actor, Santiago-Hudson's Broadway credits include Wilson's Seven Guitars (for which he won a Tony Award) and Gem of the Ocean; he later directed revivals of those plays for the Signature Theatre and McCarter Theatre, respectively."

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England
By Madeleine George
March 3-25, 2012
Marion Huber Theater

"A satirical 'academic sex comedy' about tangled relationships in a New England college town. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, George is a founding member of the Obie Award-winning playwrights' collective 13P (Thirteen Playwrights, Inc.)."

Carry It On
Starring Maureen McGovern
Co-conceived and written by Philip Himberg and Maureen McGovern
Directed by Philip Himberg
April 3-22, 2012
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

In a career spanning 40 years, two-time Grammy nominee Maureen McGovern has been acclaimed for her concerts and Oscar-winning/Gold records, as well as her theatrical performances on Broadway. In her powerful musical memoir, she brings her story to life with extraordinary interpretations of the songs of her generation — music by the Beatles, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and many others."

My Wonderful Day
By Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Nicholas Martin
May 15-June 3, 2012
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

"Nicholas Martin directs Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed 2009 comedy about the British middle class, as seen through the eyes of a child. Winnie is an Anglo-Caribbean, nine-year-old girl with a school assignment to write an essay about her day — which, by chance, she is spending in the home of a minor television celebrity, where her mother is a cleaner. As Winnie quietly observes, Ayckbourn captures the foibles, and failed hopes and dreams, of the adults around her in what becomes an increasingly frenetic domestic farce."

Honk!
A Musical Tale of "The Ugly Duckling"
Music by George Stiles
Book and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
Dec. 6, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater

"The story of an odd-looking baby duck, Ugly, and his quest to find his mother after he is lured away from his home by a wily cat. Winner of the London's Olivier Award for Best Musical, Honk! will be directed by Matt Pfeiffer, who previously staged Two River's holiday productions of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Charlotte's Web."

For tickets and information, visit www.trtc.org or call (732) 345-1400.

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Two River Theater Company under the new artistic leadership of John Dias, "is dedicated to producing great classics from the American and world stage, creating new plays and musicals for the American theatre, and serving its diverse and multigenerational community through unique partnerships and education programs." Founded in 1994 by Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz, Two River Theater was designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in 2011. Two River Theater is a member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and ArtPride New Jersey.