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ASBURY PARK PRESS: New Kids on the Block star Joey McIntyre hangin’ tough around Red Bank

By Ilana Keller

New Kids on the Block star Joey McIntyre is headed to the Shore.

McIntyre, also seen on Broadway in “Waitress” and “Wicked,” will play Orsino in a musical retelling of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Twelfth Night” at Two River Theater in Red Bank early next year.

If you need a Shakespearean refresher, here’s a recap from Two River:

“After a shipwreck leaves fraternal twins Viola and Sebastian separated on the shores of Illyria, each thinking the other lost, Viola disguises herself as a man and joins the court of the Duke Orsino. Orsino, loves the fair Olivia. Olivia loves the handsome Cesario. Cesario, however, is actually Viola — in disguise, and in love with Orsino. This tempestuous love triangle is further complicated by a motley crew that includes Olivia’s drunken uncle, pompous steward, scheming servant and witty fool. The result is a sublime comedy and one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays.”

‘Twelfth Night’ is, perhaps, Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy,” director Sara Holdren said in a news release.

“It is also, paradoxically and gorgeously, his farewell to the purely comic genre—poignant and tinged with music, melancholy, mortality amidst the silliness and joy. Separated twins, mistaken identities, and questions of identity, loneliness, and love propel this gender-bending tale, which asks if it is ever possible truly to know the soul of the loved one, or truly to reveal our own.”

The production features original songs composed by the theater collective The Lobbyists and will also star Hannah Rose Caton, in her Two River debut, as Viola, Celeste Ciulla (Maria), Tommy Crawford (Feste), Richard Hollis (Malvolio), Carman Lacivita (Antonio), Kathleen Littlefield (Olivia), Luis Quintero (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Kurt Rhoads (Sir Toby Belch), Rudy Roushdi (Sebastian), Will Turner (Sea Captain) and Tony Aidan Vo (Fabian).

Holdren directed Two River’s A Little Shakespeare productions of “Macbeth” and “The Comedy of Errors” and is the artistic director of Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford and Artistic Director/cofounder of the theater company Tiltyard. She previously served as the theater critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com.

Along with the mainstage production, Two River will produce “A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night,” featuring 14 high school students as well as youth backstage support. There will be student matinees as well as public performances, pre-show workshops and Q-and-A sessions.

“A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night” is adapted and directed by Em Weinstein, who received their MFA in directing at Yale School of Drama. Their credits include the first workshop production of “Slave Play” by Jeremy O. Harris and an all-female, pop-infused “Romeo & Juliet” set in a Catholic high school.

Also in conjunction with the production are Inside Two River events:

Shakespeare 101: “Twelfth Night with John Dias,” 7 p.m. Dec. 12 in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library

Shakespeare’s work reveals fresh insights into the human condition with every encounter. In this free talk, Artistic Director Dias will offer insight into the play that many consider the Bard’s most perfect comedy. The lecture will take place in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library; coffee, tea and light refreshments will be provided.

Shakespeare Play-Reading Group with John Dias, 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 18 and 19 in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library

Led by Artistic Director John Dias, participants in Two River’s third annual Shakespeare play-reading group will read the full text of Twelfth Night out loud, and discuss its language and meaning over the course of three successive nights at 7pm: Tuesday, December 17, Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19. No experience is necessary and copies of the play will be provided at each reading. The play-reading group will meet in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library; coffee, tea and light refreshments will be provided.

Book Club: “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 6 in the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library 

Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando: A Biography” follows Orlando, a poet whose gender mysteriously changes from man to woman at the age of 30. After that, Orlando goes on to live for 300 more years of adventures. From Queen Elizabeth I’s reign to 1928, Woolf crafts an irreverent trip through English literary history. In connection with “Twelfth Night,” the Two River Book Club will discuss gender, class, English literature, and battles of wit.

TEDxAsburyPark Salon, January 9 at 7pm in partnership with TEDxAsburyPark

TEDxAsburyPark Salons feature curated talks by TEDx speakers and Two River Theater artists and staff. This evening will feature curated talks on music, comedy, and Shakespeare. Cost:  $25 per ticket, includes talks, light fare from Sickles Market and drinks. Free for Two River Theater donors and subscribers and TEDxAsburyPark conference ticket holders.

There also is a Monday Masters class, Shakespeare Scene Study with Michael Cumpsty, set for 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27 for adults and high school juniors and seniors. The cost is $40.

A Play Date, where children 6 to 11 can play theater games, make crafts and more during a performance attended by their parents, will take place at 3 p.m. on Jan. 18. The cost is $10 per child, plus the price of tickets for adults attending the show.