Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz established Two River in 1994 to produce world-class theater for an audience that would cherish the experience as an intimate one, enriched and deepened when it is shared with a community of others. In 1997, under the leadership of our founders and Two River’s first Artistic Director, Jonathan Fox, the theater moved from the campus of Monmouth University (where Dr. Rechnitz was a Professor of American Literature) to the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.
After producing eight seasons at the Algonquin, Bob and Joan led a community effort to build the theater a permanent home in the locale that gave the company its name, the peninsula formed by the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. In 2005, we opened our two-theater campus, an architectural jewel designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, with a production of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You, directed by Dr. Rechnitz. From 2007 to 2010, under Artistic Director Aaron Posner, Two River continued to produce vibrant productions of classic plays (including Macbeth, co-directed by Posner and the magician Teller) as well as the first world premieres in the theater’s history, notably Re-Entry, a play drawn from interviews with Marines returning from war, by Emily Ackerman and Associate Artistic Director KJ Sanchez.
Recent notable productions at Two River include the world premieres of Madeleine George’s Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll; a new family musical, A Wind in the Willows Christmas, written by composer Mike Reid, lyricist Sarah Schlesinger and bookwriter Mindi Dickstein; and Andrea Thome’s Pinkolandia, which was produced as part of Lark Play Development Center’s “Launching New Plays into the Repertoire Initiative” supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Other notable productions include The Electric Baby, for which playwright Stefanie Zadravec received the Francesca Primus Prize, directed by May Adrales; August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Noël Coward’s Present Laughter, directed by David Lee; and Meredith Willson’s The Music Man: In Concert, co-presented with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.