New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two River Theater Company Presents OPUS

(Red Bank, NJ)-- Two River Theater Co. is proud to present Opus, a play about a renowned string quartet, written by Michael Hollinger and directed by Little Silver's Matthew Arbour. Opus is the story of an esteemed string quartet that, days before the most important performance of their careers, fires a member of the group, and must quickly find a replacement. The play runs from October 26 through November 14, 2010.

The play explores the shockingly difficult dynamics of a string quartet, and how far people will go to create great art. Based in part of the playwright's own experience as a violist, as well as the experiences of the world famous Guarneri quartet, the play is infused with the music of Bach, Bartok, and Beethoven, and has been called "vibrant", "astounding", and "truly remarkable" by critics across the country.

Says Two River Theater Artistic Director John Dias, "The beauty of this play is that although it is ostensibly about the world of classical music, it's getting at something much more universal: the struggle we all face trying to find harmony in our families, our work, our lives. This play has been such a success across the country precisely because you don't need to be a music buff to enjoy it—we can all relate to Opus."

Director Matthew Arbour, who grew up in nearby Little Silver, has this to say about the production:  "Opus is, at its core, about the paradoxical idea that to succeed most well as an individual, one must work collectively and collaboratively with others, and about how difficult it is to achieve that balance." He draws a comparison between the characters that inhabit this play and a recent cover of Sports Illustrated, with four members of the New York Yankees—Rivera, Pettitte, Posada, and Jeter. "These guys have been making their career together for over a decade," he explained. "They are the core of the team. Their bonds are so powerful that any shift in dynamic affects the outcome of the game. Their lives are on top of each other, but they are still individuals. That is exactly the relationship of the musicians in this quartet."

It is a particular pleasure for Arbour to be directing this show here at Two River Theater Company. He grew up in nearby Little Silver, where his parents still live, and was a student at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. Today, Arbour directs across the country but acknowledges that there is nothing quite like directing a piece for an audience he knows and loves so well. "When I was growing up in Monmouth County," he said, "there was no theater of Two River's caliber in the area. I am thrilled to come home and be a part of this amazing institution."

He is delighted by the cast he has assembled, calling them "extraordinary, distinct individuals".  The cast is headed up by Geoffrey Owens, renowned actor of stage and screen, most well-known for his role of Elvin in The Cosby Show.

He is joined by Saxon Palmer (Three Sisters on Broadway), Two River Theater alum Kevin Kelly and Craig Baldwin (who were both in Twelfth Night at New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater), and Anjanette Hall in her LORT theater debut.

Opus begins previews on Tuesday, October 26, opens Saturday, October 30, and runs through Sunday, November 14.


Matthew Arbour, Director: Matthew's work has been seen at PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chautauqua Theater Company, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Two River Theater Company, New Jersey Repertory, 78th Street Theatre Lab, Ohio Theater, Washington Ensemble Theater, Portland Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, Theatre at Monmouth, and the Penobscot Theatre Company among others. Matthew served as resident dramaturg and literary manager of Portland Stage Company from 1992 to 1998. He is a member of the First Look Theatre Company at NYU, an Associate Artist of the Washington Ensemble Theater, a Usual Suspect of New York Theatre Workshop, and Drama League Directing Fellow.  MFA: University of Washington, Seattle.

Craig Baldwin*, Dorian: This is Craig's first appearance with Two River. New York: Twelfth Night for NYSF/ Public Theater at the Delacorte; Age of Iron, An Oresteia, The Tempest, Richard III and Richard II, Classic Stage Company; Septimus & Clarissa for Ripetime and Red Bull Theater; The Field for Irish Repertory Theater; Murder by Poe and Richard III for The Acting Company; The Passion of George W. Bush for NYCFringe and Joe's Pub; and more. Regional: Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Shakespeare & Company, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Connecticut Rep, Berkshire Theater Festival; and more. Screen: Title role in Charles Gilpatrick: Front Desk Clerk; and As the World Turns. Craig is the Associate Artistic Director at Red Bull Theater, an Associate Artist with Classic Stage Company, Resident Director of Outhouse Theatre Company and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors' Lab. Training: Juilliard

Anjanette Hall*, Grace: Two River Theater Company debut in Opus. Credits include: Ilse in Spring Awakening, Sarah in J.B. with Red Stage Theatre Company. Emily in Our Town and Turtle in A Year with Frog and Toad with Cardinal Stage Company.  Emma in Betrayal, Lydia in Big Love, Carol in Oleanna with Rutgers Theatre Company. Film/Television: Gretchen Huber on NBC's ED, Josie in Be Still. Anjanette's favorite role to date is mother to 6 year old Jack. BFA Western Michigan University, MFA Rutgers University.

Kevin Kelly*, Alan: Previously at Two River Theater Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist and All My Sons. New York appearances include Public Theater (The Brother/Sister Plays, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing) the Acting Company, HERE, Lincoln Center Institute, and 59E59. Regional appearances include Arena Stage, Great Lakes, the Guthrie Theatre, National Playwright's Conference, Peterborough Players, Portland Stage, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Triad Stage, and this past summer, The Adirondack Theater Festival. Film/TV—includes Law & Order, As the World Turns, All My Children, Guiding Light, One Life to Live. As an accordionist appearances include Erin and Her Cello, Zibaldone, and particular subway stations around the city. Education— NYU/Tisch Grad Acting.

Geoffrey Owens*, Carl: Theater: Salome (with Al Pacino); Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), As You Like It (Orlando) and Macbeth (Ross) at The Belasco Theater (director Estelle Parsons, producer Joseph Papp); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Puck), Timon of Athens, Pericles, Richard II at The New York Shakespeare Festival; Arms and the Man (Bluntschli) at Dallas Theater Center; Tartuffe (Valere) at Hartford Stage; The Misanthrope (Acaste) and Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro) at Long Wharf Theatre. Television: The Cosby Show, Boston Legal, Medium, Flash Forward, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Journeyman, Las Vegas, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Built to Last, and That's So Raven. Film: The Paper (director Ron Howard); Play the Game (with Andy Griffith); Salomaybe? (director Al Pacino).

Saxon Palmer*, Elliot: Broadway: Three Sisters and Design For Living (Roundabout). Other NY theatre: Measure for Pleasure (Public), Ohio State Murders, Merchant of Venice, and The Jew of Malta (TFANA), The Glass Cage (The Mint). Regional: The Pillowman (Wilma), Tonight at 8:30 (Williamstown), and Tragedy: a Tragedy (Eno, Inc.). TV/Film: The Dark Fields, various soaps. Education: FSU and Florida School of the Arts.

*Denotes a member of Actors' Equity Association.

The creative team is made up of Lee Savage (scenic designer), Lesley Sorenson (costume designer), who is also the resident costume supervisor at Two River, Tyler Micoleau (lighting designer), who most recently designed Orestes A Tragic Romp last season at Two River, and Zach Williamson (sound designer), who was most recently at Two River with You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and 26 Miles.

Opus is scheduled to run Tuesday, October 26 through Sunday, November 14.  Tickets start at $35. Get more information online at, call 732.345.1400, or visit the Two River Theater Company Box Office in Red Bank, located at 21 Bridge Avenue. Box Office Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-6pm; Sunday: 12pm-5pm.

Local musician and music scholar Tom Avakian, who works frequently with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, will lead Before Play. This pre-show discussion series is scheduled 45 minutes prior to every performance and will explain and celebrate some of the great works of classical music that are heard in the play.

Post-show discussions are scheduled following the 8pm performance on Wednesday, November 3 and following the Sunday matinees: November 7 and November 14 at 3pm, as well as Wednesday, November 10 at 1pm. There are two student matinee performances scheduled on Tuesday, November 2 and Tuesday November 9 at 10am. Discounted group rates are available through the Box Office.

Two River Theater Company is accessible to people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessibility, assistive listening devices and large print programs at every performance. Accessible seating is available by reservation. For more information call the Box Office at 732.345.1400.