In the Arts

The Mike Kaplan Nonet, a nine-piece Jazz ensemble will perform at the kickoff concert of this year’s Comcast Jazz in the Park series at Riverside Gardens Park in Red Bank on Thursday, June 30 for one set at 7-7:45 p.m. The band’s playlist includes uptempo Hardbop, Latin Jazz, swing, ballads and funkier material all filtered through the 21st-century Jazz sensibilities of the band, which consists of Mike Kaplan, tenor sax/arranger, Rob Henke and Bill Mobley, trumpets and flugelhorns, Ben Williams, trombone, Anton Denner, alto sax, flute and clarinet, Ed Xiques, baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute and soprano sax, Matt King, piano, Doug Weiss, bass, and Pete MacDonald, drums.

Nancy Scharff, singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter, will present her annual “God & Country” concert at King of Kings Lutheran Church, 250 Harmony Road, Middletown, on Friday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will feature solo performances by Scharff, including her original song “Nothing Can Separate Us.”

Also, an Ecumenical Choir, Children’s Choir, guest soloist and band will perform. Admission is free and a free will offering will be taken to benefit The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation, which aids children with cancer and their families. Audience participation is a highlight of the concert. A special story will be read about the military piece taps and how it was written. Marcello Virgilio will play taps, as the audience reflects on its meaning. For more information, call the church at (732) 671-3348.

Neil Simon’s fantastically funny fable “Fools” will open July 1 at First Avenue Playhouse , marking the 200th production for the local theater. Performances will take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening through July 30 at 8:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee on July 17 at 2 p.m. Locals among the cast include Charlie Deitz, Tinton Falls, as Dr. Zubritsky and David Conover, of Red Bank, as Count Gregor Yousekevitch. Tickets are $20 per person on Friday and Saturday and $15 on Thursday and Sunday matinees. The special senior rate of $12 is available for Thursday evening and Sunday matinees only. For information and reservations, call (732) 291-7552 or visit

The Dunbar Repertory Company will close its current season with the New Jersey premiere of the romantic comedy “Still Such a Thing as Love,” a story of mature love. Dunbar veteran Maurice Puryear of Fair Haven stars as Adam and Muriel Freemen, of Tinton Falls, creates the role of Charlee Richards. The play is directed by Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr., Dunbar’s founder and artistic director.

Performances are Friday, July 8, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 9, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 10, at 4 p.m. at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan. Tickets are $16, with a $3 discount for students and seniors and may be purchased in advance by calling the box office at (732) 582-9211.

Actors Playground School of Theatre has opened its doors at 1 Main St. at the corner of routes 35 and 71, Suite 217, in Eatontown. The school will offer professional training for performers of all ages in acting, playwriting, directing, creative writing and other creative arts. Artistic directors are Joey Madia and Ralph Colombino. In addition to offering a broad range of classes in the theatrical, literary and visual arts, the school will also house the New Mystics Theatre Company, a touring group comprised of teens and young adults who rehearse and perform socially relevant alternative theater pieces.

For more information, call (732) 935-1800, or visit

The Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts (SICA) in Long Branch will present “Inked!” an exhibition of artists whose works have been influenced by tattoo culture. Curated by Koan Jeff Baysa,” Inked!” opens July 15 and runs through Aug. 20. The opening reception will be held on Sunday, July 17, from 2 to 6 p.m. To coincide with the exhibition, SICA is also hosting the Inked! Festival, featuring demonstrations and displays of tattoo and henna art. The free event will include food, entertainment and more. SICA is located at 20 Third Ave. in Long Branch. For more information and for gallery hours, call (732) 236.1121 or visit www.

A family barn dance will be held at the Croydon Hall Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road in Leonardo, just off Route 36, on Friday, July 22, from 7:30-10 p.m. Donation is $3 and children under 18 are admitted free. Dance experience is not needed; the caller will teach all you need to know. The event is sponsored by the Middletown Ramblers Square Dance Club. Square dance classes begin Sept. 27. For more information and directions, call Betty at (732) 291-1188, Phyllis at (732) 450-1931 or visit

Jersey Shore singer and songwriter John Padovano has released a 19-track CD titled “songs from a boardwalk music hall.” All the songs are performed solo with acoustic guitar, vocal, and harmonica. Although this album has the blues sound Padovano is known for, there is clearly an early 1930s feel to it. The album is partly inspired by his days of performing at the Asbury Park Boardwalk in the early 1990s. The CD can be ordered online at