Two men on a raft…a pair of devoted friends, though you’d never know it from the way they bicker, banter and brouhaha their way from the 19th century beach at Asbury Park, to the middle of the Atlantic, and places that are far afield of both their expectations and their left-behind street clothes.
A rare comical adventure from the pen of Stephen Crane (and a story with the flavor of the Jersey Shore resort where he made his home as a young man), “The Reluctant Voyagers” has long cried out for presentation on the live stage — and on Sun., Nov. 22, the historic Stephen Crane House in Asbury Park offers up its own radio-play style adaptation, as the first in a new series of performances from The Arbutus Theater of the Air.
Frequent visitors to the Crane House know it as a regular source of tributes to the works of Crane’s influences, contemporaries and other literary masters through spoken-word readings, and a long-running classic film series lovingly curated by our host Frank D’Alessandro. Here in the month of his birth, it’s Crane’s turn, with a stage-and-screen program that kicks off at 2:30 pm via a rarely seen dramatization of one of his Western-set short stories.
Produced for PBS in 1977 and directed by Academy Award winner Jan Kadar, “The Blue Hotel” stars David Warner as a Swedish immigrant whose arrival in bleak 1880s Nebraska (and his preconceived notions about the American frontier) invite consequences both unexpected and otherwise.
The one-hour film is followed by a brief intermission and, at approximately 3:45 pm, our live presentation of Stephen Crane’s “The Reluctant Voyagers.” A dream cast of Shore area stage stalwarts is highlighted by Charles Deitz and Geoff Shields as inadvertent adventurers Ted and Tom…with the ever-delightful Gina Shuster contributing a variety of vividly comic characterizations, and Asbury’s own Brett Colby ready at the mic as our narrator, King Westley.
Admission to the November 22 event is free as always, with attendees invited to bring a new unwrapped toy for the Asbury Park Toy Drive and/or donate to our friends at the Asbury Park Little League. Seating in the in-house Lecture Room theater is limited and reservations are recommended, through the Stephen Crane House Facebook page or by calling 732-361-0189.