So, Three BariTones Walk Into a Bar and…
Sorry, most of my singer jokes involve tenors and sopranos. I have a giant soft spot in my heart for baritones and basses, so I don’t think I can even bring myself to make up a punch line here, so let’s just jump in:
One of New Jersey’s newest performing arts centers – the Avenel Performing Arts Center – opened its doors on April 10, and one of the first shows on its schedule is a concert by BariToned (yes, that’s correctly capitalized, Word autocorrect!) on April 24 and 25. This is one of dozens of shows scheduled at the Avenel PAC so far, which include concerts (including one from Constantine Maroulis), dance performances, magic shows, jugglers and tribute concerts. (And for those of you, like me, who feel like you’re always hearing about town names in New Jersey that you swear you’ve never heard before: Avenel is actually part of Woodbridge Township.)
The Avenel Performing Arts Center is a 13,500 square foot, 200-seat facility, funded by the Woodbridge Arts Alliance. The in-house restaurant, Curtains, is planned to open later in April, but the bar is planned to be open shortly with limited beer, wine and pre- and post-show cocktail menu.
The Avenel Performing Arts Center project was announced in March 2015 and the ribbon cutting took place in October 2017. Unlike many of the new performing arts centers that have sprung up in New Jersey over recent years, this PAC wasn’t made out of a renovated old movie palace, or some other historic site. Instead, the arts center was built on the abandoned General Dynamics site. The project also includes Station Village apartments and townhomes, an arts-themed retail space, restaurants and hospitality facilities, and the newly renovated NJ Transit Commuter Station.
A trio of “large-and-in-charge baritones,” BariToned is a group of three men has several sets of cabaret shows that they take across the U.S., focusing primarily on New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. At the Avenel Performing Arts Center, they will present their “I Hate Men” show, which has already sold out three times at The Green Room 42 in New York City. The three giant powerhouse baritones will take audience members on a whimsical journey through the catalogue of strong, independent women of musical theatre with this performance.
BariToned (because, sadly, “No Tenors Allowed” had already been taken – and yes, I own that album) was founded, created, produced and headed by Edward Miskie, who will perform along with Joe Hager, also an original cast member, and Kyle Hines at Avenel. “I Hate Men” runs 90 minutes, with music direction and arrangements by Broadway’s Don Pardo and choreography by Brooke Martino.
If you’re wondering why (because of the show title), these poor guys are so self-hating, let me tell you that “I Hate Men” is one of the early female anthems of musical theater. It’s from Cole Porter’s 1948 show “Kiss Me, Kate,” where Kate (very cleverly, because it is Cole Porter AND Shakespeare), sings about why she never wants to marry. (And really, if you know the song, Kate’s really got a point.)
It’s kind of ironic, really, that in this current #MeToo and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) era, that we have a show here that does the opposite – takes traditional female songs of musical theater and repositions them with men. It seems like it’s being done here with all love and in good humor, so it’s all good.
But I can’t help but wish to see a bit of “turn about is fair play.” Off the top of my head, the closest I can get are that great My Favorite Broadway concert and Jennifer Larmore’s “Call Me Mister” album – but neither of those deal with women singing traditionally male repertoire.
Is it just me, or does this seem like an ideal spin-off tour opportunity?
But until that day comes, we can certainly enjoy our BariTones at the Avenel Performing Arts Center coming up this week!
BariToned presents “I Hate Men” on Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m. at the Avenel Performing Arts Center, located 150 Avenel Street in Avenel. Tickets are $39.50 and are available at avenelarts.com or at (732) 314-0500.