Thursday, March 28, 2019

Two River Theater 25th Anniversary Season to present American classic The Belle of Amherst

Two River Theater continues its 25th Anniversary Season with the celebrated American classic The Belle of Amherst, a biographical drama starring Maureen Silliman as poet Emily Dickinson (photo). The biographical drama is written by William Luce, and directed by the theater’s founder and Executive Producer Robert Rechnitz. Performances will begin in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Saturday, April 13 and continue through Sunday, May 5. The opening night performance is Thursday, April 18 at 7pm. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or The Lead Sponsor is Monmouth University and the Production Sponsor is Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor. Two River’s 2018/19 Season Sponsor is Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center.

“I am thrilled to be part of Two River Theater’s 25th Anniversary season,” says Silliman, “and I’m especially happy to be working once again with director Robert Rechnitz, the founder of the theater. Our Emily is very much a human being, who falls in love, who experiences loss, who dreams of the future. Audiences will see a girl, a woman, who is not so far from themselves, but with a gift of putting her feelings—indeed all our feelings—into such beautiful words.”

Emily Dickinson tells her own story in William Luce’s evocative portrait of the writer, which is drawn from her poems, diaries and letters. The play embodies Two River’s mission to produce “new works and world masterpieces that most richly direct our gaze to the life of the human spirit.” 

William Luce wrote The Belle of Amherst for Julie Harris, who premiered it on Broadway in April 1976; Julie Harris also starred in his plays Lucifer’s Child, about Isak Dinesen, and Brontë, about Charlotte Brontë. Luce’s other Broadway plays include Barrymore, which starred Christopher Plummer as John Barrymore; and Lillian, about Lillian Hellman, which starred Zoe Caldwell. 

Robert Rechnitz was a Professor of American Literature at Monmouth University for 35 years before founding Two River Theater, with his wife Joan, in 1994. An educator, director and writer, he is one of New Jersey’s most esteemed theater leaders. The notable productions he has directed at Two River include Curse of the Starving Class, A View from the Bridge, The Glass Menagerie, Thieves’ Carnival, Uncle Vanya, American Buffalo, You Can’t Take It With You, True West and Barefoot in the Park. In 2015/16, Two River premiered his play Lives of Reason, which he co-wrote with Kenneth Stunkel.

Maureen Silliman first performed at the Two River Theater in 1998 when she was cast in The Real Thing and went on to appear in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Our Town. Also at Two River, she appeared as Sonya in Uncle Vanya and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie under the direction of Robert Rechnitz, as well as in the world premiere of his play (written with Kenneth Stunkel), Lives of Reason. On Broadway, her credits include Jenny in Shenandoah and Liv Ullman’s daughter, Katrin, in I Remember Mama. Off-Broadway, her credits include Reckless, Marathon Dancing (Anne Bogart, director), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Andrei Serban, director), Three Postcards and Blue Window (also in Los Angeles—L.A. Drama Critics and Dramalogue Awards). Her New Jersey credits include plays and musicals at Paper Mill Playhouse (Rags), Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (I Capture the Castle and To Kill a Mockingbird) and New Jersey Rep (Angels and Ministers of Grace).

The creative team for The Belle of Amherst includes scenic designer Harry Feiner, costume designer Andrea Hood, lighting designer Andrew F. Griffin, sound designers Charles Coes & Nathan Roberts, and wig designer Cookie Jordan. The production stage manager is Larry Copeland. 

Ticket Information

Ticket prices range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from or 732.345.1400.

Inside Two River

Inside Two River is a series of events specially curated for each Two River Theater production. For more information or to reserve seats, patrons should visit or call 732.345.1400. 

A Night of American Poetry
Thursday, April 11 at 7pm in the Two River Theater Lobby
Two River Theater will celebrate Emily Dickinson and other American poets as notable leaders from our community perform live readings in the theater’s lobby. 

Poems from the Nest: A Celebration of Poetry with Monmouth University and Two River Theater
Tuesday, April 23 from 1:15 – 2:30pm in the Monmouth University Library, Room 101
In conjunction with the university’s Scholarship Week, National Poetry Month and Two River’s production of The Belle of Amherst, students, faculty and artists will read an array of poems in this collaboration between Two River Theater and the Arts and Humanities, English and Honors Schools at Monmouth University.
Book Club: The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
Tuesday, April 23 at 6:30pm in the Victoria Mastrobuono Library   
Emily Dickinson was one of the most prolific and profound American poets in history. This collection of Dickinson’s work splits her poems into four thematic categories, which the Two River Book Club will discuss: “Life,” “Love,” “Nature,” and “Time and Eternity.”
Audience Extras

Before Play and Lobby Display
Audiences will learn about Emily Dickinson and The Belle of Amherst in Two River’s Before Play lecture series, which takes place 45 minutes prior to every performance, and Lobby Display.

Post-Play Conversations
Post-play discussions will take place on Wednesday, April 24 at 1pm and Sunday, April 28 at 3pm. 


Working with Google, Two River offers a virtual tour of its facility, which lives on Google Maps and This virtual tour provides an additional level of support and benefit for patrons who use wheelchairs or require other assistance by allowing them to virtually come through the theater’s front doors and view the space in detail in advance of their visit.

An audio-described performance is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at 1pm, and an open-captioned performance is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 3pm. Tickets are available at a discounted rate of $25 for patrons using these services. To reserve wheelchair-accessible seating or tickets to a performance listed above, patrons should call 732.345.1400 or e-mail

Saturday, April 13 at 8pm 
Sunday, April 14 at 3pm
Wednesday, April 17 at 1 pm and 7pm
Thursday, April 18 at 8pm (Opening Night)
Saturday, April 20 at 3pm and 8pm
Wednesday, April 24 at 1pm and 7pm
Thursday, April 25 at 8pm
Friday, April 26 at 8pm
Saturday, April 27 at 8pm
Sunday, April 28 at 3pm
Wednesday, May 1 at 10am (student matinee)
Thursday, May 2 at 10am (student matinee) and 8pm
Friday, May 3 at 8pm
Saturday, May 4 at 3pm and 8pm


Two River Theater’s 2018/19 Season Sponsor is Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center. The Lead Sponsor for The Belle of Amherst is Monmouth University and the Production Sponsor is Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor. Inside Two River is sponsored by The William T. Morris Foundation and The Gallery Residential Brokerage.

Two River Theater is supported in part by public support through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Private support includes the Alec Baldwin Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Mary Owen Borden Foundation, Brookdale Community College, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Investors Foundation, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, JKW Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Monmouth University, Ocean First Foundation, Rumson Country Day School, The Shubert Foundation, Bella and Max Shulman Family Fund, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, The John Ben Snow Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, VNA Health Group, Wells Fargo, and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Since its founding in 1994, Two River Theater has been committed to creating great American theater by developing and producing work by some of the country’s leading artists. We are proud to be viewed as a vital cultural resource in the community of Red Bank, New Jersey. Through 8+ theatrical productions each year (including world premieres, musicals, classics and theater for young audiences) and 40+ annual events happening around Monmouth County, we produce exceptional theater and cultivate engaged audiences. Two River Theater is under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. For more information, visit or call 732.345.1400.  

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