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December 13, 2016

A SPECIAL PREVIEW: The STRAND Theater 94th Gala December 14th AND My Day at The STRAND by Calvin Schwartz December 2016

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A SPECIAL PREVIEW:  The STRAND Theater 94th Gala December 14th AND My Day at The STRAND  by Calvin Schwartz   December 2016













with Jesse Warren & Chris Everett in a regal empty art deco theater


This article becomes one of those combination platter journalistic efforts, previewing the upcoming 94th  Gala and delving into the inner workings and people behind the scenes at The Strand as well as reporting on my day exploring the sacred depths and heights of the theater, built in 1922.  I’ve said often, over the past five years, how much I love this theater, replete with that unique, rare, precious art deco ambiance. It was designed to be a Broadway theater because Lakewood back in the 1920’s and 30’s was a vacation destination and the thinking was to bring Broadway shows here, akin to previewing them. I’ve been to many shows and events at The Strand. The acoustics are magical; you can sit anywhere and it’s as if you’re sitting right up front.

Although I’ve been at The Strand often, as a reporter, I’ve never really sat down with the people that bring it to life nor have I gone to those depths in the pit below the orchestra where the music emanates from nor have I attempted to climb the multi-story ladder backstage to change ceiling light bulbs seemingly close to the clouds. Somebody in real life has to do it. I arrived at high noon on Tuesday November 22nd



the lighting where someone descends into from the ceiling



It was an old fashioned entry. I rang the street bell and was ushered in by Lori Davis, part of the team of programming energy, creativity and daily mechanics which brings life to the theater. Moments later, I was greeted by Fran Whitney, who’s also on that life line team. One of these days, I’ll write an article called “Women of The Strand” and include Dina Warren who also is part of the theater’s resurgence. Jesse Warren, account manager, walked with me up the front grand stair case. I could hear Annie singing at the top of the stairs. On December 2nd and 3rd, they’re staging ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’  So my hero, George Bailey might also be waiting for me at the top.

Jesse and I sat in a second floor office, overlooking Lakewood’s main street. He’s always this young enthusiastic persona.  We talked 94th Gala, and the amazing musical line-up for that night and other matters of greasepaint and roars. He thanked theater management, Scott MacFadden, Glen Harrison and Ray Coles for all their support.  Next, he phoned home, actually downstairs, to Chris Everett (absolutely not related to the former tennis player), and summoned him into the interview. Chris is the tech head, Jack of All Trades, the guy who makes people fly and who puts scenery and imagination into production. “This place would not be what it is. He brings this place to life,” Jesse added.



back stage view into the clouds of the theater.


the dressing room . my favorite place of lights and make up believe



Chris told me, “We make shows happen. Caitlyn Nelson is our assistant. Emily Lovell is our house lighting designer. She puts on a harness, climbs to the ceiling, drops down and hooks to a cage. That’s how lights focus in every show.” Later they showed me the ladder at the rear of the balcony which leads into the ceiling and how she crawls into position. Did I want to climb up and be a good journalist and take some pictures?  “I’m always a good journalist, but a safe one with my two feet anchored firmly at ground level,” I softly responded.

Chris continued, “Tom Frayley does House Audio and Gianni Scalise is the flyman and rigger and positive vibe technician. He climbs a five story ladder and hangs out on a steel catwalk.”  Chris explained how this crew does the work of ten people. Adding to Chris’ all around versatility is the fact that in the production of ‘Beauty and The Beast’ he played a part.



a “lighter” moment with Chris Everett, Caitlyn Rose & Gianni Scalise




My education of theater 101 behind the scenes continued. The crew has to learn everything before a production. Lighting and sound cues. They have five days to learn it all. That means 22-hour work days. “When it’s a musical production, we live for a week and a half here,” Chris proudly stated. He also reminded me that the technical director(himself) is also the house carpenter. His company is called Sound Foundation

Next was the inner sanctum walking tour to the basement level. Of course I flicked on the lights of the dressing rooms with all those light bulbs watching you put on make up. Imagination was quick to help me with my ‘Frankenstein’ make-up. Yes, I auditioned once when Reagan was President for that part.  An obscure doorway led to the orchestra pit and another small one led underneath the theater itself. It was a crawl space and I don’t crawl anymore. Gianni filled my sensibilities with lore of the theater; stories and legends of its rich history. Early on a drug store occupied the area where the gallery is located now.   And we’ll leave it at that.  Back upstairs, Emily and Caitlyn were figuring out how to get the box of fluorescent light bulbs up to the clouds above to change the dim bulbs to new bright ones. When I stared up, I had to hold on to the wall for support.



with tech wizard Chris Everett



It was time for Jesse to share info about the 94th Gala which he’s been diligently working on. Big Road Productions would be responsible for the best musical line-up they’ve ever had including The Big Road All Star Band. This would be my third Gala attended. And as I do often at the conclusion of my emotional pieces, I exhort readers to get off their sedentary sofa and come on down to The Strand on December 14th for a very special night. It really is.  Come for the Holiday Music and even the Dinner. Your choice. Here now the specifics of the night.


Wednesday December 14th Join BIG RoaD at The Strand Theater for “A VERY BIG RoaD Christmas” GALA NIGHT AT The Strand Theater!

The Strand Theater is proud to HONOR:

Thomas Jannarone, Owner Bar Anticipation/Attorney

Franke Previte, Academy Award Winning Composer (“Dirty Dancing”)

Steven Levine, Owner, WindMill Restuarants

Michael D’Elia, Committeemen, Lakewood Township


PERFORMING ARE : Bobby Bandiera, Lisa Sherman, Franke Previte, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Eddie Testa, Jobonanno, Joe Ferraro, Jt Bowen, Tommy Byrne

Band is: Ralph Notaro, Vinny Daniele, Joe Bellia, Arne Wendt, Tony Perruso, Bob Ferrel, Tommy Labella

Get your tickets now “A VERY BIG RoaD Christmas” GALA NIGHT AT The Strand Theater!

The Strand Theater

400 Clifton Ave

Lakewood, New Jersey

Tel: (732) 367-7789



Produced and Presented by:

Terry Camp and Jesse James Warren for BIG RoaD


If you have any questions please feel free to call Jesse Warren at 732-367-7789, ext.204 or by email at







The Strand Theater presents its 94th Anniversary Gala with “A Very BIG RoaD Christmas!” on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 – A night to celebrate this historic venue and enjoy lively holiday tunes with The BIG RoaD All-Star (Big) Band.


Tickets are $25.00 and doors open at 7:00 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. show. Guests are also welcome for The Strand’s Gala Dinner and Cocktail Party at 6:00 p.m. – for which tickets are $100.00 (which includes an orchestra seat ticket).

The BIG RoaD All-Star Band is Mark Leimbach, Ralph Notaro, Joe Bellia, Vinny Daniele, Arne Wendt, Tony Perruso, Tommy Labella, and Bobby Ferrel. Vocals by Bobby Bandiera, JT Bowen, Franke Previte, Lisa Sherman, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Eddie Testa,Jo Boanno, Killer Joe and more!


The historic STRAND THEATER, a non-profit 501(c)3, is Ocean County’s premier entertainment venue. THE STRAND opened its doors in 1922 and it shines as brightly today as it did then. Located in historic downtown Lakewood, THE STRAND is easily accessible and offers a wide variety of live entertainment including concerts, dance, musicals, & theater, comic performances, and arts education.


Strand Gala Information- The Board of Directors of the Strand Center for the Arts are pleased to announce the celebration of the theater’s 94th Anniversary. We cordially invite you to join us for our Gala and Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. The Gala will begin in the Strand Gallery at 6pm followed by a live performance on our main stage at 8pm. Several area restaurants will be serving their signature dishes and cocktails will also be served.



May 30, 2012

Bluefin Tuna: Here, There and Radioactive. Bamboozle Asbury Park: I was there with an Asterisk. Backstage Pass: SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA. Strand Theater. Lakewood, NJ May 30, 2012

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna


Did you notice the three topics of this blog begin with the letter ‘B.’ Of course there’s no real burning, bombastic, believable Bluefin tuna reason for the employment of the letter ‘B.’ It just happened and I went  with the basic flow.  I strived for ‘B’s’ all throughout school years; basic elementary, high school and lots of college (the equivalent of seven years. They’re reasons for that. A documented allergy in the late 1960’s to rice paddies and tropical foliage). So why do I have ‘B’ as a grade goal? Because I’m a realist; I was not put on this good earth (Pearl Buck) to get A’s nor was I supposed to be a Kentucky Derby jockey or miner for bituminous coal. Nor am I one of those folks who always win raffles, door prizes, lotteries, poker, or picking winners (handicapper) at race tracks.







Bluefin Tuna

tsukiji fish market and tuna. imagine $172,000 for one of these.



Fourteen years after we landed on the moon, I went to Monticello Racetrack with perhaps one of the great handicappers of all times. He never loses. Some people never win. Of course most people break even. We pooled our resources and bet on 23 separate horses to win in the first five races. It was a sure thing to win once but we didn’t.  Two years ago, my son and I took a Touchdown Club bus to an away game. Fifty-two seats on the bus. Fifty door prizes like tee-shirts and beer mugs. Two people did not win; my son and I. Inheritance of innate qualities is a fascinating subject. It makes me think of the old blood-brain barrier and why some people need a foot long hot dog or foot long Cheech joint. Speaking of hot dogs, I haven’t had one since 1975 when I slipped into a lonely Essex County foggy night, got off a train from New York City and became a Flexitarian (no red meat).





Bluefin Tuna

a Bluefin tuna. since they are almost extinct I couldn't find a real picture. not.



Since I do not eat red meat and believe my current colon to be worthy of a Life Magazine pictorial, I became an obsessive tuna fish connoisseur which meant travelling mostly up and down the east coast, looking for perfect waves and tuna fish. I’m a Jersey guy but found marvelous tuna fish salad in Owings Mills, Maryland. I’ve been known to travel hundreds of miles out of my way to salivate over perfect tuna. After years of going out of my way, I had the tuna analyzed; artificial sugar and a dash of ketchup; a bit disarming.


But soon a sister-in-law from Long Island came to the rescue; tuna fish with jalapeno and red peppers; heavenly stuff. Wishing there was no such thing as mercury; my tuna consumption went from three times a week to monthly. I miss my Bluefin tuna and the old days when the Good Humor man used to drive around pushing Toasted Almond bars.



Bluefin Tuna

sprucing up asbury lanes for bamboozle

Bluefin Tuna

setting up one of Bamboozle sound stages.


The North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is almost extinct. I read awhile back there were only 25,000 left in the whole world mostly because of over fishing and disregarding international guidelines. A single North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna sold for $172,400 at the first auction of 2001 at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. Yes, the Japanese use tuna in sushi. And speaking of the Japanese, Pacific Bluefin Tuna has been showing up on our west coast carrying radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States; this is the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance. Researchers were startled about this. The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. And I love when they say, “But the levels still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Finally turning basically serious, there’s a video you all ought to watch about radioactivity, Fukushima and the tsunami which we hear so little about any more. There’s segue to Chernobyl where a million died as a result. Enough said. Here’s a YouTube link:

Dr Helen Caldicott – Fukushima Nuclear Disaster- You won’t hear this on the Main Stream News:

Dr Helen Caldicott Fukushima Nuclear disaster


Bluefin Tuna

Bamboozle by Convention Hall

Bluefin Tuna

A Bamboozle water delivery



Now to Bamboozle in Asbury Park last weekend: 100,000 people showed up over the course of three days to hear music from Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters and much more. I live 23 minutes from Asbury Park and could’ve even taken a train. A long time ago in a galaxy far away in Maplewood, New Jersey, I had my hand on a car door handle about to jump into a car of long- haired college kids and head to a similar weekend of music at Woodstock. A first fiancé warned me not to go; she wouldn’t be there if I did. So I didn’t; been lamenting 40 years especially since a first marriage lasted less than four years.

But Bamboozle was different. My wife blessed me to go (without her). But I’ve spent so much time these months going to countless concerts, musical venues, Backstage events, meeting musicians and covering, writing, filming, reviewing and reveling in this Jersey music world, that I felt energy is better spent when I can be the only media personality (NJ Discover TV) devotee.




Bluefin Tuna

Setting up Bamboozle

Bluefin Tuna

of course i couldn't fit both legs in batmobile. which means batman probably wasn't 6'5". phone rang. i answered it. pix at bamboozle


But I did go Friday morning to Bamboozle while they were finishing setting up. I walked around with my camera and took pictures and talked to early arrivers and adapters. And I absorbed some elemental energy; two hours later I was satiated and awarded myself an asterisk for being at Bamboozle. I’ve talked to lots of folks since; It’d be nice next year if I did go and even better if the Bamboozle hierarchy allowed the 100,000 people to walk down magical Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park and have dinner and check out art galleries and antique malls.








Bluefin Tuna

just before hitting asbury park i found this crow in the next town over in bradley beach






Now to this phenomenal acoustical Backstage event which I recently went to at the Strand Theater in Lakewood, New Jersey. Here’s the deal. Filled with emotion and wonderment at being there; introspective percolation and intestinal lining excavation produced the following (and its ‘funny’ the things that music and words make you think about. Powerful stuff-good music)



SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA.  The Strand Theater. Lakewood, NJ.  By Calvin Schwartz


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backstage ambience at Strand



I was picturing something new, filling with anticipation and even uncertainty and whispering words of a long forgotten gut wrenching song, “What’s it all About, Alfie?” Why am I whispering words and not singing? Because I can’t sing and I wish I could since the time my Newark elementary school put on a musical play in the auditorium. A picture of then President Eisenhower hung just to the right of the flag. Kids who could sing got special attention and privileges. I wish I could sing.






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Legendary Garland Jeffreys singing backstage close to audience


This night was special. I was driving down foggy misty Route Nine from Springsteen’s Freehold, New Jersey, toward Lakewood’s Strand Theatre for my first indoctrination into a wondrous backstage event. Alas, I can’t sing but I can write visually and sail through streams of consciousness and imagination. I was picturing things as my right hand negotiated a steering wheel. It was ‘conjure-up things’ city on a strangely empty highway.  Suddenly I was at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands (I still call it that). Seventy thousand fans were yelling “Bruce.”







Bluefin Tuna

Jerzy Jung. keyboard.




My seats were humble and I was without binoculars. Just to see his face up close would’ve been everything. All of a sudden, as I passed a diner and barren parking lot, I was in a small Vermont town where a veterinarian’s assistant was the mayor.  A group of 44 people were gathered on her green lawn in front of a porch that circumnavigated the house built by relatives of Ben Franklin. A musical porchfest was going on. I parked my car, walked over; everybody greeted me and I saw the lips of the singers moving and felt the exhaled breath of each word.  And I heard every word. They were singing just to me.  Relevance was my new favorite buzz word. The fog was thick; I couldn’t see the porch anymore.




Bluefin Tuna

Guy Davis. amazing blues and harmonica






A sign on the roadside welcomed me to Lakewood. Now back in Jersey and about to enter the world of a porchfest on a backstage of an historic theatre. Slip me into the world of art deco and put me next to a radio to hear President Roosevelt or Mayor LaGuardia.  My anticipation was as thick as ketchup; the French banned this red food stuff in their schools; I remembered and smiled about the quirky randomness of my thinking. I was cylinder firing away because of my extreme excitement to be at a backstage event.  I was following maze like theater corridors and magic marker signs leading to back stage at the Strand Theatre. I was really there.


Bluefin Tuna

Garland Jeffreys singing


I’m a native Jersey guy who likes history. The Strand opened in 1922 when Lakewood was actually popular with the rich and famous of the day like Rockefeller. The theater was built with a sense of acoustics as many performances of the day were solo acts. And here I was, about to walk onto the stage of the Strand for a magical acoustics evening. The Strand was signed into the National Register of Historical Places in 1982. My tripod, mono-pod and TV camera were gently deposited on the floor as ‘Songwriters by the Sea’ co-founder Joe Rapolla greeted me within my first few steps on stage. In 2008, Joe Rapolla and Joe D’Urso created the concept of ‘Songwriters’ who performed then in Asbury Park at America’s Cup Coffee. After a year in Asbury Park, the concept grew in popularity with audiences and they expanded to Backstage at the Strand in March, 2009.





Bluefin Tuna

Joe Rapolla singing


I need to qualify my writing style; strictly from the gut and reflective how songwriter performers emote while the surroundings add ambience to my writing soul. Joe Rapolla’s poignant life and musical journey has already hyper sensitized my words and observations. Therefore, this is not a review.

For the first half, I decided to plant my TV camera in the back of the stage which was several rows away from the songwriters. I wanted to feel songwriter intimacy and connections being part of the real audience.  I flicked the camera on auto and spiritually drifted. The old renovated theater was dark and empty; light from the stage managed to illuminate the first few rows of seats.  Dimly lit chandeliers added to surrealism; for me a silence you could see. Silence was part of the history in the walls; Burns and Allen once performed here; so did the Scarecrow, Ray Bolger. I heard Gracie’s shrill voice.





Bluefin Tuna

attentive audience




D’Urso (remember we’re dealing with two Joe’s) introduced the first group of songwriters.  Cat Cosentino (from Oceanport and proud of it) and Bobby Mahoney (only 17 and therefore couldn’t avail himself of a real drinking bar in the rear) were the young rising stars. Tom Breiding is from West Virginia while Bill Toms is near Pittsburgh. Bill talked to us like we’re in his living room back home. “The hardest person to get to know is yourself.”  Then the song words , “I’ve made peace now with a stranger in me.” Backstage means stark silence except for voice echoes. He sang to me. Three rows in front, a man on the aisle rubbed his cuticles. Why write about that; because of the intimacy of backstage; sensitivity and in tune with the immediate world. I pinched myself; purist joy what I was part of; affluent, audible, flowing, meaningful words. I was back in the Meadowlands briefly, starved for wordy echoes.





Bluefin Tuna

Tom Brieding. Bill Toms. Cat Cosentino. Bobby Mahoney



Cat’s first song was dedicated to her parents; her voice melodiously electric. Bobby sang “A Delicate Fall from Grace;” which reminded of a whip ride back in Newark; that sudden acceleration.   Tom Brieding sang about finding one another as we drift between stars. What meant everything to me being backstage is I heard every resonating word. The singers told stories. “You talking to me,” then I told the taxi driver to let me be. I love backstage.  A man on the left, two rows down took a swig of beer; the bottle level was half-way.  Then I saw a leg wearing cargo shorts stretch out in the aisle, moving to the beat of the music; the calf muscle flexed visibly. Gosh, I was in an electronic hyper state. The Strand environment worked magic.  Then I whispered to myself (I also do that in states of elation), “Thank you Rapolla and D’Urso.”






Bluefin Tuna

backstage silence



Intermission and time to position the camera on the side of the stage; different absorption I imagined. Both Joe’s would sing. And Garland Jeffreys, a living legend; I was a few feet away. Guy Davis; unbridled energy and blues.  Jerzy Jung;( her real name) with keyboard inches away from me. Joe D’Urso, a Bronx native, sang, “I’ll prove it won’t be dark, all the stars will be out tonight.”  While singing ‘Chocolate Man,’ Davis touched the audience.(proximity and sensation). And to hear every breath Garland Jeffreys took while singing ‘Coney Island Winter,’ was nirvana. “Hey Mah,” I was in that place of magic. I don’t know where James Cagney came from. Maybe I do know. I’m backstage clicking my heels.





Bluefin Tuna

Joe D'Urso





Then Do-Wop from D’Urso and the gang. He really corralled me all the way back to Newark, New Jersey, with the words, “Why must I be a teenager in love.” The power of backstage music, I thought. The Good-Humor man was selling this new ‘Toasted Almond’ bar.  Jerzy spoke about any woman or girl who ever felt unsure of herself. Soon, I was sitting around a fire place with a few fraternity brothers; Harvey had a guitar and was singing a folk song; ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’  I tried to sing along. They told me to stop.  I heard Rapolla’s wooden stool scrape along the stage. I was back on stage in awe, amazed at the clarity of the stool scraping noise.





Bluefin Tuna

Joe Rapolla





Every word from Garland Jeffreys was heard while he was way down in Spanish town.  And when he wasn’t singing, I watched him tap his feet to the beat. How many singers have I seen do that; certainly not from the running track in Madison Square Garden or standing chest to shoulder in a bar or in a park with a makeshift bandstand and hundreds of beach chairs as forward motion impediments.

Joe Rapolla talked about giving kids advice on love. “Don’t be afraid to throw your heart on the wind.” You’ll never know feelings of songwriters unless you are backstage.  All of a sudden Bill Murray pounded a clock radio alarm at 6:00 AM.  ‘Groundhog Day’ flashed. I didn’t want this night to end. Later Jerzy said that uncertainty wasn’t a bad thing. And the harmonica playing by Davis was riveting.  Jeffreys walked into the audience while singing ‘New York skyline.’ Everybody was singing now. Disbelief; I noticed the shadow that the microphone wire cast on the stage floor. It was a giant shadow.  Jeffreys’ voice was a giant voice.  ‘Wild in the Streets’ with all the cast closed this backstage event. When the show was over, I mingled with the singers. Accessibility was in the theater air ducts.  I thanked both Joe’s for their remarkable vision. And I marveled again about noticing the shadow of Jeffrey’s microphone wire. But that’s this incredible backstage world; heightened awareness and sensitivity beyond imagination.



Bluefin Tuna

Garland Jeffreys and me


Bluefin Tuna

the lonely silent darkened theater awaiting backstage pass



‘Songwriters by the Sea’ series is a musical atom; protons, electrons, neutrons firing away. My mind fired away and still does. It moves me to write impassioned commentary for people to escape from sedentary sofas. But what would happen to intimacy and interaction?  I thought of the word ‘secret.’ I also knew I was in a special place with special people for several hours and my atoms were musically innervated like never before.  Then I thought about my not ever being able to sing but it didn’t make a difference anymore. I was part of singing for every millisecond I was backstage.

Here is an old fashioned PS to this article. I went home and found Joe Rapolla’s cover of Elton John’s ‘Daniel.’ I listened several times in a row because I read his bio and I was still in that heightened electronic sensitized state from being backstage all night. So here’s a link:

And I’m still listening.




NOW HERE THIS:   a bit of an advertisement. I don’t do those very much here. BUT there’s a very unusual upbeat funny precious 2 minute video involving 102 year old Emily Cook who talks about the life briefly and then invites me back to her room. Not to be missed especially the last 23 seconds.   PLEASE  check it out and share it.


HooplaHa Videos and Article LINKS          Bluefin Tuna                                


Judy Feinstein: Female Pilot:

Judy Feinstein pilot:


Ida Gonzalez: A Mother’s Journey to Light:

Common Sense Approach to Common Sense:



Meryl Streep and Me:



 A Real College Pep Band Video (yes 85 seconds):


Also a very worthwhile cause to read up on:

 Butterfly Circle of Friends.




Facebook:  Cal Schwartz

Twitter:  Earthood



 book trailer. hey its 65 seconds long

 Vichy Water Book Trailer:                     



If on Facebook check out this NJ Discover site:Bluefin Tuna




Bluefin Tuna












LINKS TO VIDEOS.  Please Watch.

1.   ZOMBIE WALK   October 22, 2011

Zombie Walk Asbury Park


Nov 11, 2011

Veterans Day at NJ Vietnam War Memorial


Nov 19, 2011













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