Robert and Joan Rechnitz founded the Two River Theater on the campus of Monmouth University in 1994.
Twenty-five years later the theater, now located in Red Bank, is nationally recognized for its original and classic productions that bring in 50,000 patrons annually.
“Our ambition was always to help students, educators, and life-long learners understand and appreciate theater and its role as a tool for learning, enlightenment, and social change,” said Robert in an e-mail
The couple’s dedication to the theater company is being celebrated at its 25th anniversary gala on May 18.
“Joan and Bob are an amazing couple and their commitment to the arts is inspiring,” said honorary gala chairs rock star Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, in a prepared statement.
The Rechnitzes are members of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls. Joan, who grew up in the New York area, said via e-mail that her love of theater began by going into the city with her family to see shows, especially classic musicals.
Robert remembered his mother taking him to see the national tour of “The Glass Menagerie” in his native Pueblo, Colo., when he was 15 and said the theatricality of it “knocked me out.”
The couple, who met while students at the University of Colorado, produced four plays at the Milford Theater in Pennsylvania.
Joan said her interest was art and design. “I would support the work by designing and painting posters and working as a scenic painter and assistant costume designer,” she said.
They founded Two River Theater in 1994 at Monmouth University.
During its first decade the number of audience members and donations grew, said Richard, so the company sought a larger space and “the ideal site” was found on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank.
They remain integral to the company’s leadership; Joan is associate producer and Robert is executive producer. After the company moved to Red Bank in 2005, he directed in the company’s opening production, “You Can’t Take It with You,” and continues to direct other shows, including the recent “The Belle of Amherst,” which closed on May 5.
If you go
What: 25th anniversary gala for Two River Theater honoring Robert
and Joan Rechnitz
Where: Two River Theater, Red Bank
When: Saturday, May 18, 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $350 per ticket, sponsorships available
RSVP: Kate Benson at 732-936-8817 or firstname.lastname@example.org