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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Check out who's rising and who's falling.


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    A pair of monster wins from teams in the Top 10 caused some movement as two new teams join the Top 20 this week.


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    Who are the top forwards from the class of 2018?


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    The Women's March on New Jersey will be held Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Morristown. It is one of hundreds of Women's March 2018 events being held across the nation.


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    Breaking down how N.J. natives are faring in college hockey this season.


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    NJ Advance Media staff releases its latest group and conference rankings of the season.


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    Who are the top guards from the class of 2018?


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    Could Ranney be without star forward?

    Ranney junior and five-star recruit Scottie Lewis suffered an apparent ankle injury Thursday night at Point Pleasant Beach.

    Eyewitness Antwan Richardson, a frequent Shore Conference basketball attendee, filmed Lewis walking on crutches with his right foot in a boot after No. 6 Ranney's 54-42 win over Beach. The win was Ranney's sixth in its last seven games and Lewis has been a crucial part of that success.

    The 6-5 forward was injured pulling down a rebound and spent the second quarter icing his right ankle according to Richardson. Lewis returned from halftime with a boot and crutches. 

    Shoresportsnetwork.com confirmed the injury and reported that Ranney assistant coach John Tierney said Lewis will be evaluated on Friday to determine if he will miss any time.

    Ranney does not have an easy road ahead of it.

    It faces Pennsylvania's No. 3 ranked team in Westtown on Sunday and has a showdown with No. 1 Roselle Catholic on Wednesday, Jan. 31. It also has a rematch with No. 10 Mater Dei on Feb. 5. Not having Lewis for any of those three games, will be a huge factor.

    Lewis just surpassed the 1,000-point mark, is ranked ranked eighth by ESPN among the class of 2019, and is averaging 16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He has been a crucial part of Ranney's 11-3 start alongside fellow five-star junior Bryan Antoine, senior forward Savior Akuwovo, junior guard Alex Klatsky and junior point guard Ahmadu Sarnor.

    If Lewis misses significant time, those four, and junior center Chris Autino, will all be tasked with filling the void.

    Richard Greco may be reached at rgreco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Richard_V_Greco


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    What'd you miss in the last week of boys basketball season?


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    Check out where N.J.'s top college wrestlers are ranked nationally


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    See how the playoff picture is shaping up through the halfway point of the regular season.


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    The latest wrestling news from around the state.


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    The "Jersey Shore" star admits to cheating his taxes in 2011. Watch video

    Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino, known for his role on the "Jersey Shore" TV show, admitted Friday to not paying the full amount of taxes for 2011.

    The reality television star pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion in federal court in Newark before Judge Susan D. Wigenton as part of a plea deal in the tax case, in which he faced a 14-count indictment. 

    Sorrentino admitted to depositing less than $10,000 at a time to attempt to avoid suspicion at the Internal Revenue Service.

    Wigenton gave Sorrentino permission to travel to Florida to film a "Jersey Shore" reunion show before he is sentenced on April 25. The charge he pleaded guilty to carries a maximum of five years in prison but his attorney, Henry Klingeman, told reporters after the hearing he hopes his client avoids jail time. 

    "Typically, a defendant who has this type of plea agreement does not go to prison and we're hoping Mike is not an exception to that," Klingeman said. 

    Sorrentino, 36, will have to pay $123,000 in restitution, Klingeman said. 

    Sorrentino's brother, Marc, also pleaded guilty Friday to a count of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns for income earned in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He faces three years in prison.

    Authorities previously said the Sorrentino brothers, exploiting Sorrentino's success following the popular MTV reality show "Jersey Shore," earned approximately $8.9 million between 2010 and 2012. The brothers did not pay all federal income tax owed on this revenue, authorities said. 

    The two brothers ran the businesses MPS Entertainment LLC and Situation Nation Inc., a nod to Michael Sorrentino's nickname. Authorities said the two businesses made money through personal and television appearances by Michael Sorrentino, a partnership interest in a vodka company, an online clothing business, product endorsements, an autobiography and a comic book featuring Sorrentino as a superhero.

    Authorities accused the brothers of evading the Internal Revenue Service by filing false tax returns, underreporting their income and mixing personal and business bank accounts, using the money from business bank accounts for personal items such as luxury vehicles and clothing.

    In April, a superseding indictment was filed claiming Michael Sorrentino failed to file a personal tax return in 2011 when he made $2 million.  

    He was also accused in the new indictment of attempting to evade government scrutiny by keeping his bank deposits under $10,000. Anything above that amount would require the bank to file a transaction report under federal law.

    The new indictment charged Michael Sorrentino with tax evasion, structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements and falsifying records. Marc Sorrentino was charged with falsifying records to obstruct a grand jury investigation.

    Both brothers were charged in 2014 with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, which is punishable by a maximum potential prison sentence of five years upon conviction. Both also faced counts of filing false returns, each of which carries a maximum three-year sentence.

    The Sorrentinos, who grew up in Manalapan, have been free on bail since they were charged.

    In a 30-minute special for E! that aired in August, "Reunion Roadtrip: Return to the Jersey Shore," Michael Sorrentino was asked about the allegations against him by fellow castmate Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.

    "Years later, I still don't know what happened to be honest with you," Sorrentino said. 

    She said after Sorrentino was audited by the IRS, all the castmates received audits from the agency. 

    "Do not f*** with the IRS," she said. 

    Sorrentino told Polizzi he's been sober for 18 months.

    "I've worked hard to change," he said.  

    Michael Sorrentino appeared on all six seasons of the "Jersey Shore," and will also be featured in the new MTV series "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation," which is scheduled to air in 2018. 

    NJ Advance Media reporter Thomas Moriarty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    10 of N.J. hockey's top players over the past week.


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    Rook Coffee Roasters has announced big plans for New Jersey in 2018, opening its first store outside Monmouth County and hoping to land on grocery store shelves across the state.

    Caffeine fanatics in New Jersey, get ready.

    Rook Coffee Roasters has announced big plans for New Jersey in 2018, opening its first store outside Monmouth County and hoping to land on grocery store shelves across the state.

    The coffee shop is debuting it's first store outside Monmouth County in the summer, launching its 12th store, in Point Pleasant, it announced on Facebook.

    The roaster will be taking over a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Bridge Plaza.

    "We're so excited, it's a big one. When you get to 10 stores, it feels special," said co-founder Holly Migliaccio. "But the 12th being outside of Monmouth, leaving what you would consider our roots, it feels bigger." 

    The decision comes after going through the hundreds of requests for new locations, finding demand for a Point Pleasant location was "tremendous," she said. 

    Rook Coffee named on 'Coffee Shops to Visit Before You Die' list

    "When we receive that demand and we're able to fulfill that want, it makes us feel so good to make people happy," she said. 

    This will be the second location Rook will open in 2018, with a Freehold store under construction set to open in April. But the coffee shop has more in the works. 

    But before looking for a 13th location, Migliaccio and co-founder Shawn Kingsley are working to get their coffee in grocery stores. 

    "We can get the coffee on the shelves and give everyone access to it and meet that demand," Migliaccio said.

    Known for its hipster vibes, strong coffee and signature black crow logo, Rook Coffee Roasters was founded in 2010, and quickly amassed a following of millennials and coffee connoisseurs. 

    Those who were previously traveling miles to get their Rook Coffee are ecstatic the coffee house is expanding. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Ina White said her daughter loved Jacob Garrett, but police say he left her in a submerged, flooding car Watch video

    On Sunday afternoon, Ina White opened the door of her Burlington City home and saw police officers.

    They told her news she couldn't comprehend: her daughter, Stephanie White had been killed when the car her boyfriend was driving crashed into the icy Delaware River not far away. White was 23.

    "It didn't sink in right away and as they were talking, I just went numb," she said.

    She had no idea that there was more to the story until she went to the hospital to see the boyfriend, Jacob Garrett, 24, to talk to him about what happened. She saw police guarding his room, and they wouldn't let her inside.

    Jacob GarrettJacob T. Garrett

    Now, on top of grieving for her only daughter, Ina White is trying to reconcile that the man her daughter loved so dearly is accused of leaving her to die, submerged in freezing water, while he fled.

    "She was a beautiful person," she said. "She hadn't even started her life. She was only 23. Now here I am, trying to bury my daughter."

    In an interview Friday, Ina White and her sister, Roselle "Rosie" White, described Stephanie as a smart, soft-spoken young woman who worked hard and would do anything for her mother. She had a new job and was also looking to get an apartment with Garrett, whom she had dated for a year.

    "Jacob was like her life. She loved that man," Ina White said.

    Investigators have charged Garrett with causing death while driving with a suspended license, among other charges.

    The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said his car was speeding along Riverbank Road in Burlington City when it struck a parked van, vaulted off the river wall and plunged into the water.

    Witnesses described him Garrett pulling himself out of the car, which was flooding with water, and running away as he told them, "Help my girlfriend," authorities have said.

    Stephanie was wearing her seatbelt and submerged water when emergency responders pulled her out. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

    A police dog tracked Garrett's scent to the Riverline station and he was arrested on a northbound train, the prosecutor's office said. A hearing on whether he should be held pending trial is scheduled for Tuesday in Superior Court of Burlington County.

    'The kid you only dream of having'

    Stephanie White was known to most of her family and friends as Birdie, a nickname her godfather gave her as a baby. But Roselle White, of Neptune, said she always called her niece "Miss Purty."

    "She was the kid you only dream of having," Roselle White said. "She never once talked back to me, rolled her eyes or stomped her feet."

    Stephanie was lovable, soft-spoken and sensitive as a girl growing up in Freehold, she said. She graduated from Freehold Borough High School and earned a certificate in horticulture from a Monmouth County vocational school.

    She loved flowers, especially orchids, and could always be trusted to doctor a dying plant back to health, her aunt said.

    "She was very positive, she had a good attitude about things," Ina White said.

    Ina and Roselle White said Stephanie preferred to work and spend time at home, and wasn't interested in partying or going to clubs. She had been loving her new job loading trucks at the new FedEx shipping center in Hamilton, her family said.

    Roselle White said Stephanie was selfless and kind to everyone, but she especially "had her mom's back."

    She said her niece helped Ina White any way she could, including assisting with her foster kids, pitching in financially and giving her rides to Freehold so she could accompany Stephanie's grandmother to medical appointments.

    Ina White said she has raised 12 foster children over the last seven years, and her daughter, who lived with her, loved to care for the kids, too. She is currently fostering a seven-year-old boy.

    "She'd help him with his homework. They'd watch movies together," Ina White said of their relationship.

    Now, she said, the boy misses Stephanie and the house is oddly quiet. "It's worse being home. Her memory is right there," Ina White said.

    Stephanie also leaves an older brother, Steffon White of Howell, and her father, Martin Peterkin of Neptune, along with many other relatives and friends.


    'Help my girlfriend'

    Ina White said she got to know Garrett over the year he dated her daughter, and he never did anything to make her worry about Stephanie's safety.

    "It's worse because it was not something we expected," she said. "He presented himself as a hardworking young man that really loved my daughter. He did have a temper but never to the point where he'd put hands on her."

    She said he worked as a forklift operator and she thought he was "on a good path."

    She overheard them arguing on the phone the night before the crash, she said, and her daughter told Garrett she wasn't "going to listen to it anymore."

    "I don't know what they were arguing about. Maybe I should have said something?" Ina White said. "Some of these scenarios go through your mind, the coulda, woulda, shoulda. It probably wouldn't stop what took place but you wonder."

    One of the things she wonders about is if his anger caused him to do something rash Sunday. Ina White said she saw no skid marks at the scene, and has questions about how the car crashed into the water.

    "I have a million and one questions," Ina White said. "Every day I'd see my daughter. I'll never have those times again."

    Ina White said she does not know how she is going to pay for Stephanie's funeral and burial in Freehold, so Roselle White started a Gofundme page. It had raised almost $1,500 of the $7,000 goal by Friday afternoon.

    Stephanie White will be laid to rest Wednesday following a fineral at United Baptist Church, 603 3rd Ave. in Asbury Park at 12 noon, with viewing from 10 a.m. to noon.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    There's a good chance that someone in your family owned a Singer sewing machine in days gone by.

    ELIZABETH -- Whether they used one that was powered by a treadle or a pedal, there's a really good chance that someone in your family owned a Singer sewing machine.

    singer1.pngAt one time, Singer sold more sewing machines than all of its competitors combined. 

    In 1873, the Singer Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. purchased 32 acres of land in Elizabeth and established its first factory in the United States (the company also had a plant in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland). The company isn't credited with inventing the sewing machine, but founder Isaac Singer made crucial improvements to machine designs, patenting 12 ideas in 1857 alone.

    By the time the Elizabeth factory opened, Singer was selling more sewing machines than all of its competitors combined.

    The 6,000-strong workforce at the plant in the 1870s was the largest in the world at the time for a single establishment. For the 109 years that the factory operated in Elizabeth, a large proportion of residents were employed there at some point or were directly related to someone who was.

    The company had promotional ideas ahead of their time. It was the first company to spend $1 million a year on advertising, and offered giveaways such as free sewing machines for the wives of clergymen.

    Singer2.jpgSinger sewing machines were manufactured in Elizabeth for 109 years. 

    The iconic machine with the ornate cast iron framework was a staple in homes around the world. To this day, the simple, efficient design of the treadle-powered flywheel and drive belt on the late-19th century models operates flawlessly and quietly.

    At the turn of the century, Singer employee Phillip Diehl developed an electric motor for use with the machine (later founding the Diehl Manufacturing Co. in Elizabeth) that modernized it further. Eventually, the more compact machines of the 1950s through 1970s evolved.

    By the 1970s, however, the company was facing stiff competition from low-priced imports and a general decline in sewing machine sales. In 1982, the last 560 workers at the 1,400,000 square foot Elizabeth factory were laid off and the facility closed. The site at First and Trumbull streets is now home to an industrial park.

    The modern consumer era brought a decline in sales of sewing machines but they appear to making a comeback. SVP Worldwide, the current manufacturer of Singer-brand machines, says sales topped three million in 2012, which was twice as many as were sold 10 years before.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    FATHER DAN: Our bodies decay. That's life. But God's specialty is to heal diseases of the soul.

    I spent my day off in church. Well, not a real church, but in a play that takes place in a church. 

    "The Calling" is having its world premiere at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. The church it is set in is nameless but situated "in an old part of town." 

    Father Dan comes in to straighten up after a funeral, picking up trash left in the pews. (I know the routine.) He is startled to find a man he assumes to be homeless asleep in a bench. 

    Carl is an ICU nurse at a nearby hospital and cared for the deceased when she was a patient. He never left after the funeral. For the first few minutes, the two seem to spar with words as they get to know each other.  

    CARL: I consider myself sort of a lapsed Catholic. 

    FATHER DAN: "Sort of a lapsed Catholic"? Can't make up your mind?

    CARL: I've struggled with the issue.

    FATHER DAN: Is it possible that you've only lost your way ... temporarily?

    CARL: Father Dan, I think the world's lost its way. Good people suffer, while bad people prosper. And God just lets it happen.

    You begin to think Carl is there just for spiritual counseling. Perhaps burned out from his overnight shifts. Or just to find a priest who will listen. After all, isn't that what priests are known for? They can each hold their own, and Father Dan thinks he can easily get Carl to leave, only to find the play's suspense heightens. 

    FATHER DAN: Is life really that bleak for you? 

    CARL: I'm surrounded by the sick and the dying. ... If you're going to help me, Father, you'll have to do better than that. 

    FATHER DAN: Psalm 103:3. It is God "who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases."

    CARL: Tell that to the terminal patients on my ward.

    FATHER DAN: Our bodies decay. That's life. But God's specialty is to heal diseases of the soul.

    Thirty minutes into the two-man play comes the first shock comes when Carl describes what he does.  And then a half-hour later, the play takes what appears to be an ominous turn.  At one point, Carl reveals a past experience, which explains why he stayed behind to talk to the priest. That, for me, was the weakest part of the play and lacked gravitas. 

    The two actors carry the play's 90 minutes with no intermission admirably.

    Ames Adamson as Father Dan reminds me of Father Jack Cryan, former pastor of Our  Lady of Mercy in Jersey City -- brassy voice, looks, shape, facial hair ... until he sings.  Cryan is an operatic baritone. 

    Jared Michael Devaney's Carl is convincing as a troubled nurse.

    Playwright Joel Stone has a good grasp of theological and religious issues - like free will, freedom and forgiveness -- and weaves them deftly into the dialogue between the two principals.  He injects the clerical abuse crisis simply to titillate.  The priest and the nurse grapple over the meaning of mercy and on that the play turns.

    And that's the gist of this world premiere. NJ PAC Stage Exchange commissioned three plays with a New Jersey theme. Stone recalled a story about a nurse in a New Jersey hospital whose actions, by the way, involved a prominent lawyer from Jersey City. 

    NJ Rep was chosen to mount Stone's work. He is their literary director and is an adjunct professor of playwriting at nearby Monmouth University.

    The design of the church is pretty good, although the audience is where the altar would be and the tabernacle is mistakenly placed on the side of what appears to be a credance table.  

    I was a bit worried about this area of Long Branch, which is not too far from Pier Village and the beach. A policeman and a patrol car were stationed in the large, free municipal parking lot at the theater's entrance. Afterward, I drove around the area of Long Branch  where I vacationed as a boy and passed Star of the Sea Church. 

    After "The Calling," if I ever find someone sleeping in a church bench, I will take them outside first to talk.  See "The Calling" and you'll know why.    

    EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rev. Alexander Santora is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph, 400 Willow Ave., Hoboken, 07030. Fax: 201-659-5833; email: padrealex@yahoo.com; Twitter: @padrehoboken. 

    If you go ...

    "The Calling" by Joel Stone continues through Feb. 4 at the New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch. Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. $46. For information, call 732-229-3166 or go to www.njrep.org.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    It's not always easy to know what to do when adopting a rescue dog, but a new website shows what to do - and what not to do - when adopting.

    Dog rescuer and trainer Julie Hart advocates for dog adopters with her new free website rescuedogsresponsibly.com. "I want to promote dog rescue by educating the dog adopter on how to select a compatible family pet," said Hart, "I want dog rescues to put the safety and needs of people first so dog adopters have a better dog adoption experience."

    Navigating the dog rescue world can be daunting. Hart's website takes a multi-pronged approach to help adopters, including information on how to choose a dog rescue to adopt from, understanding dog behavior, a flow chart to help choose a safe dog and dog rescue myths.

    Hart includes tips and videos on subjects like a dog's affinity of people, touch tolerance, fear, and rude dog behavior. Each video rates behavior as a preferred, medium, and poor dog behavior example. Hart also welcomes inquiries from dog rescues and shelters on how to improve the placement and selection of their dogs.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    "El Coqui Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom" at Two River Theater is smart, warm, inventive, vibrant, and simply a great deal of fun

    Aside from having what may very well be the greatest title of any play ever, "El Coqui Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom" at Red Bank's Two River Theater is smart, warm, inventive, vibrant, and simply a great deal of fun.

    A world-premiere superhero play by up-and-coming playwright Matt Barbot, "El Coqui" follows the story of Alex (Bradley James Tejada), a young comic-book artist from Brooklyn who struggles to maintain his artistic integrity while holding down a job. When maintaining that integrity means losing the job, an unemployed Alex retreats to his bedroom in the home of his mother Patricia (Olivia Negron) where he dedicates his time to crafting a comic book starring El Coqui, a superhero whose Puerto Rican roots run deep (the name refers to a tree frog native to the island). Facing writer's block, Alex decides to make a costume featuring a vejigante mask and rove the alleys of Brooklyn to fight crime. He proves to be no Batman, but thanks to the investigative photography of Yesica (Flor De Liz Perez), the stunt goes viral and eventually takes on a life beyond Alex's control.

    Under the direction of Jose Zayas, the play moves smoothly between scenes staging the adventures of El Coqui--which turn out to be both the plot of Alex's comic and the tensions wracking his subconscious--and the battle against capitulation to workaday capitalism that consumes Alex's real life. On the one hand, Alex has visions of supervillain El Chupacabra (Gabriel Diego Hernandez) who preys upon our hero's cultural anxieties that he is at best a Nuyorican but potentially only a "sorta-Rican" failing to embody his proud heritage. On the other hand, Alex's older brother Joe (Cesar J. Rosado) who works for an advertising agency insists that he could get Alex a graphic-design job, but the fledgling artist cannot square commercialism with his aesthetic principles.

    Barbot's carefully constructed script braids all these threads together in an impressively efficient 90 minutes featuring everything we love about superhero stories: tenuous crises of identity, heroes losing their way before redemption, romantic tension, deceptively complex characters, and some great fight scenes (fight direction by UnkleDave's Fight-House). In a neat trick, Barbot intertwines a comic-book story with the tale of that story's creation, all while developing rich, relatable characters, and a sharp parable about Brooklyn gentrification.

    Zayas and his cast bring it all to life with exuberance. The cast succeeds by giving themselves fully to this manifold world Barbot has created: they are comic-book characters with the requisite amount of camp when necessary, and elsewhere they are recognizeable, relatable people. Tejada skillfully balances Alex's principled nature with his anxiety while Rosado does similar work negotiating Joe's ambition and the increasing weight of his heritage. Hernandez shines in his double duty as the cocky, smooth-talking, sharp-dressed El Chupacabra (in a spectacular costume by Asta Bennie Hostetter) and the equally cocksure Junior (offering, among other show highlights, truly excellent oral renditions of emojis).

    All of this plays out on Arnulfo Maldonado's great set that unites with Zach Blane's lights and Alex Koch's projections and animation to invoke and bring to life the panels of a comic book. At every turn, this production of "El Coqui" seeks to trouble and blur the distinctions between life and comic, an effect that makes its experience at once visceral, engaging, and deeply satisfying.

    EL COQUI ESPECTACULAR AND THE BOTTLE OF DOOM

    Two River Theater Company

    21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank

    Tickets: available online (http://www.tworivertheater.org/). Running through February 4.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at patrickjmaley@gmail.com. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.


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