This is a cause close to my heart and one that could really use your help. For anyone who’s a fan of theater, music and arts and culture, Count Basie has been a staple in the Monmouth County area. It was the go-to for so many important events in our lives. I’ve seen everyone from Sebastian Maniscalco, the world renowned comedian, to Johnny Mathis, to the Beach Boys and even a live Geraldo Rivera show and a cheesy Fifty Shades of Grey parody at this historic venue.

I’ve even had the opportunity to be on that grand stage several times, emceeing events over the years. There is nothing like the loyalty that New Jersey has to the Count Basie theater. And now, because of the pandemic and the ongoing restrictions on theatre capacity now that they were allowed to open, the Count Basie is at risk of going the way of so many other important institutions in New Jersey without the public’s help. As a matter of fact, even if we weren’t set to perform “Dennis and Judi Live” there next fall, I would feel a huge sense of loss if we lost the Count Basie.

Now they are reaching out to the public, who have been lucky enough to enjoy great arts, music and culture there for all of these years, for help. In an open letter to the public, the Count Basie has asked for help in collecting $2 million to keep the theater afloat. It’s ironic that Phil Murphy, the man who caused these problems for the Count Basie with his draconian rules and overblown reaction to the pandemic, is a neighbor of the Basie.

He may have even been there for a night out on the town with some of his friends. It seems like it would be easy for the governor and a bunch of his well-heeled pals to get together to save the theater. Let’s hope they will at least pitch in in this endeavor. If you are an art lover or even if you’re not and are just concerned about losing more than we’ve already lost from the COVID-19 shut down and its ensuing troubles, please consider donating to the Count Basie theater.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.