BEACH HAVEN, NJ — When the Surflight Theatre closed in February 2015, it was a sad day for all. With more than 65 years of shows, the Surflight was a landmark on Long Beach Island.
Now two years after the theater filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Broadway producer Al Parinello has bought the theater from TD Bank — a process that started in early December. "It was a lot of pulling teeth and I was literally waving dollar bills,” Parinello said.
The deal ultimately closed in early February and work began to prepare for a new season, which opens in June with a full schedule of musical productions, children's shows and concerts (see full schedule below).
"The more I researched (the Surflight), the more I fell in love; it's a gem," Parinello said. "We're here to save it and bring it back on par and better than before."
Along with the theater's main stage and Children's Theatre, the famous singing ice cream parlor, Showplace, will also reopen this summer.
Born in Hoboken, Parinello was around 15 or 16 he discovered his love for the arts. He went to see his first musical "The Fantasticks," at the Sullivan Street Theatre in New York City, and that is where he said, "It changed my life."
"Here we are 50 years later or so, and I'm currently the producer of 'The Fantasticks' on Broadway," Parinello said. "Theater is a very special place; it's where the impossible happens."
When Parinello formerly owned the Atlantic City-based rock radio station, WJSE, he was also producing "very well attended" concerts for a handful of casinos. When one casino director approached him about ways to expand the audience and increase revenue, Parinello suggested he could put on musicals, even though he had never done so before.
Parinello had to learn how to produce these shows, so his friend introduced him to Long Beach Island's Steve Steiner, who returns to the Surflight as artistic director. Steiner and Parinello went on to do a series of musicals together, which "brought a quarter of a million people to AC to see these shows."
And now the men are back together at the Surflight. They believe together they are going to do exceedingly well, but explained that they still need help from the community through volunteers, donations and ticket sales. "It only works if we all get together and make it work."
"We're just really excited that we can bring the theater back," Steiner said, who is pleased to be "going back to the roots" and to "continue to build our audience. We now already know how to build, so we believe we can do it even faster this time around."
If you are interested in volunteering, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Single tickets for the shows are now on sale and will be available for purchase in person at the box office (201 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven) beginning Friday, April 14.
For subscription or group pricing, or for more information, contact the Surflight Box Office at 609-492-9477 or visit www.surflight.org. For ticket orders and donations, use address: Surflight Theatre, P.O. Box 1155, Beach Haven, NJ 08008.
Surflight Theatre 2017 Shows:
"Footloose" – June 23-30, July 1-9
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" – July 11-23
Disney’s "Newsies, the Musical" – July 25-31, Aug. 1-13
"Hairspray" – Aug. 15-27
"Million Dollar Quartet" – Aug. 29-31, Sept. 1-10
"Home for the Holidays: A Surflight Celebration" – Dec. 7-17
The Children's Theatre
All shows will begin at 6 p.m.
"Cinderella" – June 28-30, July 1-2
"Peter Pan" – July 5-9
"Snow White" – July 12-16
"Wizard of Oz" – July 19-23
"Sleeping Beauty" – July 26-30
"Cinderella" – Aug. 2-6
"Jungle Book" – Aug. 9-13
"Wizard of Oz" – Aug. 16-20
"Peter Pan" – Aug. 23-27
Winnie the Pooh – Aug. 30-31, Sept. 1-3
The Coasters, Drifters and Platters – July 17
John Davidson – July 31
Mike Marino (Jersey's Bad Boy) – August 7
The New Millennium Jazz Band Plays the Sinatra Songbook – Nov. 25
The Rave-ons (Todd Meredith and his band play Buddy Holly and more) – Dec. 31