BEACH HAVEN, NJ - When the Surflight Theatre announced the closing back in February 2015, it was a very sad day for all. After 65 years of shows, the Surflight Theatre was a landmark on Long Beach Island.
Now two years after the theater filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a New York City Broadway producer, Al Parinello, has closed a deal to buy Surflight from TD Bank.
Along with the theatre, the famous singing ice cream parlour, The Showplace, will also reopen this summer.
The process with the bank started in early December, Parinello said, "it was a lot of pulling teeth and I was literally waving dollar bills,” but the deal ultimately closed in early February.
When Parinello began the meeting Monday, he emphasized that "there is absolutely no hidden agenda to demolish the Surflight Theatre and build condos...did everybody hear that?"
"The ultimate goal is to bring the theatre back," he continued, "the more I researched the more I fell in love, it's a gem. We're here to save it and bring it back on par and better than before."
The crowd applauded because that is something that everyone has been waiting to hear.
Al Parinello was born in Hoboken and when he was around 15 or 16 he discovered his love for the arts. Al went to see his first musical "The Fantasticks" at the Sullivan Street Theatre in NYC and that is where he says, "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, "theatre is a very special place, it's where the impossible happens."
When Al was finishing up he felt "humbled" and said that him and his team work very hard to make things happen. "Everything I'm involved in, I'm in love with."
Parinello went on to introduce Steve Steiner, longtime friend and former Producing Artistic Director at Surflight, and how they met years back.
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 in AC. When one of the casino directors approached him about ways to expand the audience and revenue, Al suggested he could put on musicals, even though he had never done so before.
Al had to learn how to produce these shows, so his friend introduced him to Steve Steiner from Long Beach Island. 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."
During the meeting, Parinello talked about the success that Steiner has previously had and feels confident he can do it again, but only better.
Before Steve came to Surflight, they were taking in under $1 million a year in sales. During Steve's time there the sales reached over $3 million a year. Just 3-4 years after he left, sales went back down to $1.8 million.
The Children's Theatre also saw an increase in ticket sales while Steve was there. Before, Surflight was only selling 15,000 tickets, during, over 20,000, and after he left, the numbers went down to under 10,000 ticket sales.
Although "the ice cream parlour has always done well," Al said, "while Steve was there over $300k in profits went straight to the theatre, after he left they leased it out and it only brought in $20k in profit for Surflight."
Steiner also brought in the concept of concerts to Surflight which brought in more revenue for the theatre.
"Steve knows and lives this industry," Parinello said, "he's constantly looking to provide these services to the community."
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 get here and bring the theater back," Steiner said. He is excited to be "going back to the roots" and to "continue to build our audience." Steiner said, "We now already know how to build so we believe we can do it even faster this time around."
When they entered the Surflight Theatre it looked as though a vast majority of the improvements needed will only be cosmetic, but they still will have a full inspection done by an industrial hygienist before they go in and begin all replenishments.
Beach Haven Mayor, Nancy Taggart Davis was in attendance and chimed in by saying, "the Borough of Beach Haven is very excited to have the theatre back. We feel positive that Al, Steve, and the team can make this a success."
Parinello closed the meeting by saying, "this is going to take a lot of work, but we're ready for that battle because it's worth it."
If you are interested in volunteering, you can email email@example.com.
See below for the schedule and list of shows.
Single tickets for the shows will go on sale April 1 and can also be purchased in person at the box office (201 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven) beginning April 14.
To subscribe to the season, arrange Groups or for more information, contact the Surflight Box Office at (609) 492-9477 as of this Wednesday, March 8.
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 21-25
Sleeping Beauty - 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
Peter Pan – Aug. 9-13
Wizard of Oz – Aug. 16-20
101 Dalmatians – Aug. 23-27
Winnie the Pooh – Aug. 30-31, Sept. 1-3
John Davidson - July 31
The Coasters, Drifters and Platters – Aug. 7
The New Millennium Jazz Band Plays the Sinatra Songbook – Nov. 25
The Education Division is also expected to present the high school version of Rock of Ages with local students Oct. 20-22.
"Your friends at Surflight: Steve, Gail, Paula, Ruth, Bill, and Al thank you for your support."