The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Local Theaters Offer Wide Variety of Entertainment This Holiday Season

Musicals, a Play, Comedy, Opera, Ballet, Rock and Even a Psychic Reading
By Rick Mellerup | Nov 08, 2019

Southern Ocean County — Beach Haven’s Surflight Theatre is often called a summer theater. That is somewhat of a misnomer, however, because Surflight is certainly a busy place during the holiday season.

Surflight’s 2019 fall/holiday lineup will be highlighted by its production of “’Tis The Season,” a musical with largely well-known Christmas music arranged by the theater’s Producing Artistic Director Steve Steiner and a book by longtime Surflight collaborator and acting favorite Andrew Foote. Steiner described the show as comparing the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in big cities to the slower, traditional approach of small towns. In “’Tis the Season,” the small-town version wins out.

It will be a world premiere.

“’Tis The Season” will be performed at 2 p.m. on Dec. 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 and at 7:30 pm on Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14. Tickets are $39 for adults and seniors and $29 for children 12 years of age and younger.

The musical is far from the only entertainment being offered at Surflight this autumn and winter. On Saturday, Nov. 16, Joe Bublewicz, the promoter who arranges Surflight’s popular “Comedy Tonight” series during the summer, will be back with a Comedy Tonight fundraiser benefiting the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Co. The show will start at 8:30 pm.

The headliner is Max Dolcelli, a veteran comedian with over three decades of experience. As a beginner he made a splash winning the Jest of the West comedy competition in 1989 and he hasn’t lost a step, receiving a Recognition of Comedy Excellence award from New York City’s Friars Club, which isn’t a cloistered monastery but rather a prestigious members-only club founded in 1904 for entertainment professionals. It’s best known to the public for its famous/infamous roasts of performers.

Docelli will be joined by featured performer Michael Harrison and Bublewicz himself, who is a 20-year stand-up veteran and favorite at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

Tickets for the comedy show are $20.

Surflight has it all, as exemplified by the switch from comedy to opera when the Center State Opera of Pennsylvania will visit Beach Haven to perform “Carmen” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23.

“Carmen,” by the French composer Georges Bizet, is one of the world’s most beloved operas. Two of its numbers, “Habanera” and “Toreador Song,” are among the best known of all operatic arias. Even if you’re not an opera buff, it is almost certain you have heard their music.

The opera is set in southern Spain. Don Jose, a soldier, is seduced by the wiles of a fiery gypsy, Carmen. He dumps his childhood sweetie for her and deserts the military, all for naught when he loses her love to the glamorous matador Escamillo. Don Jose kills Carmen in a jealous rage.

When “Carmen” premiered in Paris in March 1875, it created a stir – women portrayed in opera at the time were usually high class ladies of honor, not Gypsy temptresses. Immorality, lawlessness and the tragic onstage death of the opera’s leading lady were unheard of at that time.

“Carmen” will be presented in French by the Center State Opera. Area opera fans are likely familiar with the troupe considering it performed “Carmen” in 2014 at the Stafford Township Arts Center and “The Barber of Seville” last November at Surflight.

Tickets for “Carmen” are $29.50.

If “Carmen” is a classic opera ,The Diamonds are a classic rock and roll/doo-wop group. They’ll perform at Surflight at 7:30 pm on Saturday, Nov. 30. Tickets are $37.50.

When I say classic I mean classic – the group’s biggest hit, “Little Darlin’,” was released way back in 1957. The original group sprang out of Canada, and they first made a name for themselves by tying for first place on the “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout” show. The Diamonds eventually placed 16 records on the Billboard charts, had three gold records (the aforementioned “Little Darlin,” “Silhouettes” and “The Stroll”), made 33 appearances on “American Bandstand,” had their music included in the soundtracks of “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days” and were elected into the Vocal Group and Doo-Wop Halls of Fame.

The group’s original four members have passed on, but the current Diamonds lineup has roots stretching back to the group in 1973 when baritone Gary Owens joined The Diamonds. He has spent more years as a Diamond than any other member ever.

Surflight’s 2019 season will end, appropriately enough, with more rock ’n’ roll when The Rave-Ons return to its stage at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, a.k.a. New Year’s Eve. The Rave-Ons is comprised of cast members of the national tour of “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story,” led by Todd Meredith, who has performed the title role in that musical in 17 separate productions. Other performers include Bill Morey on upright bass, Joe Cosmo Cogen on drums and Jeremy Renner on guitar. This New Year’s Eve they’ll be joined by sax player Jimmy Merchant, fresh from his Broadway debut in “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life And Times Of The Temptations.”

The Rave-Ons are known for their renditions of rockabilly and early rock hits, but this time around they’ll be dropping tunes from the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones into the mix. So, call it rock ’n’ roll or just rock, but Surflight will be jumping on the last evening of 2019.

Tickets for the Rave-Ons shows are $39.50. Careful of depending on that last option, though; there’s nothing worse than getting shut out of entertainment on New Year’s Eve.

Tickets for all shows may be purchased online at surflight.org, by phone at 609-492-9477 or at the box office, located at 201 Engleside Ave.

Check Out STAC

And Grunin Center

Surflight isn’t the only venue in Southern Ocean County to offer shows and concerts this holiday season. The Stafford Township Arts Center has a busy season planned starting on Friday, Nov. 15, when it will host An Evening of Psychic Readings with Barbara Mackey. Tickets are $25.

Mackey is a professional psychic, medium, TV/radio personality and paranormal investigator who has appeared on Animal Planet and Discovery ID channels and is the resident psychic on 92.7 FM WOBM.

On Friday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m., Suzy Yengo of Catch a Rising Star will bring to the STAC a comic who is well-known and beloved by Jersey fans, Bobby Collins. Tickets are $20 or $35.

Collins is a showbiz vet who was born to be a comedian – his father named him after his favorite comic, Bob Hope. And it is fitting Catch a Rising Star is associated with his trip to Manahawkin because he first made a name in comedy at the original Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club in Manhattan.

Saturday, Nov. 23, will feature a Christmas Concert with Italian tenor Micheal Castaldo starting at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $40.

Castaldo is a classical-crossover tenor who was born in Calabria, Italy. His first voice coach was maestro Pisapia, a protégé of the famous Enrico Caruso. His family moved to the New World, and he ended up graduating from Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music. In 2012 Castaldo was a competitor for the Europe Tourism Board classical-crossover artist award, finishing third out of 37 submitted artists.

Speaking of classical arts and crossover, the Atlantic City Ballet will perform “It’s a Shore Holiday” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 years of age and younger.

The ACB calls “It’s a Shore Holiday” a “Radio City-esque” revue that features a blend of contemporary and classical dance set to beloved holiday tunes. “Add singers and a live band and you will be transported to a Holiday Winter Wonderland that will capture your inner child’s imagination. This delightful show will bring out the Holiday spirit in everyone!”

Finally, at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, the musical “The Fantasticks” will be performed. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors ages 60 and older, and $10 for children 12 years of age and younger.

“The Fantasticks,” with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, is the longest-running musical in history, with its original Off-Broadway production opening in 1960 and not closing until 2002, racking up an incredible 17,162 performances. Its most famous song is “Try to Remember (the kind of September),” originally sung by Jerry Orbach, the star, decades later, of “Law and Order.”

Tickets to all of the above Stafford Township Arts Center shows can be purchased online at staffordschools.tix.com or at the box office, located at 1000 McKinley Ave. in Manahawkin. Call 609-489-8600 before heading to the box office because its hours can be irregular.

Finally, both Pinelands and Southern regional high schools have already mounted their fall productions, but Barnegat High School’s is yet to come. The Bengal Theatre Co.of BHS will perform “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which, after a premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in California and a short Off-Broadway run, opened on Broadway on April 15, 2012. It had a fairly long run for a Broadway straight play, which tend not to run nearly as long as hit musicals – 18 previews and 319 regular performances – and garnered nine Tony Award nominations including Best Play, winning five.

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” adapted for the stage by Rick Elice from a novel by the humorist Dave Barry and suspense writer Ridley Pearson, is a wildly imaginative prequel to “Peter Pan,” exploring the origins of Peter, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, etc.

The play will be performed at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 21-23 ,and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. They may be purchased online at bengaltheatre.com or at the door. All performances are in the auditorium of the Barnegat High School, 180 Bengal Blvd. in Barnegat.

And with that, folks, happy holidays to all!

— Rick Mellerup

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.