A barrier island off the coast of New Jersey, 45 minutes north of Atlantic City, is home to the Joseph P. Hayes Surflight Theatre, which continues as a year-round operation.
The Beach Haven, NJ, troupe was founded by Joseph P. Hayes in 1950. His dream was to offer theatre and theatre training for actors and technicians on Long Beach Island. Today's programming, 57 years later, includes full-scale productions of Broadway musicals and plays from late May through mid-October plus three weeks in December; children's theatre productions throughout the summer; and an intern and apprentice program which trains approximately 50 high school and college students each season.
"As Surflight Theatre approaches its 60th anniversary, the volunteer board of directors has become inspired to seek out these high school and college students and all others who throughout the years have spent their summers following their dreams at Surflight," according to a Surflight announcement. "The board's goal is to create a group of alumni who hold Surflight in their hearts and would like to play some part in helping to continue the success and forward progress of the theatre in Beach Haven."
Some of these alumni include Roy Miller, producer of Broadway's The Drowsy Chaperone; Broadway and Hollywood composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin); music director, author and theatrical personality Seth Rudetsky; Charlotte D'Amboise, who plays "Cassie" in the current Broadway production of A Chorus Line; Dan Knechtges, choreographer of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway; Kelsey Fowler, who plays "Young Lee Bouvier" in Grey Gardens; Martin Vreeland, assistant lighting designer for The Lion King; Victor Hawks of Urinetown and Les Miserables; and Steve Rosen, who plays "Sir Bedevere" in Monty Python's Spamalot.
Some other well-known Surflight alumni include David Hartman, a former host of "Good Morning America"; Richard Kind of television's "Mad About You" and "Spin City"; and Connie Britton of "Spin City" and "Friday Night Lights." The first Surflight Theatre Alumni Reception is scheduled for 6-8 PM April 16, at the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Atrium in New York City, 300 Madison Avenue at 42nd Street.
"This cocktail party is an opportunity for past Surflighters to connect and reconnect with a network of performers and technicians who began or advanced their careers through their work at Surflight," according to the troupe. "The goal is for past Surflighters to reminisce, reconnect and re-live the Surflight experience and dream. And to learn what is happening now at Surflight as presented by Steve Steiner, producing artistic director."
Reservations to attend may be made by calling The Haven Group at (201) 405-1607 or on line at SurflightNYC@aol.com.
Attendance is by reservation only. There is no charge. Additional information may be found at www.surflight.org.
Surflight Theatre has been a non-profit 501 c3 organization since 2001. Steve Steiner is the producing artistic director and Gail Anderson is the production manager and intern and apprentice director.