NJ Surflight Theatre Emerges From Bankruptcy With 2012 Season of Sound of Music, Rat Pack, Andrew Lloyd Webber and More
By Kenneth Jones
Surflight Theatre, the long-time summer theatre in Beach Haven, NJ, on Long Beach Island has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to mount a 63rd season beginning in April 2012. Expect popular titles of the musicals and comedies.
A federal bankruptcy judge confirmed Surflight's plan of reorganization on Dec. 8, ten months after it filed for bankruptcy protection. The theatre "will begin making payments to its pre-bankruptcy creditors based on the plan that was crafted over the last ten months of intense negotiations," according to a statement from the theatre.
Surflight's new leadership, Broadway producers Roy Miller (artistic director and Surflight alum) and Timothy Laczynski (executive producer), produced a starry 2011 season of hit titles following the February filing. (A current production of Plaid Tidings closes the season on Dec. 18.)
Surflight's 2012 season will include The Rat Pack, a revue celebrating the swingin' '60s songs of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra; All I Ask of You — A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber; Annie; The Sound of Music; the new musical comedy Once Upon a Time in New Jersey; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; and the plays Steel Magnolias and Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.
Executive producer Laczynski said in a statement, "Roy and I, along with the theatre's board, staff and advisers, have spent months creating a plan of reorganization, which is now court-approved, to resurrect Surflight Theatre from years of accumulated, unsustainable debts. I am pleased to announce that Surflight is on the path toward long-term financial sustainability. The exciting work has really just begun now that we can finally focus on 'running' Surflight rather than 'saving' Surflight. While in Chapter 11, it was not possible to secure funding from some of the corporate and foundation supporters that contributed to Surflight in previous years. There was also understandable resistance from individual supporters, some of whom were presumably hesitant to contribute to what they considered a 'sinking ship' while Surflight operated in bankruptcy."
Artistic director Miller, who worked there as a young actor and later became a Broadway producer, added, "Our beloved Surflight has been granted a new lease on life. In order to fulfill the theatre's mission, we are about to sail forward and launch our 2012 Annual Giving Campaign. It goes without saying that as a not-for-profit theatre, Surflight cannot survive on box office sales alone. It goes without saying that production costs along with the added resources needed to maintain and improve upon our education, intern and accessibility programs are very costly. We are focusing our efforts to raise the much needed funds to take the organization to the next level both financially and artistically."
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