Surflight Pulling Out All the Stops With ‘Boynton Beach Club’

World Professional Premiere Stars Andrea McArdle

Beach Haven — The 2019 Surflight Theatre season has been and will be a season of firsts. Every Surflight mainstage show in the year’s lineup, be it a musical or a straight play, is a Surflight premiere. But the theater’s next musical, “Boynton Beach Club,” which will open on Wednesday, Sept. 11, and run through Sunday, Sept. 22, is truly special. It isn’t just a Surflight premiere, but a world professional premiere and a Broadway preview to boot!

That’s right, Surflight is premiering a show that could be Broadway-bound. And it is doing so in a grand fashion, with a cast that has more than 40 Broadway shows under its collective belt.

The show’s headliner is none other than Andrea McArdle, who originated the title role of “Annie” on Broadway and also starred in London’s West End production. Other Broadway credits include Ashley, the sassy smoking car in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Starlight Express,” Fatine in “Les Miz,” Margy Frake in “State Fair” and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” McArdle’s also had fistfuls of regional, touring, Off-Broadway, film and television credits and has worked with showbiz greats such as Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Bob Hope, Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Steve Martin and Martin Short.

McArdle will share the Surflight stage with Joel Blum. His Broadway credits include the original production of “42nd Street,” “Stardust,” “Show Boat,” “Steel Pier,” “The Music Man” and “After the Night and the Music.” Jerold Goldstein appeared on Broadway in “Ain’t Broadway Grand” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Nina Hennessey was on the Great White Way in “Woman of the Year,” “Dreamgirls,” “Cats,” “Les Miz,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” Leah Hocking’s Broadway shows include “Guys and Dolls,” “Grease,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “The Wild Party,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Hairspray,” “Dance of the Vampires,” “All Shook Up,” “Billy Eliot” and Sting’s “The Last Ship.” Barry Pearl played Broadway in the original production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Oliver,” “A Teaspoon Every Four Hours” and “Baby It’s You.” Aaron Ramey trod Broadway boards in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Curtains,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “The Bridges of Madison County” and “The Visit.” And Surflight’s very own Steve Steiner brings his own Broadway credentials, having appeared in “Anything Goes,” “Buddy” and “State Fair.”

The cast is filled out by a Surflight favorite, Adrianna Hick, along with Alison Nusbaum, Loli Marquez Sterling and Andre Dion Wills.

The musical’s creative team is also impressive, led by Susan Seidelman.

Seidelman is the show’s librettist. This musical is the first time she has written for the stage, but her other firsts have proven significant.

In 1982 she directed her first feature-length film, “Smithereens,” a fictional account of a young woman from New Jersey who moves to New York City to join the punk subculture, only to find the scene had moved on to Los Angeles. “Smithereens” ended up being the first American indie film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Seidelman’s next directorial effort was 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” Talk about firsts – the hit movie featured Madonna in her first major screen role. Seidelman also directed 1989’s “She-Devil,” which starred Meryl Streep in her first comedic film role and Roseanne Barr in her first feature-film role, period. All in all, Seidelman has directed nine feature films, but it was a short film, “The Dutch Master,” that earned her first Academy Award nomination, in 1993.

Seidelman’s firsts weren’t limited to film. She directed the first episode – the pilot – of the popular award-winning HBO series “Sex and the City.”

The show’s music was composed by Ned Paul Ginsburg and its lyrics are by Michael Colby, whose book and lyrics for “Charlotte Sweet” earned a Drama Desk Award nomination, and Cornelia Ravenal.

Karen (Lynn) Carpenter will direct. Her credits could fill a whole other article, but her directorial highlight is likely “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” a play written by Nora and Delia Ephron that proved an Off-Broadway hit in 2009. The show had three consecutive runs, each lasting four weeks, each with an entirely new cast. The casts included the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Samantha Bee, Mary Birdsong, Kristin Chenoweth, Rhea Perlman and Mary Louise Wilson. No wonder the show won the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience! Indeed, the show had proven so popular that it continued to run with constantly changing casts for three years.

Carpenter’s resume can knock you over. She served on the faculty of the Yale Drama School from 1990 to 1996, was the project coordinator for Bill Clinton’s inaugural, and was San Diego’s Tony-winning Old Globe Theater’s associate artistic director for five seasons. Most importantly for Surflight’s “Boynton Beach Club,” she’s best known for directing premieres of new plays and musicals for the stage.

Carpenter has been at Surflight before – she directed “The Wizard of Oz” several years ago. The show’s choreographer is a beloved Surflight regular, Paula Hammons Sloan. Larry Presgrove is the musical director.

Whew, there hasn’t been so much talent assembled at Surflight at one time since 10-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune performed a one-man show there.

The show is based on a 2005 limited release romantic comedy film directed by Seidelman and produced by her and her mother, Florence. It starred Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon, Len Cariou and Brenda Vaccaro.

“Boynton Beach Club” is a poignant musical comedy about people’s amazing capacity to rebound and fall in love again at any age. It’s the story of Baby Boomers living in South Florida, whose lives intersect at a local bereavement group where they go to find emotional support after the loss of a loved one. However, they soon find themselves back in the “dating game” after decades of married life, only to discover all the rules have changed.

In a world where 60 is fast becoming the new 40, “Boynton Beach Club” shows it’s never too late to fall in love with ourselves and others, whatever our age.

Tickets for “Boynton Beach Club” are $39 for adults and $29 for children 12 years of age and younger. They may be purchased online at surflight.org, by phone at 609-492-9477 or at the box office, located at 201 Engleside Ave., Beach Haven.

As Steiner likes to joke, you can see it now for $39 or wait and see it on Broadway for $200.

— Rick Mellerup

Reposted from The Sandpaper