The Surflight Theatre, is a beach-side theatre located in the community of Beach Haven, New Jersey, USA, on Long Beach Island (LBI) on the Jersey Shore. In 2014 Surflight Theatre is under the leadership of Ken Myers.
Surflight produces up to nine mainstage theatrical productions per season, children's theatre, a comedy and concert series, Surflight-To-Go Touring Educational Theatre and The Show Place Ice Cream Parlour.
In 1950, Surflight Theatre was founded by Joseph P. Hayes in Beach Haven Crest, on Long Beach Island. At first the performances were held in a 2,200-seat tent with a cast of 60 and a season that lasted only 3 weeks. Surflight theatre transitioned through many locations. At the end of the 1960s a permanent facility was built on Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven, New Jersey.
The Show Place Ice Cream Parlour opened in 1975 by Hayes, in partnership with banker Scott Henderson, in a former bakery next to the theatre. This facility sold ice cream and presented a cabaret show. In 1976 Hayes died and was succeeded by Eleanor Miller. When Hayes died suddenly in 1976 Michael Curry, a college student, took over day-to-day management. He created the still existing roles of "Singing Manager", and the singing waiters, waitresses, dishwashers and icecream scoopers, who created a series of unique songs and comedy skits, added to by generations of singing staff.
In 1985, the current theatre was constructed with 450 seats at the cost of $1.9 million. That same year the theatre reached an agreement with Actors Equity Association. Eleanor Miller retired in 1990 succeeded by Guil Fisher who became the artistic director with Scott Henderson as producer. Both were later replaced by Eddie Todd who was followed by Steve Steiner (a former intern and Broadway performer) from 1998 to 2010.
Early in the millennium, Surflight transitioned into a not-for-profit corporation as the Joseph P. Hayes Theatre, Inc. who in turn purchased the theatre, Show Place Ice Cream Parlour and all associated buildings.
Surflight Theatre went on to become a full member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance as well as a member of the South Jersey Cultural Alliance. Then in 2003, the theatre was presented with the Governor’s Tourism Arts Award.
In 2010, Roy Miller (a former intern and Broadway producer) and colleague Tim Laczynski were contracted to run the theatre. The board of directors chose to file for bankruptcy protection in order to reorganize the financial foundation of the institution.
In 2011, a partnership with the legendary Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club was formed to book the Comedy and Concert Series. In December, the theatre successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In mid-summer of 2012 Miller and his business partner withdrew from the operation to pursue their producing efforts on Broadway.
Theatre veteran, Ken Myers returne to the theatre as Executive Director.
The theatre was flooded and sustained $750,000 in damages from Hurricane Sandy, but recovered and opened for the 2013 summer season.
Surflight-to-Go (STG) is a touring professional theatre troupe which performs productions for schools and organizations. STG provides workshops and theatrical clinics, and an educational packet that includes a study guide, classroom activities and discussion topics.
Classes and workshops are held during the summer season with a program entitled S.T.A.R.S. (Surflight Theatre Arts Resource Schools). Apprenticeships are also available.
- Actors Equity Association
- Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers: American Federation of Musicians
- International Ticketing Association
- Association of Performing Arts Presenters
- New Jersey Theatre Alliance
- Young Audiences NJ and Eastern PA
- "THEATER; Summer Stock Survivor Sails On After 50 Years\'. By MARGO NASH. New York Times. July 9, 2000
- "Along With Its Community, a Theater Reboots". New York Times.