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‘White Christmas’ at the Shore’s Surflight Theatre

12-19-13

By Susan Wallner
State of the Arts

Surflight Theatre has performances of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” in Beach Haven through Dec. 22.

In the fall of 2012, Surflight Theatre started rehearsals for Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. One week later, Sandy struck. As New York-based director/choreographer Norb Joerder remembers, they all wanted to open the show, “but you had to take a boat to get to the island. It was really sad. Finally we threw in the towel and said, next year at this time. So this is kind of our Christmas present to New Jersey.”

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is entering its final weekend at the Beach Haven theater. Based on the 1954 movie with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, it has the same songs, including the beloved “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The stage adaptation of the musical has been a hit with audiences ever since it opened in 2004. This production is a bit trimmed down compared to Broadway standards but, with an eight-member ensemble joining the leads, Surflight’s stage is filled for the tap dance and song numbers.

Joerder, a Broadway veteran who also directs the national touring production of White Christmas, brings a professional polish to the Surflight show. “It’s a throwback to the old musicals,” says Joerder. “There’s a lot of innocence and we have the wonderful Irving Berlin music, which you don’t get any more. So this is kind of a throwback and it fits in very well here.”

Surflight Theatre combines professional Broadway-level talent with the community spirit of local theater, bringing the best of both worlds together. Last summer, Surflight managed to put on its full summer season amidst ongoing post-Sandy repairs taking place everywhere on Long Beach Island. “We were seeing it being rebuilt,” says Joerder, “and there was a real excitement. Those people who come every year, they brought an excitement with them. And that was brought into the theater.”

Surflight’s 65th season, beginning in June 2014, has just been announced. It’s a lineup of favorites, from an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs to Monty Python’s Spamalot. Productions like these are what audiences love about Ocean County’s only professional theater. Surflight’s Facebook page has the best description: “Broadway at the Beach since 1950.”

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas can be seen at Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven through Sunday, Dec. 22. For tickets, visit www.surflight.org.

VIDEO:

State of the Arts features Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at Surflight Theatre on NJTV this Sunday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m.

Susan Wallner is an award-winning producer with PCK Media. She is a long-time contributor to State of the Arts, now airing on NJTV Sundays at 8 p.m. and Thursdays at 11:30 p.m.