The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Area Theaters Will Produce Wide Selection of Holiday Shows in 2018

From the Wacky to the Traditional
By RICK MELLERUP | Nov 14, 2018

You don’t have to travel to Radio City Music Hall to take in that landmark’s Christmas Spectacular to see a great Christmas or holiday show this year; there are plenty of options in Southern Ocean County and its environs.

Beach Haven’s Surflight Theatre will be presenting “Elf: The Musical” at 2 p.m. on Dec. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16, and at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15. The 2010 Broadway show, with music by Matthew Sklarlyrics by Chad Beguelin and a book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, was based on the popular 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell as Buddy Hobbs.

Buddy crawled into Santa’s bag one Christmas Eve and ended up at the North Pole, where he was raised as an elf. As he grew up it was obvious to all – excepting Buddy – that he wasn’t an elf, considering he was much larger than the rest of Santa’s crew and couldn’t make a decent toy if his life depended on it. When Buddy finally figures out that he’s actually a human, he decides to head to New York City, not to see the Christmas Spectacular, but rather to find his father, Walter. Problems arise when Buddy discovers Walter is on the naughty list and that his half-brother Michael doesn’t even believe in Santa. Needless to say, Buddy has his work cut out for him trying to spread Christmas spirit.

Tickets for “Elf” 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 (and at the door), located at 201 Engleside Ave. in the heart of Beach Haven.

“Elf” is far from the only Surflight offering this fall and early winter. “Comedy Tonight,” with headliner Jimmy Carroll (hmm, that name fits Christmas nicely), is set for Friday, Nov. 16, at 8:30 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Co. The Center State Opera will perform “The Barber of Seville” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. The New Millennium Jazz Band will command the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. A festive Holiday High Tea is scheduled for noon on that same day. Finally, a Southern Ocean County favorite, Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns, will rock the joint at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31 – in other words, New Years Eve. For further information about all events including prices, visit the Surflight’s website at surflight.org, call 609-492-9477 or keep reading The Beachcomber’s sister publication, The SandPaper, as each event approaches.

Bellarine Theatre Co. is getting into the act, performing “Plaid Tidings” at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Stafford Township Arts Center, located at 1000 McKinley Ave. in Manahawkin. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors – age 60 and over – and $10 for students with ID. They may be purchased online at staffordschools.tix.com or at btco.booktix.com, by calling Bellarine at 609-661-2083 or the STAC at 609-978-5700, extension 2019, or at the door.

“Plaid Tidings” is a sequel to the popular “Forever Plaid,” a 1989 Off-Broadway show with a book by Stuart Ross built around pop songs of the 1950s and early 1960s such as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Sixteen Tons” and “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.” The small cast and simple sets of “Forever Plaid” made it a popular pick with community theater troupes, so Ross returned to that fertile ground in 2001 with a Christmas-based show featuring traditional holiday songs such as “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The “Plaids,” four fictional clean-cut singers in the mode of the real life The Four Freshmen or the Four Aces, were famously killed in a traffic collision while on their way to the Beatles’ American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” an allusion to the end of clean-cut pop in the wake of the British Invasion and long-haired bands. But there is still a market for their music, so the boys come back from the afterlife not only once but, with “Plaid Tidings,” twice.

Bellarine and STAC are collaborating in the production of “Plaid Tidings,” but STAC isn’t limiting its autumn offerings to Bellarine. On Saturday, Nov. 17,  at 7 p.m. it will present “Jim Barone: A Tribute to Elvis from Memphis to Vegas,” another pre-long-haired musical tribute. Then, on Sunday, Nov. 25, at 3 p.m. it will go classical, hosting a performance of “It’s a Shore Holiday” by the Atlantic City Ballet. Visit staffordschools.org for further information about all of the shows and to purchase tickets.

The area’s high schools are also busy producing fall/holiday shows. Pinelands Regional performed “The Outsiders” on the first weekend of November, too late for inclusion in this story, but that still leaves Southern Regional and Barnegat.

The Southern Regional Theatre Co. will be performing Mary Chase’s classic 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Harvey” on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. in the Joseph P. Echle Performing Arts Center, located in the high school’s 9-10 building. Tickets may be purchased at the door both evenings and are a mere $8 for adults and $5 for students.

“Harvey” centers around Elwood P. Dowd, a mild-mannered and polite man, although he likes to imbibe. Still, he would be totally unoffensive except for one peculiar trait – his best friend is a 6-foot, 3½-inch tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. His sister is concerned Elwood’s obsession with Harvey will interfere with her all-important social life, so she tries to have him committed to the local sanatorium. But she is so hysterical while explaining her brother’s condition that she ends up committed instead.

If Southern’s fall play sounds like it might be a better fit for Easter, what with its giant unseen rabbit, Barnegat High School’s Bengal Theatre Co. is going with a traditional Christmas show this season, about as traditional as you can get in two ways.

The BTC will perform “A Christmas Carol,” the timeless tale of Scrooge and his three ghostly Christmas visitors, at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 6 to 8, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9.  The BTC has made it a tradition to perform the show every four years.

Tickets are not yet on sale, so no pricing information can be given at this time. Check in frequently at the high school’s website, bhs.barnegatschools.com, to grab the best seats in the near future. Tickets will also be sold at the door up to 45 minutes before showtime.

Ocean County College’s Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts has a full schedule of Christmas-themed events in December including a matinee production of “A Christmas Carol” on Saturday, Dec. 1, a “Sounds of the Season” concert by the Ocean County College Concert Band that evening, a “Christmas With the Celts” show (the live version of the PBS special) the following night and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” a “back by popular demand” show performed by the Ocean County College Repertory Theatre Co. from Dec. 6 through Dec. 16. Visit the Grunin Center’s website at grunincenter.org for further information and to purchase tickets in advance.

Stockton University, too, is gearing up for the holidays. On Monday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m., the 75-member South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble will perform a concert that will feature the “music of the season” at the Stockton Performing Arts Center. That will also be the venue for three productions of the Atlantic City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8. Finally, the Bay Atlantic Symphony will perform a “Holiday Cheer” concert at the Campus Center Theatre at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Visit stocktonpac.org for further info and to purchase tickets.

Back to the beginning! NYC isn’t that far of a drive, and the word is out that the 2018 Radio City Christmas Spectacular, now in its 85th year, may be more spectacular than ever. It will still feature a traditional Nativity scene, complete with live camels and, of course, the Rockettes. But word has leaked out that its finale will also feature 100 small flying drones, live aerialists and animation on one of the largest 8K LED displays in the world! This year’s Christmas Spectacular opened on Nov. 9 and will run through Jan. 1. Visit rockettes.com/christmas for information and tickets.

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