Holiday Guide

Holiday Musicals Galore in Southern Ocean County

Concerts and Book Talks, Too
By RICK MELLERUP | Nov 08, 2017

If you can’t make it to Radio City Music Hall this upcoming holiday season to take in the Rockettes’ annual Christmas Spectacular, fear not. There will be plenty of holiday entertainment right here in Southern Ocean County.

Yes, holiday, not just Christmas. Now that Halloween has become a multi-billion dollar industry, it is pretty well accepted that the “holidays” stretch from Oct. 31 through Jan. 1.

Southern Ocean County’s holiday theatrical season will kick off Nov. 16 with the Bellarine Theatre Co.’s production of “U’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

What does that have to do with the holidays? Well, the connection is slim, but let’s face it, Linus in the beloved TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” probably describes “the true meaning of Christmas” better than any big-name preacher. So spending an evening or afternoon with Charlie, Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Peppermint Patty and, of course, Snoopy, in this family-friendly production is an excellent way to get into the holiday spirit.

“U’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be performed on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17, at 7 p.m.; on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 3 and 7 pm; and on Sunday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m. at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. In Loveladies. Tickets range from $12 to $18 and may be purchased online at bellarinetheatre.com, by phone at 609-661-2083, or at the door up to one hour before show time.

Up next is the Our Gang Players production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” which will be performed on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. at the Stafford Township Arts Center, located at 1000 McKinley Ave. in Manahawkin, adjacent to the Stafford Township Intermediate School.

“Miracle on 34th Street” is based on the iconic 1947 movie that tells the story of Kris Kringle, a Macy’s Santa who truly believes he is the real Santa Claus. Our Gang will be performing a musical version of the show, with a book and score by Meredith Wilson, the man who gave us “The Music Man!” and the Christmas favorite “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

Tickets for the show are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $10 for children 12 years of age and younger and may be purchased online at ourgang.org, by phone at 609-597-0553, or at the door.

The STAC will host another holiday classic, “White Christmas,” on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 6 through 8, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 1:30 and 7 p.m. It will be performed by the Pinelands Regional Thespian Society, which has moved the show from its normal venue to the STAC because of ongoing construction issues at Pinelands Regional High School.

“White Christmas” is, like “Miracle,” based on a movie, the 1954 Paramount Pictures film of the same name starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. If Meredith Wilson was a Broadway luminary, he is still in the shadow of the writer of the music and lyrics of “White Christmas” – Irving Berlin, who, of course, wrote the show’s title song, the biggest-selling single of all time.

Unfortunately the Pinelands Thespians are still coordinating with STAC on how to sell tickets for this production. As show time approaches, visit pinelandsthespians.org or staffordschools.org, or keep an eye on The SandPaper for ticket prices and information.

Beach Haven’s Surflight Theatre may be a classic summer stock venue, but it doesn’t close its doors come the day after Labor Day. Indeed, it will offer a full lineup of entertainment options this holiday season.

Its main offering will be “Home for the Holidays,” a Surflight original with a book by a company favorite, Andrew Foote, and musical arrangements of Christmas classics by Producing Artistic Director Steve Steiner. It will be performed on Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16, at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $39 for adults and $29 for children 12 years of age and younger and may be purchased online at surflight.org or at the door.

However, Surflight’s holiday season will launch on Saturday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving weekend), at 7:30 p.m. when The New Millennium Jazz Band will perform “The Sinatra Songbook.” Tickets, at $29.50 a head, are going fast for this event, so you’ll want to hop online at surflight.org ASAP to purchase them because it is unlikely there will be any left at the door.

Surflight’s holiday season will come to an end on Sunday, Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve. That’s when another Surflight favorite, Todd Meredith (“Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” and “Million Dollar Quartet”) will be performing with his band The Rave-Ons. Expect not only Buddy Holly tunes, but also songs by plenty of rockabilly artists from the 1950s as well.

How popular are the Rave-Ons? Well, Surflight originally scheduled one New Year’s Eve show at 8 p.m. It has already sold out! A second show has been added for 5 p.m. Tickets are $34.50 and may be purchased online at surflight.org. As far as buying tickets at the door, you would be taking a chance.

Finally, we’ll return to where we started – Radio City Music Hall.

In 1978, the iconic theater was set to close. NYC, unlike Boston or Philadelphia, loves to tear down its landmarks to make way for larger buildings. Rosemary Novellino-Mearns, a Radio City dance captain at the time, didn’t think much of that idea. She organized a resistance movement and won. She later wrote a book about the struggle, Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer’s True Story.

Novellino-Mearns will be appearing at Surflight at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, to tell her story in person. The event is free, although tickets should be reserved online at surflight.org.

That’s why you call the season “the holidays,” not “Christmas.” The holidays are a lot more than one day!

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