Surflight Theatre Changes Name of Main-Stage Musical Next September

Same Show, New Name, to Avoid Confusion With a Flop
Nov 28, 2018

This writer made a mistake last week when he announced the 2018 Surflight season.

Now, there’s a lead any self-respecting journalist never wants to write!

Don’t worry, “Flashdance” and “Mamma Mia!” will be coming as promised. The mistake involves the sixth main stage show of the year, which will run from Sept. 11 to 22.

I wrote that show would be “Welcome to the Club,” and added it had been a huge flop on Broadway, closing nine days after opening despite having music by a noted Broadway composer, Cy Coleman, who had written the music for two shows, “City of Angels” and “Will Rogers Follies,” that had taken home Best Musical Tony Awards. I wondered what the folks at Surflight could have seen in it that they would bring the dead musical back.

Well, it turns out that wasn’t the “Welcome to the Club” Surflight had in mind, despite the fact the Coleman “Welcome to the Club” was the only show of that name I could find any information about.

That’s because Surflight’s “Welcome to the Club,” now re-named “Boynton Beach Club,” is a new work still in progress. Although it had a staged reading in NYC last October, it has never formally been performed by a professional troupe, just a community theater group several years and three or four iterations ago. So Surflight’s production of “Boynton Beach Club” will be a world professional premiere.

Surflight Artistic Director Steven Steiner joined the creative process of the now “Boynton Beach Club” in the fall of 2017 after Surflight’s summer/fall season had ended. He said he suggested at that time that the working title of the show, “Welcome to the Club,” could be confused with the Broadway disaster. And, according to Steiner, Coleman’s show was a disaster.

“I saw it at the time,” said Steiner, “and it was awful!”

The other people involved with the new show figured nobody would remember the original “Welcome to the Club.” Well, as this writer proved last week, Steiner was correct. Names never disappear in the age of the internet. Thus the quick name change.

“Boynton Beach Club” is a far cry from the Broadway train wreck that ran for only 12 performances. That show’s book, written by A.E. Hotchner, was set in a New York City jail for alimony violators. “Boynton Beach Club,” with a book by Susan Seidelman, who co-wrote and directed a 2005 limited-release movie of the same name upon which the musical is based, is set in a Bereavement Club in Boynton Beach, a real-life city in Palm Beach County, Fla.

The show, says a Surflight blurb, “explores our amazing capacity to rebound and fall in love again at any age. It’s the story of aging South Florida Baby Boomers whose lives intersect at a local Bereavement Club, where some have gone to find emotional support and companionship after the loss of a loved one. Soon they find themselves back in the ‘dating game’ after decades of married life, only to discover that all the rules have changed.”

Another Surflight publicity blurb urges patrons to “Come see this hilarious musical comedy before it heads to Broadway.” The show advancing to the Great White Way could be wishful thinking – but maybe not. Whatever, it will be a new, developing show, a rarity at the Beach Haven theater and a chance for local theatergoers to take in a show while it is still developing.

“That’s what I was wanting, to bring in new shows, before the Dark Ages (what Steiner calls the two years Surflight was closed due to bankruptcy). I had started to do that with ‘Silver Dollar,’ and I would like to do one once every year or two years.”

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.