Saturday, September 21, 2019

Greta the Great – Greta Thunberg Leads the Way on Climate Change

Greta Thunberg started out all alone, but she’s not alone anymore. In August 2018 the Swedish teenager stood alone outside her country’s parliament with her “Skolstrejk For Klimatet” (School Strike for Climate) poster, and she got some attention from fellow teenagers and eventually adults as well. Now she has lit a torch and millions of people around the world are ready to follow her.

As the father of kids who are also scared about the future of our planet and are inspired by Greta, I have listened to this young lady speak, and she has a wisdom far beyond her years. There is something about her demeanor and her direct approach that shows that she is serious about this and that no one should mess with her. It is particularly satisfying to see her speaking to the stuffed shirts in the U.S. Congress, and basically she is telling them off, in as polite a way as a possible. She told them, “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it.” Though just 16 years old, it seemed in some ways that she was the only adult in the room.

Yesterday she spoke to a huge crowd in New York City’s Battery Park. The people in attendance kept shouting her name and, rather than bask in the glory of the moment, she spoke frankly to all. She said, “Our house is on fire; we will not just stand aside and watch.” Her words were met with cheers and thunderous applause.

Greta came to America in an unconventional way as well – on a sailboat – and has since taken the place by storm. They say looks are deceiving, and she seems unimposing and quiet at first, but once she begins speaking, she is like a lion roaring in the jungle forcing people to notice her.

It’s no surprise that my children and so many other kids are impressed with her and take notice of how she is making a difference. She is the voice of their generation, and she is saying honestly that adults have screwed this planet up for long enough. If adults won’t do anything, we will take the lead and get things done.

It is estimated that about 4 million people in 163 countries across the planet participated in yesterday’s rallies. So, what started as one young girl standing in front of an imposing parliament building has morphed into a worldwide phenomenon inspired by Greta. As she said at Battery Park yesterday, “This is what people power looks like.”

Now, there are those who are downplaying yesterday as nothing more than a stunt, and I’ve heard people saying, “She is just a kid!” since she came to New York on the boat. But they are missing the point – she is a kid, and she has the right to feel in danger and to worry about her future and the future of millions of other kids being in danger as well. Greta has given a voice to the voiceless; she has given a face to the invisible.

I remember being a kid during the Cold War and fearing a nuclear attack. My parents told me not to worry because they didn’t think it would ever happen, and in school we were told to hide under our desks during an attack. The black and yellow Fallout Shelter signs on my school walls did nothing to assuage my fears. I was scared – and many other kids were too – but adults just went about their business, so I understand how Greta and my kids and many other kids feel all too well.

All these years later, it is time that we adults take notice and do something, because Greta Thunberg is not going away, nor are the millions of people she has encouraged to speak out and call for change. Children are going to inherit this planet and they have a right to want it to be habitable and safe.

Greta will address the UN next week, and this will no doubt gain her more fans as she carries that torch onto the world stage. She has been nominated of the Nobel Peace Prize, and this forthcoming speech before the leaders of the world just might make her more than a contender for that honor. 

As she ended her speech yesterday, Greta told the crowd, “This is only the beginning. Change is coming whether they like it or not,” and when I heard those words I couldn’t help but to believe her.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day – Teachers’ Work Is a Labor of Love

Labor Day – Teachers’ Work Is a Labor of Love

On this first Monday of September – Labor Day – we celebrate all workers. Their efforts each day in all jobs ranging from janitors to executives make a difference in our daily lives. There will be ceremonies and parades to commemorate the day, and famous images like the iconic Men at Lunch will be flashed on screens as media cover the holiday. Unfortunately, a select group of people – teachers – are not usually included in the mix.

Teachers – from nursery school up through higher education – hold one of the most important jobs in our nation. Handed the mantle of educating our youth, teachers are given a sacred duty to transfer knowledge to children. It is an increasingly difficult job because parents, students, administrators, and the public expect more and more from them.

As an educator myself – I have taught in elementary school, high school, and college and have been a school administrator – I value and admire the work these unsung heroes perform on a daily basis. While you may come across one or two bad apples in every bushel, in my experience I have encountered a majority of teachers who do the job well and are dedicated to their profession and the students they serve.

One teacher can make the difference in a child’s life. I can recall those teachers who have made a difference in mine, and over all these years I understand why – it was love. It is easy to spot when someone hates their job – it is apparent when you encounter them, but it is also clear when someone loves their job. In those teachers who made a difference in my life, I witnessed a glow all around them as they taught – they loved what they were doing!

Something emanated from them as they stood in front of a classroom, and it was love – love of subject, love of students, and love of their chosen profession. Over the years I have seen this in teachers I have worked with or supervised. It is apparent in every syllable they enunciate and in their actions. It is visible in the way they maintain their classrooms and the manner in which they create their lessons. Mostly, it is obvious in the way they interact with their students. 

When I used to interview prospective teachers, I would ask, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” Amazingly some were totally honest and said that they wanted the summers off and vacation breaks. Though I valued their honesty, I knew they were in it for the wrong reasons. In many interviews the candidates would come out and say, “I love teaching.” Many didn’t have to say those words because it was evident in how they spoke, and they shared images from their portfolios of students’ work and their bulletin boards that obviously emanated that love.

There are many difficult jobs, and we should honor all those people who do them every day; however, there is one job where the lives of others can be influenced for the better now and in the future – teaching! The really good teachers know the heft of responsibility that has been heaved onto their shoulders, but instead of flinching they stand tall and rise to the occasion.

As school starts this week in many places across the country, please take into account the importance of the work that teachers do. If you have children and are bringing them to school, show their teachers respect and let them know how much you value what they do each day. First impressions are always remembered, so let them know in the very beginning that you appreciate their work.

So, happy Labor Day! You should be aware that while you may be enjoying a last barbecue, going to the beach, or swimming in a pool, teachers are getting ready and preparing for the first week of school. The most important thing to remember is why they do this – it’s a labor of love!   

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Back to School Shopping – Doing It the Easy Way This Year

It’s time for that rite of passage known as Back to School. While many parents look forward to the sound of the school bell as much as their kids dread it, there is another side to this season – back to school shopping. Armed with supply lists printed from school websites, parents have to schlep into stores pushing big shopping carts and prepare for battle.

This was the scenario that we participated in every year since our oldest started school 15 years ago. Like all the other people, we jostled in the crowds trying to get the marble notebooks, pencils, index cards, and glue sticks. Each subject required a folder with two pockets, and we couldn’t forget the ream of copier paper, the markers, and pencil case with sharpener.

In recent years this list has expanded to include – hand sanitizer, facial tissues, and paper towels. When all this is actually found and placed in the cart, it is usually overflowing. Then to add insult to injury and rub salt in the wounds, we would wait on insufferably long lines to check out.

This year with one child going off to college, we decided to say “Enough is enough!” Despite wanting to give our local stores the business – and this is something that we usually do – this year our shopping list included materials for a dorm room. That made us turn around and make the big decision to shop online. While this experience was going to still be expensive, at least we could shop in our pajamas in a comfortable chair with a cup of java.

This back to school shopping is extremely profitable for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary school and high school will spend an average of $696.70 – up $12 from last year. Parents like us who have a college student, will spend a whopping $976.78 – up $24 from last year. 

Judging from our online shopping bills, this is just about what we spent, but we may have gotten a little carried away with certain dorm items that pushed us over the average cost listed.

After the final click on screen, we just had to sit back with our ankles crossed and watch Stranger Things episodes. With free shipping thrown in, this is the ultimate no-brainer. When the packages arrived – in huge boxes – it seemed worth foregoing the dubious pleasure of pushing shopping carts around a crowded store.

Back to School sales now are now rivaling Christmas sales. Amazon announced that this year’s Prime Day – July 15 – was its biggest sales day ever, and much of this success was due to back to school shopping. Overall approximately $80.7 billion will be spent on back to school shopping this year. 

The other day I went to a local store to get copier paper, and the line of people waiting to check out wound up and down the aisles. I looked at their carts brimming with back to school items, smiled, and went back outside. No more of that for me.

So, if you’re a parent and you haven’t gone shopping for back to school yet, there are a few days left. My advice – skip the line and shop online. The stuff will probably come in a day or two, and you will have saved yourself a whole lot of stress and, more importantly, time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

My Summer Challenge – Finish Writing a Book

I have finished writing the first draft of my latest book – a novel (the title and subject I choose not to reveal) – and you would think that I am ready to pop the champagne open, right? Wrong! Because even though it feels wonderful finishing the first draft – what I call Phase One – I know the real dirty, hard work looms over me.

The way it happened is a usual process for me – I get all excited about an idea, sit down, and bang out a story. This is why I love short stories because my investment of time is minimal in comparison to working on a book. I do revise it a few times, but at 10-15 pages – the usual length of one of my stories – it is not all that time consuming. There is still work to it, but it is nothing like the time writing a novel requires.

Then, like most of my stories, I submit it someplace and then forget about it. Maybe it gets rejected or gets published, and if does get published I will go over it and think about ways I still want to change it. This has happened to me again and again over the years.

The original story that inspired this novel was submitted and not accepted, so I shelved it for about 15 years. I thought about the story one night in May while watching The Day the Earth Stood Still on television, and it made me think about the story because that film is something the characters in the story watch, so later on I pulled this story down from the shelf, brushed off the cobwebs, and decided that my original idea to turn it into a book was a good one.

Now I had my summer challenge. Since I am not teaching during the summer months, it is a perfect time to commit to writing a longer work. I had to set a schedule and stick to it. Since the kids are off from school, it would have to be earlier than they get up, so my target time was 5-8 in the morning. I started on the first day by going into my office and shutting the door, and I stuck to this routine all summer – except on weekends and vacation – and this worked for me.

There were some speed bumps along the way. One of the kids would get up early and want breakfast, or I had to go to the store because we were out of eggs or milk. But most of the summer I got my three hours in each day, and I found myself surprisingly awake and fresh and mostly excited when that alarm went off. Still, when those unplanned things happened, I looked at my picture The Distrest Poet by William Hogarth that I have hanging near my desk, took a deep breath, and carried on. Like the poet in the drawing, I wanted to write but life had other plans.

Every writer is different, but I am a visual learner and need to see the story. What I mean is that I must plot out the story on little storyboards and post them around my desk where I am working. They consist of an outline of exactly what (or will) happen in that chapter and characters names that appear in it. So, I started out with eight chapters – it would later grow to 14 – and each one was posted on a storyboard and was visible for me to see as I was writing.
If I am in the middle of writing chapter seven, and I forgot a name or an event in chapter two, it is very convenient to have the storyboard there with the information I need. Sometimes as I write a chapter it starts writing itself, and thus the story changes from what I have on the storyboard. I use pencil to make them up, so that I can erase some of the outline and plug in the changes if I make any.

Does this sound like fun? I know why many people hate writing – it is work – hard work. After a three-hour session, I am tired but exhilarated too. Then if my kids want to do something after breakfast – pool, beach, mall, movie, etc. – I can participate without feeling like I didn’t accomplish something that day, but I may yawn a few times along the way.

Besides the physical effort necessary for writing, there is an emotional toll as well. I get attached to characters and the story, and in one instance when two characters had to die – sure, I am the writer and can change it, but it was necessary for the plot – I felt real pain. Hemingway said, There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” All I can say is that I know what he meant, because my office looks like a crime scene.

Now that the first draft of the book is done, I must go into what I call Phase Two – the revising of the book. I started doing that this morning during my three hours, and I didn’t get out of the first chapter. There were several things that I didn’t feel worked, and now some pages are totally different. I felt like a movie director sending snippets of film to the cutting room floor.

Writing the first draft was work but it was joyful work. Revision is the heavy-duty work of writing, and it always takes longer than actually writing the first draft.  After I am finished revising the whole book – and judging from this morning it is going to take a while – I will then have Phase Three to deal with. That is the editing and proofreading stage, which is the hardest step of all. This sometimes takes even more time than the revision depending on the story, and it’s very tedious, but necessary work.

Of course, I go back to work in two weeks and the kids go back to school, so my wonderful 5-8 window will be gone. Inevitably, I will get the work done and have a book ready for publication, and then there will be happiness that it is over but also the despair of an empty nester whose baby has gone away.

For now, I am satisfied that I succeeded in my summer challenge and the book’s first draft is done. Usually, every summer I would say, “I’m going to write a book” and then never get to it. I did it this year, and felt the need to write about the process, so this article is the result of that.

Okay, enough already. Now it is time to get back to work.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

U.S. Women's World Cup Victory – Clearly Ends the Equal Pay Question

U.S. Women's World Cup Victory – Clearly Ends the Equal Pay Question

The U.S. Women's National Team rolled to a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands on Sunday, clinching their second World Cup in a row. Their dominance in the tournament was a joy to watch  – at least for American fans  – and their fourth World Cup title over all sends a clear message about their team's excellence. However, all is not well because these players continue to be paid less than their male counterparts.

It is incongruous not just in soccer but all sports that female athletes get paid less than male players. In the case of the USWNT it is a particularly a disgrace because the female team is clearly more popular and successful than the male team. The female players  – Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan in particular  – are megawatt stars and are known worldwide. Why are they not deserving of equal pay?

The team is currently involved in a lawsuit to correct this travesty. The legions of their fans would probably find it hard to argue with the logic of giving equal pay to the USWNT. The case also brings a broader focus on female athletes in all other sports and the inequity of the pay scale. We can also take a look at the bigger issue of equal pay for women across the board not just in sports but all employment situations.

Besides the joy we have about the team's victory, we cannot underestimate the effect this winning performance has on young females. Stuck with brothers and fathers watching male dominated sports like football and baseball, girls can turn to the USWNT for heroes that they can admire and emulate. As a father of a young girl who played soccer for years (and won one championship), I cannot tell you how important this team has been to her in not only wanting to play the sport but to also pursue other endeavors in her life and career.

It is necessary and compelling that there should be equity for men and women in the workplace – whether it is on or off the field. Watching the team win a world title has been great for female fans but is perhaps more important for male fans. Young boys can see that female players can be just as good – or as in the case of the USWNT even better – than a male team. Hopefully this will inspire boys to respect and appreciate female players in all sports.

Today in New York City the team will be treated to a ticker tape parade like many male championship teams before them. They are completely deserving of this honor and it puts a finishing touch on their impressive play in the World Cup.

We can only hope the USWNT has one more victory coming its way in court. Equal pay makes sense to anyone who watched the tournament and saw the level of excellence this team exhibited. Let us hope they will be rewarded by the court and receive the payment that most Americans realize that they deserve.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Movie Review: ‘Spider Man: Far From Home’ – European Vacation

Movie Review: ‘Spider Man: Far From Home’ – European Vacation

*This review contains no spoilers.

Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel’s new edition to its cinematic universe, feels like a weird amalgam of High School Musical (minus the singing) and Hamlet (minus Yorick’s skull), but that is not the whole story. Besides teenage angst, boy-girl crushes and mourning a lost father figure, there are huge new adversaries that challenge Spider-Man (a fantastic Tom Holland) to be the Avenger that the late Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) believed that he could be.

The greatest challenge for Far From Home is it being the first Marvel film since the catastrophic events of Avengers: Endgame. In a way, Spider-Man is a perfect character for this assignment since Peter Parker sees his job as local – your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – as opposed to the larger scale threats that the Avengers used to face. Here he’s forced to come to a realization of what it means to be an Avenger.

The film starts with a video memorial to those lost besides Stark – Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlet Johannson), and Vision (Paul Bettany) – done by Peter’s fellow high school students. They also bring up “the blip” when Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers and killed half of humanity. Those lost in the blip and restored by the Avengers’ actions in Endgame have come back to a world that went on for five years without them.

Peter confides in BFF Ned (the very funny Jacob Batalon) that he has a plan to let MJ (Zendaya) know how he feels about her on their upcoming school trip to Europe. In an awkward moment MJ overhears some of their conversation, but Ned salvages the situation though not completely.

Before going on his trip, Peter decides to leave the Spidey suit home, even though his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) thinks he should take it. The set-up is that you can take the Spider out of the city but you cannot take the Spider out of the boy.

When arriving in Venice and going through customs, Peter discovers Aunt May packed his suit and he is stopped but not for it but rather for an overripe banana. Soon after Peter, his teachers, and classmates are roaming the city of canals and, conveniently, the first sign of trouble arises in the form of the Elementals – the first one a water beast that seems unstoppable as it starts destroying the city of Venice.

Peter, having left his suit back at the hotel, puts on a jester’s mask to try to conceal his identity as he battles the beast, but he’s clearly not making headway until a new hero – later named Mysterio by Peter and his friends who share it on social media and the name sticks – (played with flair by Jake Gyllenhall) comes and helps defeat the creature by emitting fluorescent green beams of light into it. Mysterio also wears a strange globe helmet that looks like it is filled with swirling clouds.

Once the battle is over and Peter’s friends are safe, Peter and Mysterio (whose name is Quentin Beck) go back to S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters for a debrief with Nick Fury (the always terrific Samuel L. Jackson), where we learn that Beck is from another dimension and that these Elemental beasts have come from there. Fury attempts to recruit Peter to work with Beck in this huge battle, but Peter just wants to get back to MJ and his friends – in other words he’s a kid wanting to be a kid instead of a superhero.

The rest of the way is spoiler territory, but suffice it to say there is a huge twist that takes Spidey into places he has never been before, and in that way he is tested, hurt, and he and his friends are placed in mortal danger. Director John Watts (who also helmed Spider-Man: Homecoming) has provided enough over the top action sequences in Prague, Berlin, and London to make Chevy Chase’s European Vacation seem rather tame.

There is no doubt that the huge presence or Tony Stark/Iron Man hangs over this film. Tony’s right hand Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) tells Peter that he will never be Iron Man but that even Tony had a hard time being him. The gift left by Stark for Peter is Stark’s shaded glasses, and they give Peter access to EDITH – giving him a full range of technical and weaponry capabilities. Peter wears the glasses but feels like they are not a good fit and supposes that they never will be.

In the Hamlet aspects of the story we are dealing with a boy who has basically lost his father figure – Stark being the father Peter never had and Peter being the son Stark never had. That great loss haunts Peter and, in some ways, he would like revenge even after the death of Thanos. Like the Prince of Denmark, Peter procrastinates before taking action as well because he understands what is being asked of him is too much. Instead of living life like a normal 16-year-old kid from Queens, Peter is being asked to do things even men cannot do.

Far From Home is much bigger in scope than Homecoming, and that is because the stakes have never been higher. By making this a fish out of water story, Peter grows as a character and it is obvious Holland has come a long way since the tenuous first steps he took in Captain America: Civil War. Rising to the most extreme challenges that he faces here, Peter proves Tony Stark right, and in some ways this whole film is an affirmation for the work all the Avengers have done to save humanity from threats big and small across 23 films beginning with 2008’s Iron Man.

Matthew J. Lloyd’s cinematogrophy is stunning, capturing beloved foreign cities as backdrops for huge battle sequences with help from the special effects squad led by Norman Baillie. Michael Giacchino’s back (Homecoming) and the music is bigger, bolder, and especially supports the battle sequences in an amazing way.

One other thing to note that besides having to bring us up to speed as to what happened to the world after Endgame, this is the first Marvel film without a cameo from the late great Stan Lee. Each one was small but extremely memorable for fans and they will be missed.

Spider-Man: Homecoming has the heft of the big blockbuster that it is, but at its heart there is a love story that is artfully woven throughout. MJ and Peter’s awakening as a couple is handled as what it is – MJ using the veneer of cool to keep people away and Peter being split by trying to be two people at once. Peter does not want MJ to find out about Spider-Man but also wants a relationship with her. Watts explores these scenes with sensitivity and a touch of humor that fully ingratiates both characters with the audience and have us rooting for them as a couple.

Holland has taken Peter from Queens to outer space and all over Europe, and his presence is stronger in this film as he fully realizes the dichotomy of his character’s life. He wants to do what is expected of him to honor Tony Stark’s memory – but he also wants to find a way to balance things in order to experience things like a normal teenager. As he battles against the bigger and more dangerous adversaries, Peter should know that somewhere Tony is very proud of him.

This film comes highly recommended. Please note that there are two extra scenes at the end of the film, and it would be wise to stick around for both!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Theater Review (Beach Haven, NJ): ‘Flashdance: The Musical’ – What a Feeling!

Attending the opening night of Flashdance: The Musical at the historic Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, New Jersey, I felt as if I were whisked back in time to 1983. There is an innocence in the production directed by Elizabeth Lucas, and that has to do with setting the play in the time the film Flashdance took place instead of today’s world dominated by social media.

Anyone who has seen the film will remember its iconic songs – “What a Feeling,” “Maniac,” “Flashdance,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” and “Gloria” – and they are all here along with original music from Robert Cary and Robbie Roth. The film’s screenwriter Tim Hedley co-wrote the book with Robbie Roth, and the story line stays pretty much true to the original; however, there are changes in the names of the bar, the dance academy, and some of the characters.

As in the original the main character is Alex Owens (a simply amazing Lexi Baldachino), an 18-year-old steelworker by day and an exotic dancer at Harry’s Bar (in the film it was Mawby’s) at night. Ms. Baldachino is more than up to the challenge of stepping into the great Jennifer Beals’ shoes.

The role is physically demanding – and Alex is in almost every scene. This part also calls on Baldachino not only to dance but to sing and act – and she does both outstandingly. Not to take anything away from Ms. Beals who was so memorable in the film, but she did no singing and much of her character’s dancing was done by uncredited Marine Jahan. That makes the achievement by Baldachino truly extraordinary.

Playing opposite her as male lead Nick Hurley, Logan Farine does some heavy lifting himself taking on the role played by Michael Nouri in the film. He comes off as younger and the story makes him less independently wealthy, and he’s worried about the company board and the approval of his father. A struggle to not lay off workers keeps Hurley busy, but not too much that he doesn’t notice Alex and start to pursue her.

In the beginning Alex wants no part of the rich boy who has had it easy all his life. In the film Hurley had to earn his wealth the hard way, but here the character is given everything on a silver platter. Farine achieves success in making Hurley seem earnest and caring about the workers in the plant, but especially Alex. There is a detectable amount of credible chemistry between Baldachino and Farine, and that cannot be said about leads in many plays and films these days.

The other characters are realized successfully as well. Richie in the film is now Jimmy (Ryan Moroney) who wants to be a standup comic, and his girlfriend Jeanie is now Gloria (Crista Steiner) who doesn’t go anywhere near an ice-skating rink but is instead one of the exotic dancers at Harry’s. Steiner has an incredible voice, and all of the supporting cast displays a wide range of talent that is most impressive.

Johnny C. – the main antagonist from the film – is now C.C. (Elijah Vazquez) who runs the strip club and continually tries to recruit Alex and Gloria to work there. Just as in the film, a clear distinction is drawn between Alex working as an exotic dancer – which certainly relies upon the dancer’s sex appeal – and working as a stripper, for Alex that only has to do with sex and nothing to do with her art.  

One of Alex’s key relationships in the film remains important here – her reliance on aging former ballerina Hannah (deliciously played by Sally Ann Swarm). Swarm makes every line zing, and we come to understand why Hannah’s mentoring and friendship is crucial to inspire Alex to apply to Shipley Academy to fulfill her dreams.

There are some other differences between the play and the film, but I am not going to spoil things here. The play succeeds on many levels and leaves you wanting to be a member of the Alex fan club – the Baldachino fan club as well. In the end you will want to stand up with the cast after the curtain calls to sing and dance your way out the door.

The production is nothing less than Broadway caliber – but in an intimate theater setting. Choreographer Michael A. Blackmon has done a phenomenal job, and Musical Director Nicholas Kaminski has made certain that every number packs a wallop. The choice of using minimal sets makes sense for the many scenes set in different locations, and the actors do a flawless job of moving everything around without any intrusion on the scene taking place.

Of course, the setting of a play at the Surflight Theatre – just a block from the beautiful azure waters of Beach Haven – is an ideal one. This is Surflight’s 70th year, and they have been back in business since 2016 after being decimated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The building itself is an homage to theater and those who perform and audiences who love seeing plays. Everyone from the ticket takers to refreshment counter to the actors themselves are cheerleaders for all the wonderful things that theater represents.

After the show the cast actually comes out into the courtyard and mingles with the audience – how’s that for interactive theater? Right across the way is the famous Show Place Ice Cream Parlour that has takeout windows in the courtyard for a refreshing treat after the show, but why not go around and sit down for a treat in the throwback to the ice cream parlors of old?

The Show Place is famous for its singing and dancing servers. Seating is hourly starting at 6pm, but the windows are open at noon. After you are seated and you order is taken, the servers will come with your cold treats – the ice cream here is old time delicious – and they will also choose guests to sing based on a particular order. One guest who ordered cherry vanilla ice cream was asked to stand and sing “Cherry Baby” based on the old Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ hit.

Surflight runs its Children’s Theatre all summer long with shows starting at 6 pm. Cinderella is the current show to be followed by Little Mermaid and Peter Pan. It is wonderful to cater to the cultural needs of the community, and why not start the kids’ love of theater off as early as possible?

The total experience at the Surflight and Show Place is so memorable and fulfilling. It is worth a trip to Beach Haven just to see a show because of the production quality, but the town itself is a lovely place with quaint streets filled with boutiques, cafés, and restaurants. There is also Fantasy Island – a small amusement park and there are several mini-golf options as well. It is a family friendly town with a lovely pure white sand beach that is enough of a reason to take a journey there by itself. Beach Haven is two and a half hours by car from New York City.

Flashdance: The Musical runs until July 14, 2019. The next production is Mamma Mia! and it opens July 16, 2019. Of course, we will be going back to see it.  
Please check out Al Parinello interviewing Surflight's Producing Artistic Director Steve Steiner: