One of the things I love best about New Jersey is finding its Brigadoons, its Shangri-Las...the oases that pop up, as oases are like to do, in unexpected places, off-the-beaten path, on the backroads where they are needed, perhaps, most of all.  Take Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, among the miniature golf courses, the arcades, the amusement park, the beaches and bars...there, on a side-street, beachroad the summer stock theater presents Broadway productions, musicals and plays.  Most of the performers are working actors with impressive resumes.  They audition in New York and consider the stock theater the proving and training ground for their craft...some are Equity actors, union performers and others are earnest, eager locals. 

Since 1950 the theater, started by Joseph P. Hayes, has entertained and inspired summer audiences.  The space, originally a converted mechanic's garage, was infused with Hayes’ show-must-go-on spirit.  And here's another part of the story of Jersey that I love, no surrender, never-say-die, refuse to go quietly or to go at all.  Indeed, part of the mystique, of Surflight was, is its indomitable, enduring whimsy.  When its first season was drawing to a close, Hayes is remembered for telling audiences that after some consideration about whether to return or not in 1951, he decided the curtain would rise again because he loved the feeling of "sand in his shoes." 

Guil Fisher, Surflight 1974 - 1994

Joseph P. Hayes,  Surflight Founder/Producer

Roy Miller, Surflight Producer

It was a bit like something out of It's A Wonderful Life.  When people heard the theater was in trouble they rushed in to help.  It doesn't mean that Surflight is suddenly the richest theater in town, but it continues to be the only theater in important, venerable cultural oasis with a forever mystique

Today, the theater is out of the red and operating a full company season.  The drama and magic of Surflight continues on and off the stage.

Enjoy Driving Jersey: Surflight and find your way to Beach Haven to see a show and to contribute to our cultural survival and theirs as well.  For show and ticket information visit them on the web at or call them at 609.492.9477.

Music for Driving Jersey: Surflight was composed and performed by Steve Rogers and Ryan Bott.

When summer rain storms pelted or pounded the once tin-roof of the place in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it was considered a divine dramatic effect or it simply forced a brief intermission.  In 1976 when Hayes unexpectedly died, the company gathered together under the wing of his assistant, the Company Manager, Eleanor Miller, and continued to produce.  When the "new" or current Surflight Theater space was under construction in the 1980s, the company used a community hall to keep the show alive, having to regularly haul costumes and set pieces from one space to another.  And in 2010 facing insurmountable debt, when the theater was forced to file for bankruptcy, a former Surflight apprentice and actor, now Tony Award Winning Producer, Roy Miller (of Irvington) came on board as Producer, and, along with partner, Tim Laczynski, the staff of the theater, loyal patrons and neighbors and some notable performer friends, Surflight was saved from falling into the hands of the bank.