If you enjoyed Boynton Beach Club — the movie — then you’re sure to be delighted with Boynton Beach Club — the musical — starring Andrea McArdle at Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, Sept. 11 through Sept. 22.
Like the movie, the musical comedy explores the human heart and its capacity to rebound after the loss of a loved one. The setting is in South Florida at a local bereavement group, a place where the characters go to cope with their pain and loss. As their hearts heal, they find themselves back in the dating game after decades of married life. And they learn that it’s never too late to fall in love.
Susan Seidelman, who directed the movie and wrote the script, is the librettist for the musical. It’s her first attempt to write for the stage.
For the musical, Seidelman had to choose moments when the characters would begin to sing. “It’s a weird thing when actors break into song,” she says. “The dialogue has to motivate the reason for the characters to sing. The only reason I attempted to write for the stage is that I had written the movie script, and I thought I could adjust it.”
Seidelman is delighted that top tier talent, such as McArdle, signed on for the musical, which is a world premiere.
Because the musical is a new venture, she hopes it resonates with theatergoers, many of whom are over 50. “Theater audiences tend to skew older, and they want to see characters they can relate to,” says Seidelman, who directed the box office hits Desperately Seeking Susan and She-Devil. “That’s our hope with the musical.”
Boynton Beach Club got its start with Seidelman’s mother Florence, who continually peppered Susan with ideas about movies her daughter should write. “I’ve been doing this for a little while,” chuckles Seidelman, who’s earned Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe awards during her 30-year career. “And over the years, my mom would say, ‘You should make a film about this or you should make a film about that.”
Seidelman would placate her mother with a respectful, ‘OK, Mom.’
This idea took hold, however, when Florence’s best friend from high school died, and her husband went to a bereavement group. “There are way more women than men, and he started to get hit on,” Seidelman says. “He hadn’t been out for coffee with a woman since high school, and he started to tell my mother what it was like to be single at that stage in his life.”
Story after story emerged as Florence talked to other friends, and Boynton Beach Club, the movie, was born.
Because the movie came out 12 years ago, Seidelman had to make some adjustments. “I was writing about my mother’s generation — people in their 70s,” she says.
“I adjusted the musical for the generation of people 55 to 75. It’s no longer about people who play shuffleboard in Florida. It’s a different generation, which has made the musical more meaningful to me because I’m writing about people I know.”