Typically, summer is slow in our entertainment world. People are off on vacation…. Or they take weekends in The Hamptons, Fire Island, Jersey Shore, Upstate/Catskills and The Vineyard, Provincetown and other such beautifully landscaped towns.
We have always focused on these vacation spots for booking our artists- it allows them to “get out of the city” and to share their talent with relaxed audiences. It also allows them to enjoy the beach, the lake, the trees, the small towns and hopefully, spend a day or two away from the city noise.
This year, we were proud to bring artists to such places as Chatham Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Kenebunk, Maine, Old Saybrook, Cape May, East Hampton, Fire Island Pines, Northport Long Island, Asbury Park and Deal NJ and more.
Every summer, we’ve been able to work with the great presenters in Cape May, Deal NJ and East Hampton. Its fun to schedule nights in those towns—and hopefully, we tag along. We’ve had relationships with all three venues for many years – its an honor and privilege – plus they treat every artist with such care and respect, everyone always says yes.
Last summer, rj presented a series of shows in Provincetown. It was a truly great summer and incredible fun in Ptown. But at 6+ hours away from NYC, this summer we looked for closer… and thrilled that we had our first RJ Concert Series in Fire Island Pines.
Perhaps best recognized as the gay summer resort, Fire Island Pines is a beautiful oasis away from the city madness. Once you board that ferry, you leave all your angst on that Sayville dock. And as you step off the ferry, paradise is in front of you. The beach, the serene setting of no cars, the friends you know from the city. And now, a 4 show series to entertain “the boys” – Marilyn Maye, Lucie Arnaz, Bruce Vilanch and The Skivvies and Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway. It’s a series I was so proud to be co-producing with FIPAP.
Each and every artist had an amazing time…. Marilyn and Billy Stritch rode “the golf cart” through town and on the boardwalk- waving to everyone. They stayed in a gorgeous home on the beach and following her concert (and her adoring audience), walked on the beach with friends Mark Sendroff and Tony winning Director Jerry Mitchell to the neighbors house for dinner. That’s what’s special about Fire Island Paradise. A walk on the beach at 10pm at night.
When Lucie Arnaz and Ron Abel arrived, we met them at the ferry- and after a drive from Old Saybrook Ct, via the Bridgeport Ferry to Port Jefferson to Sayville, they were ready to embrace the beauty of their ocean residence. It was just what was needed after 4 concerts in 6 days. They relaxed a bit, before they caught the “golf cart” on the boulevard to Whyte Hall, where the audience couldn’t get enough of these artists. After a lovely meet and greet, we all returned to their residence where their host Lars prepared an incredible dinner party. Incredible food, lots of laughter, stories of Lucie and her husband Larry, along with memorable stories about her parents, it was way after 1 am and everyone’s beds called our names.
The next day, they walked the beach and then they boarded the ferry- and went off to Guild Hall in East Hampton for another one our booked concerts.
Our third concert; Bruce Vilanch and The Skivvies was a very memorable weekend. Bruce arrived on Friday- and he, his assistant Mark and our associate Jordan sat poolside until it was time for dinner. Great stories, everyone getting to know one another, the night flew… and time in the hot tub at 1 am, certainly helped.
The Skivvies and their special guests Max Crumm and Travis Kent arrived Saturday- and once again, it was time for Kent and his “golf cart.” What would we have done without Kent??
After some rehearsal time, and creating a make-shift drum kit, they went off to the ocean before dinner (ah- those amazing meatballs) as Bruce joined the festivities.
The audience LOVED this evening- Bruce was hysterical and the audience discovered The Skivvies and loving them. It was a perfect combo.
Dinner with Bruce and friends afterwards, as Lauren and Nick (The Skivvies) boarded the 11pm ferry, Max and Travis stayed on the island and came to visit my house on Sunday. A brunch to celebrate my birthday, it was the perfect day; gorgeous weather, lots of friends in the pool, the hot tub- incredible brunch prepared by Andrew and before you knew it, friends of friends came visiting. Many hours laughing, drinking, drinking and… frolicking in the ocean, Max and Travis stayed Sunday night as well and we all had a fun night
Yes- this really was about working! J
Our final concert of the season with Ann and Liz, was, as expected, a glorious night. They are ultimate pro’s- and together, their show is spectacular. The audience was treated to a beautiful concert and the girls were treated to multiple standing ovations.
This was also the night Cher showed up in The Pines to support Hillary…. so much going on that night. Everyone had something to do. And it seemed like everyone on the island had a great night.
Whyte Hall is a wonderful multi purpose facility; great for events, great as a theater for concerts and shows. Having the chance to bring great artists to such a beautiful theater was an honor. Lots of kudo’s goes to an incredible team: producer Laura Co-producer Steven, tech directors Zephan, Amanda and Billy. And a great amount of volunteers. This certainly took a village- or rather an island- to make happen.
Hopefully, it’ll be the first of many special nights in Fire Island Pines for rj productions.