Suffolk Theater Hosts Its First Anniversary Gala

Katy Berry Jr., Kate Berry & Deb Verhoff at the Suffolk Theater opening gala one year ago.
Katy Berry Jr., Kate Berry & Deb Verhoff at the Suffolk Theater opening gala one year ago. Photo credit: Tom Kochie

Time flies when you’re creating fun. Can it be a whole year since the historic Suffolk Theater re-opened its doors and displayed its brilliant restoration after many dusty decades languishing in disrepair? Can it be that a whole year has passed filled with exciting performances, benefit dinners and weddings that have brought new life to downtown Riverhead? You bet. And if you have missed any of that fun, here’s your chance to kick off the next year with all that this world-class venue has to offer.

Come and celebrate Suffolk Theater’s first birthday in “Roaring Twenties” Jazz-age style at the First Anniversary Gala on Saturday, March 1. Last year’s opening gala also played homage to Jazz’s greatest decade; historic automobiles lined Main Street while newsboys shouted the latest happenings. Beautiful cigarette girls handed out programs and klieg lights illuminated the sky. Most guests sported the apparel of the era, with flappers and mobsters populating the colorful crowd. This year promises no less excitement.

“Dianne and Bob Castaldi really started something special when they restored this extraordinary theater,” General and Artistic Director Dan Binderman, a recent hire with strong New York City producing credentials, says. “I love that we’re celebrating with a gala featuring the big band Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks. They represent the theater’s original vintage. It’s like an amazing time period is coming to life, as we usher in a new era.”

Giordano’s band is known for their work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as for critically acclaimed films such as The Aviator and The Cotton Club. One of the most sought-after Jazz-era ensembles in the country, they are renowned on the New York City scene for their commitment to preserving and authentically presenting 1920s and 1930s jazz and popular music.

Gala attendees are once again invited to wear the fashions of the time to help create the mood. Don your fringe and fedoras, your feathers and pearls, and it’s easy to make a full night of the Gala. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails and the first dinner seating. Dinner reservations can also be made for 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Part of the appeal of Suffolk Theater of the past year has been the opportunity to indulge in dinner and drinks while taking in a show. This evening, there will be five different entrées to choose from, including sesame-crusted tuna with seaweed soba noodle salad and wasabi aioli; grilled skirt steak over garlic mashed potatoes; and ravioli stuffed with wild mushroom ragout and truffle essence. A delicious selection of desserts follows. Drink, dine, then put on your dancing shoes and work off that meal.

Or, enjoy the music as you pony up to the polished square bar, designed in the classic, old-world style. Bartenders will be serving the standard cocktails and beer, as well as a selection of fine wines that highlight local vineyards.

The fun keeps going with a speakeasy afterparty at 10 p.m. with a DJ and dancing.

“This will be a night to remember, commemorating the rebirth of one of the Northeast’s most majestic theaters,” Binderman says.

Don’t let the fun stop at the Gala. While you are at the theater, take a look at the upcoming events. March is jam-packed with entertainment: Nick DiPaolo brings his unique comedy to the theater on March 14, followed by the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ Salute to the Music of the Rat Pack on March 21. Gospel and Soul icon Mavis Staples will take the stage on March 29. Contemporary folk rock singer Shawn Colvin performs on April 11.

Reservations for the First Anniversary Gala are recommended. The cost for a Gala Ticket and Speakeasy After-Party is $45. The prix fixe dinner is an additional $35. A ticket for just the After-Hour Speakeasy Party, which begins at 10 p.m., costs $10.

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