Suffolk Theater has been under the assured leadership of Daniel Binderman for about five years, and the Riverhead performing arts center has never been in better shape. Binderman, a lifelong lover of music, has assembled a slate of unique and exciting acts for the next several months, from iconic favorites to lively tributes.
“Things are very busy,” says the energetic Binderman of the theater’s upcoming shows. “We’ve got a big season of special events and shows, and some of the most special events we’ve had, so [the theater] is really growing on that level.” On Friday, November 23, Art Garfunkel will perform. “His voice is legendary. And who doesn’t love that music?” marvels Binderman. Billy Joel’s original band, the Lords of 52nd Street, perform on Friday, December 7, followed by a Frank Sinatra Birthday Bash on Saturday, December 8. “We’ve got a 19-piece band for Sinatra’s birthday show,” Binderman explains. “It’s really a spectacle.” Binderman notes that the big band and Sinatra’s music lend themselves well to the theater’s dance floor, which will be hopping. “Combined with the theater’s Art Deco look and the dance floor, it’s a really great use of the theater. This place was meant for dancing.”
Ronnie Spector will perform Christmas favorites on Friday, December 14. “We love Ronnie,” says Binderman. “She is the voice of Christmas…all those rock and roll hits you can think of. She puts on a tremendous show.” But there’s no show that Binderman is looking forward to more than the annual WLNG’s Rockabilly Christmas on Saturday, December 15. “Every year this is my favorite show—not only do you have Gene Casey, Prentiss McNeil, but also this guy Jason D. Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis’ protégé. I personally think he’s at a level better than Jerry Lee ever achieved. He’ll yell at me for saying that! He’s incredible. He does Jerry Lee theatrics, like kicking the piano, playing upside down…he puts a tablecloth over the piano and starts playing it without even seeing the keys. If you like rockabilly, you won’t hear anybody better.”
With all these great shows, Binderman is happy as he reflects back on the past five years. “I think we’ve come a really long way,” he says. “I think we’ve taken more chances, and we’ve learned and met our audience. And I think between those two things we’ve identified what it is we want to do, and along with that we also completely break the mold every now and then. We say, ‘this is a show that has to be done,’ and we do that. I don’t think five years ago we’d have put on some of these shows.”
As for the future, Binderman wants to continue growing the theater’s repertoire. “I think we continue to try bigger acts, we continue to explore new audiences,” he says. “We keep throwing things out to see if we get a response and keep exploring new audiences and be inclusive as we can be. I think we’re going to continue to try new things. We’re nearing five years I’ve been here and six the theater’s been open, and I want to personally express gratitude that Long Island has sort of welcomed us and given us a little bit of a home here.”
Come to Suffolk Theater on Friday, November 2 for the Dan’s Best of the Best Celebration Concert starring Paul Mahos. Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead. For tickets to shows and more information, visit 631-727-4343, suffolktheater.com