Daniel Binderman on Finding a Way Back to Suffolk Theater This Fall

Suffolk Theater in Riverhead
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Riverhead’s Suffolk Theater has been presenting live music, comedy and other entertainment under the direction of Daniel Binderman since 2014, and though the theater is temporarily dark right now, it’ll be back.

“We have a lot of great shows coming up, and there’s so much to be announced,” Binderman says “A lot of it is based upon the holding pattern [we’re in]. I’m honestly really excited about the fall, between the shows we’ve already announced and down the line.” Announced acts include comedian Kevin Nealon and singer-songwriter Kevin Lightfoot. Music icon Janis Ian has been pushed to 2021, but it’s a testament to the theater (and Binderman) that such esteemed talent continues to grace the stage there.

Binderman, a musician himself and lifelong lover of the arts, has been integral to Suffolk Theater’s success over the years. “It took a lot of experimentation to figure out what our niche was,” he explains, “what the community wanted from us and why we were there. I listen to our audience, I talk with people and hear what they want, and I think about what I love and find that intersection. People try to do ‘formulas’ and a lot of times they don’t work. If you don’t really love certain [artists or genres] but think they’ll work…eventually it doesn’t work. You have to be part of the community and part of what they love about these artists to understand. I think this community and me share a lot of sensibilities and I’m lucky I found that.” Binderman continues, “The fact that I genuinely love the music and the comedy and all the entertainment we do, combined with the fact that it’s a great experience, that led to our finding a place. I focus on people having a good time.”

Daniel Binderman, Photo: Barbara Lassen
Daniel Binderman, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Talking to Binderman about the theater, it’s almost impossible not to be moved by his infectious enthusiasm and sheer love he has for his job. “I’ve been to the theater a few times during this whole thing and I walked in years ago to a glorious, remarkable space, something like no other theater I’d seen,” Binderman says, “and over the years it’s been filled with so many memories and legends and people just lighting up. Seeing the theater without that saddened me. I think about what Bob and Dianne [Castaldi, owners] must have seen years back when it was in disrepair and not even doing shows at all and I see why they were so inspired. It’s meant to have performances. It’s meant to be a place of celebration and have these legends come and be enjoyed. I think there are so many people for whom it’s been what it’s been for me, which is a remarkable inspiration. I’m just really looking forward to seeing it back.”

So while an opening date is still up in the air, the future is hopeful. “All I can say for what’s next is, we’re looking forward to what’s next!” Binderman exclaims. “We have so much great art and entertainment coming up and artists are eager to get out there again, and audiences are eager too. I think when we come back we’re going to enjoy it all the more.”

For more information on Suffolk Theater, visit suffolktheater.com.

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