ATLANTIC CITY – When Florence Seidelman wrote her screenplay for the movie, “Boynton Beach Club,” she had no idea it would become a lifelong journey somewhat reflective of her own life.
Her daughter Susan Seidelman, who is an Oscar and Emmy-winning producer, director and screenwriter with film credits that include, “Desperately Seeking Susan” and the pilot episode of the hit HBO series, “Sex in the City,” has taken her mother’s script to new heights with the musical version of their hit movie starring Dyan Cannon, Joe Bologna, Brenda Vaccaro and Sally Kellerman.
The world premiere of Boynton Beach Club, the musical, will be held Sept. 11-22 at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven. The show features the grown-up Annie, Andrea McArdle, who has repeatedly captured the hearts of theatergoers since she starred in the original version of the hit musical, “Annie” in 1977.
According to Florence Seidelman, her daughter updated the characters – Susan made them a little younger – a she has added a few things to spice it up, including a yappy dog and a hooker.
On Saturday afternoon, Florence Seidelman, who has summered at her beachfront condo at The Berkley for the last 42 years, and at a Boynton Beach community in winter, reminisced about how the ‘Boynton Beach Club’ movie came about.
After a close friend of hers died in 2004, the woman’s husband was at the Boynton Beach Club pool, talking about how, as a recent widower, he was being pursued by some of the older women at the club.
“When I told him about the conversation, my husband Mike said he thought it would be great to write a story about seniors dating again. I told Susan, who was very busy with other projects at the time, and she said that I should write it,” Florence Seidelman said. “I had never written a script before, but Susan told me to go to the library, find a book, and teach myself how.”
The elder Seidelman said she set out on a quest to interview other widows and widowers at bereavement groups about their experiences dating after the death of a spouse. Soon, she became obsessed with the subject matter.
“It took me five months to write the original script,” she said.
Seidelman showed the script to her other daughter, Denise, who read it and said it was a great story and that there wasn’t much out there at that time about seniors dating.
“Susan saw there was something there for a movie and reached out to the actors, who called other actors and agreed to work for very little to get the film made,” Florence Seidelman said.
A former businesswoman and educator with two master’s degrees in special education, Florence Seidelman said her experience in the hardware manufacturing and importing business gave her the skills to help market the movie.
Before long, mother and daughter had raised the $1.7 million needed to make the movie – “a shoestring budget” even in 2006, she said.
One of their biggest financial contributors was the owner of the Boynton Beach community where she lives, Florence Seidelman said. “He was thrilled to receive the publicity.”
It took six months to film the movie at the Florida beach club and in other Florida locations, and when it was released, it was very successful, she said. However, there was so much more to the experience.
“The thrill of working with my daughter every day on such an exciting venture was phenomenal,” Florence Seidelman said. “It changed my life. People started asking me to speaking engagements, and I got involved in producing another play,” which premiered last year at a Sarasota, Florida theater.
The latest version of Florence Seidelman’s Boynton Beach Club adventure is a poignant Broadway-styled musical about the ability to rebound and fall in love again, along with all the emotional support needed to get back into the dating game after the loss of a loved one. Only this time around, the rules have changed. Those who believe romance is only for the young are in for a reality check, she said.
The movie was based on 65- to 70-year-olds, but Susan Seidelman updated the musical for the active 50 and over crowd.
“We’re calling it a world premiere, but we would like to get a traveling troupe of actors to perform it all around the country,” Florence Seidelman said. “There’s nothing on Broadway like it. It’s a little gem and we believe there is an audience out there for this.”
In addition to the movie and now the musical, Florence partnered with Phyliss Shanken, a psychologist who lives in Ventnor, on the book, “Heart of Boynton Beach Club,” which delves more deeply into the motivation of the characters.
“I felt the movie could have more depth to it,” she said.
In a way, the Boynton Beach productions reflect what’s happened in her own life. Since her husband Mike passed away, she has also found a new partner to enjoy fun times with. Although she did not marry, the partnership keeps them busy together on weekends and for vacations, she said.
She doesn’t know what adventures await in the future, but whatever they are, she will be ready.
“What’s next? I will still be involved with the play, but you’re never too old to challenge yourself and try new things. There’s always a need to do more.”
Boynton Beach Club is produced by Steve Steiner, with Susan Siedelman providing the libretto. Karen Lynn Carpenter is the director. Music by Ned Paul Ginsburg, lyrics by Michael Colby and Cornelia Ravenal. Larry Pressgrove is musical director and Paula Hammon Sloan choreography.
It will be presented at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sept. 12, 15, 17, 19 and 22, and at 8 p.m. Sept. 11, 13, 14, 18, 20 and 21 at the 450-seat Surflight Theatre, 201 Engleside Ave., in Beach Haven. For tickets, which are $39, see surflight.org, or call the Box Office at 609-492-9477.