Best Dressed Man In Rockaway To Debut Play For Autism Awareness

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Ever seen a colorfully-suited tall, lean man with a dazzling smile in Rockaway, walking into various local establishments, dancing with the prettiest ladies in the crowd? Well, Rockaway native Owen Loof, aka The Best Dressed Man in Rockaway, is not just a lover of suits. He’s also a Vietnam War veteran, retired NYC Transit Authority worker, former history teacher in Hawaii, an actor and playwright, who will be debuting his one-act play, The Missing Kiss, on Friday, November 16, 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus (333 Beach 90th Street). Why? According to Loof, it’s all in the spirit of sharing an unforgettable experience, and talents in his beloved community, and to help raise funds to bless local families with loved ones on the autism spectrum with a special holiday gift.

As the saying goes, 68-year-old Loof is certainly “a tall glass of water,” not just physically, but spiritually, and his depth of experiences transcends all generations, despite the decades he has under his belt.

“I grew up in Rockaway, and like many, I got certain derailments. Let’s just say it was growing pains, and you see how tall I am! However to this day, I sincerely believe my wife, Peggy, of 45 years, (who died after a long battle with breast cancer), helped me grow, and ultimately, saved me. From heaven, she’s probably looking down and grinning, not surprised that I found a new creative avenue to resurrect, after a painful period of mourning,” Loof said.

And creative, Loof is, not just with his suits and acting, but with his new artistic platform, playwriting.

“A while back, I attended a playwriting class hosted by the Rockaway Theatre Company. Unfortunately, I was the only one that showed up. However, that one meeting I had with the instructor, Frank, left me with a wealth of inspiration. He said, ‘The first thing you write, should be something that you know.’ I never forgot his wise counsel, and well, that’s what I did,” Loof said.

Loof’s play, The Missing Kiss, is based on a real-life experience he had with a woman, Sheila, he met while doing some background acting for a recent film, The Greatest Showman.

“The story with Sheila is a crazy, weird story. We were going out on a few dates, and I was always of course a gentleman. Very old school and polite, but of course, I was hoping that in time, I would finally get a kiss. When the evening finally came that I was brave enough to approach her, she said, ‘I can’t kiss you until you get your teeth fixed.’ It was an awkward moment, but kind of funny when you think about it,” Loof laughed.

Loof said that experience drove him to write the play. “Well, according to the counsel I received, it was indeed one of the most recent memorable experiences I had, and I wanted to write about it,” he said.

As for the challenges in writing the play, Loof said it was actually disciplining himself to sit down and write. “I knew I wanted to do it, but the real challenge was sitting down, writing and committing myself to not just write, but finish. I love comedy. I’ve done comedy sketches on stage, but this was definitely a challenge. What took time was setting up the plot, and the lead into the story, without giving out the ending right away. However, once I got into it, the story just started to unfold.”

And the upcoming play’s debut has a few twists and pop-up appearances from locals. Rockaway Times columnist and musician, Lou Pastina, is one of the actors, Guy Nevirs of Squid plays the “Sheila” song live during the play, and Kyle Wade is the maestro that leads the audience to determine the ending.

As an added treat, this will be a rollicking night of not just theater, but live music as Rockaway’s finest will be playing, including The Fabulous Wades, Squid, and The Graytrippers, (offshoot of The Grayriders).

There will be a 50/50 cash raffle and other raffles to score a dinner with The Best Dressed Man In Rockaway at The Parkside Restaurant in Corona, and a gift basket, beautifully crafted by one of Loof’s friends.

When asked why he wants to donate the proceeds towards local autism families, Loof said, “It’s kind of embarrassing, but I was on the set for a show, and there was this guy who was making weird noises and jumping up and down. First, I thought he was just being disruptive and maybe was crazy. However, after it dawned on me that perhaps he was autistic, which was confirmed. I felt bad for not being more understanding, and I know a lot of families locally, who have a child with autism. And as the holidays are approaching, I thought it would be a great idea to debut the play in the community — that I know and love — all in the spirit of supporting equally local artistic communities like autism. It’s all about sharing your special talents with others. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Richie Knott, former Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said he’s more than happy to support the event. “The Knights have always supported the community. Decades before Sandy, during Sandy and after Sandy. The Knights’ hearts and doors are open to everyone. Autism is a challenge for many locals, and why not offer up our space in the spirit of offering families a space to feel at home, not alienated. We’re always pleased to assist anyone, as long as their goal is to keep Rockaway strong,” Knott said.

Tickets for The Best Dressed Man In Rockaway event are $20 in advance/ $25 at the door. Note that food is included, but there’s a cash bar. For further information on how to buy admission and raffle tickets and general info about the event, visit Facebook page: The Best Dressed Man In Rockaway or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Oh, and more thing. Loof’s one-act play could have several outcomes, but an audience member gets to choose the ending. Hopefully it ends with a kiss!

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