From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (2024)

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (1)
Dave’s Cast of Characters performing a pirate-theme party for Hudson Haynes, son of Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers). David is holding up Hudson and Beth is to his left.

His biggest challenge 30 years ago was how to stay cool in a character costume during the summer months.

These days, David Zucker is more concerned about breaking away from a hyper-busy schedule and finding time for himself.

In the fragmented multi-billion-dollar party industry, few businesses have outlasted Dave’s Cast of Characters, a family enterprise based in New Rochelle, a northern suburb of New York City.

“When I do something, I put all my heart into it,“ says the exuberant 53-year-old who rarely strays away from the business phone, or the office.

Along with his wife, Beth, the creative force behind the kid-themed festivities, the duo set up parties all over the tri-state area and count among their clients Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street titans.

During the peak summer season, Dave’s Cast of Characters books 40-60 parties on a weekend, from simple costume deliveries to blowout events with music, rides, and shows.

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (2)

Clients can also opt for elaborate theme parties, such as pirates or a full Taylor Swift cover show.

Their back-yard jamborees at the Hamptons are regular summer socials with familiar faces such as Bradley Cooper accompanying his young daughter from one weekend festivity to another.

Richard Gere, Anne Hathaway, Tommy Hilfiger, Bruce Willis, Warren Haynes, Montel Williams, and even Jerry Seinfeld have called on Dave’s Cast for their kiddie bashes.

The glitterati affairs usually top out at around $50,000 for a full afternoon.

Adult anniversaries, charity events, and fund-raisers are also part of the company’s portfolio, but the children’s side represents the bulk of the business.

One organization they work closely with is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where a visit from Spiderman or Wonder Woman or Cinderella can bring priceless joy to critically ill children.

A full-time staff of 5 office workers, in addition to 15 carefully selected freelance performers, help make it happen.

If anything, David and Beth are a testimony to the hard work and passion that goes into a small business that relies heavily on word of mouth.

Parents don’t hesitate to open their wallets to please their children and private entertainment has been around for as long as birthdays have been celebrated.

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (3)


“There were no cell phones when I started out,” notes David. “I had a pager.”

“I was typing our contracts on a typewriter before we had computers in the office,” adds Beth.

David fell into the business in the early 1990s when he was lifeguarding between college semesters at a club.

The Westchester native was majoring in criminal justice at Iona but his high-spirited, buoyant personality signaled a different path.

“I was always a jokester and every day I wanted entertainment.”

He was good with the kids and when one of the member parents asked him to entertain at a birthday party, he slipped into a costume not realizing he was carving out a destiny.

He donned a Barney costume when the lovable dinosaur first came out and then drove around County parks in a dune buggy. Kids instantly ran to him and parents noted the phone number on the side of the vehicle.

“That’s how it all started.”

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (4)

The Yellow Pages placed him in the Entertainment Section. “My purple dinosaur ad was surrounded by X-rated adult services,” he laughs.

A year later, he met his future wife through a mutual friend and the two forged a complementary team.

A singer, dancer, and performer since she was 5 years old, Beth started writing shows and choreographing acts for David’s parties, adding a new dimension to the business.

They married in 1997 and ran the operation from David’s childhood home in Pelham until neighbors started complaining about the flow of employees and the costumes hanging out to dry in the yard.

They moved to an office in nearby New Rochelle while Beth was pregnant with Brandie, the second of their 2 daughters. It wasn’t easy managing a growing and demanding business, and they constantly argued during working hours.

The situation improved when they hired their first secretary. “She saved our marriage,” recalls Beth.

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (5)

They scored their most memorable party in 2012 when the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, flew them to Morocco to entertain his daughter, Lalla Khadija, for her 5th birthday.

Beth was dressed in a Mini Mouse costume and playing on a grand piano at the Greenwich, Connecticut home of the King’s nephew when she was later asked to perform at the King’s palace in Rabat.

“Everyone in the office was fighting to go,” Beth remembers. “They came to our office, packed all the costumes and party equipment, and took us to the airport.”

Seven performers, including David and Beth, were treated to an all-expense paid trip for a full week in Morocco even though the party lasted just one day.

Mosques were closed in honor of Lalla’s birthday and the American visitors found themselves immersed in royal protocol with dozens of white-robed aids bowing to the monarchs and scurrying for attention to every detail.

Dressed in Western fashion, Lalla’s mother, Princess Lalla Salma, showed up in jeans and high-heels and asked Beth where she can get her face painted.

“This way, your Majesty,” Beth remembers replying, chuckling in our interview.

At the end of the week, the Palace cut them a check for $70,000.

From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (6)

Staying busy even during the winter months when private clubs hire them for indoor events, Dave’s Cast of Characters shut down when the pandemic hit in early 2020.

For the first time, David was home for an extended period of time, which was a mixed blessing for the family since no money was coming in.

But soon enough, Beth and her older daughter, Carlie, were brainstorming ideas for tackling the covid gloom that was settling all around.

“We invented social distance parties,” says Beth.

They started in their own neighborhood where they gathered the kids outside and had them stand in the middle of hoola-hoops that were placed far apart. Games and costumes followed, all at a distance.

They began charging for similar activities in spacious back yards and newly-invented neighborhood camps, testing every kid for covid and reassuring parents.

With Carlie assuming more responsibility in the business, husband and wife are ready to slow down the hectic pace of their lives and spend more time in Florida where they bought a retirement home.

Looking back, David reflects on where life took him the past 3 decades.

“Whatever I planned in life didn’t work out and whatever I didn’t plan, I just rolled with it and it worked.”


From Hollywood Celebs to the King of Morocco (2024)
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