East Lynne Theater Company

Warren Kliewer
Founding Artistic Director

Gayle Stahlhuth
Current Artistic Director


Artistic Director:
Gayle Stahlhuth

Technical Director:
Lee O’Connor

Frank L. Smith,

Jim Richards,
First Vice-President

Mark E. Lang

Second Vice-President

Veronica Scutaro


Dawn Brautigam

Peg Curran

Gerald DeMenna

Marilyn Foster

Alison J. Murphy



Stephanie Garrett
James V. Hatch
Clare Juechter
Michele LaRue
Walter J. Meserve
Don B. Wilmeth


Notes from ELTC's production of EMMA GOLDMAN: MY LIFE

     Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was born in Kovno, Russia. At age 16 she emigrated to the United States and worked in a clothing factory in Rochester, NY. When she read about the Haymarket Riots in Chicago in 1889, she knew she had to be active in the union movement and moved to NYC. Here she met Johann Most and Alexander Berkman.

    In 1906 she founded the monthly magazine, “Mother Earth,” devoted to social justice. An opponent of the draft during World War I, Emma was imprisoned for advocating a person’s right to choose to fight or not. Alexander M. Palmer, the Attorney General and his special assistant, John Edgar Hoover, organized a plan to deport anti-draft, union organizers. On Nov. 7, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested in 23 different cities. Emma was among them.

    She held high hopes for a successful Russian Revolution, but when she was once more living in Russia, she was repelled by the Bolshevik dictatorship. Her books My Disillusionment in Russia (1923) and My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924) helped to turn many socialists against the Bolshevik government.

    Her marriage to an old friend, James Colton, a Welch miner, gave her British citizenship which afforded her more mobility. She rented a cottage in St. Tropez, France, and with the help of Peggy Guggenheim and others, was able to purchase her new home. In 1930, H. L. Menken petitioned the United States government for Emma’s return to her “homeland of choice,” but to no avail.

    In 1931, her autobiography, Living My Life, was published. In 1933, she and Paul Robeson spoke at the same luncheon in London. During the Spanish Civil War, Emma visited Spain, and in 1937, joined Rebecca West and Sybil Thorndike in their effort to establish the Committee to Aid Homeless Spanish Women and Children.

    Emma died in Toronto. The United States government granted permission to have her body buried in Chicago, next to the Haymarket victims – a wish she had requested.

Notes from ELTC's production


     Paul Robeson (1898-1976), a successful scholar, athlete, performer, and activist, was born to a former slave, the Rev. William Robeson. At Rutgers University he was a twelve-letter athlete, excelling in baseball, basketball, football, and track, and graduated valedictorian in 1919. After receiving his law degree at Columbia University, he worked briefly as a law clerk.  

     While in NYC at Columbia he came in contact with people in the theater, which led to leads in plays written by Eugene O’Neill and a career on stage and in film. His theatrical and concert tours took him to England, Ireland, Germany, Russia, and France. Robeson believed in the universality of music and that by performing African-American spirituals and other cultures’ folk songs, he could promote intercultural understanding. Members of the FBI, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, went to his home in 1950 to take his passport.




Celebrating 35 Years of The American Spirit on Stage!

When Warren Kleiwer founded ELTC as a professional Equity theater in 1980, he hoped it would become "a vehicle for rediscovering the enduring values of the American heritage and for deepening our understanding of what it means to be an American.” He also hoped that others would join in this rediscovery, and, happily, this has begun to happen, with The Metropolitan Playhouse in NYC being only one example of other companies who embrace the challenge and rewards of research and discovery of lost gems.

Between 1980 and 2014, ELTC has produced 160 different plays and musicals (NOT counting repetitions), including 48 world premieres and 13 New Jersey premieres, and both ELTC and Artistic Director Gayle Stahlhuth are in the newest edition of The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre (2008). ELTC's directors, musicians, designers, and actors work together throughout the year to create quality productions not seen anywhere else. When patrons experience ELTC’s productions, they witness the company’s engaging perspective on American theater and its unique contribution to the world of theater.

ELTC takes seriously its role in preservation as well as production, and boxes of memorabilia are yearly sent to The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State University, who asked to house the company's archives in 1996. Warren named the company after a popular play that was first produced in Brooklyn in 1863: East Lynne, adapted from Ellen Wood's novel. At one time, there were three different productions in NYC, and when a stock company wanted sure revenue, East Lynne was the show of choice. The 1916 silent film version starred Theda Bara, and the 1931 film was nominated for Best Picture of the Year.


Touring Shows:
Covering American History from 1840-1950!
"I'm always impressed that East Lynne Theater productions run education and entertainment side by side. Their shows consistently enlighten and amuse - a rare combination that results in an uplifting experience." - Tom Sims for Exit Zero

Emma Palzere-Rae

AUNT HATTIE’S HOUSE Written and Performed by Emma Palzere-Rae.  Spend a lovely evening with Harriet Beecher Stowe, who speaks of her life, her new home, and what propelled her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“Harriet is grandly portrayed by Emma Palzere-Rae." Ed Wismer, critic for Cape May Star and Wave

EMMA GOLDMAN: MY LIFE(Commissioned for and first performed for ELTC in 2010) Written and performed by NYC-based actress Lorna Lable, directed by Karen Case Cook. Wise and witty, Emma always spoke her mind, whether it was on women's rights or the widening gap between rich and poor. She was a fascinating woman in a fascinating time: America in the early 1900s, teeming with immigrants like herself, all longing for a better way of life. Lorna has performed Off-Broadway (Grandma's Funeral), in films (Keeping the Faith with Ben Stiller), and on TV (Third Watch). Directing is Karen Case Cook who has directed several shows for ELTC including The Guardsman and Alice on the Edge. (For Notes on Emma Goldman, see sidebar.) "You're witnessing one of the greatest activists in history answer questions from phantom colleagues sitting next to you.  She is a masterful speaker, answering questions with authority and ease.  She's passionate, insightful and from her answers, you soon realize she is eternally pulling for those who are lacking an advocate.  And that's what you learn to love about her." Tom Sims for Exit Zero (NJ) 

"Emma is superb.  When ELTC's artistic director Gayle Stahlhuth commissioned New York actress Lorna Lable to write and perform Emma Goldman: My Life, it was one of Stahlhuth's wisest decisions ever." Ed Wismer for Cape May Star and Wave  

CHRISTMAS STORIES, adapted and performed in storytelling fashion by Gayle Stahlhuth.  See one person bring 30 plus characters to life!  Her performances have become a Holiday Tradition in Cape May and on the road. Here are a sample of the Christmas tales she's premiered:

      CHRISTMAS IN WISCONSIN: TALES BY ZONA GALE Gayle portrays the storyteller, Calliope Marsh, who lived in Friendship Village, Wisconsin her whole life. In “Human,” while waiting in line at the post office to mail off her Christmas presents, she discovers that a seven-year-old boy doesn't have the money to visit his mother who’s in a hospital in another town.  In “The Great Tree,” she is determined to see to it that the tree in the center of town is lit with electric lights for Christmas Eve in 1912. Zona Gale was known for her short stories and her novel, “Miss Lulu Bett,” that she adapted for the stage.  While on Broadway in 1922, it received the Pulitzer Prize.

      THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS based on the delightful novel by L. Frank Baum, who also wrote The Wizard of Oz. 

Chosen to be part of the American Masterpiece Series by the NJ State Council on the Arts when it premiered in Cape May as part of the 2010 Mainstage Production Season.

       O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS STORIES Stories include "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking," "Christmas by Inunction," and "The Gift of the Magi."

"Her performance is one of the highlights of the theater season in Cape May." Cape May Gazette

       LOUISA MAY ALCOTT'S CHRISTMAS As Louisa, Gayle, performs the first two chapters of Little Women (the March Family Christmas), and the stories "How It All Happened" and "Tessa's Surprises."

"Stahlhuth is an absolute delight, bringing Christmas cheer to the audience as she switches from one characterization to the other." Cape May Gazette

EVE’S DIARY Adapted and performed by Gayle Stahlhuth, Eve's Diary recounts the adventures of Adam and Eve as written by Mark Twain. Life IS difficult to figure out without a dictionary!  Length can vary from 15 to 40 minutes.

“Diary abounds with wit and charm.” The Tribeca Trib (NYC)

Edna Ferber show

FABULOUS FERBER Written and Performed by Gayle Stahlhuth.  It's 1938 and Edna Ferber's publisher has asked her to write an autobiography. As she recalls her life, from the balcony of her NYC apartment, she discovers, and so does the audience, that her life is well worth recording. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author (So Big) and Broadway playwright (The Royal Family and Dinner at Eight with George S. Kaufman, etc.), was also a journalist, short-story writer, and a member of the Algonquin Round Table. Newspapers hired her to cover Presidential Campaigns before women were allowed to vote. Jerome Kern adapted her novel Show Boat into the famous musical, and she numbered Helen Hayes, Katherine Hepburn, and Moss Hart among her friends. Originally commissioned by the Illinois and Missouri Humanities Councils for the Heartland Chautauqua Circuit, Stahlhuth was even asked to perform it as part of the Edna Ferber new-stamp issue ceremony at Appleton, WI. Length: 35 minutes to a full-two act.

Fabulous Ferber fabulous!” Ed Wismer, Ocean City Sentinel (NJ)

The Guardsman

THE GUARDSMAN IN A TRUNK Adapted by Mark Edward Lang and performed by Alison J. Murphy and Mark Edward Lang.  ELTC's popular romantic 2008 production, directed by Karen Case Cook, has been reduced from a cast of five, to a delightful - and "tourable" - cast of two! Franz Molnar's 1924 comedy, originally titled Playing with Fire, established Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne as Broadway stars. The location is Vienna, during the Belle Époque, the “beautiful years” before World War I, when love, not war, was in the air. Two actors have been married for six months, and everyone knows that the actress habitually changes men every twenty-six weeks. Thus, the actor is nervous, and goes to great lengths to discover whether or not she is faithful.

"A pleasant souffle of an evening in the theater!" Jacob Schaad, critic for Cape May Gazette

Helpful Hints

HELPFUL HINTS (Commissioned by and first performed for ELTC in 2008) Adapted/Performed by Susan Tischler, based on Putnam's Household Handboook (1916) written by Mae Savell Croy, and directed by Karen Case Cook.  Join Mrs. Croy as she instructs the busy housewife how to be efficient in the home so that more time can be spent at suffrage rallies. Many "helpful hints" are given - from cleaning the stove and your clothes with kerosene, to leaving babies outside when they cry because screaming (outside) is good for the lungs.  Also discussed are the sick room, architecture, invitations, the comfort of the gymnasium suit, and so much more! Mrs. Croy is joined on stage by Mr. Wilcox, a Stage Manager who tries to keep her topics on track.  Helpful Hints was a big hit at the First Annual National Red Hat Convention in 2010 in Cape May.

"A stand-up comedy routine circa 1916!" Jacob Schaad, critic for Cape May Gazette

Lizzie Borden Live

LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE (Commissioned by and first performed for ELTC in 2007) Written and performed by Jill Dalton, directed by Jack McCullough, with original music by Emmy winning-composer Larry Hochman.  Jill Dalton brings the legend to life in this provocative play that has audiences rethinking the sensational murders of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Borden on Aug. 4, 1892. The only one tried for the murders was Andrew's daughter, Lizzie, who maintained her innocence and was acquitted. To this day, the case is considered unsolved, although many do believe that "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." Did she do it or not? You decide.

"Dalton enacts a Lizzie such as never before seen. Her accomplishment may be far the most accurate, the most thoroughly researched, and the most brilliantly complex Lizzie created for dramatic purposes. It is an accomplishment not only of theater and performance, but of Lizzie Borden scholarship: a tale woven with historical accuracy and intelligent speculation, one that does not try to solve the murders, but to puzzle out the mystery inside the woman herself." Richard Behrens, critic for The Hatchet, Quarterly for The Lizzie Borden Society

"I heartily recommend Lizzie Borden Live. It's unlikely you will arrive at any conclusions, but you'll have spent a short spell with a complex and most interesting Lizzie, in the person of Jill Dalton...Dalton is nothing less than superb in her depiction, alternating between sweet, innocent, witty, and savagely murderous." Ed Wismer, critic for Cape May Star and Wave

Louisa May Alcott

LOU: The Remarkable Miss Alcott Written and Performed by Gayle Stahlhuth It is the fall of 1871 in Louisa May Alcott’s Boston apartment. As she reads her mail and packs for a trip to Europe, Louisa talks to the audience about her life as a philosopher's daughter, Civil War nurse, and writer of short stories and novels, including Little Women. The script is taken from the letters, diaries, and stories of the famous author. Length can be 35 minutes to a full-two act.

"Last night's performance of Lou was like an evening with an old friend . . . The portrayal moved the audience from laughter to tears." The Riverton Ranger (WY)

"Stahlhuth is renowned for bringing characters to vivid life." Cape May Star and Wave

NOT ABOVE A WHISPER Written by Gayle Stahlhuth, this two-person show tells of Dorothea Dix’s struggles as she sought protection for the indigent mentally ill in the 1800s.

"Anyone who thinks about the relationship between taxation and social responsibility would have much to learn from Not Above a Whisper." Ken Yellis, Curator of Education, The National Portrait Gallery


PAUL ROBESON THROUGH HIS WORDS AND MUSIC Written by Gayle Stahlhuth Performed by Derrick McQueen. Paul Robeson Through His Words and Music is an interweaving of two dozen songs that were sung by Robeson, with a narrative of his life as an actor, singer, activist, and humanitarian.

(For Notes on Paul Robes, see sidebar.)

"Thank you for sharing your special talents at the Puffin Cultural Forum. Your presence here has helped to deepen our experience of the arts and culture, reflecting the premise of the Foundation's motto: continuing the dialogue between art and the lives of ordinary people." Perry Rosenstein, President, The Puffin Foundation "Paul Robeson Through His Words and Music was one of our most well attended presentations. Derrick did a wonderful job narrating Robeson's life and singing his songs. The presentation provides a nice balance between Robeson's personal life and his importance in history." Carol Campell, Friends of Fanwood Memorial Library, NJ as reported in The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times

"Superb performance! The history of Robeson flowed seamlessly into singing that delighted all who attended. The applause afterwards went on so long that Mr. McQueen had to deliver an encore! What a treat! Every one of the attendees came up to me later, grateful that I had booked the show. Mr. McQueen and Technical Director Mr. O'Connor were wonderful to work with. Thank you East Lynne Theater Company for making the night a success!" Jennifer Rees Schulze, Westfield Memorial Library.

Sherlock Holmes radio show

SHERLOCK HOLMES ADVENTURES in the style of the original 1930’s NBC radio series, with live sound effects and commercials, these shows are being requested to “go on the road.” Adventures that have been offered are The Copper Beeches, The Speckled Band, The Blue Carbuncle, and The Norwood Builder.  Beginning in November 2013, offering Sherlock Holmes Adventure of the Copper Beeches and Nick Carter and the Strange Dr. Devolo in the same night!

“This excellent group brings Holmes to life!” Ocean City Sentinel (NJ)

"This is live theater done right!" Sherry Hoffman, New Jersey LifeStyle Magazine

Michele LaRue

SOMEONE MUST WASH THE DISHES Written by Marie Jenney Howe   Performed by Michele LaRue   It was originally published by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (precursor of the League of Women Voters.) “Woman suffrage is the reform against nature,” declares Howe’s unlikely, but irresistibly likeable, heroine.  Howe, a pro-suffragist, wrote her Anti-Suffrage Monologue in 1912—eight years before women at last won the vote. Her fictional speaker is a charming, guileless enthusiast who sincerely believes that her efforts as a “womanly woman” will keep the Home intact—and save the Nation from anarchy. “Ladies, get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth—but do it in a womanly way! That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper!”

"Michele LaRue is all innocence when stating that if women were awarded suffrage,they'd have no impact on the vote, anyway." The Newark Star-Ledger (NJ)

Stephanie Garrett

TALES OF THE VICTORIANS, American short-story classics read by members of the company, have pleased audiences on the porches of B&Bs in Cape May, in schools, museums, theaters, and parlors, entertaining all ages.

“The Bret Harte story was one more warmth-producing Yule log on the holiday fire.” Cape May Star and Wave

Robert Abderdeen

VICTORIAN MAGIC is a tour de force for actor/magician Robert Aberdeen, who delights audiences of all ages with his sleight-of-hand. Performances include selections from The Oldest Illusion in the History of Magic: "The Cups and Balls" and The Second Oldest Illusion: "The Mystery of the Silver Rings."

“Aberdeen shines . . he has stage charisma that establishes a rapport with the audience." Cape May Gazette

Yellow Wallpaper

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER Directed and adapted by Warren Kliewer and performed by Michele LaRue. The Yellow Wallpaper is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s chilling indictment of 19th- century medicine. And one of the finest horror stories ever penned. Gilman’s story has been applauded by feminists since its publication in 1891. A three-month-long idyll in the country, the detailed attentions of a loving husband—and a room hung with yellow wallpaper—propel a spirited new mother to the brink of madness. The Yellow Wallpaper continues to chill today’s readers, dazzling feminists and historians, mystery- and horror-story enthusiasts alike, with its wit, suspense, and superlative style.

"I want to commend The East Lynne Theater Company, and particularly Michele LaRue, on the stunning performance." Martha C. Allen, Project Director, NJ Committee for the Humanities


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