RECENT SEASONS: 2013, 2014 and 2015
“Neatly adapted…brisk direction…endearing performances.” - from Michael Sommers' review of Zorro for THE NEW YORK TIMES
CAPE MAY SEASON 2015
MR. LINCOLN starring Tom Byrn and directed by Gayle Stahlhuth, returns in 2016. For details, go to the Mr. Lincoln page under MAINSTAGE SEASON.
HUCKLEBERRY FINN (World Premiere) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), written by Mark Twain, is considered to be one of America’s greatest books by today’s critics and scholars. Ernest Hemingway called it the one book from which “all modern American literature came.” While fleeing from his drunken father, young Huck meets Jim, a runaway slave. Thus begins their unforgettable odyssey down the Mississippi River. Huckleberry Finn is adapted by James Rana, who’s other adaptations first produced by ELTC include the well-reviewed Zorro!, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Poe Mysteries – all enjoyed by audiences from ages 5 – 95. So many times, you see adaptations and consider only the elements of the story, but with Rana’s skillful writing and masterful direction from Gayle Stahlhuth, the story and its spirit come to life. In fact, everything comes together in this production. The cast works together beautifully as they take on varied roles with unsurpassed energy and grace. Story, character, action all work as harmoniously as the bends of the mighty Mississippi traveling to its delta. This play leads you anywhere your heart imagines. - Tom Sims, Exit Zero
STRICTLY DISHONORABLE Isabelle, who was raised on a plantation in Mississippi, and Henry, her fiancé from West Orange, New Jersey step into a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. Here they encounter Tomaso, the owner of the establishment, Mario, a waiter, Judge Dempsey, who lives above the speakeasy, Patrolman Mulligan, and the famous opera star, Count Di Ruvo. Isabelle finds these men enchanting. Henry does not. Where Isabelle and Henry spend the night and what happens the next day all have to do with the decision to play it safe or expand one’s horizons. Opening on September 19, 1929, this screwball comedy by Preston Sturges received rave reviews, and ticket sales remained strong even after the stock market crash in October. "While Sturges does examine issues that are important to what it means to be an American—giving comic (and other) consideration to questions of ambition, money, heroism, and morality—he examines them with a flashing wit and a poet’s gift for slang that offers American English at its most entertaining." - from a Vanity Fair article. Click Here to read the complete May, 2010 article in Vanity Fair about Sturges.
"I had the pleasure of seeing Strictly Dishonorable recently at ELTC. It was a fantastic production with so many strong performances and excellent direction. The play was very engaging and kept us on the edge of our seats. Very funny.. the actors had great timing and it was also quite touching. The costuming was perfect and the set was resourceful and very charming. I've seen multiple shows here and I highly recommend catching a show! This is a unique and professional company that never leaves you disappointed. Seeing a play here always seems to fit in perfectly for a night out in Cape May." - review on TripAdvisor
DETECTIVES HOLMES AND CARTER Radio-style adventures featuring 2 mysteries: Sherlock Holmes and the Red-Headed League and Nick Carter and the Voice of Crime. They return in 2016.
THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS From L. Frank Baum, the man who gave us The Wizard of Oz, comes this charming tale about Claus’s life, from his early years to how he became immortal, presented in storytelling fashion by Artistic Director Gayle Stahlhuth, who has been praised by reviewers and audience alike for her portrayals of 30-plus roles in the telling of one tale. When ELTC last produced this one-person tour-de-force in 2010, it was designated an “American Masterpiece” as part of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Masterpieces Series. Baum gave Claus an exciting life that evokes all the charm, warmth, and fantasy that made his "Oz" stories American classics. He took Claus out of his conventional trappings, and placed him into the world of folklore, complete with fairies, gnomes, and elves. In fact, it is because of Baum’s book, that Santa Claus is believed to have elves to help him.
CAPE MAY SEASON 2014
- THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS charts the ups and downs of a married couple in seven scenes from 1872 -1922. ELTC’s artistic director tracked down the only known script of this forgotten gem at the Billy Rose Collection at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts in NYC. Playing on Broadway in 1922, this was the first success of Henry Myers who later wrote screenplays, including Destry Rides Again, and numbered Jay Gorney, who wrote the tune for "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," as one of his collaborators. Many may know the 1952 Tony Award-winning play The Fourposter written by Jan de Hartog that covers 35 years of a marriage from 1890-1925, and was adapted into the musical, I Do! I Do! but The First Fifty Years came first. Cast: Beckley Andrews and Samuel Douglas Clark. Pictured left is a rehearsal shot. "The dialog was realistic, timeless, and as entertaining as it was insightful. The direction by Gayle Stahlhuth was wonderful. In my opinion, not only one of the best directed plays I've seen at East Lynne, but one of the best I've seen anywhere in quite some time." - Review on TripAdvisor
- ZORRO! (World Premiere) In 1919, the character of “Zorro” first appeared in The Curse of Capistrano. Written by Johnston McCulley, it was a serialized novel in All-Story Weekly magazine. After the success of Douglas Fairbank’s silent film, it was reissued under the title The Mark of Zorro. James Rana wrote the adaptation. When a common citizen realizes the governor of Old California is arresting people because they disagree with him, he dons a mask and cape, and wields his sword to avenge the wrong. A cast of seven portray a variety of roles. Cast: Mark Edward Lang, Mark Lazar, Elisa Pupko, Jed Peterson, James Rana, Suzanne Dawson, and Evan Smilyk "What you get at East Lynne is the level of production that's become its trademark: polished professional acting. . . . Gayle Stahlhuth, East Lynne's artistic chief, directs the show to focus on the storytelling – and James Rana's swift script gives her plenty to consider in the world-premiere production. The show's musical background adds much to the feel of the production, and fight director Joseph Travers choreographs some rousing tussles." - Howard Shapiro, WHYY; “Neatly adapted…brisk direction…endearing performances.” - Michael Sommers, The New York Times
- WITHIN THE LAW This Broadway sensation was the most successful play to hit New York in ten years. Part of its charm lies in the fact that it’s a drama, comedy, romance, and mystery all rolled into one hit. Opening in September, 1912 at the Eltinge Theatre, it ran for two years (a long run in those days), receiving praise from critics, social workers, city officials, and audiences alike. The plot involves Mary Turner, a sales clerk in a Manhattan department store, being falsely accused of shoplifting. Her pleas for justice solicit a sneer from the store owner, but she warns him that, although she is no thief, if he doesn't pay his employees a decent wage, there will be more thefts. After her prison term, Mary learns how to fight society and wealth with their own weapons, so she can seek revenge on those who wronged her by staying just “within the law.” This was familiar territory for playwright Bayard Veiller, who grew up poor in Brooklyn and spent many years as a police reporter before becoming a successful playwright. Cast: Jennifer Bissell, Tom Byrn, Ken Glickfeld, Patrick Hyland, Seth James, Meredith Lark, Matt Baxter Luceno, Lee O’Connor, Hillary Pusak, Thomas Raniszewski, Gayle Stahlhuth, Eric Stephenson, and John Cameron Weber (All are pictured at the top of the page except Gayle who took the picture. "Gayle Stahlhuth's production brings to life a NYC world of economic exploitation, crime, corruption, and convoluted romance. . . There's fun to be had watching these timeless themes play out . . . With a cast of 13, Within the Law offers a large canvas of effective ensemble acting." - Kim Merrill, Cape May Star and Wave
- HOLMES AND CARTER MYSTERIES ELTC’s popular vintage-radio style production, complete with live sound effects and commercials, with two great detectives! Sherlock Holmes Adventure of the Copper Beeches about a governess in peril, and Nick Carter and the Strange Dr. Devolo, in which Manhattan millionaires are missing. Cast: Mark Edward Lang, Robert LeMaire, Alison J. Murphy, Lee O'Connor, Gayle Stahhuth, and Fred Velde.
- CHRISTMAS IN WISCONSIN: Tales by Zona Gale (World Premiere) Adapted by Gayle Stahlhuth, who also portrays the storyteller, Calliope Marsh in Friendship Village. In Human, while waiting at the post office to mail off Christmas presents, along with most of the rest of the town, Calliope discovers that a seven-year-old boy doesn't have the money to visit his mother. 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.“Stahlhuth mesmerizes audiences as she moves seamlessly from character to character.” - Catherine Dugan, Exit Zero
CAPE MAY SEASON 2013
- LOST ON THE NATCHEZ TRACE The year is 1825 and slave auctioneer Malcolm Jeters is headed home when he falls from his mule in Mississippi's Natchez Trace during a violent storm. Injured and starving, he yells for help. The only one who appears is a runaway slave. The question is, who will save whom? Written by Jan Buttram, co-founder and artistic director of Abingdon Theatre Company in NYC, the play was first produced at Abingdon in 2012. After seeing it, ELTC's artistic director, asked Jan if she would like to make further changes to the script and have another run. Cast: Tom Byrn, Leon Morgan, and Stephanie Garrett. "Three actors, Tom Byrn, Leon Morgan, and Stephanie Garrett, led by director Gayle Stahlhuth capture the attention of the audience from the beginning to the end of the play and they never let go...Each of the cast members produces a performance that is literally a tour de force......thoroughly engrossing and deserves to be widely seen." - Ed Wismer, Cape May Star and Wave
- THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW World Premiere The townsfolk of Sleepy Hollow believe that the headless body of a Hessian soldier astride his horse haunts their isolated village. When Ichabod Crane suddenly disappears, is it the fault of the Headless Horseman, or something else? Washington Irving’s supernatural story is adapted by James Rana, with a cast of six playing many roles to bring the tale to life. Cast: Justin Bennett, Suzanne Dawson, Matt Baxter Luceno. Elisa Pupko, Thomas Raniszewski, and John Cameron Weber. This production also had a run at Ocean Professional Theatre in Barnegat, NJ. "Each of the play's six actors contributes something special to it. Matt Baxter Luceno, appealingly elegant and courtly as Ichabod Crane arouses our sympathy as the harassed and terrified outsider. . . Elisa Pupko as Katrina is superlative as the sweet Dutch farmer's daughter, as well as other characters. . . Suzanne Dawson shows her mettle as a character actor, and as such is up there with the best of them as the village gossip, housewife, etc. . . .As Brom Bones, Justin Bennett is certainly up to the task of portraying that ultimately disagreeable character. . . Thomas Raniszewski plays all his multiple roles wonderfully, with a decidedly sharp contrast from when he is the proper Pastor, to later as the outlandishly awkward farmer who lends Crane a horse for his ride with the headless one. John Cameron Weber shows he is a solid and convincing actor as Katrina's father, as well as in his other roles. . . . Marion T. Brady's period costuming beautifully established the Dutch era backdrop of the play, and all the players appeared comfortably at ease in the attire she designed for them. . . Gayle Stahlhuth's direction is so natural that it creates the illusion of looking like it just "happened." However, I suspect that a great deal of work was required to have the seamless action of the play move with such fluidity and ease. . . .This fine production is child-friendly (and certainly adult-friendly as well). It reminds me of the teleplays of early television (which can be viewed on YouTube and at the Museum of Broadcasting): A time when, with good scripts, fine actors and direction, and with only basic scenery and props, delightful and enduring works were created." -Jay Reisberg, Culture Catch, NYC-based review site: http://culturecatch.com/theater/sleepy-hollow
- THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN After his death, Bean is heralded as “not merely a great American artist, but one of the greatest masters of all time,” and the art world now wants his work. But did a New England family destroy his paintings, misplace them, or hide them? A 1932 Broadway hit written by Pulitzer-prize winner Sidney Howard, with a cast of nine. Cast: Jennifer Bissell, Craig Fols, Seth James, Mark Edward Lang, Robert LeMaire, Bradley Mott, Francesca Mondelli, Alison J. Murphy, Maria Silverman, “It’s a play that has remained fresh and funny, proving once again that a strong script is rarely tarnished by time.” - Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times
- HOLMES AND CARTER MYSTERIES ELTC’s popular vintage-radio style production, complete with live sound effects and commercials, with two great detectives! Sherlock Holmes Adventure of the Copper Beeches about a governess in peril, and Nick Carter and the Strange Dr. Devolo, in which Manhattan millionaires are missing.
- CHRISTMAS WITH HARTE AND O. HENRY Christmas tales from the old West written by Bret Harte and O. Henry, presented in storytelling fashion by Artistic Director Gayle Stahlhuth, who has been praised by reviewers and audience alike for her portrayals of 30-plus roles in the telling of one tale.