West Cape May, NJ's East Lynne Theater Company Announces 2017 Season

Evan Smilyk and Samuel Douglas Clark in this season's "Dracula.” Photo credit: Gayle Stahlhuth

The award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company announces its 2017 Cape May Mainstage Season. As usual, it includes classic gems, a world premiere, and radio-style shows. This year's theme is "The American Dream."

On March 17 and 18, it’s “Detectives Holmes and Carter,” ELTC’s radio-style production, with two mysteries back-to-back on the same night. In “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League,” Sherlock Holmes must figure out why there is a club only for red-headed gentlemen. In “The Voice of Crime,” a thief challenges Nick Carter to figure out the location of his next heist. In both, the cast-of-seven portray various characters in Holmes' Victorian England and Carter's New York during World War II. Like all ELTC’s radio-style productions, it then goes on the road after the Cape May performances, along with ELTC’s “Victorian Magic.”

Next up is “Will Rogers’ U.S.A.,” from June 14 to July 23, a one-man show about the famous humorist, cowboy, philosopher, newspaper columnist, radio and stage performer, and humanitarian, Will Rogers (1879-1935). James Whitmore portrayed Rogers for television and on stage for thirty years. The script is not published and it took ELTC’s artistic director three months to track down who owns the rights. Portraying the iconic cowboy is Tom Byrn, who portrayed the 16th President in ELTC’s “Mr. Lincoln.” “There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you,” said Rogers.

Then, from July 26 to September 2, it’s “Ah, Wilderness!,” Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy. Taking place during the July 4th weekend in 1906 in a small Connecticut town, it offers a gentle portrait of family values, teenage growing pains, and young love. When it premiered on Broadway in 1933, George M. Cohan portrayed Nat Miller, the father. Will Rogers took on the role when it toured.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, it’s “A Year in the Trenches,” ELTC’s fifth world premiere written by James Rana, running from September 20 to October 14. The focus is on men and women from New Jersey who served, and the creation of this script received support from the NJ Theatre Alliance, the NJ State Council on the Arts, and the NJ Historical Commission. Staged readings of sections of the play will premiere at The Bickford Theatre in Morristown, NJ in March.

On November 3 and 4, another radio-style production returns, “Sherlock Holmes Adventure of the Speckled Band,” written by Craig Whitman, with live sound effects and commercials. In October, 1930, the “Sherlock Holmes” radio series began with “The Speckled Band,” adapted by Edith Meiser, who proposed the Holmes radio series to NBC. It lasted for 20 years.

From November 24 to December 9, it's “Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas,” based on the opening chapters of “Little Women” and other writings by the famous American author, adapted and performed by Gayle Stahlhuth. As in past holiday shows, Stahlhuth creates 30 plus characters with simple gestures and a change of voice.

ELTC is busy throughout the year with educational outreach and touring productions. On March 15, West Cape May Elementary School students perform “Revolution!,” staged readings of scripts they’ll have written about the Revolutionary War, under Stahlhuth’s direction. The Student Summer Workshop returns in June and July, headed by Robert LeMaire, culminating in a performance, free for the community on July 3. Other events include the Silent Sunday Film Series in partnership with the Cape May Film Society, and Tales of the Victorians, in partnership with various B&Bs and inns.

The current production, “Yuletide Tales,” has only a few remaining performances: December 8, 9, and 10 at 8:00pm, and a 2:00 as well on Saturday, December 10.

Season Tickets are $88 for four shows, and tickets may be used in several ways, including using all at one performance, or seeing four different shows. To purchase, send a check to ELTC's office at 121 Fourth Ave., West Cape May, NJ 08204, visit ELTC's website www.eastlynnetheater.org, or go to the box office when there is a performance. For questions, call 609-884-5898. General admission price is $32, so Season Tickets result in a savings, and make a great gift.

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