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East Lynne Theater Company is an Equity professional nonprofit organization that specializes in producing American Stage Classics and history-based new works that deal with the uniquely American experience. When ELTC was founded in 1980 by Warren Kliewer, he hoped that it "could become a vehicle for rediscovering the enduring values of the American heritage and for deepening the 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. In 1996, "The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research" at Ohio State University asked to house the company's archives, and ELTC and current artistic director Gayle Stahlhuth are in the newest edition of "The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre" (2008). The name of the theater is derived from the famous play "East Lynne," that at one time in the 1880s, had three productions in the Brooklyn/Manhattan area, while ten touring companies were on the road.
At the request of the Executive Director of The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities, ELTC moved from its homebase at The William Carlos Williams Center in Rutherford to Cape May, NJ in 1989. New Jersey's Oldest Seaside Resort is a perfect fit for the delightfully entertaining classic repertoire of ELTC. Currently, the company makes its home at The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, an historic landmark, a block away from the beach. It is completely ADA accessible, and can comfortably seat over 100 patrons, with excellent acoustics and sightlines.
Mainstage productions have included "Why Marry?" (the first play to win the Pulitzer Prize), Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie", George S. Kaufman's comedy "The Butter and Egg Man," "All the Things You Are: The Music of Jerome Kern," and John L. Balderston's time-travel fantasy from 1928, "Berkeley Square." Many of ELTC's productions are plays that have not been produced in over 70 years, and ELTC's artistic director spends a great deal of time researching and discovery lost comic and dramatic gems that still speak to today's audience's with their themes, humor and universality. Many of these plays have cast sizes of up to ten.
The company operates all year long with the following programs: Mainstage Production Season from mid-June through mid-December and March in Cape May; Touring Shows throughout the country; and Educational Outreach for all ages, including summer student workshops, in-school and after-school residencies, and admission-free symposiums.
In October 2009, ELTC was given the "Achievement of Excellence Award" for "30 years of celebrating America's heritage through productions and educational programs." ELTC is a member of The Theatre Communications Group, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, and The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May.
Office: 121 Fourth Ave., West Cape May, NJ 08204; Phone: 609-884-5898.