New Jersey Stage

Monday, April 25, 2011

East Lynne Theater Company honors The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May at SJCA Awards

(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May will be East Lynne Theater Company's honoree on Thursday, May 19 at the South Jersey Cultural Alliance's (SJCA) 16th Annual Paul Aiken Encore Awards Dinner at Bally's in Atlantic City. East Lynne is a proud member of SJCA, and this event offers the opportunity for members to recognize those who graciously support arts organizations in eight South Jersey counties. This year, thirty awards are expected to be bestowed, including the Alliance's own 2011 Lillian Levy Standing Ovation Award to NJN and a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Marc Mappen, who was formerly a dean at Rutgers University and recently retired as executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission.    

     ELTC, founded in 1980, moved its mainstage production season from The William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts in Rutherford to Cape May in 1989 when members of the Cape May community asked artistic director Warren Kliewer to consider the move. The mission of ELTC, to preserve American classic plays, is a perfect fit for a tourist town known for its classic American architecture. For two years prior to the move, ELTC's touring productions had been booked for special events by Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. ELTC began its Cape May mainstage seasons in The Henry Sawyer Room at The Chalfonte Hotel, and went on to larger venues at The First Methodist Church and the gym attached to The Franklin Street School. The company thought it had a permanent home at the Cape May Institute (also known as Shelton College) but that was not to be when The Christian Admiral came down and the land was sold.

     With the loss of the Institute, the quest for a permanent home resumed, and in the past ten years, the company has come close to creating a four-hundred-seat theater that would have been available to ELTC and other nonprofit organizations in Cape May. But this also was not to be.

     When artist director Gayle Stahlhuth approached The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May in 1999 about a performance space, the church kindly agreed – both theater and church believing it to be an interim venue until a "permanent" home was found.  It is a balancing act between church activities and theatrical productions, but The First Presbyterian Church has become a sanctuary to the theater, particularly in these economic times. The relationship between ELTC and this church is being studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City as a model for other such partnerships throughout the country.  The staff and board of ELTC are very proud to be giving its 2011 Encore Award to The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May – an institution that has stood by this theater company for thirteen years and counting.

     The awards themselves are designed especially for this event by artists at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, and each is hand-made.

     The Encore Awards, a cornerstone of the cultural community in southern New Jersey, will be held from 5:30-9:30p.m. in The Grand Ballroom at Bally's, and anyone may attend. Tickets are $80.00. To be seated at or near the Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company's table, contact ELTC directly at 609-884-5898 or For more about the Encore Awards, and to purchase tickets through the Alliance, contact the SJCA directly at 609-645-2760.

     For information about ELTC's upcoming events, including KT Sullivan's "Rhyme, Women, and Song" on April 29 and 30, and ELTC's mainstage production season, contact the theater by calling 884-5898 or go online to