How does a production come together? Where do all of the cast of nine come from and how did they end up working for the award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company? How is a season of shows selected and what goes into the decision-making process?
Patrons will have the opportunity to ask these and other questions on Friday, September 27, after seeing “The Late Christopher Bean” written by Sidney Howard, who received the Oscar for Best Screen Play for “Gone with the Wind.”
Called “fast and funny” recently in “The New York Times,” this three-act comic gem is about the art world’s discovery of a great artist – after his death. But who now owns the treasures painted by Christopher Bean? And what became of them?
The setting is the home of Dr. and Mrs. Haggett, played by Bradley Mott and Alison J. Murphy. Before moving East several years ago, Bradley performed in the Chicago area with Steppenwolf and the Goodman Theatre. He’s in the Coen Brothers’ latest film coming out in December, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Alison recently performed in a staged reading of the first Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Why Marry?” directed by Gayle Stahlhuth and produced by ELTC at the historic Players Club in NYC. She has performed in several ELTC productions including “The New York Idea.” New York credits include “Aurora Leigh” and “Mary of Shippensburg.”
The Haggett’s daughters are played by Francesca Mondelli and Jennifer Bissell. Francesca recently worked in Seattle as a company member with Annex Theatre. New York credits include “The Hotel Project” and “The Anniversary of Lilly Van Poof.” Jennifer just finished performing in “Mame” with Andrea McArdle at Bucks County Playhouse and Media Theater in Pennsylvania. She appears on the Onion News Network and in New York, was in “The Power of Darkness” at the Mint Theater.
Taking on the role of Warren, who hopes to marry one of the daughters and make a living as an artist, is Seth James. Seth recently performed in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Bristol Valley Theater in Naples, NY, and “Luft Gangster” about POWs in World War II directed by Austin Pendleton, in NYC.
Three men from the New York art scene who visit the Haggetts seeking the artwork of Christopher Bean, are portrayed by Craig Fols, Mark Edward Lang and Rob LeMaire. Craig’s New York theater credits include the world premieres of “Nasty Little Secrets” and “The Musical of Musicals.” Mark has appeared in several ELTC productions including “Dulcy.” Off-Broadway credits include “Welcome Home Marian Anderson.” Rob has also appeared with ELTC in productions including “The Dictator.” He can be seen in “Vistas of Democracy,” a video in NJTV’s Educational “NJ Legacy Series.”
Playing the role of Abby, the maid, is Maria Silverman, who played the Countess in last season’s ELTC production of “It Pays to Advertise.” Recently she was in “Ants” at New Jersey Repertory Company and “A View from the Bridge” on Broadway is one of her many credits.
Gayle Stahlhuth, in her fifteenth year as artistic director for ELTC, directs. She has produced over 80 plays for ELTC’s mainstage, directing more than half of them, and for thirteen years in a row has brought theater classes to schools in Cape May County. Prior to her work with ELTC, she performed in NYC, regionally, and on tour; appeared in various television shows, films, and commercials, and her plays have been produced in NYC and regionally.
Playwright Sidney Howard (1891-1939) received the Pulitzer Prize for “They Knew What They Wanted,” which Frank Loesser turned into the musical “The Most Happy Fella” in 1957. When movies started talking in 1927, Hollywood sought Broadway playwrights, and Howard went west, becoming known for his adaptations of plays and novels for the big screen.
“The Late Christopher Bean” runs Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., from September 18 to October 13, except there is no show on Wednesday, October 9, and an added show on Sunday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 general admission; $25 senior (age 62 and over); $15 full-time students; and ages 12 and under are free. The location is The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street, Cape May, where ELTC is in residence. For more information and reservations, call 609-884-5898 or go online to www.eastlynnetheater.org.
This production would not be possible without season sponsors Curran Investment Management, Aleathea’s Restaurant, and The Henry Sawyer Inn; show sponsor Exit Zero; funding received through a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism, a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the generosity of many patrons.