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Cape May & Ghosts... Perfect Together

By Gary Wien


There's just something about ghosts and Cape May. The seashore town has ghost walking tours, ghost trolley tours, even haunted restaurants. And from now through September 19, the town also features a production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" - a play about a zany medium (played by Jennifer Harmon) that accidentally stirs up the temperamental ghost of a novelist's first wife after a seance that goes awry.

Harmon is a veteran of stage, television, and the silver screen including roles on Broadway and an Emmy nomination for her role on One Life to Live. When told about the role ghosts play in the Cape May tourism trade she replied, "Seems like the perfect place for us to do the play. We should fit right in."

As a child, Harmon grew up in New Orleans, a city well aware of ghosts and spirits.

"I grew up in the French Quarter til I was 12 and then we moved up to the Garden District," recalled Harmon. "It was certainly something that was part of the culture. Ghosts, voodoo. A lot of people talked about having ghosts in their houses. You heard about it a lot in the music, the literature, and just living in the French Quarter -- it's so old and it has such an old world charm... You do have a feeling of the past and in things being haunted. I find it very interesting that Cape May has the same thing. It also has the feeling of the Civil War, doesn't it?"

Harmon describes "Blithe Spirit" as a play full of gaiety, great wit and humor. "It's very frothy," she adds. "It's incredibly sophisticated, light and fun. I think the language just sparkles. It's wonderfully witty and fun and also incredibly human. It's about relationships and the complexities of relationships and the complexities of marriage. How do you go forward?

"One of the things I love about Madame Arcati is that she's full of such spirit," Harmon continued. "She has these wonderful phrases like 'Down with your head, up with your heart, and you're over the top like a flash and skimming down the other side like a dragon-fly.' She's full of great spirit and not giving up, just moving forward. I think it's interesting that Coward wrote the play during a time when the nation was being so challenged in every way. He wrote it during the Blitz and when times were terrible in London. They were being bombed and there was rationing going on. So I think there was a sort of message under there of 'spirits up', that very British sort of 'chin up and keep at it', 'down with melancholy, move forward'... but done in a very witty, fun, optimistic way."

Harmon points out that human nature really hasn't changed much through the years, which is why plays like "Blithe Spirit" can be revived and still be relevant and fun.

"It was written in a war and we've been in the midst of a war," she points out.

While this is her first time performing in Cape May, she has been to productions in town before. She loves walking around the town and seeing sidewalks being pushed up by the roots of trees and houses with beautiful iron work - just like New Orleans.

"It's really an exquisitely beautiful place," said Harmon. "It's a wonderful place and a wonderful theatre."

In a strange way, New Jersey is like a second home for Harmon. In 2001, she had a kidney transplant at the Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick.

"A dear, dear friend of mine - my Guardian Angel - gave me a kidney and I've been doing marvelously ever since."
Would she say New Jersey gave her a second chance?

"New Jersey gave me more than a second chance... a second life. Talk about spirits!"


Cape May Stage presents "Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward now through
September 19 at The Robert Shackleton Playhouse (405 Lafayette Street, Cape May).

For more information visit http://www.capemaystage.com
Photos by Aleksey Photography.




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The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  


It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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