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Mr. Lincoln

By Gary Wien

originally published: 06/16/2015

Mr. Lincoln“Lincoln was a man who was President of the United States during the bloodiest conflict in this country,” said Gayle Stahlhuth, Artistic Director of East Lynne Theater Company.  “He tried to prevent war, but once in it, he did all he could to win the war and reunite the country.  The mounting loss of lives on both sides deeply affected him.  At the same time, he had to deal publicly with accusations by those who thought his wife, Mary, was a spy for the South, living in the White House.”

East Lynne Theater Company kicks off its 35th season with Mr. Lincoln by Herbert Mitgang.  The one man show, which stars Tom Byrn and is directed by Stahlhuth, runs June 17 through July 25.  The play was selected to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.  

Mr. Lincoln begins on April 14, 1865, as the President is watching Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. just days after General Lee had surrendered to Grant, ending the war.  As John Wilkes Booth enters the President's box and aims his pistol, Lincoln's life flashes before him — taking him back to his humble beginnings in Kentucky, soon after he was born in 1809. The play covers his rise in politics and aspects of his personal life including his courtship with Mary Todd and his bouts of melancholia. Virtually the entire script comes from Lincoln's own words.    

Much is known about Lincoln, and he remains one of the most popular U.S. Presidents of all-time (if not the most popular).   According to, at least 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln.  In recent years, releases such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln to the fantastical world of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter have found their way from bookshelves to the silver screen. According to Stahlhuth, this play serves as a reminder of Lincoln’s ability to frame arguments with his words and storytelling prowess.

“Most people know about Lincoln's sense of humor and storytelling, and this play cleverly highlights just how effective his humor could be when trying to win an argument,” she said. “The play is also a reminder that Lincoln wrote his own speeches and letters, and took complete responsibility for his beliefs and actions. For the past fifty years, at least, many in public office have speech writers and pundits.”   

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Lincoln’s place in U.S. history is one reason his legacy endures.  He was President during the Civil War, a period in which the nation was torn apart and needed a true leader as never before.  He ended slavery and was the first president to be assassinated.  Any one of these things would have left his mark on history, but Stahlhuth believes Lincoln’s legacy endures because of his complexity — something that continues to draw scholars in for further analysis.

“Debates are still being waged on his beliefs about race,” explained Stahlhuth.  “Is he ‘the Great Emancipator’ or was he out for his own political gain?  Whatever the debate, he was the right man at the right place at the right time, and I do believe he meant ‘malice towards none’ after the Civil War.  Had he not been assassinated, I believe Reconstruction would have been handled differently, and perhaps there would have been less of a racial divide today.  We'll never know.”

East Lynne Theater often does historical plays by design because Cape May itself is a town that is a reminder of the past.  Stahlhuth says that the town’s uniquely historic architecture and destinations such as The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities, Historic Cold Spring Village, and Naval Air Station Wildwood, offer the opportunity for visitors to truly step back in time — something that separates it from being just another beach town along the Jersey Shore.

Each year’s season is built around a specific theme and this year’s theme is “Unexpected Encounters” although Stahlhuth admits it could just easily have been called “North vs. South.”

“This [theme] is pretty obvious with Mr. Lincoln and our world premiere of Huckleberry Finn adapted by James Rana from the Twain classic,” said Stahlhuth.  “But even in our fall show, Strictly Dishonorable, an innocent Southern belle from a plantation in Mississippi, and her fiancé from West Orange, NJ, step into a Manhattan speakeasy where they encounter its gracious manager and his employees, a clever judge, and a worldly Italian opera star. This screwball Broadway 1929 comedy by Preston Sturges explores the conflict between playing it safe and expanding one’s horizons and the Southern and the Northerner who have to confront each other! Is marriage in their future or not?”

For history buffs or admirers of President Lincoln, there’s no better place to dive into history than  a trip to Cape May.  It’s a great summer weekend destination in New Jersey.

Mr. Lincoln runs June 17 through July 25 with performances Wednesdays through Saturdays.  There is no performance on Saturday, July 4 but will have a performance on Sunday, July 5.  For more information visit

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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.

Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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