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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 abebooks.com, 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 www.eastlynnetheater.org





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"Kinky Boots" Comes To Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in conjunction with TROIKA Entertainment is will present KINKY BOOTS, the smash-hit musical that brings together four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (Book) and Grammy® Award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper (Tony Award-winner for Best Score for KINKY BOOTS), at Sound Waves in Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City from April 30 until May 5 with two performances on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets starting at $35.00.
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.


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
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


MUSIC

John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


THEATRE

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

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm







COMEDY

Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


MISC

The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

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