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Classic American Tales presents "Tales at the Dormer House" in the fall

originally published: 09/05/2023

Classic American Tales presents "Tales at the Dormer House" in the fall

Gayle Stahlhuth reading a story on the porch of The Dormer House. Photo by Stephanie Garrett

(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- Listen to stories by Chester Himes, O. Henry, Katherine Anne Porter, and other well-known American authors while taking in the breeze on the porch of an historic bed and breakfast, drinking lemonade, and enjoying homemade desserts. It's all part of Classic American Tales' (CAT) popular "Tales at the Dormer House" in Cape May, NJ, every Thursday at 4:00pm from September 14 – October 12, 2023.

A new company founded by Gayle Stahlhuth, CAT is embracing what had been presented by East Lynne Theater Company (ELTC) for 33 years under the name "Tales of the Victorians." Due to the success of presenting "Tales" this summer, the company decided to bring it back for the fall.

The Dormer House is located at 800 Columbia Avenue and performances will occur regardless of the weather. If it’s raining, "Tales" will be inside. Cost is only $12.00, cash at the door, and guests at The Dormer House and children ages 12 and under are free.

On September 14, Stephanie Garrett and Frank Smith will read "Morality Play for the Leisure Class" (1920) by John L. Balderston (1889-1954) who wrote "Dracula" that ELTC produced several years ago. Garrett was in ELTC's "Lost on the Natchez Trace" and "Rain," and is known for presenting the writings of Black Americans including Langston Hughes and Alice Childress. Smith has been performing "Tales" since 1998 and was ELTC's storyteller on "The Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Rides," co-sponsored with Cape May MAC, for 10 years.

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On September 21Megan Dean reads the first chapter of "My Chinese Marriage" (1921) by Katherine Anne Porter. In 1907, Mae Munro Watkins met Tiam Hock Franking while both were attending high school in Michigan. They later married and moved to China. Working from interviews with and writings by Mae Franking, Porter wrote "My Chinese Marriage." Dean is an actor, director, playwright, and teaching artist who has worked with The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, People's Light Theater, and The Springville Center for the Arts.

Stephanie Garrett and Frank Smith will perform on September 28, but have not settled yet on the theme.

Next up, on October 5 is Suzanne Dawson continuing to read highlights from Marion Davies' autobiography, "The Times We Had."  She began reading from this "tell-all" book for "Tales" in July, and will continue on, diving more into Davies' relationship with William Randolph Hearst and his castle at San Simeon. Dawson has performed in NYC, for regional theaters and in national tours, and appeared many times for ELTC including "Arsenic and Old Lace" and last summer's "Dorothy Parker: A Certain Woman."

Gayle Stahlhuth and Phil Pizzi read ghost stories on October 12. As ELTC's producing artistic director for 23 years, Stahlhuth produced over 120 shows, and directed most of them. In the past few years, she was in ELTC's "Who Am I This Time?" and "Arsenic and Old Lace." Pizzi began his career in broadcasting at WCMC AM/FM in Wildwood in 1977. In 2018, he retired as the host of "The Morning Show" on 98.7-FM The Coast, WCZT. He's performed for Sea Isle Players and his shows for ELTC include "Why Marry?" and several Sherlock Holmes radio-style mysteries.

Reservations for "Tales at the Dormer House" are appreciated, and are made through CAT by calling 609-884-5898 or e-mailing Details about this and other CAT events, including those at End of the Road Theater in North Cape May, are found on CAT intends to tell America's stories one tale at a time.

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