Austin Pendleton to Direct THE BELLE OF AMHERST for Cape May Stage

At long last, the secrets are revealed, the poems and mysteries are illuminated, and the story of Emily Dickinson is told as you’ve never heard it before. In Cape May Stage’s upcoming production of William Luce’s "The Belle of Amherst," opening October 17 and running through October 27 at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse, director Austin Pendleton paints a poignant portrait of Emily Dickinson, showing sides of the reclusive poet never seen before on stage.
Playwright William Luce brilliantly weaves Dickinson’s poetry and writings into a two-act play that leaves audiences spellbound. Set in the parlor of the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts, audiences quickly realize they are part of the play. Played by Broadway actress Barbara Dana, Emily interacts directly with her ‘guests’ (the audience) and with numerous family members, friends, teachers and loves as she grows from a girl of 15 to her death at age 55 in 1886. Directed by Austin Pendleton whose credits include three Tony-nominated Broadway productions: “Spoils of War” by Michael Weller; “Shelter”, a musical by Cryer and Ford; and Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Emily relives the greatest joys and deepest despairs of her life with humor, insight and most notably with her unique and mysterious perspectives on love and death.
When this extraordinary play opened on Broadway with Julie Harris, it was deemed “Magnificent… An arresting, riveting experience.” by the NY Daily News. The captivating production went on to win Harris a Tony Award for Best Actress in 1977 for her outstanding portrayal of Emily Dickinson, one of American’s most famous and enigmatic poets.
Currently playing Emily Dickinson across the US and Canada, Ms. Dana appeared on Broadway in William Inge’s “Where’s Daddy?”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Enter Laughing”, and “Room Service” and was a member of the improvisational group “Second City”. Other stage performances include: “Joan of Lorraine” (as Joan of Arc)“Toys in the Attic”, “Ghosts”, “Break a Leg”, “Stage at Bay”, and the British comedy “Eh?” opposite Dustin Hoffman to name a few. Films include: “Raising Flagg”, “The In-Laws”, “Popi”, “Fire Sale”, “Chu-Chu and the Philly Flash” (her screenplay), and the award-winning T. G.I. F. (based on a scene created at Second City). TV includes: “Law & Order”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “A Matter of Principle”, “Harry” (series), “The Fugitive”, and Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” (PBS). She was a regular on “Sesame Street” and appeared for a year on the daytime drama “As the World Turns”.
An author as well as an actor, Dana is the author of two recent books about the poet, the novel “A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson” and “Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson” of which she is co-editor.
 “The Belle of Amherst” will run from Wednesday, October 17 to Saturday, October 27, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse at 405 Lafayette Street in downtown Cape May.  Tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors (62+), and $15 students.  Wednesday, October 17 is a Half-Price Preview Night with half-price tickets for all; Sunday, October 21 is a Half-Price Senior matinee, with half-price tickets for Seniors 62+. Following the October 18 opening, all ticket holders are invited to join the opening night after-party, with the chance to mingle with the cast and crew.  Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and information, or visit the theatre’s website at  

“The Belle of Amherst” is presented through the gracious support of The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast.  This season’s sponsors include 410 Bank Street, Frescos, Cape May Winery, Cape S Cape, Corner Cottage Apartments, Exit Zero, Harry’s Bar & Grille at the Montreal Inn, The Washington Inn, and Lucky Bones.

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