Berkeley Square Comes to East Lynne Theater Company 9.22


"How can you speak of things that haven't happened yet, as though they had happened? How can you know things you couldn't know?" asks Helen, living in 1784, to Peter, who is from 1928 in John L. Balderston's highly original fantasy adventure, "Berkeley Square."

Based on Henry James' unfinished novel, "The Sense of the Past," the plot revolves around
an American who inherits a home in London's Berkeley Square. He is so fascinated by reading letters and diaries of his ancestors that he's sent back in time to 1784, a year after the end of the American Revolution. Engaged to a woman in 1928, he meets two interesting sisters in 1784. Is life better in the past or the present? This Broadway sensation, starring Leslie Howard, was adapted for the 1933 film.

Playwright John L. Balderston (1889-1954), the 20th-century master of fantasy and horror was known for successfully adapting "Dracula" for Broadway and film, and his other screenplays include "The Mummy," "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein," and "The Prisoner of Zenda." He was twice nominated for the screenwriting Oscar-for "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" and "Gaslight."
The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company is thrilled to bring this seldom-produced play back to life, and it will be the most expensive production ELTC has ever mounted. Costumer Marion T. Brady began working on the twenty 1784 period costumes in the spring.

"Berkeley Square" runs from September 22 through October 23, every Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00p.m., except there will be no show on Wednesday October 6, and an added show on Sunday October 10 at 7:30p.m. Patrons will have the opportunity to mingle with the cast and crew on opening night, Wednesday September 22, at an after-show party at Aleathea's Restaurant at The Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean Street. There will be an after-show Q&A on Friday, October 1, and on Friday, October 15 is an American Sign Language interpreted performance, sponsored by Sturdy Savings Bank.

The large cast includes ELTC favorites Erin Callahan, SuzAnne Dawson, Megan McDermott, Morgan Nichols, Tommy Raniszewski, and Gayle Stahlhuth, and new to ELTC, Emily Cheney, Rachel Handler, Michael Kirby, and Drew Seltzer, under the direction of Gayle Stahlhuth.

The time-traveler, Peter Standish, is played by Michael Kirby who has worked extensively in California at the Mark Taper Forum, The Old Globe, and LA Theatre Works. His roles include Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet," Horatio in "Hamlet," and several roles in "A Tale of Charles Dickens." Television work includes "Boston Legal" and a recurring role in MTV's "Undressed."

The lady of the house in 1784, Lady Anne Pettigrew, is portrayed by SuzAnne Dawson. She was in last season's "The Butter and Egg Man" and the provocative Alice Gerstenburg one-acts "Alice on the Edge." A sampling of her other work includes: "A Little Night Music" at Buffalo Studio Arena, "Carnival" at The Alliance in Atlanta, "Rumors" at Paper Mill Playhouse here in NJ, and "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" on tour with Gavin MacLeod.

Megan McDermott, Emily Cheney, and Drew Seltzer are the three Pettigrew siblings: Helen, Kate, and Tom. Megan was in ELTC's "Why Marry?" and has since performed for a variety of theaters including The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Wilma Theater, McCarter Theater, and received a Barrymore Award Nomination for Best Acting Ensemble in the EgoPo Production of "Spring Awakening." Emily's work includes "Company" with EgoPo Productions, "A Christmas Carol" at The Walnut Street Theater, and "Berlin to Broadway" at The Ritz Theatre Company. Drew's credits include "As You Like It" at Princeton Repertory Theater, "Ah, Wilderness!" at Hedgerow Repertory Theatre, and "Tony and Tina's Wedding" in NYC.

Not only are the people in 1784 and 1928 confused about each others eras, but marriage plans could be upset. Helen Pettigrew is engaged to Throstle, played by Morgan Nichols, and Peter Standish is engaged to Marjorie Frank, played by Erin Callahan. Morgan was in last season's highly acclaimed "The Butter and Egg Man," and recently in NYC played the lead in "What Happens to Women Here" at the Richmond Sheppard Theater. Erin was in ELTC's "You and I," and recently played Shirley Talley in "Fifth of July" at the 45th Street Theater in NYC.

Rounding out the cast are Thomas Raniszewski and Rachel Handler. Tommy plays a role in 1928 (the American Ambassador) and a role in 1784 (Major Clinton). Recently he played two roles in ELTC's rollicking comedy "The Dictator" and last year played the title role in "The People of Cape May v. Johan van Buren." Rachel plays Wilkins, the maid in 1784, and her credits include lead roles in several musicals at Bucks County Playhouse including "The Music Man" and "My Fair Lady," and at Carnegie Hall, she was in "The Best of Lerner and Loewe."

Gayle Stahlhuth takes on two small roles in the play as well as directs. Since becoming ELTC's artistic director, she has produced 53 different productions (not including shows that were remounted), including 14 World Premieres and 7 New Jersey Premieres, and this marks her 28th ELTC production as director.

The performances are at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St., Cape May, where the company is in residence. Tickets are $28 general admission; $23 for seniors and those with disabilities and their support companions; and $13 for full-time students. Children ages 12 and under are always free. For information and reservations, call 609-884-5898 or visit the website: To make a reservation using a credit card, call 866-280-9211.
The production of "Berkeley Square" would not be possible without show sponsor The Henry Sawyer Inn; season sponsors Curran Investment Management, Aleathea's Restaurant, and La Mer Beachfront Inn; and funding received through a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism.

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