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East Lynne Announces Halloween Offerings

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The award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company presents two events in time for Halloween: "Poe by Candlelight" on Saturday, October 24 at 8:00p.m. and the silent classic "Phantom of the Opera" on Sunday, October 25 at 8:30p.m., both at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street in Cape May, where the theater is in residence.

"Poe by Candlelight" is the final "Tales of the Victorians" performance for 2015. Like other "Tales," that take place on Thursdays at 4:00p.m. at different venues throughout the summer, this will feature light refreshments and stories read by ELTC actors. Refreshments will be served in the hospitality room before the hour-long performance, and the performers reading selections from their favorite Poe stories are Lee O'Connor, James Rana, and Gayle Stahlhuth. Lee, also ELTC's technical director, is a favorite reader for "Tales," and has portrayed Sherlock Holmes since ELTC began producing radio-style Holmes' adventures in 2002. James is currently playing Tom, the owner of the Manhattan speakeasy in ELTC's production of "Strictly Dishonorable" and his world premiere adaptation of "Huckleberry Finn" was recently produced by ELTC. Gayle has been the artistic director of this 35-year-old company since 1999, and will be performing "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" for the holidays.

ELTC, in partnership with The Cape May Film Society, is proud to bring back "The Phantom of the Opera" starring Lon Chaney, with live organ accompaniment by Wayne Zimmerman. When ELTC and the Film Society first brought this 1925 silent classic with live music to Cape May in 2011, it sold out.

In 1908, Gaston Leroux wrote about a disfigured man who terrorizes the Paris Opera House and falls in love with the young leading lady. This Parisian native was already known for his cutting-edge horror stories, but if he were alive today, he would be amazed at all the adaptations of his "Phantom." It has been made into six films, and two musicals: one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the other by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston. Leroux was impressed by the first film version, produced by Carl Laemmle in 1925, but didn't live long enough to see any other incarnations.

Well-known reviewer Roger Ebert wrote that "Phantom" has "two elements of genius: It creates beneath the opera one of the most grotesque places in the cinema, and Chaney's performance transforms an absurd character into a haunting one."

"Phantom" opened two years before "The Jazz Singer," in which Al Jolson spoke and sang on screen. But this doesn't mean that there was absolute silence when "silent" films were shown. They were accompanied by an organ, piano, and sometimes a full orchestra: the beginnings of film scoring as we know it. From Charlie Chaplin, who scored his own films, to John Williams and Thomas Newman of today, the power of music accompanying a silent or a talking film cannot be undervalued. Experienced composers know that music enhances the action and emotion, but never overshadows it.

Wayne Zimmerman, who has played in a variety of venues from coast-to-coast and in Hawaii, regaling audiences with his silent-film accompaniment and concerts, has been accompanying the films presented by ELTC and The Cape May Film Society every year since 2011, most recently "The General" starring Buster Keaton. He returns to Cape May to accompany an evening of "Charlie Chaplin Shorts," the final films in the Sunday Silent Film Series, on November 15 at 8:00p.m. This is also the final event for the 2015 Cape May Film Festival, and those with Festival passes to all other weekend events, will be admitted for free.

Reservations are strongly recommended for both shows, and may be purchased through ELTC's website, eastlynnetheater.org, or by calling 609-884-5898. Tickets for "Poe by Candlelight" are $10, and for "Phantom of the Opera," $15. Ages 12 and under are free for both. Meanwhile, there is only week left to see Preston Sturges's screwball comedy, "Strictly Dishonorable," playing through Saturday, October 17 only.


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