Emma Palzere-Rae Chats AH, WILDERNESS! at East Lynne Theater Company

Emma Palzere-Rae Chats AH, WILDERNESS! at East Lynne Theater CompanyEast Lynne Theater Company's production of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" is enjoying a good run in Cape May with excellent reviews in newspapers and on social media.

It's a three-act Broadway show from 1933, with a large cast, and actors and audiences are enjoying every minute of it. The characters in any play by Eugene O'Neill are rich and rewarding for actors and audience alike.

Emma Palzere-Rae is currently playing Essie Miller, a savvy wife and mother in a Connecticut town in 1906. She's a loving wife to Nat, a newspaper owner, an understanding sister to Sid, who has trouble keeping a job, and a concerned mother for her children, ages teenage on up. Emma herself lives in southeastern Connecticut with her husband and two sons.

This isn't her first time to work with ELTC's artistic director, Gayle Stahlhuth, nor is it her first trip to Cape May. Gayle performed her own one-person show on Louisa May Alcott as part of Cosmic Leopard's Womenkind Festival in Manhattan back in the 1990's, of which Emma was one of the producers and performers. Emma last performed for ELTC in 2000 as Harriet Beecher Stowe in her own solo show, "Aunt Hattie's House." Through her company, Be Well Productions, Emma tours this and other shows based on the lives of Emily Dickinson, Victoria Woodhull and Gilda Radner, throughout the country.

When asked how she got her start in theater, Emma answered, "Performing and theater have just always been a part of who I am. I started ballet lessons at the age of four. In elementary school, I somehow got the idea to adapt my favorite books into plays (my first one-woman shows!), and my teacher suggested I perform them to the special needs class during recess. Then I was in school plays, and we had a good children's theater at our Parks and Rec, that toured. My first job, at 16, was in a troupe that performed skits to teens on important social issues."

Emma received a B.F.A. in Acting, with minors in Creative Writing and Speech at Emerson College, and is a member of the professional actors' union, The Actors' Equity Association, and, as a playwright, The Dramatists Guild.

Also a producer and director, Emma has helmed several nonprofit theatrical organizations, including Manhattan-based Plays for Living, where original dramatic works were created to spark dialogue in the classroom and workplace. Further believing in the healing power of theater, she explained, "When people come to the theater, they have a shared experience. They May Laugh (which is always healing), they may cry, they may have a catharsis - they might be given new perspectives to think about - or they might simply just relax and have a good time. All of that can be healing."

When asked about the relevance of "Ah, Wilderness!" for today's audiences, she said,"It's a great play for right now, because it reminds us of a simpler time, the beauty within families, and that love may not always be easy but it wins in the end."

"Ah, Wilderness!" runs four nights a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays, at 8:00 p.m. at the historic First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St., Cape May, through September 2.

Tickets are $32; $27 for seniors; $17 for students and those in the military (active, retired, or a veteran.) Age 12 and under are free. For more information and to make a reservation, call 609-884-5898 or visit www.eastlynnetheater.org.

Photo of Emma Palzere-Rae with Evan Smilyk and Mark Lazar in East Lynne Theater Company's production of "Ah Wilderness!"

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