Bars, restaurants, culture and events… Dan Mathers’ weekly guide to what’s going on in Cape May
Having been misinformed that they could provide us some background information about East Lynne Theatre, my wife and I joined Carol and Duck Menz for drinks before the opening performance of The Dictator. “I never do anything like this,” Carol said, “I’m usually in bed by this time.”
As for Duck, he admitted he wasn’t a theatre buff – “I don’t even do that well with TV,” he said, before downing a glass of Knob Creek bourbon with me. After accumulating a decent buzz, we headed to the theatre.
There was the standard warning at the beginning of the show to silence all cellphones – Duck assured us he hadn’t brought his. Then, early in the first act Duck’s pocket started quacking. His initial reaction was to reach into his pocket and squeeze the phone between his hands to muffle the duck.
“Turn it off!” Carol hissed.
“I don’t know how,” Duck said, not quietly.
He took the phone from his pocket and a chorus of waterfowl erupted as he passed it to his wife. The longer you go without answering the phone, the more ducks join in.
“Turns out it was my KEYS that I left at home,” Duck laughed.
I was nearly in tears, and Duck’s one-man show set the tone for the rest of the performance. The crowd – extremely diverse in age – were all enjoying full-on laughter by the time the show stopped for intermission. “I must say,” started Duck as he slapped his wife with the program, “I’m having fun!” This came from a man who admitted television and movies only hold his interest with fast-paced shootouts and action scenes. So this was quite a compliment.
The interactions between Gayle Stahlhuth, playing the part of the fiery Juanita, and Brad Heikes, a clever card shark and accidental criminal, kept the crowd laughing straight through to the end. Brad, an actor who’s appeared on Broadway, was very frank about his reasons for joining East Lynne for The Dictator. “I got a job offer,” he said.
Brad atoned for this moments later by mentioning how happy he was to be in Cape May and what a pleasure it was working at East Lynne. Clifford (Frank) Rivera seconded that motion. “I’m gonna be sad to leave. It’s a great break from the noise and traffic of Manhattan.” I should mention that an understated performance from Frank, as a two-timing, penny-hungry local, was funny in its own right.
Before leaving, I asked Duck for his review of the show. “I actually enjoyed it more than the movies,” he said, “because it was… it was right here. It was live.”