LAST December, we interviewed Jon Wojciechowski, Cape May Stage’s new (at the time) Executive Managing Director and a very experienced marketing and development guy. We chatted with him about all manner of things, including an affinity for crossword puzzles and model railroading, but mostly we discussed his plans for Cape May Stage, the professional equity theater on Lafayette Street now in its 25th year, which continually brings Broadway talent to America’s Original Seaside Resort. Among his most exciting ideas? An aggressive resident intern program that would knock the socks of any intern program CMS has initiated in years past. Now, that sock-knocking program is well underway.
Before the start of the current season, nearly 80 applicants hailing from all over the country — each college educated in a specialized, theatre-related field (marketing, set design, stage management, etc) — were interviewed for eight paid positions. “It’s been my experience that as we get older and we spend more time in the working world, we can become a little bit cynical and a little bit doubtful,” Jon said. “Young people come in with new ideas, and challenge our way of thinking and operating and maybe make us look at things from a different perspective that our otherwise jaundiced minds might not have come up with.” And so far, so good. “I think it’s going great. The intern program has certainly brought new energy and new ideas.”
And a new performance to look forward to.
Beginning on June 15, the interns — along with a handful of talented locals — will produce the show they’ve selected, directed, rehearsed and labored over for months. They are responsible for the sets, the costumes, the acting — the whole shebang — in a production called Almost Love, a collection of one-acts from Almost Maine and LOVE/SICK, both written by playwright John Cariani.
“It’s definitely an awesome feeling to be working on a production for a theatre where people like Linda Cohen have performed,” said marketing intern Allison Killeen, a recent Muhlenberg University graduate. “A little bit humbling, but amazing.”
While the youthful energy that has gone into making this show a hit has been great, we’re willing to bet the youthful energy in the audience will be equally buzz-worthy.
“Because most of the performances will happen later at night — 10:30pm — it’s great for a younger audience,” Allison says. “But the subject matter speaks to a younger age group as well. It’s about 20-year-olds, and their experiences navigating the muddy waters of love. The one-acts are funny, but also poignant, as they speak to a greater truth.”
We asked Ohio native Ben Ferber, Directing Resident of the Resident Intern Company and director of this show (he worked alongside Cariani on the selection and order of Almost Love’s stories) for a plot sketch of one one-act, and he described “raucous entertainment.” Picture this: Two strangers — one male, one female — each suffer from the fictional ‘impulsive compulsive’ disorder that forces one to act on socially unacceptable urges. One day, they lock eyes across a Walmart and, because they both have the impulse, run into one another’s arms. Now, they each must cope with falling for the other, all while trying to determine whether their feelings are real… or the product of a skewed mental state.
This touches on one of many universal themes in Almost Love, Ben says, themes that should be accessible for a younger age group… one of the reasons a ticket to the show is either $15 (opening night), or a pay-what-you-can experience.
“This is a crass way to say this,” Ben told us, “and I don’t even know what film it’s from, but there’s a line that goes: ‘I love high school girls because I keep getting older, and they stay the same age.’ This makes me think of the theatre. It gets more expensive all the time, as technology gets better and the cost of building sets and other things goes up, so people think it’s just for the affluent. But what you’re seeing on stage is fundamentally the same thing it’s always been. That doesn’t change. It’s a literary medium, a communicatory medium, an intellectually stimulating experience and an inexorable social event. The theatre experience is inextricable from our culture. You can’t ever take it away.”
Almost Love will run for four performances at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse located at 405 Lafayette Street in downtown Cape May. Performances are Monday, July 15 at 8pm and Thursday, July 18 through Saturday, July 20 at 10:30pm and last approximately one hour. Tickets are $15 or pay-what-you-can for the 10:30pm performances. Call 609-770-8311 for reservations and more information or visit the theatre’s website at capemaystage.org.
RECENTLY, we’ve written a lot about bees. We told you about Andi and Doug Marandino, who opened their Cape May Honey Farm store on Sunset Boulevard, for which the couple harvests their own honey, this season. And we told you about Cape May Roasters coffee company, which recycles burlap bean sacks for use in the smoking of Doug’s hives (it’s a process that keeps the bees calm). Now, we have reason to write about bees again or, more specifically, about beeswax. That’s because Point Pleasant-based artist and Cape May lover, Jim Inzero, is bringing his waxy, east-coast shoreline-inspired works to SOMA NewART Gallery for a stunning show — “Water and Wax” — this month.
Jim specializes in encaustic art, which requires adding pigment to melted beeswax before applying that beeswax to a surface… in Jim’s case, that surface is wood. A first layer serves as a base for subsequent layers, resulting in a final product that’s textured and vibrant with a “lustrous enamel effect.”
The form has roots in Greece, circa 5th century BC, where artists used it to decorate marble and terra cotta. It was also popular among Egyptians of 100-300 AD, who used it to paint portraits of mummies… often onto the very cloth a mummy would be wrapped in before burial. Jim first worked with encaustic on a trip with his wife to a little village called San Miguel Day Allende in Mexico in 2007, where he fell “instantly” in love. “With this medium,” he told us, “the whole painting comes alive. The wax has a magic quality to it. When you see it in person, you can’t help but touch it.”
Now, Jim goes through around 300 pounds of beeswax a year… and, often, other props as well. “I work with maps,” he said. “I transfer one on the wax, remove the paper, and it’s like it’s printed there. Add heat to it, and the map starts to move, because it’s part of the wax now. It becomes almost sculptural at times.”
And the goal of all this? “I want people to fall in love with my pieces,” he says. “When that happens, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
To discover this feeling, Jim took a non-direct route, attending the Art Institute in Baltimore to pursue interior design with a fine art degree. After graduation, he worked as an architect under the license of firms until 2003, before starting his own interior design firm.
So, no, it wasn’t until that 2007 trip to Mexico that Jim decided to change directions completely and pursue a career making encaustic art, but even before this, unbeknownst to him, he was gathering the inspiration he now relies on for his seascape depictions. “I’ve always been drawn to the water,” he said. “I grew up in Connecticut, where I lived by the Long Island Sound. Then, after school, I sailed a lot with the architecture firm I worked for. That’s when I discovered the intensity of the sea, and how incredible it is. It’s so powerful, it kind of scares you.”
Jim’s pieces showcase this fascination with all things nautical… pretty perfect for the art lover in the market for a piece which reminds her of Cape Island. “Cape May has been a great inspiration for me,” Jim said. “We’ve been going there a great deal recently. It’s a short distance, but when I’m there, I feel so far away.”
Which is one of the reasons Jim is thrilled to be showing his work here, in addition to galleries in Connecticut and Massachusetts, in just over a week. “There’s something to be said for how much support you can find for artists in Cape May,” he said. “I’m excited to be part of it. I never thought I would get to wake up and do what I do. There are so many rewards, and I don’t take it for granted.”
“Wax and Water” will run from July 20 to August 18 in SOMA galleries one and two, with an artists’ opening reception on July 20 from 6-9pm. For a sneak peak of the work, check out Jim’s website, jiminzero.com, or the Exit Zero Facebook page.
THE boxing gloves were tied on the wrists of Cape May and Lower Township officials the first two days of the month over what is likely to be a long contentious battle for Cape May to change the funding formula for the Lower Cape May Regional School District.
The night before Cape May City Council’s July 2 meeting, a council meeting was taking place on the other side of the canal, in Lower Township Hall. Mayor Michael Beck announced he was ending his silence on Cape May’s initiative to change the funding formula for the regional school district.
The worst-case scenario is dissolution of the school district with Cape May becoming a sending district to the regional school.
“This is huge,” stated Beck. “I want to send a clear message that we will fight and we will fight and we will fight. We will not allow our people to have our taxes raised $400, $500 or $600 per household.”
He said Cape May’s problem was based on rising property costs and the exodus of families with children from Cape May.
“The Pied Piper came to city of Cape May and took their kids away. The Pied Piper’s name was increased property values,” said Beck, noting most families with children who came to Cape May found themselves living and being educated in Lower Township.
Cape May Council approved a resolution July 2 that was submitted to the county executive superintendent of schools asking for an investigation of the advisability of the city withdrawing from the school district.
The resolution was amended by council to “stress its preference and expectation” that the students would continue to attend Lower Cape May Regional schools should the district be dissolved.
For those who came in late, Cape May hired attorney Vito Gagliardi to find a way to reduce the cost of sending students to the regional school district. Gagliardi submitted a 92-page feasibility study to Cape May Council.
Councilman Jack Wichterman said the city was paying an inordinate amount of money — $6.6 million, annually — to educate the 65 children sent to the regional school district. On July 1, Beck said that figure was not correct.
Wichterman complained no one from the regional school board of education or Lower Township’s governing body had called him to discuss the matter.
“I’m waiting to get a phone call,” he said. “We should be sitting down and talking instead of the lawyers making money,” he said, adding that Cape May would prevail on the matter. He said he did not care what the people of Lower Township thought of him.
“I’m working for the people in the City of Cape May,” he said.
For every million dollars the city saves, the average homeowner in Cape May with an average assessment of about $500,000, would save $179 per year in taxes, said Wichterman. The tax bill for the average homeowner in Lower Township would increase by $85 for every $1 million increase in share of running the regional school.
Wichterman said if the city saved $4 million per year, Lower Township residents would see a tax increase of $340 per year. Any tax increase would be phased in over five years.
During public comment, John Fleming, a taxpayer in Lower Township and Cape May, suggested the councils of both areas sit down and come to a reasonable solution without having to go any further legally.
Wichterman said the Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education would need to agree to a change in the school funding formula. He said the formula could be changed so it is not based solely on property values, but a combination of property values and the number of children attending the school from each municipality.
City Solicitor Tony Monzo said any change in the formula would have to be approved by the state Commissioner of Education.
Mayor Edward Mahaney suggested the governing bodies and the school boards from Cape May and Lower Township sit down and try to resolve the issue at the local level.
Deputy Mayor Bill Murray said the city had to exhaust all other methods before the matter of reducing the school funding formula goes to court. He said the results of a funding formula change could be disastrous for Lower Township should Cape May prevail in a lawsuit.
“There is no impetus for them to talk about this,” he said.