"Gayle Stahlhuth is a master storyteller. . . . Every Christmas, Stahlhuth, who has already spent a year overseeing East Lynne's season and outreach programs, always has one more gift to give - her storytelling. . . .The whole evening filled me with hope - and ready to put up the decorations."
- from Dottie Knapp's review of last year's Louisa May Alcott's Christmas for "Exit Zero"
“One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That’s all I have,” sighed Della in “The Gift of the Magi,” just one of the O. Henry stories adapted and performed by Gayle Stahlhuth, who brings to life thirty-plus characters in her memorized, unique tour-de-force storytelling style.
The O. Henry selections this year, all take place in Manhattan, and all have to do with an exact amount of money. Della needs to buy a Christmas present for her husband in “The Gift of the Magi,” and only has $1.87. A kindly old gent spends $1.30 on dinner for someone he barely knows in "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen." A millionaire offers $100 to anyone who will return his five-year-old daughter's rag doll in "Compliments of the Season." Bobby Gillian inherits $1,000 in "One Thousand Dollars," and wonders how to spend it. With the exception of “Gift of the Magi,” these stories have never been performed before by Stahlhuth.
"There are just as many real Christmas stories as ever, if we would only dig 'em up," wrote O. Henry in his "Unfinished Christmas Story," published posthumously in 1919.
Stahlhuth has been "digging up" and adapting American Christmas stories for Cape May audiences since 2005, performing works by Zona Gale, L. Frank Baum, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Edward Everett Hale, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She has been praised by reviewers and audience alike for quickly shifting characters with the flick of a wrist, the bend of the waist, the turn of the head, and a change in voice. For over 35 years, she's been performing one-person shows, beginning with her own Lou: The Remarkable Miss Alcott. She adapted and directed O. Henry’s The Ransom of Red Chief for ELTC’s 2009 season. As artistic director of the award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company since 1999, she's produced over 100 different productions, and directed over half of them.
ELTC is also collecting items for The Food Closet of Cape May. Bring canned goods and paper products when you come to see the show. As a 'thank you' to everyone, tickets for the 8:00pm show on Saturday, Dec. 8 are all for $10, with anyone ages 12 and under free.