[Originally published in the Star & Wave newspaper on April 5, 2023.]
By Roy Steinberg, Producing Artistic Director
This time of year feels like opening night at the theater. A new light reveals infinite shades of green. Budding daffodils and forsythia bathe the town in yellow. Everything seems new again.
There is also a new scent in the air. Ocean breezes carry wafts of fresh paint, budding window boxes, and an occasional wood-burning fireplace. Hughes Street is a particular delight with its carefully planted gardens and beautifully maintained 19th century homes.
The month of April takes its name from “aperire,” Latin for “to open.” Opening our 2023 season at Cape May Stage is very much on our minds at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse this time of year, as it is for all of us in Cape May as we prepare for the scores of guests who will soon visit our historic town.
This month is filled with special days like Easter and Passover. It begins with April Fool’s Day and includes Earth Day as well as Shakespeare’s birthday and the anniversary of his death (April 23, 1564, for the former and April 23, 1616, for the latter). Shakespeare prophetically wrote in one of his sonnets, “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
Cape May Stage is performing a season of comedies this year so it is worth noting the origin of April Fool’s Day. Some historians speculate that April Fool’s Day dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news that New Year’s Day began on January 1 instead of April 1 were called “April fools.”
There is a palpable feeling of renewal and rebirth in Cape May as we welcome new retail stores and greet new owners of restaurants and hotels. There is new leadership at some artistic ventures, and the city is revitalizing the town with needed construction projects. There is also an excitement at Cape May Stage as we start to design our sets and gather props for our upcoming season.
Together we have triumphed over this ongoing pandemic and fears of economic hurdles to bring joy to our community by relying on each other. Indeed, that theme runs throughout all of our plays this season.
Each of us has a story to tell and each of us has an importance in each other’s stories. The comedies we mount this season at Cape May Stage will explore that inter-relatedness.
For more information about our 2023 season, please visit www.capemaystage.org.