East Lynne Theater Company lost more than just their headquarters after last Wednesday’s fire.
“I lived here, for about a month,” said Thomas Raniszewski, the president of the Board of Trustees for the East Lynne Theater Company. “So this was my home too, in a sense. It was a big part of me that was lost when I saw this.” The nonprofit’s artistic director, Gayle, and her husband lost their summer home, which they would open up for out-of-town actors.
The theater company performs out of Cape May’s First Presbyterian Church, but their home base was inside the house.
The owners were out of town and no one was occupying the building when the flames erupted, but damage left behind a lot of questions about the future.
“That would be devastating to the company,” said Raniszewski. “To cancel any production, especially a nonprofit group like ourselves. We quickly put the word out, via social media and told people we needed help.”
Once the Board of Trustees got together to talk about the damage left behind by the devastating fire, there were talks that the East Lynne Theater Company might not be able to continue.
But thanks to an outpouring of help from the community, the shows can and will go on.
“It was amazing to me, the instant outpouring of support that we got from the community,” said Raniszewski.
Raniszewski says he was flooded by phone calls and messages from community members offering short term solutions.
They were able to secure a summer home for Gayle and her husband, which comes with office space, and found numerous bedrooms around the island for the visiting actors.
“The season is continuing, thanks to the support of the community,” said Raniszewski. “Now the big challenge comes, and that’s asking people to help keep us going.”
The summer shows will be going on as scheduled, but now the theater is asking for a little more help from the community — by participating in fundraisers, raffles, and buying tickets to keep the American stage classic traditions going forward.
“There’s an old saying in show business: 'The show must go on,' and we’re going to live up to that,” said Ranizewski.