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Caryn Lyn Elefante

March 23, 2024

Caryn Elefante Obituary

Caryn Lyn Elefante, 45, passed away peacefully at her home in Florham Park on March 23, 2024, surrounded by family and close friends.

Caryn was born on July 14, 1978, and spent her childhood in Nutley, NJ. She was a highly active professional child performer, starring in musical theater productions, including at the renowned Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. She featured both on screen and as a singer on countless well known TV commercials, including The Game of Life, Raisinets, and Go-Go My Walkin’ Pup, among many others. She sang on recordings with Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Canadian Brass, and Maureen McGovern. She was also a finalist on Star Search. Caryn also excelled in academics, graduating at the top of her class at Nutley High School before attending New York University to study musical theater.

After college, Caryn taught music, dance, and theater for the Madison, NJ public schools for 17 years, first at Central Avenue School, then Madison Junior School, and finally Madison High School. She directed, choreographed, music directed, and produced musical theater productions at the Junior School and then High School. There, Caryn not only created fantastic and memorable productions and choir performances, but, more importantly, a culture where all students were welcome and given an opportunity to excel. In her final months, countless emails, texts, and letters came from former students and their families, detailing how Caryn’s classes and rehearsals were the only places they felt seen, were able to be themselves, or belonged. Caryn’s classroom was a place where otherwise marginalized students found a home, a community, and a place to shine.

Amazingly, while teaching and directing full-time, Caryn managed to get her daughter Cate to New York City four times a week to perform in Broadway’s Waitress. In 2018, Caryn left education to become a full-time mother to Cate. Their first adventure together was a year-long stint with the Les Misérables first national tour. Cate and Caryn traveled to over 30 cities in 11 months, sharing hotel rooms - sometimes even beds - and a lifetime’s worth of experiences. As Cate continued to perform on stage, film, and television, Caryn was always with her, including for 3.5 months with Annie Live! on NBC in 2021.

While on tour in 2019, doctors discovered that Caryn’s 2012 breast cancer had metastasized. Although she was always a fighter, Caryn’s physical and emotional challenges became even more difficult from that point. Through it all, Caryn was unfailingly selfless and generous with her time and energy. She always put others before herself. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss to those close to her, her impact on her students, friends, family, and especially Cate will be felt for years to come.

Caryn is survived by her 12-year old daughter, Cate, her husband, Joe, her parents, Dave and Carol Jones, her brother, Brian Jones, her sister, Kristin VanderMass, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Visitation is at the Leonardis Memorial Home (210 Ridgedale Avenue, Florham Park) on Friday 3/29 from 4-7pm. There will be a brief assembly at Leonardis on Saturday 3/30 at 10:30am, followed by a celebration of Caryn’s life at 11am and repast at The Godfather of East Hanover (200 Rt. 10 West, East Hanover) at 12:30pm.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center ( or the Brooke Healey Foundation (, both organizations and causes that are very dear to Caryn.

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March 29, 2024

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Leonardis Memorial Home
210 Ridgedale Ave
Florham Park, NJ 07932

Funeral Assembly
March 30, 2024

10:30 AM
Leonardis Memorial Home
210 Ridgedale Ave
Florham Park, NJ 07932

Eulogy Service
March 30, 2024

11:00 AM
Leonardis Memorial Home
210 Ridgedale Ave
Florham Park, NJ 07932


Godfather Event Room
200 State Route 10 West
East Hanover, NJ 07936


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