Peninsula Players Sets 2014 Acting Company
Peninsula Players Theatre, America's Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theater and Door County's theatrical icon, announces cast members for its 79th season, running June 17 through October 19, 2014. The mix of plays includes a world première comedy, a classic thriller, a frighteningly funny farce, the Midwest première of a Civil War drama and a musical featuring a music icon.
Peninsula Players is a member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and employs professional actors for all of its productions. Company members work in regional theaters from Los Angeles to New York, as well as in film, television and radio.
The season and casts were selected by the Players' Artistic Director Greg Vinkler who returns to Peninsula Players for his 26th season. He has directed many Peninsula Players shows including last season's "Sunday in the Park with George," "Chicago" and "Lombardi" and acted in many others including "Opus," "Heroes," "Fools," "Broadway Bound," "A Man for All Seasons" and "Art."
"To start all the fun and open our 79th season we are presenting a heartwarming new comedy," Vinkler said. "Three years ago the Players presented the world première of Sean Grennan's 'Making God Laugh' to open the season. It was a warm and funny story that followed a family through the years as they celebrated various holidays.
"Audiences fell in love with the show. Soon after, Sean sent me a new script, 'The Tin Woman,' which I believe is an even richer, funnier and more moving play. "The Tin Woman" opens June 17 through July 6. "The Tin Woman" is under the direction of Tom Mula and features returning Players' company members Joel Hatch, Erin Noel Grennan, Kristine Thatcher, Erica Elam, and newcomers Carol Kuykendall and Matt Holzfeind.
Hatch returns to the Players, where his stage credits include "All My Sons," "The Cherry Orchard," "Communicating Doors," "You Can't Take it With You" and "Arsenic and Old Lace." He also performed in several Broadway ("Billy Elliot" and "Annie") and an Off-Broadway production ("Adding Machine: A Musical.")
Erin Noel Grennan ("Making God Laugh," "Miracle on South Division Street," "The Game's Afoot"), returns to the Players for another season. Thatcher's last appeared on the Players stage in "Pygmailon" and "Dancing at Lughnasa." She wrote "Apparitions" and directed several Players' productions including "Over the Tavern" and "Panic." Elam ("Born Yesterday," "Panic") returns to the Players after a stint in Los Angeles and traveling with Second City. Newcomer Kuykendall's credits include the national tour of "Show Boat" directed by Hal Prince. Holzfeind's Chicago credits include "Our Class" at Remy Bumppo and "Completeness" at Theater Wit.
Mula celebrates his 20th season with the Peninsula Players. He performed in many plays including last season's "Opus" and "Chicago" and has directed "Making God Laugh," "Amadeus," "The Lion in Winter," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Greetings!."
The Players second offering is Agatha Christie's classic thriller "And Then There Were None," July 9 - July 27. This classic mystery features Players' veterans Dale Benson ("Romance in D"); Elam, Sean Fortunato ("Sunday in the Park with George"), Hatch, Kuykendall, Tim Monsion, ("Opus," "Heroes," "The Fox on the Fairway"); Mula and Thatcher. Making their Players stage debut are Mark Moede and Sean Grennan. They will be under the direction of Linda Fortunato, who directed "The Fox on the Fairway" and "Once a Ponzi Time."
Grennan's stage credits include The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, American Heartland Theatre and Florida Stage. Moede is active in the Door County theater community with American Folklore Theatre, Door Shakespeare, Isadoora Theatre Company, Third Avenue Playhouse and Theatre M.
The frighteningly funny Drama Desk and Obie award-winning comedy "The Mystery of Irma Vep" by Charles Ludlam plays from July 30 through August 17. "It's quick-change silliness from beginning to end," said Vinkler. "The fun begins at Lord Edgar's haunted estate where his dead wife's portrait hangs over the mantelpiece. The hilarity travels to the tombs of ancient Egypt (Lord Edgar is, after all, an Egyptologist!). Along the way audiences meet a motley cast of characters, saintly and evil, human and non-human. Every time I read it, I laugh out loud!" The two-man cast of Sean Fortunato and Sean Grennan will be under Vinkler's direction.
The Midwest première of Richard Strand's "Butler" takes the stage from August 20 through August 31. Benjamin Butler's first day as Major General of Fort Monroe, a Union hold-out in Virginia during the onset of the Civil War, is greeted by a request for sanctuary from quick-witted Shepard Mallory, a runaway slave. Based on true events during the first year of the Civil War, "Butler" is filled with wit and tension.
"Butler" was featured in the Players 2013 winter play reading series, "The Play's the Thing," Vinkler said. "We are very excited to bring a fully-realized production to our audiences." Thatcher will direct the cast including Vinkler as Butler, Monsion, Fortunato and newcomer Sean Parris who played Mallory at the winter reading.
Closing the season Sept. 3 through Oct. 19 is the endearing musical "Always ... Patsy Cline," written and originally directed by Ted Swindley - based on a true story. Cline is one of the best-loved and iconic recording artists of all time. "Always ... Patsy Cline" tells the true story of the music legend's friendship with her devoted fan Louise Seger, a Texas housewife who maintained a correspondence with Patsy from 1961 until her untimely death. Filled with toe-tapping music, down-home country charm, humor and heartache, this musical features more than 25 of Cline's timeless hits such as "Crazy," "Sweet Dreams," "I Fall to Pieces" and "Walking After Midnight." Players veteran Karen Janes Woditsch will be joined by newcomer Christine Mild who will play Cline. The production will be directed by Brian Russell.
"We truly hope our audiences enjoy the great variety of the Peninsula Players 79th year," Vinkler said. "The plays are filled with enduring family relationships, murderous mayhem, romantic froth, intense drama, humor, zany exploits and a musical tribute to a timeless vocalist. The 79th season has so much for everyone to enjoy!"
The 2014 season is being sponsored in part by Ministry Door County Medical Center, Main Street Market, Barbara Jo Weko-Witzke, BBZ Consulting, LLC (Barbara and Bob Ziegler), Kenneth Raupach and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935, when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek on July 25, with Noel Coward's "Hay Fever." The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the northwoods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting. Peninsula Players moved to the theater's present location along the shore of Green Bay in 1937.
Prior to performances, patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambience of the beer garden and other gardens.
The Fishers' dream lives on. Professional actors, directors and designers work side-by-side with college interns, live on the Players 16-acre campus and bring audiences a variety of works including dramas, mysteries, comedies and musicals.
The Peninsula Players perform Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. in the summer. With the opening of the fall show Sept. 3, curtain times are Tuesday through most Sundays at 7 p.m. The following Sunday performances of each show will have a 4 p.m. matinee, July 6, July 27, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, Oct. 5 and Oct. 19.
Discount tickets are available for season ticket holders and groups. Individual tickets are also available. Individual ticket prices range from $35 to $44. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.