Governor has Connections to Pen Players

July 21, 2005

We were honored with a visit from Governor Jim Doyle and his wife Jessica last week.  The Governor stopped by during his time in Door County to present us with a certificate of commendation.

The official commendation begins with a number of “whereas” paragraphs and ends with “I, Jim Doyle, Governor of the state of Wisconsin, do hereby congratulate the Peninsula Players Theatre on the occasion of its 70th anniversary and commend it for its leadership and vision in helping to make northeastern Wisconsin’s picturesque peninsula a premier cultural and creative destination for visitors from around the world.”  Wow, it looks like we’ve arrived!

While the Governor and Mrs. Doyle were here we gave them a tour of the property and showed them the plans for our new stage house and audience pavilion.  While on the tour the Governor told us about connections, both personal and professional, that his family has to the Players.

On the professional front, the Governor’s father worked with Players founder, Caroline Fisher Rathbone, on a legal issue for the theatre back in the 1950s.  It seems that because of that relationship the Doyle family was introduced to Door County and later owned a summer home in Jacksonport.  During their summers here they would always take in a couple of shows at the theater.

The Governor’s wife Jessica also has Door County connections.  It seems her family owned a home in Ephraim and were also regular visitors to the Players.  On the personal front, for one of their first dates the Governor and Jessica attended a play here at the theater.  So, if you hope to be the Governor of the state of Wisconsin, you may want to consider bringing your date to the Players.

We also opened “Red Herring” by Michael Hollinger last week.  The show is a wonderful comic caper filled with Russian spies, FBI men, policewomen and even Joe McCarthy’s daughter.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the process we went through to select “Red Herring” and our first show “The Uneasy Chair.”  Today I want to tell you about how we came up with our next two shows “Tom, Dick and Harry” and “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.”

Our first criteria are to find the most interesting, fun and challenging plays available.  We constantly search the theatrical landscape, reading new scripts, seeing shows at other theaters and reading reviews of other productions.

“Tom, Dick and Harry” is a new play by father and son, Ray and Michael Cooney.  We have done a number of Ray’s plays here including “Out of Order” (1993), “It Runs in the Family” (1999), and “Caught in the Net” (2003).  His son Michael wrote and directed the cult movie hit “Jack Frost” and penned our 2003 production of “Cash on Delivery.”

Because of our relationship with the Cooneys we are one of three theaters in the United States, and the only one in Wisconsin, granted permission to perform “Tom, Dick and Harry” prior to its London opening.  It is a very funny play filled with classic Cooney dialogue, wacky situations and enough mistaken identities to make your head spin.

Our final show of the season is Jeff Daniels’ play “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.”  You may know Jeff from his acting work in such films as “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Dumb and Dumber” and “Pleasantville.”

Daniels started a theater company (The Purple Rose Theatre) in Chelsea, Michigan that focuses on midwestern plays, playwrights and artists.  He wrote “Escanaba” a few years ago for the company and it has been one of their biggest hits.  It is filled with “Yooper” humor and local flair and I know it will be a big hit with our Door County audiences.

Our wonderful production of “Red Herring” runs through July 31.  You can call the box office at 868-3287 or visit our new and improved website at  See you at the theatre!