One feels like a member of a large extended family while working at Peninsula Players. If one is cast or working on all five shows of the season, the time with the Players can span five to six months of working and living together side-by-side day in and day out.
The cast and crew live in cabins or dorms on site. Our culinary guides Lori Van Lannen and Lynne Hill provide us the opportunity to sit down and share meals as a family. And there are times when we share events together, such as a fellow company member’s wedding or birthday.
But how does one create a family in the rehearsal process? Our current comedy, “Miracle on South Division Street” by Tom Dudzick, features the Nowak family of Buffalo, New York. I asked director Kristine Thatcher how she builds camaraderie during the rehearsal process.
“I would say I employ a number of methods,” Kristine said. “Generous conversation as we read along is a good method. Putting actors on their feet walking through the play is the next good method.
“The designers who come in and create and build the home the actors will occupy is another good method. I’m always pleased when the actors learn their lines. That’s part of the methodology.
“I always like a stage manager like the one we have, Alden Vasquez, who cracks the whip and knows a whole bunch more than I ever do at any given moment.
“I’m also crazy for a warm-up game called Tape Ball. It’s sort of like hackey sack, only you use your hands to keep the ball moving from person to person. It’s a real ensemble-builder. The last method I employ, especially during tech rehearsals, is prayer.”
And they take field trips.
In the play the Nowaks are avid bowlers. One afternoon Kristine, Alden and the cast including Peggy Roeder, Joe Foust, Molly Glynn and Erin Noel Grennan ventured to Sister Bay Bowl, picked out their shoes and balls and played a few frames.
Strikes, spares and splits were counted as the balls slid down the lane and pins fell. Taunting jabs were tossed back and forth among cast members. Alden won.
Families also take and display photos. Families have photos on their kitchen fridge. Authenticity is in the details. To help make the Nowak’s kitchen feel homey photos were needed.
Molly, who plays Bev, takes her bowling game seriously. The folks at Sister Bay Bowl were kind enough to let Molly use one of their trophies to pose for some photos.
If you were to get close to the Nowak’s refrigerator or hallway on stage you would see photos of various cast members. They hunted through their family albums and shared them with our properties crew to scan, and they decorate the fridge for the show.
Audiences have been roaring with laughter and applauding in agreement that Tom Dudzick has written a heartfelt comedy about family. We hope when you join us you’ll agree that tape ball and bowling have helped the cast to create an affectionate bond with one another. It shines in their portrayal of three siblings and their mother who learn about cracks in their family history.
A reminder we have new curtain times in the fall. With the opening of “Miracle on South Division Street” curtain times are 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Two Sunday matinees this fall are at 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 20.
If you enjoyed our production of “Greetings!” and “Over the Tavern” you will see playwright Tom Dudzick takes us again into the kitchen of another fun family. Don’t miss your chance to stop by and feel like one of the family. Visit us at peninsulaplayers.com or phone 920-868-3287 for more information.