Players Pen – June 13, 2014

Peninsula Players company members are beginning to settle into a routine. Our wonderful cooks Lori Van Laanen and Shirley Wendlandt ring the lunch and dinner bell, which keeps the rest of the company on schedule and fed.

The box office is open six days a week and starting June 16 will be open Mondays too for the summer season.  The scene, properties and costume shops are all buzzing with activity as they prepare for the world premiere of Sean Grennan’s “The Tin Woman.”

Sean has crafted a heartfelt and humor-filled story about a young woman coming to grips with a heart transplant she wasn’t expecting to receive.  As Joy acknowledges her new-found lease on life she reaches out to the family who made the donation. Their meeting results in a remarkable ending for all.

Happy conversations around the lunch table exhibit how excited the cast is to share “The Tin Woman” with audiences.  Sean wrote this play after being inspired by a story of a heart transplant recipient who met the donor’s family.  The story was the spark.  His imagination took over as he began to wonder, how did that go for everyone?

Once rehearsals began actress Kristine Thatcher released the tape ball.  Tape ball is a wad of crumpled newspaper wrapped with masking or duct tape to make a ball.  The goal of tape ball is to keep the ball in the air by hitting/slapping at it with your hand.   Tape ball has become the Players version of Harry Potter’s Quidditch.

I have shared stories of tape ball before; what a great way to start the season!

After lunch the cast and various company members gather in a circle and release the tape ball.  Between the giggles, squeals and cheers of encouragement the count has gone into the double-digits before the ball falls to the ground. Then they try again.

Kristine brought the game of tape ball to the Players while directing “Over the Tavern.”  She discovered that the game gives casts an opportunity to build camaraderie in a short span of time.  And from the jibes I hear while they are playing, it is working very well.

With the opening of “The Tin Woman” we launch into new programing at the Players.  We are very excited to have two board members of The Second Chance for Life Foundation speaking at our first pre-show seminar Thursday, June 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the theater.

Both are heart transplant recipients.  They will lead a discussion and share their experiences with audience members. A pre-show discussion for each of our shows is planned this summer.  Stay tuned for more dates and topics.

By deadline for this article we are awaiting the broadcast of the 2014 Tony Awards.  Company members let out a big shout of joy this week when the Drama Desk Awards were announced and Jessie Mueller received the Outstanding Actress in a Musical Award for her portrayal of Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”  Jessie is nominated for a Tony Award in the category of Leading Actress in a Musical.  Patrons may remember Jessie from the 2010 season productions of “A Little Night Music” and “Over the Tavern” here at the Players.

Congratulations to company member Linda Fortunato who earned a non-Equity Jeff Award for her choreography of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” at Bohemian Theatre Ensemble in Chicago.  Linda directed last year’s production of “Once a Ponzi Time” and choreographed the Players productions of “Cabaret” and “Chicago.”  She has also performed in “Sunday in the Park with George” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  Linda returns to the Players this season to direct Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”

Another Player, Lillie Ann Brown (“Little Shop of Horrors”), received a Jeff Award for her Direction of a Musical or Revue of “Dessa Rose” at Bailiwick Chicago.  The production featured a performance by another Player, Harmony France (“A Little Night Music”).

The Joseph Jefferson Awards, or Jeff Awards, nominations are Chicago theater’s equivalent to Broadway’s Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards.  The Jeff Awards were established in 1968.  Many past and present steadfast Players have been honored by their peers with a nomination or award including both Equity and non-Equity awards.    Equity refers to the Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.

We hope you will join us by the bay this season for a pre-or post-show discussion, a backstage tour or to see a show!  For more information on Players programing or for tickets, please contact the box office at 920-868-3287.  For information on the Players 2014 playbill please visit