Fish Creek, Wisconsin – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, announces its 79th season, running June 17 through October 19, 2014. Nestled along Door County Wisconsin’s scenic shore, the Peninsula Players has been enthralling generations of audiences in its 600-plus seat, all-weather pavilion since 1935, presenting hundreds of pre-Broadway tryouts, world premières, classic dramas, comedies and musicals.
The Peninsula Players season will open June 17 with the world première of “The Tin Woman” by Sean Grennan, creator of “Making God Laugh,” which also had its world première at the Players. It’s a heartfelt comedy about Joy, a woman who unexpectedly gets a new lease on life as the recipient of a donated heart. Joy struggles to accept her twist of fate while Jack’s family adjusts to life without him. Laughs and emotions fly back and forth when Alice, Jack’s mom, invites Joy to dinner after receiving a wholehearted thank you note from her. “The Tin Woman” will have a three week run closing July 6.
“Three years ago the Players presented the world première of Sean Grennan’s ‘Making God Laugh’ to open the season,” said Peninsula Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler. “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’ follows Joy, a young woman who has had a heart transplant. She is having trouble coping with this new life which she didn’t expect to have and she somehow feels the need to meet the family of the person whose heart she received. The story of her coming to the decision to contact the family along with the story of the family itself both come together in a funny and touching way. And the play resolves very unexpectedly, but movingly for all. ‘The Tin Woman’ will be our world première season opener and I’m happy to say Sean will be with us again as we put the show together.”
From July 9 through July 27 the Peninsula Players presents Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit “And Then There Were None.” The Queen of Crime’s classic mystery features guests lured to Soldier Island by a host who fails to appear. Marooned at the lonely resort, each guest has a dark secret to hide and all fear dark shadows from their wicked pasts. Isolated and trapped, one by one they start to die. One of the greatest murder mysteries ever written, “And Then There Were None” was originally published as “Ten Little Indians.” It is Christie’s best-selling novel with more than 100 million sales and the play celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2014.
“No one writes old-fashioned murder mysteries like Ms. Christie,” Vinkler said. “I think this may be her best one. Great situation, fun characters and a doozy of a puzzler. Eight guests, unknown to each other, are invited to a chic but completely isolated house, where none of them, including the butler, housekeeper and boatman, have ever seen their host. Soon after their arrival a disembodied voice accuses all of them of having each committed a murder. And shortly, one by one, they begin to be inexorably killed off – in some not-too-pleasant ways. And, in the best Christie tradition, you don’t find out whodunit till the very end. I’m looking forward to our having a fun thrill ride with this one!”
Next up from July 30 through August 17 is the frighteningly funny comedy “The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful” by Charles Ludlam. The madcap romp begins on a dark and stormy night. Lady Enid arrives at her new home to find the portrait of Irma Vep, Lord Edgar’s first wife, still on display above the fireplace and Irma’s mysterious presence looming over the haunted manor. This uproarious comedy takes audiences on a hilarious journey from an austere English manor to the exotic pyramids of Egypt.
“What do you get when you combine Victorian melodrama, farce, the penny dreadful, ‘Wuthering Heights,’ ‘The Mummy’s Curse’ and Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘Rebecca?,’” Vinkler said. “You get our third show – the very silly, very funny ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep-A Penny Dreadful.’ This show is a hoot! Two actors play eight characters of both sexes with a total of more than 40 costume changes between them.
“It’s quick-change silliness from beginning to end. From Lord Edgar’s haunted estate “Mandacrest”, where his dead wife’s portrait hangs over the mantlepiece, to the tombs of ancient Egypt (Lord Edgar is, after all, an Egyptologist!), a motley cast of characters, saintly and evil, human and non-human, thread their zany way through this award-winning comedy. Every time I read it, I laugh out loud!”
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 be bringing a fully-realized production to our audiences. ‘Butler’ was introduced to me by Tim Monsion, an actor who has been with us many seasons. I read ‘Butler’ and liked it so much the Players produced a winter play reading of it last year. That audience was so delighted with the play they practically begged me to put it into this season. And I’m very happy to say it is.
“Based on true events from the first year of the Civil War, it’s the story of a runaway slave and a brand-new general who butt heads over what to do with this very smart and stubborn young man seeking asylum at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The law states that, as property, he must be returned to his owner; Butler’s principles end up with him deciding otherwise. Surprisingly, the solution helped change the course of American history. The confrontations between these two characters, Shepard Mallory and General Butler, are very funny, dramatic and extremely human.” “Butler” received an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.
Closing the season Sept. 3 through Oct. 19 is Ted Swindley’s enduring musical revue, “Always … Patsy Cline.” Cline is one of the best-loved and iconic recording artists of all time. “Always … Patsy Cline” written and originally directed by Ted Swindley 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 endearing and timeless hits such as “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walking After Midnight.”
‘“Always … Patsy Cline’ has a big heart, a lot of music and focuses on a singer who will never grow old,” Vinkler said. ‘“Always … Patsy Cline’ includes many of her biggest hits and a story about her and her friend Louise that is sweet, funny and touching. I never get tired of listening to her unique voice, her style and her songs. I sure hope you like her and this show as much as I do!
“The Peninsula Players 79th season is a cornucopia of riches – and I am positive audiences will find at least a favorite or two that will especially tickle them. The shows take us from a young woman’s living room today and whisk us off to an isolated and deadly manor in the 1940s, the deserts of Egypt, the front lines of the Civil War and the music-filled honky-tonks of the 1950s. Filled with thrills, music, touching and laugh-out-loud moments, I am confident the Players will offer something for everyone in its 79th season.”
Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935. Peninsula Players was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the north woods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting.
Peninsula Players location along the shore of Green Bay provides a serene location for patrons as well. Prior to performances, patrons relax and picnic 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 as professional actors, directors and designers work side-by-side with college interns while living on the Players 16-acre campus as they bring audiences a variety of works including dramas, mysteries, comedies and musicals. In fall, 2005, the troupe closed its season early to build a new stage house and all-weather audience pavilion.
The Peninsula Players performs 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 closing Sunday performance of each show will have a 4 p.m. matinee, July 6, July 27, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, and Oct. 19.
Discount tickets are now available for season ticket holders and groups. Individual tickets will become available on-line in mid-May. 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.