Players Pen – June 20, 2014

Players mission “to support, without reservation, the most exciting theatre company possible; to provide artists the freedom, tools, and facilities they require to entertain, uplift, and inform our audiences;” and that from the beginning to this day this little hamlet of a theater in the north woods of Wisconsin continues to foster future generations of theater artists moves me beyond words and, I hope, fills our patrons, donors and supporters with great pride.

As Players company members watched the broadcast Joel Hatch (“Communicating Doors,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “The Tin Woman”) was asked what it was like to perform at the Tony awards.  Joel was Billy Elliot’s boxing coach and performed a scene from “Billy Elliot” for the award ceremony. He has fond memories of being part of the show that was nominated for 11 Tony Award.

Joel said waiting backstage for his entrance was awe inspiring, for as he waited in the wings he was surrounded by Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Susan Sarandon who were also waiting for their cues to present an award.

Actor Paul Slade Smith (“Chicago,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “The Nerd”) came to mind as well when a song from the forthcoming “Finding Neverland” was performed.  Paul has been cast in the ensemble of the world première of “Finding Neverland” at the American Repertory Theater.   Paul joined the Players for the 2012 and 2013 seasons after several years with the national tour of “Wicked.”

Congratulations to Jessie Muller!  I do think the company lodge is going to need new shingles because company members raised the roof when Hugh Jackman read Jessie’s name as the recipient of the Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”   Patrons will recall Jessie from our 2010 season productions of “A Little Night Music” and “Over the Tavern.”

Players company members assembled to take a group photo with the dress she wore in “Over the Tavern,” a zip jacket with our moto “Love and be Loved” and photos of Twinkies, a snack Jessie’s character in “Over the Tavern” had to consume during each performance.

We sent her a congratulations photo to which she replied:  “These are amazing!!! Thank you, thank you!  The dress, the Twinkies!  The zippy!   Would love to have a game of P.I.T.H. by the bay with all of you!”

Last week I shared tape ball with you, Jessie also got to play P.I.T.H. at the Players, or Put It In The Hole.  It is a game actors James Rank (“A Little Night Music,” “Sunday in the Park with George”) and Sean Fortunato (“Sunday in the Park with George,”  “Is He Dead?”) developed along the Players shoreline involving in-depth rules for scoring points while tossing pebbles into a hole in a wooden cable spool.

Next year we hope to see director Kimberly Senior among the Tony nominees.  Kimberly directed the Players productions of “A Few Good Men,”  “Murder on the Nile” and “The Game’s Afoot.”  Kimberly will direct the Broadway production of Ayad Akhtar’s incendiary drama “Disgraced,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  Kimberly directed the Off Broadway production of “Disgraced” at Lincoln Center Theater and its first full production at the American Theater Company in Chicago.

The Players fosters the next generation of theater artists including actors, directors, designers and managers.  One never knows where you will see a Player next.

I hope you take time to join us by the bay for one of the shows this season.  We have a variety of offerings from the world première of a heartwarming comedy from Sean Grennan, who brought us the touching and funny “Making God Laugh;” Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit “And Then There Were None;” Charles Ludlam’s madcap spoof of gothic romance/mysteries “The Mystery of Irma Vep;” the Midwest première of a Civil War drama based on events that shaped American history by Richard Strand, “Butler;” and a tribute to a music icon, “Always…Patsy Cline” created and originally directed by Ted Swindley, based on a true story.

We hope our patrons are just as excited to return to the Players this season as we are to present it!  Join us by the bay for one of the shows, a pre-show seminar, a back stage tour or a post-show discussion.  For more information or tickets to the Players season please visit or phone 920-868-3287.