Players Pen – August 7, 2014

The Players is at the mid-point of its season with three shows under our belt and two more to go. The past few weeks has been bustling with activity.  We have closed a classic thriller, opened a fun, fast paced comedy, started rehearsals for a Civil War drama, held a pre-show seminar, and post-show discussion, conducted backstage tours, greeted new company members and hugged a few goodbye.

Where to start? With the close of “And Then There Were None” a majority of the cast has moved on to other projects.

Joel Hatch (Hank in “The Tin Woman” and Blore in “And Then There Were None”) flew to Atlanta, Georgia to begin rehearsals for the upcoming world premiere of “Bull Durham,a new musical based on the beloved 1988 film.  Joel portrays Max Patkin, the clown prince of baseball, who played himself in the film.

Erin Noel Grennan (Joy in “The Tin Woman,” “The Game’s Afoot,” “Miracle on South Division Street”) is cast in the upcoming independent film, “Resurrecting McGinn(s)” which will begin filming in late August. Her husband, Paul Slade Smith, is about to open “Finding Neverland” at A.R.T. in Boston. Which will then move to Broadway.

Kimberly Senior (director of “The Games’ Afoot” and “Murder on the Nile”) makes her Broadway directing debut this fall at the helm of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer prize-winning drama “Disgraced” at the Lyceum Theatre.

Erica Elam (Sammy in “The Tin Woman” and Velma in “And Then There Were None”) is in Edinburgh, Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  She will be perform every night with her musical improv troupe, Baby Wants Candy (, in August and then travels to London to teach musical improv workshops and to perform at the Leicester Square Theatre.

Matt Holzfeind (Jack in “The Tin Woman” and Captain Lombard in “And Then There Were None”) is on his way to New York City to perform in the New Fringe Festival at the end of August. His Chicago-based theater company, The Strange Tree Group, will perform its original work, “The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen” at the Connelly Theater. Sarah E. Ross (“The Tin Woman” scenic design and properties design for “And Then There Were None” and “The Mystery of Irma Vep”) returned to Chicago to remount the costume design of “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” with American Blues Theater featuring fellow Players Matt Brumlow (“A Few Good Men,” “Lombardi”) and James Leaming (“Is He Dead?,” “Born Yesterday”).  Also on staff are former Players Christopher Neville as assistant to the costume designer and Brian Claggett as technical director.  Musical direction is by Malcolm Ruhl who will join us for “Always…Patsy Cline.”

In the rehearsal hall Kristine Thatcher (Alice in “The Tin Woman” and Emily in “And Then There Were None”) has donned the director’s hat for “Butler,” a Civil War drama about clandestine meetings of Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler of the Union Army and Shepard Mallory, a runaway slave seeking asylum.

Greg Vinkler is cast as Butler, and Sean Fortunato, Tim Monsion and newcomer Sean Parris are under Kristine’s direction as well two Players interns Andrew Purvis and Peter Brian Kelly. Playwright Richard Strand will join us to make some tweaks to his script.  “Butler” is making its Midwest première at the Players, and is the second theater to ever produce the script.  Strand has a few adjustments he wants to make and our creative team is excited to be part of this new work and to bring it to a broader audience.

In the all-weather pavilion audiences are howling with laughter because of in high jinxs of “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” a mashup of Victorian Gothic romance and Universal Monster movies. As Warren Gerds of WFRV TV says, “Some plays are theater for the fun of it.”

With fast as lightening costume changes, Sean Fortunato and Sean Grennan play the Lord and Lady of Mandacrest as well as its servants. Manderly is the fictional estate home of Maxim de Winter in “Rebecca.” That and many other references are made throughout the play from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” to the mystery-thriller film “Gaslight.”

To find out more, join us Aug. 8 for a pre-show seminar. Gary Jones, an award-winning writer and an English lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will speak about novels and films referenced in “The Mystery of Irma Vep” starting at 6:30 p.m. in the theater.  Or stay for the post-show discussion on Aug. 6 or sign up for a backstage tour Sunday, Aug. 10.

One does not need to have an extensive background in gothic romance to enjoy the shenanigans of these talented actors. Featuring an oppressive housekeeper, a lovelorn werewolf, an Egyptian princess, as well as the Lord and Lady of the manor and many, many wigs.

If you don’t want to miss flying wigs, bouncing skirts and wink-wink, nudge-nudge spoofy humor of Charles Ludlum’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep” gather up your monster movie/gothic romance loving friends and join us by the bay! “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is on stage through August 17.  For those interested in a witty drama, “Butler” begins its two week run Aug. 20.   For more information visit or phone 920-868-3287.

Audra Baakari Boyle is the Peninsula Players Business Manager, celebrating her 20th season in 2014.