Players Pen by Audra Baakari Boyle
As the reds and oranges of fall foliage began to usher in the fall season, Players company members followed suit. Over Labor Day weekend the closing performances of the critically acclaimed Civil War drama, “Butler” by Richard Strand received standing ovations.
Artistic Director Greg Vinkler always envisioned the Players as a regional theater that just happens to perform a majority of its season during the summer months. Collaborating with two playwrights on new works is not typical summer stock fare.
This past season the Players produced the world première of Sean Grennan’s heartwarming play “The Tin Woman” and the Midwest première of Strand’s “Butler.” Both playwrights were on site during rehearsals, tweaking and working with the actors on their scripts.
Both plays received rave reviews from patrons and critics alike. Patrons hugged Greg as they exited the theater, thanking him for bringing “The Tin Woman” to Door County.
Critic-at-large Warren Gerds of WFRV-TV and weareGreenBay.com recently asked Sean what was next for “The Tin Woman.”
“There has been some interest in it for a commercial production in Chicago,” Sean said. “I’m working with a producer now to raise money and get an LLC formed.
“He – and I – feel it couldn’t have gone better than it did at the Peninsula Players but that it needs to plant a flag in a bigger, more nationally visible market if we’re going to get Meryl Streep on board. Not that she wouldn’t love Door County.”
To read the full interview visit www.wearegreenbay.com.
Patrons who attended the 2013 winter play reading series anticipated the opening of the entertaining and captivating “Butler.” Filled with dynamic language and witty wordplay the exceptional drama explored a slice of American history in a very engaging way.
Patrons and critics agreed. The cast, including Greg as Butler, Sean Parris as the runaway slave Shepard Mallory, Sean Fortunato as Lieutenant Kelly and Tim Monsion as Major Cary, portrayed characters who “confront real issues, were perplexed by their responses and ultimate decisions, often transforming their ideals in the performance with delightful believability,” said Peggy Sue Dunigan of Broadwayworld.com said.
“Strand infuses humor, warmth and wit into the camaraderie experienced by Butler, Kelly and Mallory, completely opposite of what an audience might expect depicted in films such as “A Few Good Men,’” she said of “Butler.”
Gerds wrote of the production in his review:
“Not many theaters around can take on the word-driven play that wrestles with the incendiary intricacies of the Civil War and make it leap from the stage with such vigor, humor and quality.
“For Greg Vinkler, ‘Butler’ not only keeps the Players’ flame of impassioned theater glowing but is a tour de force for him as an elite actor.
“’Butler” is beyond the pale of most theaters. Its subject matter is imposing. The role of General Butler is not for mere mortals. The play is special.”
Tonight more impassioned performers take the stage. It is opening night for “Always…Patsy Cline” created and originally directed by Ted Swindley – based on a true story and features newcomer Christine Mild as Patsy Cline and Karen Janes Woditsch as her pen pal Louise.
A six-piece band including fiddler and guitarist Lynn Gudmundsen, bassist Craig McClelland, pedal steel guitarist Louis Jay Meyers, percussionist Bruce Newbern and guitarist George Sawyn is led by musical director Malcolm Ruhl who also plays guitar and piano.
Cline is one of the best loved recording artists of all time and her music is timeless. We hope to see you by the bay this fall. “Always…Patsy Cline” will be with us through Oct. 19. For more information visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone 920-868-3287.
Audra Baakari Boyle is the Peninsula Players Business Manager, celebrating her 20th season in 2014.