Peninsula Players Announces Company Members for 80th Season
Fish Creek, Wisconsin – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre and Door County’s theatrical icon, announces company members for its 80th season, running June 16 through October 18, 2015. The mix of plays includes a world première comedy, a classic thriller, a madcap comedy, a sweet and prickly Irish love story and a nun habit-forming musical comedy.
Peninsula Players is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and employs professional actors for all of its productions. Company members work in regional theaters from Los Angeles to New York, as well as in film, television and radio. Many of the directors and cast members are recipients of or have been nominated for Chicago’s prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award.
The season and casts were selected by the Players’ Artistic Director Greg Vinkler who returns to Peninsula Players for his 27th season. He has directed many Peninsula Players shows including “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Chicago” and “Lombardi” and has acted in many others including “Butler,” “Opus,” “Heroes,” “Fools,” “Broadway Bound,” “A Man for All Seasons” and “Art.” Vinkler will act in “A Real Lulu” and direct “Outside Mullingar.”
“The 2015 company includes the welcome return of familiar faces as well as fresh talent new to Players audiences,” Vinkler said. “A great mix of talent for a great mix of shows.”
The world première “A Real Lulu” by Paul Slade Smith, creator of “Unnecessary Farce,” opens the season June 16. “‘Unnecessary Farce’ was wildly popular with Players audiences in 2007 and ‘Lulu’ is just as funny,“ said Vinkler. “I have participated in numerous readings of Paul’s play over the past couple of years and all who have heard ‘A Real Lulu’ agree that it’s a wonderfully funny comedy with heart and will have a life on other stages in the future. You’ll see it here first!
“Ned Newley is the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont. He’s an honest guy, loves his job and does it really well, but he knows nothing about media relations and has as much personality as a potted houseplant. Unfortunately (and unexpectedly), he just became the Governor of Vermont. Enter a high-profile political advisor, a professional pollster and an amazingly inept assistant to try to get Ned ready for prime time.”
Tom Mula, who directed the world première of Sean Grennan’s “The Tin Woman” last season, will direct “A Real Lulu.” The cast features Vinkler as Ned along with Player company members Brad Armacost, Linda Fortunato, Sean Fortunato, Neil Friedman, Erin Noel Grennan and newcomer Katherine Keberlein.
“All these comic veterans are truly excited to be bringing Paul’s really funny script to life on the Players stage,” Vinkler said.
Mula celebrates his 21st season with the Players where he has performed in many plays including “And Then There Were None,” “Opus” and “Chicago” and has directed “Making God Laugh,” “Amadeus,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Greetings!”
Armacost returns to the Players where his stage credits include “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “I Hate Hamlet” and “Out of Order.” One of his many Chicago stage credits include the 2014 Jefferson Award winning “Seafarer” with Irish Theatre. Also returning for the 2015 season are Friedman (“Lombardi,” “Born Yesterday,” “Making God Laugh”); Linda Fortunato (“Wait Until Dark,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Noises Off”); Sean Fortunato (“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Making God Laugh”); and Grennan (“The Tin Woman,” “Making God Laugh,” “Miracle on South Division Street,” “The Game’s Afoot”). Keberlein makes her Players debut with “A Real Lulu.” Her Chicago theater credits include work at Steppenwolf, Rivendell, About Face, Goodman, Profiles and Drury Lane Oakbrook.
The Players second offering is Frederick Knott’s classic thriller, “Dial M for Murder” from July 8 through July 26. Set in 1950s London, this mesmerizing thriller is laced with passion and betrayal and features Players Friedman, Keberlein, Matt Holzfeind (“The Tin Woman,” “And Then There Were None”); Tim Monsion (“Opus,” “Butler,” “Murder on the Nile”) and Jay Whittaker (“Wait Until Dark,” “Around the World in 80 Days”). This cast will be directed by Players company member Joe Foust (“Is He Dead?,” “Making God Laugh,” “The Game’s Afoot”). Foust directed the Players’ production of Knott’s “Wait Until Dark” as well as “Deathtrap.”
Ken Ludwig’s hysterically funny, door-slamming comedy “Lend Me a Tenor” is featured from July 29 through August 16. Mayhem ensues when opera sensation Tito Merelli inadvertently passes out on opening night and the panic-stricken general manager pushes his hapless assistant Max, an aspiring singer, into Otello’s costume. The cast features Sean Fortunato, Foust, Holzfeind, Keberlein, Monsion, Peggy Roeder (“Miracle on South Division Street,” “The Game’s Afoot” and “Over the Tavern”) and newcomers Maggie Kettering and Ashley Lanyon. Linda Fortunato directs this fast-paced comedy. She directed last season’s “And Then There Were None” as well as “The Fox on the Fairway.”
Kettering’s credits include “Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2” (with Stacy Keach) at Shakespeare Theatre Co., “Season’s Greetings” at Northlight Theatre and Great Lakes Theater’s “Blithe Spirit.” Lanyon’s recent credits include “South Pacific” with Westchester Broadway Theatre and “Le Cabaret Grimm” at the New York Musical Theater Festival.
“Outside Mullingar,” a sweet and prickly Irish love story by John Patrick Shanley, the creator of “Doubt” and “Moonstruck,” makes its Wisconsin première at the Players from August 19 through September 6. “’Outside Mullingar’ was on Broadway last year and I got a copy as soon as I could,” Vinkler said. “The minute I put it down I knew I wanted to put it into this season. Anthony, a 42-year-old introverted farmer, and Rosemary, 36, the very plucky heroine who runs the farm next door, should be together, but family eccentricities, and a land feud get in the way. It is poetic, wistful, uplifting and funny.”
Vinkler directs a cast which includes Whittaker as Anthony, Kettering as Rosemary, Roeder as Rosemary’s mother Aoife and William J. Norris (“A Man for All Seasons” and “The Foreigner”) as Anthony’s cantankerous father Tony.
Closing the Players 80th season is “Nunsense,” a frolicksome, habit-forming musical comedy with book, music and lyrics by Dan Goggin, performing Sept. 9 through Oct. 18. The zany Little Sisters of Hoboken are under the direction of Karen Sheridan whose Players directing credits include “Heroes,” “Is He Dead?” “Rumors” and “Fools.” Sheridan directs a cast including Lanyon, Christine Mild (“Always…Patsy Cline”), Cassie Slater (“Sunday in the Park with George,” “Cabaret”), the return of Liz Pazik (“Nunsense,” 1987 production) and newcomer Stephanie Wahl . Pazik’s Chicago credits include “The Music Man” at Paramount Theatre, “The Sound of Music” at Drury Lane Oakbrook, and “The Adventures of Pinocchio” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Wahl was in the national tours of “The Will Rogers Follies,” “Nunsense” with Sally Struthers and a Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Designers for the 2105 season, both new and returning, include scenic designers Sarah E. Ross, Jack Magaw and J Branson; lighting designers Stephen R. White, Charlie Cooper and Emil Boulous; costume designers Pamela J. Rehberg, Kärin Simonson Kopischke, Rachel Lambert and Kyle Pingel; sound designers Christopher Kriz, Rick Sims and Megan Henninger; and properties designers Jim Lichon, Desirée Arnold, Meredith Miller and Jessie Gaffney.
“Audiences will have a great time enjoying the variety in this Peninsula Players season – our 80th year!,” Vinkler said. “I love the plays – they’re full of terrific comic characters, intense suspense, hilarious misadventures, quirky romance and very enthusiastic nuns trying to do a zany musical spectacular. The 80th season has a ton of stuff for everyone to enjoy!”
The 2015 season is being sponsored in part by Ken Raupach, Barbara Jo Weko Witzke, Main Street Market and The Cordon Family Foundation.
Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935, when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek on July 25, with Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever.” The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamt 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 moved to the theater’s present location along the shores of Green Bay in 1937.
Prior to performances, patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambiance of the Beer Garden and other gardens.
The Fishers’ dream lives on. Professional actors, directors and designers work side-by-side with college interns, live on the Players 16-acre campus and bring audiences a variety of works including dramas, mysteries, comedies and musicals.
The Peninsula Players perform 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. 9 curtain times switch to Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m. The closing performance of each show will have a 4 p.m. matinee, July 5, July 26, August 16, Sept. 6 and additional matinees for “Nunsense,” Sept. 20, 27 and Oct. 18.
Discount tickets are available for season ticket holders and groups. Individual tickets are also available. Individual ticket prices range from $36 to $45. 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.