Players Pen – July 1, 2015

In the days leading up to opening night of our 80th season of our company was in a flurry of last minute preparations.  The costume shop was busy finding the right shoes, belts and accessories for various characters while the properties department was hustling for the correct items to “dress” the set.

While the scenic designer envisions the overall look of the scenery, the properties designer hunts for the furniture, knickknacks, framed photos, drapes and other items which dress, or decorate the set.  The “dressing” helps to set the time and place of the story.

Props master Jim Lichon and his production intern Brontë DeShong spent many days hunting for the correct items to create the stately governor’s office of “A Real Lulu.”  Items included an impressive brass chandelier, end tables, a sofa, desk and leather office chair.

If they couldn’t find the items, they crafted them. Among those items built was a special award for the fireplace mantel, a maple log with a sugar tap and metal bucket.  Jim was having difficulty finding the right sized landscape paintings to hang on the office wall, so Brontë picked up her paint brush and painted one.

Vermont is known for its sugar maples, scenic splendor and the independent spirit of its residents.  Scenic designer Sarah E. Ross, with the assistance of scenic artist Rebecca Beaudoin, painted murals representing Vermont.  They plied their brushes to create several large paintings which frame the stage and help to convey the location of the story of “A Real Lulu.”

These images include patriots George Washington and Ethan Allen as well as landscapes of maple trees being tapped and a majestic eagle soaring over waterways.  Rebecca also crafted a carpet embellished with the state seal of Vermont and a backdrop for the balcony featuring a distant mountain range.

While costume and props were making their final touches the carpenters were sanding and texturing the marble pillars and securing the latches and hardware on all of the doors.  While tweaking the air pistons on an office chair, technical director Scott M. Boyle realized “A Real Lulu” was the 80th show he has built for the Players.

Players patrons are the first audiences to ever see “A Real Lulu” performed – anywhere.  This hilarious world première comedy by Paul Slade Smith features Ned Newley, a timid, media-shy guy who believes government can work and a sweet, genuine office temp, Louise Peaks, who tosses a wrench into the works.

While Paul was writing his comedy he did have Greg Vinkler and Erin Noel Grennan in mind.  Both perform their roles of Ned and Louise with hilarious sincerity.   Since opening night Greg, Erin, Sean Fortunato, Katherine Keberlein, Linda Fortunato, Neil Friedman and Brad Armacost have been receiving huge laughs and nightly standing ovations.

While exiting the theater I hear many patrons comment that this is the funniest and best show they’ve seen at the Players.  “Broadway Quality Comedy – LULU,” commented Bsta23 on TripAdvisor.  “’Lulu’ is a delightful comedy that will keep you in stitches.”

Will fast talking political advisors and an overly enthusiastic, but totally inept temp worker be able to prepare Ned for prime time?  There is still time to catch a performance of this hilarious lulu before it closes July 5.

This is one show you do not want to miss.  “A Real Lulu” performs at 8 p.m. July 1, 2, 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. with a matinee July 5 at 4 p.m.

The day after “A Real Lulu” opened, rehearsals for the suspenseful “Dial M for Murder” began and the creative process started all over again.  Actors Jay Whittaker, Matt Holzfeind, Tim Monsion, Assistant Box Office Manager Peter Brian Kelly and production intern Matt Super joined director Joe Foust, Neil and Katherine in the rehearsal hall.  Frederick Knott’s taught thriller is next on the Players bill of fare and opens July 8.

Stop by the Box Office in person and you may catch the company busy working on 1950s London or another of our upcoming shows. If you want to take a peak backstage join us for one of tours July 12, August 2, 9, 23 or 30 at 2 p.m.   Contact the Box Office to register in advance at 920-868-3287.  For tickets or more information on pre-show seminars or post-show discussions visit   I look forward to seeing you by the bay this season, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine!