Players Pen – October 21

It seems just like yesterday that volunteers were on property helping us to prepare for the arrival of company members in late May.  As I reflect on the season, memories of the summer and autumn replay in my mind – from the opening curtain of “A Real Lulu” to the final standing ovation on Sunday for the talented cast of “Nunsense.”  Everyone at the Players, patrons and staff alike, has loved the 2015 season.  We all knew months ago that Oct. 18 would be the last performance, yet we are all taken aback by its seemingly sudden end.

As you read this, perhaps you have memories of the 2015 season flashing though your mind as well.  Would you vote for Governor Ned Newley?  Were you filled with tension during “Dial M for Murder?”  Did the zany antics of “Lend Me A Tenor” hit a comic high note with you?  Did the performances of “Outside Mullingar” stir you?   Did the Little Sisters of Hoboken bring a smile and lightness to your step?   What was your favorite memory of the 2015 season?

This week the garden furniture and benches around property were once again packed away.     Many suitcases were filled, “see you laters” were shared and we all began to wonder what the summer of 2016 will bring.    While the season may have ended, Players company members stay busy with other projects.

Erin Noel Grennan (“A Real Lulu,” “The Tin Woman”) has been active filming a television commercial for Sprint as an avid Turtle baseball fan.  If you thought you saw “Lulu” in scrubs, you just may have.   She also plays the same character in episodes of “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med” this season.

Playwright Paul Slade Smith is performing in the Broadway production of “Finding Neverland.”  He also held another reading of “A Real Lulu” several weeks ago under its new title, “The Outsider,” at Route 66 Theatre.

“The Tin Woman” by Sean Grennan, which made its world premiere at the Players last summer, has several productions slated for 2016 at Miami’s Actors Playhouse, the LAMB Arts Regional Theatre and Taipei University in Taiwan, China.

Katherine Keberlein (“A Real Lulu,” “Dial M for Murder” and “Lend Me A Tenor”) is cast as a female version of Richard III in Oracle Theatre’s world premiere of “No Beast So Fierce,” an adaption of “Richard III” by Max Traux.

Matt Holzfeind (“Dial M for Murder” and “Lend Me A Tenor”) is performing in The Paramount Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!” with properties by Players’ scenic designer Sarah E. Ross (“The Tin Woman,” “Dial M for Murder”).  Sarah is designing props for Paramount’s productions of “A Christmas Story,” “Hairspray” and “West Side Story.”   She is also designing puppets for American Blues Theater’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Linda Fortunato, who directed “Lend Me A Tenor” and performed in “A Real Lulu,” choreographed “Spamalot” and is directing “A Christmas Story” for Theatre at the Center.

Sean Fortunato is Lancelot in “Spamalot” at Theatre at the Center and then joins fellow Player Brad Armacost (“A Real Lulu”) in a Northlight Theatre’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You.”  Sean is also cast in multiple roles in the Goodman’s production of “2666.”  He then teams up with fellow Player Karen Janes Woditsch (“Always…Patsy Cline,” “Murder on the Nile” and “God of Carnage”) for Writers Theatre’s production of “Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf.”   Karen has also finished a day shoot on a film called “American Fable” due out in 2016 and is cast in Steppenwolf’s production of “Domesticated.”

Joe Foust (“Lend Me A Tenor”) is currently in Theatre Wit’s production of “The Watson Intelligence” as he works on rewrites of “Robin Hood,” a play he is co-writing with John Maclay for First Stage in Milwaukee.  Joe will also be in Paramount’s “West Side Story” and the Goodman’s production of “Christmas Carol,” where he will work with “Nunsense” stage manager Alden Vasquez.

Neil Friedman (“A Real Lulu,” “Dial M for Murder” and “Lombardi”) has been performing in “October Sky” at the Marriott Theatre.  Brandon Dahlquist (“Lombardi,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Murder on the Nile”) is in the San Francisco Playhouse’s musical “Dogfight.”   Carmen Roman (“Lombardi,” “A Little Night Music,” “Doubt”) is performing in New York City in the Collider Theater’s world premiere of “Love, Sex and Death in the Amazon” at Paradise Factory.

Maggie Kettering (“Lend Me A Tenor” and “Outside Mullingar”) is headed to the Great Lakes Theater Festival for “A Christmas Carol.”  Cassandra Bissell (“Around the World in 80 Days” and “Proof”) is already in Cleveland, Ohio performing in Great Lakes Theater’s production of “King Lear.”

Peggy Roeder begins her fifth season with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.  She will perform in productions of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Ah, Wilderness.”

Christine Mild (“Always…Patsy Cline” and “Nunsense”) is cast in “Sister Act” at the Marriott Lincolnshire and Writers Theatre’s production of “Company.”  She also has a Kickstart project to record an album with musical director Malcolm Ruhl (“Always…Patsy Cline).

Liz Pazik (“Nunsense”) is working on her one woman show, “Hi my name is Liz …” about growing up Polish and Catholic on Chicago’s northwest side. In between shows, actress Cassie Slater (“Nunsense,” “Sunday in the Park with George”) continues to operate Stomp and Shout, creative music and theater classes for hip kids in Chicago.

Greg Vinkler is headed to the Milwaukee Rep for its production of “The Mousetrap.” Several Players’ designers will also be part of the design team, including lighting designer Jason Fassl (“Always…Patsy Cline,” “Lombardi”); costume designer Rachel Laritz ( “The Game’s Afoot,” “Comic Potential”); scenic designer Jack Magaw (“Outside Mullingar,” “Lend Me A Tenor”) and sound designer Lindsay Jones (“Rumors”).   Greg will also reprise his role as Major General Benjamin Butler in Northlight’s production of “Butler.”  Joining Greg is Tim Monsion, who will reprise his role as the confederate officer, Cary.

Kärin Simonson Kopischke will be costume designing the world premiere of “Rusalka” at Kansas City Opera and a world premiere of the opera “The Shining” at Minnesota Opera.

Joel Hatch (“The Tin Woman” and “And Then There Were None”) spent the summer with La Jolla Playhouse premiering a new musical “Come From Away.”  The production moved to the Seattle Rep for performances in November and December.  Joel tells me the musical has a Celtic rock band onstage and a cast of 12.  The musical is about the town of Gander, Newfoundland where 38 planes from around the world landed on 9/11 and the town’s residents hosted the 7,000 travelers for five days.

While some members of the Players company are found from coast to coast, others can still be reached via the winter Box Office.   Managing Director Brian Kelsey, Development and Events Coordinator Danielle Szmanda and I stay busy with prep work for the 2016 season.

Don’t forget to join us at our winter play reading series, “The Play’s the Thing” at Björklunden on Mondays Feb. 1, March 7 and April 4 at 7 p.m. The plays are yet to be announced.  If you looking for that perfect gift, remember gift certificates are available via or phone the Box Office weekdays at (920) 868-3287 and I will be happy to help you.  Thank you for being a part of the 2015 season, we hope to see you by the bay again in 2016.