Players Pen – June 29, 2016

“Where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine.”

I coined this phrase many seasons ago while I was a house manager at Peninsula Players. I would stand at the foot of the flagstone staircase of the old audience pavilion, remembered affectionately by some patrons as a “tent,” and greet patrons with a smile and check their tickets.

I felt like a gatekeeper to a magical realm. I still do.

For generations patrons would descend the flagstone staircase from our upper parking lot into an enchanted world. I speak not of the beautiful sunsets Mother Nature has on display each night along the shoreline, but rather of the new worlds each new play presents.

On descent, patrons would perhaps find themselves in an English garden or a New York City apartment. Other times they would be amazed to discover an entire two story house or the stone walls of a castle. Various worlds have been created during our 81 seasons by numerous artists, some exacting in their details, while others were mere allusions. A “magical world.”

In past articles I’ve shared the history of those stone steps; how they existed long before Peninsula Players ever did. For new readers, the Fisher family who founded the theater in the 1930s inherited the staircase from the Wildwood Camp for Boys.

Season ticket holders and other frequent guests to the Players will recall that the flagstone “welcome way” was illuminated by amber stained glass stars. These “star lights” led the way to our enchanted world like breadcrumbs enticing travelers to follow their path.

When we rebuilt the theater in 2005, we lost the bottom of the staircase during demolition, excavation and construction. We saved the stars and remounted them along the grounds to continue to illuminate a path. I won’t say where. I’ll let that be a treasure hunt for you on your next visit.

Door County’s Mr. Glass, Gary Chaudoir, handcrafted and repaired these star lights. Gary displayed his craft for 28 years at The Eight of Pentacles, which was located in the former Walkway Shops of Sister Bay. Chaudoir Glass Studio is now located along Old Stage Lane in Sister Bay.

The star lights became as distinctive as the staircase to the Peninsula Players experience. I am overjoyed to say that as of this week, patrons can once again journey the “magical gateway” under these bright stars, for Gary has crafted more Star Lights for all to enjoy. Thank you Gary, from all of us.

Audiences are continuing to be enthralled with our current offering, “Chapatti” by Christian O’Reilly. Patrons are commenting enthusiastically about the performances of Greg Vinkler and Penny Slusher as Dan and Betty in this late-in-life romance.

“They bring the story to life while making the characters their own,” one patron on the Peninsula Players Facebook page. “You will love the way they bring every ounce of emotion from their characters masterfully without need(ing) to overstate their emotions. A wonderful, wonderful show.”

This reaction was echoed by another patron. “Loved this delightful, sentimental play, uniquely told and characters memorable. No one better than Greg Vinkler, in my book!”
The stars are shining brighter this season in more ways than one.

To learn more about the 2016 season keep reading this column or visit our website, Facebook page, Instagram page or YouTube channel for a peak behind the scenes. For tickets or more information phone the Box Office at (920) 868-3287. I look forward to seeing you make your descent down the magical gateway this season, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine on everyone!