Players Pen – September 6

As we approach the opening week of our final show of the 82nd season, I want to take a moment to thank the 2017 production team for their hard work, dedication and creative craftsmanship in bringing the vision of each designer/director to fruition.  

This resourceful team supported 16 designers, five directors, two Actors’ Equity stage managers and mentored eight production interns while crafting the creative ‘clock-work’ world of the “The Actuary” and the very playful, make-believe world of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” 

If you got a close-up view of the set for “Peter and the Starcatcher” you saw a variety of intentionally hodge-podged household items including vegetable strainers, silverware, cardboard boxes, flip-flop sandals and expired license plate as set-dressing.  Everyday items were also crafted into make-believe swords and sailing ships perpetuating this playful theme.

Carpenters, scenic painters, property artists, theater-lighting electricians, stage technicians, costume stitchers and wig stylists combined their craftsmanship to create the beautiful, artistic, weather-aged barn boards that set the heartfelt, sincere tone of “The Bridges of Madison County.” Their skills were emphasized when they created the elegant, upper class world and sitting room of “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime.”   The practical house dresses of Iowa farm wives were as memorable and distinguished as the sophisticated finery of English ladies.  Each dress shined as characters either wiped their hands onto an apron or swooshed long-layered skirts.

Congratulations on a well-crafted season! Thank you team for the stunning visual memories.  Our scene shop crew consisted of technical director, Adina Weinig, master carpenter Jackson Boever, carpenter Keira Jacobs, and production assistant Dean Gnadinger, properties manager Wendy Huber; costume shop manager Kyle Pingel; costume assistant Robin Feltman and master electrician Michael Trudeau.  Each of them worked alongside our production interns to create this magical summer.  A majority of them also park cars, work at the will call window, sell tickets in the Box Office or tend the Luna Bar.  If you see them – thank them for their hard work.

The week leading up to the opening of our fall season has been filled with many activities, including congratulating company members when the 2017 Joseph Jefferson Awards were announced.  If you missed it here is a recap:

Cassandra Bissell (“Proof,” “Is He Dead?” “Around the World in 80 Days,”) who participated in the 2017 Peninsula Players winter play reading of “Miss Holmes,” is nominated as Best Principal Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Henrietta Leavitt in “Silent Sky” at First Folio Theatre.

Matt Crowle, director of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is nominated for both Best Direction and Best Choreography of “Crazy for You” at Drury Lane. 

“Crazy for You” is also nominated as best Production-Musical-Large and its cast featured Peninsula Player veterans William Carlos Angulo (choreographer of “The Full Monty,”) Harter Clingman (“Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime,” “Alabama Story” and “Peter and the Starcatcher,”) Ashley Lanyon (“The Bridges of Madison County,” “Nunsense”) Shawn Stengle (“Moon Over Buffalo,” the 2000 production of “Always…Patsy Cline,”) and Lucy Zukaitis (“Chicago.”) 

Mercury Theater Chicago’s production of “Disney’s Mary Poppins” is nominated in the Musical-Midsize category and featured several Peninsula Players in its cast including Crowle (“Peter and the Starcatcher,”) Cory Goodrich (“The Bridges of Madison County,”) Lanyon (“Nunsense,” “Lend Me a Tenor”) and Kevin McKillip (“The 39 Steps,” “Noises Off.”) 

Christopher Kriz, sound designer of this season’s “The Actuary,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime,” is nominated for Original Music for First Folio Theatre’s production of “Silent Sky.”

Jack Magaw’s scenic design work was seen on the Peninsula Players’ stage this season in “The Bridges of Madison County” and “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime.” Magaw was nominated for his design of “East Texas Hot Links” at Writers Theatre and among the cast was A.C. Smith (“The 1940s Musical Comedy Murders,” “Shady Business.”) 

The entire company, staff and board of directors extends its congratulations and thanks for keeping live theater thriving. 

Shortly after opening “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” we said goodbye to front of house manager Matt Vaessen who returned to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   Before the closing performance of “Lord Arthur…” we wished production intern Caelyn Harris a productive year as she returned to Ball State. 

As you read this we are saying ‘make it happen’ to production interns Alex Rettie, a senior at Utah Valley University; Emily Ottinger, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Stefani Azores-Gococo, a senior at Loyola University; and Adina, an MFA candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as they return to their campuses and classes. Thanks for staying to help “Almost, Maine” get to opening night!  We are thrilled they are taking back to their theater programs the many skills they learned working alongside our professional company members and each other. 

While Peninsula Players was closing “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” actor Kyle Hatley was also performing the closing performance of his three-person adaptation of “The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare” co-written at The Living Room in Kansas City.  Kyle played Richard in “The Actuary” and Slank/Hawking Clam in “Peter and the Starcatcher.”   Henry McGinniss, who portrayed Peter in “Peter and the Starcatcher” and Michael in “The Bridges of Madison County,” is also in Kansas City in Starlight Theatre’s production of “Grease.”   Steve Koehler (“The Bridges of Madison County” and “The Full Monty”) recently recorded an ad with Packer’s coach Mike McCarthy for Cellcom.

Erica Elam, Joe Foust, Matt Holzfeind and Karen Janes Woditsch will celebrate opening night of the comedy “Almost, Maine” September 6.  These four talented actors are portraying 19 different characters who fall in, and out of, love in this mythical northern town through October 15.  Please keep reading the Players Pen for future updates of where and what our company members are up to.  For information or tickets to “Almost, Maine” please call the Box Office at (920) 868-3287 or visit to join us where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the start shine!