After months of waiting and watching snow come and go, our Grand Lady of Summer Theater is preparing to open its 83rd season. The Players first performed in Fish Creek in 1935, in the garden behind the Bonnie Brook Motel and moved to the former Wildwood Camp for Boys in 1937.
Since its inception, Mother Nature has had a leading role at Peninsula Players. Richard Fisher, co-founder of the theater, was an aspiring playwright, director and avid gardener. Company member Maggy Magerstadt recalls when she first met Richard he was weeding a flower bed while simultaneously giving blocking notes to actor Leo Lucker who was on stage rehearsing.
Groundskeeper Eric Smith has taken up Richard’s mantle and has been attentively preparing the gardens and walking trails for opening night. Hostas, pansies, petunias, lilies, coleus, begonias and more mingle with the wild violets, Lily of the Valley and trilliums that are scattered about the forest floor and in various containers and flower beds.
The Players want to extend a special thank you to the 80-plus volunteers, affectionately known as the “Broom Squad,” who arrived the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend to help spread fresh wood chips in the Beer Garden, place the garden statuary and benches around the property as well as clean our dorm rooms.
“We could not have done all of this prep work on our own,” said Managing Director Brian Kelsey to the group. “On behalf of Eric, Danielle and Audra (who are our only employees on site this time) we want to thank you for giving us your Saturday morning. We have staff members arriving tomorrow, and they are grateful as well for all the work you did today. The enthusiasm and excitement you bring to this annual event, energizes us for the opening of the season.”
Excitement for opening night continues to build as we introduce new company members and interns to the Players and the beauty of Door County. At our initial company meet-and-greet we encourage each company member to get out, explore and enjoy the scenic beauty of their surroundings.
We also encourage our patrons to arrive up to 90-minutes before the show to relax along our scenic shoreline location and enjoy a beverage from the Luna Bar, take a leisurely stroll among the lush gardens and enjoy the warm glow of our intermission bonfire – the quintessential Door County experience.
“… when I say natural beauty is part of your experience, well, we couldn’t get luckier,” said Artistic Director Greg Vinkler in his playbill letter to patrons. “Here for you is a sweet-smelling cedar forest with a beer garden, trails, shoreline and spectacular sunsets. Mother Nature has blessed us with splendor and infinite variety in her own way for you to enjoy before, during and after the show.
“And one more thing to add to your experience – as you get ready to enjoy the upcoming performance I wanted to share a little something that has stuck with me recently. Last year University College London conducted research and found that watching a live theatre performance can synchronize your heartbeat with other people in the audience, regardless of if you know them or not. I thought that was remarkable.
“’The team found that as well as alongside individuals’ emotional responses, audience members’ hearts were also responding in unison.’ That’s amazing – and beautiful. Another layer of experience on top of the others you can take home with you from the Players.”
We hope you take a moment to gather with friends and family this summer and autumn to partake in the Peninsula Players experience. As the weather warms, the sides of the all-weather pavilion will be up and Mother Nature’s splendor will be on display. Our talented acting company takes the stage June 12 to present a new season of comedy, music and drama. Check out the exciting line-up of shows and curtain times at www.peninsulaplayers.com. We look forward to seeing you where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine.