The past week at Peninsula Players has been flooded with tugs to company members’ heartstrings. As we approach the close of the summer season, we are saying ‘see you soon’ to several company members while congratulating others on their Joseph Jefferson Award nominations. The Jeff Awards are the equivalent to Broadway’s Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards.
We also received the news of the deaths of playwright Neil Simon and Margaret Thompson, the wife of Grand Poohbah Bob Thompson, who directed or performed in many of Simon’s works at Peninsula Players during his long association as actor and/or artistic director of our troupe.
Bob Thompson and his family were in our thoughts this week when we learned Margaret passed away on Monday, August 27, surrounded by her family. Bob and Margaret married in the summer of 1946, after exchanging letters for almost six months before meeting in person in January of 1946. Margaret earned a Master of Music degree in violin performance from Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) and was Concertmaster of the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra for 40 years, and taught violin privately for many years.
Margaret and Bob Thompson raised a family of three children including David (wife Haze) of Morgan Hill, California; Kay (husband Doug Friedrich) of Pensacola, Florida and Don (wife Jean) of Ellison Bay; granddaughters Shelley (Mrs. Matt) Singleton of Spring Arbor, Michigan; Carrie (Mrs. Mike) Gaerte of Indianapolis and were dotting grandparents to 5 great-grandchildren. Margaret is also survived by a niece, Jean Moyer Powell (Mrs. Nat Powell) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and nephew David Moyer of Petoskey, Michigan. Margaret was preceded in death by Bob, who passed away in June 2010.
Margaret’s vivacious presence and support of the arts in Door County will be greatly missed. The entire Peninsula Players family send their condolences to the Thompson family. A memorial service for Margaret is being planned for Nov. 17, 11 a.m., with visitation at 10:30 a.m. at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay. Margaret’s full obituary and family requests can be read at DoorCountyPulse.com.
On the brighter side of news, Peninsula Payers was thrilled to hear several of its current and past company members received nominations for their work this past year in Chicago. Their professionalism shines through in every performance and their work is dazzling on the Players’ stage. You can see why they have been nominated elsewhere for their work.
Let’s start with congratulations to Players’ actors Lili-Anne Brown, Matt Crowle, Sean Fortunato, Kate Fry, Karl Hamilton, James Leaming, McKinley Carter and Larry Yando, music director Doug Peck, director Elizabeth Margolius and designers Brian Sidney Bembridge, Samantha C. Jones, Christopher Kriz, Rick Sims and Courtney O’Neill.
The Jeff Awards were founded in 1968 in Chicago to celebrate the excellence of Chicago’s theater scene. For decades, members of the Peninsula Players company have been receiving awards and nominations by the Jeff Committee.
Bob Thompson received one of the first “Actor in a Supporting Role” awards for his work in “Sabrina Fair” at the Mill Run Theatre in 1969. Bob would go on to receive many nominations and awards over his career from 1973’s “Angel Street” to his 1978 role in “The Night of the Iguana” at The Goodman Theatre.
This year’s nominee for Production Play and Musical or Revue – Large includes Chicago Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Victory Garden Theater’s “Fun Home,” in both of which McKinley Carter (“The Game’s Afoot,” “Sunday in the Park with George”) performed. Music Director Doug Peck (“Into the Woods”) was also nominated for his work in “Fun Home.”
Karl Hamilton (“Living on Love,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”) is also in this category for Court Theater’s production of “All My Sons” with Players alumni Tim Edward Kane (“Fools,” “Broadway Bound”) and Heidi Kettering (“The Taffetas”).
The solo performance category nominations include Kate Fry (“Communicating Doors,” “Into the Woods”) who was nominated for her performance of Emily Dickinson in “The Belle of Amherst” at Court Theatre. James Leaming (“Alabama Story,” “The Hollow”) was nominated for “This Wonderful Life” at American Blue Theater. Stacey Keach, whose parents performed at Peninsula Players in the late 1930s, was nominated for portraying Ernest Hemingway in “Pamplona” at the Goodman Theatre. Stacey’s understudy was Players veteran Neil Friedman (“Sunday in the Park with George,” “Born Yesterday”) who played Vince Lombardi in our production of “Lombardi.”
Kudos to Matt Crowle, who directed “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” and who made his Peninsula Players acting debut in “Living on Love,” for two nominations. Crowle is nominated for Best Performer in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Luther Billis in Drury Lane Production of “South Pacific” and as a Performer in a Principal Role as Charley Kringas in “Merrily We Roll Along” at Porchlight Music Theatre.
Sean Fortunato (“The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Miss Holmes,” “Now and Then”) also earned a nomination for Performer in a Supporting Role – Musical for his portrayal of Dad in “Billy Elliot the Musical” at Porchlight Music Theatre. Director Elizabeth Margolius (“Miss Holmes,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) is nominated for Artistic Specialization in Movement Direction for “Machinal” at Greenhouse Theater Center in association with North Central College.
Lilli-Anne Brown (“Little Shop of Horrors”) is nominated in the Musical – Midsize category for her direction of “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” at American Blues Theater. Several designers are also nominated for their work including sound designers Rick Sims for “20,000 Leagues Under The Seas” at Lookingglass Theatre Company and Christopher Kriz for “The 39 Steps” at Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, “The Heavens Are Hung in Black” at Shattered Globe Theatre” and “Mary’s Wedding” at First Folio Theatre.
Courtney O’Neill, who was the scenic painter for “The Lady’s not for Burning,” is nominated for her scenic design of “Plantation!” at Lookingglass Theatre Company. Former wig master and costume designer Samantha C. Jones designed costumes for Court Theatre’s production of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which is nominated in the Large Play category.
Our new and final show of the season, “Salvage,” opens Wednesday, September 5. Join us for this Wisconsin debut that is a bit mystery-drama with comedy and romance tossed in. “Salvage,” a new play by Joseph Zettelmaier, performs Tuesdays through Sundays at 7 p.m., except for Sundays, September 9, 23 and October 14 at 3 p.m. A post-show discussion will be held on Saturday, September 8 with the creative team and cast. Visit our website www.peninsulaplayers.com to learn more or call the Box Office at (920) 868-3287. We hope you will join us by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine!