Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, is thrilled to announce its 86th season performing July 20 through September 19, 2021. “We could not be more eager to welcome patrons back to the theater-in-a-garden for live performances,” said Managing Director Brian Kelsey. “Our producing partners, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), United Scenic Artists (USA) and the Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC), have approved our many safety protocols, and we are anxious to reopen the theater and its grounds to patrons.”
Kelsey said that since spring, patrons have been contacting the Box Office daily with emails and phone calls, anxious to hear any news or updates of Door County’s theatrical treasure reopening.
“Peninsula Players Theatre is a quintessential Door County experience with its all-weather pavilion, gardens and shoreline setting,” Kelsey said. “There is no other place like it. Patrons truly missed their visit with us last year, and we missed them. Everyone at the theater is eager to hear laughter and applause ringing throughout the theater, to see patrons strolling along the shoreline or relaxing in the Beer Garden and, most especially, to see the curtain rise on live performances once again.”
The pandemic placed the professional theater into its second extended intermission; the first was during World War II, when the theater paused performances so company members could serve their nation. Nestled along Door County, Wisconsin’s scenic shore, the award-winning artistic company has been enthralling generations of audiences in its 600-plus seat theater since 1935. Over its 86 seasons, it has presented hundreds of pre-Broadway tryouts, world premières, classic dramas, comedies and musicals.
“The 86th season will run for eight weeks, just under half of what a typical season would be,” Kelsey said. Landford Wilson’s heartwarming “Talley’s Folly” opens the season on July 20 and performs through August 15. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is about finding love when you have stopped looking. In this “Mid-Summer Valentine,” two lively, lovable people open up to each other in a no-holds-barred romantic waltz of a story. James Sherman’s romantic comedy, “Romance in D” then takes the stage from August 24 through September 19, which features the journey of lonely neighbors and their thoughtful parents toward adjoining hearts.
Artistic Director Greg Vinkler specifically selected uplifting, heartfelt, and entertaining works to present to theatergoers. “I know this past year has been challenging for many, many people,” Vinkler said. “As I was deciding what to do for an abbreviated 2021 season, it was important to me that the shows we did affirmed the human spirit, had positive messages and would bring some happiness and laughter to our audiences. ‘Talley’s Folly’ and ‘Romance in D’ wonderfully fit that bill. Both plays involve characters who are strong, resilient, and willing to open themselves to hope and love. And both have a generous dollop of humor to go with all that. I really wanted our audiences to leave the theater with joy in their hearts.”
Show selection was not the only consideration for the theater. “Safety protocols were at the forefront of our planning, especially for our staff and patrons,” Kelsey said. “In addition to following CDC guidelines, social distancing and frequent hand washing, we have put together a fully vaccinated company and based on union requirements will perform weekly COVID tests in partnership with Door County Medical Center throughout the season.”
“Peninsula Players Theatre is a unique organization as we operate very much as an artistic summer camp,” Kelsey said. “In a typical season, we house and feed up to 50 company members, many of whom share living quarters. With the various safety issues of operating a hotel, restaurant and theater, planning our reopening was challenging.
“Our team conquered that challenge with enthusiasm. Though the 2021 season will be unlike any we have had before, with a much smaller artistic and support staff, we are delighted to bring the cherished Peninsula Players Experience back to Door County audiences.”
“Ticket sales will begin on June 28,” Kelsey said. “Season ticket holders, donors and individual ticket buyers will receive more information and updates via email and social media in the days ahead. Due to the limited size of our Box Office team, we encourage patrons to purchase tickets through our online ticketing system at www.peninsulaplayers.com.”
Tickets will only be sold in advance as the Box Office will not be open for walk-up sales before the performance. Electronic tickets may be purchased through the theater’s online ticketing system up to curtain time. Peninsula Players Theatre is a smoke-free campus therefore smoking is prohibited on our grounds.
The side panels of the audience pavilion, doors, roof and back vents of the unique venue will remain open throughout each of the 90-minute plays. “Patrons will need to be dressed for whatever Mother Nature could toss our way and to be prepared for shifting temperatures or breezes off the bay. All parties will be sat with no one directly in front, behind or two seats to the left or right. Audiences sizes will vary each night, and we will follow the many safety protocols set forth by the Center for Disease Control, our producing union partners, and will adhere to all local, state and national recommendations.”
The theater has posted its many safety protocols on its website, including:
- Masking requirements (evolving)
- Reduced seating capacity and socially distanced seating
- Electronic tickets and playbill
- Hassle-free ticket exchanges or refunds for those feeling ill
- Limited concession sales
- Advance seating only, no walk-up sales
- No smoking on the grounds
The 2021 season is sponsored by Tony and Judy Licata and Tim and Jackie Danis. “More information on the 2021 season, cast and creative teams will follow shortly,” Vinkler said. “Talley’s Folly” performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. With the opening of “Romance in D” on August 24, curtain times will shift to Tuesday through Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
To make reservations for groups of 30 or more, please phone the Box Office on weekdays at (920) 868-3287. The theater and its offices will be closed on Mondays once performances begin, and the Box Office will add weekend hours. For more information, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com.