Peninsula Players Theatre is delighted to announce that Linda Fortunato succeeded Greg Vinkler as the theater’s new artistic director this week. Fortunato was appointed by the Board of Directors earlier this year when Vinkler announced he was stepping down from administrative duties at the end of the 2021 season. Fortunato was appointed Associate Artistic Director in January. While easing into her new leadership role, she was a part of the re-opening team of the pared-downed, yet highly successful, 2021 season.
“Greg has led and nurtured the theater so beautifully for years,” Fortunato said. “I am thankful for our many collaborations, and we are all indebted to him for his leadership and artistry. This season has been an honor to work alongside Greg with the whole company to bring live theatre back to the Peninsula Players stage. I eagerly look forward to the future and adding my voice to the magical tradition that is Peninsula Players.”
As the new artistic director of America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theater, Fortunato will uphold the theater’s historical legacy of collaborating with playwrights on new works and present a variety of plays from comedies and dramas to mysteries and musicals each season. She has already been exploring possibilities for the winter play reading series, The Play’s the Thing, the 2022 season, and the possible community outreach programming around it. Options continue to evolve as the world, and the theater, settle into its new reality.
Board President Jill Herlache and Managing Director Brian Kelsey are confident Fortunato will build on the theater’s 86 years of success, continuing to make it a vital and celebrated part of the national theater landscape and a quintessential Door County experience. “Linda understands the spirit of the theater’s patrons, artists and mission, and we are very assured its highly regarded reputation, and the future artistic excellence of Peninsula Players Theatre is in good hands,” Herlache said.
Fortunato not only brings more than 17 years of collaboration with fellow Peninsula Players Theatre artists but is also a well-established and award-winning director and choreographer. Patrons of Door County’s theatrical treasure will recall Fortunato’s performances in “Talley’s Folly,” “The Outsider” (formerly “A Real Lulu”), “Wait Until Dark,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Blithe Spirit” and “Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.” Fortunato and Vinkler collaborated on the productions of “Chicago,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “A Little Night Music,” which he directed and she choreographed. Vinkler also brought her on as director for “Living on Love,” “Lend Me a Tenor” and “And Then There Were None,” and as director/choreographer for the 2019 production of “Ghost The Musical.”
“I am exceedingly happy to pass the artistic director baton on to Linda,” Vinkler said. “She has been a talented, trusted and collaborative member of the Peninsula Players family for 17 seasons. Linda and I have always been on the same page when working together, in everything from our artistic goals to the importance of supporting all members of the company. She knows the theater from top to bottom and has been warmly welcomed by Brian, the rest of the staff, and the board with open arms. Linda understands the unique culture of this organization and understands this organization’s important place in the life of Door County. I believe deeply and completely that this passage is a natural transition true to the spirit of the theater’s founders and true to the mission it has carried through all of its 86 years.”
While at the artistic helm of Theatre at the Center, Fortunato directed “Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America,” “White Christmas,” “Cabaret,” “Big River,” “The Tin Woman,” “Steel Magnolias;” and choreographed “42nd Street,” “Spamalot” and “Crazy for You.” She received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding Choreography for “42nd Street,” garnering Theatre at the Center’s first Joseph Jefferson Award.
Her other credits include directing “A Little Night Music,” “Next to Normal” and “Parade” (Jeff Nomination) BoHo Theatre; choreographing for American Players Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, TimeLine, Writers Theatre, BoHo (Jeff Award – “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) and many Chicago-area high schools and colleges. She is a graduate of Millikin University with a BFA in Theatre and a minor in Dance. She has taught in the theatre departments at Loyola University Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.
“While speaking with patrons, donors and other company members after the announcement of Greg’s pending retirement, all expressed enthusiasm that Linda was a natural and obvious successor,” Kelsey said. “Like Greg and every devoted company member, she understands what Peninsula Players means and why so many people cherish it. I am excited to begin a new partnership with Linda as the theater moves forward into a new decade. I will miss my collaboration with Greg, but I also look forward to continuing to work with him as an actor or director in future seasons.”
Peninsula Players Theatre’s 2022 season will run June 14 through October 16. The theater is closely monitoring the public health situation and will make operating decisions for its 2022 season at a later date. Please continue to visit the theater’s website and Facebook page for updates. Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre established in 1935 by the brother and sister team of Richard and Caroline Fisher. Learn more about Peninsula Players and its rich history at www.peninsulaplayers.com or call the winter Box Office on weekdays at (920) 868-3287.
About Artistic Director Linda Fortunato –
Linda Fortunato’s Peninsula Players credits over the past 17 seasons include directing “Ghost The Musical,” “Living on Love,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “And Then There Were None,” “Once a Ponzi Time,” “The Nerd,” and “The Fox On the Fairway;” choreographing “Chicago,” “A Little Night Music,” and “Cabaret;” as well as acting in “Talley’s Folly,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Wait Until Dark,” “Noises Off” and “The Woman in Black.” Fortunato was previously the artistic director of Theatre at the Center, where she directed “Cabaret,” “Big River,” “The Tin Woman,” “Steel Magnolias;” choreographed “42nd Street” (Jeff Award), “Spamalot,” “Crazy for You” (Jeff Nomination); and a dozen others as director, choreographer or actor. Her additional stage credits include directing “A Little Night Music,” “Next to Normal” and “Parade” (Jeff Nomination) – BoHo Theatre; choreography – American Players Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, TimeLine, Writers Theatre, BoHo (Jeff Award – “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) and many Chicago-area high schools and colleges.