Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, is thrilled to announce the cast and creative team for its production of Lauren Gunderson’s “I and You.” Gunderson was awarded the American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award in 2014 for “I and You,” which balances the angst of the teen years with the beauty of poetry. “I and You” runs August 17 through September 4 at the theater-in-a-garden and is generously sponsored by Main Street Market.
Caroline meets her classmate Anthony for the first time when he bursts into her bedroom uninvited, armed with a dog-eared copy of Walt Whitman’s “The Leaves of Grass,” a half-finished school project due the next day and waffle fries. Anthony is a popular student on the basketball team, while Caroline has been housebound because of illness and hasn’t been to school in months. At first, the mismatched pair seem to have nothing in common, but a friendship develops as they spar, joke and size each other up. As the pair bonds and plumb the mysteries of Whitman’s poem, they also discover the beauty of human connection.
“I wanted to write a play that appeared to be small and intimate, but really was grand and expansive and universal,” Gunderson said in a 2014 interview. While in high school, she resonated with the works of Whitman and the rebelliousness she could hear in his language. “It’s so wild and unleashed,” she said. “As a kid, that’s what I wanted art to be.”
American Theatre magazine recognized Gunderson as the most produced living playwright in America in 2019. Her play “Silent Sky,” about the pioneering women astronomers at Harvard Observatory, graced the stage of Peninsula Players Theater in 2019 under the direction of four-time Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated stage and movement director Elizabeth Margolius. Margolius previously directed “Miss Holmes” and “The Bridges of Madison County” for Peninsula Players Theatre and returns to direct “I and You.” Her credits include directing for Renaissance Theaterworks, Chicago Opera Theater, Firebrand Theatre,Greenhouse Theater Center, Underscore Theatre Company, DePaul Opera Theatre, American Theater Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Assistant Director to Barbara Gaines).
J.G. Smith (Caroline) and TJ Thomas (Anthony) make their stage debuts at Peninsula Players Theatre in “I and You.” Smith’s credits include Alabama Shakespeare Festival, City Equity Theatre, The GYM at Judson, Northlight Theatre, and she is an American Blues Theatre ensemble member. Thomas’ stage credits include Second City’s seasonal performance of “Deck the Hallmark” and Griffin Theatre’s North American premiere of “Solaris.” Both have extensive television and film credits, and Thomas may be seen as T-Rex in the new Disney pilot, “Saturdays.”
The creative team of “I and You” includes several award-winning veteran Peninsula Players Theatre designers including Jack Magaw, scenic design (“Write Me a Murder,” “Talley’s Folly,” “Silent Sky”); Kyle Pingel, costume design (“Salvage,” “Nunsense,” “Almost, Maine”); and Christopher Kriz, sound design (“Ripcord,” “Miss Holmes,” “Peter and the Starcatcher”). Making his Door County debut is Jason Lynch, a Chicago-based lighting designer. The theater’s season concludes with the madcap musical mystery “Murder for Two” by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian running September 7 through October 16.
The audience pavilion’s side panels, doors and vents will remain open throughout the season. Patrons should dress for the weather and be prepared for shifting temperatures and breezes off the bay. For the most current safety protocols employed at the theater, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com before attending a performance.
Individual, student and group tickets are available. Tickets may be purchased online up to curtain time or by phoning or visiting the Box Office during business hours. Peninsula Players Theatre is a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited on the grounds at all times.
“I and You” performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday, September 4 at 2:00 p.m. To make reservations for groups of 15 or more, please phone the Box Office on weekdays between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at (920) 868-3287. The theater and its offices are closed on Mondays. For more information, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com