Peninsula Players Theatre is excited to announce the cast for the final play reading of The Play’s the Thing, a winter play reading series presented to Door County audiences. A reading of “i,” a new play by Jeff Talbott, is scheduled for Monday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Björklunden (7590 Boynton Lane, Baileys Harbor). The cast, under the direction of Artistic Director Linda Fortunato, features actors Ayanna Bria Bakari, Karen Moeller, Andrew Mueller and Eva Nimmer. “i” contains mature language. There is no admission fee, and seating is on a first come, first served basis. Donations are welcome. Masking is encouraged but not required. There will be no virtual option in 2023.
Sarah is having a rough time. She’s trying to shake it, but it’s not easy. She’s got a new doctor, and she’s met a nice guy named Jake, so things are looking up. And Jake’s having a hard time, too. Sarah and Jake are trying to find their way to each other – and maybe, just maybe, to some of that happiness we’ve heard so much about. A mysterious love story about the threads that tie us together,” i“ is a gentle and unsettling new play set a couple of days after tomorrow.
Peninsula Players Theatre alum Ayanna Bria Bakari (“The Rainmaker”)is cast as Sarah, and newcomer Andrew Mueller is Jake. Bakari’s credits include the Goodman Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Northern Sky Theatre, Raven Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Timeline Theatre, and “The Niceties” at Writers Theatre, for which she earned a Black Theater Alliance Award.
Mueller is a Chicago-based actor whose regional credits include the Adirondack Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, New World Stages, Theatre at the Center, The Old Globe, and performing off-Broadway in “Alice By Heart” and “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Some of his Chicago area credits include stage work at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, The Music Theater Co. and Paramount Theatre. Mueller earned a Joseph Jefferson Award for his portrayal of Huck Finn in Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s production of “Big River.”
Making her Peninsula Players Theatre debut is Karen Moeller as Sarah’s mother. Moeller calls Sturgeon Bay home but lived in Madison for several years, where some of her stage credits with Forward Theater Company include “Marjorie Prime,” “From Up Here” and “Sons of the Prophet.” She has also acted for Four Seasons Theatre, Mercury Players Theatre, Strollers Theatre, Broom Street Theater, Third Avenue PlayWorks and many other theater companies. She works extensively as a commercial and voiceover performer.
Alum Eva Nimmer (“Write Me a Murder,” “Ripcord” and the reading of “Safe House”) is cast as various people in Sarah’s life, including her doctor, a gallery patron, a waitress and more. Nimmer’s stage credits include Four Seasons Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Northern Sky Theater, Renaissance Theatre, Third Avenue PlayWorks and most recently, the world premiere of “The Nativity Variations” at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Jeff Talbott is a writer and actor who lives in New York City. He grew up in Kimball, Nebraska, a little town in the western part of the state. He gradually moved east by attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln before moving to Chicago. Graduate school took Talbott to Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut, after which he finally landed in New York. He has been in hundreds of plays performing on and off-Broadway and at such regional theaters as Cleveland Play House, Paper Mill Playhouse, Pioneer Theatre Company and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Talbott has spent a fair amount of time being everything from a sad crime victim to a judge on many television shows, including “Law & Order,” “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary” and many more.
As a writer, Talbott’s “The Submission” won the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Award given annually for an unproduced, full-length play of social relevance by an emerging American playwright. It also received the New York Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Outstanding New American Play in 2012. “The Submission” premiered off-Broadway at MCC Theater and has since been performed nationwide. “i” made its premiere at Pioneer Theatre Company in 2018, at which Talbott has performance credits. Talbott also writes musicals with Will Van Dyke.
“I say all the time that actors are the Magic Sauce,” Talbott said in an interview with Pioneer Theatre Company when asked about being a playwright trained as an actor. “And that can sound cutesy, but I actually believe it. My job is to provide the map, but the actors are the explorers – they are all Indiana Jones out there, looking for the artifacts. Hopefully, I’ve planted clues and signposts, but I rely on them to tell me when the path has become unclear, and my job is to get in there, clear out the brush that is covering the road, and help them get from the beginning to the end. And I sit in awe of the actors every day – not because I was one, but because they make me a better writer every. Single. Day.”
Peninsula Players Theatre begins its 2023 season on June 13 with the world premiere of Sean Grennan’s “A Rock Sails By,” which was a part of The Play’s The Thing 2022 series, and received a terrific audience response. “A Rock Sails by” is being produced in conjunction with the inaugural statewide festival World Premiere Wisconsin.*
The Play’s the Thing is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as generous grants from Door County Medical Center, Friends of Door County Libraries, The Shubert Foundation and operating funds of Peninsula Players Theatre.
Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre. The Play’s the Thing is part of the theater’s winter outreach programming, presenting professional play readings for the public. Learn more about Peninsula Players Theatre and its 2023 season at www.peninsulaplayers.com.
*World Premiere Wisconsin (WPW) is a statewide festival celebrating new plays and musicals from March 1 – June 30, 2023. For more information and a list of participating theaters, visit https://worldpremierewisconsin.com/