Player’s Pen Blog


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Players Pen – October 18

Working artists such as scenic painters, costumers, directors, designers, carpenters and performers are members of a workforce that is highly skilled, flexible and mobile.  Working artists have intensive rehearsal/build schedules, atypical work hours and a majority are frequent travelers.  As most working artists are contracted for the short-term, they continually seek their next project. 

Since its founding in 1935, Peninsula Players Theatre has provided its working artists the freedom, tools and facilities they require to entertain, uplift and inform our audiences and to foster future generations of theater professionals through the internship program.  We take delight in providing these working artists with a respite from their typical hectic, urban routine and in turn, they enjoy passing on their craft to our college-aged interns and presenting the diverse programming of our season to Door County audiences.

Actors Matt Holzfeind and Karen Janes Woditsch explained in previous articles that, as a working artist, their days could be filled with odd moments or physical demand; all while being expected to deliver artistically flawless performances in all conditions.  They express that being a member of the Peninsula Players company is an extraordinary experience for them. We are thrilled to hear our artists feel at home at the Peninsula Players and in Door County.

The company’s camaraderie and passion for their craft is reflected in every performance as well as in the friendliness of our staff – who also run the backstage portion of each show!  This mutual support among company members was in full bloom last week when actor Erica Elam was unexpectedly called away from Door County for a family medical emergency.

Thank you, Amy Ensign, for stepping into Erica’s roles, sometimes with book in hand, for the final week of performances of “Almost, Maine” so that Erica could be with her family.  Summer stock theaters do not have understudies, thus stepping in for Erica with 24-hour-notice was an incredibly plucky and courageous undertaking.  Congratulations Amy, you did so with grace, poise and charm. 

Thank you company members for chipping in and helping Amy become acquainted with cues and scene shifts and making her Peninsula Players debut, under such unique circumstances, so elegant. The entire Peninsula Players family extends their love and support to both Erica and Cory Goodrich (“Bridges of Madison County,”) both of whom had to say their final goodbyes to a parent.

Thank you to all who have made Peninsula Players a cherished arts institution for working artists and it patrons for 82 years.  Thank you board members, volunteers, advertisers, donors, show sponsors, staff, company members and audience members for your continued support. Thank you, patrons, who return year after year, generation after generation.  It is because of you, dear patrons, that we continue to bloom, for without an audience, we would not exist.  We hope this theater hamlet continues to enchant you for many seasons to come.

Thank you for being so excited about us that you ask “What plays are you doing next year?” or “What is Joe/Matt/Karen/Erica doing next?”

The 2018 season will run June 12 through October 14 and Artistic Director Greg Vinkler is combing the theatrical landscape to select the lineup, casts and creative teams.  Managing Director Brian Kelsey is at his side helping him organize the season, closing the 2017 financial season, preparing the 2018 operating budget and coordinating capital improvements while balancing the closing down of the campus.

Development and Events Manager Danielle Szmanda will coordinate the annual campaign, pre-show seminars, assist Greg with the winter play readings, write grants and foster community outreach programming.  I’ll manage the winter Box Office and process season, individual and gift certificate sales, advertising in the playbill and coordinate with the team listed above the announcements of the 2018 winter play reading series and 2018 season.

What are the forthcoming projects of our working artists?  Thank you for asking!  Here are a few:

Adrian Aguilar (“The Full Monty”) is performing in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”

Rengin Altay (“The Bridges of Madison County,” “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime”) is in rehearsals for “The Book of Will” at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Illinois.

Judy Blue (“The Actuary”) is filming an episode of NBC’s “Chicago Med” in which she portrays the mother of an anorexic child and is recording the next audiobook in the Myrtle Clover mystery series.

Brianna Borger (“The Full Monty”) is in the world premiere of “Southern Gothic” at Windy City Playhouse beginning in February.

McKinley Carter (“Sunday in the Park with George”) is performing in Victory Garden’s production of “Fun Home.”

Harter Clingman (“Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Lord Arthur …”) is in rehearsal for “The Christmas Schooner” at Mercury Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

Director Matt Crowle (“Peter …”) will be Rooster in “Annie” at Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre and Charley Kringas in “Merrily We Roll Along” at Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre.  Matt is also making his cable television debut in Showtimes’s new series, “The Chi.”

Erica Elam (“The Actuary,” “Almost, Maine”) will travel to Australia to perform the improvised musicals “Baby Wants Candy” and “THRONES: The Musical” at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Jackson Evans (“Peter…,” “The Full Monty”) is portraying Dick Van Dyke’s character in Milwaukee’s First Stage production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”  

Linda Fortunato (“The Outsider” formerly “A Real Lulu”) is directing “Big River” and “Steel Magnolias” at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana where she is artistic director.

Sean Fortunato (“Peter…,” “Chicago”) will portray Jackie Elliot, Billy’s dad, in Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “Billy Elliot.”

Kevin Christopher Fox’s (Director – “The Acutary”) next project is the world premiere of “Flamingo and Decatur” by Block Theatre at Theatre Wit and is co-writing a new comedy with Erica Elam.

Joe Foust (“Peter…,” “Lord Arthur …” “Almost, Maine”) will soon start rehearsals for the Goodman Theater’s “A Christmas Carol” and then in First Folio Theatre’s production of “Women in Jeopardy.”

Jesse Gaffney (properties designer) is in Chicago collaborating with Theatre Wit, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and the Goodman Theatre and spending three weeks at Illinois Wesleyan University as a visiting guest artist. 

Karl Hamilton (“Peter…,” “Bridges …” “Lord Arthur …”) recently shot a national commercial for Home Depot that should air around Christmas time.  He is also in rehearsal for Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and will travel to Seattle this spring to perform in ACT and 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of  “Ride the Cyclone.”

Joel Hatch (“The Tin Woman,” “And Then There Were None”) is performing on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical “Come From Away.”

Wendy Huber (properties manager) is the props director with Children’s Theater of Madison for her third season. 

Cory Goodrich (“Bridges …”) is producing her fifth volume of “Season of Carols” on CD and is cast in “Once” at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois this spring.

Maggie Kettering (“Outside Mullingar” “Lend Me a Tenor”) starts rehearsal at Milwaukee Rep for “Holmes & Watson” performing November 17 to mid-December.

Dan Klarer (“Peter…,” “Bridges …” “Lord Arthur …”) will portray the King in “Rapunzel” at Chicago Kids Company.  He will also reprise his role as Ernie Da Moocher in “Guys On Ice” around Wisconsin with Steve Koehler (“The Full Monty,” “Bridges….”)  Dan and Steve will be at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison in late December.  

James Leaming (“The Hollow,” “Alabama Story”) is under the direction of Carmen Roman in “This Wonderful Life,” a one-man adaption of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at American Blue Theater in November.

Kärin Simonson Kopischke (costume designer – “Bridges…) is designing costumes for “Holmes & Watson” at the Milwaukee Rep and “Urinetown” for Skylight Music Theatre. 

Rachel Lambert (costume designer – “The Actuary,” “Lord Arthur…”) was called in as a substitute costume coordinator to maintain Trevor Noah’s clothing for “The Daily Show” and will design costumes for Gift Theatre, Remy Bumppo and DePaul Opera Theatre’s forthcoming season.

Ashley Lanyon (“Bridges …”) is in rehearsals for “Elf” at the Paramount, Theatre in Aurora, Illinois.

Henry McGinniss (“Peter…,” “Bridges…”) will play Harry in “A Wonderful Life” at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana where she is artistic director.

Kevin McKillip (“The 39 Steps”) can be seen in The Onion’s sports video series “The Morning Sweat” as its host, Hank. 

Jack Magaw (scenic designer “Bridges…,” “Lord Arthur…”) is working all over the country this winter.  His designs will be seen in “Fences” and “Sweeney Todd” at Kansas City Repertory Theatre; “The Agitators” at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York; “Oklahoma!” at TheatreWorks in Colorado Springs; and “Sheltered” at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

James Maronek’s (scenic designer “Peter…”) winter projects include shoveling snow. “Just as I still do my draftings with a T-square and triangles, I shovel by hand, refusing the false economy of a snow blower—and I love Door County winters,” Jim said. Between snowfalls, he hopes to create paintings if the paint doesn’t freeze.

Valerie Maze (music director “Peter…,” “Bridges…”) started her new position as Music Director and Conductor at Elon University’s Music Theatre program and is working on “Hello Dolly,” “Baby” and “American Idiot.”   

Steve Peterson (playwright “The Actuary”) opens the world première of his new play, “Paris Time” at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York in January-February 2018. 

Kyle Pingel (costume shop manager and designer – “Almost, Maine”) returns to the Goodman Theatre to build and maintain wigs and run wardrobe for “A Christmas Carol.” He will also design costumes for “Spring Awakening” for UW-Fox Valley and “The Tempest” at Lawrence University.   

James Rank (“Peter …” and “Bridges …”) has been performing in “Honeymoon in Vegas and is in rehearsals for “Newsies” both at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois.  

Carmen Roman (“Alabama Story”) recently shot scenes for the film “The Pages” and is about to close “The Audience” at Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre where she portrays Margaret Thatcher.  In February she travels to Florida with James Leaming to tour “Botanic Gardens.”

Sarah E. Ross (scenic designer – “The Actuary”) began her new position as a professor at UW-Stevens Point teaching scenic design, properties design and scenic art.  Sarah is also scenic designer for “Sex with Strangers” at Milwaukee’s Renaissance Theaterworks. The play is under the direction of former Peninsula Players intern Mallory Metoxen and Megan B. Henninger (“Bridges…”) is the sound designer.  

Paul Slade Smith (“The Game’s Afoot,” “Chicago”) is performing on Broadway in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and goes on frequently as Willy Wonka’s understudy.  Paul’s comedy, “The Outsider,” will make its East Coast debut at the Paper Mill Playhouse in January.  This will be its second production since making its world debut at Peninsula Players in 2015 under the title “A Real Lulu.”

Penny Slusher (“Lord Arthur…” “Chapatti”) will perform in Steppenwolf Theatre’s “The Minutes.”

Michael Trudeau (lighting designer –“Almost, Maine” and master electrician) is slated to light designs for “Steel Magnolias” at Theatre at the Center, serve as master electrician for American Blues Theater, Shattered Globe Theater and the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Mike will also be a follow spot operator for “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theater.

Cody Westgaard (production manager) is assistant stage manager “42nd Street” at Drury Lane Theatre.

Stephen R. White’s (lighting designer-“The Actuary,” “Lord Arthur…”) forthcoming projects include designing lights for “9 to 5,” “12 Ophelias” and “Major Barbara” at UW-Milwaukee as well as “Zombies from the Beyond” at Skylight Music Theatre. 

Karen Janes Woditsch (“Lord Arthur…,” “Almost, Maine”) is the assistant director for Writers Theatre production of “Moon for the Misbegotten” in the Spring.

Enjoy what the arts have to offer wherever you are!  We hope you’ll join us the first Monday of February, March and April for our winter play readings.  Upon the finalization of the 2018 season, we will share the line-up in the media, on our Facebook page and website. To receive an e-mail announcing the season visit www.peninsulaplayers.com and register for E-News. To order 2018 season tickets or a gift certificate for holiday gift giving, phone me at the Box Office weekdays at (920) 868-3287.