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Players Pen – July 26, 2017

As you read this, July is almost gone and we are starting the seventh week our 2017 season. Where has the time gone?

“Time is a powerful thing,” Ed told his wife in our opening play “The Actuary.” “There’s only one thing stronger. Love.”

Love, the universal experience. Love for your children, parents, siblings, pets, companions or friends. Love of your chosen craft. When we opened “Peter and the Starcatcher” three weeks ago, actor Kyle Hatley sent a note to the entire company and I wanted to share a part of it:

“My knees hurt. So do my ankles, elbows, neck and fingers – basically all the right angles on my body. I sound like a walking bowl of Rice Krispies. And I’m willing to bet each of you do too. Not just my colleagues in the cast, but also the carpenters, crew and creatives who have worked just as tirelessly to tell this incredible story. There are fewer things more moving to me than what we theatre people do for a living. We’ve studied and trained and built careers on our belief in the power of storytelling. We give ourselves over to it. Because we’ve seen it’s transformative powers and we know, first hand, that what we do matters. This is one of those productions I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

Hatley states what many of the creative artists at Peninsula Players believe, from the Box Office staff and carpenters to the actors and designers – we believe in the power of storytelling.
Tonight, July 26, we open the third story of our season, “The Bridges of Madison County,” a musical which explores the love of a lifetime. A story which reminds us that despite pain, it is always better to experience a great love than experience no love at all. A love of a lifetime.

Robert James Waller’s novel was on The New York Times’ best-selling list for three years, sold more than 60 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 25 languages. Oprah Winfrey called the novel “a gift to the country” and broadcast a special edition of her television show from Madison County, Iowa.

The novel came out of the blue. Waller, on leave from teaching business at the University of Northern Iowa, was shooting pictures with a friend along the Mississippi River in the early 1990s when he decided to make a detour and photograph covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa, reported The New York Times in Waller’s obituary.

Waller was an enthusiastic guitarist and singer; his thesis for his doctorate of business administration in finance was on the American guitar industry. Years earlier he had written a song about the dreams of a woman named Francesca. An idea stirred.

Two weeks after that trip, Waller had completed the manuscript of “The Bridges of Madison County.”

Clint Eastwood purchased the novel’s film rights and then directed and starred in the 1995 film with Meryl Streep, earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. When Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman were looking for their “LaTraviata,” the love story of “The Bridges of Madison County” came to mind.

The musical opened on Broadway in February 2014 and critics loved Brown’s lush score, which blends haunting folk melodies with soaring vocal moments. Brown received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score, the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Orchestrations and the Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations.

What happens when Robert Kincaid, a free-spirited photographer, stops at a farmhouse inhabited by an Italian war bride to ask directions to the Roseman Covered Bridge? Join us for the lush, romantic musical “The Bridges of Madison County” to find out how the four days they share are unlike any other.

Making her Players debut is Cory Goodrich as Francesca and Steve Koehler is Robert. Steve portrayed Harold in last season’s “The Full Monty” and is well known as Lloyd in “Guys on Ice.” Cory is an actor/singer/songwriter who has recorded two folk albums. These vocal power-house performers are supported by conductor Valerie Maze (“Cabaret,” “The Full Monty”) and an orchestra that includes Door County musicians Janet Anderson (keyboards), Lynn Gudmundsen (fiddle, violin, mandolin), Bruce Newbern (percussion), George Sawyn (guitars), Kim Souther (cello) and former resident Craig McClelland (bass).

If you enjoy a well-crafted love story or lush music, you do not want to miss “The Bridges of Madison County.” The closing performance August 13 is filling up quickly, book your tickets soon. For tickets or information on pre-show seminars or Sunday backstage tours visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or call (920) 868-3287.