By Alan Kopischke
July 5, 2007
I’ve come home. I first fell in love with Door County when my then-girlfriend, Kärin, brought me up here in 1983. She’d been coming up with her family for many years. We biked all over, ate at Al Johnson’s and Wilson’s, and visited Bjorklunden, Cave Point and Peninsula State Park. The highlight for me, though, was discovering Peninsula Players and the magical atmosphere created by the gorgeous setting and the high-quality performances. There was something else, too. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I was fortunate to be invited to join the Players the following year, for the production of “Harvey” that featured perennial Players favorites Bill Munchow, Jean Sincere, Bob Thompson, Jeannette Leahy, Dennis Kennedy, Maggy Magerstadt, Monty Davis and Amy McKenzie. Wow, what an initiation I got into professional theater and a true “company” of players. I immediately felt embraced and a part of the company. It was the perfect setting, and I was inspired to propose to Kärin after a performance. She said yes, and a year later we honeymooned up here and laughed ourselves silly at two more Players performances.
A stint on the west coast delayed my return to the Players until 1994, when Kärin and I returned for the first of five more seasons, this time with Kärin as resident costume designer. Our daughter, Anya, spent her first four summers at the Players exploring the woods and the beach, watching the sunsets and the plays, and playing with members of the company. She also loved to climb onstage during the day to sing, dance or recite the ABCs.
The last several years, Kärin has continued to design here on occasion. I’ve been occupied more with consulting with arts schools and arts organizations and less with acting. We’ve continued to visit and to enjoy more sunsets and performances and nights around the campfire.
This spring, we were beckoned home. Peninsula Players hired me as development director to lead fundraising efforts and develop arts education and community outreach programs. We’re moving up, Kärin, Anya, our son Simon, and I, to live here year-round. It’s truly a dream come true. I have already begun planning collaborations with local organizations to keep the Players involved with the community throughout the year. I’ll tell you about those in later columns.
Two weeks after I started, we had a terrific opening night. The new theater has retained the character that charms us every night, while providing comfort for the audience and capacity for our talented artists and technicians. “Angel Street” is a wonderfully theatrical classic thriller that keeps the audience guessing and buzzing through its clever twists and turns. I had so many delightful conversations with longtime patrons. A common theme emerged from those conversations. For them, as for many of us, Peninsula Players is a place where families gather; a place that feels like family, that feels like home. That’s the emotional tie that keeps people coming back as much as the beauty and the entertainment do.
That’s the something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on during my first visit. It feels like family. It feels like home. I’m glad to be home.
Please join us for one of the final performances of Patrick Hamilton’s classic Broadway thriller, “Angel Street,” which runs through July 8th. For tickets, go to www.peninsulaplayers.com or call 868-3287. If you’d like to tour the new theater or have any other questions about Peninsula Players, please contact me, Alan Kopischke, at 868-3287. I’ll be happy to talk with you.
Alan Kopischke is the new development director for Peninsula Players Theatre.