This week was a flurry of activity and emotions at the Players. The camaraderie of our company always amazes me. I have worked in several different theatres across the Midwest and the Players tops them all for possessing the strongest company of individuals working together to create theatre. This is demonstrated best at every one of our change-overs.
On Sunday, August 21 we closed our funny farce, “Tom, Dick and Harry” and by August 24 we opened our final show of the season, “Escanaba in Da Moonlight,” a Northwood’s comedy. After the final performance of “Tom, Dick and Harry,” the tech crew worked along with the rest of the company and dismantled the British apartment, or in theatre jargon – struck the set.
Only at the Players have I seen the artistic director in overalls work along side interns, carpenters, actors, the technical director – and even me with my own Dewalt cordless drill – removing hinges, taking down doors and walls, carrying off set pieces and furniture until the stage is bare and swept. As this was going on, others worked in the dressing rooms to clear the costumes back to the costume shop where they were washed and placed into storage.
Then we started the overhead work, all parts the audience sees but I’m sure doesn’t think about much – the lights and curtains. For every show lighting instruments and curtains are moved, so everything shuffles. Many hands make quick work and by midnight most of us were ready for a brief break before the tech staff and crew began moving in the set pieces and re-hanging the lighting instruments for next play, and I went off to bed.
By 9 a.m. the next morning I walked through the theatre and it was as if elves had been there overnight performing magic. No more bare stage, rather a Northwood’s hunting cabin had appeared. With log walls, doors, windows and even rafters to the roof. Cutaway trees and branches add charm to the background. I know there are no elves. Rather there are hard-working, dedicated technicians and interns who stay awake working until three or four in the morning so actors have a set to walk through for the first time Monday night in their technical rehearsal.
Monday morning also brought a wave of emotion at breakfast as with the close of the play several of our company members depart. Performers Cassandra Bissell, Karen Janes Woditsch, Carmen Roman and Tom Mula all packed their suitcases, loaded their cars and said their goodbyes. After some heartfelt hugs and handshakes, work on the set and with the lighting and sound continue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as we prepared for opening night.
All the late hours and hard work paid off as a capacity audience enjoyed the antics of the “Yooper” Soady family in their hunting shack trying to break the curse that has befallen one of their own. The eldest Soady boy, Reuben, has remained without venison for 30 plus years. The hearty laughter and whoops of the crowd are cause for celebration after the show by the bonfire.
The morning-after again brought some sadness as we bid adieu to some of our interns who were returning to their theatre programs: Alexandra Gowdy-Jaehnig to Hamiln University in St. Paul, Minnesota and Colin Roshaven Wasmund to Southwest Minnesota State University. Also leaving us are Technical Director Scott M. Boyle who returns to his shop and classroom in Waukesha at Carroll College; our Master Carpenter/Props Master Joe Schneider as he returns to Chicago to work on the set for “Man of LaMancha” at The Court Theatre with our Stage Manager Deya Friedman. Our costumer Rachel Healy also returned to the windy city to begin work on her next project, “The Uneasy Chair” at Writer’s Theatre with Greg Vinkler.
As fall approaches with a nip in the air, there is still time to pull out your flannel shirt or blanket and join the Soady family at deer camp. They will be with us through September 18. You may visit our website at www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone the box office at 920-868-3287. Perhaps I’ll see you by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine!