Players Pen by James Fletcher

Walking into a new situation is always a little intimidating.  I had been aware of Peninsula Players for quite some time, having friends who had worked there for years, but I had yet to visit myself.  I had a chance earlier in the summer when I vacationed up in Sister Bay with my wife’s family, but I resisted visiting, wanting to let the full experience wash over me when I arrived.

Now I understood this was a fantastic place, but there’s nothing that quite prepares you for that first trek down Peninsula Player Road.  I was at a bit of a loss when I reached the bottom of the hill, as there are several buildings which confront you, but a quick query at the box office window got the ball rolling.

I was led into the office where I was introduced to Dani, Brian and Audi and given a stack of paperwork to fill out.  “Dani, Brian, Audi,” I kept repeating to myself, determined to learn everyone’s name as quickly as possible.  The last piece of paper which Brian Kelsey, the Managing Director, handed me, was a map which showed me how to get to my room on C Deck.  “C Deck?” I inquired.  Brian said, “That’s what we call the different cabins.  A Deck, B Deck, C Deck…”  He then informed me that dinner was at 5:30, and with that I was on my own.

I found my way up to the ‘decks’ and unloaded my truck, which was filled to the brim.  My 80-pound Black Lab and all of his accoutrements take up quite a bit of room.  McLovin leapt out of the car and quickly took to exploring the property.  The rooms are nice, but not large so finding the proper place for everything is important.  This took me to dinner time and I decided to be fashionably late.

I quickly learned that fashionably late at the Players is five minutes early.  Most of the Players had already gone through the line.  I received a lot of pleasant smiles and hellos, but none of these people knew who I was yet, how could they?  I planned on seeing the opening of “Murder on the Nile” that evening where I would start putting names to faces.  I figured the rest would get sorted out the next day with the first rehearsal for “Lombardi.”

I stepped outside with my plate and didn’t get three steps before a large gentleman sprang to his feet and greeted me.  “Are you playing Jim Taylor?”  I stuttered that I was and he introduced himself as Neil Friedman who was to play Lombardi.  He welcomed me profusely and informed me that there was a party in the beer garden after the show.

Three more steps and a giant blonde man greeted me.  I knew this had to be Brandon Dahlquist who was to play Paul Hornung.  “Hey, welcome to the Players.  There’s a party tonight in the beer garden after the show.”  I made my way to a table that was open and hadn’t gotten more than a bite in before Alan Kopischke joined me.  Alan was one of the only people I knew before my arrival as we had worked together at First Stage in Milwaukee years ago.  He asked if I was seeing the show tonight and when I responded in the affirmative he informed me, “There’s a party in the beer garden after the show.”

I finished dinner and started to head up the hill, which takes you past the theater itself.  I poked my head in and thought, “Are you kidding me?  This place is beautiful.”  I didn’t linger as I still felt like a bit of an intruder.  The trip up the hill to the ‘Decks’ (I have since weaned myself off the quotes, but the term takes some getting used to) takes you on a lovely path through the woods.  I had just spotted my cabin when I heard a voice from above coming from B Deck.  “Are you Jim Fletcher?”  I replied that I was.  “Tom Mula.  There’s a party in the beer garden after the show tonight.”

I decided right then and there that I was going to have a good time up here.

Patrons can have a good time in our beer garden too and at “Lombardi,” which closes Oct. 14.  Phone the box office for reservations at 920-868-3287 or visit our website at for information on tickets to “Lombardi.” Curtain times are Tuesday through Sunday at 7 p.m., except Sun. Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.