World Première of A Real Lulu opens Peninsula Players 80th Season
Fish Creek, Wisconsin – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, opens its 80th season June 16 with the World Première of the comedy “A Real Lulu” by Paul Slade Smith, creator of “Unnecessary Farce.” “A Real Lulu” will have a three week run closing July 5.
Nervous Ned Newley received a promotion amid a political scandal and his first day as the new Governor of Vermont is teetering on calamity. While media cameras await, can Ned or his aides pull him out of the fire and back into the governor’s seat?
The cast of “A Real Lulu” is directed by Players veteran Tom Mula, who directed last year’s world premiere of Sean Grennan’s “The Tin Woman.” “Paul has written a hilarious script about a good and competent man in the most terrifying, extreme situation: the attention of national media,” said Mula.
“Our hero, Ned Newley, is the ultimate policy wonk. Ned understands every detail of his job as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont. But when he gets a disastrous, unexpected promotion to Governor, we discover the truth: that Ned’s a timid, nervous fellow who becomes terrified, flustered and inarticulate around the media. Or cameras. Or people.
“Suddenly, there is the threat of a special election and Ned is surrounded by well-meaning helpers and brash political advisors who want to shape him into ‘the ideal candidate.’ Will he be able to hold on to his integrity? Or forget that: will he able to hold onto his job?”
Mula celebrates his 21st season with the Peninsula Players, where he performed in many plays including “And Then There Were None,” “Opus” and “Chicago,” and directed Players’ productions of “Making God Laugh,” “Amadeus,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Greetings!”
Mula’s Chicago credits include Joseph Jefferson Awards, Chicago’s version of the Tony Award, for his performance in “Hot Mikado” and for his plays “The Golem” and Nicole Hollander’s “Sylvia’s Real Good Advice.” He is also the author of the bestselling book/award-winning play “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” as well as the novel “Hackers of Oz.”
The cast of “A Real Lulu” features the Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler as the newly appointed Governor, Ned Newley; Sean Fortunato, plays Dave Riley, Ned’s avid supporter and frazzled guy Friday; Erin Noel Grennan as Louise Peakes, a less than efficient assistant; Brad Armacost plays Arthur Vance, a famous and boisterous political advisor; Katherine Keberlein is cast as Paige, a proficient pollster; Linda Fortunato is cast as Amy Summerfield, a regional reporter looking for her national news break; and Neil Friedman, is A.C., her cool-under-pressure camera man.
Vinkler was honored for his work with the Players by being awarded the inaugural Door County Artist of the Year Award. He has performed at Chicago Shakespeare (35 productions), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Writers, Northlight, Marriott Lincolnshire and Victory Gardens theaters, and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards (nominated 12 times), two Artisan Awards and an After Dark Award.
Vinkler played Doc in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “West Side Story” and has performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Barbican Theatre in London, Vienna’s English Theatre and Singapore Rep.
Armacost (“Don’t Dress for Dinner,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “I Hate Hamlet” and “Out of Order”). His Chicago stage credits include Northlight Theater, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare and in the 2014 Jefferson Award winning “Seafarer” with Irish Theatre where he is an artistic associate. Brad is also a part of Provision Theatre’s ensemble, receiving Jeff nominations for his work in “CS Lewis” and “Shadowlands.”
Friedman (“Lombardi,” “Born Yesterday,” “Over the Tavern”) returns to the Players for the 2015 season. His regional stage credits include The Clarence Brown Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Austria’s Vienna English Theatre and Adirondack Theatre Festival.
Linda Fortunato (“Wait Until Dark,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Noises Off”), was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for Direction of a Musical for BoHo Theatre’s production of “Parade” and has previously won Jeff Awards for her choreography of BoHo’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and Theater at the Center’s “42nd Street.”
Sean Fortunato (“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Making God Laugh”) has received four Joseph Jefferson nominations and an After Dark Award for his stage work in Chicago. His Chicago stage credits include more than 20 productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, work at Goodman Theatre, Marriott, Timeline, Drury Lane, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Remy Bumppo, and About Face. Regional credits include the Old Globe in California and Off-Broadway in Rose Rage at The Duke on 42nd.
Grennan (“The Tin Woman,” “Miracle on South Division Street,” “The Game’s Afoot”), returns to the Players for her seventh season. She has numerous acting credits in Chicago, New York, Ireland and regionally. Erin can be seen in several commercials, films and even on a Wisconsin billboard. Her latest film, “Resurrecting McGinn(s),” recently won the award for Best Drama at The One Film Festival in Canada.
Keberlein makes her Players debut with “A Real Lulu.” Her recent stage credits include “Smokefall” with Goodman Theatre and “A Kid Like Jake” with About Face Theatre. Keberlein received a Jeff Award for her work in “The Mother” with Oracle Theatre and her television credits include “Sirens,” “Chicago PD” and “Shameless.”
Designing the governor’s office for “A Real Lulu” are regional and award winning designers. Members of the creative team of last season’s “The Tin Woman” return and include Jeff Award winning scenic designer Sarah E. Ross, freelance scenic, costume and properties designer for Paramount Theatre, American Blues Theater and The Second City. Lighting designer Stephen Roy White’s credits include the Jeff nominated “The Woman in Black” at The Theatre Building and “Detective’s Wife” and “Picnic” with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Costume designer Pamela J. Rehberg’s designs have been seen at Milwaukee’s First Stage, The Milwaukee Ballet, InTandem and Chamber Theatre.
Making her Players debut is sound designer Megan S. Henninger whose credits include Broadway’s “Blithe Spirit” and “Company” at Lincoln Center. Properties designer Jim Lichon returns to the Players after a 15 year hiatus. Lichon is an Emmy Award-winning set decorator for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and national commercials.
In 2007 the Players produced Slade Smith’s comedy “Unnecessary Farce” and this season will mount the world premiere of his new comedy “A Real Lulu.” Patrons of the Players enjoyed performances by Slade Smith as William Gillette in Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot,” as well as Amos Hart in “Chicago.” Slade Smith is an ensemble member and Kelsey Grammer’s understudy in the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland.”
“A Real Lulu” is sponsored by Ken Raupach and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
Peninsula Players location along the shores of Green Bay provides a serene location for patrons as well. Prior to performances, patrons relax and picnic on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambience of the beer garden and other gardens.
Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935, when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek on July 25, with Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever.” The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the north woods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting. Peninsula Players moved to the theater’s present location along the shore of Green Bay in 1937.
The Peninsula Players performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday, July 5 at 4 p.m. Individual tickets to “A Real Lulu” range from $36 to $42. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players’ box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.