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Players Pen: Anticipation builds as company members arrive

5:30 PM, Jun. 4, 2014  |  Comments
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Summer is near! Peninsula Players patrons and company members are anticipating opening night, June 17, and looking forward to the season's line-up of shows. As we reopened the office and grounds of the theater, the office crew looked forward to the arrival of new and returning company members.

A special thank-you goes to the Spring Clean Day volunteers. More than 40 of them, affectionately called the Broom Squad, gave the Players their time the Saturday morning before Mother's Day to help clean dorm rooms, pick up fallen branches, spread wood chips and move garden furniture. So much work was accomplished in those few hours - thank you.

The 2014 season greets us with a mix of new plays, "The Tin Woman" and "Butler," with a classic mystery, Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None," the spooky-madcap comedy "The Mystery of Irma Vep" and a musical salute to a music icon, "Always ? Patsy Cline."

Excitement reached a high note this week as retuning actors and those making their Players debut reported for the first day of rehearsal. Playwright Sean Grennan arrived along with returning Players veterans Erica Elam ("Born Yesterday") and Erin Noel Grennan ("Miracle on South Division Street.")

Also returning to the Players stage are Kristine Thatcher, who performed as Eliza in "Pygmalion" with Players "Grand Pooh-Bah" Bob Thompson and artistic director Greg Vinkler as Henry Higgins. In recent years, Kristine directed such comedies as "Over the Tavern" and "Miracle on South Division Street" for Players.

We are very thrilled to have Thatcher back treading the boards with another Players veteran, Joel Hatch ("You Can't Take It With You"), cast as parents in "The Tin Woman." In his time away from Players, Joel worked in New York and was cast in the Broadway productions of "Billy Elliot" and "Annie."

The cast of "The Tin Woman," which opens the season, is under the direction of Players' venerable favorite Tom Mula and features newcomers Matt Holzfeind and Carol Kuykendall.

New interns are thrilled to experience their first season by the bay while veterans enjoy rekindling friendships with patrons and returning company members.

We are cheering for Jessie Mueller, who appeared in the Players 2010 season productions of "A Little Night Music" and "Over the Tavern." Jessie has been nominated for a Tony Award in the category of Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Carole King in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." She made her Broadway debut in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" with Harry Connick, Jr., which led to her nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical in 2012. (The Tony Awards will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. June 8 on CBS (WFRV-TV Channel 5).

Jessie recalls her time at the Players and in Door County fondly. Most Players do. Carpenters, actors, designers and other company members looked forward to returning to the Players' shoreline. So, as the company report date drew near, they went through a process of anticipation.

Master electrician Michael Trudeau returned for his third season and summed it up very well for all of us.

"When the e-mail arrives with the five shows Players will perform is when I know we are close and summer is just around the corner," Trudeau said. "I am a mere two months away from packing my car and driving up to Door County for another fantastic summer by the bay.

"Unfortunately, once the season is announced, the time until mid-May drags. It is the longest and most difficult part of the offseason. When all you can think about is seeing your extended family, bonfires in the beer garden on a warm summer or cool fall night and laying in the parking lot to stargaze after the shows, time in early spring slows down to a crawl.

"This is what makes this place truly special. Our craft is such a fleeting one. An abundance of meticulous work goes into each show. We perform it for three weeks and then, in a matter of a couple hours, there is no trace of it left on the stage. So it is with our summers. We arrive to a beautiful setting and theater and immediately start to work on opening up the buildings and building the shows. We perform on and off stage and, just like that, we are back to the fall, getting ready to leave again.

"It is a beautifully inexplicable process, and even though it is an emotional roller coaster at times, it is one that I have difficulty seeing my life without and one that I look forward to every year."

We hope our patrons are just as excited to return to the Players this season. Join us by the bay for one of the shows. For tickets or more information, call (920) 868-3287 or go to www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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