Now through August 15
Fish Creek, Wis. (August 4, 2021) – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, returned to live, socially distanced performances on July 20with Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning play set in 1944 highlights one evening in the courtship between two unlikely sweethearts, Matt Friedman and Sally Talley, portrayed by Peninsula Players Theatre veteran actors and real-life husband and wife, Sean Fortunato and Linda Fortunato.
Wilson set his story outdoors along a lazy riverbank in a family folly, an out-of-place aging Victorian boathouse. Matt and Sally meet after a year apart and discover whether they are brave enough to reveal their most painful secrets to each other. Wilson’s story touched audiences and critics, and its 1980 Broadway run was a great success. First produced in 1979, the play earned a Drama Critics’ Circle Award and garnered actor Judd Hirsch an Obie Award for his portrayal of Matt and a Tony Award for scenic designer John Lee Beatty.
“I am thrilled to be collaborating with Linda and Sean Fortunato and the rest of the creative team on this beautiful play, and the timing of the production at Door County’s iconic Peninsula Players seems ideal,” said the director of the play, David New. “Working with the design team, we knew that the actors would be performing to a socially-distanced audience, so we brought the set downstage as close to the audience as possible in order to create a sense of intimacy. We also wanted to welcome the audience back and ‘warm-up’ the socially-distanced patrons as they arrived, so we play catchy up-tempo 1940s popular songs pre-performance to create a sense of energy and cheer inside the theater. And we have the perfect setting for this beautiful, heartwarming play – Peninsula Players Theatre’s shoreline. There is a wonderful synchronicity as the sun sets on Green Bay because the play begins just at sunset and plays in real-time through twilight, gloaming, and into the night.”
The theater-in-a-garden is located along Door County’s picturesque shoreline and the sides of the theater’s all-weather audience pavilion remain open throughout the performance. “The riverside-at-twilight setting of the play is an ideal match for Peninsula Players beautifully cultivated grounds,” New said. “At one point during the technical rehearsal, I said to our sound designer that I thought the ‘birds’ sound effect was a little too loud. He said to me, ‘those aren’t my birds’ – they were the birds just outside the theater! So even nature is part of our collaboration.”
Peninsula Players Theatre, at the height of its season, has 50-plus company members. “Talley’s Folly” is the first live performance the theater has mounted since the close of its 2019 season in October and it opened with a much smaller company of artists and a two-show season. James Sherman’s romantic comedy “Romance in D” follows “Talley’s Folly” and closes its 86th season on September 19.