Fish Creek, Wis. (July 7, 2023) – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, is proud to announce the cast of Noël Coward’s comedy “Blithe Spirit.” This witty, haunting play has been a smash hit in London, on Broadway and around the world since 1941. “Blithe Spirit” runs for three weeks, starting July 5 through July 23 and is generously sponsored by Tim and Jackie Danis.
Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor, producer and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” In March of this year, the Noël Coward Foundation launched Coward 125 (C125), a two-year celebration of his extraordinary life and some of the most famous and beloved plays and songs ever written. In his lifetime, Coward took a keen interest in charitable work, and the Foundation’s goal is to continue to support a diverse range of performing arts.
“Blithe Spirit” is Coward’s “improbable farce” that requires a talented cast to take audiences beyond belief, and this group of seven actors will do just that. Sean Fortunato (“The Rainmaker,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Doubt,” “Cabaret”) returns to delight Door County audiences as the debonair Charles, who finds himself caught between two wives. Fortunato portrayed Messenger in the world premiere of Sean Grennan’s “A Rock Sails By” and has performed at many of Chicago’s major theaters, most recently as Applegate in “Damn Yankees” at Marriott Theatre. He has received nine Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and an After Dark Award.
Heidi Kettenring is cast as Ruth, Charles’ sophisticated and concerned second wife. Theatregoers may recognize Kettenring from her time at Broadway in Chicago as Nessa in “Wicked” or as portraying Belle in the National Tour of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” or her performance at Peninsula Players Theatre’s 2003 production of “The Taffetas.” Kettenring has received a Jeff Award, nine Jeff nominations, the Sarah Siddons Chicago Leading Lady Award, After Dark Award, Richard M. Kneeland Award and two Broadway World awards.
Rebecca Hurd joins Peninsula Players Theatre for her first season, portraying the outgoing and carefree Elvira. She is an actor, singer and teaching artist. Hurd originated the role of Olive in “A Rock Sails By” and holds credits from various regional theatres, including Goodman Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Guthrie Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, American Players Theatre and Writers Theatre.
Janet Ulrich Brooks graces the stage for the second time this season, last seen as Dr. Lynn Cummings in the world premiere of “A Rock Sails By.” Portraying the mysterious Madame Arcati, Brooks shows her skills honed at many Chicagoland theaters, including Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Jackson Evans returns to Peninsula Players Theatre as Dr. Bradman, who is very skeptical about mediums. Evans is fresh from performing in “School of Rock” at Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. Evans received a Jeff nomination for his portrayal of Lumiere in Paramount’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Door County audiences may recall his performances in “The Full Monty” and “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
Sadieh Rifai, who portrayed multiple characters in “A Rock Sails By,” is playing Mrs. Bradman, the doctor’s curious and excitable wife. Rifai is an ensemble member at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, where she has performed in “Do You Feel Anger,” “An Evening at the Talk House,” and the world premiere of “Grey House.”
Maya McQueen makes her Peninsula Players Theatre debut as the Condomine’s nervous maid Edith. McQueen is a Seattle native who recently graduated from Indiana University with a BFA in musical theatre. She has recently performed in both “Sound of Music” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Marriott Theatre.
Brendon Fox directs this talented team of actors. Fox is a director, teacher, adapter and producer who has worked nationally and internationally. His work has been seen at many professional theaters, universities and institutions, including Prague Shakespeare Company, The Julliard School, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and many more. He previously directed “Alabama Story” and “Opus” at Peninsula Players Theatre. Fox holds a BS in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and an MFA in Directing from UCLA.
The” Blithe Spirit” creative team includes scenic designer Angela Weber Miller, who designed last season’s “Ripcord.” She is an Artistic Associate with First Folio Theatre and received a Jeff Award for her scenic design of Theater Wit’s “Who’s Holiday” as well as Remy Bumppo Theatre’s “Seascape.” Costumes are designed by Kärin Simonson Kopischke, who has designed more than 50 productions in her 22 seasons at Peninsula Players Theatre. She has received the Jeff Award, AriZoni Award and a Prague Quadrennial nomination for her designs. Lighting designer Jason Lynch is a Chicago-based designer who returns to Peninsula Players Theatre after designing “I and You” last season. He has worked at many regional theaters, including Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Northlight Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. Sound designer Victoria Deiorio, returns for her sixth season at Peninsula Players Theatre. She has worked both Off-Broadway and in theaters nationwide, including Goodman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre and more.
The audience pavilion’s side panels, doors and vents will remain open throughout the summer season. Patrons should dress for the weather and be prepared for shifting temperatures and breezes off the bay. Peninsula Players Theatre is a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited on the grounds at all times. Audience members are invited to join for a pre-show beverage or snack at the Luna Bar and Canteen. The grounds open 90 minutes before the show. Student and group tickets are available.
Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday, July 23, at 2:00 p.m. To purchase tickets for groups of 15 or more, please phone the Box Office between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at (920) 868-3287. The theater and its offices are closed on Mondays. For more information, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com.