Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon, is thrilled to announce its 85th season performing June 16–October 18, 2020. Nestled along Door County, Wisconsin’s scenic shore, the award-winning acting company of Peninsula Players has been enthralling generations of audiences in its 600-plus seat, all-weather pavilion since 1935, presenting hundreds of pre-Broadway tryouts, world premières, classic dramas, comedies and musicals.
“The 2020 season introduces a new Sunday matinee time of 2 p.m,” said Managing Director Brian Kelsey. “The Sunday matinee 2 p.m. curtain time allows patrons additional daylight time after performances to drive home or to get to dinner reservations in a timely fashion. Sunday matinee performances are popular performances times, and we are thrilled to give patrons this earlier start time.”
The 2020 season includes a baseball-themed comedy, a hilarious musical, a captivating mystery, an uplifting Irish drama and a world première comedy-caper!
“Rounding Third” (June 16-July 5): The season opener is an odd-couple comedy by Richard Dresser featuring two volunteer coaches, one a veteran, the other a rookie, trying hard to work together in the very challenging world of Little League Baseball. “It’s about two opposing coaching styles, fatherhood, competition, life and finally, friendship,” said Artistic Director Greg Vinkler. “It seemed like a really good year to take it off my play list and let it step up to the plate. The show is funny and so very familiar as it revolves around the great American sport of baseball!”
Don, a seasoned coach, and Michael, his green new assistant, lead their team – and their sons – through a Little League season. As coaches and fathers, they both work very hard at producing a winning team and being good parents but have completely opposing views on how to do all that. Is it better to be tough – or be protective? Is yelling good? Or should everyone get a trophy? These dads argue about competition, punctuality and the importance of wearing the right equipment! Much laughter, with a few lessons and a few surprises, results in this home run comedy.
“Something Rotten!” (July 8 – July 26): Broadway’s hilarious, award-winning, smash-hit musical with book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. Conceived by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick. “’Something Rotten!’ was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and is a very funny romp through, you know, the Renaissance,” Vinkler said. “I know people who aren’t interested in most musicals that loved it!”
Set way back in 1595, this laugh-out-loud musical features the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, who are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” Seeking help, Nick finds a soothsayer who foretells that theater in the future will involve a very strange combination of singing, dancing and acting all at the same time (what is that?!), so Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first “Musical.” There’s a message in there too about being true to thine own self – but heck, that’s just at the end! Musical numbers include “Welcome to the Renaissance,” “God, I Hate Shakespeare” and, of course, “Make an Omelette!”
Agatha Christie’s “The Unexpected Guest” (July 29 – August 16): After getting lost in dense fog and crashing his car into a ditch, a stranger seeks refuge at an isolated country estate, only to find he has stumbled onto a murder scene. Before him is a slain man in a wheelchair and in the shadows, a beautiful woman with a smoking gun. The wife’s dazed confession is anything but convincing, and the unexpected guest becomes completely embroiled in helping her concoct a cover story. Did Laura kill her husband? If not, who is she shielding?
“I’m very happy that Samuel French just recently released ‘The Unexpected Guest’ from its vaults. I think it’s one of Christie’s best,” Vinkler said. “The manor is full of a great cast of eccentric characters and possible suspects, from the long-time housekeeper and the male nurse-assistant to the victim’s half-brother and the jealous best friend. Every time I thought – I was sure – I knew where it was going and who did it, I was wrong! I can’t believe Christie can still surprise me. I know she’ll surprise a lot of our audience too!”
“And Neither Have I Wings To Fly” (August 19 – September 6): An irresistible Irish drama by Ann Noble. “This lovely, humorous and touching play set in 1950s Ireland has been on my radar for quite a while, waiting for just the right season,” Vinkler said. “It’s so well-crafted, wonderfully accessible, thrillingly vibrant, and truly moving and uplifting.”
The Donnelly family have just lost Moira, Peter’s wife, and Kathleen and Eveline’s mother. But there’s not much time to mourn. Kathleen is soon to be married to the sweet-tempered Leo, and Eveline wants desperately to go to university but can’t bring herself to leave her father alone. Enter Leo’s rude and angry younger brother Charlie, and a dashing young actor named Freddy, and all bets are off. “A play about loss, family ties, love and the heady magic of discovering your wings.”
Closing the 85th season is the world première of “The Gentleman Thief” (September 9 – October 18), a romantic comedy-caper by Mark Brown. “It was part of our winter play reading series, The Play’s the Thing, earlier this year, and was a big hit with the audience,” Vinkler said. “Very fun, very funny. Based on the 1909 P.G. Wodehouse story ‘A Gentleman of Leisure.’ Imagine ‘The Thin Man’ with William Powell and Myrna Loy meeting ‘To Catch a Thief’ with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly,” Vinkler said.
It’s a frothy new comedy, bursting with myriad characters – Broadway actors, bumbling burglars, suspicious detectives, daffy English lords and a wisecracking hero – set in a world akin to that of a 1930s screwball film comedy. Jimmy Pitt, a handsome millionaire bachelor, and Molly have just fallen in love at first sight on an ocean liner, but this elusive beauty keeps slipping through his fingers. While in New York, Jimmy makes a chance wager with an actor friend that he can burgle a house and get away without being caught. He does just that only to discover that the owner is a crooked police Captain – and the father of lovely Molly! Jimmy follows the two of them to England, where he and his dim-witted friend Spike find themselves staying under the same castle roof as Molly, her father, the eccentric Lord Dreever family and a very valuable necklace. “A handsome jewel thief, some crazy characters and a story that moves from a New York theater to a castle in England,” Vinkler said. “Elegant, fun and romantic. A delicious way to end the season!”
The Peninsula Players performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7:30pm in the summer. With the opening of “The Gentlemen Thief” Sept. 9, curtain times shift to Tuesday through most Sundays at 7pm. The closing Sunday performance of each show will have a 2pm matinee. Additional autumn matinees will be announced in May of 2020.
“More information on the 2020 season will be following,” Vinkler said. “The creative teams and casts will be selected from regional talent pools and will be announced at a later date.” Peninsula Players is a professional, not-for-profit theater that collaborates with members of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union of professional actors and stage managers; United Scenic Artists (USA), a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople; and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), a theatrical union of stage directors and choreographers.
Season ticket sales for the 2020 season begin in January. Individual ticket sales will begin on March 1. Gift Certificates for the 2020 season may be ordered at www.peninsulaplayers.com. Reservations for group sales and season tickets may be made by calling the Box Office weekdays at (920) 868-3287.