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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: In play program credits, a simple * says a lot

Key area theaters feature professional union actors.

PHOTO: Starring in Peninsula Players Theatre’s production of “Once a Ponzi Time” in July were Actors Equity Association members, from left, Molly Glynn, Tim Monsion and Paul Slade Smith. Peninsula Players photo

GREEN BAY, WISC., (WFRV) – On Labor Day, it’s suitable to talk about an asterisk – *.

In Major League Baseball, an asterisk is a bad thing. It means there’s something questionable about a players’ accomplishment – like hitting 73 home runs in a season.

In theater, an asterisk is a good thing. It means an actor is accomplished and has earned his or her way into The Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The labor union started in 1913. For anything to last 100 years is a fete.

When someone is called an Equity actor, it means he or she:

- Has earned stripes.

- Is legit.

- Has a seal of approval.

- Is held to standards.

- Is versatile.

- Is experienced.

- Can be expected to give his or her all, given the material.

There’s a book about Vince Lombardi called “When Pride Still Matter.” Time and again, pride still matters with Equity actors.

The region’s theaters that employ Equity actors and stage managers make a point to place an asterisk after their names in printed programs.

At present, three professional productions are active in the area. Each includes union actors.

The cast of Peninsula Players Theatre’s “Miracle on South Division Street” (opening Wednesday, Sept. 4) is all Equity – Joe Foust, Molly Glynn, Noel Grennan and Peggy Roeder. (A past Players company member, Lynn Archer, was a longtime official in Equity).

The cast of American Folklore Theatre’s “Victory Farm” includes Equity actors Steven Koehler, Doug Mancheski and Molly Rhode. Stage manager Neen Rock also is a member of Equity.

The cast of Stage Door Theatre Company’s “The House of Blue Leaves” includes Equity members Debra Babich and Robert Boles.

Programs also note company members’ other professional affiliations, such as those who earned his or her way into the Stage Directors and Choreographers’ Society.

As someone who sees a lot of plays, I think highly of asterisks. The people who earn those *’s often hit home runs on stage fair and square.

Please email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com.

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