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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Famed Door County theater calls off rest of season

Coronavirus

Peninsula Players Theatre

Peninsula Players Theatre playgoers gather to watch a sunset during an intermission June, 12, 2018. (Warren Gerds)

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Peninsula Players Theatre is throwing in the towel on its 85th season.

According to a press release:

The theater “has made the difficult decision to cancel its autumn performance of Richard Dresser’s ‘Rounding Third.’”

In April, the professional announced the cancellation of its summer season “for the continued safety of its artists, volunteers, patrons, employees and community.”  

“We weighed numerous scenarios, created social distance seating plans and reviewed countless safety protocols to aid in our autumn re-opening,” said Brian Kelsey, managing director. “We’ve monitored national, state and local guidelines, and have maintained an ongoing dialogue with other theater professionals and health officials. After exploring numerous options with our board of directors and the management team, we have determined that closing for the remainder of the 2020 season is the only responsible path.”

Actors’ Equity, the union for professional actors and stage managers, is not issuing contracts to its members. In May, union officials advised its members not to return to the stage for live performances until its health and safety guidelines were finalized.

“Peninsula Players works closely with Actors’ Equity, its members and other theatrical professional unions,” Kelsey said. “While these safety guidelines are in development, Broadway theaters have also shut down for the rest of the 2020 season, and locally, Door County is under advisement to limit any group gatherings to 50 or fewer until further notice. The safety of our company members, volunteers and patrons must take precedence.”

Peninsula Players Theatre is an artistic campus that houses and prepares meals for up to 60 company members in its camp-like atmosphere where it assembles artisans and craftspeople from across the nation.

Since the cancellation of the summer season, the company has offered its audience a “Pastimes” and interview E-Newsletter series, “Peninsula Players Presents.” “Pastimes” is designed as a bright spot to the day while the “Peninsula Players Presents” series delivers recorded virtual conversations between artistic director Greg Vinkler and various guests, providing a glimpse beyond the footlights.  

Future guests for Peninsula Players Presents include Erica Elam, Ashley Lanyon, Harter Clingman, Karen Janes Woditsch and Francesca Zambello. 

“We’ve been here for 85 years with you, telling stories, singing songs, hearing your laughter, shedding tears together,” Vinkler said. “We are so fortunate having had this good long time to share with you the beauty and magic that’s created inside the theater along with the beauty and magic nature provides for all of us surrounding the theater. We’re very grateful and blessed to live in the hearts of so many patrons. We have been here for 85 years, we love what we do, and we do not plan to go away.”

The grounds of the theater will remain closed until further notice in accordance with local, state and federal social distancing regulations and guidelines. “We discourage all from visiting the closed campus,” Kelsey said. “Please respect the safety of those who are caring for the grounds and the upkeep of the buildings.”

Ticket info: peninsulaplayers.com.

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