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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Popular classical theater in state delaying start of season


American Players Theatre

American Players Theatre amphitheater near Spring Green. (Company photo)


American Players Theatre, a destination for followers of classical theater in Wisconsin, has revamped the start of its season due to the coronavirus COVID-19.

In a message to patrons, Brenda DeVita, artistic director, and Carrie Van Hallgren, managing director, say the company needs an eight-week run-up for a season to start.

“To be on track for a June 6 opening, our production shops would need to begin work before the end of this month, and actors would need to begin rehearsal in early May,” they say. “That is no longer possible, sensible or safe – for our company or for our audience.”

They add that “it is too soon to announce an opening date with any certainty.”

The company reported an attendance of 107,487 in 2019.

The 41-year-old American Players Theatre stages nine plays a year. Included are eight in the regular season. Three are presented in Touchstone Theatre, a 200-seat indoor space. Five are presented in the Hill Theatre, a 1,089-seat amphitheater. Additional is a “shoulder season” in Touchstone Theatre.

Among plays announced for the 2020 season: two William Shakespeare plays – “Julius Caesar” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” – along with the Tom Stoppard comedy “Rough Crossing,” an adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” and “The Madwoman of Chaillot.”

The company expects to have an update on its plans on May 15.

American Players Theatre employs 250 people, including independent contractors. Included are a core acting company and actors, directors, designers and other artists from around the United States.

The theater has an attraction nearby (two miles) that adds to the appeal of visiting Spring Green – the world-famous Taliesin, home of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

American Players Theatre is among many arts organizations with summer productions that are impacted by COVID-19. In Northeastern Wisconsin, Music Theatre of St. Norbert College, Northern Sky Theatre, Peninsula Players Theatre and Third Avenue Playhouse have dropped or postponed summer productions.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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