LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Sturgeon Bay theater pulls its summer slate of plays


Third Avenue Playhouse

Third Avenue Playhouse marquee and scenes from some of the theater’s popular productions. (Third Avenue Playhouse)


On the heels of word that some Northeastern Wisconsin performance organizations are postponing or canceling productions farther in to their spring calendar because of the coronavirus COVID-19, Third Avenue Playhouse announced a dramatic step.

The professional theater will be shut from now through summer.

James Valcq, co-artistic director, emailed a statement to patrons.

“Although it will probably come as no surprise, it is with sadness and regret that I must announce the suspension of our productions of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ at Third Avenue Playhouse.

“Having already postponed ‘A Life in the Theatre’ until October and suspended ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ as well, it was inevitable that we’d need to make hard decisions about our summer theatre offerings. This hasn’t been easy, but the health and well-being of our audiences, artists, and staff is of tantamount importance right now. The theatre is all about the nurturing of our minds and souls. During the current pandemic, theatres join everyone else in doing our best to safeguard physical health as well.”

The decision is dramatic because performances are a key element each summer in Door County. Also offering professional summer seasons are Peninsula Players Theatre, Northern Sky Theatre, Door Shakespeare, Birch Creek Music Performance Center and Peninsula Music Festival, plus Door Community Auditorium through star guest artists.

Third Avenue Playhouse is guided by Valcq (composer, performer and director) and co-artistic director Robert Boles (actor and director).

“We’ve been looking forward to producing ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ for several years,” Valcq said. “This season, it all seemed to fall into place under the guidance of guest director C. Michael Wright. ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ is a rarely-seen (Stephen) Sondheim musical that I’ve been eager to share with our audiences. I was especially excited to be working on that show with a cast including not only a handful of TAP favorites and professional newcomers, but also five wildly talented and energetic Acting Interns, four of them from the amazing musical theatre degree program at UW-Stevens Point.”

Boles has created videos featuring the theater’s talent for website or Facebook viewing.

At the close of his message, Valcq turned personal:

“In the meantime, even though we may be apart, we’re still together. You’re still our friends and neighbors. If you look out your window in Sturgeon Bay, you’ll still see me riding my bike around town. I’ve always loved the honks and waves. They’re even more welcome now. And they’re no longer just coming from people I know. Every day, neighbors I haven’t met yet are sharing hearty hellos and friendly conversations – from a reasonable distance of course – as we all navigate this temporarily new normal.”

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