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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Theater, event venue opening carefully in Manitowoc


Parkview Playhouse

Little Bakery Players logo

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – A theatrical and event space is scheduled to open June 26 in the former Parkview Bakery building, 932 S. Washington St.

Parkview Playhouse will conduct a “soft” opening June 26. Info:

According to a press release: With doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and entertainment beginning at 7:30 p.m., “Maskerade” will offer music and entertainment for a cover charge.

“Patrons are encouraged to dress up to the nines and display their fanciest, most chic masks, in an effort to maintain a safe environment while adding some fun to challenging times,” the release says, referring to the coronavirus COVID-19.
“The event will feature live music and a few other surprises from artistic director Tom Berger and local musician and performer Amanda Ellis. Bernard and Marilyn Starzewski, the owners and proprietors, will also be on hand to feature the newly renovated space and discuss Parkview’s upcoming season of theater, film, comedy and magic, as well as rental opportunities for community groups and businesses.”

Seating will be cabaret style, with tables and chairs distanced in line with Wisconsin’s current guidelines for entertainment venues.

“Due to the current guidelines, seating will be extremely limited, and the venue will have to cut off walk-ins if they reach capacity, so reservations are strongly recommended. The space will be perpetually sanitized throughout the evening, and social distancing will be encouraged. While the aspect of dressing up masks in a unique style is meant to be a fun spin on the evening, masks covering the nose and mouth are strongly encouraged. All necessary steps will be taken to ensure a fun and safe evening.”

Ahead, plans call for performances of a troupe called Little Bakery Players with the logo of “Artie Baker.” Also planned is a series of film events in late summer and early fall. A full season will open with the play, “Love Letters,” on a dated to be determined.  

According to the website:

Built in 1922 by Gustav Boeder, the building was the commercial production facility for Parkview Bakery with residential units on the second floor. Later sold to Frank Sindelar, it was re-branded as Sindelar Bakery until 1953. 

Since then, the building has undergone a number of changes from storage to a church that gave it the features of a theater, to a technology company run by the current owners, Bernie and Marilyn Starzewski.

Tom Berger is the former managing director of Sheboygan Theater Company.
A long time amateur actor in area community theater groups. Bernie Starzewski saw the potential of its use as a small theater and event venue and the Starzewskis have now made that their retirement project. They will be producing a number of shows and musical events as well as renting the facility out for parties, weddings, meetings and other events. 

Features will include full digital stage lighting and video projection systems, sound system and a beer and wine bar. They will be partnering with local restaurants for catered events.

In the press release, Berger says, “It has certainly been a unique and challenging couple of months for both our community and the world. Artists and performers especially are struggling, as we have no idea what the ‘new normal’ will mean for an industry that is reliant on large groups of people gathering together. At Parkview, while being as responsible as possible to the health concerns, we want to lead the artistic community… on finding innovative ways to slowly and safely begin to create again, as well as find opportunities for our local talent who are anxious and ready to bring their gifts to the people.”

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