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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Audio reading of classic ‘The Thin Man’ episodes set in Door County

Critic At Large

Peninsula Players Theatre

Linda Fortunato and Ric Walker are featured as Nic and Nora Charles in Peninsula Players Theatre readings of ‘The Thin Man’ stories. (Promotional photos)

BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WFRV) – Peninsula Players Theatre will wrap up its season of play readings with two episodes from “The Thin Man” series at 7 p.m. Monday, April 5. Info:

Normally, the series is held at Bjorklunden lodge, but this year’s performances have been online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Admission to the audio play reading is limited to 300 households and is free, with donations welcome. 

According to a press release: The audio play reading features author Dashiell Hammett’s characters Nick and Nora Charles, a high-society comic detective duo.

Dashiell Hammett also created the Sam Spade series.

“The Thin Man” stories follow the sophisticated ex-detective Nick Charles and his glamorous, wealthy wife, Nora. Their escapades to unravel mysteries and solve murders wherever they may lie are all done with snappy banter, shaken cocktails and gumshoe-esque sleuthing.  

Two adventures will be presented April 5.

“The Case of the Goofy Groom” has Nick and Nora wondering if a beautiful bride has something to do with threats made towards the groom, Nick’s friend Arthur.

In “The Valentine’s Day Episode,” Nick’s nemesis, crime-boss Bill Carroll, breaks out of jail and pays him and Nora an unexpected visit.

Linda Fortunato and Ric Walker will portray Nick and Nora Charles.

Linda Fortunato is associate artistic director of the company, for which she has performed and directed for 17 seasons. She was the artistic director of Theatre at the Center, where she directed and/or choreographed more than 20 shows. Her performance credits include roles at Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, Theatre at the Center and The Fulton Theatre.

Ric Walker is a performer, director, teacher and writer. As a performer, his credits include performing at The Goodman in Chicago, the Alliance in Atlanta and for The Second City Chicago, among many other stages. On camera, he has been seen on “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD” and for a season on Fox TV’s “APB.” He is an ensemble member and current director of The Improvised Shakespeare Company in Chicago. He is a professor in the comedy writing and performance department at Columbia College Chicago.

Additional members of the audio play reading are Allison Selby Cook, Mike Jimerson, foley artist Ele Matelan and Greg Vinkler. 

Directing is Kevin Christopher Fox. 

Nick and Nora Charles were the last fictional creations of the Hammett. Hammett and his partner, playwright Lillian Hellman, were the inspiration for the stylish and risqué couple. couple. 

Hammett not only wrote about detectives, he was one. He joined the Baltimore branch of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency when he was 19 years old. “The bad cuts on his leg and indentations in his head (are) from being scrappy with criminals,” Hellman once wrote. He once confessed to knowing a man who stole a Ferris wheel.

By 1922, Hammett published two short stories, “The Parthian Shot” and “The Road Home.” His ground-breaking character, The Continental Op, was introduced in his third short story, “Arson Plus.”

Hammett created the world-weary private eye, The Fat Man, and wrote scripts for its radio show.

Hammett’s novels include “Red Harvest,” “The Dain Curse,” The Glass Key” and “The Maltese Falcon.” 

Hammett created the street-wise, hard-boiled detective Sam Spade, and used a harsh realistic edge in his novels and his own experience as a detective. 

He inspired such writers as Raymond Chandler to fashion Phillip Marlow and Ross Macdonald to create private eye Lew Archer.

“The Thin Man,” Hammett’s last novel, was published in 1934, the same year as its film adaptation. “The Thin Man” introduced a different take on crime-solving – a sophisticated duo who enjoy their cocktails and are infused with a spirit for romantic adventures.  

Nick Charles is a retired private eye who revels in the life of leisure that his wealthy and beautiful wife Nora provides. The two constantly become embroiled in criminal escapades through family, friends and characters from Nick’s detective past. Nick and Nora’s witty banter and daring adventures inspired such television shows as “McMillian and Wife,” “Remington Steele” and “Moonlighting.” 

Film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy were such a success on screen as the high society sleuths that Powell earned an Academy Award nomination. Loy was dubbed “Queen of Hollywood” in a national poll of moviegoers for ruling the box office and the big screen. Powell and Loy filmed five sequels to “The Thin Man” between 1936 and 1947 and inspired a radio program, “Adventures of the Thin Man,” which made its debut in 1942. 

The reading is part of “The Play’s the Thing,” which is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from Door County Medical Center, Friends of Door County Libraries, The Shubert Foundation and operating funds of Peninsula Players Theatre.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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