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

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Door County theater’s memorial tribute becomes an illumination

Critic At Large

Northern Sky Theater

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Something unusual is happening with one of the popular theaters in our area.

Inadvertently, Northern Sky Theater is revealing what makes it tick.

The source has to do with death.

A beloved member’s memorial tribute on the theater’s website – – becomes an illumination.

The video that runs almost 2½ hours honors Neen Rock for her decades as the glue that held shows together as production stage manager.

In remembering Kathleen “Neen” Rock, company members articulately bare the essence of their theater.

Northern Sky is special among theaters because everything it does is original – written and built from scratch, year after year.

What’s more, Wisconsin plays a role in all of its musicals, like the popular “Belgians in Heaven,” “Guys on Ice” and “Packer Fans from Outer Space,” along with such other notable shows as “Boxcar,” “Victory Farm,” “Dairy Heirs” and “Windjammers.”

In telling what Neen Rock did, actors, playwrights, composers and building and technical folks explore the heart and soul of the company.

Memorial tribute online gathering. (Screenshot)

By what they say, by songs, by stories, by camaraderie and by tears, the individuals publicly display harmony.

They are not putting on an act or putting on acting airs.

It is fascinating to witness the human structure of a creative theater being exposed because of the fluke of our special COVID-19 time.

People from coast to coast pour out thoughts, including family members with a gift for poignance.

Neen Rock died suddenly in January of a brain aneurysm at age 59.

At the close of the tribute, her recorded voice is heard as nurturing, upbeat, wise, calming and comical.

To an actor who fretted about wearing “funny pants” on stage, Neen Rock said, “You’re going to out-act the pants.”

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