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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Noted Door County theater sets five-show 2022 season

Critic At Large

Peninsula Players Theatre

Pre-pandemic production at Peninsula Players Theatre. (Len Villano)

Contact me at Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions every Sunday during the 5:30-7 a.m. broadcast on WFRV-TV, Channel 5.

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Peninsula Players Theatre announced plans for 2022 that will return the professional company to a five-production season in The Theatre in a Garden. Info:

At a glance:

+ “The Rainmaker” by N. Richard Nash – June 14-July 3.

+ “Write Me a Murder” by Frederick Knott – July 6-24.

+ “Ripcord” by David Lindsay-Abaire – July 27-Aug. 14.

+ “I and You” by Lauren Gunderson – Aug. 17-Sept. 4.

+ “Murder for Two” with book and lyrics by Kellen Blair and book and music by Joe Kinosian – Sept. 7-Oct. 16.

It will be the 87th season for the company and first for Linda Fortunato as artistic director.

Describing the productions individually to patrons in a newsletter, Linda Fortunato offers this:


“Our 2022 season will open with the romantic and stirring play, ‘The Rainmaker’ by N. Richard Nash. The Curry family is trying to keep their cattle ranch alive during a drought, while the only daughter, Lizzie, deals with her lack of romantic prospects and the concern she will end up an old maid. When the charming stranger, Starbuck, appears promising to bring rain, he might be the answer to both problems. Filled with romance and humor, this beautiful story is one of connection, hope, finding oneself, and learning to believe – even in the unbelievable. This lovely play was the inspiration for the 1956 film of the same name and the musical ‘110 in the Shade.’ I am excited to bring this uplifting tale to the stage to open the season.

“Next up is Frederick Knott’s thrilling mystery ‘Write Me a Murder.’ Mr. Knott wrote two other terrific mysteries that have been audience favorites at the Players: ‘Wait Until Dark’ and ‘Dial M for Murder.’ In this play, two brothers are dealing with the sale of the old family estate to a brash investor. The younger of the brothers, a mystery writer, teams up with the investor’s wife, also a budding writer. They dream up the perfect murder. As the plot twists and turns, the line between reality and fiction blurs. Playing Suzy in the 2009 production of ‘Wait Until Dark’ remains one of my favorite Players experiences. I was thrilled to discover another play by the same author. The play kept me guessing right up until the final moments… which I am certainly not going to give away now!

“The third show is a comedy by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire, which debuted off-Broadway in 2014. In ‘Ripcord,’ we meet mismatched roommates at an assisted living facility. The set-in-her-ways Abby is not happy about sharing her room with sunny new resident, Marilyn. In hopes of getting Marilyn to move to a different room, Abby proposes a seemingly harmless bet. The pair go to incredible lengths to win, even recruiting family and staff to join in the antics. As each step becomes more absurd than the last, deeper truths are revealed. This hilarious odd couple will stop at nothing, no matter how great the mischief.

“Our 2019 audiences experienced the beauty of Lauren Gunderson’s ‘Silent Sky.’ Another terrific work by Gunderson, ‘I and You,’ will be our fourth show. Caroline and Anthony are high school classmates who have never had much interaction. Caroline has been out of school for months due to an illness and is surprised when Anthony arrives unannounced to work on an English assignment together. At first, the two seem to have nothing in common. Throughout the afternoon, we share in their developing friendship as the two spar, laugh and begin to uncover the mystery that may have brought them together. As I finished my first read of this play, I was incredibly moved and knew instantly I wanted it to be a part of the season.

“We will close the season with the wonderfully funny and inventive musical, ‘Murder for Two.’ In this fast-paced comic whodunit, two actors play over a dozen characters, sin, and play the onstage piano. When a famous novelist is murdered at his own surprise party, all of the guests become suspects. The first to arrive on the scene is an eager small-town policeman who hopes to solve the case and fulfill his dream of becoming a detective. This lighthearted piece spoofs every beloved mystery device from Agatha Christie to the board game Clue. ‘Murder for Two’ premiered at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2011 and went on to a successful run off-Broadway before touring the country. This musical will be a high-spirited and playful way to end the season.”


Season tickets are available. Single ticket sales start March 1.

Linda Fortunato has been a company member of Peninsula Players Theatre for 18 years as actor, director and more. She also has been artistic director of Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company canceled its 2020 season and presented a reduced season of two in-person productions in 2021.

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