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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Revamped theater in Sturgeon Bay opening first show this week

Critic At Large

Third Avenue Playworks

Chad Luberger, left, and Doug Mancheski are featured in the Third Avenue PlayWorks production of “Gutenberg! The Musical!” (Promotional image)

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Third Avenue PlayWorks is will open its newly renovated theater this week with a comedy, “Gutenberg! The Musical!”

Performances start with a pay-what-you-can preview at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6. The production then runs Oct. 7-31 (7:30 pm. Tuesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday). The theater is requiring all audience members to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear a mask.


The theater is located at 235 N. 3rd Ave. in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

According to press releases: Written by Anthony King and Scott Brown, the show is a two-person musical spoof about a pair of aspiring playwrights performing a backers’ audition for their new project – a big, splashy musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg.

Featured are Doug Mancheski as Bud Davenport and Chad Luberger as Doug Simon. With an unending supply of enthusiasm, the two sing all the songs and play all the parts in their crass historical epic, with the hope that one of the producers in attendance will give them a Broadway contract – fulfilling their ill-advised dreams. Ryan Cappleman performs the role of Charles, their very patient onstage and offstage musical director.

Guest director is Michael Stebbins, who is the producing artistic director of Door Shakespeare in Door County.

Stebbins’s directing credits include “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Barefoot in the Park” (Rochester Civic) and “A Young Lady of Property,” “Two by J. M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Mrs. Farnsworth,” “The Santaland Diaries” and “A Moon for the Misbegotten” (Rep Stage). 

As an actor, Stebbins has appeared on professional stages across the country, from New York City’s The Public Theater/NYSF and the Mint Theatre Company, to California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Wisconsin credits include Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Optimist Theatre (aka Milwaukee’s Shakespeare in the Park), Skylight Music Theatre and Theatre Gigante.

Stebbins is the former producing artistic director of Rep Stage, a regional theater in Maryland.

At Door Shakespeare since the fall of 2017, Stebbins has appeared in 2019’s “Henry V,” directed the 2020 virtual productions of J.M. Barrie’s “Rosalind” and “The Comedy of Errors” and a one-actor production of “Hamlet,” which completed its successful in-person Door County run in August.

Stebbins received his BFA/MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Professional Theatre Training Program. He is the recipient of a Helen Hayes Tribute Award for his work in the DC/MD/VA region, and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Chad Luberger was last seen on the Third Avenue PlayWorks stage in Almost, Maine.” Luberger is a Door County resident, Luberger owns Plum Bottom Gallery in Egg Harbor with his wife, Angela. He has a BFA in drama from Carnegie Mellon University.

Doug Mancheski’s recent shows at Third Avenue PlayWorks include ‘Gray’s Anatomy,” “Shooting Star,” “True West” and “The Drawer Boy.” He has spent more than two decades performing at Northern Sky Theater in shows including “Dad’s Season Tickets,” “Boxcar,” “Lumberjacks in Love,” “Muskie Love,” “Victory Farm,” “Bone Dance,” “The Bachelors” and “Fishing for the Moon.” He is probably best known for playing Marvin in “Guys on Ice,” a role he has performed hundreds of times since 1998. Mancheski has performed with most major theaters in Wisconsin after living and performing in New York City for several years. A graduate of New York University’s graduate actor training program, Mancheski has studied with Mike Nichols, Paul Sills and David Mamet.

Ryan Cappleman, along with playing role of Charles, the pianist, is music director for this production. Cappleman is a performer, choreographer, music director and teaching artist from Milwaukee. In Door County, he has performed in “Billy Bishop Goes to War,” “La La Lucille” and “Tomfoolery” with Third Avenue PlayWorks and “Home for the Holidays” and “Guys and Does” at Northern Sky Theater. Favorite credits at Skylight Music Theatre include Pooh Bah in “The Hot Mikado,” Scarecrow in “Wizard of Oz,” Woof in Hair, and choreographing “Hairspray,” “Urinetown,” “Sweeney Todd” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” Other appearances include Danceworks, Optimist Theatre, First Stage, Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences, In Tandem, Milwaukee Opera Theatre and off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

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