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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Romance in D’ opens next week at Door County theater

Critic At Large

Peninsula Players Theatre

Production image. (Peninsula Players Theatre)

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Peninsula Players Theatre will present “Romance in D” as the second and final play of its 2021 season that is shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performances in its Theatre-in-a-Garden are Aug. 24 to Sept. 19 – Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The theater and its offices will be closed on Mondays. Info: peninsulaplayers.com.

According to press releases: Written by James Sherman, “Romance in D” is a romantic comedy. The story the follows the lovable but awkward Isabel Fox (Cassandra Bissell) and Charles Norton (Neil Brookshire), two neighbors who develop a friendship while resisting their meddling parents. Meanwhile, Helen and George (Judy Blue and Greg Vinkler) unbeknownst to their kids, happen to start their own romance. 

Charles, a musicologist, has insulated himself from romantic entanglements. He keeps himself occupied with work, casual friendships and food visits from his mother, Helen, the self-proclaimed “soup fairy.” Isabel, a brokenhearted poet, moves into the apartment next door and has only her visiting father, George, for company. After Charles unexpectedly rescues Isabel from a half-hearted suicide attempt, his loving yet sometimes overbearing mother tries to push the two of them together. The parents themselves finally meet and all four surprisingly discover that true love can blossom when you least expect it.  

Sherman’s other works include the popular comedies “Beau Jest” and “Jest a Second.” Sherman started his professional career as a writer and performer with The Second City in Chicago. Since 1986, he has been a playwright-in-residence at the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Arts. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.  His other plays include “Magic Time,” “The God of Isaac” and “Mr. 80%.”

Directing is Tom Mula, a veteran of Peninsula Players Theatre and elsewhere as a director, actor and playwright. Mula is marking his 26th season with the company and his 35th production. Mula directed the world premieres of “The Tin Woman,” “Making God Laugh” and “Now and Then,” and has performed in numerous shows. 

Bissell and Brookshire last appeared at Peninsula Players Theatre in productions of “Silent Sky,’ “A Murder is Announced,” “A Trick of the Light” and “Miss Holmes.” They also co-wrote the radio play “It Sounds Like a Christmas Carol” that the theater presented in December of 2020 as part of its winter programming “The Play’s the Thing.”

Bissell has performed in 17 productions at the Players, and this is Brookshire’s fourth season after making his debut in the 2016 production of “The 39 Steps.” Both have extensive stage credits in and out of Wisconsin, with several professional Shakespeare festivals and numerous Chicago stages. Brookshire spent 10 seasons with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival before relocating to the Midwest. Both now call Door County home.

Blue and Vinkler last appeared together in the 2017 world première of “The Actuary” as a married couple. In “Romance in D,” they portray widowers who take a shine to each other. 

Blue, a veteran of several national tours, has extensive stage credits from coast to coast. She has workshopped new plays as both a director and actor with Chicago Dramatists for more than 25 years. Her audiobook narration includes the Sleuth Sisters mystery series and the award-winning Myrtle Clover series. 

Since 1988, Vinkler has directed 33 productions, including “Chicago,” “Lombardi” and “The Full Monty,” and has performed in 51 shows. He appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning revival of “West Side Story” and also at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Barbican Theatre in London, Vienna’s English Theatre and Singapore Rep.

The creative team of “Romance in D” includes award-winning designers Jack Magaw, scenic design; Kärin Simonson Kopischke, costume design; Stephen Roy White, lighting design; and Joe Court, sound design. Magaw, Simonson Kopischke, Court and White were part of the 2019 creative team of “Silent Sky.”

Peninsula Players Theatre is a professional theater that produces live stage works in collaboration with its union partners at Actors’ Equity Association, United Scenic Artists and the Society of Directors and Choreographers. These partners have approved the many safety protocols the theater put in place to re-open in late July.

As a reminder to theatergoers, the side panels, doors and vents of the audience pavilion will remain open throughout the 90-minute comedy. Patrons should dress for the weather and be prepared for shifting temperatures or breezes off the bay. All parties will be socially distanced and seated with no one directly in front, behind or two seats to the left or right of them.

For the most current safety protocols at the theater, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com before attending a performance.  Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s oldest professional resident summer theater.

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

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