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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Some of the notable plays with Wisconsin connections

Critic At Large

Some have international reach

Plays with Wisconsin connections.


Broadway is famous for theater, but American theater is bigger than Broadway.

Plays start everywhere, including our Dairyland.

Take these notable plays with Wisconsin connections, including some experiencing adventures that may surprise you:

+ “The Spitfire Grill” has had more than 500 productions worldwide, including translated versions in Germany, South Korea and Japan

The musical is set in Wisconsin home state of its greatly influential authors, James Valcq and Fred Alley.

James Valcq today is co-artistic director of Third Avenue Playhouse and an active composer and all-around theater person.

The late Fred Alley was one of the founders of Northern Sky Theatre and co-author of some of its enduring hits.

+ The Green Bay Packers-loving “Guys on Ice,” one of Fred Alley’s shows, keeps on ticking around the Midwest and beyond, including on television.

The musical’s popular ice-fishing buddies (played by Steve Koehler and Doug Mancheski) will be in action Feb. 1 in Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc and Feb. 8-9 in Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac.

+ Richard Kalinoski’s powerful “Beast on the Moon” is returning to the University of Wisconsion-Oshkosh for eight performances starting Feb. 27, with Kalinoski directing.

Set in Wisconsin, the compelling love story has been translated into 20 languages, including Russian, Italian and Turkish.

+ Premiered in Wisconsin, “The Foreigner” for more than 30 years has stirred laughs and controversy as a staple of play schedules.

The Masquers of Manitowoc will have fun with the comedy by Larry Shue in May.

+ “The Nerd,” another popular Larry Shue comedy that premiered in Wisconsin is on the schedule of Sheboygan Theatre Company in late February.

+ “The Outsider” is just one of many plays that premiered at Door County’s Peninsula Players Theatre and went on to productions around the country.

“The Outsider” is on the summer schedule of Attic Chamber Theatre in Menasha.

+ Feb. 2, millions of people will see victors of the Super Bowl kissing the Lombardi Trophy.

The Packers’ legendary Vince Lombardi is the only National Football League coach to have a successful Broadway play written about him.

Wisconsin-bred playwright Eric Simonson’s research path ran right through Lambeau Field. Many plays are within six degrees of separation of Wisconsin by actor, director, writer or point of origin.

With all the theatrical activity in the state, it only stands to reason.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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