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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Sturgeon Bay theater gets new name amid broader changes

Critic At Large

Third Avenue PlayWorks

Theater logo.

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Third Avenue Playhouse has become Third Avenue PlayWorks, with much change behind the scenes, including to its artistic leadership.

Co-artistic director James Valcq is not in the picture, and co-artistic director Robert Boles will remain aboard temporarily.

The two were essential in the artistic attention the theater drew in the past decade.

From a press release:

The year-long renovation of the theater building in downtown Sturgeon Bay will be completed later this month.

The board of directors and staff “are planning for a plethora of exciting changes that often follow a major renovation project, including a new organization name, updated branding, changes in leadership and additional staff.”

Says Amy Frank, managing director, “TAP is rapidly expanding – both physically and organizationally. The board and staff have reflected on TAP’s amazing history and worked to reevaluate the values, mission and vision of the organization so it can continue to grow and be successful doing what it does best – producing high-quality theatrical experiences in an intimate and engaging environment.”

The theater is in the process of transitioning to new artistic leadership.

“After a decade of service, co-artistic director James Valcq has stepped down from his position in order to concentrate on his free-lance career as a composer and performer,” the press release says. “Additionally, Robert Boles, TAP’s other co-artistic director, has made the decision to transition away from his position, but will remain until a new artistic director has assumed the role.”

In the press release, Robert Boles is quoted: “I believe that the work James and I have done over the last decade has made an impact in our community, and I want to see it continue to grow and prosper now and in the future,” Boles stated. “I love this company. Working here has allowed me to do things I could never have imagined possible. It has made me better than I ever thought myself to be. I want that feeling of accomplishment and pride to not only extend to whomever follows me in this position, but to every patron, donor, and board member who walks through our newly-renovated doors.”

A search is on for a new artistic director.

“Building on TAP’s record of extraordinary productions and updated facilities, TAP will continue its legacy of providing intriguing, entertaining and intimate dramas, comedies, and musicals,” Steve Kane, board president, says in the press release. “TAP is deeply grateful for the stellar work of James and Bob on behalf of TAP and we wish them the very best.”

Additionally, in September, a new technical director will be aboad. “Mitch Glancy comes to TAP from Manchester, England, and brings a high level of knowledge and experience in technical theater, set design and lighting design,” the press release says. “His arrival is perfectly timed with the completion of the construction and re-opening of the theater on Oct. 7, 2021.”

About the building, the press release says, “The major renovation project will drastically improve everyone’s experience from the moment they walk up to the building. From the spacious lobby to comfortable theatre seating; and from proper backstage amenities to added meeting rooms and office space, TAP will be a major destination and attract more people to downtown Sturgeon Bay.

“Some of the renovation improvements include a larger lobby with an art gallery, dedicated concessions area, box office and accessible public restrooms. The theater space will feature a hearing assistance system and ADA accessible seating for 124 (up from 84), a larger stage with wing space, backstage dressing rooms, scene shop and updated technical theatre equipment. Also, all HVAC, electrical and mechanical systems have been updated and an elevator provides access to all areas, including offices, meeting rooms and rehearsal space.”

The name Third Avenue PlayWorks “was chosen to more accurately describe the theatre company that has evolved over the past decade,” the press release says. “When Robert Boles and James Valcq became the artistic directors in 2012, they transformed TAP into a regional, professional theatre company, producing engaging performances in an up-close and personal environment. The term ‘Works’ carries a WPA-like connotation, suggesting TAP is a theater by the people and for the people. ‘Works’ applies in a broader sense to TAP’s audience as well. In the up-close-and-personal environment, audience members will continue to be active, working participants, engaging their imaginations to make the TAP experience complete.

“The theater itself has been named the Steve and Jackie Kane Theatre, in appreciation of a large gift from the Kanes to the ReImagine TAP capital campaign.”

The WPA theme is reflected in the new logo. “The design features the outline of a person’s head with a theater curtain on the left side,” the press release says. “The right side of the head takes on the shape of a gear, symbolizing imagination at work and representing the thought-provoking nature of TAP’s productions. It also pays tribute to the industrial nature of Sturgeon Bay. The black and red design provides a bold statement, symbolic of much of TAP’s work.

“Through all the changes, the board and staff of Third Avenue PlayWorks remain committed to honoring the mission of the organization – to explore, share and celebrate our humanity through the power of intimate and wide-reaching theater – and hold steadfast to the artistic vision that has brought success throughout its history.”

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

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