LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Talley’s Folly’ to open 86th season of Door County theater

Critic At Large

Play logo.

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – After more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions, Peninsula Players Theater will open its 86th season July 20 with the romantic “Talley’s Folly.”

According to a press release: The company – “America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon” – is “thrilled” to announce the cast and creative team for the play by Lanford Wilson.

Performances July 20 to Aug. 15 are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Info:

“Talley’s Folly” highlights one evening in the courtship of two unlikely lovers, Matt Friedman and Sally Talley, portrayed by Peninsula Players Theatre veteran actors and real-life husband and wife, Sean and Linda Fortunato.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in Lebanon, Missouri, on the Fourth of July in 1944.

Matt, a Jewish immigrant, met Sally while he holidayed in Lebanon from his accounting job in St. Louis the previous year. Sally’s family is very conservative and operates the garment factory that supports the town. Yet, Sally remains an independent thinker, which led to the Sunday school rescinding her post as a teacher. Matt fell in love with her instantly and sent her letters every day. Matt returns to Lebanon to solve the puzzle that Sally has become and to ask for her hand in marriage.

Directing is another Peninsula Players Theatre alum, David New, who marks his 13th season with the company and his 26th production.  

“Lanford Wilson’s writing is so extraordinarily tender and funny that you only want to put the script into the hands of the most masterful of actors,” New said. “In Sean and Linda, Peninsula Players Theatre has the perfect cast. The Players’ audiences are in for a rare and whole-hearted treat. Sean and Linda are sure to embody all of the charm, humor, romance, and wit of this piece – while at the same time deftly plumbing the depths of some of the darker shadows in their characters’ pasts.”

Sean Fortunato, from left, Linda Fortunato and David New pose on the first day of rehearsal for Peninsula Players Theatre’s production of “Talley’s Folly.” (Brian Kelsey)

Sean Fortunato’s performances at Peninsula Players Theatre include Black Stache in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” George in “Sunday in the Park with George,” Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” Father Flynn in “Doubt” and the Emcee in “Cabaret.” His stage credits include Off-Broadway, regional theater and many of Chicago’s stages, including Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Writers Theatre, TimeLine Theatre and Northlight Theater. Sean Fortunato has received an After Dark Award and eight Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for his stage portrayals. His television credits include Antoon Dumini in “Fargo” (FX), “Chicago Med” (NBC), “Chicago PD” (NBC) and “Chicago Fire” (NBC).

Linda Fortunato’s credits with Peninsula Players Theatre span 17 seasons of acting in dramas such as “Wait Until Dark,” to directing comedies such as “Lend Me a Tenor” and “The Fox on the Fairway,” choreographing such musicals as “A Little Night Music” and “Chicago.” Linda Fortunato will assume the role of artistic director of Peninsula Players Theatre upon the retirement of Greg Vinkler in September.  She was previously the artistic director of Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana, where she directed “Cabaret,” “Big River,” “The Tin Woman” and “Steel Magnolias.” She also choreographed “42nd Street,” which earned her a Joseph Jefferson Award, and was Jeff-nominated for her choreography of “White Christmas” and “Crazy for You.”

David New previously directed such Peninsula Players Theatre productions as Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” and Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound.” In addition to many acting roles, New served as associate artistic director for Steppenwolf Theater for five years and is a past recipient of the Sarah Siddons Award, multiple Jeff Award nominations and an Ontario Stratford Festival Fellowship.

The creative team of “Talley’s Folly” includes award-winning designers Jack Magaw, scenic design; Stephen Roy White, lighting design; and Joe Court, sound design. Magaw, Court and White were part of the 2019 creative team of “Silent Sky.”

One of the many safety protocols the theater put in place to reopen is advance ticket sales only. The box office will not be open for nightly walk-up sales before the performance. Electronic tickets may be purchased through the theater’s online ticketing system up to curtain time or by phoning or visiting the box office during daytime business hours. Peninsula Players Theatre is a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited on the grounds at all times. The side panels, door and vents of the audience pavilion will remain open throughout the 90-minute play. 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 employed at the theater, visit before attending a performance.

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

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