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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: World premiere part of noted Door County theater’s 85th season

Critic At Large

Peninsula Players Theatre

Company logo.

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV)

Five productions, included a world premiere, have been announced by Peninsula Players Theater for 2020.

This will be the 85th season for the professional repertory theater, the oldest such summer company in the United States.

According to the press releases, here is the schedule with some background:

+ “Rounding Third,” by Richard Dresser, June 16-July 5.

Greg Vinkler, artist director, says the play is and endearing odd-couple comedy about two coaches, one a veteran, the other a new recruit, who lead their team – and their sons – through the ups and downs of a season of Little League Baseball.

“It’s about different coaching styles, fatherhood, competition, life and finally, friendship,” Vinkler says. “It’s been on my play list for a while now, and it sure seemed like a good year to let it step up to the plate.”

The play premiered at Northlight Theatre in Chicago with George Wendt and Matthew Arkin as the coaches “and was, as BJ Jones, the artistic director told me, a big hit for them,” Vinker says.

+ “Something Rotten!” July 8-26, with book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick and concept by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick.

The musical comedy ran in New York from 2015-2017 and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Vinker says, “Set in 1595, this very funny show features the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, who are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as ‘The Bard.’ When a soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves a strange combination of singing, dancing and acting (all at the same time – what?!), Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical.

“There’s a message in there, too, about being true to thine own self – but heck, that’s just at the end! Musical numbers include ‘Welcome to the Renaissance,’ ‘God, I Hate Shakespeare’ and ‘Make an Omelette’.”

+ “The Unexpected Guest,” by Agatha Christie, July 29-Aug. 16.

Snapshot: A beautiful woman, a smoking gun, a classic Christie puzzle.

Vinkler says the play publisher Samuel French recently released “The Unexpected Guest” from its vaults.

“I think it’s one of her best,” Vinkler says. “When I finished reading it, I laughed out loud for a very long time because every time I thought I was sure I knew where it was going and who did it, it changed directions! I can’t believe she can still surprise me….

“It’s a great setting – a foggy night, a traveler runs his car into a ditch, he goes to a house for help and finds a dead man in a wheelchair and a woman standing in the shadows with a gun. And it goes from there, with a great cast of characters that Agatha Christie can bring to life so well. Surprise after surprise after surprise.”

+ “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly,” by Ann Noble, Aug. 19-Sept. 6.

“It’s a lovely play set in 1950s Ireland,” Vinkler says. “The Donnellys have just lost Moira, who is Peter’s wife and Kathleen and Eveline’s mother. They are upset, of course, but the play never wallows in sadness.

“Kathleen is soon to be married, and Eveline wants desperately to go to university, but can’t leave her father alone. Enter the sweet-tempered fiancé Leo, his rude and angry younger brother, Charlie, a dashing young actor named Freddy and everything gets thrown up into the air. And Moira, the mother, is, we find, more than just a memory.

“It’s a well-crafted, wonderfully accessible and vibrant play about love, loss, family ties and discovering your wings. Truly moving and uplifting.”

+ “The Gentleman Thief,” by Mark Brown, Sept. 9-Oct. 18.

The world première romantic comedy-caper is from the playwright of “Around the World in 80 Days.”

“It was part of our winter play reading series, The Play’s the Thing, early last year, and was a big hit with the audience,” Vinkler says. “Very fun, very funny.

“Based on the 1909 P.G. Wodehouse story ‘A Gentleman of Leisure,’ the playwright moved the story from the late 1800s to the early 1930s because, Mark wrote, ‘I love those old Cary Grant romantic screwball comedies and wanted to write a script that hearkens back to those films.’

“Imagine ‘The Thin Man’ with William Powell and Myrna Loy meeting ‘To Catch a Thief’ with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – a handsome jewel thief, some zany characters and a story that moves from a New York theater to a castle in England. Elegant, fun and romantic.”

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