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Looking back in the archives of Fish Creek's Peninsula Players, I searched for a record of my earliest childhood theatre memory. And I found it. In 1979, Peninsula Players performed Frankenstein. I attended the show, in the company of my parents, at the tender age of 9. I still remember the vividness of the set, the frightening story and, most of all, the harrowing sound effects of the approaching monster that haunted my dreams for weeks afterward. My first, exhilarating experience of the power of live theatre. Although nothing may ever equal that first heartstopping experience, the lure of Peninsula Players has only grown over the years. I rarely miss attending the "theatre in the garden" at least once every summer, and last night I had the pleasure of seeing the Players' Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim's musical about the complicated passions that are the wellspring of the artistic process. Sean Fortunato, one of the company's strongest and most versatile actors, plays George Seurat, and Cassie Slater, vibrant and full-voiced, is his mistress, aptly named Dot. The plot follows the two throughout George's obsessive painting of his pointillist masterpiece. Then, in the second act, the show shifts gears and focuses on a 20th century New York artist, also played by Fortunato, and his grandmother, played by Slater. The supporting cast round out the story as vividly as an impressionist painting is filled with color and light, including Peggy Roeder, another Players veteran, who plays Seurat's mother with warmth and humor, as well as portraying a modern art critic. Especially delightful are the hilarious Tim Monsion and Erin Noel Grennan, who portray timelessly ignorant American tourists in 19th century Paris. Sunday in the Park with George The stars of this production are not just the actors, but also scenic designer Jack Magaw's magnificent set, which recreates Seurat's oeuvre with backdrops, staging and props, as well as the splendid costumes designed by Karin Simonson Kopischke. And as any evening at the Players, don't forget that equal to the show itself are the beautiful grounds of the theatre, which are worthy of the effort to come to the grounds before the show and enjoy a picnic. If you can't make it that early, at least enjoy a glass of wine in the Biergarten and a stroll to the beach, where the sun sets every night as predictably and beautifully as the Players themselves will return to the theatre in the garden year after year. Sunset at Peninsula Players Sunday in the Park with George plays through August 11, and Peninsula Players' season continues with two more shows through October 20. Looking for more theatrical experiences in Door County? Don't miss Northern Sky Theater, Door Shakespeare, and Third Avenue Playhouse.
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