Midwest première of Joseph Goodrich’s award-winning suspense-filled thriller, “Panic,” on stage at Door County’s Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater, Sept. 8 through Oct. 17 with two Sunday matinees at 4 pm Sept. 26 and the closing performance Oct. 17.
“Panic” is an homage to the stylistic film director, Alfred Hitchcock, and the play won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play. “Panic” made its debut at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky in 2007. Playwright Joseph Goodrich used Hitchcock as an inspiration for the main character in “Panic,” film director Henry Lockwood.
Lockwood, known as “the Sultan of Suspense,” is in Paris for the opening of his latest thriller and is being interviewed by a French writer prior to the première. Also staying with Lockwood in the plush hotel room are Miriam, Lockwood’s personal assistant, and Emma, his ill wife. While in Paris Lockwood is confronted with a past dastardly deed, which leads to attempted blackmail and murder. Will his career and marriage make it beyond Paris, or will they end on the cutting room floor?
Kristine Thatcher directs this stylistic thriller. Thatcher also directed “Over the Tavern” and “The Uneasy Chair” for the Players. Thatcher last performed on the Players stage as Eliza in “Pygmalion” and LCDR JoAnne Galloway in “A Few Good Men.” She wrote the Door County-themed play “Apparitions” that the Players commissioned for its 1995 season. Thatcher has directed several plays for BoarsHead Theater in Lansing, Michigan where she was artistic director from 2005 – 2009 and is founding director of Stormfield Theater.
The cast of “Panic” includes Players veterans and a newcomer to the Players stage. Gary Houston plays Henry Lockwood, and Carmen Roman is his wife and co-collaborator, Emma.
Houston makes his Players debut. His stage credits include Off-Broadway where he played Zig in Organic Theater’s “Bleacher Bums” in the American Place Theater and portrayed Barbara Feldon’s Russian tormentor in Jeffrey’s Sweet’s “Berlin ’45” at the Ensemble Studio Theater. His regional credits include Albuquerque’s Fusion Theater’s production of Enda Walsh’s “Bedbound,” Yasmina Reza’s “The Unexpected Man” and Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie.” In Chicago he created the role of Roger in the world premiere of “Grease” at the Kingston Mines Theater and productions of “Richard III” (Oak Park Festival) as Buckingham, “Hamlet” (Chicago Shakespeare Project) as Claudius and “The Tempest” (European Repertory) as Prospero.
Roman, cast as Emma Lockwood, returns to the Players for her 11th season where her stage credits include “Doubt,” “Master Class,” “Be My Baby,” “Red Herring” and “The Lion in Winter.” She is founding member of Chicago’s American Blues Theater, recipient of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson award for “Wit” and was on the national tour of “Angels in America.” Roman also has numerous film and television credits including “Law and Order” and “Law and Order-SVU.”
Also returning to the Players stage are Kevin McKillip, as the French film critic Alain Dupay; Erica Elam as Lilane Bernard, a woman who attempts to blackmail Lockwood; and McKinley Carter as Lockwood’s personal assistant Miriam Stockton. McKillip and Elam shared the Players’ stage in “Comic Potential,” “Born Yesterday” and “Rumors.” Carter’s Players credits include “Into the Woods,” “Perfect Wedding,” “The Taffetas,” “Comic Potential” and “A Little Night Music.”
McKillip has received three Jeff nominations including Best Actor for “Richard III” (title role), Best Supporting Actor for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Puck), and Best Supporting Actor for “Jeeves Intervenes” (Eustace) with First Folio Theatre, where he also appeared in more than 20 productions, including “Hamlet” (title role), and his one-man show “Will Rogers: An American Original.”
Elam’s recent credits include “The Trip to Bountiful” (Goodman), “Philadelphia Story” (Remy Bumppo) and “Inherit the Wind” (Northlight). As an improviser, she has performed with The Second City, iO, Annoyance, and The Comedy Shrine.
Carter’s Chicago credits include: “Ragtime,” Drury Lane Oakbrook; “John and Jen,” Apple Tree Theatre (Joseph Jefferson nomination); “Turn Of The Century,” “The Mamet Festival”,” The Visit,” “Floyd Collins,” Goodman Theatre; “Forbidden Broadway,” Royal George Theatre; and “Winesburg Ohio,” Steppenwolf Theatre.
All cast members are members of Actors’ Equity, the union of professional stage actors and stage managers.
The design production team for “Panic” includes scenic designer Keith Pitts, lighting designer Jason Fassl, costume designer Kärin Simonson Kopischke, all professional designers who are members of United Scenic Artists union. Sound will be designed by Players’ newcomer Nick Keenan.
The Peninsula Players 75th Anniversary season is sponsored through the generosity and support of Baylake Bank, which has been the Players’ financial partner for more than 50 years. This season is also supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“Panic” will be on stage Sept. 8 through Oct. 17. Curtain times are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7p.m., except for Sunday matinees 4 p.m. Sept. 26 and Oct. 17. Group and individual tickets are available. Individual ticket prices range from $29 to $36; there are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players’ box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.
Peninsula Players is America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and is unique in the country for its diverse productions, continuing loyalty to a resident company, and its beautiful setting of 16 wooded acres along the cedar-lined shores of Green Bay. In the past 75 years, the theater has become a Door County landmark and its cornerstone arts institution, attracting audience members from throughout Wisconsin and across the country. For more information, please visit www.peninsulaplayers.com.