Wisconsin Premiere of “Heroes” Opens Peninsula Players 75th Season, June 15

Greg Vinkler, fresh from Broadway, opens 75th Season with Tom Mula and Tim Monsion in “Heroes.”

Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater, is pleased to announce the opening of its 75th Anniversary Season June 15, 2010, with the Wisconsin professional première of Gérald Sibleyras’ “Heroes,” translated by Tom Stoppard.  “Heroes” will run through July 4.

“Heroes,” originally titled “Le Vent des Peupiliers” (The Wind in the Poplars) premiered in Paris in 2003 earning four Moliére nominations, including Best Comedy.  In 2005 Stoppard’s translation, retitled “Heroes,” opened in London and received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

“Heroes” is set in 1959 France with three World War I veterans living entrenched routines in a retirement home for military personnel.  Gustave, Philippe and Henri have staked their claim on a small terrace, with its stone dog statue to keep them company, as they plot their great escape from Sister Madeleine’s deadly mundane routine.

Gustave, the newest comrade in residence for only six months, soon takes charge.  He has a fondness for the stone dog and the poplars on the hill.  As the strategist of the trio he is determined to defend the terrace from intruders, real or imagined.

Henri is a kindly, romantic gentleman with a gammy leg.  He is a bit more rational than his companions and shares with them the charms and beauty of the new school mistress in town.

Philippe is a bit excitable and still carries shrapnel in his brain, which not only makes him black out frequently but also leads him to believe the stone dog on the terrace moves.  The trio is spurned into action when Philippe shares his belief that Sister Madeleine is plotting to kill him and replace him with a new, healthier resident because both men share the same birthday.

Returning to the Players stage as Gustave after a year on Broadway is Greg Vinkler, the Players’ Artistic Director.  Vinkler has been in New York playing Doc in the revival of “West Side Story” and was last seen on the Players stage as the title character of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.”  He is a veteran of 32 roles with Chicago Shakespeare. Vinkler has been with the Players since 1988 and has directed and performed in many comedies, farces, musicals and dramas with the company. In his role of Artistic Director, Vinkler selected the Players 75th season of plays and its company of professional artists.

Cast as Henri is Tom Mula, who is celebrating his 16th season with the Players.  Mula has performed in many shows at the Players and directed “Amadeus,”  “The Lion in Winter,” “Angel Street,” “Be My Baby” and “Greetings!”  He was the Goodman Theater’s resident Scrooge for several seasons and is the author of “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.”   Mula’s play “Bob Almighty” had its première at the Players.

Philippe is played by Tim Monsion, another veteran of the Players’ dramas and comedies such as “Is He Dead?,” “Angel Street,” “The Elephant Man,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Communicating Doors,” “Unnecessary Farce,” “The Lady’s Not for Burning” and many more.  Monsion makes his home in Los Angeles and has appeared in several films including “Men of Honor,” “Blink,” and “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.”  His television credits include “Desperate Housewives,” “Frasier,” “Mad About You,” “Numb3rs,” “Monk” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Directing this cast in the Wisconsin première of “Heroes” is Karen Sheridan, who directed recent seasons’ smash hits “Is He Dead?” and “Rumors.”  At the Players, Sheridan performed in “Souffle Surprise,” “Into the Woods,” “Rain,” “Dancing at Lughnasa” and “Out of Order.”  She also directed “Fools,” “See How They Run”and “The Fantasticks.” Sheridan has performed in many theaters in the Chicago area and spent six years teaching for Ringling Brothers Clown College.

“Heroes” features three very different, yet companionable friends who goad each other to venture into the beauty beyond the horizon or at least to the nearest hill.  Will Gustave’s agoraphobia, Henri’s gammy leg or Philippe’s blackouts keep them from passing through the front gate?  Perhaps the dog will last longer than them all and have the last laugh?

“Heroes” will be on stage June 15 through July 4.  Curtain times are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., except the closing performance July 4 at 4 p.m.   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.

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