Peninsula Players, APT draw avid Illinois fans

Acclaimed Wisconsin summer theaters remain enduring destinations

"Murder for Two" at Peninsula Players

The state of Wisconsin is home to two exceptional professional resident summer theater companies: Peninsula Players and American Players. Both have talented acting companies and creative staffs that present high-quality productions of contemporary and classical theater in serene locations. Audience members journey from all over the United States, with a large percentage attending from Illinois.

For 2023′s Peninsula Players audiences, 21% of the primary ticket buyers were from Illinois, 60% were from Wisconsin, and the other 19% were from everywhere else, said Audra Baakari Boyle, the theater company’s business manager.

Peninsula Players is celebrating its 89th season in 2024 – the oldest professional summer theater in America, and certainly Door County’s theatrical icon. The motto “two planks and a passion” was certainly true in 1935, when brother-and-sister team Richard and Caroline Fisher started the theater company in a garden behind Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek. In 1937, the Fishers moved the troupe to the vacated 22-acre Wildwood Boys Camp along the shores of Green Bay (sub-basin of Lake Michigan). The present site holds the over 600-seat, all-weather pavilion; the original stage was built with the help of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, also known for rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

Artistic Director Linda Fortunato announced Peninsula Players’ five-show season:

Neil Simon’s poignant comedy “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” June 18-July 7

The Midwest premiere of a new comedy – based on Ferenc Molnar’s classic “Play at the Castle” – Paul Slade Smith’s “The Angel Next Door,” July 10-28

The rock ’n’ roll beginnings musical “Million Dollar Quartet” by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, July 31-Aug. 18

The award-winning love story “Mary’s Wedding,” by Stephen Massicotte, Aug. 21-Sept. 1

The mystery “The Stranger” by Agatha Christie, Sept. 4-Oct. 20, to close out the season.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at American Players Theatre

Because weather plays an integral part of the American Players Theatre season, several guidelines have been established involving delays, rain and air quality. (APT seldom cancels due to light rain, but will exchange tickets or delay performances.) APT’s wooded, 110-acre complex holds two theaters: the 1,075-seat amphitheater known as Hill Theatre, and the 200-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre.

Founded in 1977 by Randall Duk Kim, Anne Occhiogrosso and Charles J. Bright, APT moved to Spring Green in 1979, kicking off with a 1980 production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In 2011, APT was named theater company of the year by the Wall Street Journal; it is estimated that an annual audience of more than 100,000 from all around the country attend APT’s productions.

Although show run dates are still pending, Artistic Director Brenda DeVita has announced APT’s 2024 season and 45th anniversary.

The comedy “Ring Round the Moon” by Jean Anouilh and Christopher Fry is first up in June to be followed by:

The world premiere of Michael Hollinger’s tragicomedy “The Virgin Queen Entertains Her Fool”

William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”

Marisela Treviño Orta’s dark fairy tale “Wolf at the Door”

August Wilson’s drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Brian Friel’s Irish memory play “Dancing at Lughnasa”

Nick Payne’s love story “Constellations”

Shakespeare’s great tragedy “King Lear” will close the season in November.

There’s something about playing in the woods – whether onstage or in the audience. A balmy evening with real trees, birdsong, the moon rising – it’s magical. Peninsula Players and American Players each can be relied upon to present timeless, entertaining and challenging productions. Both companies have national reputations, and deservedly so. This summer, why not head north and experience what Peninsula Players and American Players have to offer?

• Regina Belt-Daniels frequents both Wisconsin theaters in the summer with great admiration and appreciation. Her own theatrical experience includes appearing onstage and backstage in northern Illinois in many capacities ranging from performer to stage manager to director. Having recently directed Elgin Theatre Company’s adaptation of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” she next will direct “Love Letters” for Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles in February.


• WHAT: Peninsula Players

• WHERE: 4351 Peninsula Players Road, Fish Creek, Wisconsin

• INFORMATION:, 920-868-3287

• WHAT: American Players Theatre

• WHERE: 5950 Golf Course Road, Spring Green, Wisconsin

• INFORMATION:, 608-588-7401