New Artistic Director for Peninsula Players

Greg Vinkler Thrilled by Linda Fortunato’s Appointment

Greg Vinkler has had a hand in nearly every Peninsula Players season since 1988, when he was cast in the role of George in Doubles. A few years later, Vinkler began taking on responsibilities as the theater’s artistic director and was fully cemented in that role in 2007. At the end of the 2021 season, Vinkler will be stepping down as artistic director after 14 years at the helm. 

“Greg Vinkler is synonymous with Peninsula Players and is its premier ambassador,” said Jill Herlache, president of the theater company’s board of directors. “We are going to miss Greg’s artistic leadership.”

Having inherited a powerful legacy, Vinkler made great strides to continue the tradition of high-quality theater at the Players, and he promoted changes as well. 

In 2011, Vinkler and Alan Kopischke expanded the theater’s off-season offerings with The Play’s the Thing, a series of play readings. One of the readings each year has often coordinated with Door County Reads, and this year, it’s Neil Brookshire’s adaptation of The Dust of Death. The reading series has been doing incredibly well, Vinkler said, and the Players have plans to continue it into the future.

At its core, Vinkler’s philosophy for the theater is simple: to bring in the most talented professionals he can, to give the audience the best they can get. 

“They have to be good campers,” he adds, because of the closeness of the company’s living and working arrangements. 

Greg Vinkler. Submitted.

Though Vinkler will no longer be artistic director at the end of the season, he hopes to direct many shows and continue performing on the Peninsula Players’ stage for the foreseeable future.

“I’m looking very much forward to the next leg of my journey,” he said.

With Vinkler’s retirement, responsibilities will transfer to Linda Fortunato, and Vinkler couldn’t be more pleased with her appointment. “She was my first choice in every way,” he said. “She seemed absolutely right to take over. She knows the place inside and out. When the two of us worked together, we would compare notes, and we were always on the same page.”

Fortunato will serve as associate artistic director for the 2021 season. She has spent 17 seasons with the Players on stage and behind the curtain as an actor, director, choreographer and business manager. She has also spent time as artistic director at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana, which Fortunato said had many demographic similarities to Peninsula Players.

Fortunato said she’s thrilled to join the leadership team.

“[The Peninsula Players] has been a very special place to me and my family for many years,” she said. “I am honored to be entrusted with the legacy of this extraordinary theater.”

One of the great challenges of 2021 will be to navigate when and how the theater will reopen. 

“Whether it’s this year, whether it’s next year, or both, audiences are going to really be hungry to get back in the theater, and artists will be excited to get back to work,” said Fortunato, who is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities this year will bring.

The Peninsula Players have enjoyed a long and celebrated history for a reason, Fortunato said, and she believes she’s in a wonderful position to both continue that legacy and help shape the future of the company.

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