Peninsula Players Presents World Premiere of ‘The Tin Woman’

Director Tom Mula (left) and playwright Sean Grennan review the script of ‘The Tin Woman’ during rehearsals. Photo submitted.

“If I only had a heart,” laments the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, and so does the central character in Sean Grennan’s new play The Tin Woman opening June 17 at Peninsula Players. However, as a potential transplant recipient, her wish – unlike that of Dorothy’s metallic friend – is literal.

The Players’ world premiere of The Tin Woman is the story of a young woman who is given a new lease on life through the implantation of a donated heart. Her desire to meet the mourning family who agreed to the donation leads to an unpredictable resolution, resulting in a story that promises to be heart-warming while at the same time humorous.

Playwright Sean Grennan is familiar to local playgoers from the Players’ 2011 production of Making God Laugh, directed by Tom Mula, who is directing the current play.

Grennan graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston with a degree in literature and an infatuation with theater that led not only to taking roles in a number of college productions, but ultimately a career as a professional actor and frequently staged playwright (this is his 11th production).

The inspiration for this play came from Grennan’s sister (coincidentally, an actress in the show) who told him about a news story in which a young woman received a heart transplant and ultimately connected with the donor’s parents who felt that she and their late son under other circumstances might have found romance as a couple.

Initially Grennan had envisioned the play as a romantic comedy, but “arrived at a place I didn’t intend to go – for a writer, a happy thing! I’m pleased!”

When writing the play he had been dealing with his own health issues and a death in the family, “a sense of mortality,” he said, “and you can’t hide in your writing.” While the “undercurrent of romance” remains in the play, “it is not the same drive.” He found himself asking questions: What is the meaning of life? What are we doing here? What is important?

Tom Mula (left) directs cast members of ‘The Tin Woman’ including (left to right) Erica Elam, Joel Hatch, Erin Noel Grennan,and Kristine Thatcher.

Subsequently, he was pulled from writing “a breezy comedy” in a different direction, and found the going every day as a writer to the grief and sadness implicit in the story, an experience that was difficult at times.

“Not allowing myself to constantly joke,” he said, “was a challenge.” As a humorist at heart, he still wanted to make people laugh, but “mixed other things, universal stuff, in with it.”

Grennan and director Tom Mula have known each other for years. “Tom is a writer himself,” Grennan said. “He knows the drill, the mental game – a great shepherd – he’s smarter than me!” he laughed. “We get each other. It’s always about the piece, no egos, everyone tries to help the ‘baby.’”

“I’m pragmatic,” Mula said, “it’s about making it work. Sean is the same way. He asks, ‘Does this work?’ We have a great working relationship.” When directing Grennan’s Making God Laugh at the Players, Mula enjoyed working with the playwright as they made a good play even better.

“The same thing is happening here,” he said. “I’m very much in love with the play: it’s human, entertaining, funny, moving and powerful.” The piece is strong, he explained, as it deals intelligently with human behavior. “Helping actors discover [the humanity] in the most honest way is my task,” he added. “And the actors are just fabulous! I couldn’t be happier with the cast.

“The audience is going to be surprised by their journey in the play,” he continued. Theater can be entertaining but it can also be “wonderful at exploring the human soul. This play does both, in a surprising and powerful way!”

Both the director and playwright bring multiple talents to theater. Mula, in addition to his work as a director, is an actor, playwright and professor/artist in residence at Columbia College. (To learn more about him, visit

After the run of his play, Grennan will step on stage himself to act in the next two productions, Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None and the award-winning farce The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful. (To learn more about him, visit

We know that The Tin Woman gets her heart; the question remains what she will do with it. To find out, the play runs from June 17 to July 6, 8 pm on Tuesdays – Saturdays; 7:30 pm on Sundays (except 4 pm on July 6). For tickets call 920.868.3287 or visit

Peninsula Players Theatre, in conjunction with its production of The Tin Woman, will host speakers from The Second Chance for Life Foundation on June 26 at 6:30 pm. Tickets to the performance are available, admission to the pre-show seminar is free.

Joel and Sue Heckman and Ken and Fran McIntosh will join playwright Sean Grennan in the seminar. Joel and Ken are both recipients of heart transplants and Sue and Fran were their caregivers during the recovery process.

“The Players held pre-show discussions last season which were widely attended,” said Danielle Kapolnek Peninsula Players development and events coordinator. “This season we will host a pre-show seminar each of the five of plays. Speakers will lead discussions on topics based on the shows.