Gerds reviews ‘The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway’

The UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance program enters the second half of the two-week run of the world-premiere play “The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” with shows at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday (April 30-May 2). Critic-at-large Warren Gerds reviewed an opening-weekend performance and allowed that the newly finished comedy/drama by New York playwright Peter Ullian “seems to have an inexhaustible supply of surprises over its two hours and 40 minutes. You can’t nod off because some new twist, albeit weird, is about to happen. It could be about bear meat stew, sexual proclivities, the worth/unworth of Taylor Swift, the undead, spontaneous poetry or making an iPhone-driven movie with a nonexistent budget with an impromptu script and lots and lots and lots of nude scenes and varietal sex. So much of ‘The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway’ is a crock, and that’s what makes it fun…” Gerds praises the student cast members, “who do a phenomenal job of creating their individual characters and fleshing them out. Each character comes with a distinct identity that’s sometimes over the top, sometimes off the wall and always figured out.” Read the full review.

New play ‘Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway’ debuts at UW-Green Bay

New play debuts at UW-Green Bay“The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway,” a newly created play by New York playwright Peter Ullian, will enjoy its premiere performance Friday night, April 24, at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The five-show run also includes performances Saturday, April 25, and Thursday through Saturday, April 30-May 2. Curtain time is 7:30 each night in the University Theatre, located in Theatre Hall on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive.

Ullian has spent the spring semester as artist in residence at UW-Green Bay with the Theatre and Dance academic program. He collaborated with students and faculty in finishing a script he had started previously.

“The student actors were essential to the development of the play,” Ullian says, who is the production’s director. “The details have grown and deepened thanks to the input of the young men and women playing the parts, as well as those on the production team.”

“The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” is described as a comedy-drama about identity and the nature of love. It tells the story of a group of college friends who gather for a Fourth of July weekend at a secluded lake house.

The host, Honoré, chose the date because she wanted company as she marks the one-year anniversary of the loss of her spouse, Sammie, whose mysterious disappearance was believed to be a swimming accident. One of the friends, Delia, is writing a screenplay and cajoling her friends to play parts written for them in a movie she hopes to record and edit on her iPhone, and another, Lindsey, can’t understand why the others are upset she has brought her boyfriend, who happens to make great sandwiches. The very nature of reality is brought into question when Honoré reveals she has experienced a supernatural encounter, and when unexpected visitors bring startling revelations.

Peter Ullian
Peter Ullian
Ullian says he wanted to write a play with characters approximately the same age as the student actors at UW-Green Bay.

“In both professional and academic theatre settings, we often have actors playing characters much older or much younger than they really are,” Ullian says, and that’s fine, “but sometimes it’s nice when actor and character provide a closer fit, and it creates that authenticity.”

He resisted the temptation to set the action in his own college years — although one character does have sort of a 1980s sensibility — and instead chose a voice closer to the millennial-generation students who will perform the play at UW-Green Bay.

“I have my own set of references that undoubtedly date me, but I’m bombarded by the same media onslaught that my students are,” Ullian says, “so Taylor Swift and Yoko Ono have become part of one big smorgasbord of pop culture we all share.”

Ullian’s residency was made possible by the Forward Phoenix Play Project supported through private donations by the UW-Green Bay First Nighters theatre support organization. Prof. Laura Riddle, chair of the academic program and managing director of Theatre, says the experience has given students a window into the creative process and the opportunity to work under the direction of a playwright/director. Additionally, students took part in staged readings of two other new works by Ullian, “Fair City” and “Pan American.”

A member of The Dramatists Guild, Ullian’s work includes the book for the musical, “Flight of the Lawnchair Man,” directed by Hal Prince and nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play. His play “Big Bossman” has just been published by Broadway Play Publishing, Inc.

The ensemble student cast at UW-Green Bay for “The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” features Stephanie Frank as Honoré, Kate Akerboom as Delia, Ashley Wisneski as Allie, Katelyn Kluever as Lindsey, Cherran Dea Rasmovicz as Pippa, Daniel Taddy as Rand, Andrew Delaurelle as Baz, and Emily Ahrens in multiple roles as Sammie/Caitlin/Jocelyn. Student Elizabeth Kierin Barlament is the set designer.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and youth. Order online at or by calling (920) 465-2400 or (800) 328-tkts. More information about UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance is available at


UW-Green Bay presents comedy ‘Months on End,’ opening Feb. 26

UWGB comedy Months on End
The student cast of ‘Months on End’ features Andrew Delaurelle and Stephanie Frank as Walter and Elaine

UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance opens its 2015 calendar of productions with the contemporary relationship comedy Months on End, beginning a seven-show run Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

Associate Prof. John Mariano directs a 10-member student cast — five men and five women — exploring happiness, sorrow and everything in between by way of a dozen comic scenes, one for each month of the year.

The 2003 play by New York-based playwright Craig Pospisil was first produced at actor Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Playhouse in Chelsea, Mich.

The story follows the intertwined worlds of a circle of friends and family whose lives are poised between happiness and heartbreak. The scenes include an engaged couple with cold feet, a romantic proposal gone awry, a wedding day meltdown, a commencement speech that derails into a hysterical tirade, a marriage in peril after a mishap with a Beatles collectible, and distant brothers who finally find common ground in their failed relationships. The circle centers on fiancée Phoebe and fiancé Ben.

UWGB comedy Months on End
Katelyn Kluever (Phoebe) and Conrad Kamschulte (Ben) in ‘Months on End’
The ensemble student cast at UW-Green Bay features Katelyn Kluever and Conrad Kamschulte as Phoebe and Ben, along with Andrew Delaurelle (Walter); Stephanie Frank (Elaine); Daniel Taddy (Tony); Evan R. Ash (Nick); Azure Hall (Paige); Emily Ahrens (Heidi); Charli Servin (Gwen); and Tyler Scholz (Chris).

Performances of Months on End will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 26, 27 and 28, and Wednesday through Saturday, March 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center is an intimate performance space with seating capacity of less than 100. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door for adults, $15 in advance and $17 at the door for students (with ID) and seniors, and $10 for UW-Green Bay students. Order online at or by calling (920) 465-2400 or (800) 328-tkts. More information about UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance is available at

This week at the Weidner: Gerds praises STOMP in online review Critic-at-Large Warren Gerds gives a blow-by-blow (stomp-by-stomp?) account of Tuesday’s Weidner Center production of STOMP in a column published online today (Wednesday, Jan. 28). “ ‘STOMP’ first visited the Weidner when the center was getting going in the early 1990s,” Gerds writes. “A generation later, it still generates sparks across ages 6 to 86.” Gerds describes Tuesday’s performance — a second show is tonight — in intricate detail, writing about the performance’s unique percussion from beginning to end. “Everything happens in front of you, and there’s no fudging,” Gerds writes. “For LIVE entertainment, ‘STOMP’ is right up there.” Read review.

Reminder: I Love Lucy

We’re only one week out from the first touring attraction to hit the Weidner in 2015: “I Love Lucy: Live on Stage.” With shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, the production transports theatre-goers to the 1950s dawn of the TV Age and the “taping” of two classic episodes of America’s No. 1 comedy. To purchase a ticket,

Media coverage, press release: ‘Spring Awakening’ opens Thursday

Local 5 Critic-at-Large Warren Gerds previewed UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance and UW-Green Bay Music’s production of Spring Awakening in a post this weekend on As we told you here last week, Spring Awakening is based on a controversial late 19th century play and adapted as a modern pop/rock musical. It deals frankly with issues including adolescent sexuality, so it’s not for kids — but director and cast say adults will find plenty to which they can relate. Spring Awakening runs this Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 20-22 (with two shows Saturday); for more information you can check out Gerds’ preview or our UW-Green Bay News press release and preview video:
UW-Green Bay press release

In the news: Gerds reviews opening night of ‘Uncommon Women’

Local 5 News Critic-at-Large Warren Gerds reviewed opening night of the UW-Green Bay production of Uncommon Women and Others Thursday, introducing readers to playwright Wendy Wasserstein’s tale of eight friends reuniting a half-dozen years after college has ended. “There’s plenty of meat to work with for director Laura Riddle, the cast and the UWGB Theatre and Dance discipline,” Gerds notes. “It’s a play suited to a university setting and an audience that likes to explore change.” Uncommon Women and Others resumes Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 22-25, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center. Read Gerds’ full review.