This weekend the restaurants, resorts, and shops in Spring Green, Wisconsin, were electrified by the crowds arriving for the first all-systems-go weekend at American Players Theatre, with both of APT’s stages running with multiple shows and the summer sky ringed with stars on remarkably bucolic summer nights.
It was my first-ever trip to APT and, though I had heard that the quality of the theater there was very good indeed (and that I would see some familiar faces from Twin Cities stages), I hadn’t grasped the full experience. Nestled in 110 acres of forest, with its Up the Hill main stage situated, you guessed it, at the top of a short hike up, the experience is a totally unique mix of the natural and the manufactured, with works of terrific artistic merit and craft presented in a setting that evokes the tranquility of the eternal.
APT stages a nine-show repertory season between June and November; five are at Up the Hill with four housed in the smaller Touchstone Theatre. This weekend I caught a preview of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (photo above); while its official opening night is this upcoming Saturday, August 6, it was already in impressively erudite shape. Another current highlight is Oscar Wilde’s droll An Ideal Husband (photo below), which delivers endless zingers and subversive one-liners while unspooling a plot heavy on financial and political intrigue.
The drive to APT from the Twin Cities is about four hours, which makes a long weekend ideal—the theater is just down the road from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, a repository of the great architect’s work and philosophy, and its unruly and nearly indescribable cousin, House on the Rock, just down the road. It’s a confluence of beautiful landscapes, satisfying art, and small town relaxation that will be on my warm-weather wish list for some time to come.
American Players Theatre’s 2016 season:
On the Hill: The Comedy of Errors, Death of a Salesman, An Ideal Husband, King Lear
In the Touchstone Theatre: The African Company Presents Richard III (by Twin Cities playwright Carlyle Brown), Eurydice, Endgame, Mary’s Wedding
Tickets and more information here.