Henry Antrobus (Gabe Mills) helps his mom (Deanna Eikhoff) look for whales in Atlantic City, while his sister, Gladys (Juliette Burnette) tells her dad (Mark Valentine) how deep the ocean is.

Henry Antrobus (Gabe Mills) helps his mom (Deanna Eikhoff) look for whales in Atlantic City, while his sister, Gladys (Juliette Burnette) tells her dad (Mark Valentine) how deep the ocean is.

Community Players celebrate 50 years of theater

Playhouse opened with ‘Skin of Our Teeth’ in 1971

PORT ANGELES — Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” represents both the beginning and the season’s end for the Port Angeles Community Players.

The Players opened their Playhouse theater at 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd. with a production of “The Skin of Our Teeth” in March 1971.

This year, the Players will close out their main stage season with a revival of the American classic to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Playhouse theater building.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as Tuesday and June 10, 11, 14, 17, 18. Matinees are planned at 2 p.m. Sunday as well as June 12 and June 19.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students, with the two Tuesday performances — June 7 and June 14 — half price admission with $8 tickets purchased at the door.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.pacommunityplayers.org or at the box office the day of the performance. Masks are required to be worn inside the theater.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the public is invited to a free Community Celebration of the 50th birthday of the Playhouse Theater building. Birthday cake and punch will be served in the parking lot of the theater. Guests will learn more about the history of the Playhouse and about Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning drama.

At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, anyone who has been a performer on stage, helped backstage or supported the Playhouse as a patron or ticket buyer is invited to stand in front of the marquee for a special “Family Photo” to mark this milestone, said Richard Stephens, board vice president and production manager, in press release.

When Wilder premiered “The Skin of Our Teeth” in 1942, for which it won not only the Pulitzer Prize for Drama but also several Tony Awards for its all-star cast, the world was deeply engulfed in a war with no clear outcome of who would win, Stephens said.

The play broke the “Fourth Wall” with characters talking directly to the audience and combined absurd moments like bringing dinosaurs and people together, the Ice Age, the Biblical flood, Atlantic City as a modern Sodom and Gomorrah and a disparate mix of characters including the blind, Greek poet Homer, Moses, a Fortune Teller and classic muses.

The story begins in Excelsior, N.J., where Mr. Antrobus (Mark Valentine) comes home and announces he has invented the wheel. His wife, Mrs. Antrobus (Deanna Eickhoff) is trying to hold together the family of daughter Gladys (Juliette Burnette) and son, “Henry” (whose previous name might have been “Cain” but the family doesn’t like to talk about it) played by Gabe Mills.

They are struggling with daily problems like grades at school but also the encroaching wall of ice that threatens to wipe out all of humanity. The family maid, Sabina (Danielle Kolste) dryly tries to make sense of it all for herself and the audience, urging you, the audience, not to take a word of this play seriously since nothing in it makes sense, and is continuously announcing her intent to give her two weeks’ notice.

Act II takes place on the boardwalk of Atlantic City during a convention of the Honorable Order of Mammals amid all the carnival lures of candy, fortunes read and pushcar rides. But hanging over all is a growing warning of a looming worldwide flood.

Act III is back at the family house after a seven-year war. There is no clear reason what the war was about or who won, but in the aftermath of great destruction, the family begins to come back together and figure out how to move on after calamitous devastation.

“What is amazing about this play,” Stephens said, “is that, though it was written in 1942, it is incredibly prescient and so timely for today, hitting on hot-button topics of climate change, mass species extinction, war, #metoo movement and the existential worry about whether the human race can survive the next 50 years.”

Said Director Barbara Frederick: “The play is about many things but mostly about the resilience of family and our ability to get through any challenge, whether it’s a moving wall of ice, the great flood or war (internal or external), together.”

Rounding out the cast is Sharon Delabarre, Tara Dupont, Peter LaJambe, Samuel Rees, Belle and Jamie Robinson, Ken Winters and Fred Robinson.

During Act II, several past performers at the Playhouse will make cameo appearances as Conveners in Atlantic City.

“As we end our 69th season, with our 300th production, telling this story became more than just celebrating our theater,” Frederick said.

“As we’ve peeled back the layers, we’ve discovered how amazingly relevant the play is today.”

The family pets, Dolly the mastadon (Belle Robinson) and Frederick the Dinosaur, relax in front of the fire.

The family pets, Dolly the mastadon (Belle Robinson) and Frederick the Dinosaur, relax in front of the fire.

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