Life after BoarsHead

By Eric Gallippo

Kristine Thatcher moves forward with new theater company, Peppermint Creek show

Kristine Thatcher, former artistic director for Lansing’s BoarsHead Theater, plans to open her own equity theater in Lansing as soon as this theater season.

Thatcher confirmed during an interview last week that Stormfield Theatre is already incorporated and able to accept donations.

“I came home here to be with my family and have a home as an artist, and I still want that, and so the natural progression was to create a home of my own,” Thatcher said. “I also think it’s going to be based a lot on newly written plays, and a lot of it is focused around living playwrights. There is really no niche for that in this community.”

Thatcher, who acted at BoarsHead as a teenager, went on to become a successful actor, writer and director in New York and Chicago before returning to Lansing in 2004 to take over as artistic director at BoarsHead. In June, the theater’s board of directors decided not to renew Thatcher’s contract at the end of the summer, citing financial reasons.

Stormfield’s first project is a staged reading in November from David Lindsay- Abaire’s “Kimberly Akimbo,” which is the first show Thatcher would like to stage. “We’re going to do three days of readings — sort of sending up a balloon to see if it pops or if it floats,” she said.

The “Kimberly Akimbo” reading will star local theater veteran Carmen Decker in the role of Kimberly, a 16-year-old girl who is aging very rapidly. “I can’t wait to see her in knee socks with a backpack,” Thatcher said. “She’ll be wonderful in it.”

If enough money can be raised from the readings, Thatcher hopes to get a full production up during the current theater season.

When asked if mid-Michigan could support another theater, Thatcher said it was a concern, but, “Either it will or it won’t.” “I also think it’s a really healthy sign when there’s a lot of arts and theater in a community,” she said. “I don’t see it as competition at all.”

The name of the company comes from The Stormfield Theatre of Chicago, a company dedicated to new works, which dissolved in 1980, and the Mark Twain story “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” for which Twain later named his home in Redding, Conn., “Stormfield.”

The theater’s mission statement includes a strong focus on new works by living playwrights and educational programs for actors, directors and writers.

The readings will be at Studio 1210, 1210 Turner St., in Lansing’s Old Town on Nov. 6, 7 and 8. Tickets are $15 and available at (517) 372-0945.

But before Thatcher debuts her own company, she will help raise the curtain on Peppermint Creek Theatre Co.’s new season, directing Peter Ackerman’s “Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight.”

Thatcher chose the show, which she had originally planned as a late-night show at BoarsHead, after being approached by Chad Badgero, Peppermint Creek’s artistic director, about directing something this season.

“It’s a very bawdy piece of fluff,” Thatcher said. “It’s very funny, and it’s very nasty. People shouldn’t bring their children.”

The farcical sex comedy premiered off-Broadway in 1999 and is set in three Manhattan bedrooms. “It’s three couples, three beds — the set is three beds,” Thatcher said.

So is there any underlying moral or point? “I can’t think of one. I’ve been looking, too, but I really — I think it’s all in the title,” Thatcher said.

The cast for the show features Kellie Stonebrook, Mark Gmazel, Paul Bourne, Abby Murphy, Bill T. Henson and Shane Shanske. “They’re having a great time,” Thatcher said. “In fact, they’re cracking themselves up, and I have to get sterner with them.”

Working with Peppermint Creek has also been a stimulating experience for the veteran. “It’s more guerilla theater; for the first week we were rehearsing in my living room,” she said. “It’s kind of exciting. You get it up by hook or by crook. Chad’s a wonderful resource, and the stage manager, Tim Fox, is just a godsend.”

“Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight.” 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday & 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 3. Peppermint Creek Theatre Co., Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., Lansing. $15/$10. (517) 927-3016.