We have an amazing array of traditional theatrical performances and groups here on Bainbridge, some are very well known, such as the varied productions of classics at Bainbridge Performing Arts (BPA), the Bard at Bloedel and Ovation Performing Arts Northwest. We also have smaller groups like inD Theatre who typically perform at The Rolling Bay Hall, Island Theatre, who puts on the Ten-Minute Play Festival and a variety of shows throughout the year, which are performed at BPA or the Bainbridge Public Library (and sometimes in private homes), and then we have the Lesser-Known Players (LKP), who perform edgy plays at venues all over the island, North Kitsap and Seattle.
Getting around as much as they do, it seems a bit odd for the troupe to go by the moniker of “Lesser-Known”, but it isn’t so much the performers, as it’s the plays they perform that are lesser-known. As president of the LKP, Gary Fetterplace explained, the group focuses on plays and musicals that traditional theatre groups probably wouldn’t stage. “Obviously BPA and Ovation performs large well-known plays and musicals, we wanted to be the other end of the spectrum to provide smaller intimate theatrical productions as a need seemed very much needed,” Gary said. “Many city theatrical companies have smaller stages and black boxes and we wanted to provide that experience for the patrons of performing arts and also the actors themselves (which we were). Our extensive experience included large professional and small professional theatrical venues.”
The Lesser-Known Players had their inaugural performance in May of 2016 with the complete works of William Shakespear (abridged). The show was headed by Jennifer Hodges and Kristi Ann Jacobson, along with Gary Fetterplace and Kyle Guse. They followed that show with The Vandal and The Snow Queen in 2016, adding Derek Villanueva to the roster of performers. The Lesser-Known Players was then incorporated and listed as a 503(c) charity in January 2017 with a full season performed at The Rolling Bay Hall, beginning with the restoration comedy Celedine. “Some of our shows are a little edgy or cheeky including the non-speaking MacBob who wore a kilt in our opening inaugural production in true Scottish fashion!” Gary shared.
In their production of Next to Normal, director Steven Fogell noted in a January 2020 Kitsap Sun article, “I had never been through a show that was so gut-wrenching and hit you from the get-go.” As described in the Sun article, the play focuses on the lead player, a suburban mother with an intensifying bipolar disorder and the origin of her struggles and how they affect her family. The emotional “edginess” of the production prompted Steven to hire an “actors’ wellness coach,” and cast understudies for five of the show’s six actors.
As with many of their plays, including their current show, Abigail’s Party, the LKP productions focus on strong female leads, which is intentional. The founders “wanted to concentrate on Lead Female productions with more female biased productions as it was felt this was missing from the standard fare being presented by the large theatre groups,” Gary said.
The group consists of about 16 regular performers, mostly from Bainbridge Island, but also Poulsbo, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard and the greater Seattle area, several of which have extensive theatrical backgrounds. Gary, who is originally from Kent, England, has been involved in theatre in Kitsap County since 2004. According to his bio, “Gary’s first professional gig was at The London Palladium and afterwards on the BBC, London Weekend Television and Yorkshire Television. Here in Kitsap County, he has been involved in over 75 productions with Bremerton Community Theatre (where he has been a Trustee since 2009). and with Bainbridge Performing Arts since 2014 where he has appeared every year with their Bard at Bloedel Shakespeare plays and can often be found building sets for their main stage shows. With WWCA in Port Orchard since 2010 and was nominated in 2020 as best Director and Best Play (The Crucible) of the season by South Sound Stage Excellence.”
However, Gary isn’t the only member to have professional theatre experience, Vice President of LKP, Erik Lawrence, began pursuing his theatrical ambitions a few years ago, and has performed as a singer/actor/musician and lighting technician with Western Washington Center for the Arts, Bremerton Community Theatre, LKP, inD Theatre and Bainbridge Performing Arts. Artistic Director and founding member of LKP, Kristi Ann Jacobson has a Masters in Theatre from WWU with a focus on acting and directing, and has studied at The Royal Academy of Art and Theatricum Botanicum in the UK.
But you don’t have to have professional experience to join the group, just a desire to perform plays and musicals that expose the community to new, rare, unusual and out-of-mainstream theatre. “Through these lesser-known works we seek to foster community engagement, dialogue, and understanding of history, politics, and the different ways of living, thinking, believing and behaving in society, and to provide more opportunities for inclusion in the performing arts to the traditionally underrepresented,” it says on their website.
Shows are primarily performed at The Grange Hall and the Rolling Bay Hall here on Bainbridge Island, as well as many more locations around Kitsap and Seattle.
Their final performances for the 2023 season will be the continuation of Abigail’s Party, a dramatic comedy listed as #11 of the top 100 plays of the 20th century in the UK. The final performance will mark their 20th full scale production. The encore performance will be held at The Grange Hall on December 29th and December 30th at 7:30pm. The Grange Hall is located at 10340 Madison Avenue NE (please note, this location is not ADA accessible). Click here for tickets.
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