WAUPUN — Local theater group Waupun Community Players are in the final stretch of preparations for their upcoming play “A Poison Pen Letter to an Angel,” an historical drama based on the true events of threats against the Shaler-Hanisch family and the Recording Angel statue.
The play will be held the same day as the Recording Angel Centennial Rededication Ceremony, Saturday October 7th. There will be two showings at 6PM and 8PM and will be held in the Waupun City Hall Auditorium.
Based on a true story, the play will be presented as a “whodunit” style mystery, with excerpts from real historical newspapers and reports of the event.
The playwright, Jeanne Ludjack, came up with the idea for the play after hearing the history of the statue over the last several years, and when the occasion of the rededication ceremony came up the Community Players felt like it was finally time to play this story.
According to Ludjak, she first learned about it while reading through newspapers at the Waupun Historical Society, where she found a headline about the plot. According to the papers, an anonymous man sent a letter threatening to kill Marion Shaler-Hanisch’s husband and bomb the Recording Angel statue which is a memorial to Blanche Shaler, Clarence’s wife who died in 1921.
“The intent is for it to be educational, but entertaining, so we’re going to have some fun with it,” Ludjack said.
Since the play takes place during “The Roaring Twenties,” the organizers encourage audience members to wear outfits from the time period.
“The audience members will be participating and drawn into the play,” Ludjak also said.
One of the play’s biggest selling points is its timing with the 100th Anniversary of the Recording Angel, which was placed in Forest Mound Cemetery on October 11th, 1923. The first Waupun sculpture to reach 100 years of age, it will be an event to remember.
“The plot of play is intertwined with bootlegging, blackmail, destruction and a diabolical scheme aimed at one of Waupun’s notorious families, the Shaler-Hanisch clan,” according to the Facebook event invite description. “Marion Shaler Hanisch is the recipient of the poison pen letter that threatens her husband’s life and the destruction of her beloved mother’s memorial statue, the Recording Angel.”
“This story of evildoing is told by a Reporter from the Waupun Leader News and all clues, tips and facts of the crime are shared with the audience,” it says. “It is a true tale and truly a who ‘dunnit’ mystery? Come and be a part of the investigation and weigh in on who YOU think committed this crime in our fair city of Waupun in January 1928.”
Each showing will be about an hour long with a cocktail hour in between.
The event organizers are also looking for volunteers to help with stage props, stage lights, and someone to record the play for historical posterity. Individuals who are interested in helping out can contact the Community Players through their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/WaupunCommunityPlayers