Originally posted here. June 14, 2021. GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Comically evil and hormonal forces are at work to force a merger of St. Vincent Hospital and Bellin Hospital. If that sounds like a soap opera, it is.
It’s the story of “Bays of Our Lives,” the latest creation of Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe that is running for seven more performances in Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.
The out-there story-making is an excuse for singers to be characters so their songs make sense – silly as that sense may be at times.
Writers/directors Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard and their entourage are quite good at brewing up this hybrid entertainment. The female singers especially light up the stage with sensational and/or sensitive singing.
Amy Riemer tugs the soul with “The Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.” Lustrous.
Lisa Borley lets rip with “I Drove All Night.” Powerhouse.
Sarah Galati explores “Rolling in the Deep.” Multi-colored.
All the while, the three are playing salacious women mired in mayhem and loving it.
Frank’s shows usually turn around songs from an era. This time, the songs turn around daytime soap operas as the source. The characters in the story are from various soaps, and there is a lot of name-dropping along the way. Being in the know about the soap stuff makes little difference because the mishmash simply is for fun, which is easy to understand.
Wigs. Dressing up. Some dance moves. Light shows. Band action. Byplay among the players. Entertaining atmosphere. “Bays of Our Lives” has all that.
The show teases the soaps with overly dramatic moments, bursts of momentous notes from the keyboard and much internal dialogue when a character speaks out loud what she or he is thinking, and then somebody says something like, “Do you know we can hear you?”
This show has a husband-wife duet in “Friends and Lovers.” Frank Hermans broadens his voice to fit needs for Amy Riemer’s colorful power in the song.
Pat Hibbard has many clever turns playing with words as a sinister soap character who keeps being reincarnated… and clever turns on bass guitar and singing in the infectious “Bad Case of Loving You.”
Tom Verbrick is novelty on the hoof, from his curly-curly blond wig to his catchy songs, notably the flashy “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.”
Seating at the Meyer Theatre is spread out for COVID-19 consideration. Of note, Frank’s has been one of the few entertainment entities in the region that has kept on keeping on through a big chunk of the pandemic. The productions at the Meyer Theatre have been full, live, in-person shows.
Stepping back and taking a look at “Bays of Our Lives”: The thing works soap opera stuff into Green Bay stuff lots of people know – its historic hospitals. The thing is original. It’s new. From the bones of the story and characters, songs had to be found to kind of fit what’s happening. The band has to adapt to whatever the music style is. Think about movement, the look of the stage, the look of performers. So much fits together for the – dramatic organ music behind a deep voice here – “Bays of Our Lives.”
Running time: Two hours, 3 minutes
Remaining performances: 1 and 7:30 p.m. June 17; 7:30 p.m. June 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26
Frank Hermans – Dr. Noah Drake
Pat Hibbard – Stefano DiMera
Tom Verbrick – Luke Spencer
Amy Riemer – Erica Kane
Lisa Borley – Laura Spencer
Sarah Galati – Kristen DiMera)
Band: Dennis Panneck (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums).
Support: Ross Loining, lights; Kelly Klaus, sound
“Love Somebody” (Rick Springfield) – Frank Hermans, all
“This is the Time” (Billy Joel) – Pat Hibbard
“Hello” (Adele) – Sarah Galati
“I Drove All Night” (Celine Dion) – Lisa Borley
“Coconut” (Harry Nilsson) – Tom Verbrick
“(Simply) The Best” (Tina Turner) – Lisa Borley
“Friends and Lovers” (Carl Anderson, Gloria Loring) – Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer
“Speak to the Sky” (Rick Springfield) – Frank Hermans
“Through the Eyes of Love” (Melissa Manchester) – Amy Riemer
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” (Kylie Minogue) – Sarah Galati
“Bad Case of Loving You” (Robert Palmer) – Pat Hibbard
“My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion) – Amy Riemer
“Another Sad Love Song” (Kelly Clarkson) – Amy Riemer
“Torn” (Natalie Imbruglia) – Amy Riemer
“All I Need” (Jack Wagner) – Frank Hermans
“Rolling in the Deep” (Adele) – Sarah Galati
“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” (Johnny Rivers) – Tom Verbrick
Original post can be found here.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A young woman discovers she has three possible fathers. A certain popular movie and stage musical tells the story in glossy ways, built around infectiously exciting songs.
In “Menoma Mia,” a young woman discovers she has three possible fathers. But Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe of Green Bay takes the gloss off and puts the hormones on to tell the story, built around the same infectiously exciting songs along with other hits.
Double entendre meanings are ladled out by all the characters. What’s said and done often is slightly dangerous in propriety. The result is a spoof of the certain popular movie and stage musical – with an earthy, laugh-out-loud vengeance. “Menoma Mia” doesn’t hold back the tangy cheese.
“Menoma Mia” also toys with the stories of the three possible fathers from the show “Mamma Mia!” Instead of a Greek isle resort, the guys are coming to a Karaoke festival at a bowling alley in Menominee, Michigan. One guy is from Chicago, another from Green Bay and the third from Upper Michigan.
The show is loaded with Yooper talk. In addition, the guy from the U.P. has comical qualities that make the character particularly colorful. He’s an ex-con.
In “Mamma Mia!” and “Menoma Mia,” the name “Sheridan” factors in. It happens that the bowling place in Menominee is of that name – in reality, too – and both “Mia’s” have mother-daughter characters with the last name Sheridan. On opening night Friday, people who came to the Meyer Theatre from Menominee got all excited about the name connections. In a first for Let Me Be Frank Productions, this show will end its performances in Marinette because of the story’s connections to its neighboring city.
A reminder about this production, which was originally scheduled for April 2020: With the COVID-19 pandemic still holding on, it is a rarity as a live, in-person, full-scale adult show with a socially distanced audience. It is put on like normal in an abnormal situation. Friday night’s audience generally sat in twos and fours, with rows alternately empty. The show was “well attended,” such as what that means now.
Ten songs from ABBA are in “Menoma Mia.” The band and the singers deliver the goods in each. The lead singers vary, but the result is always splashy.
Among other songs, I especially like the performances of two. “I Know, I’ll Never Love This Way Again” finds Amy Riemer enveloping the emotion with her specially rounded voice. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” puts Pat Hibbard a bit out of his rock-powered realm but zipping into the rhythm smack of Paul Simon’s lyrics.
Color sparks the show in quirky costuming and light shows and the steady role of shenanigans.
In the story, Amy Riemer plays the mother and Sarah Galati the daughter. The possible fathers are played by Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard and Tom Verbrick. The long-lost friend of the mother is played by Lisa Borley. Playing beer-drinking buddies are Zach Hibbard and Blake Matthews, who get the danger thingie going with rascally irreverence.
Parts of the plot and storyline are held together with baling wire, which is typical of a Let Me Be Frank Productions show. But the songs get sung and the alley-cat saga gets let loose. Not much is neutered.
Creative: Writers/directors – Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard
Amy Sheridan – Amy Riemer
Sarah Sheridan – Sarah Galati
Lisa – Lisa Borley
Frank – Frank Hermans
Pat – Pat Hibbard
Tom – Tom Verbrick
Blake – Blake Matthews
Zach – Zach Hibbard
Band: Pat Hibbard, bass; Andrew Klaus, drums; Dennis Panneck, guitars; Tony Pilz, keyboards
Running time: Two hours, 10 minutes
Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre, Green Bay: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, Feb. 4, 5, 6, 7; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20. Info: meyertheatre.org or ticketstaronline.com. Community REC Center, Marinette: 7 p.m. Feb. 27. Info: (715) 732-5162.
“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley and all
“Feel Like Makin’ Love” (Bad Company) – Zach Hibbard
“Lay All Your Love on Me” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“You Make My Dreams” (Daryl Hall & John Oates) – Blake Matthews
“I Know, I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (Dionne Warwick) – Amy Riemer
“Mamma Mia” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley
“Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward) – Lisa Borley
“The Winner Takes It All” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer
“You Are the Woman” (Firefall) – Frank Hermans
“Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Johnny Cash) – Tom Verbrick
“Rock’n Me” (Steve Miller Band) – Pat Hibbard
“Take a Chance on Me” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Supa Boo Pa” (Frank Hermans) – Frank Hermans
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (Paul Simon) – Pat Hibbard
“Paranoid” (Black Sabbath) – Zach Hibbard
“Chiquitita” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer, Sarah Galati
“One Way or Another” (Blondie) – Sarah Galati
“The Name of the Game” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer
“Does Your Mother Know” (ABBA) – Frank Hermans
“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Off the Wall” (Michael Jackson) – Blake Hermans
“Dancing Queen” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, Sarah Galati and all
Originally posted here.
Posted: Nov 29, 2020. GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Going to the latest Frank’s show could make you a better person.
It’s a very different Frank’s show in this very different time – entertaining and filled with color and zest and vocal/visual showcases and comedy as usual – but different.
A main difference is Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “A Frank’s Christmas” is one of the few large, full-scale, live, in-person shows around due to the coronavirus COVID19 pandemic. Eighteen more performances continue to Dec. 23 at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.
The “better person” mention has to do with the key character in the story and what his job is.
Frank Frost is a diversity trainer. Mrs. Claus has hired him to help get Santa with being “the best version of ourselves” – what to say, how say it, how to treat others, ways to explore “core values” and ways to “include others.”
Troupe namesake Frank Hermans portrays Frank Frost. Like his relative Jack Frost, “a nephew on a cousin’s side,” Frank Frost freezes things on touch. Frank Frost is unlike any characters Frank Hermans has played in 110-plus productions. Frank Hermans’ jet-black dyed head hair is replaced by his natural gray/white, shaped into a spike, and he has a natural speckled white-and-black beard. His ears are made to look like an elf’s. His suit is a poke-in-the-eye thing awash with red and white and green, as though he’s a walking Christmas tree. He speaks like a know-it-all with a blurry patter. Frank Frost is a fast-talking, double-talking, shifty, smarmy guy who has a hard time following the things he is trying to pass on to others as a diversity coach. For instance, Frank Frost constantly fights his natural instincts with the presence of sweet Amy Angel, one of Santa’s helpers.
Let Me Be Frank Productions goes a long way to create characters for singers to climb into songs, but becoming this character seems to have been a trek.
Skipping to the end, the last song is Frank Frost singing “All I Want for Christmas is You.” On the surface, it’s a person-to-person love song. Deeper in, it reminds me of what ’70s star Bobby Vinton meant in his hit “My Melody of Love” – his love for his audience. Perhaps Frank Hermans is in that ballpark with the song, though the “you” may include those around him, too. That includes an add-on – his son, Harrison Hermans, age 9, opening the show playing guitar and singing a song he, Frank Hermans, wrote.
And, yes, the show is entertaining, convoluted story aside.
Amy Riemer envelops songs, in “Ribbons and Bows” unleashing her big voice climbing the scale.
Lisa Borley is featured in sacred songs, exploring heights in “O Holy Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” with full backing by the other singers.
Sarah Galati climbs into the heart and head of Joni Mitchell in “River,” which flows from its start, “It’s coming on Christmas.” The song is from 1971, well before Sarah Galati was born, and she refuels its meanings.
Pat Hibbard leaps into the vocal powerhouse of the rockin’ blues of “Santa Claus is Back in Town.” And he dives into “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” just singing, not holding a bass like usual – though Saturday he held the detached arm of a ventriloquist’s doll. And he teamed with Frank Hermans to write the heady/humorous stuff in the show, including himself as a kind of earthy, street-smart, slimmed-down Santa.
Tom Verbrick, along with being a dim-witted Santa’s helper visits vintage popular songs from crooners, Gene Autry’s “Up on the House Top” and Perry Como’s “No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”
The band supports like crazy, as usual, and also gets to leap into a Trans-Siberian Orchestra piece in a finesse and power display complete with a light show.
Following Saturday’s performance, Frank Hermans thanked the audience and mentioned “we are down 80 percent” and how the entertainment industry is hurting. He also said he had COVID-19 a month ago and his wife, Amy Riemer, “Saved my life.” All I want for Christmas is you, indeed.
And, yes, the show is entertaining.
Let Me Be Frank Productions’ all-new musical comedy, “Sputnik Manitowoc” opens Friday, September 18th with a benefit for the Capitol Civic Centre Act Two project. On Friday, September 18th, $10 of every paid ticket goes to this wonderful organization in our community. The CCC has established an Act Two vision to thrive in its second century of operation. The Act Two project includes an expanded first-floor lobby, permanent bars, second-floor suite of restrooms, enhanced theatre ambiance, infrastructure improvements, and safety upgrades. Come celebrate our new show and the Capitol Civic Centre with Let Me Be Frank Productions.
Let Me Be Frank Productions’ all-new musical comedy, “The Frankstones” opens Friday, July 31st with a benefit for the Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, and specifically their new Visitor Center. On Friday, July 31st, $10 of every paid ticket goes to this wonderful organization in our community. The new Experience Greater Green Bay Visitor Center will be a destination that will inspire travelers – and residents – to explore our attractions, dine at our restaurants, shop our stores, stay at our hotels, or make Green Bay their home! Come celebrate our new show, the reopening of the Meyer Theatre, and the Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau with Let Me Be Frank Productions.
To our Let Me Be Frank Productions family and friends:
The safety and health of our patrons, cast, and crew are of the highest priority during these unprecedented and challenging times. Given new developments and updated CDC recommendations surrounding COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all performances of Menoma Mia at the Meyer Theatre (April 3-25). Our performance at the Manitowoc Capitol Civic Centre on April 15 has also been canceled.
We will continue to monitor this continually developing, fast-moving situation and follow all necessary protocols and procedures. We will be sure to share any updates or information about performances as decisions are made.
Of course, we were so looking forward to sharing this new show with all of you. We’re deeply sorry to those who had already made plans and purchased tickets. For those of you with tickets (including season ticket customers), refund information will be forthcoming as we work out details.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope to return to the stage and “get our laugh on” with LMBF soon!
Originally posted here.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)
rhythm and rhyme
both rich and rank
come from Frank
who has a yen
for his own Hamilten…
Err, “Hamilton” – you know, the super-popular musical.
No, the latest Let Me Be Frank Productions show is not a straight-on rip-off of “Hamilton.” The Green Bay show troupe is just having fun with it.
The performers wear clothes of the American Revolutionary War period, as in “Hamilton,” but they sing songs not from the hit musical but from the 1960s charts.
Sometimes rap is let loose, like in the real “Hamilton.”
The title character speaks in rhyme somewhat like my tease above.
Let Me Be Frank Productions’ title is not “Hamilton: An American Musical” (the official one) but “Hamilton Ltd. The Musical.”
Alexander Hamilton is not to be found.
Hamilton, a remarkably inventive business in Two Rivers, is. The new CEO there is George Hamilton (the name of a popular actor in the 1960s), portrayed by the troupe’s namesake, Frank Hermans.
Frank Hermans and writing/directing partner Pat Hibbard dreamed up a lot of the new stuff, including their usual dose of fractured history that fits into a story that mashes together all sorts of what-ifs.
What if the company based in Two Rivers known for leading the way in so many ways repurposed to selling a pot product on the sly? That’s the Hermans-Hibbard way of bringing into the story references to the current legalization of marijuana as something visionary because the show is set in 1968.
If this is all too complex, just listen to the singing.
Heard is Lisa Borley going toe toe to with Barbra Streisand’s version of “People” – slow, careful, colorful, ringing, brilliant.
Heard is Amy Riemer in a soul version of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” embracing the style, flowing with its infectious flow and letting loose at the end an amazing long and pure note.
Heard is Sarah Hibbard in the lead of “Love Child,” not imitating Diana Ross but in her own style a layer lower in sound and fullness. Lisa Borley and Amy Riemer become The Supremes, not in slinky outfits of the ’60s but in hoop skirts from around 1776.
Heard is Blake Hermans, singing songs that were popular well before he was born and making them is own with a singing style of a unique texture. The Rascals might be jealous of the supple groove he puts to their hit “It’s a Beautiful Morning.”
Frank Hermans adds pop heat, Pat Hibbard rock zest, Paul Evansen pop drive and Tom Verbrick novelty spirit in song.
They all toy with their distinctive characters and enjoy the spotlight singing songs that usually have been heard by millions.
Fueling everything are Dennis Panneck on guitars, Tony Pilz on keyboards and Adam Cain on drums – musicians who can play anything under the sun in the pop realm across many years.
All along, the singers play with their characters, most of whom are Hamilton employees gathered for a costumed Fourth of July celebration. The punch gets spiked, so the level of bizarre goes up by leaps and bounds.
“Hamilton, Ltd. The Music” is especially ambitious in two ways.
One. As the regal-sounding George Hamilton, Frank Hermans speaks in rhyme. Twice that leads into bursts of rap with individual players picking up the drum-backed voice-beat. That’s hard stuff to create.
Two. Adding to the there-has-been-no-Frank’s-show-like-this aura is the costuming for the women. Look at the photo above. The dresses are made by Amy Riemer (Frank Hermans said so on stage), and they are complex and of character of their own.
Thursday’s performance included moments that seemed to pop out of nowhere, though that is par for the course for the company. Paul Evansen seemed to flub a word, and an improv bit arose that played with the fact that Pat Hibbard’s wig kept creeping back on his bald head. Suddenly, folks were doing a riff on eggs. Egg head, get it?
In all, this is another Let Me Be Frank Productions show among 100+ unlike other shows, but they all are unlike the others.
Side note: As a journalist, I get a kick out of this about Hamilton from the 1800s: The company virtually monopolized the wood-type industry, and shock newspaper headlines that fed “yellow journalism” – like at the time of the Spanish-American War – in a way had roots in what was made in li’l ol’ Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Frank Hermans (George Hamilton)
Pat Hibbard (Mayor)
Band: Dennis Panneck, guitars; Pat Hibbard, bass; Tony Pilz, keyboards; Adam Cain, drums
Running time: One hour, 55 minutes
Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre in Green Bay (with a new starting time for evening performances) at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 8, 13, 14; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22. Info: meyertheatre.org. Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12. Info: cccshows.org
Let Me Be Frank Productions’ all-new musical comedy, “Hamilton Ltd. The Musical” opens Friday, January 31st with a fundraiser for NEW Zoo and NEW Zoological Society. On Friday, January 31st, $10 of every paid ticket goes to this wonderful organization in our community. Come celebrate our new show and NEW Zoo with Let Me Be Frank Productions.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)
Originally posted here.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
That, too, is in the latest Let Me Be Frank Productions show, which is sort of what the old Fleet Farm line is to Christmas shows: If “A Frank’s Christmas” doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.
Even in the mix is sweet soulful reverence.
The Green Bay-based show troupe’s 20th Christmas show is running to Dec. 28 in the Meyer Theatre.
As usual, the story around a musical showcase contains a tad of truth. “In 1982, I was fired from Fleet Farm,” namesake Frank Hermans says at the start. Hermans goes on to say why and note that the man who fired him now works as part of his operation.
Hermans and creative partner Pat Hibbard dream up a story that one of the box retailer’s stores battles Amazon with a shopping-experience-enhancement plan: Have employees dress as their favorite Christmastime characters in a toyland theme. The rah-rah store manager is into team building and employee rewards.
Much, much goes into setting up the next song. Many of the songs are from Christmas albums that big acts have come up with, including additions to the genre by Taylor Swift, Def Leppard, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and U2.
Let Me Be Frank Productions doesn’t make same old, same old Christmas shows.
As always, all the singers act as individual characters they are dressed as. This time, they go from a Sugar Plum Fairy with a sweet tooth for candy and nut packages she happens to find open, to a sassy Mrs. Santa Claus, to an Elvis in a fire-engine red and snowflake-enhanced jumpsuit, to the pointy-hatted elf from the movie “Elf,” who spouts scientific explanations on any topic under the sun. And more.
All sorts of kidding goes into the character-making. Frank Hermans’ Elvis outfit, for instance, includes an ankle bracelet compliments of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office… in keeping with his character’s life of misfit messin’ up.
All the characters are loose wheels, with the loosest being Blake Hermans and Zach Hibbard as Heatmiser and Snowmiser, respectively, from “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Along with individual features, the two team for an outstanding rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The song has scores of versions. Theirs is especially over-the-top physical comedy with tongue-in-cheek add-in lines. The two go through the whole songs – the leaping lords and ladies dancing and maids a-milking and the whole shebang – always ending up with Zach Hibbard being the tree and Blake Hermans on his back squawking like a partridge in a pear tree. The thing is funny and amazing and ends with the two reeling from the workout.
The general tone of the show is fun and games with Tom Verbrick, dressed as Scrooge, as the eager store manager weaving the storyline. The music is primarily pop (star-driven) with the prime luster coming from the three female singers as soloists and/or teammates. An example is Sarah Hibbard taking the lead on “Santa Baby,” with Amy Riemer and Lisa Borley adding colors in support.
A major section is “The First Noel.” Lisa Borley takes the sensitive lead; she is silhouetted at the start in special lighting effects. Behind her providing harmonic support are Amy Riemer, Frank Hermans, Sarah Hibbard, Tom Verbrick, Blake Hermans and Zach Hibbard. The song is part of the reverence I referred to.
It also comes in “In the Bleak Midwinter” with Blake Hermans soloing and in “O Come All Ye Faithful” with Amy Riemer, who soars in an especially long and pure note.
The costuming, the dance add-ins, the band setting a multitude of musical landscapes (Dennis Panneck playing five guitars), goofy comedy, serious moments (some referencing charity), personal anecdotes – there’s a whole lot in this Christmas package. Very entertaining.
After 20 years, it’s pretty clear that Let Me Be Frank Productions is something else.
The Green Bay show troupe’s 20th anniversary show “Frank Fontaine’s Bandstand USA” is something else again.
The show is stacked with ‘50s/’60s hit songs, flashy singing, lively dancing, sassy humor, send-up comedy, special guests and a whole lotta life.
It’s entertaining, in the way that Let Me Be Frank Productions entertains: Tell a story that is kinda/sorta based in fact and unleash songs.
This show has a double-edged story. It imagines a star showman who is flush with glitz and vanity. First, he puts on a pop-hit show in his home turf TV studio. Then, in the second half, he hits the road for remote show (truly so) in a Escanaba, Michigan.
Five of the cast members play two sets of characters. They go from teasing types in the first half to super lampooners in the second. Escanaba is poked fun at up and down, backward and forward… and then some.
Stuffed in are made-up commercials, two of which are loaded with double entendre meanings.
Singing is at the fore, as usual, but this show almost always is in motion with dancing. Some of that dancing is lampoon, too.
Here is a glimpse of how this went down on opening night Friday: At the end, namesake Frank Hermans has introduced his cast and guests and creative partner Pat Hibbard has introduced Frank Hermans. They shake hands, which they seldom do on stage in their hundred-something productions spanning thousands of performances. It’s moment of appreciation of one another. Soon, after some bows, the curtains start to close but the audience is still in the midst of a blossoming standing ovation. Frank Hermans calls for the curtains to fully open again. That happens, and all on stage savor the moment.
This production is packed with stories. Some:
+ The first time “Frank Fontaine’s Bandstand USA” was done was 2004. The troupe was Frank’s Dinner Theatre Players then. The location was the SC Grand Banquet and Convention Center in Lawrence.
+ Performances along the way in this production will have various performers step in for guest appearances. Friday, two were met with big responses – Suzan Teofilo Sherman for a lustrous “Where the Boys Are” and Dan Rafferty for a rip-roaring “Great Balls of Fire.”
+ Two past regulars have returned for the full run. Each has points of fascination. Jennifer Kanzelberger Polara is commuting from Arizona (what?) to be in this production. She was in the original. This is what I wrote in the Green Bay Press-Gazette: “Jenny Kanzelberger continually shines. Her voice suits such tunes as “Stupid Cupid,” “I Like Bread and Butter” and “He’s So Fine.” Her choreography keeps the show bouncing along. Kanzelberger’s joy in performance is infectious. She’s 17.” Ditto today (plus 15 years, a law degree and a husband). Paul Evansen is doubling as anchor/reporter on WFRV-TV and stage performer (singing, dancing, comical guy). The humor is sometimes things he could never get away with on the air, notably as commercial pitchman as part owner of Delta County Taxidermy, a Yooper-driven bit that has enough double meanings to stuff a bear with.
+ Speaking of double meanings, Frank Hermans is a pitchman for Niagara, a starch that has the same properties as a product with a similar name. That routine was in the 2004 production, as was Hermans. From the 2004 review: “Hermans has the look and manner of a star – beleaguered as he is in this case – and it’s no secret Hermans can sing just about any song he wishes and deliver the goods with flair.” Ditto in this production.
+ Also still at it from the 2004 production are Pat Hibbard and Tom Verbrick. Pat Hibbard, character/bass player, again is featured in “Runaround Sue” and “Devil with the Blue Dress.” Tom Verbrick again “is strong in support in song and dance. His second-act look – a hunched up nerd in horn-rimmed glasses – is priceless.” That’s because in “You’re Sixteen” he goes from singing in lisping, spitting ways to crooning handsomely.
+ Everybody plays characters. Let Me Be Frank Productions shows don’t just crank out songs. The singers are somebody. Lisa Borley and Amy Riemer are oh so good at singing in colorful ways, plus they have extra zip in portraits of comical women. This time, Lisa Borley is both a Hollywood la-de-dahhh teen and a Yooper girl, boots and dee’s and do’s and all. Amy Riemer plays a ditzy TV assistant, stacked beehive hair, glam dress and malaprop humor and all. Michael O’Malley sends up the persona of a TV show gofer, more than a bit fey.
+ Song after song is infectious, with the band feeding that. What happens out front is sparked by the skills of Dennis Panneck, Tony Pilz, Adam Cain and Pat Hibbard.
+ The run of this production promises to have many colorful moments as more talent joins for guest appearances. Notably, co-founder Joe Kiedinger will be aboard Oct. 3 and 4.
Frank Fontaine – Frank Hermans
Pat Pierce and Pat La Pierre – Pat Hibbard
“Rate it Girl” Amy Angel – Amy Riemer
Jennifer Jansen and Jenny Jeez Em Crums – Jennifer Kanzelberger Polera
Paul Pencil Neck and Paul Leo Vaccine – Paul Evansen
Tommy Tonsils and Tom Spitz – Tom Verbrick
Lisa Lovely and Lisa LeRoy – Lisa Borley
Make-up artist Michael Magic – Michael O’Malley
Cameo appearance: Suzan Teofilo Sherman – Sept. 20 and 21
Cameo appearance: Dan Rafferty – Sept. 20
Cameo appearance: Maggie (McGinn) Dame – Sept. 21
Cameo appearance: Jack Janowicz – Sept. 26, 27 and 28
Cameo appearance: Kasey (Corrado) Schumacher – Sept. 26 and 27
Cameo appearance: Co-founder Joe Kiedinger – Oct. 3 and 4
Cameo appearance: Kelly (Haddad) Gusloff – Oct. 3 and 4
Cameo appearance: David Gusloff – Oct. 3 and 4
Cameo appearance: Emily Terrell Paulsen – Oct. 10, 11 and 12
Band: Guitars – Dennis Panneck, keyboard – Tony Pilz; drums – Adam Cain; bass – Pat Hibbard
Running time: 2½ hours
Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre, Green Bay, to Oct. 12: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and 12; info: meyertheatre.org. Also, Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23; info: cccshows.org.
Song selections (Sept. 20)
“Do You Wanna Dance” (Bobby Freeman) – Frank Hermans
“Locomotion” (Dee Dee Sharp) – Lisa Borley
“Peppermint Twist” (Joey Dee and the Starliters) – Lisa Borley
“The Twist” (Chubby Checker) – Frank Hermans
“Let’s Twist Again” (Chubby Checker) – Frank Hermans
“Twistin’ the Night Away” (Sam Cooke) – Paul Evansen
“Poetry in Motion” sung as jingle “Poultry in Motion” (Johnny Tillotson) – Pat Hibbard
“Blame It on the Bossa Nova” (Eydie Gorme) – Amy Riemer
“The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” (Bobby Vee) – Pat Hibbard
“Da Doo Ron Ron” (The Crystals) – Lisa Borley
“He’s So Fine” (The Chiffons) – Jennifer Kanzelberger Polara
“I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March) – Amy Riemer
“Goin’ Out of My Head” (Little Anthony and The Imperials) – Jennifer Kanzelberger Polara
“Where the Boys Are” (Connie Francis) – Suzan Teofilo Sherman
“Name Game” (Shirley Ellis) – Amy Riemer
“Land of a Thousand Dances” (Wilson Pickett) – Pat Hibbard
Medley of Duane Eddy – Band
“Simple Simon” (Fruitgum) – Amy Riemer
“Good Lovin’” (The Young Rascals) – Frank Hermans
“You’re Sixteen” (Johnny Burnette) – Tom Verbrick
“Stupid Cupid” (Connie Francis) – Jennifer Kanzelberger Polara
“Run Around Sue” (Dion) – Pat Hibbard
“Dancin’ in the Streets” (Martha and the Vandellas) – Lisa Borley
“Strollin’” (The Diamonds) – Frank Hibbard
“Bread and Butter” (The Newbeats) – Jennifer Kanzelberger Polara
“Be My Baby” (The Ronettes) – Amy Riemer
“Jimmy Mack” (Martha Reeves & The Vandellas) – Lisa Borley
“Great Balls of Fire” (Jerry Lee Lewis) Dan Rafferty
“Devil with the Blue Dress” (Shorty Long) – Pat Hibbard
“Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard) – Pat Hibbard
“Go Away Little Girl” (Bobby Vee) – Frank Hermans
“Who’s Sorry Now” (Connie Francis) – Amy Riemer
“Wild One” (Bobby Rydell) – Michael O’Malley
“Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson) – All
NEXT: “Frank’s Christmas,” Dec. 4 (Manitowoc), Dec. 6-28 (Green Bay).