At the core, the latest Let Me Be Frank Productions show is about the disco era. But then again, it’s totally not.
Let’s see, it’s something like this: Disco era as interpreted through a story about persons from Upper Michigan as told through a reality TV series that is starting its eighth season with a telethon for a mushroom.
This all makes sense, sort of, when played out by performers who seem to do their lines spontaneously and then sing on the sensational side, particularly the four women.
Behind this production as writer is Kasey Corrado, a member of the company who certainly knows the show troupe’s rhythms and all the goofiness the players spawn.
“U.P. Housewives Season ‘Ate’” opens with a hilarious video that was part of the original show a few years ago. The piece is classic Frank’s comedy: Two women from the make-believe TV series “U.P. Housewives” are interviewed with their lover just as they are about to go into labor. Oh, their lover is the same guy.
In this show, the story is a few years down the line. The lover guy, David (David Gusloff) has married one of the women (Kelly Gusloff) and is paying child support to the other (Lisa Borley). David’s life is filled with important things, like hunting and fishing. Meanwhile, Lisa has hooked up with a sensitive, helpful guy (unseen). Comical bitterness between Kell and Lisa surfaces in public on live TV during a telethon for the Humungus Fungus in Crystal Falls. David is the emcee.
There’s a whole lot more as the music part of the show goes through something of a checklist of hits from the 1970s.
Creative: Writer – Kasey Corrado; directors – Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard; choreography – Kristin Melotte; sound – Tim Funk; lighting – Tracey Cook
Cast (from left in photo above): Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer, Tom Verbrick, Kasey Corrado, Pat Hibbard
Band: Guitar – Dennis Panneck, guitar; Tony Pilz – keyboard; drums – Adam Cain; bass – Pat Hibbard, Lisa Borley, David Gusloff, Kelly Gusloff
Running time: Two hours, 22 minutes
Remaining performances: To Feb. 25 at Meyer Theatre – 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, plus 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Additionally, 7:30 p.m. March 8 at Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc Info: letmebefranks.com and cccshows.org.
The presentation opens with a disclaimer from troupe namesake Frank Hermans. He says the show isn’t making fun of people from Upper Michigan, just the stereotypes those people have acquired. The show then goes on to send up all sorts U.P. stuff, starting with da vernacular, ya know, hey?
+ The opening story sequence with Kell and David in a cellphone conversation. Their U.P.-speak give-and-take reveals David’s shortcomings as a husband. Then Kelly Gusloff and David Gusloff sing “You Don’t Have to be a Star,” and their voices go from backwoods to beautiful – skilled, really.
+ A bit about a sideline business of Kasey Corrado and Amy Riemer called Youse 2 Yoga, with Corrado moving something like a rubber band.
+ Corrado later singing/limber-dancing “Upside Down” with Tom Verbrick as her dance partner.
+ “Lady Marmalade” with all the women in full tilt as Amy Riemer leads the splashy action as a song from the telethon – or tell-a-ton, as the characters say.
+ Pat Hibbard providing rock breaks to the disco-y tone, with Dennis Panneck infusing the scene with knowing guitar features.
+ As Kelly Gusloff sings “Feels Like I’m in Love,” David Gusloff dancing next to her like water poured on a hot skillet – sizzling.
+ The cosmic scenario of “Midnight Train to Georgia,” the Gladys Knight hit, this time with her three Pips being David Gusloff, Tom Verbrick and Frank Hermans as Yooper guys dressed up with elaborate lamé jackets of the gaudy showbiz type.
+ Frank Hermans letting rip in big-voice songs he is so good at.
+ Sign at the telethon for the Humungus Fungus: “Save Da Spore.”
There is much more in this jam-packed show, from making fun of Hermans for his “inappropriate remarks” (it’s in the script) to showcases of songs by soaring voices.
The thing is entertaining as all get out.