rformers in Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “Seymour, Home of the Burger ‘Happy Days!'” are, from top left, Amy Riemer, Pat Hibbard, Frank Hermans, Tom Verbrick, Michael O’Malley, Tony Pilz, Dennis Panneck, Adam Cain, Lisa Borley and Kasey Corrado.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Let’s say Let Me Be Frank Productions has a style dial. The Green Bay troupe’s latest show is set to the 1950s/1960s, a nice era in pop music. Instead of vocal skyrockets in the troupe’s other theme shows, the songs are usually sweet or fun in tone. If songs were paintings, these would be pastels.
The overall feel is a carryover from something else different about this production. The troupe is taking characters from the hit 1970s/1980s TV show “Happy Days” and applying them to a story involving a county fair at Seymour. You know, Seymour is the town west of Green Bay that happily proclaims it is where the almighty hamburger was invented.
The show “Seymour, Home of the Burger ‘Happy Days!’” is like a burger with all the fixin’s. It is nostalgia and history (loopy, of course) and songs and comedy and theater and … nice. Tasty, too.
Eleven more performances lie ahead (10 in Green Bay at the Meyer Theatre downtown, one in Manitowoc’s Capitol Civic Centre).
Creative: Writers – Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard; band leader– Dennis Panneck; vocal coordinator – Amy Riemer; lighting design – Tracey Cook; sound design – Tim Funk
Cast: The Fronz – Pat Hibbard; Ditchie – Frank Hermans; Potsie – Michael O’Malley; Ralph – Tom Verbrick; Laverne – Amy Riemer; Shirley – Kasey Corrado; Pinky – Lisa Borley
Band: Guitars – Dennis Panneck; keyboard – Tony Pilz; drums – Adam Cain
Running time: One hour, 55 minutes
Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre, Green Bay: 8 p.m. April 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29; 1 p.m. April 29. Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc: 7:30 p.m. April 19
“Happy Days” theme – band with Frank Hermans
“Stood Up” – Michael O’Malley
“Soldier Boy” – Kasey Corrado
“Our Day Will Come” – Lisa Borley
“Que Sara” – Amy Riemer
“It’s All Right” – Pat Hibbard
“Sugar Shack” – Frank Hermans
“Laverne and Shirley” theme – Amy Riemer
“Mr. Bass Man” – Tom Verbrick and Kasey Corrrado
“Today I Me the Boy I’m Going to Marry”
“Mr. Lee” Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer, Kasey Corrado
“Latest Flame” – Frank Hermans
“I Know a Place” – Amy Riemer
“Hit the Road Jack” – Pat Hibbard
“My Mind has a Heart of Its Own” – Lisa Borley and Kasey Corrado
“Seventh Son” – Michael O’Malley
“The One Who Really Loves You” – Amy Riemer
“Hey Porter” – Tom Verbrick
“Sha Boom” – Frank Hermans
“Lipstick on Your Collar” – Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer, Kasey Corrado
The story and characters are not a direct lift of “Happy Days.” The TV show’s The Fonz is called The Fronz, for instance. “I call him The Fronz so I wouldn’t get sued,” co-writer/performer Frank Hermans told Saturday night’s crowd.
The Fronz in this case is Pat Hibbard, who co-wrote himself a role of cool expertise in all matters of knowledge about women. Normally clean shaven of pate, Hibbard is armed with a wig this time, as are most of the players – to match their characters.
This show’s characters are dippier than the ones on TV, who are fairly flakey in the first place. One of the interesting turns with artistic liberties is Pinky is a straight-on booze hound as the slightly older girls of “Laverne and Shirley” meet up with the adolescent bungling boys of “Happy Days.” As usual with Frank’s shows, hormones are bumping around in the boy-girl stuff.
One of the cool things about this show is, while the songs are a half-century old – whew! – they are sung by youthful (or youthful enough) performers. The troupe is not a bunch of old duffers (pardon me) croaking out songs that trigger happy/tearful memories but people who truly know how to sing and make the songs feel as if they are of the present. The quality of the songs comes through.
It’s fun to hear in “Mr. Bass Man” Tom Verbrick ba-bum-bum-bum-ba while Kasey Corrado trips along in the lyrics. Or Amy Riemer wrap her golden tones into “Que Sera” and its “whatever will be will be.” Or Lisa Borley colorfully shade the hopeful “Our Day Will Come.” Or Frank Hermans play with the playful “Sha Boom.”
This show has a rarity for Frank’s – a female duet. Lisa Borley and Kasey Corrado offer up “My Mind has a Heart of Its Own” in a touching kind of stereo.
The show has the feel of a sitcom episode when it visits the fair in Seymour. The scene is delightfully bizarre. It involves a weight/age guessing booth. Frank Hermans plays a kind of Arabian hocus-pocus guy (sheik-y outfit and all), and Michael O’Malley plays his concubine, Ali Booby (harem/belly dancing type of outfit and all). On a bet, the guys are trying to get a kiss (“by a person of the opposite sex”) by midnight so they don’t have to run in their skivvies down Seymour’s main drag. The bit is layer upon layer of comedic cosmicness, not the least of which is “concubine” O’Malley has a mustache.
Frank’s shows usually have ad-lib happenings. Saturday’s performance had two additional incidents – failed batteries for the wireless headsets. First, Frank Hermans’ batteries died in dialogue. Then, in mid-song (“Seventh Son”), Michael O’Malley’s system went kaput. On the run, the situations were fixed and didn’t stop the show dead. It was interesting to see how nobody seemed bothered. The situation was like, “Well, that’s showbiz.”
NEXT: “My Twin Bridge Summer,” June 9-24