It’s beginning to look a lot like…”A Frank’s Christmas” at the Meyer Theatre! I had the opportunity to watch and review Let Me Be Frank Productions’ 24th (!!!) annual Christmas show during their opening weekend of performances. If you’re looking for a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit, this is the show for you.
What’s this show all about? Well, our elves return for another Christmas season of smiles, songs, and a little bit of mischief. Frankie Fuzzballs, Amy Angel Food, Pauly Pockets, Patty Cakes, and newbie elf, Shelfie, have a new job this year. The council has been tasked with teaching Beerntsen’s Candies how to make a true chocolate yule log. However, the assignment at hand is bigger than they anticipated, and they need some reinforcements. After receiving several applications, they’ve narrowed down the pool of applicant elves who seem to possess a lot of great potential. Lisa Lollipop, Sarah Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and Krampy Krueler are called in to interview. Shelfie seems to be the only elf who sees Kramy Krueler for what he truly is…a Krampus. Why does Krampy want to join the do-gooder elf council? And can Shelfie convince everyone of his true identity before it’s too late? You’ll have to find out!
From the opening of the curtain, the audience is hit with a bright array of Christmas colors, lights, costumes, props, and the hauntingly beautiful a cappella notes of Away in a Manger sung by Amy Riemer. I thought the opening was a fantastic way to grab the audience’s attention and give them a hint of what’s in store for the next two-hour show. The whimsical story and set brought to life before our eyes was lovely.
One noticeable aspect of this production is the use of traditional Christmas songs and carols. The song selections are ones you’ll know, (with the exception of 3 originally written songs, which I’ll get to in a minute!). Even though the songs are traditional, musical elements are often modernized. One clear example of this is What Child is This? sung by Pat Hibbard. The song is infused with rock melodies and a pulsing beat. Same with Go Tell It On The Mountain performed by Sarah Galati, which had me bopping in my seat and clapping along. Kudos to Pat Hibbard, music arranger, for taking an array of old traditional songs and making them all fresh.
Aside from the traditional songs, this show featured not one, not two, but 3 all-original songs written by Frank Hermans, Blake Hermans, and Amy Riemer, respectively. On top of all their other obvious talents, yeah, they can also write songs. Each original song brought something special to the setlist. I genuinely could see all 3 songs being on the radio with huge success.
The Christmas show usually has a song where the band is solely featured and this show definitely accomplished that! My goodness. The opening of the second act had the band front and center on stage, and even John Singer played in the aisles of the audience – which was a special touch I’ve never seen in a Frank’s show before. Each band member had a moment to shine – and shine they did! Their version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was by far my favorite version I’ve ever heard. Congratulations to Tony Pilz, Pat Hibbard, Andrew Klaus, and John Singer! And they somehow also made their elf costumes look like they belonged in a rock band 😉
A few other thoughts and highlights:
-Lisa Borley was able to demonstrate her beautiful soprano voice and classical vocal training in Gesu Bambino. The range she has is off the charts.
-The clap-on-clap-off bit throughout the entire performance showed off some impressive “freeze” talents by Blake Hermans!
–O Christmas Tree allowed notable bass notes to be highlighted by Tom Verbrick.
-Additionally, Tom’s California surfer dude + evil Krampus character was a hilarious and unexpected combination.
-The use of lights and audio to show video “glitches” and sound effects was unique and memorable.
-The choir vocal section in How Great Thou Art, with Frank Hermans’ warm voice and presence at the helm, was powerful
-John Singer’s guitar solo in I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – WOW. Every time I see him play I wish I had taken guitar lessons my entire life, so I could maybe be a fraction as good as he is now.
-The Still, Still, Still duet between Sarah Galati and Lisa Borley was remarkable. It was refreshing to hear a duet with a different pairing of vocalists in the cast. I enjoyed the harmonies and blend. It was a give-you-goosebumps song in the show (among many!).
-I’ve seen Paul Evansen do the Pauly Pockets character 4 times now (in the Christmas shows in 2013, 2014, 2022, and now 2023) and I think my favorite part of his repeat character was his crooner version of Jolly Old St. Nicholas in this show. Nobody does those types of tunes better than Paul!
-For those seeing the show on a non-school night, you’ll have a special opening act featuring 10-year-old Jack Hermans. His solo had me smiling from ear to ear!
There’s a reason “A Frank’s Christmas” has been a beloved tradition in the area for 24 seasons and counting. What a feel-good production filled with amazing Christmas music, hilarious actors, and a cute storyline. If you have the opportunity, head on out to the Meyer and check out this year’s show!
“A Frank’s Christmas” continues:
Wednesday, November 29th at 7:30pm
Thursday, November 30th at 7:30pm
Friday, December 1st at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 2nd at 7:30pm
Wednesday, December 6th at 7:30pm
Thursday, December 7th at 7:30pm
Friday, December 8th at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 9th at 7:30pm
Wednesday, December 13th at 7:30pm
Thursday, December 14th at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Friday, December 15th at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 16th at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Wednesday, December 20th at 7:30pm
Thursday, December 21st at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Friday, December 22nd at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 23rd at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Friday, December 29th at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 30th at 7:30pm
Tickets are available at meyertheatre.org, ticketstaronline.com, or by calling Ticketstar at 920-494-3401. Doors open to the box office inside the Meyer Theatre for day of tickets one hour prior to each performance.
An out-of-town performance will be held at the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc on Tuesday, December 5th, at 7:00 pm. Head to cccshows.org or call 920-683-2184
for tickets and more information.
Cast: Frank Hermans as Frankie Fuzzballs/Fruitcake, Pat Hibbard as Patty Cakes, Amy Riemer as Amy Angel Food, Tom Verbrick as Krampus, Lisa Borley as Lisa Lollipop, Sarah Galati as Sarah Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Blake Hermans as the Elf on the Shelf, and Paul Evansen as Pauly Pockets.
Band: John Singer (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums).
Lights: Ross Loining
Sound: Kelly Klaus
Away in a Manger – Amy Riemer
What Child is This? – Pat Hibbard
I Saw Three Ships – Blake Hermans
Go Tell it on the Mountain – Sarah Galati
Gesu Bambino – Lisa Borley
O Christmas Tree – Tom Verbrick
How Great Thou Art – Frank Hermans
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – Paul Evansen
Still, Still, Still – Lisa Borley and Sarah Galati
Joy to the World – Amy Riemer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Tony Pilz, Pat Hibbard, Andrew Klaus, John Singer
Up on the Housetop – Sarah Galati
Christmastime – Frank Hermans*
The Wassail Song – Pat Hibbard
O Little Town of Bethlehem – Lisa Borley
Jolly Old St. Nicholas – Paul Evansen
Will You Stay This Christmas Eve – Blake Hermans*
Sweet Christmas Dreams – Amy Riemer*
*originally written songs