April 7, 2023
Given how winter has dragged on this year (well, for me it has!), I was excited to take a trip to “Punta Kaukauna” with the Let Me Be Frank Productions crew for their newest show at the Meyer Theatre. From the music to the costumes and lights, the show was a wonderful evening “away” to a tropical island.
So what’s this show all about? Well, after 20 long years working toward earning their college degrees, Frank, Pat, and Paul of UWO’s Pi Sigma Old Guy fraternity are finally ready to graduate! As a graduation gift, Frank’s dad offers to send the guys down to Punta Cana for an all-expense paid trip. Since they’re accustomed to partying at Anduzzi’s in Kaukauna, this will be quite a change of scenery. Before leaving, they fill out dating profiles for The Club from Unda in Punta Cana. Meanwhile, three single-and-ready-to-mingle ladies — Amy, Lisa, and Sarah — are Thilmany employees who learn the company is offering an all-expense paid trip to Punta Cana. All they must do is find a winning tag under the wrapper of a Kaukauna Cheese Ball (which, of course, they do!). The ladies fill out their dating profiles before jet-setting off as well. We can’t possibly imagine what will happen when the guys and gals get to their vacation destination and realize a little matchmaking is in store. Tom, who runs the Club from Unda, isn’t quite sure what to make of these Midwestern folks and certainly has his work cut out for him. Hilarity ensues.
For those who have been to a Let Me Be Frank Productions show in the past, you are aware Frank Hermans shares a little speech before the top of each show. Frank mentioned this show’s music selection is a little out of the norm for the troupe. Instead of choosing a time-specific genre (e.g., the 1960s, 1970s, etc.), this show features island music. Because the music is based on a theme instead of a specific decade, the songs range from the 1950s to the early 2000s. I was pleasantly surprised I could hum along to each song (only in my head, of course!). I was dancing in my seat and continued to look forward to the opening notes of each new song. I love the “regular” shows that feature a set decade of hits, but I appreciated this change in the music dynamic. While there is no doubt Frank, Pat, and Amy know what they are doing when it comes to choosing music and crafting a hit show, I think having a few more shows with themed music would be fun to see in the future. I have plenty of suggestions in my head if anyone wants to know a few 😉
The music was lively and rhythmic and allowed each band member to be highlighted. Tony Pilz (keys), Andrew Klaus (drums), John Singer (guitar), and Pat Hibbard (bass), each had rightful opportunities to shine with solos. The band makes each performance and song look effortless when that’s far from the case. “Punta Kaukauna” showcases the adaptability and high caliber of the Let Me Be Frank band, and I hope audience members take a moment to appreciate those in LMBF with the instruments in hand.
Another aspect that stood out to me in this show was the dancing! I’ll be honest, dancing is not my personal strong suit as a performer, and I don’t usually focus on it while viewing a show — but it was impossible not to notice this time around. The upbeat music called for lots of movement, and there were several more songs than usual with accompanying choreography. Audience members may not know the cast choreographs the songs themselves. There was a total of 7 choreographed songs in this show (usually it’s 3 or 4 per show). The additional movement elevated and propelled the performances forward.
A few thoughts and highlights:
+ Amy Riemer’s choreography AND vocals in Rhythm of the Night. Her ability to shake and groove while also belting out those high notes is continually impressive.
+ Sarah Galati and Lisa Borley both bring the vocal heat to Guantanamera and La Isla Bonita, respectively, singing in different languages! Kudos to both of you!
+ Each character I see Paul Evansen portray, I think, “This is my new favorite of his.” I thought his character in “Seroogy’s, Green Bay’s Willy Wonka” couldn’t be topped, but it turns out I was wrong. Paul, I don’t think you have any idea how incredibly entertaining you are to us audience members!
+ I Can See Clearly Now performed by Frank Hermans was such a treat. From his costume choices and awkwardly shy character, he had me cracking up all night long.
+ Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer, and Sarah Galati all have a featured Gloria Estefan song. Each woman made their Gloria Estefan song their own with beautiful vocal nuances and stylings. Bravo!
+ Tom Verbrick is the master of accents. It’s clear over two decades with the troupe, he takes anything given to him and runs with it. I don’t know what he could be given that he couldn’t tackle with a natural ease and humor.
+ Electric Avenue performed by Pat Hibbard was another clear fan favorite, as those around me were ALL bopping their heads and singing along.
+ As always, the sound mixing by Kelly Klaus highlighted each vocalist and band member, and the notable light show by Ross Loining was a work of art in it of itself
“Punta Kaukauna” was a delightful escape from the cold, wind, and rain that made me wish I was on a sandy beach with a cocktail in hand, preferably with the cast recording playing on a speaker on repeat.
“Punta Kaukauna” has remaining performances at the Meyer Theatre:
Friday, April 7th at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 8th at 7:30pm
Thursday, April 13th at 7:30pm
Friday, April 14th at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 15th at 7:30pm
Thursday, April 20th at 7:30pm
Friday, April 21st at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 22nd at 7:30pm
Thursday, April 27th at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Friday, April 28th at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 29th at 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Tickets are available at meyertheatre.org, ticketstaronline.com, or by calling Ticketstar at 920-494-3401.
An out-of-town performance will be held at the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc on Wednesday, April 12th, at 7:00 pm. Head to cccshows.org or call 920-683-2184 for tickets and more information. The show will also take place at The Engler Center for the Performing Arts in Chilton on Sunday, April 30th at 7:00pm. Head to https://englercenter.ludus.com/index.php?step=seats for tickets.
Cast: Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard, and Paul Evansen as fraternity guys, Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, and Sarah Galati as Thilmany employees, and Tom Verbrick as the runner of the Club from Unda.
Band: John Singer (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums).
Lights: Ross Loining
Sound: Kelly Klaus
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (Kenny Cheney) – Frank Hermans
Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet) – Paul Evansen
Rhythm of the Night (DeBarge) – Amy Riemer
Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant) – Pat Hibbard
I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash) – Frank Hermans
Sway (Pussycat Dolls) – Lisa Borley
Guantanamera (Joan Baez) – Sarah Galati
Escape (The Pina Colada Song) (Rupert Holmes) – Tom Verbrick
Get on Your Feet (Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine) – Lisa Borley
Sharing the Night Together (Dr. Hook) – Frank Hermans
Cheeseburger in Paradise (Jimmy Buffet) – Pat Hibbard
All Night Long (Lionel Richie) – Amy Riemer
Limbo Calypso (Geoffrey Holder) – Tom Verbrick
La Isla Bonita (Madonna) – Lisa Borley
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley) – Paul Evansen
Rhythm is Gonna Get You (Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine) – Sarah Galati
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (George Michael & Aretha Franklin) – Amy Riemer and Frank Hermans
Conga (Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine) – Amy Riemer