GREEN BAY, Wis. – As Let Me Be Frank Productions shows go, “My Twin Bridge Summer” is different in that it’s a show about “the other guy.”
Frank Hermans is the namesake of the Green Bay show troupe and one of the writers and one of the directors. Pat Hibbard is the other guy – the other writer and the other director. The cosmic jokes – the head stuff – come from Hibbard, along with the harder-edge rock vocals and bass playing.
In introductions Saturday night at the Meyer Theatre, it seemed like “My Twin Bridge Summer” was going to be another memory show about Frank Hermans. Hermans talked about his experiences as a youth heading to Popp’s Resort at Twin Bridges in northern Wisconsin – all the things he did and the fun he had.
But, no, when the show begins, “My Twin Bridge Summer” is Pat Hibbard’s take on his experiences in ski shows with the Waterboard Warriors. As usual, a lot of stuff is concocted in the story of a rivalry between water ski teams and the colorful characters on them. There may be a touch of “Baywatch” characters in the show, but I’m guessing because I never watched that TV show.
There is a cool, Pat Hibbard-esque effect in “My Twin Bridge Summer.” He plays the narrator. He looks back on himself in the 1980s. Hibbard steps to the fore in a spotlight on the stage to the audience’s right, talks about things that are about to transpire, and then the scenes, story and songs about his past unfold on the rest of the stage. Hibbbard slips to an edge of the action and plays bass in the band. When a sequence ends, he comes back out to the spotlight as the narrator. Back and forth he goes. Cranking up the cosmic-icity is this: Portraying the youthful Pat Hibbard is Zach Hibbard, his son. You can tell them apart. For starters, Zach Hibbard has hair, Pat Hibbard doesn’t.
The cosmic-est happening is when the song “Dancing with Myself” arrives. Pat Hibbard is one side of the stage, playing guitar and singing backup/pertinent lyrics, while Zach Hibbard (in his first show but comfortable) is on the other side of the stage, singing the core song. Father-son/then-now – oh, my head hurts. But I’m loving it. And then Pat Hibbard says something reflective on life, and it’s all cosmically beautiful.
But it is still showbiz. And showbiz is about illusion and illusions.
If that section was too abstract, skip it.
Now, the rest of the show: The story does clank along. There’s stuff about rivalry and retribution that is used to fire up the songs. But there is a sense of wildish, up north, youthful daring.
Making songs fit is a bit tricky, being that many of the ’80s hits used are techno-pop – beat and soundscape-oriented – rather than of human emotions. But there certainly is drive in “Pop Muzik” featuring Tom Verbrick, “Jump” featuring Zach Hibbard and “Hot Blooded” featuring David Gusloff.
As usual, the band lights up a lot of tunes. Tony Pilz in this case has a lot of electronic keyboard doo-dads to layer in, and Dennis Panneck is featured in guitar solos. Pilz’ style: Cool look and showy in action. Panneck’s style: Casual cool look, contained body motion, serious demeanor – all the while digging into hair-pin curved music at speed. There’s nothing frayed or panic-buttoned about Panneck.
Best of the show: David Gusloff and Kelly Gusloff in “We’ve Got Tonight.” A great romantic duet, cleanly sung. The characters they play are weird, but the song’s wonderful.
Best of the show: Amy Riemer in “It’s My Turn.” That voice is so smooth/powerful/golden. Very distinctive.
Two best of shows? They’re equally tops.
Also nifty are Lisa Borley energizing “She Works Hard for the Money,” Kasey Corrado unleashing the excitement of “Kids in America” and Frank Hermans crossing styles and pumping out “Paperlate” and “Renegade” and their intensity.
“My Twin Bridge Summer” includes lowball humor. There’s references, for instance, of a place where the Peshtigo River has been forced that is distasteful. Almost always when I’m out in public at shows and someone brings up Frank’s shows in a discussion, the person adds, “but I don’t like some of the humor.” It’s here, too. On the other hand, the guy behind me laughed.
Much fun is the messed-up history that pops up. One sequence is how song, movie and TV show titles are jumbled in people’s re-membery/memory/forgetteries so that famous lines are connected in akimbo ways; Corrado is especially good in the teasing. And Hermans’ character is specifically vague about the bridges of Twin Bridges, even connecting one to Germany, “which is somewhere around Wausaukee.”
Cast and band: From left in photo above: Frank Hibbard, Lisa Borley, Dennis Panneck (guitar), Kasey Corrado, Zach Hibbard, Pat Hibbard (bass), Adam Cain, Amy Riemer, Kelly Gusloff, Tony Pilz, David Gusloff, Tom Verbrick
Running time: Two hours, 10 minutes
Remaining performances: 8 p.m. June 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, plus 1 p.m. June 24 at Meyer Theatre; 7:30 p.m. June 28 at Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc
Info: letmebefranks.com or cccshows.org
“Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer – Pat Hibbard, band, all
“Fool in the Rain” by Led Zepplin – David Gusloff
“Make a Move on Me” by Olivia Newton-John – Kasey Corrado
“It’s My Turn” by Donna Ross – Amy Riemer
“Modern Girl” by Sleater Kinney – Lisa Borley
“Paperlate” by Genesis – Frank Hermans
“Personally” by Karla Bonoff – Kasey Corrado
“Fascination” by Donna Summer – Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer, Tom Verbrick
“Pop Muzik” by M – Tom Verbrick
“Jump” by Van Halen – Zach Hibbard, all
“Renegade” by Styx – Frank Hermans
“How Do I Make You” by Linda Ronstadt – Amy Riemer
“I Never Knew Love Like This Before” by Stephanie Mills – Kelly Gusloff
“Hot Blooded” by Foreigner – David Gusloff
“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer – Lisa Borley
“We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger – David Gusloff, Kelly Gusloff
“Dancing with Myself” by Billy Idol – Zach Hibbard, Pat Hibbard
“Kids in America” by Kim Wilde – Kasey Corrado, all
NEXT: “Getting Pickled in Oconto ‘Bond Style’,” July 14-Aug. 12