Special Edition Director’s Review

Kasey Schumacher, who usually writes the reviews of our show, is actually in this show, “Girls on Thin Ice”.  So, being the director and scriptwriter, I thought I would do this one.  This is my perception of the show which first premiered at the Backstage at the Meyer on March 12th, 13th. 14th, and 15th of 2020.  Does anyone remember what the next day was?  Sunday, March 15th, 2020-the day the world shut down because of the COVID pandemic.  I had wondered why our Saturday show in 2020 was so light in attendance as the show usually sells out.  The talk of the nation was around stopping the virus by keeping gatherings to a minimum.  So much was unknown about the virus at the time, and therefore, some people did not want to risk coming out to the show.

“Girls on Thin Ice” is a prequel to “Girls on Ice,” which was a huge hit when we performed it in 2019.  In 2020, I thought we would bring back dinner theatre the way we started out in February 2000 at the Sports Corner in De Pere.  Well, here we are in 2024 and it’s the 25th Anniversary of Let Me Be Frank Productions, why not bring back a show that was hampered by the pandemic? So, we proudly bring to you “Girls on Thin Ice.”

Tonight, I am reviewing the show on Tuesday, May 7th during our dress rehearsal.  We have performed dress rehearsals for all our shows to the same bunch of folks who started coming to our dress rehearsals back in 2000. Steve Bostedt (the director of fun) put this group together for folks looking for a discount price and to get a sneak peek of our shows.  They pay a reduced price and get a private show with all the screw-ups and do-overs.  Along the way, dress rehearsal audience members have left and new ones have joined.  Steve sells season tickets to our dress rehearsals-how cool is that?  Tonight is an extra show for them, and not all the regulars are in attendance.  It looks like a crowd of 40 tonight.  This group has seen it all with us and is very good at letting us know if we got a hit on our hands.  Thank goodness every show has been a hit, though some of the attendees have their favorites.

Here is my review…

Backstage at the Meyer is a perfect venue for dinner theatre, using round tables for dinner, the seating and sight lines are excellent.  The sound system and light system are a good fit for the space.  The addition of the blackout curtains is perfect for dimming the sunlight, enhancing the lighting effects in the show.  Dinner is not being served tonight as it is a dress rehearsal so I will write about the Italian buffet at a later date.  Kelly Klaus, our WAMI-nominated soundman, has the controls and I will be doing the lights and computer operation.

The show revolves around five girls at St. Norbert College in 1989 and the Swinging Knights.  Three of the girls are seniors (Amy Riemer, Kelly Gusloff, and Lisa Borley) and they are holding auditions for an open spot in the Swinging Knights.  

On a side note, four of the girls in this show are graduates of S., Norbert College, and three of them, (Kelly Gusloff class of 2010, Kasey Schumacher class of 2013, and Sarah Galati class of 2017) were in “Knights on Broadway” lead by Kent Paulsen, a troupe much like the Swinging Knights.  Amy Riemer, class of 1998, is the only one who was actually in the Swinging Knights in 1994, & 1996-1998.  Lisa Borley graduated from UWGB in 2008.

Kasey, also a senior, is auditioning for the first time.  Earlier in her college years Kasey was involved with other organizations and training and could not be in the dream troupe.   As an early graduate in 1989, she finally gets her chance.  The other auditioner is Sarah, a true freshman with an obvious condition…she’s pregnant.  She assures the troupe she can cover all the gigs the rest of the year, and her due date is a week after the last gig.  Both girls wow the seniors.  Who to choose?  Maybe an alternate?  Someone who could cover for the party girl?  Let’s just say this show is hilarious.  I had so much fun writing this show as I know all the girls in the show very well and their personalities.  If it’s any indication of how the show is, the crowd sure went crazy with a standing ovation.  Comments were how much they loved the comedy and the amazing voices and all the great 80s tunes. Here are a few highlights:

Kasey Schumacher is kind of the antagonist in the show and is superb, her comedic timing reminds me of Sarah Silverman.  You must see the improv dance scene; I almost fell out of my chair.  When I recruited Kasey, I knew she had a funny streak and an amazing voice.  The thing that she excels at is improv, she adds things that crack me up every night.  One of the many ad-libs Tuesday night was, “Yes I used to wait around for a guy to call too, but that guy was Uncle Sam”, brilliant!  Kasey also just nails the song Ironic!

Kelly Gusloff is kind of the “straight man” as they call it in comedy.  Her deadpan reactions are amazing.  There are a lot of real-life quips in this show (especially about her husband, former LMBF cast member, David Gusloff), and she goes right along with it.  When we originally did the show in 2020, she wanted to do the Whitney Houston song How Will I Know a cappella.  I never question these talented ladies; it turns out to be one of many outstanding points of tonight’s show, which were many.  Bravo!

Lisa Borley shines in her portrayal of the scatter-brained senior who is pretty much OK with everything but is a little hurt at Kasey’s no-show to the last concert.  (Did I give the show away?)  Lisa is known for her powerful voice, that why she’s called, “The Little Lady with the Big Voice”.   Lisa blasts out that power on What’s Love Got to do With It and Saving All My Love for You.  All songs are jaw-droppers.

Sarah Galati is an amazing character actress.  I usually give Sarah an odd character to play with.  But in this show, she’s already pregnant and she’s already funny.  Sarah plays a theatre nerd with a huge load (pregnant, and academic course load).  Pregnancy does not stop her from living her dream of being in the Swinging Knights.  The bit about being obviously pregnant is hilarious, getting up and out of the chair is so funny.  Her soulful voice is showcased in all her songs.  Wowza!

Amy Riemer takes on a role that I’ve not seen her do before, she plays the party girl.  Being married to her, I was a bit apprehensive to write this character for her, but OMG, she nails it!  Her portrayal of the tipsy, loose-lipped super-senior is amazing!  She frequently breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience.  We all know this girl can sing anything, as she is our vocal coordinator for Let Me Be Franks, but holy cats she sounds like Laura Branigan in Gloria,Cyndi Lauper in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Pat Benatar in You Better Run.

This show is a can’t-miss, I know I wrote it but it’s the girls that bring their characters to life and add so much dimension.  There are only show-only tickets available for the run, Saturday there are ample show-only available, but dinner is sold out.  I’ve already thought of a sequel, “Girls on ice, capades”.  Whadda think?

Frank Hermans

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