Warren Gerds, Critic at Large. GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A Green Bay TV anchorman got into radio ownership and along the way purchased a station from a disc jockey/owner who then turned to the ministry.
Thirty-seven years later, that has become the story for a comedy musical by a troupe that creates such shows and whose namesake attends the church of the former disc jockey/owner.
The title of the show draws on how the station identified itself on air, “WOMA Algoma, You’ve Struck Gold,” when it featured hit songs from the 1960s and ’70s.
The characters in the show are the people who worked at the station on air and behind the scenes – all of whom sing in the comedy musical of Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe.
In keeping with all Frank’s shows about people and places around these parts, the facts and history are fractured – to add bits of humor and fun to lead into the next song, sung in often-golden ways with a band adding to the musical polish.
This time, co-writers/directors Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard concoct stuff about fish falling from the sky during Algoma’s Shanty Days festivities and a news director who believes in imaginary walls and doors and three women workers who sing the station’s theme song in perfect harmony at the drop of the hat.
This is all because the Rev. Dale Eggert ministers at Faith United Methodist Church in Brillion and parishioners include show folks Frank Hermans and his wife, Amy Riemer.
“He’s my pastor,” Frank Hermans says to introduce the show in which he portrays Dale Eggert at the time WOMA was sold to onetime WLUK-TV anchorman Ray Wheeler.
That’s quite the backstory for a show filled with hits from a golden era of popular song-making.
Especially hitting the spot is a duet, “The Closer I Get to You,” sung radiantly and with layers of meaning by Amy Riemer and Frank Hermans.
That follows a brilliant sequence that only Frank’s can do because it can: Six songs from brother groups sung one after another by singers matched to a song’s style. Taking turns are Sarah Galati for the Everly Brothers, Frank Hermans for the Allman Brothers, Lisa Borley for the Doobie Brothers, Tom Verbrick for The Righteous Brothers, Amy Riemer for The Isley Brothers and Pat Hibbard for The Chambers Brothers. And the band set the plate colorfully for all.
Frank’s singers have a way of interpreting songs to blend their vocal style to their character’s situation – not duplicating but fitting.
Tom Verbrick has two voices in this show. One is squeaky/nerdy as the news guy, and the other is from the deep end, as in “King of the Road.”
Frank Hermans is versatile as always, with “Take Good Care of My Baby” as the story climax song as Dale Eggert says goodbye to his station.
Amy Riemer is master of embracing a R&B/soul sound as in “On Broadway.”
Pat Hibbard is the rock guy with a kind of joy in the muscle of songs like “It’s My Life,” while adding layers with his bass guitar playing.
Lisa Borley is the skyrocket person, sparking such high-fliers as “Shame” and “Band of Gold.”
Sarah Galati is an actor-singer who deals in persona as in Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.”
And there are the moments when the singers stand back to admire what Dennis Panneck explores on guitar, Tony Pilz lets fly on keyboards and Andrew Klaus gets into on drums.
And this time, all this is because a guy who bought an early FM radio station felt a different calling. Well, that’s showbiz, I guess.
Running time: Two hours, seven minutes
Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre, Green Bay: 7:30 p.m. April 7-9, 14-16; 1 and 7:30 p.m. April 21; 7:30 p.m. April 22; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. April 23, with info: meyertheatre.org. Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc: 7:30 p.m. April 13, with info: cccshows.org.
Dale Eggert – Frank Herman
Tim Wentworth – Tom Verbrick
Sarah Martini – Sarah Galati
Sandy – Amy Riemer
Sally – Lisa Borley
Tom Wagner – Pat Hibbard
Band and support: Dennis Panneck (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums), Ross Loining (lights), Kelly Klaus (sound)