“A Frank’s Christmas at Prange’s” 2013
This year’s theme keys on Prange’s Christmas window displays.
GREEN BAY, Wis., (WFRV) – In black and white, the song list (below) for “A Frank’s Christmas at Prange’s” tells only a little of what Let Me Be Frank Productions generates on the stage of the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.
It’s the 14th year for “A Frank’s Christmas.” Shows continue through Dec. 28, with some performances held on the road. Info is at www.letmebefranks.com.
Here’s the show’s skeleton:
“Silver Bells,” Company
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Paul Evansen
“What Child is This?” Kasey Corrado
“Do You See What I See?” Lisa Borley
“It’s Christmas Time,” Frank Hermans
“Jingle Bell Rock,” Tom Verbrick
“Santa Baby,” Kasey Corrado
“I Want You for Christmas,” Pat Hibbard
“How Great Thou Art,” Frank Hermans
“We Wish You the Merriest,” Ben Cahall, Paul Evansen
Holiday instrumental featuring ballet dancers Hailey Lestrud and Kristen Brockman and the band: Dennis Panneck, guitar; Tony Pilz, keyboard; Adam Cain, drums; Pat Hibbard, bass
“O Holy Night,” Ben Cahall
“I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus,” Lisa Borley
“The Little Drummer Boy,” Pat Hibbard
“Deck the Halls,” Company
“My Grown Up Christmas List,” Lisa Borley
“On a Snowy Christmas Night,” Frank Hermans
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Kasey Corrado
“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Paul Evansen and Company
If that were the lineup for a concert, it would be an okay concert – mostly songs people know and expect.
Frank’s juices everything up.
Songs seldom are stock versions. For instance, Lisa Borley jazzes up “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus.” For “How Great Thou Art,” Hermans puts on his Elvis Presley voice – big and strong, and what people like to hear from him. Most songs come with some form of dancing, or little scenes of action separate from the singer.
AND everybody is costumed, with everybody playing an individual character. Most of the performers play figurines from historic Christmas window displays* from H.C. Prange in downtownGreen Bay. Some are in brilliant red-and-green elf costumes, some are helpers dressed in candy-stripe outfits. Santa (Tom Verbrick) is there. Frank Hermans plays Jack Frost, not the mythical frosty/icy guy but a widowed character fromIrelandwho is the creator/caretaker of the window displays and their figurines.
NEW AND ORIGINAL to this production are two ballerina characters. Dressed in festive tutus, Hailey Lestrud and Kristen Brockman are front and center through much of the show. Mostly, they’re there to look at, kind of like music box dancers. But they do have a big ballet dance number and add bits of backup singing and movement and finally speak, with one adding to the comedy.
When Jack Frost/Hermans is not around, the figurines talk and goof around among themselves. Each is an individual character. All want to be alive some time, through a miracle. Around this story, out come the songs, and all together it’s a more than likable event (4½ stars out of 5) that’s in keeping with the popularity of this production every year.
Hermans, as usual, is comically dangerous on stage. Saturday night, he veered from the set course of the show several times with spur-of-the-moment kidding around, and sometimes cast members ran with a joke. That gives the show a spontaneous feel.
Individual singing is solid along the way, with Lisa Borley at times sensational in the dynamic color of her voice.
Jokes big and small are liberally sprinkled. Big: Jack Frost/Hermans’ response to what his Christmas wish is, which won’t be repeated here and spoil its effect. Little: Kasey Corrado’s brain-wave connection to the word “pie,” which to her is a word that’s pronounced the same but is spelled differently – and not many people get the mathematical joke (making it all the more fun for people who do get it; it’s a cosmic thing in keeping with her character).
The show has reverent moments and cute moments, single-focus scenes (Ben Cahall’s “O Holy Night”) and lots of 3-D production sequences with layered singing and much motion from bodies, sound and lights. This is not a little deal at all. Much fun.
*- Neville Public Museum in Green Bay on Friday, Nov. 29, starts “Holiday Memories: Prange’s Christmas Windows.” More on the exhibit and tie-in events are at www.nevillepublicmuseum.org. Frank’s show is a fictional spinoff from the windows story. In the refreshment area lobby of theMeyerTheatre are historic photos from various Prange stores and window displays. One photo dates to 1909. Take a look-see.
LONG DISTANCE: It’s always interesting to find out where people are from who come to shows when Frank Hermans asks during introductions. At Saturday’s show, one woman was fromSan Antonio,Texas.
THE VENUE: The Robert T.Meyer Theatre opened Feb. 27, 2002. It seats approximately 1,000. The building opened Feb. 14, 1930, as one of the palatial Fox movie houses. The theater’s interior aura was its saving grace toward the end of the 20th century, when the building was faced an uncertain fate. The architectural/decorative style is defined as Spanish Atmospheric. The auditorium is designed in the manner of a Moorish courtyard of old. The eclectic mix of architectural styles and colors carries throughout the lobbies. One of the Meyer Theatre’s remaining architectural cousins around the country is the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts in Sheboygan.
THE PEOPLE: Robert Meyer was president and chief executive officer of Tape Inc. ofGreen Bay. The theater took his name at the behest of his wife, Betty (Janet Elizabeth) Rose Meyer, whose financial contribution at a crucial time helped revitalize the building. The Rose family has a history of deep commitment to and involvement in the well being ofGreen Bay. Robert Meyer died in 1984, Betty Rose Meyer in 2008.
You may email me at email@example.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)
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