GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s never the same old same old with Frank’s.
This time, mimes and gold are standout things.
Oh, the story is about pickles and a pickle factory of the past in Oconto and James Bond-type spying. And there are songs of the ’60s… and plays on words (a.k.a. double entendre meanings in many cases)… and showcase singing.
But mimes and gold factor big in the Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe of Green Bay comedic story with music, “Getting Pickled in Oconto, Bond Style,” running to Aug. 12 in Green Bay with a run-out performance Aug. 2 in Manitowoc.
Gold is present at the start. “Goldfinger” from the James Bond movie is an extra-large visual/aural production number. Wrapped in a gold lame cape, Amy Riemer wraps her golden voice into that song while images play on a scrim, including silhouettes of two dancers. It’s a whoa-type effect. Gold also is ever-present in the character of Frank Hermans, playing the accented villain type in an out-there gold lame outfit and a thick blond wig. Even the shoes of Dr. Golden Pickle (Hermans) are gold lame. Hermans shines in the part in more ways than one.
Miming threads throughout the action. Three mime characters (played by Michael O’Malley, Millie Haushalter and Blake Hermans) are spying lackeys of Dr. Golden Pickle. The mimes can become objects, or the illusions thereof. In one scene, they are a lamp, a chair and a portrait. The mimes are around for all sorts of visual gags. In another scene, Dr. Golden Pickle orders them to open a safe, by mime. Of course, a mimed bomb can’t blast open the safe door. In another scene, mime Michael O’Malley goes through an elaborate story of a fake car striking fake people, etc. etc. through a sequence mime-fake stuff. Dr. Golden Pickle announces this is “fake news.” This is all very clever – setting this show apart and bringing to fore this question of wonder to the show creators: “Where did this stuff come from?” It’s brilliant.
The story is a winding affair. Dropped in throughout are references to real-life Gold Bond Pickle Co. from its origins to its demise, with many factoids about the plant and the city of Oconto. The “Bond” of the company name leads to James Bond movie and character references galore. The spying in this case is industrial espionage. As usual with Frank’s, lines in the story are used to cue songs; they don’t necessarily fit neatly. And this production comes with an admission from Pat Hibbard as company owner Leon Bond: “If you’re looking for a plot that ties up all the loose ends, that’s not going to happen.”
This and that other stuff:
+ Blake Hermans, 17-year-old son of Frank Hermans, is making his first Frank’s appearance, and he’s fine. He has two featured numbers, and he gets a lot of stage time in all the mime stuff. He looks eager.
+ Kasey Corrado has developed a softer edge to her voice that’s especially appealing in two Jackie DeShannon numbers. One closes the show on a warm note.
+ The miming and the troupe’s normal dance additions enhance such numbers as “Long Cool Woman” featuring Frank Hermans, “Monkey See, Monkey Do” featuring Tom Verbrick and the band showcase to “Soul Bossa Nova” that opens the second act.
+ Segues are sometimes abrupt, but the songs are the big payoffs for Lisa Borley in “Tears of a Clown” and Pat Hibbard in the devil-tinted “Hellfire.”
+ Michael O’Malley plays with accents along the way and has fun with his mime partners Millie Haushalter (an intern) and Blake Hermans in “Secret Agent Man.”
+ It’s popular in some quarters to tease and diss mime, but Frank’s treats this form of performance with respect – as another way to have fun with a story. So hats off to the troupe for that, for finding another tool to make a show in a long, long line of original shows to come to life differently.
Personal flashback: Backstage at the Carlton Celebrity Room in Green Bay with Johnny Rivers (represented in this show with “Secret Agent Man”). Rivers is gleeful. A local fan has handed Rivers a three-inch stack of 45s that are his oldies (it is 1983). Rivers is signing the records happily. “I can’t believe this guy collected all these,” he says. “It’s incredible. Even I don’t have all these.” The experience gives me a perspective on genuine appreciation of a performer for fans and on how a performer can get so wrapped into a career that once-important things pass by at speed.
Creative: Co-writers/directors – Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard; vocal director – Amy Riemer; music director – Dennis Panneck; lights – Nate Riemer; sound – Tim Funk; costumes – Linda Groskopf, Bev Riemer
Company (in photo): Foreground: Frank Hermans. Second row, from left: Michael O’Malley, Millie Haushalter, Blake Hermans. Back row, from left: Jeff Arnold (keyboard), Tom Verbrick, Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, Kasey Corrado, Pat Hibbard, Adam Cain (drums). Dennis Panneck (guitars) is not in the photo.
Running time: One hour, 55 minutes
Remaining performances: 8 p.m. July 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, Aug. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12, plus 1 p.m. Aug. 12 (meyertheatre.org). Additionally, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc (cccshows.org).
“Goldfinger” (Shirley Bassey) – Amy Riemer
“You Showed Me” (The Byrds) – Frank Hermans
“Revolution” (The Beatles) – Blake Hermans
“These Boots Are Make for Walkin’” (Nancy Sinatra) – Kasey Corrado, with Lisa Borley and Amy Riemer
“Tears of a Clown” (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) – Lisa Borley
“Monkey See, Monkey Do” (Sam the Sham) – Tom Verbrick
“Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers) – Michael O’Malley
“Time Won’t Let Me” (The Outsiders) – Pat Hibbard
“Honey Chile” (Martha and The Vandellas) – Lisa Borley
“Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney and Wings) – Frank Hermans
“Soul Bossa Nova” (Quincy Jones) – Band
“Last of the Secret Agent” (Nancy Sinatra) – Amy Riemer
“Don’t Sleep in the Subway” (Lesley Gore) – Lisa Borley
“Midnight Confessions” (Grass Roots) – Blake Hermans
“Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (Jackie DeShannon) – Kasey Corrado
“Hellfire” (Tony Jay) – Pat Hibbard
“Take Me for a Little While” (Dusty Springfield) – Amy Riemer
“Long Cool Woman” (The Hollies) – Frank Hermans
“What the World Needs Now Is Love” (Jackie DeShannon) Kasey Corrado and Company
NEXT: “Frank’s Washington Island,” Sept. 22-Oct. 14.