PHOTO: Mike Mleziva, playing an inventive Yooper, shows off some of his products in The Palace of Reifs Mills Event Dinner Theatre’s production of “Reifs Mills ‘Late Night’ #1 Cable Show.” Troupe photo
The old “Tonight” show with Johnny Carson.
TV commercials of the ’50s and ’60s.
Crackpot guests Carson used to have on his show.
Spray-and-pray joke making.
The folks at The Palace of Reifs Mills Event Dinner Theatre have an affinity for bizarre shows, and this is another in its line of made-up comedy-variety fare. Is “Reifs Mills ‘Late Night’ #1 Cable Show” good? It’s a matter of taste. The show is running through Sunday, Aug. 17; info: www.palaceofrm.com. It has its moments as it rambles through fields and fields of corn.
The premise is the audience is at Reifs Mills’ No. 1 cable TV show. It’s No. 1 because it’s Reifs Mills’ only cable TV show. (Dah-dump). Reifs Mills is so small its library only has one book. (Dah-dump).
The star of the show, the much-divorced Johnny Rivers, is played by Will Mamerow, also the producer of this affair. From the opening joke bit: “Marriage is the difference between painting the town and painting the porch.” (Dah-dump).
The music director is Walter Denial (or some such spelling), “the doctor of style,” played by Lloyd Gosz. When not singing the songs the likes of “That’s Entertainment” with his electronic music box, Walter likes to tell musician jokes: “How do you get a saxophone player off the porch? Pay for the pizza.” (Dah-dump).
The cable TV show’s stage manager is Cletus Gummer, a former Yooper played by Mike Mleziva. He’s filled with information about chalk and apples that is fascinating. (Dah-dump).
Guests on the show start with Marian the Reifs Mills librarian, played by Bj Mamerow. Marian is on to counter the claim that Reifs Mills’ library has only one book. To prove that, she has brought along the bookmobile – a cloth bag she carries that says “Book Mobile.” (Dah-dump). Marian goes through the offerings of the library, made up of titles of the quality of “20 Steps to the Outhouse” by Willie Makeit. (Dah-dump).
Other guests are oddball personalities from around a fictional Reifs Mills, include the multi-married Dolly (as in “Hello, Dolly!), Mary Poppins pitching her line of popcorn, the cousin and mother of Cletus Gummer, the dusty old Dee Dee Denial singing “Crazy” and the grandmother of Johnny Rivers.
Pretty and much anything is game. Even game. Clifford Gummer, Cletus’ cousin, promotes his line of Yooper inventions, including his quick meal Road Kill Helper. (Dah-dump…and yum). Mike Mleziva has such other send-ups as “Dummies Guide to the U.P.” that includes such cross-bred computer terms as “log on” meaning how to make a wood stove hotter by putting a log on (Dah-dump) and true cross breeding in the song, “I am My Own Grandpa.” (Dah-dump).
The show has flowers among the weeds, but there are a lot of weeds, including a lot of weeding through scripts and skit material as the show slogs along. The core is camp entertainment.
AHEAD: “Palace Polka Show,” Oct. 17-19; “WPNO North Pole Radio,” Dec. 6-7, 12-13.
VENUE: The 125-seat Palace of Reifs Mills Event Dinner Theatre is a “palace” because owners Bill and Barbara Mamerow say they aim to treat customers royally. The Mamerows have owned the historical place since 2001. Seating is at long tables, and action takes place on a raised stage at the south end of the hall. The building dates to around 1892. It contains a 2,500-square-foot hall, 600-square-foot bar area and spotless restrooms. The main entrance is designed to look like a tower. The interior wood floors and wainscoting are original to the building.
THE PEOPLE: The Reifs brothers owned and operated grist and sawmills, a coffin factory and a broom handle manufacturing place nearby. John Reif manufactured broom handles. The grist and sawmills were operated by Anton and Louis Reif. Anton Reif made coffins and, later, butter churns. Peter Reif made sun clocks. All this took place through the last quarter of the 19th century.
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