PHOTO: Performing in American Folklore Theatre’s world-premiere production of “Strings Attached” are, from left, Paul Helm, Molly Rhode, Chase Stoeger, Doc Heide, Eva Nimmer, Chad Luberger, Rhonda Rae Busch and Doug Mancheski. Len Villano photo
This is some of what happens in American Folklore Theatre’s musical comedy “Strings Attached,” which opened Friday night in the theater’s one-of-a-kind digs at Peninsula State Park Amphitheater in
In “Strings Attached,” American Folklore Theatre spreads its wings into a hybrid style of performance. Created by Dave Hudson and Colin Welford, the show has roots in classic mistaken-identities stories, in fast-action farce, in music theater loopiness – with the American Folklore Theatre necessity of placing the story in
Musically, the show is … hmm, different for today. There is a warm ballad, “My Boy,” that the father sings that is the essence of the story. Mostly, the musical style is that of perky jazz-pop harmonics that have the feel of, excuse me, a 1950s TV commercial for toothpaste. Or whatever. There is a strong sense of the clock being turned back. Cleverness is infused in many songs as individual characters sing his or her take on a specific lyric – like everybody in “Big Things,” the lovers in “Tongue-Tied,” the Hals in “Beside Myself” and the hotel staff in “Welcome Song,” which is especially jolly when a staffer sings only his or her part of the song alone. The scene for “Unexpected Music” includes a sweet illusion: Did you know you could draw a ukulele, add a new design to the instrument and then play the strings in the drawing and have sound come from the drawing? Nice.
The cast is quite game for the speedy action, songs infused with dancing and vocal harmonics and the general light-hearted aura of the show. Chase Stoeger and Chad Luberger are the twin brothers, with Doc Heide as their father. Eva Nimmer and Molly Rhode are the twins’ girlfriends. Playing the befuddled hotel staff are Paul Helm, Doug Mancheski and Rhonda Rae Busch. Stirring the performers to bright liveliness are co-directors Jeffrey Herbst and Pam Kriger. The cast is limber and dedicated to the American Folklore Theatre way – a specialized approach to amiable performing.
American Folklore Theatre performances continue through Aug. 23, with “Strings Attached” (4 stars out of 5) woven in with the returning “Guys on Ice” and “Packer Fans from Outer Space.” Info: www.folkloretheatre.com.
Creative: Book and lyrics – Dave Hudson; music and additional lyrics – Colin Welford; co-directors – Pam Kriger and Jeffrey Herbst; music director – Tim Lenihan; scenic design – Lisa Schlenker; costume design – Karen Brown-Larimore.
Cast: Andy – Paul Helm; Frank – Doug Mancheski; Kaye – Rhonda Rae Busch; Bob – Doc Heide; Hawaiian Hal – Chase Stoeger; Leia – Eva Nimmer; Wisconsin Hal –
“My Boy,” Bob
“Big Things,” Company
“Welcome Song,” Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Tongue-tied,” Hawaiian Hal, Lana
“The Hotel Code,” Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Room Service,” Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Suddenly,” Leia, Lana
“Beside Myself,” Hawaiian
“My Boy” (Reprise), Bob, Hawaiian
“Strings Attached,” Company
THE VENUE: American Folklore Theatre performs in a scenic, 800-seat amphitheater in
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