PHOTO: Performing in the song “The Big Kiester” aboard Starship Nitschke in the 2014 edition of American Folklore Theatre’s “Packer Fans from Outer Space” are, from left, Chase Stoeger, Doug Mancheski, Bill Theisen and Adam Zelp. Len Villano photo
The American Folklore Theatre show is one of its musical comedy classics. Performances (5 stars out of 5) continue through the end of August in Peninsula State Park Amphitheatre. Info: folkloretheatre.com.
The cosmic and clever show is by “Doc” Heide and Lee Becker. It arrived in 2002 and along the way even toured to
The Heide-Becker sense of humor is “out there” in more ways than one.
Their show imagines Packers and Bears waging deadly war in a parallel galaxy to us. A Packer contingent comes to Earth aboard Starship Nitschke to find a worthy fanatic-fan leader to help rescue them from extinction. Entry is through the outhouse, painted green and gold, on the farm of
The Galactic Packers dress in Day-Glo green and gold uniforms. Their leader is a gruff fellow with a fedora and eyeglasses who looks like Vince Lombardi (if he’d fallen into vats of green and sparkly gold paint). Along the way, this Coach sings “Winning is the Only Thing.”
The setup for this show comes from a crumb of history about a claimed sighting of a flying saucer in 1952 near Juddville, about 10 miles south of the theater. The show is set in November 1953. Dwight D. Eisenhower is president of the
Other humor revolves around puns on “Kiester” – as the south end of a person going north – perhaps the world record in this show. There’s humor at practically every turn. Heard on the radio are commercials for the County Home, for help with bats in the belfry and such. The song “Nuts in Every Tree” finds Harvey Kiester, dressed in a green-and-gold women’s corset with XXL frontage, dancing around the stage and singing “Everybody’s just a little crackers.” Marital humor pops up, as when Marge asks, “
This may be American Folklore Theatre’s funniest show. The Packers-Bears state of mind thing is great fodder for lovable lampooning/admiration.
Speaking of love, the brainy Kiester daughter falls for one of the Galactic Packers, and the feeling is mutual. Amid silly songs, they have ones of wonder (“Life on Earth”) and love (“We Call That Love”).
Bill Theisen and Rhonda Rae Busch have a jolly time as Harvey and Marge. Chase Stoeger and Adam Zeph romp as Galactic Packers, with Doug Mancheski a gas as Coach. Eva Nimmer is the cheery, hopeful Peg Kiester.
Director Molly Rhode packs a lot of action into the show to go along with the bundles of jokes.
In keeping with the show, one family tailgated in the parking lot on opening night. Green Bay Packers wear is an everyday thing around here, but a jersey in the audience was a sign of confidence – “84 – Abbrederis” – for Packers draft pick Jared Abbrederis.
I’ve seen this show a number of times and am more and more impressed by all the wit and warmth in it with each viewing.
Creative: Book and lyrics – Frederick “Doc” Heide, Lee Becker; music – Frederick “Doc” Heide; additional music – James Kaplan; director – Molly Rhode; choreography – Molly Rhode, Pam Kriger; musical supervisor – Colin Welford; music director – Paul Helm; musical arrangements – Paul Helm; stage management – Neen Rock; scenic design – James Maronek; costume design – Karen Brown-Larimore; lighting design – Dave Alley; props – Kathleen Rock; sound design – Chris Guse.
Cast: Harvey Kiester, an apple farmer – Bill Theisen; Marge Kiester, his wife; Rhonda Rae Busch; Peg Kiester, their daughter – Eva Nimmer; 24, a Galactic Packer – Adam Zeph; 39, a Galactic Packer – Chase Stoeger; Coach, a Galactic Packer – Doug Mancheski; Space Bears and Men in White Coats – Marcus Hunter, Dave Maier; Prolate Spheroid – Shawn Galligan; Townspeople – Shawn Galligan, Molly Jisa; Lloyd Upkins – Dave Maier; Jingle Singer – Holly Feldman.
“Gold and Green,” Harvey, Marge
“Interplanetary Emissaries of Peace,” Peg
“Big Kiester,” Coach, 24, 39
“The Artsy Farmer,” 24, 39,
“We Call That Love,” Peg, 39
“Love Our Enemy,” Peg
“You Gotta Hate the Bears,” 24, 39
“The Things Men Do,” Marge
“Gold and Green” (Reprise), Harvey, Marge
“Life on Earth,” Peg, 39
“Winning is the Only Thing,” Coach, 24, 39, Harvey
“The Things Men Do” (Reprise), Marge
“Nuts in Every Tree,” Harvey, Marge
“Dat’s What’s Nice About a Game,” Company
“Interplanetary Emissaries of Peace (Reprise),” Peg, Marge
THE VENUE: American Folklore Theatre performs in a scenic, 800-seat amphitheater in
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