GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)
Fourteen years in the books, the Green Bay edition of Doctors in Recital has come to mean something, plural.
– Entertaining. As in appealing to wide tastes.
– Quality. As in smart planning and execution.
– Interest. As in well-attended.
– Warmth. As in inviting aura.
– Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. As in top-shelf place for such an expression of community and caring by people who are accustomed to having things right.
– Serendipity. As in the whole thing.
The main attractions of Doctors in Recital – medical doctors – have day jobs that are right up there in demanding and meaningful and difficult and essential and challenging. They have a life, too. Some love music, and some of those music lovers are adept at performing. Given the opportunity in a fairly sensational setup, they impress.
And so it was Saturday night in Cofrin Family Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
This and that from the evening:
# With the audience arriving, Green Bay East High School Jazz Band brightened the atmosphere playing evergreens from the big band era.
# The band joined in the opener, which was filled with aural and visual pizzazz. As an explosion-filled “Spy vs. Spy” cartoon was projected on a screen, the jaunty “Peter Gunn” theme was performed. Weaving around the musicians were two guys dressed in wide-brim hats, dark glasses and trench coats, chasing one another. One guy turned out to be the emcee, Justin Steinbrinck, who would keep the show flowing along the way.
# At center stage was a super-special piano. In one body, this piano has two sets of keyboards and strings for players facing each other. Sometimes four pianists played at once; fired-up notes rained in “A Little Boogie” in one instance. The piano was built by Peter Nehlsen of Washington Island. The body is approximately 14 feet long. Imagine the moving logistics to put that piano on that stage. Time and again with one pianist after another, the piano delivered the goods colorfully.
# Dr. George Whetmore, who nimbly plays classical style piano, has a feel for adapting works for multiple pianists, plus musicians. He created three such pieces for the program, sometimes weaving in other famous works. He also held the audience silent in an introduction to “With You,” a song of yearning that he dedicated to a colleague in the audience with Parkinson’s Disease. “This story is your story,” he said. “This is my gift to you, Jan.”
# Dr. Ralph Vardis, who plays guitar, likes to write original numbers for the show. This time, he wrote two with a pop-rock feel. “Take Me Back (to Old Green Bay)” has hokey/corny type lyrics, but arranged for nine musicians and singers, the thing has catchy kick.
# Ballet was part of the show, costumed dancer Elisabeth Lasecki adding en pointe action as Dr. George Whetmoore and Dr. Yoon Chen let fly with a vigorous “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker.”
# Transitions between numbers were scripted with tidbits about the music or musicians or videos about the recipients of grants (the show being a giant fundraiser) featuring representatives of each. This year’s recipients: The Volunteer Center of Brown County, Civic Symphony of Green Bay and Cup O’ Joy.
# Even intermission had zest. Twenty-eight dancers of SOL Baile Folklorico de Nicolet, a past grant recipient, lit up the foyer with festive energy.
# Along with featured performances by physicians, sometimes assisted by ringers from the area music scene, a chorus performed. Woven among the doctors are singers from the community. A highlight: A sung “William Tell Overture,” the “words” being “bad-da-bump, bad-da-bump, bad-da-bump, bump, bump.”
# Another group thingie: Fifteen costumed female singers romping, including a kick line, in “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” from “South Pacific.”
# At times, the performances were a bit of a reach, but mostly the performers did their thing in golden ways. One sample: Dr. Steve Asma and Dr. Matt Wheeler having at Paul Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson” at speed in a dual-piano rendition.
# Dr. Peter Sherrill, who played guitar, took time to recognize the show’s executive director and producer, Lucinda Roberts. She is like “a den mother,” he said. Without her, “there is no show,” he said. “Thank you for the labor of love that’s become this show.” The entire enterprise is a step above.
Master of ceremonies: Jason Steinbrinck
Green Bay East High School Jazz Band, Karen Iken, director
+ “Peter Gunn,” Henry Mancini – Dr. Josh Rankin, trombone; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Peter Sherrill, guitar; Dr. Michael Volk, drums; Brian Cagle, alto saxophone; Curt Julian, saxophone; Green Bay East High School Jazz Band, Karen Iken, director
+ “Better Than,” Ralph Vardis – Dr. Ralph Vardis, guitar; Lauren Pavlik (medical student), vocals; John Warpinski, vocals and harmonica; Colton Vardis, guitar; Ben Marohl, bass; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Mountain Dance,” Dave Grusin – Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Michael Volk, drums; Lauren Pritzl, piano; Shelby VanRossum (medical student), flute
+ “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King,” Tim Rice and Elton John – Doctors in Recital Choir, Teresa Schmidt, conductor; Dr. Matt Wheeler, piano; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Seitz, drums. Choir members: Yulia Barstow, Karin Barth, Mallory Blake-Safford, Scotty Corser, Sue DeBeck, Cassidy Dittmer, Caron Dvorak, Dr. Chuck Ellis, Marcia Ellis, Angel Engels, Connie Fink, Dr. Jennifer Fischer, Dr. Yazmin Fuentes, Karen Fuller, Dr. Alessandra Gadsby, Annette Gajeski, Dr. Sergio Heredia, Dr. Sany Khabbaz, Dr. Mark Lauka, Sheila Lindblom, Maria Lodenkamp, Dave Mariucci, Jane Mariucci, Nicole Matznick, Dr. Laura Nelson, Dr. Kris Powell, Lauren Pritzl, Kristin Quinn, Rory Quinn, Bob Richter, Pat Sands, Martha Senechal, Laurie Sewall, Dr. Jeff Shaw, Tara Silbernagel, Jeffery Uhler, Ted VanEgeren, Marla Van Lanen, Mira Verma, Dr. Brenda Warren, Katrina Welborn, Chelsie Wendricks, Stephanie Westbrook, Dr. Shawn Whitton, Dr. Chris Williams, Karen Wochos, Chris Zimmerman.
+ “With You” from “Ghost,” Glen Ballard, David Allan Steward, Bruce Joel Rubin; arranged by George Whetmore – Dr. George Whetmore, piano; Dr. Tina Sauerhammer, cello; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Steve Asma, keyboard; Dr. Josh Rankin, keyboard; Jill Quinlan, vocals; Aisa Longnecker, violin; Steve Seitz, drums
+ Hotel California,” Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Don Felder – “Docapella” of Dr. Brad Locke, Dr. Sergio Heredia, Dr. Sany Khabbaz, Dr. Mark Lauka, Dr. Peter Sherrill, Dr. Franz Igler; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Russ Nau, guitar; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Pray, Pray, Pray,” Reggie & Ladye Love Smith and Steve Hill – Dr. Mark Ringwelski, vocals; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Russ Nau, guitar; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Steve Seitz, drums
+ A Little Boogie,” Albert Ammons, Huey Smith; arranged by George Whetmore – Dr. Steve Asma, piano; Dr. Matt Wheeler, piano; Dr. Josh Rankin, piano; Dr. Yoon Chun, keyboard; Dr. Franz Igler, keyboard; Kim Shefchik (physician assistant), piano; Dr. Brad Locke, vocals, Steve Seitz, drums
+ “When Will I Be Loved?”, Linda Ronstadt – Dr. Kristin Lyerly, vocals; Chris Peot, vocals; Kim Shefchik, vocals and keyboard; Paul Peot, electric guitar; Abraham Lyerly, bass; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Layla,” Jim Gordon and Eric Clapton – Dr. Franz Igler, guitar and vocals; Dr. Chris Williams, electric violin; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Steve Asma, keyboard/organ; Dr. Kristin Lyerly, Dr. Kris Powell, Mallory Safford, Angel Engels, Lucinda Robert, backup vocals; Maya MacManus, electric and acoustic guitar; Russ Nau, electric guitar; Chris Igler, piano; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “The Beer Barrel Polka,” Jaromir Vejvoda – Dr. Chris Williams, electric violin; Dr. Wesley Griffitt, accordion; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Schani, electric viola; Steve Seitz, drums
SOL Baile Folklorico de Nicholet (performing in Grand Foyer)
+ “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” from “South Pacific,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – Dr. Laura Nelson, Dr. Kris Powell, Dr. Yazmin Fuentes, Cassidy Dittmer, Marcia Ellis, Angel Engels, Connie Fink, Karen Fuller, Jane Mariucci, Lauren Pritzl, Mallory Safford, Tara Silbernagel, Marla Van Lanen, Katrina Welborn, Chelsie Wendricks, vocals; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Mrs. Robinson,” Paul Simon – Dr. Steve Asma, piano; Dr. Matt Wheeler, piano
+ “Take Me Back (to Old Green Bay),” Ralph Vardis – Dr. Ralph Vardis, vocals and guitar; Lauren Pavlik, vocals; Jared Christianson, guitar; John Warpinski, vocals, guitar and harmonica; Cassie Kremer, vocals; Colton Vardis, guitar; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Ben Marohl, bass; Steve Seitz, bass
+ “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; arranged by George Whetmore – Dr. Tina Sauerhammer, cello; Dr. George Whetmore, piano; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Josh Rankin, keyboard; Dr. Steve Asma, keyboard; Aisa Longnecker, violin; Steve Seitz, hand drums
+ “William Tell Overture,” Gioachino Rossini – Doctors in Recital Choir, Teresa Schmidt, conductor; Dr. Matt Wheeler, piano
+ “Snowflakes,” Alexander Tsfasman; arranged by George Whetmore; Dr. George Whetmore, piano; Dr. Tina Sauerhammer, cello; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Dr. Josh Rankin, keyboard; Dr. Steve Asma, keyboard; Kim Shefchik, keyboard; Aisa Longnecker, violin; Steve Seitz, percussion
+ “Sailing,” Christopher Cross – Kim Shefchik, vocals; Christine Peot, vocals; Paul Peot, guitar; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Audrey Nowak, violin; Jessie Mansky, viola; Michael Dewhirst, cello; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker,” Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; arranged by Nicolas Economou – Dr. Yoon Chun, piano; Dr. George Whetmore, piano; Elisabeth Lasecki, ballerina
+ “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” Duke Ellington and Irving Mills – Dr. Peter Sherrill, guitar; Dr. Brad Locke, vocals; Dr. Lee Klemens, bass; Lucinda Roberts, piano; Steve Seitz, drums
+ “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday and Randy Myers – Full Cast
AHEAD: “Doctors in Recital ’20 Fox Valley,” 7 p.m. May 2, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus.
THE VENUE: Cofrin Family Hall is one of three performance spaces within the Edward W. Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. At its maximum capacity setup, the hall seats 2,021 over its three levels of maple-and-burgundy seats. Opened Jan. 15, 1993, the hall was built to adapt to the needs of orchestra concerts, operas, musicals, plays and organ, band and choral concerts. For acoustical properties, wood is emphasized on the seats, mezzanine and balcony surfaces and walls near the stage. Many surfaces are curved to help shape the sound. Wood is featured for an aesthetic reason, too – a “from here” aura of woodsy Northeastern Wisconsin.
THE PEOPLE: The name Cofrin relates in great degree to A.E. Cofrin, founder of Fort Howard Paper Co., and his son, Dr. David A. Cofrin, who was instrumental in building the Weidner Center through multi-million-dollar donations. A friendship developed between David A. Cofrin (1921-2009) and Edward W. Weidner (1921-2007), the beloved founding chancellor of UWGB. Weidner spoke slowly and carried a big idea. Weidner arrived when there were no buildings on the present-day campus on rolling hills near the shore of Green Bay. His interests ranged from academia to birding to sports. He loved building projects. It was in his blood. He guided the building of the Weidner Center, so named from early on in construction. Weidner admitted his eyes welled once when driving to a performance and seeing a green sign along the highway: WEIDNER CENTER.