Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Week ahead: Summer play season is upon Northeastern Wisconsin like crazy

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Nineteen productions

Trevor Clementi and Liz Wustrack are featured as deadly conspirators in Fond du Lac Community Theatre’s production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Fond du Lac Community Theatre photo)

Below is more information on “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in Fond du Lac, “Daddy D’s Fabulous Fifties Show” in Green Bay, “The Wedding Singer” in Kaukauna, “Always… Patsy Cline” in New London, “Footloose: The Musical” in Abrams, “Enchanted April” in Menasha, “The Realistic Joneses” in Sturgeon Bay, “The Fantastics” in Tisch Mills, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in De Pere, “Moon Over Buffalo” in Neenah, “The Dig” in Sturgeon Bay, “Til Beth Do Us Part” in Port Washington, “Little Chutes and Ladders” in Green Bay and Manitowoc, “A Trick of the Light” in Fish Creek, “We Like It Where?” and the returning “Dairy Heirs” and “Windjammers” in Fish Creek, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Henry V” in Baileys Harbor… performances involving Birch Creek Music Performance Center, Scott Stapp, Greg Brown, “Warriors Rock,” Lorie Line, Pentatonix, Appleton City Band, De Pere City Band, Green Bay City Band, Kids from Wisconsin (two concerts), Hairball.

ARRIVING

– In Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac Community Theatre will present the musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” at 7:30 p.m. June 20, 21 and 22 and 2 p.m. June 23 in Fond du Lac Performing Arts Center. Info: fdlct.org. According to a press release: Directing is Steve Wilson. Set in 19th century London, this is a macabre tale of an ousted barber and his revenge on those who did him wrong. The 1979 musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler is based on a 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond. “Sweeney Todd” was a critical success, winning both the Tony Award for Best Musical and London’s Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The character of Sweeney Todd had its origins in serialized Victorian popular fiction, known as “penny dreadfuls.” A story called “The String of Pearls” was published in a weekly magazine during the winter of 1846-47. Set in 1785, the story featured as its principal villain a certain Sweeney Todd and included all the plot elements that were used by Sondheim and others ever since. The psychopathic barber’s story proved instantly popular – it was turned into a play before the ending had even been revealed in print. An expanded edition appeared in 1850, an American version in 1852, a new play in 1865. By the 1870s, Sweeney Todd was a familiar character to most Victorians. Christopher Bond introduced a psychological background to Todd’s crimes. In Bond’s reincarnation of the character, Todd was the victim of a ruthless judge who raped his young wife and exiled him to Australia. Bond’s sophisticated plot and language significantly elevated the lurid nature of the tale. Sondheim once noted, “It had a weight to it . . . because [Bond] wrote certain characters in blank verse. He also infused into it plot elements from Jacobean tragedy and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’ He was able to take all these disparate elements that had been in existence rather dully for a hundred and some-odd years and make them into a first-rate play.” Sondheim felt that the addition of music would greatly increase the size of the drama. More than 80 percent of the production is set to music, either sung or orchestrated underneath dialogue. Sondheim has often said that his “Sweeney Todd” was about obsession and what Sondheim thought of as “a small horror piece” eventually became a colossal portrait of the Industrial Revolution, the distribution of wealth, inequality, class structure and love. The characters and cast: Reginald, Riley, Edward, Alfie, Bobbie – Ben Franklin; Alistair, St. John, Adolfo Pirelli – Joey Gutzmann; Harrisford, Louie, Albert, Liam, Mr. Fogg – Tom Augustine; Bronwyn – Margaret Bohn; Victoria – Katherine Ahrens; Anthony – Loren Kelly; Sweeney Todd – Trevor Clementi; Beggar Woman – Ellie Thelen; Mrs. Lovett – Liz Wustrack; Young Lucy Barker – Sammie Petersen; Beadle Bamford – Jerome Poltrock; Judge Turpin – Daniel Schneider; Tobias – Roan Henslin; Amelia – Grace Quast; Beatrix – Eva Thelen; Clementine – Elise Winkel; Elsie – Bekki Kuber; Johanna – Marissa Krueger; Bird Seller – Nora Otte; Eugenie – Pam Mase; Evie – Kim Fleming; Finley, Criminal – Gavin Twohig; Gracie – Hannah Koechel; Harriet – Katherine Behlke; Female Ensemble – Calyn Jones, Niah Schauer, Valerie Wentland, Jenna Beckman, Marianna Leventhal, Anna Quast, Katie Ziegler; Slashing Victims; Parker Hambrick, Joe Lander. Ahead for the troupe in 2019-2020 are Dixie Swim Club,” “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Mamma Mia!” “Grease” and “Frozen Jr.”

– In Green Bay, Daddy D Productions show troupe of Green Bay will present “Daddy D’s Fabulous Fifties Show” June 20, 21 and 27 (6 p.m. dinner, 7 p.m. show) at Riverside Ballroom. Preview story: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-daddy-ds-fabulous-fifties-show-starts-thursday-in-green-bay/2083850856.

– In Kaukauna, Kaukauna Community Players will present the musical “The Wedding Singer” at 7 p.m. June 20, 21 22, 27 and 28 in Bernie Hupperts Center for the Performing Arts inside Kaukauna High School. Preview story: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-the-wedding-singer-musical-opening-thursday-in-kaukauna/2080327365.

– In New London, Wolf River Theatrical Troupe will present six performances of Ted Swindley’s the song-filled “Always… Patsy Cline” in Real Opportunities Outreach Center. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. June 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29. Info: wrtt.org. This is a reprise production. My review of the 2017 version by the troupe: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/warren-gerds-critic-at-large-review-patsy-cline-a-special-elixir-in-new-london/.

– In Abrams, Abrams Spotlight Productions will present eight performances of “Footloose: The Musical” starting Friday, June 21, in Byng Community Theatre. Performances are at 7 p.m. June 21, 1 and 7 p.m. June 22, 1 p.m. June 23, 7 p.m. June 28, 1 and 7 p.m. June 29 and 1 p.m. June 30. Preview story: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-footloose-the-musical-opening-two-weekend-run-friday-in-abrams/2081706140.

– In Menasha, Attic Chamber Theatre, Inc. will present six performances of Matthew Barber’s “Enchanted April” starting June 21 in Lucia Baehman Theatre of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Valley Campus. Performances are at 7 p.m. June 21-22, 2 p.m. June 23, 7 p.m. June 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. Info: attictheatreinc.com. From the website: Sweet-natured Lotty Wilton is suffering depression from the bleak London winter and from an oppressive relationship with her pompous solicitor husband. When she sees an advertisement in the paper to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April, an idyllic spot “for those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine,” she jumps at the chance to escape her downtrodden existence. Sensing an instant kinship with fellow housewife Rose Arnott, an angelic woman with sorrows of her own, Lotty persuades her along on the adventure. Seeking to reduce the costs, the two round out their party with Caroline Bramble, a beautiful and exhausted socialite, and Mrs. Graves, an overbearing widow. As the month passes, sun-drenched San Salvatore works its magic on each sad and hardened heart, healing grief and bringing hope. With the arrival of two chastened husbands and one attractive young artist, romance blooms again. The play, based on Elizabeth Von Arnim’s novel of the 1920s set against the backdrop of a country still reeling from World War I, is a gentle and romantic comedy of manners. Directing is Autumn Gomez-Tagle. In the cast art Rachel Sandlin, Jo Snyder, Katie Berman, Nancy Ernst, Ruth Fahim, Adam Burain, Benjamin Mackey and Glenn Kellerman.

– In Sturgeon Bay, Isadoora Theatre Company will present Will Eno’s “The Realistic Joneses” at 7:30 p.m. June 21-22, 2 p.m. June 23, 7:30 p.m. June 28-29 and 2 p.m. June 30 in Margaret Lockwood Gallery Inside/Out Theatre. Info: isadooratheatrecompany.com. According to a press release: Bob and Jennifer and their new neighbors, John and Pony, have more in common than their identical homes and shared last names. As their relationships begin to irrevocably intertwine, the Joneses must decide between their idyllic fantasies and their imperfect realities. Richard Carlson directs. In the cast are Marcel Bruyere, Loretta Heath, Amanda Sallinen and Dan Sallinen.

– In Tisch Mills, The Forst Inn Arts Collective will present the Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones musical “The Fantastics” in 10 performances – 7:30 p.m. June 21, 22, 27, 28, 29; 2 p.m. June 30; 7:30 p.m. July 5, 6, 7. Info: forstinn.com. Snapshot: The story is about a boy, a girl and their fathers, who try to keep them apart. The narrator, El Gallo, asks the audience to use its imagination and follow him into a world of moonlight and magic. The boy and the girl fall in love, grow apart and finally find their way back to each other after realizing the truth in El Gallo’s words that, “without a hurt, the heart is hollow.” ​(Mortimer) is Kana Coonce (Mortimer), ​Vanessa Guillen (Luisa), ​Phillip Jindra (El Gallo), Tessa Komorowski (The Mute), Corey McElroy (Hucklebee), Jeremy Pelegrin (Bellamy) and Sean Stalvey (Matt). Directing is Michael Sheeks with Kevin James Sievert as music director and choreographer.

– In De Pere, Birder Players will present the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”in 11 performances in Broadway Theatre. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. June 26, 27, 28; 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 29; 7:30 p.m. July 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; and 2 p.m. July 14. Info: birderonbroadway.org. Directing is Alicia Birder, with music direction by Evan Lloyd and Chad Lemerande.

– In Neenah, Riverside Players will present the Ken Ludwig comedy “Moon Over Buffalo” in five performances in Riverside Park Pavilion. Performances are at 8 p.m. June 26, 27, 28 and 7 p.m. June 29 and 30. Info: ci.neenah.wi.us/departments/parks-and-recreation. Directing is Laura Frelich. Snapshot: It is the summer of 1953, and George and Charlotte Hay, formerly Broadway stars, have taken their run-down touring company to Buffalo, New York. They have the intention of running “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives” in repertory, all the while grumbling about missed Hollywood opportunities. But on-stage harmony is compromised when George performs an off-stage infidelity, impregnating the company’s ingenue. When Charlotte learns of this, she prepares to run away with the family lawyer, sending lightweight George on a grief-stricken drinking binge. It turns out that Frank Capra is headed to town on a talent scouting mission looking to hire the couple for his swashbuckling “Scarlet Pimpernel” epic. As a result, the Hay family – including scornful, deaf mother in law Ethel, determinedly practical daughter Rosalind, and dashing actor Paul, Rosalind’s ex-boyfriend – must work overtime to get sloppy drunk George into his Cyrano outfit. With the entrance of Rosalind’s fiance, anxious TV weatherman Howard, and Richard Maynard, the wealthy lawyer hoping to lure Charlotte away to his mansion, confusion intensifies. The show is a throwback farce filled with larger-than-life personalities of the world of the theater.

– In Sturgeon Bay, Third Avenue Playhouse will present Marie Kohler’s “The Dig” starting with a pay-what-you-can preview at 7:30 p.m. June 26. Through July 20 performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays (except July 4) and 2 p.m. Sundays, with added performances July 2 and 16. Info: thirdavenueplayhouse.com. Snapshot from the website: Mattie’s brilliant older brother, Jamie, told her of myths when she was growing up in Galena, Illinois. As a lonely girl of 14, she said goodbye to Jamie when he flew across the globe for a career in archaeology. On a dig in Lebanon in 1968, he had a psychological breakdown, transforming him forever. Thirty years later, an international inquiry compels Mattie, now a successful businesswoman, to investigate the provenance of an ancient pot from her brother’s past. Moving between layers of the 1950s, ’60s and ’90s, “The Dig” dramatizes Mattie’s belated realization of her loss – and acceptance of who her brother has become. Marie Kohler will be in residence for the production. Directing is Alexander Coddington. The cast includes Peter Reeves, Karen Moeller, Chris Sheard, Bill Bolz and Eva Nimmer.

ENDING

– In Port Washington, Memories Ballroom will present its final performance of Jones Hope Wooten’s “Til Beth Do Us Part” at 12:30 p.m. today, June 20. Info: memoriesballroom.com.

– In Green Bay, Let Me Be Frank Productions will present “Little Chutes and Ladders” to June 22 at the Meyer Theatre, plus June 26 in Manitowoc. My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-little-chutes-and-ladders-some-kind-of-joy-in-green-bay/2062398012.

ONGOING

– In Fish Creek, Peninsula Players Theatre will present Peter Moore’s new comedy “A Trick of the Light” to July 7 at 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. June 23 and 30 and 4 p.m. July 7. A pre-show discussion for ticketholders will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 20 with playwright Peter Moore. A post-show discussion will be held June 20 with actors, designers and the director. My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/community/warren-gerds-critic-at-large-review-a-trick-of-the-light-comical-and-engaging-in-fish-creek/.

– In Fish Creek, the Northern Sky Theater outdoor season to Aug. 24 in Peninsula State Park includes the new “We Like It Where?” and the returning “Dairy Heirs” and “Windjammers.” Info: northernskytheater.com. My review of “We Like it Where?” is at https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-we-like-it-where-taps-wisconsins-rich-humor-in-fish-creek/2080096945. Returning productions are “Dairy Heirs” and “Windjammers.”

– In Baileys Harbor, Door Shakespeare has opened its season in Bjorklunden garden with William Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in rotation with “Henry V.” Performances by the professional company continue to Aug. 24. Info: doorshakespeare.com. From the website: “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is directed by Marcella Kearns. In it, disreputable Sir John Falstaff pursues two housewives, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, who outwit him instead. Meanwhile, three suitors seek the hand of Anne Page, Mistress Page’s daughter. Falstaff hopes to seduce the wives so he can gain access to their husbands’ wealth. Ford learns of Falstaff’s approaches and is consumed by jealousy. In disguise, he befriends Falstaff to learn about Mistress Ford’s behavior. The wives, however, trick Falstaff and Ford. As Falstaff visits Mistress Ford, Mistress Page announces that Ford is coming. Falstaff hides in a basket of dirty laundry and is thrown in the river. Another visit ends similarly: Falstaff disguises himself as “the fat woman of Brentford,” whom Ford hates. Ford beats “her” in anger. Finally, Falstaff is lured to a comical nighttime rendezvous where all of Windsor comes together, Falstaff is publicly humiliated, and Ford admits his folly. Two of Anne Page’s suitors elope with boys in disguise while Anne marries her chosen suitor, Fenton. “Henry V” is directed by Matt Daniels. The drama begins at the English court, where the young king is persuaded that he has a claim to the throne of France. When the French dauphin, or heir apparent, insults him by sending him tennis balls, Henry launches his military expedition to France. Before departing, Henry learns that three of his nobles have betrayed him, and he orders their execution. Meanwhile, his old tavern companions grieve over Sir John Falstaff’s death, and then leave for France. Henry and his army lay siege to the French town of Harfleur, which surrenders. The Princess of France, Katherine, starts to learn English, but the French nobles are sure of success against Henry. Instead, Henry’s forces win a great victory at Agincourt. After a brief return to England, Henry comes back to France to claim his rights and to set up his marriage to Princess Katherine. The play’s epilogue points out that Henry will die young and that England will as a result lose most of his French territories.

ON THE CONCERT SCENE

– In Egg Harbor, Birch Creek Music Performance Center will open its Percussion & Steel Band series at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in its Dutton Concert Barn. The series continues to June 29. Info: birchcreek.org.

– In Oshkosh, Waterfest34 will host Scott Stapp Thursday, June 20, in Leach Amphitheater. Info: waterfest.org.

– In Fish Creek, Door Community Auditorium will host Greg Brown at 8 p.m. Friday, June 21. Info: dcauditorium.org.

– In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host “Warriors Rock” Friday and Saturday, June 21-22. Info for multiple events: weillcenter.com.

– In De Pere, St. Norbert College will host “Lorie Line – 2019 Solo Piano Tour”at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in Dudley Birder Hall. Info: lorieline.com. Note: The event is not being sold by the St. Norbert ticket office. According to Line on the website: Line will be traveling to some new theaters for her. “I will be playing brand new music from a new album called ‘Rock Star’ – and I’m sure everyone will know this music. I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite music and stories from 30 years of touring. All venues will be small, up close and personal… We’ll take pictures in the lobby following the concert, and I’ll sign all your Lorie Line music.”

– In Oshkosh, Kids from Wisconsin will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at Leach Amphitheater.

– In Ashwaubenon, Resch Center will host “Pentatonix: The World Tour” with special guests Rachel Platten and Citizen Queenat 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 23. Info: reschcenter.com.

– In Appleton, the Appleton City Band will present its weekly summer concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, in Pierce Park.

– In De Pere, De Pere City Band will present “Music of July 4that 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, in Voyageur Park. Admission is free. Director Ken Petersen will lead the band.

– In Green Bay, the Green Bay City Band continues its summer series with “Disney Spectacular” in St. James Park at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. Assistant director Steve Bader directs Disney favorites from “Aladdin” to “The Lion King” plus a salute to Christmas. Steve Wilda sings “Hallelujah,” and the horns are featured.

– In Brillion, Endries Performing Arts Center will host Kids from Wisconsin in “The Beat Goes On” at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27. Info: brillionpac.com. The cast includes Anastasia Barstow, Suamico, from Bay Port High School; Sarah Kurowski, Sobieski, a graduate of Pulaski High School; and Alex Turicik, a graduate of Plymouth High School. – In Oshkosh, Waterfest34 will host Hairball! Thursday, June 27, in Leach Amphitheater. Info: waterfest.org.

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