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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus spawns parking-lot shows in Northeastern Wisconsin

Coronavirus

Chilton, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay

Scene at a Daddy D Productions parking lot dinner show in Green Bay outside the Riverside Ballroom. (Warren Gerds).

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The coronavirus COVID-19 is forcing everyone to be inventive time and again.

Many clever examples of re-purposing have popped up in the last six months.

Among them, I suddenly found myself reviewing shows in parking lots. One I watched from the trunk of my vehicle.

There’s a classic line in a Joni Mitchell song that goes, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Lowly parking lots have been looking good for some national stars as a safe place to keep careers going and fans appeased.

In Northeastern Wisconsin, three troupes have come up with variations of their own.

Frank’s Tribute performers. (Warren Gerds)

Green Bay-based Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe put its nostalgia act, Frank’s Tribute, into action ion shows in June and August at the Chilton Twilight Drive-In Theater.

The stage was asphalt, and the audience sat on lawn chairs outside their cars – with a few seated in their vehicle trunk.

Daddy D (Darren Johnson) taking tickets with assistance of Lauren. (Warren Gerds)

In Green Bay, Daddy D Productions show troupe offered two different shows in August with a dinner setting in the parking lot of the historic Riverside Ballroom.

Troupe members did everything from taking tickets to parking cars to helping serve the broasted chicken dinners – and then they put on a show.

Stuart Champeau, Lola DeVillers and their stage. (Warren Gerds)

In Sturgeon Bay, Lola DeVillers and Stuart Champeau of Rogue Theater attended a service in their church parking long and then ran with an idea.

They came up with a series of small theatrical productions for July and August.

Performances took place with a flat-bed trailer serving as the stage and performers using microphones set to an FM radio frequency.

Play themes included Forth of July patriotism, heavy duty drama, an appreciation of women’s voting rights and bursts of TV skit humor.

One more performance of “The Golden Age of Comedy” is set for 6 p.m. today, Sunday, Aug. 30, in the parking lot of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay.

Scene from “The Golden Age of Comedy” skit. (Rogue Theater)

None of this is glamorous.

The performance challenges are many.

But the performers have responded.

A great desire to stand and deliver has been in the air at all the productions – at a drive-in movie theater, as a dinner show and as a varied summer season of plays.

Parking lots may not be paradise, but they have added value in this trying year.

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