Critic At Large WeAreGreenBay

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Week Ahead: Christmas Rush of Shows is on in Northeastern Wisconsin

New Productions Mix with the Traditional

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Below is more on “A Christmas Carol, The Musical” in De Pere, “The Christmas Express” in New London, “The Whaliens” in Sturgeon Bay, “Rogue Theater Writing Contest Finalists” in Sturgeon Bay, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in Clintonville, “A Frank’s Christmas: Schroeder’s Department Store” in Green Bay and Algoma, “Spirits of the Holidays – A Celebration of Dance” in Green Bay, “The Nutcracker Ballet” in Sheboygan, “Daddy D’s Christmas” in Luxemburg and Ashwaubenon, “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” in Manitowoc, “The Assassin’s Anthology” in Green Bay, “Trials, Tribulations, and Christmas Decorations” in Oshkosh, “Smoke on the Mountain” in De Pere, “Fiddler on the Roof” in Appleton, “Mistletoe Musings” in Tisch Mills... performances involving Max Weinberg, Jesse McCarthy, Charlie Berens, UW Oshkosh Titan Steel and World Percussion and Chamber Ensembles, St. Norbert “Festival of Christmas,” Appleton Boychoir, Birch Creek Music Performance Center, Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey, UWGB’s “Messiah,” Lakeshore Wind Ensemble, Oshkosh Symphony, Youth Orchestra Program at St. Norbert, St. Norbert “Brass and Organ Christmas Spectacular,” Sharon Tenhundfeld and Katherine Decker, The Lone Bellow, Mannheim Steamroller, UWGB Chamber Ensembles, UW Oshkosh Jazz Lab Band, Fresh Horses, Robbie Fulks , UW Oshkosh Handbell Choir, Tim Hawkins, Capitol Civic Centre Chorale, UWGB Sheboygan Campus holiday concert, Knights on Broadway.


– In De Pere, Birder Players will present nine performances of “A Christmas Carol, The Musical” in Broadway Theatre. Info: Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 1: 7 p.m. Dec. 13-14; and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 15. Preview story:

– In New London, Wolf River Theatrical Troupe will present the Pat Cook comedy “The Christmas Express” in six performances in Real Opportunities Outreach Center. Info: Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 12 and Dec. 6-8. The play is described as a nostalgic take on eccentric small-town characters who wise-crack their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas. Cast: Jeanine Supanich, Clint Danke, Patty Grossman, Jim Sexton, Debbie Martin, Mark Grossman, Rita Thiel, Olivia Levezow, Nic Danke and Laura Sorenson. Snapshot: “This is the most hopeless place in the world,” Hilda says as she and Satch, her assistant, argue over what time it is. Hilda dreams of faraway places and only finds tedium in running the Holly Railway Station. That is, until Leo Tannenbaum drops in out of nowhere the day before Christmas Eve. Suddenly, an old radio that hasn’t worked in years springs to life, the local group of carolers (which usually yowls like a gang of wet cats) begins to sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the whole town gets the Christmas spirit. Coincidence? Or is Leo doing all this? Even Satch changes his tune when it turns out that Leo might be on the run.

– In Sturgeon Bay, Third Avenue StageKids will present the new Alex Genty-Waksberg play “The Whaliens” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. Dec. 2. Info: According to a press release: “The Waliens” tells the story of Luna, a girl in high school, who is visited one night by a group of aliens that call themselves Whaliens who are considering moving to Planet Earth. Luna must contend with the fate of the planet and, even more difficult, the trials and tribulations of being a teenager in high school. The cast consists of Krista Jacobson, Gibraltar Elementary, sixth grade; Sam Busalacchi, Gibraltar Elementary, third grade; Samuel Parentean, Sturgeon Bay High, ninth grade; Lilly Schmidt, Southern Door, sixth grade; Dalena Pakalske, Southern Door, ninth grade; Wolfgang Peters, St. Peter’s, fourth grade; Scout Feldman, Sturgeon Bay High, ninth grade; Anabelle Clark, Southern Door High, ninth grade; Malia Bicoy, Sturgeon Bay High, ninth grade; Xavier Ortiz, Valley View Elementary, fifth grade; Ian Toyne, who is enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2019 and is stage managing. Directing is Alex Genty-Waksberg. Rylee Johnson is the associate director.

– In Sturgeon Bay, Rogue Theater will present the finalists of its “Rogue Theater Writing Contest Finalists” at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Inside/Out Theatre of Margaret Lockwood Gallery, Michigan Street and 7 South 2nd Ave. Info: (920) 818-0816. According to a press release: The authors will share their murder mystery scripts for the first time as public readings. Since its inception, Rogue Theater has had a love of murder mystery scripts. Each year the troupe travels to local restaurants to perform murder mystery dinner theater. This past spring, Rogue Theater held a murder mystery play writers contest, encouraging community members to practice their writing skills and submit their stories. Each submission offered mystery, humor and a bit of suspense. The scripts had a diverse range of subjects, but all shared a murder and clues. From the entries submitted, four finalists were selected. The authors are Tim Toepel with “Murder at Al Johnsons,” Stanley Eisenhammer with “Murder on Cottage Row,” Mark Hunt with “The Beloved Songbirds” and Tonie Bear and Ian Toyne with “The Dancing Men.” The winner of the contest was Stanley Eisenhammer. He received a cash prize and will have his script performed by Rogue Theater in the future. For the readings, two scripts will be read each day by Rogue Theater cast members and their authors. Friday will include scripts by Tonie Bear and Ian Toyne and Tim Toepel.  Saturday will include scripts by Mark Hunt and Stanley Eisenhammer. Admission is free and open to the public. 

In Clintonville, Phoenix Players will present the Clark Gesner version of the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at 7 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7 and 8 and 1 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9 in the 1918 Auditorium (Rexford-Longfellow School). Preview story:

In Green Bay and Algoma, Let Me Be Frank Productions will be in action with a month-long production of “A Frank’s Christmas: Schroeder’s Department Store.” Early performances are Friday, Nov. 30, at the Meyer Theatre in Green Bay and Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Algoma Performing Arts Center. Preview story:

In Green Bay, Barb’s Center for Dance will present its annual “Spirits of the Holidays – A Celebration of Dance” at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Meyer Theatre. Info: or According to the website: The performance features the studio’s holiday dance ensembles along with its competition dance troupes, lines and teams. The young dancers will perform original tap, jazz, lyrical and ballet works to traditional and contemporary holiday music. The second half will feature a section from “The Nutcracker” presented by the studio’s Ballet 360 Academy. As is tradition, profits generated by the shows and silent auction are donated to local charities. This year’s beneficiaries will be The Golden House, The Freedom House, Colton’s Cure, Muscular Dystrophy Association and The Pillars (formerly Homeless Connections). The studio’s total charitable contribution from last year’s Green Bay and Fox Valley locations was $32,001.50. During the past 19 years, the combined shows have raised more than $277,000 for local charitable organizations.

In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host the local Dancescape Ballet Company production of “The Nutcracker Ballet” at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Info: The company of 44 youth members, ranging in age from 8 to 19, is augmented by parents, family members and friends. Fully costumed, the production features a Christmas party, a battle between life-size mice and toy soldiers and a magical journey through the snow into the fantasy land of the Sweets.

– In Luxemburg and Ashwaubenon, Daddy D Productions will open three weeks of performances of “Daddy D’s Christmas.” First performances are Saturday, Dec. 1, at The Rendezvous of Luxemburg and starting Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Stadium View Bar & Grille in Ashwaubenon. Preview story:

– In Manitowoc, Treehouse Theater will present “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7 and 2 p.m. Dec. 8-9 in University Theatre of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. Info: Snapshot: The musical by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin is based on the 1992 Academy-Award-winning film and the 2014 Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within. Aladdin and his three friends – Babkak, Omar and Kassim – are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character.

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre Studio and Alternate Theatre will present “The Assassin’s Anthology,” written and directed by Selena Deer, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-8, in Jean Weidner Theatre of Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus. According to a press release: Admission is free, though seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nine assassins live together on an estate, each with his or her specialty. Hangman, their leader and #1 assassin, has a secret he has yet to reveal to the others, until the truth is discovered by the newest addition to the team, Candle. Candle’s creative writing and impulsiveness begins to threaten the very rules that Hangman has so direly enforced. Reality begets fantasy when one of the assassins is found dead, and discovered evidence suggests that the infamous mythical assassin, the Executioner, is behind the assassination. Cast: Hangman – Alex Sabin, (BA in drama from UW-Stevens Point), De Pere; Chemist – Guinevere Casper, senior (musical theater and English), West Bend; Sniper – Sean Stalvey, junior (musical theater), Manitowoc; Lover – Isabelle Austgen, freshman (musical theater), Sister Bay; Fighter – Quade Kazik, junior (digital video and film production), Green Bay; and Candlestick Maker – Joy Russ, sophomore, (psychology), Menomonee Falls. Also in the cast are theater majors Jared Robertson as Penance, Colleen Cline as Butcher and Tara Jackson as Baker. Selena Deer is a UWGB senior theatre and communication major from New Berlin. The play contains adult content and is recommended for ages 12 and older. The run-time of the play is approximately 85 minutes and a talkback will be held after each performance.

– In Oshkosh, Oshkosh Playin’ Round community theater will present the Matthew Carlin comedy “Trials, Tribulations, and Christmas Decorations” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 7 and 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at First English Lutheran Church. Info: Snapshot: Kim’s widowed dad, John, is a grinch, and Kim has decided enough is enough. She hatches a plan to break him out of his rut this Christmas and invites several unwanted guests, including John’s first love, Leslie, who he hasn't seen in 30 years, her elderly mother and her 10-year-old niece, who seem to want to give John nothing but grief. Add Kim’s husband, Dennis, who John has never accepted, and her friends, Laney and Julie, a couple of over-the-top Christmas fanatics, and you’ve got a “Christmas to end all Christmases!” When they all get iced in together, seasonal madness ensues. Directing is Tara Gulbrandsen. The cast includes Dick Furness, Kate Castel, Adam Baurain, Debbie Ransbottom, Caroleah (Leah) Demski, Kim Burchard, Barbara Carroll Pica, Jasmyn Leinweber and Jane Hutton.


– In De Pere, Play-by-Play Theatre will present its final performances of the musical “Smoke on the Mountain” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Webb Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College. My review:,

– In Appleton, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center will host the final performances of a touring production of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28, 29, 30; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2. My review:


– In Tisch Mills, The Forst Inn Arts Collective will present continuing performances of its holiday cabaret “Mistletoe Musings.” Info: Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7, 13, 14, 15 (unavailable) and 16 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16. The show returns with new songs and new stories. Included are “amazing a cappella harmonies, rousing carols and quirky and poignant readings.” The event includes a sandwich and appetizer buffet before the show and dessert served at intermission.


– In Green Bay, Riverside Ballroom will host “Max Weinberg’s Jukebox” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Info:

– In Green Bay, Weidner Center for the Performing Arts will host Jesse McCarthy at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Info:

– In Oshkosh, Oshkosh Grand Opera will host “The Manitowoc Minute’s Charlie Berens: Keep ’Er Movin’” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Info:

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will present UW Oshkosh Titan Steel and World Percussion at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, in Music Hall in the Arts Communication Center. Info:

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will present UW Oshkosh Chamber Ensembles at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov30, in Music Hall in the Arts Communication Center. Info:

– In De Pere, the St. Norbert College music department will host “Festival of Christmas” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in Walter Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts. Info: The sacred concert will feature all of the college’s music ensembles, including choirs, bands, brass, flutes, piano, organ and handbells. Afterward, audience members may attend a gourmet holiday dessert reception with music provided by the St. Norbert College Jazz Band.

– In Appleton, Appleton Boychoir will present “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Lawrence University Memorial Chapel. Info:

– In Egg Harbor, Birch Creek Music Performance Center will present “Christmas at Birch Creek” with the center’s symphony brass and percussion faculty at 2:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Info: The Southern Door High School Madrigal Choir will perform in the evening concert.

– In Oshkosh, Menominee Nation Arena will host Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey in their “Celebrate Christmas Tour” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Info:

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music and guests will feature “Messiah” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in Cofrin Family Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus. Info: According to a press release: George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece, a Baroque-era oratorio, is the quintessential holiday event. Performing with the Festival Orchestra are UWGB’s Concert Choir and University Singers along with the Green Bay Choral Artists and Sturgeon Bay High School Choirs, with soloists Courtney Sherman, soprano, Linda Feldmann, mezzo-soprano, Tomás Dominguez, tenor; and Jonathan Kim, bass. Conducting is Randall Meder of the UWGB faculty. Also on the program is Handel’s “Coronation Anthem No. 3 – The King Shall Rejoice.”

– In Manitowoc, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus Lakeshore Wind Ensemble will present “Festival of Christmas” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec., 1 at the Capitol Civic Centre. Info: According to a press release: Conducted by Marc Sackman of the faculty and special guest conductor Michael J. Arendt, the wind ensemble will be joined by vocalists Kim Hofmann, Barbara Whitcomb and the Festival of Christmas Children’s Choir under the direction of David Bourgeois. WFRV-TV newscaster Tom Zalaski returns to help the wind ensemble to celebrate its 35th season and narrate the concert. Sackman has planned a program that includes traditional holiday tunes, sacred favorites and selections that will transport listeners to Christmases of yesteryear. Selections include “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “Minor Alterations 2” and “Carols from the Dark Side.” Lakeshore Wind Ensemble founder Michael J. Arendt will join in the Christmas celebration. “I’m thrilled to be back to conduct a few pieces this season,” Arendt said. He will be on the podium for “Fantasia for Christmas,” a contemporary work by Elliot del Borgo based on “The Ukrainian Bell Carol” (“Carol of the Bells”), and “Christmas Declaration” by Robert W. Smith, based on traditional carols. The children’s choir is made up of 22 children, grandchildren and relatives of wind ensemble members. The choir will perform “Christmas is Coming,” “Merry Christmas to You,” “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Silver Bells Downtown.” The annual audience sing-along will conclude the concert. Selections include “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

– In Oshkosh, Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra will present “Orchestral Presents” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Grand Opera House. Info: Dylan Chmura-Moore will conduct. Guest artist is Anna Heresey. The program will include Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Toy Symphony.”

– In Green Bay, The Youth Orchestra Program at St. Norbert College will present “Fall Concert” at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in Cofrin Family Hall of the Weidner Center for Performing Arts. Info: and Performing are the organization’s three orchestras. Musicians ages 8 to 22 auditioned for the ensembles, which are led by professional conductors. The String Orchestra conducted by Audrey Nowak will feature “Dragon Slayer” by Rob Grice. The Philharmonia conducted by James Thaldorf will feature “A Whole Lot of Symphony Themes” arranged by Douglas Wagner. The Youth Symphony conducted by Mike Ross will feature “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini.

– In De Pere, the St. Norbert College music department will host “Brass and Organ Christmas Spectacular” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in St. Norbert Abbey Church, 1016 N. Broadway, De Pere. Info: The concert will feature traditional holiday music performed by faculty and friends of the college from Northeastern Wisconsin. Admission is free; good-will donations will benefit the “Nubbie” Ecker Chamber Music Endowment, which helps fund the concert each year.

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will present a faculty recital with Sharon Tenhundfeld, viola, and Katherine Decker, cello, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, in Music Hall in the Arts Communication Center. Info:

– In Fish Creek, Door Community Auditorium will host The Lone Bellow at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. Info:

– In Green Bay, Weidner Center for the Performing Arts will host “Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. Info:

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music will present its Chamber Ensembles at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Free.

– – In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will present UW Oshkosh Jazz Lab Band at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Music Hall in the Arts Communication Center. Info:

– In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host Fresh Horses at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5. Info:

– In Fish Creek, White Gull Inn will host singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the second of five concerts in the 35th season of winter folk concerts at the inn. Info: Fulks will be accompanied by Chicago mandolin artist Don Stiernberg. Born in York, Pennsylvania, Fulks grew up in a half-dozen towns in southeast Pennsylvania, the North Carolina Piedmont and the Blue Ridge area of Virginia. He attended Columbia College in New York City before dropping out to focus on the Greenwich Village songwriter scene. In the mid-1980’s Fulks moved to Chicago and joined Greg Cahill’s Special Consensus Bluegrass Band, with whom he made one record in 1989. Since then, Fulks he has gone on to create a wide-ranging career. He has been a staff instructor in guitar and ensemble at Old Town School of Folk Music, worked on Nashville’s Music Row as a staff songwriter and has made multiple appearances on WSM’s “Grand Ole Opry,” NPR’s “Fresh Air,” PBS’s” Austin City Limits,” NBC’s “Today,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “30 Rock.”

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will present UW Oshkosh Handbell Choir at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in Reeve Union. Info:

In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host Tim Hawkins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. Info:

– In Oshkosh, Capitol Civic Centre Chorale will present “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec.  6, at the center. Info:

– In Sheboygan, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Sheboygan Campus will present a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Fine Arts Theatre. Performing are the Sheboygan Campus Vocal Jazz Ensemble, University Chorus and Jazz Ensemble.


– In De Pere, Knights on Broadway, a student singing ensemble at St. Norbert College, will present “Christmas with the Knights on Broadway” at Dudley Birder Hall on campus. Performances are Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.; and Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. Info:

Contact me at Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.

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