FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Northern Sky Theater professional troupe will bring back the historic musical “Fishing for the Moon” as one of its productions this summer. Info, including the full slate.

The history is twofold: One. The story is set in rural Wisconsin after the Civil War. Two. The musical was the first collaboration of company co-founder Fred Alley and composer James Kaplan, who would create such popular shows as “Lumberjacks in Love” and “Guys on Ice.”

From a newsletter, press releases, websites, and archives: The lighthearted romantic comedy with book and lyrics by Fred Alley and music by James Kaplan features a harebrained cast of characters. Confusing calamities ensue when a Southern gentleman rides north, seeking a crazy Union officer who thinks his cows are soldiers.

Shirlene, the officer’s weary wife, has made his life forever miserable by selling his prize bull while he was off at war.

Meanwhile, the local school teacher rebuffs the smooth talk of a persistent raconteur while an earnest young woman tries to awaken her true love from amnesia with the smell of Parisian soap. 

“Fishing for the Moon” was produced in 1992, 1999, and 2008 when the company was American Folklore Theatre.

This summer, the show will be presented in Peninsula State Park Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays from June 15 to Aug. 27.

A message from the company says, “James Kaplan, Jeff Herbst, and Karen Mal were all involved with this show’s original production, and we are delighted and sort of amazed to report that all three of them will be working on it again this year, 30 years after its premiere! We wanted to share with you some funny, joyful reminiscences from Jeff and James as this show embarks on its 30th-anniversary run.”

From Jeff Herbst, today’s artistic director of Northern Sky Theater: “It’s almost impossible to believe that this will be the 30th anniversary of this show, which hasn’t been presented at Northern Sky since 2008.

“Stewart Dawson is redesigning the set this year, and Karen Brown-Larimore will update the costumes. The cast will include Corrie Beula Kovacs, Lachrisa Grandberry, Alex Campea, Hayden Hoffman, newcomer Hannah Kato – also interning – and Yours Truly. I originated the role of Peter Rutherford Hall and played that role again in 1999. But this time I will portray Colonel Tucker Olson, a role originally played by Doc Heide (co-founder) and then reprised by Doug Mancheski (‘Guys on Ice’ star).

“Big military boots to fill, but I’m really looking forward to working on this wonderful show, both as actor and director.

“Doug Clemons will lend a hand as assistant director. James Kaplan will be joining us as musical director with able assistance from Karen Mal. Karen was in the original cast in 1992 and rejoins the Northern Sky team after appearing in ‘Karl Janko’ and “Home for the Holidays’ in 2021.”

From James Kaplan: “As I contemplated ‘Fishing for the Moon’ being a part of this summer season at Peninsula State Park, I couldn’t help but notice some numbers of significance. This summer is the 30th anniversary of the premiere of ‘Fishing for the Moon, the first show I created with Fred Alley. The premiere happened in June 1992, when I had just turned 30 years old. Even if you don’t have such a great flair for numbers, you might have done some math and determined that it was half a lifetime ago.

“Revisiting the play now, I hear quite a bit of Fred’s dad, George, in the humor, some of which can only be described as ‘Dad jokes.’ There are tongue twisters and riddles, slapstick and silliness, beauty beheld and bargains made. It is a very funny show with quite a few delightful surprises.”

Fred Alley collaborated on more than 20 original shows at American Folklore Theatre. He wrote the book and lyrics for “Lumberjacks in Love” and “Fishing for the Moon” and was a contributor to “Bone Dance.” Alley also wrote perennial favorites “Guys on Ice” and “The Bachelors” with composer James Kaplan.

Alley’s work has been celebrated throughout the country and in particular at Madison and Milwaukee Repertory theaters. 

“The Spitfire Grill,” which he wrote with composer James Valcq, earned them the Richard Rodgers Award and has been produced more than 600 times from Off-Broadway to Europe and East Asia.

Alley also was an accomplished performer and created many memorable characters, including Moonlight in “Lumberjacks in Love,” Lloyd in “Guys on Ice” and Leo in “Belgians in Heaven.”

The company says, “Fred’s ability to help us laugh at ourselves, through his characters, makes his shows entertaining and timeless.”

James Kaplan, with collaborator Laurie Flanigan Hegge, created Northern Sky’s “See Jane Vote.”

In addition to the opening and closing songs in “Tongue ’n Cheek,” his shows written with Fred Alley include “Northern Lights,” “Lumberjacks in Love,” “The Bachelors” and “Guys on Ice,” all directed by Jeff Herbst.

Kaplan collaborated with Jacinda Duffin and Laurie Flanigan Hegge to create “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”

He conceived and created musical arrangements for the Northern Sky revues “Beneath the Northern Sky,” “Goodnight Irene,” “Harvest Moon,” “Old Friends,” “Fish and Whistle” and “Sweet Baby James.”

His music also appeared in “Belgians in Heaven,” “Packer Fans from Outer Space,” “Ya Ya You Betcha,” “Fool Me Once” and the original 1995 “Bone Dance.”