FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – The popular Northern Sky Theater of Door County deals only in shows created by or for the company.
Its latest world premiere is in a special category.
Not many, if any, theater companies have put together a comedy mystery musical, especially set in Oconto and Marinette counties.
The show “Whatever Happened to Karl Janko?” is the latest by Matt Zembrowski.
He achieved the high-wire act of writing the book, music and lyrics for the show that is running to Sept. 18 in Peninsula State Park Amphitheater.
The show is about a fictional 18-year-old football star who vanished 35 years ago.
We find out about Karl by way of a TV investigator who pries gossip and grumbles from quirky town folk of Littleton, Wisconsin.
It is all done with song and dance and comedy and quaint characterizations.
What is fascinating is how Matt Zembrowski has audiences hanging in rapt silence to find out what is next as the story unfolds.
There’s always some juicy small-town rumor right around the corner.
“Whatever Happened to Karl Janko?” is another of Northern Sky Theater’s winners.
Matt Zembrowski’s previous book-music-lyrics trifecta for Northern Sky Theater was the 2019 hit “Dad’s Season Tickets,” which thrives on its ties to Green Bay Packers fan-dom.
In a coup, “Dad’s Season Tickets” has been picked up for a two-month run starting in late October at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Also achieving the book-music-lyrics feat earlier this season for Northern Sky Theater was Katie Dahl with her beautiful “The Fisherman’s Daughters.”
Audiences at the amphitheater may sit outside on wooden benches to see shows, but there is sophistication in what Matt Zembrowski and Katie Dahl write – as one person reaching many with elevated abilities in musical theater.