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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Live, in-person ‘Menoma Mia’ slightly dangerous in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Let Me Be Frank Productions

Cast and band for Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “Menoma Mia.” (Sue Pilz Photography)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A young woman discovers she has three possible fathers. A certain popular movie and stage musical tells the story in glossy ways, built around infectiously exciting songs.

In “Menoma Mia,” a young woman discovers she has three possible fathers. But Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe of Green Bay takes the gloss off and puts the hormones on to tell the story, built around the same infectiously exciting songs along with other hits.

Double entendre meanings are ladled out by all the characters. What’s said and done often is slightly dangerous in propriety. The result is a spoof of the certain popular movie and stage musical – with an earthy, laugh-out-loud vengeance. “Menoma Mia” doesn’t hold back the tangy cheese.

“Menoma Mia” also toys with the stories of the three possible fathers from the show “Mamma Mia!” Instead of a Greek isle resort, the guys are coming to a Karaoke festival at a bowling alley in Menominee, Michigan. One guy is from Chicago, another from Green Bay and the third from Upper Michigan.

The show is loaded with Yooper talk. In addition, the guy from the U.P. has comical qualities that make the character particularly colorful. He’s an ex-con.

In “Mamma Mia!” and “Menoma Mia,” the name “Sheridan” factors in. It happens that the bowling place in Menominee is of that name – in reality, too – and both “Mia’s” have mother-daughter characters with the last name Sheridan. On opening night Friday, people who came to the Meyer Theatre from Menominee got all excited about the name connections. In a first for Let Me Be Frank Productions, this show will end its performances in Marinette because of the story’s connections to its neighboring city.

‘Menoma Mia’ opening scene. (Warren Gerds)

A reminder about this production, which was originally scheduled for April 2020: With the COVID-19 pandemic still holding on, it is a rarity as a live, in-person, full-scale adult show with a socially distanced audience. It is put on like normal in an abnormal situation. Friday night’s audience generally sat in twos and fours, with rows alternately empty. The show was “well attended,” such as what that means now.

Ten songs from ABBA are in “Menoma Mia.” The band and the singers deliver the goods in each. The lead singers vary, but the result is always splashy.

Among other songs, I especially like the performances of two. “I Know, I’ll Never Love This Way Again” finds Amy Riemer enveloping the emotion with her specially rounded voice. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” puts Pat Hibbard a bit out of his rock-powered realm but zipping into the rhythm smack of Paul Simon’s lyrics.

Color sparks the show in quirky costuming and light shows and the steady role of shenanigans.

In the story, Amy Riemer plays the mother and Sarah Galati the daughter. The possible fathers are played by Frank Hermans, Pat Hibbard and Tom Verbrick. The long-lost friend of the mother is played by Lisa Borley. Playing beer-drinking buddies are Zach Hibbard and Blake Matthews, who get the danger thingie going with rascally irreverence.

Parts of the plot and storyline are held together with baling wire, which is typical of a Let Me Be Frank Productions show. But the songs get sung and the alley-cat saga gets let loose. Not much is neutered.

***

Creative: Writers/directors – Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard

Cast:

Amy Sheridan – Amy Riemer

Sarah Sheridan – Sarah Galati

Lisa – Lisa Borley

Frank – Frank Hermans

Pat – Pat Hibbard

Tom – Tom Verbrick

Blake – Blake Matthews

Zach – Zach Hibbard

Band: Pat Hibbard, bass; Andrew Klaus, drums; Dennis Panneck, guitars; Tony Pilz, keyboards

Running time: Two hours, 10 minutes

Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre, Green Bay: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, Feb. 4, 5, 6, 7; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20. Info: meyertheatre.org or ticketstaronline.com. Community REC Center, Marinette: 7 p.m. Feb. 27. Info: (715) 732-5162.

***

Song selections

Act I

“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley and all

“Feel Like Makin’ Love” (Bad Company) – Zach Hibbard

“Lay All Your Love on Me” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati

“You Make My Dreams” (Daryl Hall & John Oates) – Blake Matthews

“I Know, I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (Dionne Warwick) – Amy Riemer

“Mamma Mia” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley

“Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward) – Lisa Borley

“The Winner Takes It All” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer

“You Are the Woman” (Firefall) – Frank Hermans

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Johnny Cash) – Tom Verbrick

“Rock’n Me” (Steve Miller Band) – Pat Hibbard

Act II

“Take a Chance on Me” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati

“Supa Boo Pa” (Frank Hermans) – Frank Hermans

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (Paul Simon) – Pat Hibbard

“Paranoid” (Black Sabbath) – Zach Hibbard

“Chiquitita” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer, Sarah Galati

“One Way or Another” (Blondie) – Sarah Galati

“The Name of the Game” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer

“Does Your Mother Know” (ABBA) – Frank Hermans

“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati

“Off the Wall” (Michael Jackson) – Blake Hermans

“Dancing Queen” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, Sarah Galati and all

***

Theater statement

The State of Wisconsin’s mask mandate requires patrons to wear a face mask. Please be respectful to the mandate and other patrons. Although the Meyer Theatre and Backstage follow CDC guidelines for disinfection of its facility, there is no guarantee you will not be exposed to COVID-19. By entering the Meyer Theatre and Backstage premises, you accept all responsibility for medical risk associated with your presence in a public place and for those for whom you act as legal guardian. The Meyer Theatre or Backstage are not liable for illness or injury beyond what may be prevented through reasonable accommodations. Please follow the state mandate on masks, avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands or use hand sanitizers frequently. Please follow all signage posted to provide you with a safe experience.

***

THE VENUE: Stop and look around the place. Meyer Theatre’s auditorium is an eye full. Located at 117 S. Washington St. in downtown Green Bay, the Meyer is one of the state’s colorful historic theaters. In its current form, the Robert T. Meyer Theatre opened Feb. 27, 2002. It seats approximately 1,000. The building dates back much farther. It opened Feb. 14, 1930, as one of the palatial Fox movie houses. The place is picturesque. The theater’s interior aura was its saving grace toward the end of the 20th century, when the building was faced an uncertain fate. The architectural/decorative style is defined as Spanish Atmospheric. The auditorium is designed in the manner of a Moorish courtyard of old. The eclectic mix of architectural styles and colors carries throughout the lobbies.

THE PEOPLE: Robert Meyer was president and chief executive officer of Tape Inc. of Green Bay. The theater took his name at the behest of his wife, Betty (Janet Elizabeth) Rose Meyer, whose financial contribution at a crucial time helped revitalize the building. The Rose family has a history of deep commitment to and involvement in the well-being of Green Bay. Robert Meyer died in 1984, Betty Rose Meyer in 2008.

NEXT: “My Big Fat Pulaski Wedding: 10 Year Reunion,” April 2-17.

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