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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Silly/soapy ‘Bays of Our Lives’ has fun in our Bay of Green

Critic At Large

Let Me Be Frank Productions

Dennis Panneck, from left, Pat Hibbard, Sarah Galati, Lisa Borley, Andrew Klaus, Tom Verbrick, Amy Riemer, Frank Hermans and Tony Pilz perform in Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “Bays of Our Lives.” (Sue Pilz Photography)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Comically evil and hormonal forces are at work to force a merger of St. Vincent Hospital and Bellin Hospital. If that sounds like a soap opera, it is.

It’s the story of “Bays of Our Lives,” the latest creation of Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe that is running for seven more performances in Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.

The out-there story-making is an excuse for singers to be characters so their songs make sense – silly as that sense may be at times.

Writers/directors Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard and their entourage are quite good at brewing up this hybrid entertainment. The female singers especially light up the stage with sensational and/or sensitive singing.

“Bays of Our Lives” scene. (Sue Pilz Photography)

Amy Riemer tugs the soul with “The Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.” Lustrous.

Lisa Borley lets rip with “I Drove All Night.” Powerhouse.

Sarah Galati explores “Rolling in the Deep.” Multi-colored.

All the while, the three are playing salacious women mired in mayhem and loving it.

Frank’s shows usually turn around songs from an era. This time, the songs turn around daytime soap operas as the source. The characters in the story are from various soaps, and there is a lot of name-dropping along the way. Being in the know about the soap stuff makes little difference because the mishmash simply is for fun, which is easy to understand.

Wigs. Dressing up. Some dance moves. Light shows. Band action. Byplay among the players. Entertaining atmosphere. “Bays of Our Lives” has all that.

The show teases the soaps with overly dramatic moments, bursts of momentous notes from the keyboard and much internal dialogue when a character speaks out loud what she or he is thinking, and then somebody says something like, “Do you know we can hear you?”

This show has a husband-wife duet in “Friends and Lovers.” Frank Hermans broadens his voice to fit needs for Amy Riemer’s colorful power in the song.

“Bays of Our Lives” scene. (Sue Pilz Photography)

Pat Hibbard has many clever turns playing with words as a sinister soap character who keeps being reincarnated… and clever turns on bass guitar and singing in the infectious “Bad Case of Loving You.”

Tom Verbrick is novelty on the hoof, from his curly-curly blond wig to his catchy songs, notably the flashy “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.”

Seating at the Meyer Theatre is spread out for COVID-19 consideration. Of note, Frank’s has been one of the few entertainment entities in the region that has kept on keeping on through a big chunk of the pandemic. The productions at the Meyer Theatre have been full, live, in-person shows.

Stepping back and taking a look at “Bays of Our Lives”: The thing works soap opera stuff into Green Bay stuff lots of people know – its historic hospitals. The thing is original. It’s new. From the bones of the story and characters, songs had to be found to kind of fit what’s happening. The band has to adapt to whatever the music style is. Think about movement, the look of the stage, the look of performers. So much fits together for the – dramatic organ music behind a deep voice here – “Bays of Our Lives.”

***

Running time: Two hours, 3 minutes

Remaining performances: 1 and 7:30 p.m. June 17; 7:30 p.m. June 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26

Info: meyertheatre.org

Cast:

Frank Hermans – Dr. Noah Drake

Pat Hibbard – Stefano DiMera

Tom Verbrick – Luke Spencer

Amy Riemer – Erica Kane

Lisa Borley – Laura Spencer

Sarah Galati – Kristen DiMera)

Band: Dennis Panneck (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums).

Support: Ross Loining, lights; Kelly Klaus, sound

***

Songs

Act I

“Love Somebody” (Rick Springfield) – Frank Hermans, all

“This is the Time” (Billy Joel) – Pat Hibbard

“Hello” (Adele) – Sarah Galati

“I Drove All Night” (Celine Dion) – Lisa Borley

“Coconut” (Harry Nilsson) – Tom Verbrick

“(Simply) The Best” (Tina Turner) – Lisa Borley

“Friends and Lovers” (Carl Anderson, Gloria Loring) – Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer

“Speak to the Sky” (Rick Springfield) – Frank Hermans

“Through the Eyes of Love” (Melissa Manchester) – Amy Riemer

Act II

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” (Kylie Minogue) – Sarah Galati

“Bad Case of Loving You” (Robert Palmer) – Pat Hibbard

“My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion) – Amy Riemer

“Another Sad Love Song” (Kelly Clarkson) – Amy Riemer

“Torn” (Natalie Imbruglia) – Amy Riemer

“All I Need” (Jack Wagner) – Frank Hermans

“Rolling in the Deep” (Adele) – Sarah Galati

“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” (Johnny Rivers) – Tom Verbrick

***

Meyer Theatre interior. (Warren Gerds)

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: “Pennings from Heaven,” July 23-Aug. 14.

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