GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Elf on the Shelf meets the Brothers Grimm tale of “The Elves and the Shoemaker”… That’s this year’s imaginative visit to a Christmas story by Let Me Be Frank Productions show troupe based in Green Bay.

It’s the 23rd “A Frank’s Christmas” show.

Each is different from the last.

Each explores newer songs of the season instead of common ones.

Each performance promises to be fresh because of the performers’ gift with ad-libbing thoughts of the moment, usually comical.

Friday night’s performance at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay was very well attended.

There’s no other show around quite like Frank’s – quirky and original story, powerhouse singing (especially the women), a do-all band, showy visuals and costumes, smart and sassy jokes, all packaged with energy and a sense for fun… with a little tug of the heart in this show.

The story goes in this show that a struggling shoemaker of yore is down to his last patch of leather when visited overnight by elves, who are put out by the shoemaker’s Elf on the Shelf that they treat as an interloper on their territory.

What’s happening is set up by a narrating elf, troupe namesake Frank Hermans, using a high-pitched voice as if he’s been inhaling helium.

Eventually, there’s a little message about a hope for everyone being treated equally.

The main message of the troupe is, “We’re going to entertain and show off our singers with a live band.”

Lisa Borley (as the shoemaker’s wife) delivers lightning-bolt speed in the Barbra Streisand version of “Jingle Bells.” Wow.

Amy Riemer (an elf) wraps her enveloping voice around “Secret of Giving” in especially warm ways.

Frank Hermans (the narrator, Franky Fruitcake) visits his rich-voiced Elvis Presley persona in Elvis’ “On a Snowy Christmas.”

Blake Hermans (The Elf on the Shelf) has a style of his own that defies easy description. It’s distinctive and appealing – body action to a groove-based voice with a jazz-like improvisational feel while not being jazz.

Pat Hibbard (an elf) rocks with the band in “Rock and Roll Christmas.”

Paul Evansen (an elf), finds a song of Neil Diamond, his specialty, that fits quite well: “You Make It Feel Like Christmas.”  

Tom Verbrick (the shoemaker) comes closest to traditional in his sensitive “Joy to the World.”

A show that includes an Amy Riemer/Frank Hermans duet – “Christmas Shoes” – is a good show.

Interesting tidbits pop up – local references and historical notes. For the latter, chilling scenes from the pages of the Brothers Grimm are recounted to remind people the stories were devised to scare children into being good.

Costuming by Amy Riemer soars in her own outfit – vivid and colorful lines with red heels and candy cane leggings – with two-tone hair of bright red and green.

The Amy Riemer look. (Sue Pilz Photography)

Imagine the troupe having done 23 years of this – 23 different stories patched together and 450 or so different songs on a Christmas/holiday theme. The only “same old same old” is how the players radiate enjoyment in what they do.

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Running time: Two hours, 5 minutes

Remaining performances: Green Bay at Meyer Theatre: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 7; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17; and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 22, 23. Info: meyertheatre.org. Manitowoc at Capitol Civic Centre: 7 p.m. Dec. 6. Info: cccshows.org.

Cast:

Franky Fruitcake – Frank Hermans

Pat Hibbard – Patty Cakes

Amy Angel Food – Amy Riemer

The Shoemaker – Tom Verbrick

The Shoemaker’s wife – Lisa Borley

Elf on the Shelf – Blake Hermans

Pauly Pockets – Paul Evansen

Band and support – Dennis Panneck (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Andrew Klaus (drums), Ross Loining (lights) Kelly Klaus (sound)

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Song selections

Act I

“Everyday is Christmas” (Sia) – Lisa Borley

“We Are Santa’s Elves” (from the film “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”) – Amy Riemer, all

“Secret of Giving” (Reba McEntire) – Amy Riemer

 “The Happy Elf” (Harry Connick, Jr.) – Paul Evansen

“Cheer for the Elves” (Gwen Stefani) – Blake Hermans

“Jingle Bells?” (Barbra Streisand) – Lisa Borley

“Joy to the World” (Neil Diamond) – Tom Verbrick

“Christmas Shoes” (Caleb and Kelsey) – Amy Riemer and Frank Hermans

Act II

“Xmas Time of the Year” (Green Day) – Pat Hibbard

“Unwrap You at Christmas” (The Monkees) – Frank Hermans

“Blessed” (Kelly Clarkson) – Lisa Borley

“Christmas Shoes” (Caleb and Kelsey) – Amy Reimer and Frank Hermans

“Like It’s Christmas” (Jonas Brothers) – Blake Hermans

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (Neil Diamond) – Paul Evansen

“Rock and Roll Christmas” (George Thorogood) – Pat Hibbard

“On a Snowy Christmas Night” (Elvis) – Frank Hermans

“I’ll Be Your Santa Tonight” (Keith Urban) – Blake Hermans

“Christmas Eve” (Kelly Clarkson) – All

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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.