GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Desperation is the mother of invention.
That could be the subtitle of Friday’s opening-night performance of “Menoma Mia – Here We Go Again” by Let Me Be Frank Productions.
For this weekend, the show troupe is missing one of its regulars, Tom Verbrick, due to COVID-19.
Instead of canceling, the troupe invented a way around Tom Verbrick’s character in the maze of a story and left out his two songs. There are 20 other songs, after all, including 13 by ABBA.
This show is the second one by Let Me Be Frank Productions that revises the story of “Mamma Mia!” Snapshot: A young woman wonders about her parentage after discovering her mother’s diary and reading about wandering.
This time, the diary is found in a Menominee, Michigan, bowling alley/karaoke spot run by a single woman.
Hormones. The story is about hormones on the loose. Among all the Let Me Be Frank Productions shows, this one is the champion for messing around with double entendre meanings. It’s fast and loose with the naughtiness.
There is much more surrounding the songs that are showcased in light shows and often-lustrous singing. Many of the songs are familiar hits brilliantly sung by Amy Riemer, Frank Hermans, Lisa Borley and Sarah Galati. Twice, guitarist Dennis Panneck unleashes rousing rock guitar solos – once in Pat Hibbard’s “Mississippi Queen” and then in Frank Hermans’ “Jamie’s Cryin’.”
The cast includes Harrison Hermans, age 11. The son of Amy Riemer Hermans and Frank Hermans portrays the rascally brother of the bowling alley owner and sings solos beyond the possibilities of most 11 year olds – in front of a nifty live band.
There is side stuff galore:
+ Sarah Galati is expecting a child, so co-writers Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard built that into the story.
+ The time of the story is 1990. That plays big time throughout the show in movie quotes, society snapshots (references to line dancing, Pocket Fisherman, Cabbage Patch Dolls) and prices ($3.85 an hour minimum wage, $1.18 a gallon gasoline). Research went into the show.
+ Pat Hibbard once played in the Green Bay-based band, Moving Violation, which swung through Upper Michigan. He weaves in bits about the band scene (fading) and lingo and culture of Upper Michigan. He and Frank Hermans, playing a guy from Chicago, have a give-and-take in which neither understands the other because of where they are from. The cultural divide is clever.
Friday night’s performance was an oddity. The “Mamma Mia”-like story is supposed to have three guys in it, so the improvising around a missing part was queer – in the strange/odd definition of the word. But the flashy songs were there, often ABBA sung with rays of brilliant notes.
Running time: Two hours, five minutes (Friday)
Remaining performances: Green Bay at Meyer Theatre: 7:30 p.m. July 23, 28-30, Aug. 4-6, 11-13; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20. Info: meyertheatre.org. Manitowoc at Capitol Civic Centre: 7 p.m. July 27. Info: cccshows.org.
Band and support: Dennis Panneck (guitar), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboard) and Andrew Klaus (drums), Ross Loining (lights), Kelly Klaus (sound)
“Super Trouper” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer, all
“I Have a Dream” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Thank You for the Music” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley
“I’ve Been Waiting for You” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer
“Honey, Honey” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley
“Rocket Man” (Elton John) – Harrison Hermans
“Fernando” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Joanne” (Michael Nesmith) – Frank Hermans
“Mississippi Queen” (Mountain) – Pat Hibbard
“Heartbeat It’s a Love Beat” (The DeFranco Family) – Harrison Hermans, Amy Riemer, Frank Hermans, Lisa Borley
“Voulez-Vous” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Knowing Me, Knowing You” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer
“Jamie’s Cryin’” (Van Halen) – Frank Hermans
“SOS” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley
“Money, Money, Money” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati
“Keep It Comin’ Love” (KC & The Sunshine Band) – Pat Hibbard
“One of Us” (ABBA) – Amy Riemer
“Waterloo” (ABBA) – Lisa Borley
“Always” (Atlantic Starr) – Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer
“Dancin Queen” (ABBA) – Sarah Galati, all
When Tom Verbrick returns
“Dancin’ Fool” (Frank Zappa)
“Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash)
NEXT: “The Manitowoc Munsters,” Sept. 16-Oct. 8.
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.