GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Remember: “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle. The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.”
That comical rhythm bit is unleashed in the midst of Let Me Be Frank Productions’ 120-somethingth comedy musical, “The Manitowoc Munsters.”
Co-writer/director Pat Hibbard teams with Tom Verbrick in the classic rat-a-tat-tat verbal blitz that stops the show just for the fun of it. The routine is borrowed from the Danny Kaye movie, “The Court Jester” of 1956.
Let Me Be Frank Productions shows are always packed with oh so much stuff.
In this show, TV’s “The Munsters” (1964-1966) is the source of a cockamamie tale of tongue-in-cheek ghoulishness.
The story: A relative from Transylvania, Ana Munster, has come to Manitowoc to the haunted mansion home of Herman, Lilly, Eddie, Grandpa and Marilyn (“ugly” because she is our normal) to steal the family’s riches, with the unwitting assistance of the Fuller Brush Man.
The show’s 19 songs draw on a spooky or a romantic theme.
Especially dynamic is the presentation of Annie Lennox’s “I Put a Spell on You” by Amy Riemer. The piece is the full package – look in costume and make-up, creation of character and sensational voice. Amy Riemer finesses her supple voice into an artful soul-emotional presence of sheer beauty.
The overall show is another Let Me Be Frank Productions large-scale visual and musical showcase. Stage elements include a huge haunting-aura backdrop and an often homemade look in set pieces. Light shows go along with the singing and music of the can-play-anything band.
Make-up and costuming are of another level. Make-up by Amy Riemer and costuming by Bev Riemer and Linda Groskopf include two special looks. One is for co-writer/director troupe namesake Frank Hermans in the character of Herman, who is drawn from the iconic Frankenstein image of Boris Karloff. That includes green face paint, two neck bolts and five-inch lift boots. The other is for Pat Hibbard in the character of Grandpa, a vampire with a taste for anything offal. That includes face make-up of brilliant white, black and red and sweeping black cape a la Bela Lugosi. With Pat Hibbard often playing guitar, the look is extra-camp.
This and that:
+ In a first, this show will play in three venues, starting in Green Bay and then moving on to Wautoma and Manitowoc, where interest will be high because of the title.
+ The actor in Frank Hermans has him employing the speaking voice of a gentle giant for his character. For songs, he switches to his luster in the pop realm.
+ The novelty tune, “The Monster Mash,” fits the show perfectly as a wrap-up in the finale, with Tom Verbrick skillfully delivering the droll drive.
+ For musical grit, there’s the band fueling the power of the instrumental “Frankenstein” originated by The Edgar Winter Group.
+ As Ana, Michelle Oren is a newcomer to the Frank’s fold but not to singing, acting, dancing and directing locally (Play-by Play Theatre, Music Theatre of St. Norbert College, Calvary Players, etc). She fits right in, including in the pop perkiness of Petula Clark’s “A Sign of the Times” and the inside jokes about the goofball writing.
+ Lisa Borley’s light-up voice lights up the spitfire “Gotta Move” of Barbra Streisand and “At Last” by soul-jazz dynamo Etta James.
+ In a rarity, Paul Evansen is host for the opening welcomes instead of Frank Hermans. The idea is to create an “ohh” for scenic/costume/make-up display as the curtain opens. The rest of the show, Paul Evansen plays a slick and shady door-to-door salesman on the make. Songs of Neil Diamond are Paul Evansen’s forte, and there’s one to fit the story: “Holly Holy.”
+ As usual, the story veers all over the place as ways to introduce the next song are grabbed for, sometimes out of thin air. The singing and music count the most.
+ The show does some teasing of TV laugh tracks at the beginning. After five or so minutes that phoniness is dispensed with. But it is an interesting visit.
+ One joke: A package is delivered to The Munsters by way of DeadX.
+ Another joke, among a bunch from the heady Pat Hermans: Grandpa grumbles, “Somebody walked off with my anti-depressant pills. I hope they’re happy.”
Running time: Two hours
Remaining performances: Green Bay: Meyer Theatre – 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, Oct. 1; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8. Info: meyertheatre.org. Wautoma: McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center – 7 p.m. Sept. 25. Info: mccombbruchspac.com. Manitowoc: Capitol Civic Centre – 7 p.m. Sept. 28. Info: cccshows.org.
Marilyn Munster – Lisa Borley
Paul, Fuller Brush salesman – Paul Evansen
Herman Munster – Frank Hermans
Grandpa Munster – Pat Hibbard
Lily Munster – Amy Riemer
Ana Munster – Michelle Oren
Eddie Munster – Tom Verbrick
Band and support: Pat Hibbard (bass), Andrew Klaus (drums), Kelly Klaus (sound), Ross Loining (lights), Dennis Panneck (guitar), Tony Pilz (keyboard)
“The Munsters” theme – Band
“Count Me In” (Gary Lewis & The Playboys) – Frank Hermans, All
“Little Red Riding Hood” (Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs) – Tom Verbrick
“I Put a Spell on You” (Annie Lennox) – Amy Riemer
“Spooky” (Dusty Springfield) – Lisa Borley
“Holly Holy” (Neil Diamond” – Paul Evansen
“A Sign of the Times” (Petula Clark) – Michelle Oren
“Gotta Move” (Barbra Streisand) – Lisa Borley
“Along Comes Mary” (The Association) – Frank Hermans
“Evil Woman” (Santana” – Pat Hibbard, all
“Frankenstein” (The Edgar Winter Group) – Band
“Soul Deep” (The Box Tops) – Paul Evansen
“(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am” (Nancy Wilson) –Amy Riemer
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” (Alice Cooper) – Pat Hibbard
“Come See About Me” (Michelle Oren)
“You’re the One” (The Vogues) – Frank Hermans
“Do The Bird” (Dee Dee Sharp) – Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, Michelle Oren
“At Last” (Etta James) – Lisa Borley
“Monster Mash” (Bobby Pickett) – Tom Verbrick
NEXT: “A Frank’s Christmas,” Nov. 25-Dec. 23.
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.