Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Hollywood’s Greatest Hits’ Tests Showbiz Skills in Green Bay

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Photo caption: From left, in a moment from “Hollywood’s Greatest Hits” are Daddy D Productions company members Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Cody Borley, Shelly Johnson, Barb Hinnendael, Darren Johnson, Alicia Michelle and Maria Hinnendael. (Troupe photo)

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There’s always a sense of wondering with the ventures of Daddy D Productions show troupe of Green Bay: What new has been dreamed up? – What song? What comedy bit? What surprises?

The troupe probably was wondering, too, Thursday night going into a performance of “Hollywood’s Greatest Hits” at the Riverside Ballroom. One of its singers was out of the show with a bout of laryngitis, so this performance was somewhat improvised.

There was a bit of tentativeness with the “winging it” at first. And then leader Darren Johnson came out and sang what may have been a “fill” song, “Unchained Melody,” with his big, dynamic voice that filled the room with long, giant, forceful notes. People come to hear and see Darren Johnson sing songs like that just like that – making a statement as A Voice.

Onward the show went, answering the wondering. Some prime moments:

+ Shelly Johnson radiant and charismatic in “I Will Always Love You” in one of her most sparkling renditions of a song.

+ Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder floating smoothly through “The Way We Were.”

+ The cast turning up as characters/personalities, including Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Shelly Johnson as Johnny Carson’s Karnac and Darren Johnson as Robin Williams.

+ A brilliant bit of costuming of Darren Johnson (as a clarinet, complete with keys on his chest and a mouthpiece re-created on his head!) for an amazing transition from a comedy bit around “This is Your Life” leading into a song.

+ Kevin Van Ess in a featured clarinet solo section closing with “Sing, Sing, Sing,” fired up by drummer Cody Borley. Just so you know: Van Ess is the best show-clarinetist around.

+ An especially haunting song in the troupe’s traditional salute to service personnel and first responders, “(We’ll rise above) The Scarlet Tide” from the Civil War-era film “Cold Mountain.” It was sung Thursday by Shelly Johnson and Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder without the full effect of having Maria Hinnendael (out with laryngitis) with them. Of note, this may have been the first time that Darren Johnson relinquished the delivery of the salute song that sets the troupe apart.

+ Shelly Johnson in the KA-ZAM finale, “This is Me.” The choice is unusual in that it is not an easily familiar hit song… but still KA-ZAM.

+ Darren Johnson and Shelly Johnson – new to marriage – sometimes holding hands and/or dancing in songs. Nice.

This show – or something like it – will be repeated Friday at the Riverside Ballroom and Saturday at Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center. ’Tis good stuff.

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Cast: Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Maria Hinnendael, Jeff Hinnendael (guitar), Barb Hinnendael (keyboards), Ryan Sette (bass) Cody Borley (drums), Kevin Van Ess (sax, clarinet, trumpet), Alicia Michelle (violin), Dan Collins (lights and sound)

Running time: One hour, 50 minutes

Remaining performances: 6 p.m. dinner, 7 p.m. show Oct. 26 at Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay (daddydproductions.com); 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center (ashwaubenonpac.org)

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Musical selections

Part I

“Footloose” – Darren Johnson

“Cheers” Theme – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“Love Boat” Theme – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“Laverne & Shirley” Theme – Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“The Muppets” Theme – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“9 to 5” – Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“Unchained Melody” – Darren Johnson

Comedy skit: Shellnac the Magnificent (Johnny Carson/Karnac spoof) – Shelly Johnson, Darren Johnson

“To Sir with Love” – Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“Hopelessly Devoted to You” – Shelly Johnson

“We Go Together” – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

“I’ve Had the Time of My Life” – Darren Johhson, Shelly Johnson

“The Way We Were” – Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

Comedy skit: “This Your Life (Kevin Van Ess)” spoof

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” – Darren Johnson

“Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Barb Hinnedael

Part II

“Begin the Beguine,” “Strangers on the Shore,” “Sing, Sing, Sing” – Kevin Van Ess, clarinet

Comedy caper as 100-year-old singers: “Thank You for Being a Friend” – Shelly Johnson, Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder

“Mary Tyler Moore” (Theme) – Barb Hinnendael

“I Will Always Love You” – Shelly Johnson

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” – Darren Johnson

Comedy skit: “Great American Smoke-out” featuring Roseanne Roseannadanna character – Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Shelly Johnson

“Rocky” (Theme) – Band

Scene: “Good Morning, Vietnam” featuring Robin Williams character – Darren Johnson

“Nowhere to Run” – Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Shelly Johnson, Darren Johnson

“Up Where We Belong” – Darren Johnson, Shelly Johnson

“The Scarlet Tide” – Angela Thielke-Zuidmulder, Shelly Johnson

“This is Me,” Shelly Johnson, All

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NEXT: “A ‘Musical’ Christmas Carol,” Nov. 14, 16, 17.

THE VENUE: The spacious Riverside Ballroom Crystal Ballroom is the heart of the 1936 Art Moderne building on Green Bay’s east side. Performances are on a raised stage on which rock ‘n’ roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper performed a famed concert; in the box office is a large color photograph of Holly on the back steps of the Riverside. Seating is at round tables on the ballroom floor. The ballroom features high, sweeping, laminated wood beams with streamlined, curved decoration at the base of each beam. Hanging from the ceiling are Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Imagine the Green Bay Packers holding practice inside the ballroom. That happened a few times, according to a Packers Heritage Trail plaque outside. Nearby flows the East River, thus the Riverside Ballroom. The Riverside has been the “home court” for Daddy D Productions in recent years.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My latest book, “I Fell Out of a Tree in Fresno (and other writing adventures),” is available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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