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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘The Hodag & Scooby Dude’ a country adventure in Green Bay

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Let Me Be Frank Productions

The company for Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “The Hodag & Scooby Dude” is, from left, Blake Hermans, Frank Hermans, Zach Hibbard, Amy Riemer, Pat Hibbard, Sarah Hibbard, Lisa Borley, Michael O’Malley, Tom Verbrick, Adam Cain, Jeff Arnold and Dennis Panneck. (Sue Pilz Photography)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)

Take Rhinelander. Add the Hodag, the weird creature of only-in-Wisconsin myth. Add Hodag Country Festival, where country music stars have played for 42 years. Add “Scooby-Do Mystery,” a TV habit for cartoonty folks. Add “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” the road flick with a couple of screw-loose buddies. Add Let Me Be Frank Productions, the inventive show outfit of Green Bay.

The result is “The Hodag & Scooby Dude,” the hundred and somethingth comedy with music concocted by writing partners Frank Hermans and Pat Hibbard.

The show opened Friday at the Meyer Theatre. Fifteen more performances continue to Aug. 17.

The story is goofy as get out, naturally. The music is a heaping lunch buffet of country from pour my heart out to chew tobacco, spit.  

The deal with this show is all the songs have been performed at the Hodag Country Festival or by stars who have played at the popular north country festival. A story is made up from everything in the first paragraph.

Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer, Lisa Borley, Tom Verbrick and Michael O’Malley portray “Scooby-Doo” characters. Blake Matthews and Zach Hibbard are Bill and Ted, respectively. Sarah Hibbard and Pat Hibbard portray characters for this “episode,” she running a franchise of things Rhinelandarian and he being the security presence for the festival. The band plays the band – do-all country this time.

Very much in general, the women sing the from-my-aching-heart songs and the men let loose the rocky numbers.

Highlights include “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Amy Riemer as a colorful storyteller), “How Do I Live” (Lisa Borley soulful rather than soaring this time), “Mama He’s Crazy” (Sarah Hibbard setting off the flashy female singing), “Nothin’ but the Taillights” (Frank Hermans kickin’, with everybody dancing), “Hicktown” (Pat Hibbard rocky rockin’, as usual), “Red Solo Cup” (Tom Verbrick as a renegade), “Boys ’Round Here” (Michael O’Malley gnarly – yeah!) and “Chicken Fried” (Zach Hibbard latching on to the home/flag/country anthem feel).

Blake Matthews tends to make songs his own, and this time he has the most interesting interpretation. The lines of Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” include “wanna wrap you up… kiss your lips… make you feel wanted… call you mine.” In this interpretation, the romance is for a bottle of beer that he holds. The song is sung straight, not as a joke. Subtle.

Stepping back a bit, family figures in the lineup for “The Hodag & Scooby Dude.” Frank Hermans and Amy Riemer are married. Blake Matthews is a son of Frank Hermans. Pat Hibbard and Zach Hibbard are father and son, with Sarah Hibbard not being related. It makes for one-of-a-kind adventures.

***

Cast:

Fred – Frank Hermans

Daphne – Amy Riemer

Velma – Lisa Borley

Shaggy – Michael O’Malley

Scooby Dude – Tom Verbrick

Sheriff Smith – Pat Hibbard

Rynder Rhinelander – Sarah Hibbard

Ted – Blake Matthews

Bill – Zach Hibbard

Band: Dennis Panneck, guitars; Pat Hibbard, bass; Jeff Arnold, keyboards; Adam Cain, drums

Running time: One hour, 55 minutes

Remaining performances: To Aug. 17: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 1 p.m. Aug. 15, 17

Info: letmebefranks.com

***

Musical selections

Act I

“Hicktown” (Jason Aldean) – Pat Hibbard, all

“Mama He’s Crazy” (The Judds) – Sarah Hibbard

“Creepin’” (Eric Church) – Zach Hibbard

“If I Die Young” (The Band Perry) – Lisa Borley

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Reba McEntire) – Amy Riemer

“Gentle on My Mind” (Glen Campbell) – Frank Hermans

“Red Solo Cup” (Toby Keith) – Tom Verbrick

“Honey (Open That Door)” (Ricky Skaggs) – Blake Matthews

“Road Less Traveled” (Lauren Alaina) – Lisa Borley

“Nothin’ but the Taillights” (Clint Black) – Frank Hermans, all

Act II

“Scooby-Doo Theme Song” – Band

“The Way You Love Me” (Faith Hill) – Sarah Hibbard

“Giddy on Up” (Laura Bell Bundy) – Amy Riemer

“Boys ’Round Here” (Blake Shelton) – Michael O’Malley

“Wanted” (Hunter Hayes) – Blake Matthews

“God Bless Texas” (Little Texas) – Pat Hibbard

“Ride” (Martina McBride) – Amy Riemer

“How Do I Live” (LeAnn Rimes) – Lisa Borley

“Chicken Fried” (Zac Brown Band) – Zach Hibbard

***

NEXT: “Frank Fontaine’s Bandstand USA,” Sept. 20-Oct. 12.

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.

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