Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘Vic Tanny – Where Do You Work Out?’ gets physical in ’80s Green Bay

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Photo caption: Let Me Be Frank Productions’ company for “Vic Tanny – Where Do You Work Out?” is, from left, Pat Hibbard, Zach Hibbard, Dennis Panneck, Amy Riemer, Tom Verbrick, Tony Pilz, Michael O’Malley, Lisa Borley, Adam Cain, Sarah Hibbard and Frank Hermans. (Sue Pilz Photography)

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Blonde jokes and gym jokes and songs of the ’80s. Welcome to Let Me Be Frank Productions’ “Vic Tanny – Where Do You Work Out?”

The latest show by the Green Bay showbiz troupe is running to April 27 at the Meyer Theatre in Green Bay, with a visit April 17 to Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc.

This show’s story focuses on the arrival of work-out franchises in Green Bay. Naturally, Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 super hit “(Let’s Get) Physical” gets big play. Other songs tend to fit what the singers are doing in their character – generally, setting up the next song.

One amusing sidelight (and gym joke) is Michael O’Malley, playing a gym rat in the background (mostly) doing one little exercise, then another and another and another and another. He never quits. By the time the show ends, the limber O’Malley has had a workout indeed. That’s capped by his featured song, “Melt with You,” in which he springs around the stage.

An amusing main feature (and gym joke/blonde joke) is Sarah Hibbard, playing an air-head aerobics instructor. Sarah, the character, is the straight-on stereotype of a perky, bubble-brained workout “gal” who cheerfully instructs folks on better bodies through endless stretches and pumps of every muscle. Sarah is continuously teased with blonde jokes, which she doesn’t get. When Sarah answers with her own blonde jokes, it’s clear Sarah doesn’t know what a blonde joke is. Not a joke: Sarah Hibbard can sing brilliantly. She is featured in “Physical” and the pop-lush “Take My Breath Away.”

Other color comes from Amy Riemer (“Open Your Heart”), Lisa Borley (“I Feel for You”), Frank Hermans (“Working for the Weekend”), Pat Hibbard (“Just What I Need”), Zach Hibbard (“Sister Christian”) and Tom Verbrick (“Break My Stride”).

Note on the three Hibbards: Pat and Zach are father and son. Sarah is unrelated.

In the story, Tom Verbrick is Mickey, who runs an old-line gym where punching bags and dead weights are the thing for lugs like Michael and Zach. Mickey is behind to the bank (Pat Hibbard’s character) and is being pushed by Lisa and Sarah to get on board a Vic Tanny Health Club franchise to save his hide. Frank and Amy are a high-end deadbeat couple at the gym whose main song, “Almost Paradise,” glorifies their love.  

It’s a very different story, but, then again, so is Let Me Be Frank Productions’ string of fictional stories hung together on a thread of fact. In this case, Frank Hermans says in his pre-show introductions that he was a Vic Tanny member for three years, working out there only five times and getting stuck paying for the last two years even though he lived in another city. In a sense, this show is a payback, with songs and comedy.

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Cast: Lisa Borley, Frank Hermans, Amy Riemer, Pat Hibbard, Sarah Hibbard, Zach Hibbard, Michael O’Malley, Tom Verbrick

Band: Dennis Panneck (guitars), Pat Hibbard (bass), Tony Pilz (keyboards), Adam Cain (drums).

Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes

Remaining performances: Meyer Theatre in Green Bay: 8 p.m. April 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20; 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 25; 8 p.m. April 26; 1 and 8 p.m. April 27 (meyertheatre.org). Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc: 7:30 p.m. April 17 (cccshows.org).

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Songs

Act I

“Eye of the Tiger/Push It” mash up, Survivor and Salt-N-Pepa – All

“Almost Paradise,” Mike Reno and Ann Wilson – Frank Hermans and Amy Riemer

“What I Like About You,” The Romantics – Pat Hibbard

“Hey Mickey,” Toni Basil – Lisa Borley

“Rebel Yell,” Billy Idol – Zach Hibbard

“Escapade,” Janet Jackson – Amy Riemer

“Human,” The Human League – Frank Hermans

“Take My Breath Away,” Berlin – Sarah Hibbard

“Head to Toe,” Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam – Lisa Borley

“Break My Stride,” Matthew Wilder – Tom Verbrick, All

Act II

“Physical,” Olivia Newton-John – Sarah Hibbard, Lisa Borley, Amy Riemer

“Open Your Heart,” Madonna – Amy Riemer

“Just What I Needed,” The Cars – Pat Hibbard

“Sweet Love,” Anita Baker – Sarah Hibbard

“Melt with You,” Modern English – Michael O’Malley

“Sister Christian,” Night Ranger – Zach Hibbard

“I Feel for You,” Chaka Khan – Pat Hibbard, Lisa Borley; Chaka Khan rap with Zach Hibbard

“Shadows of the Night,” Pat Benatar – Amy Riemer

“Working for the Weekend,” Loverboy – Frank Hermans, All

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NEXT: “Little Chutes and Ladders,” June 7-22.

THE VENUE: Stop and look around the place. Meyer Theatre’s auditorium is an eye full. The Meyer 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.

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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