Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Week Ahead: Northeastern Wisconsin’s Calendar is Chock Full of Choices

Machickanee Players A Wizard's Christmas photo_1544114033955.jpg.jpg

Below is more on “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” in Manitowoc, “The Assassin’s Anthology” in Green Bay, “Trials, Tribulations, and Christmas Decorations” in Oshkosh; “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in Shawano, of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in De Pere, “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical” in Sheboygan, “A Christmas Story, The Musical” in Abrams, “Nunsense” in Port Washington, “Holidays on Ice” in Baileys Harbor, “Sorry! Wrong Chimney!” in Oshkosh, “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” in Oshkosh, “The Christmas Express” in New London, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in Clintonville, “A Frank’s Christmas: Schroeder’s Department Store” in Green Bay, “Daddy D’s Christmas” in Ashwaubenon, “A Wizard’s Christmas” in Oconto, “A Christmas Carol, The Musical” in De Pere, “Mistletoe Musings” in Tisch Mills… performances involving UW Oshkosh Handbell Choir, The Chantelles, Tim Hawkins, Capitol Civic Centre Chorale, UW-Sheboygan Holiday Concert, Janet Planet, “Holiday Pops,” Lawrence Academy of Music Girl Choir, UW Oshkosh Choirs, “Christmas with the Nelsons,” Harmonious Wail, Sheboygan Symphony, UW Oshkosh Bands, Lakeshore Chorale, “Motown Christmas,” UWGB Wind Ensemble, Studio Orchestra and Symphonic Band, Steve Earle & The Dukes, “(There’s No Place Like) Swing for the Holidays,” John Berry,” Paul Spencer Jazz Band.


– In Manitowoc, Treehouse Theater will present “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7 and 2 p.m. Dec. 8-9 in University Theatre of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. Info: treehousetheater.com. Snapshot: The musical by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin is based on the 1992 Academy-Award-winning film and the 2014 Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within. Aladdin and his three friends – Babkak, Omar and Kassim – are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character.

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre Studio and Alternate Theatre will present “The Assassin’s Anthology,” written and directed by Selena Deer, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-8, in Jean Weidner Theatre of Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus. According to a press release: Admission is free, though seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nine assassins live together on an estate, each with his or her specialty. Hangman, their leader and #1 assassin, has a secret he has yet to reveal to the others, until the truth is discovered by the newest addition to the team, Candle. Candle’s creative writing and impulsiveness begins to threaten the very rules that Hangman has so direly enforced. Reality begets fantasy when one of the assassins is found dead, and discovered evidence suggests that the infamous mythical assassin, the Executioner, is behind the assassination. Cast: Hangman – Alex Sabin, (BA in drama from UW-Stevens Point), De Pere; Chemist – Guinevere Casper, senior (musical theater and English), West Bend; Sniper – Sean Stalvey, junior (musical theater), Manitowoc; Lover – Isabelle Austgen, freshman (musical theater), Sister Bay; Fighter – Quade Kazik, junior (digital video and film production), Green Bay; and Candlestick Maker – Joy Russ, sophomore, (psychology), Menomonee Falls. Also in the cast are theater majors Jared Robertson as Penance, Colleen Cline as Butcher and Tara Jackson as Baker. Selena Deer is a UWGB senior theatre and communication major from New Berlin. The play contains adult content and is recommended for ages 12 and older. The run-time of the play is approximately 85 minutes and a talkback will be held after each performance.

– In Oshkosh, Oshkosh Playin’ Round community theater will present the Matthew Carlin comedy “Trials, Tribulations, and Christmas Decorations” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 7 and 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at First English Lutheran Church. Info: oshkoshplayinround.org. Snapshot: Kim’s widowed dad, John, is a grinch, and Kim has decided enough is enough. She hatches a plan to break him out of his rut this Christmas and invites several unwanted guests, including John’s first love, Leslie, who he hasn’t seen in 30 years, her elderly mother and her 10-year-old niece, who seem to want to give John nothing but grief. Add Kim’s husband, Dennis, who John has never accepted, and her friends, Laney and Julie, a couple of over-the-top Christmas fanatics, and you’ve got a “Christmas to end all Christmases!” When they all get iced in together, seasonal madness ensues. Directing is Tara Gulbrandsen. The cast includes Dick Furness, Kate Castel, Adam Baurain, Debbie Ransbottom, Caroleah (Leah) Demski, Kim Burchard, Barbara Carroll Pica, Jasmyn Leinweber and Jane Hutton.

– In Shawano, Box in the Wood Theatre Guild will present Barbara Robinson’s endearing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at 7 p.m. Dec. 7-8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in Mielke Arts Center. Info: shawanoarts.com. Mary Madsen is directing. Snapshot: The story follows the Herdmans, who are the worst kids in the history of the world. They crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant, and the whole town panics. There’s not supposed to be fighting or cigar-smoking in Bethlehem, and while these kids have never even heard the Christmas story, they definitely have rewrites.

– In De Pere, Evergreen Productions will present the James W. Rodgers adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 7:30 p.m. Dec, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14 and 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in Webb Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College. Preview story: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-performance-added-for-its-a-wonderful-life-in-de-pere/1638635805.

– In Sheboygan, Sheboygan Theatre Company will present composer Meredith Willson’s “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical” Dec. 7-9 and 12-15 in Leslie W. Johnson Theatre. Info: sheboygantheatrecompany.com. Snapshot: Single mother Doris Walker (Tracie Wessels) doesn’t want her 6-year-old Susan’s (Juliana Wetzel) head filled with romantic notions. Their neighbor, Fred Gailey (Adam Guenther), tries to woo Doris by charming Susan and taking her to see Santa Claus at Macy’s, where Doris works. Doris is not impressed, but when it turns out that Macy’s Santa may, in fact, be the real Kris Kringle (Steve Myers), a wave of love spreads across New York City that melts even the most cynical hearts. Amanda Ellis directs, with Dan Ognavic as musical director. Songs include “Pinecones and Hollyberries” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

– In Abrams, Abrams Spotlight Productions will present eight performances of “A Christmas Story, The Musical” Dec. 7-9 and 14-16 in Byng Community Theatre. Info: abramspotlightproductions.org. NOTE: Few tickets remain for the run. The show is based on the story by Jean Shepherd and the popular movie. Set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, the story follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Kael Pierquet) and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts—an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Rebuffed at every turn with a similar echoing response, Ralphie plots numerous schemes to achieve his desperate desire for the coveted BB gun. All the iconic scenes from the movie are present: Ralphie’s friend, Flick, getting his tongue stuck to the flagpole; his brother, Randy, getting dressed in his snowsuit; the bullies, Farkus and Dill; the leg lamp award; the bunny suit; the Chinese restaurant; Christmas dinner; and many others. The score ranges from ballads to full-ensemble numbers such as “Ralphie to the Rescue!” “A Major Award,” “Sticky Situation,” “Up on Santa’s Lap,” “Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana” and the inevitable “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” The cast includes Bill Wons as the Narrator, Josh Blau as “The Old Man,” Sebastian Surber as Randy, Cate Copkey as Mother, Abby Frank as Ralphie’s teacher and Jim Klein as Santa. Directing is Pamela Loberger, with Cate Copkey as musical director.

– In Port Washington, Memories Ballroom will present eight performances of the Dan Goggin musical comedy “Nunsense” Dec. 7-9 and 14-16. Info: memoriesballroom.com. Snapshot: The nuns of The Little Sisters of Hoboken suddenly need to raise money to get their convent back in order and to bury their dear sisters who were accidentally poisoned by their convent cook, Sister Julia (Child of God). To raise money to bury the dead sisters, the remaining nuns put on a revue packed song and dance numbers. 

– In Baileys Harbor, Door Shakespeare will host readings from David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice” at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in Bjorklunden Lodge. Info: doorshakespeare.com. Free, with donation accepted. Michael Stebbins, Door Shakespeare’s producing artistic director, will present three stories from American humorist David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice,” including “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol.” Stebbins has directed Sedaris’ stage play, “The Santaland Diaries,” and shared Sedaris’ holiday writings in various venues over the years.

– In Oshkosh, Acts of Peace Players will present its debut production, the Leo W. Sears and Jack Sharkey comedy “Sorry! Wrong Chimney!” at 7 p.m. Dec. 13, 14 and 15, plus 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at Peace Lutheran Church, 240 W. 9th Ave. Snapshot: David Tuttle is moonlighting as a department store Santa so that he can buy his wife a fur for Christmas. He tells her he’s working late at the office, but she finds out he isn’t at the office. A suspected other woman, hypnotism, the notorious Santa burglar Kris Kreigle and his gun-toting fiancée, and a confused policeman add up to a comical tale. Directing is L. Douglas Bord-Pire. The cast consists of Nate Scheuers, Danielle Rudesill, Anne Caylor, Brad Dokken, Timothy James Young, Sommer Johnson-Loar and L. Douglas Bord-Pire. Acts of Peace Players was founded to give actors a chance to do a Christmas show and to offer a production in the summer based in Oshkosh, said Brad Dokken of the troupe. “We are using a stage in the social center – the lower part of the building – at Peace Lutheran Church that has recently gone through a facelift and remodel,” Dokken said. “We extended out the stage, gave the walls a fresh coat of paint and hung some stage lighting. We are still getting our feet underneath us since we are starting from scratch, but we have good support from other troupes in the area as well as from Peace Lutheran Church. This troupe isn’t affiliated with Peace other than we use the space to put on our productions. Perhaps down the road we might look to do more directly with the church but for right now our only affiliation, other than me as the pastor, is that we use this space.”

– In Oshkosh, Timber Mill Theatre Company will present the musical “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” Dec. 13-15 and 20-22 at The Howard. Info: timbermilltheatre.com. The setup: Forever Plaid is the name of a fictional male quartet that sings in the doo-wop style. In this sequel, the four, decked in flashy plaid suits, performs hits on TV’s fabled “The Ed Sullivan Show” of a bygone era. The cast consists of professional actors out of New York City – Brian Krinsky as Smudge, Bryce Dutton (a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate) as Frankie, Carver Duncan as Sparky and Gabe Ford-Dunker as Jinx. The package includes an upscale meal.


– In New London, Wolf River Theatrical Troupe will present its final performances of the Pat Cook comedy “The Christmas Express” in Real Opportunities Outreach Center. Info: wrtt.org. Performances are at 7 p.m. Dec. 6-8. The play is described as a nostalgic take on eccentric small-town characters who wise-crack their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas. Cast: Jeanine Supanich, Clint Danke, Patty Grossman, Jim Sexton, Debbie Martin, Mark Grossman, Rita Thiel, Olivia Levezow, Nic Danke and Laura Sorenson. Snapshot: “This is the most hopeless place in the world,” Hilda says as she and Satch, her assistant, argue over what time it is. Hilda dreams of faraway places and only finds tedium in running the Holly Railway Station. That is, until Leo Tannenbaum drops in out of nowhere the day before Christmas Eve. Suddenly, an old radio that hasn’t worked in years springs to life, the local group of carolers (which usually yowls like a gang of wet cats) begins to sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the whole town gets the Christmas spirit. Coincidence? Or is Leo doing all this? Even Satch changes his tune when it turns out that Leo might be on the run.

– In Clintonville, Phoenix Players will present its final performances of the Clark Gesner version of “Peanuts” in the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at 7 p.m. Dec. 7-8 and 1 p.m. Dec. 9 in The 1918 Auditorium (Rexford-Longfellow School). My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-youre-a-good-man-charlie-brown-zesty-in-clintonville/1632044353.


– In Green Bay, Chilton and Manitowoc, Let Me Be Frank Productions will be in action during December with “A Frank’s Christmas: Schroeder’s Department Store.” My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-2018-edition-of-a-franks-christmas-showcases-beloved-songs/1640524853.

– In Ashwaubenon, Green Bay and Marion, Daddy D Productions will present performances of “Daddy D’s Christmas” to Dec. 21. My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-2018-daddy-ds-christmas-blends-reverence-bits-of-corn/1642725024.

– In Oconto, The Machickanee Players will host “A Wizard’s Christmas” at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 in Park Avenue Playhouse. Info: themachickaneeplayers.org. Guinness World Record holder Monty Witt and other performers present a family show filled with illusions, magic and sleight of hand.

– In De Pere, Birder Players will continue performances of “A Christmas Carol, The Musical” in Broadway Theatre. Info: birderstudio.org. Performances are at 7 p.m. Dec. 13-14 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 15. My review: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-review-a-christmas-carol-the-musical-scores-again-in-de-pere/1629161895.

– In Tisch Mills, The Forst Inn Arts Collective will present continuing performances of its holiday cabaret “Mistletoe Musings.” Info: forstinn.com. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 13, 14, 15 (unavailable) and 16 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16. The show returns with new songs and new stories. Included are “amazing a cappella harmonies, rousing carols and quirky and poignant readings.” The event includes a sandwich and appetizer buffet before the show and dessert served at intermission.


– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Music will present UW Oshkosh Handbell Choir at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in Reeve Union. Info: uwosh.edu/go/music/calendar-of-events.

– In De Pere, The Chantelles women’s pop chorus will present “A Glad Noel” Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at First United Presbyterian Church. Info: thechantelles.org.

– In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host Tim Hawkins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. Info: weillcenter.com.

– In Manitowoc, Capitol Civic Centre Chorale will present “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, at the center. Info: cccshows.org.

– In Sheboygan, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Sheboygan Campus will present a Holiday Concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Fine Arts Theatre. Performing are the Sheboygan Campus Vocal Jazz Ensemble, University Chorus and Jazz Ensemble.

– In Oshkosh, Grand Opera House will host “Swing in the Holidays – Janet Planet and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Info: thegrandoshkosh.org.

– In Green Bay, Weidner Center for the Performing Arts will host “Holiday Pops” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and 2:30 p.m.  Saturday, Dec. 8. Info: weidnercenter.com. Performing: The 150-voice Dudley Birder Chorale of St. Norbert College under the direction of new artistic director Kent Paulsen. Ninety voices of Birder Studio of Performing Arts. The Holiday Pops Orchestra. Dancers from Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organization in a ballet sequence to “The Skater’s Waltz.”

– In Appleton, Lawrence University will host Lawrence Academy of Music Girl Choir Concert: “Story Story” at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in Memorial Chapel. Seven choirs perform.

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Music will present UW Oshkosh Choirs at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in Reeve Union. Info: uwosh.edu/go/music/calendar-of-events.

– In Manitowoc, Capitol Civic Centre will host “Christmas with the Nelsons” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Info: cccshows.org.

– In Oshkosh, Grand Opera House will host “Harmonious Wail: Holiday Spirits” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Info: thegrandoshkosh.org. The Madison based group recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Harmonious Wail is Sims Delaney-Potthoff, mandolin and vocals, Maggie Delaney-Potthoff, vocals, and Jeffo Weiss, bass.

– In Sheboygan, Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra will present “Holiday Concerts Past and Present” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Weill Center for the Performing Arts. Info: sheboygansymphony.org. Included are selections from the movies “The Polar Express” and “Elf” and from “Messiah” and “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Also performing is the Sheboygan Symphony Chorus. Guest baritone is Warren Fremling, who will be featured in “In Terra Pax.”

– In Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Music will present UW Oshkosh Bands at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, in Reeve Union. Info: uwosh.edu/go/music/calendar-of-events.

– In Sheboygan, Lakeshore Chorale and Youth Chorale will present “A Christmas Carol” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. Peter Claver Church, 1444 S. Eleventh St., Sheboygan. Info: lakeshorechorale.org.

– In Appleton, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center will host “Motown Christmas” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11. Info: foxcitiespac.com.

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music will present its Wind Ensemble, Studio Orchestra and Symphonic Band at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11. Info: weidnercenter.com. Kevin Collins conducts the groups in marches, movie scores, contemporary compositions and romantic symphonies.

– In Oshkosh, Grand Opera House will host Steve Earle & The Dukes at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11. Info: thegrandoshkosh.org.

– In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music will present a special concert in its 6:30 Concert Series “(There’s No Place Like) Swing for the Holidays” – at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12. Info: weidnercenter.com. The program features the music of Ella Fitzgerald as sung by Courtney Sherman. The performance is in Cofrin Family Hall, the main hall of the center. According to a press release: Also performing are the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra and UWGB Music faculty. Sherman is well known to Green Bay audiences. She has performed soprano solos in Verdi’s “Requiem,” Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Handel’s “Messiah” as well a wide range of art song and chamber repertoire. She is an associate professor of music at UWGB, teaching courses for both the music and theater programs. She regularly serves as the conductor and music director for UWGB’s musical theater productions, including “Cabaret,” “Avenue Q,” “Legally Blonde” and “Nunsense – the Mega-Musical.” Members of the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra are John Salerno, alto saxophone; Lada Gaines, alto saxophone; Steve Johnson, tenor saxophone; Ken Barhite, tenor saxophone; Jen Johnson, baritone saxophone; Pat Phelan, trumpet; John Daniel, trumpet; Dan Marbes, trumpet; Adam Gaines, trumpet; Bill Hill, trombone; Kelly Galarneau, trombone; Bill Dennee, trombone; Eric High, trombone; Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, horn; Christine Salerno, piano; Andrew Bader, bass; Bill Sallak, drums and Matt Hillman, guitar.

– In Oshkosh, Grand Opera House will host “Christmas Songs and Stories with John Berry” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12. Info: thegrandoshkosh.org.

– In Sheboygan, Weill Center for the Performing Arts will host Paul Spencer Jazz Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13. Info: weillcenter.com.

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.

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