Tuesday, December 01, 2015

GUYS ON ICE: THE ICE FISHING MUSICAL drops bait at Actors’ Summit

The American Folklore Theatre (AFT), located in Door County, Wisconsin, is a theater company that creates musicals and plays which are based on the populist culture and heritage of the United States.  They have developed such works as MULE FOR BREAKFAST AGAIN, LUMBERJACKS IN LOVE, LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS, and GUYS ON ICE.  The latter is now being staged by Actors Summit.

The script, with book and lyrics by Fred Alley and music composed by James Kaplan, tells the tale of a day in the life of Marvin and Lloyd, two ice fisherman and their arch pain-in-the-neck, Ernie the Moocher.

The show tends to play to sold-out houses in the Sturgeon Bay area of Minnesota where little wooden shanties sit on winter lake ice with puffs of smoke rising from their chimney pipes.  Marvin and Lloyd, long-time fishing buddies, philosophize and sing such ditties as “The Wishing Hole,” “Ode to a Snowmobile Suit,” “Things Aint Like They Used to Be,” and the stirring, “Fish Is the Miracle Food.”

Every once in a while, Ernie the Moocher pops in to “borrow” beer, food and whatever else he can get from the duo who are so desperate to get rid of him that they hand over whatever he wants.

Why is Actors’ Summit showcasing this Green Bay Packer, Wisconsin-centric tale?  As director MaryJo Alexander, who finds the script “endearing,” states in her program notes, “I love this show!  No it’s not Shakespeare, or Sondheim. . . It’s dressed up with quirky music, Packers jokes, and beer references.”  She also reveals that her parents were from Wisconsin and her grandparents are listed in the history books of beer making. 

For those of us not from Wisconsin, and who don’t have relatives who brew beer, the goings on may be a little cheesy.  That’s not to say the show is bad.  It just isn’t much.  The music isn’t catchy, the lyrics are rather sophomoric, and the story is almost non-existent.

Frank Jackman is familiar to Actor Summit audiences for his 30 productions with the theatre company.  He also is noted for his commercials, print ads and voice-overs.   He does a nice job of developing Marvin into a believable Wisconsinite (though a little more of the sing-song Scandinavian-sound, the area is noted for, would have helped). 

Bob Keefe displays a nice sense of humor as Lloyd, as well as a nice singing voice. 

Shawn Galligan does what he can with the poorly conceived role of Ernie the Moocher.  He is also given the unenviable task of adding minutes to what should have been a one-act, by conducting an audience participation quiz between the acts, which garnered few participants.

Capsule judgement:   As a couple said in the elevator while exiting the theatre,  “It was kinda cute.”  Yep, all righty, if you are in the right mood, and don’t expect Shakespeare or Sondheim, GUYS ON ICE is kind of cute. 

For tickets to GUYS ON ICE which runs through December 20, 2015, call 330-374-7568 or go to www.actorssummit.org

Actor’s Summit’s 2016 shows are:  SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR (Jan. 21-Feb. 7), CHIAPATTI (Feb. 25-Mar. 13), TALLY’S FOLLY (April 14-May 1), and TINTYPES (May 19-June 19).