Encore Michigan

‘Guys On Ice’ is a crack-up at Wilde Theatre

Review November 17, 2022 Julie Linderleaf

BRIGHTON, MI–Why can’t you tell a joke while ice fishing? Because it will crack you up! 

If you are looking to crack some laughs this weekend, you need to go and see Guys on Ice: An Ice fishing musical comedy at A Wilde Theatre in Brighton, Michigan.  

Guys on Ice is a unique guy’s guy kind of musical with book and lyrics by Fred Alley and music by James Kaplan. This musical has something for everyone: the love story fan, the comedy fan, the musical fan, the ice-fishing fan and even the Packers fans.

Yes, even the Packers fan. This musical highlights a day in the life of Wisconsin residents–Marvin played by Sean Heslip and Lloyd played by John DeMerell. Marvin is approached by a local television reporter to film his amazing ice fishing skills at his shanty on the lake. He phones his friend Lloyd to go out with him and be filmed as well. Marvin secretly hopes that his fame on TV will arouse the attentions of the check-out girl who has a specially placed Packers tattoo. The only thing their day on the ice does attract, though, is the attention of Ernie De Moocher played by Ian Campbell. 

Ian Campbell returns to the Wilde Stage after wearing a gator man costume in the Wilde Theatre’s last production of Duck Hunter Shoots Angel. His appearances might be brief, but he’s a bucketful of laughs as the obnoxious guy everyone tries to avoid. Director Lynn Wilde Concannon uses Mr. Campbell’s skill of proper comedic timing and energy with a post-intermission “half-time” trivia game with the audience. 

Set builder Al Pelky is either an obvious ice fisherman or knows what a shanty looks like because his set combined with props from Ms. Concannon was definitively the best set I’ve seen at A Wilde Theatre.  Working with a small stage, it was skillfully designed as a hodged-podged shanty with Cheesehead memorabilia, beer cans and food wrappers. There was even room for Mr. Heslip and Mr. DeMerell to do some elaborate dance numbers. 

I can just imagine the costume team of costume designer Sandee Koski and assistant Pat Korr, handing the gentlemen their winter wear of snowsuits and snow boots and then Choreographer Ginny Durow says, “Alright, now let’s dance!”  Because these men were keeping amazing time and pace with some complicated dance steps all in their winter wear! Kudos gentlemen! 

The songs and jokes are pretty cheesy. But it’s just right for Packer fans.  Mr. Alley and Mr. Kaplan used a lot of creative brainpower to invent so many songs about fishing. The writers even make fun of a certain childhood song about buffalo roaming and change it to where the “Angel fish fly”. The song “Fish is Da Miracle Food” even brings in a bit of some puppet action with some extra singing fish.  The actors do all this with decent attempts at Minnesota/North Dakota accents.

Not only do the actors sing and dance, and crack jokes, but the show even hits on a bit of the love angle too. Marvin has an unrequited crush on the check-out girl with the hidden Packers tattoo he’d like to see while Lloyd is in quite a pickle himself: Does he go to the Packers Sunday game against the Bears or his anniversary with his wife who currently moved out to stay at her parents’ house while he decided. 

And to these men, “Heaven equals everyday is Packer Sunday and Jesus looks like Brett Favre!” They may not have caught any fish, but to them, it was great way to spend eight hours. The show is less than two hours, but the audience would also say it was a great way to spend their night. 

Week of 6/17/2024

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