Guys On Ice

As a present to myself, in celebration of my 50th successful mission completely around the sun, I bought myself a ticket to see the play Guys On Ice in the Stackner Cabaret at The Rep in Milwaukee.
I saw this play about a year ago in Madison at the Barrymore and fell instantly in love. It's a sweet, simple story about two guys who go ice fishing, but it has a deep current of philosophy and life lessons running underneath.  I can't really fully explain my fascination with this play, but I feel a deep connection. It makes me happy and homesick all at the same time. It evokes happy memories of snowy, Northern Maine afternoons spent in the smelt shack with Daddy and Poppie and makes me long for those days where we were all together and times seemed so much simpler. I had never been to The Rep before and won't drive in Milwaukee for just any old reason so you know it has to be pretty special!

I found the theater with no problem and even bumbled into the right parking place completely by accident. [Note to self: next time, make a note of what floor you parked on so you don't get to take the grand tour of the parking structure afterwards.] I was early so I spent a bit of time looking over the Milwaukee Center building and surrounding area. What a beautiful part of the city, They are all decorated for Christmas, and the weather was great, so it was pretty and festive. This is the tree in the Rotunda.

It finally came time to go to the theater and when the usher showed me to my seat, I thought there was some mistake.  My seat was practically on the ice with The Guys! The Cabaret is a small space; it was like having the play in your living room! You are seated at big round tables with other patrons. I got a group of 6 women who claimed they were all family but they were pretty toasted by the time they got there so I'm not sure how much of what they said was the cocktails talking. They were a nice group though and funny as heck.

The play itself was amazing. I knew it would be since Doug Mancheski and Steve Koehler were playing the main 'guys', Marvin and Lloyd. They were in the Barrymore production and on the DVD of the play that was taped up in Peninsula State Park at Northern Sky Theater last summer. Lore has it that the role of Marvin was written with Doug in mind and he has performed it thousands of times since it's inception in the late 90's. You would think that it would become rote and stale but it's so totally not- it's amazingly fresh. He IS Marvin. How does he DO those things with his face?!?! His expressions are priceless!

The play is a musical and the actors both have beautiful singing voices but Steve Koehler's solo of 'Everything Is New', which took place directly behind our table, was particularly good. He has a wonderful, rich, tenor voice which brought a tear to my eye during each of his sad, solo songs. Doug's two solos 'The Guy From TV' and 'The King' are two of my favorites of the whole play. And the songs they sing together are perfection-especially the Snowmobile Suit song! Rooty-Toot-Toot!

 For an hour and a half, I forgot everything around me and was that little girl curled up in the corner of the smelt shack just like the old days. What a wonderful gift! And afterward I got another special treat. I had sent an email to the theater to see if I could get my copy of the DVD signed and they said that I could, so after the show, Doug, Steve and Bo Johnson, who played Ernie The Moocher in this production, all signed my DVD and CD! They couldn't have been sweeter, more accommodating or adorable. It was a perfect birthday gift! [ And after I toured the parking garage, I made it back through the road construction and traffic to Madison unscathed.  I like to think Daddy and Poppie were watching over me from that big smelt shack in the sky!]

So if you haven't seen it, GO! GO! GO! It runs through now through January 17. The information can be found here- Guys on Ice at The Rep! You won't be sorry!