The Adirondack Theatre Festival's eighth season begins June 19 with the East Coast premiere of Fred Alley and James Kaplan's comic musical, Guys on Ice. The show will run through June 30.
Ron McClary, Jeff Williams and Louis Tucci star as the show's ice fishermen, under the direction of Martha Banta.
Kaplan wrote the music and Alley penned the book and lyrics of Guys on Ice, a certifiable phenomenon in Wisconsin—where the show originated with the American Folklore Theatre—but largely unknown outside the Midwest. The show became an instant sensation in fall 1998, reeling in audiences for such goofy songs as "De Wishing Hole," "Ode to a Snowmobile Suit," "Fish Is de Miracle Food" and "De One Dat Got Away."
American Folklore Theatre productions originate at the company's home in Door County, WI, a resort area 3-1/2 hours north of Milwaukee. Guys was subsequently a sold-out hit at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. The show was conceived and researched by Alley and Frederick Heide.
Alley died suddenly last year before he could see his musical The Spitfire Grill debut at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons. It is having several regional stagings in 2002, and a cast album was released earlier this year. Alley often acted in Guys as well. The June 19 preview performance will be a "pay what you can" performance. A limited number of free tickets will be available that night to anyone who presents a valid fishing license.
Bill Castellino and actor-songwriter Gilles Chiasson are developing a new conceptual revue, Fishwrap!, in which songwriters are asked to create musical numbers based on articles that have appeared in the New York Times. The show will run July 2-7 at the Adirondack Theatre Festival in upstate New York, Castellino told Playbill On-Line.
The goal was to encourage new writers and give them a platform. The assigned writers or teams were told, "don't just musicalize the articles," and were encouraged to use the events of the articles to inspire something beyond the ordinary. The songs are expected be as eclectic as the writers: Serious, comic, pop, folky and more.
The 15 pieces in the show, subtitled Yesterday's News, Tomorrow's Songs, are drawn from news items, obituaries, recipes, features in the Times Sunday magazine and more.
Is it a sister show the so-called "living newspaper" form of pseudo documentary theatre that emerged in the 1930s?
"It isn't so much a living newspaper," Castellino said. "It's designed to be an of-the-moment response to the world around us."
As such, if the form takes off and has a future life, the material could be constantly updated and changed.
Chiasson, who has written a musical of his own called Chrysalis, and appeared as an actor in Rent and The Civil War on Broadway, came up with the idea for Fishwrap! and brought it to Castellino. They are billed as conceiving and developing the piece, and Castellino will direct. Castellino (who runs Cherry County Playhouse in Michigan) and Chiasson have served as "curators" for Fishwrap!, assigning and helping shape the songs, Castellino said. He called the show "a musical theatre event" of "pop songs flavored by musical theatre." There will be some narrative connective material in the show, as well, Castellino added.
Some of the participating writers are Chiasson, Chris Roberts, Lori Fischer, Jim Price, Bryan Johnson, Jeremy Desmon and David Guerrerio, among others.
The Adirondack Theatre Festival is in Glen Falls, NY, 30 minutes north of Albany on the shores of Lake George. For information, visit www.atfestival.org.
—By Robert Simonson
and Kenneth Jones