The writers who created the regional musical hits Guys on Ice and Lumberjacks in Love, saw the world premiere of their latest work, The Bachelors, March 24 at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre's Stackner Cabaret.
Fred Alley and James Kaplan's new musical, which already has some sold out performances and great press, focuses on a couple of thirtysomething guys who share a place in Madison, WI, one of the great American college towns. John and Stew "spend most of their time lounging around in their boxer shorts and tee shirts, until their world is shattered by a delivery girl from Pizza Pit," according to production notes.
The show is set in 2001, but there is a prologue that takes place in Victorian England and features a Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche, "Be A Bachelor." The show also features a "Dream Ballet," and a Bossa Nova-style Entr'acte. Performances continue to May 20.
The Bachelors has a story by Fred Alley and James Kaplan, with book and lyrics by Alley, and music by Kaplan. Alley is the artist-in-residence and co-founder of American Folklore Theatre in Door County, WI. (Their shows usually premiere in northern Wisconsin's Door County before coming downstate, but this is a rare Alley-Kaplan world premiere in Milwaukee.) Alley's musical The Spitfire Grill, created with James Valcq, recently won the Richard Rodgers Award, and is being produced Off-Broadway in fall 2001. Kaplan has collaborated on 15 AFT productions.
John is played by Doug Mancheski, who also appeared in The Rep's Guys On Ice and Lumberjacks in Love. Mancheski recently appeared at Milwaukee's Chamber Theatre in A Tuna Christmas and Three Days of Rain. Michael Herold plays Stew. Herold was seen at the Rep earlier this year in Engaged and Maybe Baby, It's You. Kelly Anne Clark portrays Kate. Clark is a Jeff Award-winning actress who has appeared in numerous plays and musicals in Chicago. Her songs in The Bachelors include "(Give Me A) Bad Bad Boy," as well as the lyric ballad, "I've Been a Fool for Love." Other musical numbers include "Bad Tuna Fish," "Bachelor Heaven," "Chopsticks," "Noodle Cookie," "Ballad of a Sad Old Man" and "Love Be Dumb."
Kaplan is the musical director and accompanies the show on piano. The show is directed by AFT artistic director Jeffrey Herbst. Choreography is by Pam Kriger, along with Herbst. Scenic design is by James Maronek. Dawna Gregory is the Costume designer. Lighting is designed by Chester Loeffler-Bell.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel theatre critic Damien Jaques embraced The Bachelors in a review. Most Friday and Saturday shows are sold out for the run, according to the box office. Tuesday evening shows were added due to demand
Guys On Ice, about two Wisconsin ice-fisherman, opened at The Rep in October 1998, and has had three return engagements. Lumberjacks in Love played at the Rep's Stiemke Theater in April and May 2000.
Guys On Ice will open in April at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland, OR. In fall 2001, Lumberjacks in Love is set for a 13-week run at the New Theatre in Overland Park, KS.
The Milwaukee Rep's Stackner Cabaret is in the Baker Theater Complex at 108 E. Wells in downtown Milwaukee. For information about The Bachelors, call (414) 224 9490 or visit www.milwaukeerep.com.
— By Kenneth Jones