The Bachelors, the quirky Wisconsin musical comedy that was the highest-grossing show in the history of American Folklore Theatre, returns in a staging by the upstate Door County troupe Aug. 29-Oct. 5.
Performances are in the 200-seat Ephraim Village Hall in Ephraim, WI. AFT presents in a number of places in northern Wisconsin in summer and fall, including an 825 seat outdoor amphitheatre in Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI. (According to the website: "No park sticker required. Bug spray provided. Wooden benches with backs. Cushions available for rent.") The Bachelors premiered in March 2001 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and was the last musical written by Fred Alley (book and lyrics) and composer James Kaplan. The show was inspired by a period in the early 1990s during which the two authors shared a studio apartment in Berkeley, CA. The initial engagement was still running in Milwaukee when Fred Alley died of a heart ailment May 1, 2001. The show then moved to Door County for its hit run in fall 2001.
AFT artist-in-residence and co-founder Alley was co creator of The Spitfire Grill, which had its Off Broadway premiere in fall 2001, and has already started blossoming in regional theatres.
For The Bachelors, composer and co-writer James Kaplan once again accompanies the show on piano. He is joined by two original cast members, Michael Herold and Doug Mancheski, as the bachelor roommates, Stewart and John. Herold is a veteran of numerous plays and musicals at Milwaukee Rep. Mancheski has been featured in previous shows by Alley and Kaplan including Lumberjacks in Love and Guys On Ice, both popular Wisconsin titles leaking out into regional theatres.
The men are joined by Michelle Smith as Kate, the pizza delivery girl who causes some havoc in what was previously the boys' "Bachelor Heaven." Smith has appeared at Milwaukee Rep and Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee. AFT artistic director Jeffrey Herbst helm and recreates the original choreography by Herbst and Pam Kriger. The set design is by James Maronek, with lights by David Alley. The costumes are by Dawna Gregory.
AFT will present Alley and composer James Valcq's The Spitfire Grill in Door County beginning Oct. 11 at the 750-seat Door Community Auditorium. This production is in conjunction with the Skylight Opera Theatre, which is presenting the show in Milwaukee Sept. 20-Oct. 6.
Tickets for The Bachelors are $15-$18 and can be purchased by calling American Folklore Theatre at (920) 854-6117. For more information, visit www.folkloretheatre.com.
AFT, devoted to creating new musicals and shows with a populist slant, also presents at 135-seat Gibraltar Town Hall and Door Community Auditorium (the site of The Spitfire Grill), both in Fish Creek, WI.
AFT will present in Guys On Ice in Green Bay Nov. 7-23 and The Bachelors Jan. 9-23, 2003, at Frank's Dinner Theatre.
The Spitfire Grill had its world premiere in 2000 at George Street Playhouse and premiered Off-Broadway in fall 2001 in a staging by Playwrights Horizons. A cast album is available, with Liz Callaway among the performers.
— By Kenneth Jones