The Klopcic family at the Fireside in Fort Atkinson, Wis., continues to offer musicals reminiscent of the past and exceptionally fine food. Ed Flesch has been producer/director of the theater since its opening in 1978, and the current production, Hollywood Sings, incorporates the songs and dance of the Hollywood musical since its beginnings. A live band centers the stage, led by Steve Watts, also playing keyboards and adding some great vocals to the mix. The members of the band play well, but it is in Act II where the music of the big band era gives them the opportunity to create a truly authentic sound.
Flesch, a contemporary of Chuck Hoenes, long-time artistic director at the Clock Tower Theatre in Rockford, brings to the stage a review of songs often seen in Hoenes productions. Sing, Sing, Sing with its bounding rhythms and spectacular dance was an integral part of Hoenes Swing. It is good to see traditions continue. Flesch has a cast of experienced dancers and singers. Many from New York have honed their skills there and in touring companies.
Janelle Neal performs Mary Beth Griffiths choreography to perfection. With the orchestra occupying much of the stage, movement moves to the outer edges, and only an experienced dancer can use the space creatively. Michael Todd comes to the Fireside after four seasons in Branson, Mo. Every one of his numbers is a standout. Not a small man, he moves well. Katie Kester adds a touch of comedy, and the entire company gives Fleschs show the energy it requires.
The first act consists of snippets of songs that include Oscar winners, the songs of Roy Rogers, Elvis and the Beatles. Watts rocks the room with his Beatles vocals. Act II brings us the Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Ray Charles, Henry Mancini and Judy Garland. This segment is designed for a generation who came of age in the 1940s. The audience loved it. Add the dances of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, toss in Gene Kelly, and a hit evolves.
Robin L. McGees costumes are the glamorous gowns, shoes, gloves and tuxedos that filled the silver screen. Running through March 18, tickets are available by calling 1-800-477-9505. Rick Klopcic is the epitome of the gracious host. Youll enjoy every minute.
From the Jan. 24-30, 2007, issue