Milwaukee Rep’s Guys On Ice: Waiting For Godot In Snowmobile Suits.

This past arctic week aside, the current state of winter in Wisconsin has seen unusually warm temperatures and local lakes that have remained unfrozen later into the season than normal. So ice fisher folk have been restrained in celebrating their seasonal sport. If you are one of these…or more likely someone like me who grew up in a rural area that crowded around a prominent lake and watched in awe and wonder as shanties blossomed across the ice…well, get your mojo back with some tickets to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Guys On Ice, order a Leinies and settle in for fun, merriment, and amazement in the Stackner Cabaret!

How ’bout dem Packers?

Guys On Ice is a rollicking comedy and musical about everything that is good…and bad…about ice fishing culture in the upper Midwest, with an abundant dash of Packer mania thrown in. If you have ever lived in Wisconsin or environs, you will find plenty to love here and may see something of yourself or your community here as well.

Steve M Koehler as Lloyd and Doug Mancheski as Marvin. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Marvin and Lloyd are long time friends, fishing buddies, and Door County denizens who are off for a day of ice fishing in Marvin’s shanty somewhere out in Green Bay. Marvin is played by Doug Mancheski who represents a north woods ice fisherman to a T and may have actually had hands on experience from what he brings to his portrayal of Marvin. But then his over the top mimicry of the Las Vegas Elvis, his ‘fluid’ dance moves, and his impeccable singing voice are highlights here.

Lloyd is the calmer cool head although as the story unfolds that should come as something of a surprise. Lloyd is played by Steve M Koehler, a tall impressive actor with a voice to match. But he humors Marvin’s dreams and plans and shares his own incredible voice to the songs at hand. His beer can tossing skills are to be admired as well.

Lloyd, Ernie (Dan Klarer) and Marvin. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Where else are you going to find a musical paean to snow mobile suits?

Surprisingly, Guys On Ice isn’t all fun and games. There is a fair amount of angst and reflection on life, love, and human existence. Both men have problems around their personal lives and love interests that eventually find tentative resolutions.

And then there’s the irrepressible Dan Klarer as Ernie, Ernie the moocher, as Lloyd and Marvin describe him on a number of occasions. And Ernie lives up to the name…but he also contributes to the hijinks and humor that Guys On Ice is noted for.

Ernie, Lloyd, and Marvin Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

And it is suggested that when you die and go to ice fishing heaven, that maybe you have to spend a few days in Algoma first. And all apologies to Algoma.

Guys On Ice is written by Fred Alley and has amused audiences for years hither and yon. At the Rep, James Kaplan does the music and Jeffrey Herbst is the director and choreographer.

And Godot? Spoiler alert! Marvin has been in contact with a TV fishing show host who Marvin is expecting to visit Lloyd and himself at the shanty. One of the reasons he invited Lloyd along on this particular day. Great songs and great humor results in the anticipation…but it never happens.

And the Bears still suck!

Guys On Ice runs through March 17th, 2024 at the Stackner Cabaret. More information and ticket ordering here!

article © 2024 The New World Digs

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