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Review: LUMBERJACKS IN LOVE Remains Forever Young

Nineteen years have passed since Fish Creek's Northern Sky Theater (formerly AFT) premiered Lumberjacks in Love. As part of the company's 25th anniversary season, this box office hit returns for the indoor fall season at the Door Community Auditorium. And after almost two decades, these burly Hayward, Wisconsin shanty boy celebrate this ode to romance in the deep woods fo the first time indoors were Neen Rock's beauitiful stage design and backdrop become ethereal and appears three dimensional.

In this northern, manly romp, Jeffrey Herbst reprises his role as Minnesota Slim as he has done for the past 19 years. The consummate actor and vocalist breathes life into the part, a true wonder on the stage, while Chase Stoeger creates the role of Moon through his warm presence when he sings the poignant, "It Would Be Enough For Me." Doug Mancheski returns again as Dirty Bob where Dirty Bob's elusive blue soap has been a part of the actor's professional life for 18 years. Originally, Mancheski met Fred Alley, one of the original founders of the former AFT, in Door County and Alley created the charming "Little Dress,' especially for Mancheski. This gender bending role harkens back to when women were forbidden from working on stage, and perhaps everyone throughly relishes Mancheski twirling in that ruffled skirt over his Dirty Bob lumberjack layers.

Recently Artisitc Associate Director Molly Rhode has acquired the Rosemary Rogers role, a romance writer who believes her heroine Annabelle Braveheart can become "an opiate for 'fools in love." While mastering Rosemary, Rhode adds to the musicial ensemble, who are appear on stage, by playing numerous string instruments that accompany her sister Musical Director Allisa Rhode on keyboard. Visually seeing the musicians plays adds another delightful depth to these melodious lumberjacks.

Newcomer to the production Craig McClelland gives the depressed Muskrat a turn on the stage as the character commemorates his 50th birthday in the woods. Eva Nimmer changes gender playing The Kid, when her grown up woman sings "The Winds of Morning," a song where the winds of love blow off your bare self and peel the park away from the soul." These "fish out of water' fools for love lumberjacks cajole and cavort in several completely memorable songs, "Buncha Naked Lumberjacks," "Happy Lumberjack," and "Someday I Will Be Clean"-This uproariously clever and funny musical first written in a collaboration by Fred Alley and James Kaplan resonates with tender humanity and humor-One of the great gems produced by the Alley-Kaplan writing team and Northern Sky Theater.

Perhaps the plot plays even more topical than when first premiered with these mixed-up men who foresake women until a mail order bride shows up at theri camp, while also reminding the audience of Wisconsin's great forest legacy because today modern lumberjacks have a cult following in contemporary culture. This eduring theatrical tribute to the "power of love" glows like the North Star on a Door County evening sky, often bright and clear in fall, to enchant new and returning audiences. Which proves once again, Lumberjacks in Love and these burly boys remain forever young.

Northern Sky Theatre closes there 25th season with Lumberjacks in Love at Fish Creek's Door Community Auditorium through October 17. For performance schedule and tickets, please call 920.854.6117 or visit

From This Author - Peggy Sue Dunigan

Peggy Sue Dunigan earned a BA in Fine Art, a MA in English and then finished with a Masters of Fine Art in Creative Fiction from Pine Manor College, Massachusetts. Currently she independently write... (read more about this author)