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BWW Review NST's DOCTOR! DOCTOR! Cures Audiences with C&D--Charm & Delightful Songs

Photo Credit: Len Vilano

Under the stars in Peninsula State Park for the 2016 season, Northern Sky Theater (NST) stages their latest World Premiere, Doctor! Doctor! Milwaukee's Matt Zembrowski, who grew up sitting in the state park audiences since he was 12, dreamed of writing a musical for the former American Folklore Theater, now Northern Sky, his entire life and this season fulfills that vision. Books, lyrics and music composed and written by Zembrowski, a considerable artistic feat, recommend the play as "a prescription for laughter," which the new musical delivered for opening week audiences. NST's talented acting troupe produce lighthearted laughter for an enthusiastic Door County crowd.

The production choreographed and directed by Molly Rhode, the company's Associate Artistic Director, centers around Sister Harbor's (aka, think Sister Bay), where Doc Olson decides to take a vacation after 30 years, and eventually retire. County doctors practicing in 1938, the country still recovering from the Great Depression, signed up to double as dentists and veterinarians in towns of merely 300 plus people while also dispensing the latest medicinal discoveries instead of local remedies.

When Albert Olson leaves on his "big city" trip to begin his retirement dreams, nephew Jim Olson enters Sister Harbor, fresh from medical school and training. Add into this small town story a forgetful mayor, the local general store manager, a lonely but pretty young school teacher, and her sister, a young women ready to soar into her own outside Door County. Upon Jim Olson's arrival, the entire village changes, noted in the song, "Something in the Air."

AFT co-founder Fred "Doc" Heide revels in the role of the older physician, Albert, while Chase Stoeger, who has perfected NST comedic timing, gives the younger Doctor Olson, handsome vibes. Kudos to returning Rhonda Rae Busch and Kelly Doherty, two distinguished actors and voices, in the roles of Julie Hagen, the doctor's assistant, and Mavis Gorski, the general store manager. One tender musical moment involves Heide and Busch, as Albert and Julie, singing "Your Chicken Soup, " a clever remedial love song. Included in the ensemble and a presence always welcome on any stage, Bill Theisen's Mayor Bob steals a few scenes and songs.

Eva Nimmer returns to NST and plays Kathleen, the attractive schoolteacher who loves her job, and sings a warm duet "It's Hard to Be Lonely" together with Stoeger, in the story's younger coupling. Debuting Racheal Zientek, a familiar face to Milwaukee audiences, appears ever so appealing in the role of Annie, Kathleen's sister ready to stretch her wings and fly far from Sister Harbor. The two share a wonderful sisterly moment in their duet, "Everything I Know," and siblings in the audience might reminisce their own growing up memories.

What would an NST production without crowd pleasing favorite Doug Mancheski play like? Theatergoers standing in line before the show anxiously looked for his name in the playbill. In Doctor! Doctor! Mancheski inhabits Hank Bumpkin, (Is that really a name from the past?), someone who shows up at the new doctor's door and often believes he's dying. As a tribute to this talented actor, could someone please write an NST premiere, similar to Windjammer, where Mancheski might be the sophisticated man about town? While he does "get the girls," and comedy requires impeccable timing, only Mancheski could do this one scene in the show and make the crowd laugh, sincerely appreciating Mancheski for the gifted actor he is, in serious roles, would be another charm!

Whatever ails Door County audiences in summer 2016-Brexits, global warming and weather, Ephraim's rejuvenation from being a dry town, political elections and positions, or the stock market---Zembrowski's Doctor! Doctor!, and the sometimes utterly funky jokes that inspire the title provide a charming treatment for laughter and love in Peninsula Park.

Take this warmhearted show three times this summer, along with the other superb NST selections, and then discover rest and relaxation while experiencing the wonders of Door County. Be sure to place a dollar, a mere one dollar bill, in the hat when leaving the theater so Northern Sky and their marvelous theatrical community will continue to produce new musicals for generations to come. Know that perhaps only watching a Sister Bay sunset from the shoreline, or sitting under the heavens with a silver moon reflecting on the water, or seeing a show while the ancient pine trees hover the stage, can heal a soul quicker than the cast calling for doctor, doctor!

Northern Sky Theater in Peninsula State Park runs the World Premiere Doctor! Doctor! throughout the summer in repertoire with No Bones About It, When Butter Churns to Gold, and the cult classic production, Lumberjacks in Love. Reviews for these shows available on past Broadway World posts. For information regarding performance schedule, special events, or tickets, please call: 920.854.6117 or www.NorthernSkyTheater.com


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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan