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BWW Reviews: Romeo and Juliet Romance Barbecue in World Premiere at Northern Sky


What's the difference between a dry rub or a wet barbecue sauce brushed on a rack of ribs? For anyone uninitiated into the competitive world of barbecuing, Northern Sky Theater presents a second world premeire for their 2015 25th anniversary season with this theme tiltled: No Bones About It.

The original musical also adapts Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which crystalizes a "feud of food," between two "smokehouses:" Monty's Jurassic Pork, a restaurant which perfects secret sauces, and Cappy's Happy Pig, which scientifically determines the dry rub. Written and composed by the acclaimed team Dave Hudson and Paul Libman, No Bones About It takes place in Verona, Wisconsin where those preferences fuel the discord between Karen Montague and Adam Capp. Her son, Ronny, and his daughter, Julie portray the darling "charcrossed" couple, in the guise of Chase Stoeger and Eva Nimmer, to capture the love at first sight conflict. Meanwhile, their parents Rhonda Rae Busch's Karen and Doug Mancheski's fatherly Adam, continue their contentious discussion of who will win the coveted trophy in this prestigious barbecue contest.

Plenty of innuendo flies occur between these two duos when they discuss dry and wet sauces, which can be upstaged by those exceptional barbecue judges and food bloggers, Kelly, a gastroastrologist, and Ken, also named Uncle Yummy. This pair also disagrees over who has more followers on their internet sites. Kelly Doherty and Alex Campea give these quirky characters foodie chemistry and sizzle on stage. When the entire cast sings to the glories of the barbeque in "The Gods of Smoke," the audience cheers each team on.

Smoking and grilling is serious business for the more than 8,000 professional barbecue teams participating in competitions across the country, Their enthusiasm overflows to other continents, where people beg to learn the secrets to barbecue, often perceived cooked best when done low and slow. Throughout any calendar year, these teams travel and compete for monetary prizes and points to qualify for the annual International Kansas City Barbecue Competition.

The last several years at the end of August, Door County's Washington Island hosts Death's Door BBQ and often features close to 50 registered teams where secret sauces or rubs on chicken and ribs rule the two day event. Smoke swirls through the air while aromatic spices tantalize appetites all day. After the intense judging, bystanders can purchase the tasty results from participants. Another RIb Fest, hosted by the non-profit Neighbor-to-Neighbor happens in Sturgeon Bay this November. Two intense competitions for die-hard barbecue fans and enjoyed by everyone.

This delicious musical captures the essence of these actual competitions in songs titled "We Love Food," "Variety is the Spice of LIfe," and "No Bones About It." Another number, "A Light Through Yonder Window," becomes an enchanting tribute to Shakespeare's R&J when the couple croons by the starlight of Julie's RV window: "Your're the sun, you're the moon, you're the one, see you soon."

In the role of the competition's host, the president of Friar's Spices, Bill Theisen plays Larry Friar and struggles to keep these two famililes from arguing while he spies their amourous children kissing, which the bloggers post on the internet--Welcome young lovers to the 21st century. While this Friar also plays a critical role in the turn around ending, where another set of young lovers reprises "Better Keep Away," Larry provides the variety, sweet versus spicy, to the competitors when he sings, "Choose your spice to feed your vice."

Who's chosen vice wins in the war of smokehouses? This enchanting cast Co-directed and Choreographed by Jeffrey Herbst and Pam Kriger entertains with delicious humor all evening. Northern Sky Theater appears to have all their ribs in a row when the judges reveal the final decision to end the competition, and perhaps the impending romance between Ronny and Julie. Certainly with No Bones About It, relish this charming, romantic production during the summer. Discover young love at any age in this spicy and sweet evening of musical fun when Northern Sky sets Shakespeare amid two smoking barbecues.

Northern Sky Theater presents the World Premiere No Bones About It in Peninsula State Park through August. For information regarding Washington Island's Death's Door BBQ 2015 on August 28-29, please visit or For Northern Sky Theater's special programming, theater schedules and tickets, please call 920.854.6117 or visit

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