andrew kruse-ross | dec. 2017
“Randolph the baddest outlaw, had a very shiny gun. And if you ever saw it, you would turn around and run." — Unknown
Be it booyah or the brandy old fashioned, foam cheese wedges or fanatical football worship, Wisconsinites are unashamedly quick to rally behind those traditions woven into the cultural fabric of America's Dairy Land. Cheese curd, anyone? Northeastern Wisconsin isn't lacking in its own traditions and one of those, a seasonal favorite, can be found on a stage near you during the month of December.
Frank Hermans and company present their 18th original Christmas show, known informally as A Frank's Christmas, to the stage in “Randolph, the Baddest Outlaw."
“With this being our 18th Christmas show, we're looking at new ideas," says Hermans. “How do you change up Christmas? Well, this year we're doing something different."
Set in the 1880s in Wisconsin's wild west – Waupaca – Randolph Winedeer aspires to be the baddest outlaw west of the Fox River and follow in his father's footsteps. But there's a problem; he's not a very “good" outlaw.
“As an outlaw, he's just no good," says Frank Hermans. “He's a bit of a Robin Hood-type, so he'll steal from people, but then he feels bad and will give it back … with extra."
Naturally, all the other outlaws bellied up to the bar at Kringle's Cocoa – yeah, all they serve is hot chocolate – take notice and don't hold back in letting Randolph know about his shortcomings. But Randolph isn't about to sit back and take it. When he hears of all the money being saved via Christmas Club Accounts, he devises a plan that even the Grinch would be proud of. Assisting him in this caper is trusty sidekick Slushy Morals, played by Hermans' youngest brother, Heath. Slushy grew up on the snowy side of town and suffers from a limited, if not seasonally appropriate, vocabulary. With Sheriff Wunhorst Whopenslae on the case, this outlaw duo will have to pull out all the stops if they're to go down in history.
“This story's a bit of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a bit of the Grinch and a bit of 'Blazing Saddles' rolled into one," says Hermans.
“How do you make a good ending when you've got a bank robbery? Well, I won't give it away, but this is a story about redemption – redemption for everybody."
Musically, this show sticks with the wild west theme and features 19 songs, many as performed by contemporary country artists like Sugarland, Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum.
“It's been years since we've done a country show, but there are just so many great country Christmas songs out there," says Hermans. “And they're still churning them out!"
The show's song list also includes songs by artists outside the country spectrum including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and The Eagles.
As always, A Frank's Christmas is completely family friendly. Hermans points out that great care has been taken to make “Randolph, the Baddest Outlaw" fun for children of all ages.
“The kids will love this one, the pageantry of it, the costumes and the songs. This one is squeaky clean."
After nearly two decades of Christmas performances, Hermans says he's amazed to see the same faces in the crowd year after year come Christmastime.
“It's amazing. We have families that come from as far away as Arizona to see the Christmas show and share it with their families. It's very humbling."
Whether already a family tradition or looking to attend your first Let Me Be Frank show, the troupe has made it easy to catch a performance during the busy holiday season.
To meet the demand generated by A Frank's Christmas, the troupe has added a number of show dates during the month of December to accommodate the busiest of schedules. The troupe is even taking the show on the road, offering performances outside of Green Bay's Meyer Theatre at the Algoma PAC (Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.), Chilton's Engler Center (Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.) and the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc (Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m.)
In Green Bay, A Frank's Christmas runs at the Meyer Theatre on Dec. 1, 5-9, 12-16 and 19-23. Shows are at 8 p.m. with 1 p.m. matinees available on Dec. 1, 7, 14 & 16.
Opening night at the Meyer Theatre is a fundraiser; $10 of every paid ticket will go to fund CP and a collection drum will be made available for donations during the show's run.
Last year, nearly $4,000 was collected for this purpose during the show. To date, Let Me Be Frank Productions has raised more than half a million dollars for local charity organizations.
in Green Bay visit ticketstaronline.com or call (920) 494-3401.
in Algoma visit algomapac.com or by call (920) 487-7001.
in Chilton visit englercenter.com or call (866)-967-8167.
in Manitowoc visit cccshows.com call (920) 683-2184.