‘Guys On Ice’ hooks the audience with comedy

December 1, 2016  |  by Bonifas Arts Center

“When it’s 30 below, there is no substitute for the comfort and warmth of a snowmobile suit!” This from the song “Ode to a Snowmobile Suit” — one of the many humorous and wise localisms found in Players de Nocs current production of the comedic musical “Guys On Ice,” written by the late Fred Alley, founder of American Folklore Theater in Door County with James Kaplan.

“Guys On Ice” follows a day in the life of Door County, Wis., ice fishing buddies Marvin (Mark Cowman) and Lloyd (Mark Ammel) as they anxiously await a promised visit from a cable TV fishing show celebrity wanting to highlight their ice fishing expertise.

They while-away the time with lots of fishing, beer, and wise banter about love, friendship, and the meaning of life. Most of the action takes place in Marvin’s ice shanty which sits on the only local place frozen enough to hold it — the Bonifas Theater stage — and yes, there’s actual ice under that shanty!

The performances are outstanding and thick with Northern Wisconsin dialect and local humor. Mark Cowman performs Marvin with hilarious physicality — such as seen when he’s busting out Elvis moves in “The King” (the King of ice fishing, naturally).

Mark Ammel delights us with an earnest performance and clear vocals as he contemplates marital difficulties and considers his estranged wife who has asked him to be more devoted to their marriage than to the Packer football team. A dilemma for sure!

We see Jeff Woerpel’s endearing comedic talent as Ernie the Moocher, and Jon Johnson’s fun cameo adds a perfect understated Yooper touch. The audience is treated to many memorable moments and songs including: “The One that Got Away”, “Fish is the Miracle Food”, “The Beer in the Bucket”, and “Ode to a Snowmobile Suit.” Speaking of snowmobile suits…it’s worth the price of a ticket just to see the four worn in this show!

The talented Travis Dubord is musical director for the show and he’s present throughout the show on stage entertaining us with his accompaniment. Director Dawn Martin has much to be proud of in this production and she succeeded in putting together a capable, hard-working behind- the-scenes team to give our community this polished production.

Kudos to Jon Johnson for his work designing and building a perfect ice shanty which is brought to life by Jon Flath’s detailed set dressing.

Tickets are $15 and available online at playersdenoc.org, at the William Bonifas Arts Center, or in the Box Office beginning 30 minutes before each performance. Student tickets with ID are available at the ticket price at the box office each night of the show, unless sold out.

Performances are Dec. 2, 3, 7, 8, 9,or 10 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. The Bonifas Theater is located at 700 1st Ave. S., Escanaba. The show is rated PG and delightful for pre-teens through age 110 — ice fishermen or not! It runs under two hours including intermission.

  • Reviewed by Cathy Wilson

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