Bing the Cherry Musical
Music by Paul Libman
Book & Lyrics by Dave Hudson
From the imaginative minds behind the AFT classics Cheeseheads and Muskie Love comes a story of hope, love, and laughter that blossoms in a family cherry orchard in Door County. Bing! The Cherry Musical marks the fifth world premiere of a Paul Libman/Dave Hudson musical at AFT. With songs like “Cherry Pit Spit” and “Summer in the Door” you can be sure the local flavor always so lovingly captured by Dave and Paul is in full abundance. While set in the here-and-now, Bing! is another classic-inspired work by this prolific creative team, as they loosely draw on Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchardfor inspiration. The acres of glorious orchards have been in the family for generations. With uncertainty looming, the survival of the family farm is in doubt. Selling could end so many worries, but also a way of life. Ruby Christiansen and her daughter Anna return to familiar friends and the home they love to face the past and determine their future. Arrive early for the nightlyCherry Pit Spit sponsored by Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market.
This production is sponsored by: The Cordon Family Foundation
Warren Gerds, Green Bay Press Gazette – June 30, 2011
American Folklore Theatre’s ‘Bing! The Cherry Musical’ a tasty show
FISH CREEK — On a perfect night of weather with a full house of happy vacationers of all ages, an American Folklore Theatre musical is idyllic.
This year’s new offering of Bing! The Cherry Musical is more cute than usual, but it is another charmer in a long line of shows created specifically for a summer Door County state of mind.
As in their past popular shows, creators Dave Hudson and Paul Libman slide in a bit of information. In Bing, audiences find out some of the nuts and bolts of what it takes to raise Door County’s famed cherries.
The tidbits are part of the story of a shopaholic woman trying to rescue her orchard from becoming a site of condominiums. Also part of the melodrama are two young people wrestling with a tattered romance.
That may sound bland in black and white, but in flesh-and-blood stage work, songs and humor, the result is entertaining and often downright perky.
Director/choreographer Pam Kriger’s cast is spirited. Raeleen McMillion, the only newcomer, is the orchard owner who is forced into a reality check. Doug Mancheski plays her steady manager, and Lee Becker is the money guy after her land. Chase Stoeger and Molly Rhode are a couple struggling with matters of the heart, and Pamela Niespodziani is their perpetually upbeat go-between.
The song “Bing” is especially colorful. First, Mancheski becomes a musician whose instrument is the women, who produce sounds when he touches their heads. Then, Mancheski orchestrates the audience to raise arms in unison and sing “Bing.”
“Spit the Pit” finds the cast romping with more visual and sound effects while spitting (make-believe) cherry pits into metal containers.
“Summer in the Door” is a celebration of the county’s highlights.
The show starts with a flashback of the young couple voicing lines from “It’s a Wonderful Life” by long-distance phone. The climax wraps matters up with “The Romantic Movies Song,” with quotes from favorite movies.
Folks leave happy, as usual.
Marty Lash, Door County Now – June 29, 2011
American Folklore Theatre stages a cherry delight with ‘BING’
After presenting a string of great new shows including Cheeseheads the Musical and their runaway hit Guys & DoesAFT has now come up with their funniest, freshest show, Bing, The Cherry Musical. Their other recent shows have been very good but this one promises to become an AFT classic.
The musical deals with the Christiansen family who owns a cherry orchard in Door County. Times are tough because of the economy and growing cherries is not what it used to be. A real estate speculator, Michael, wants to buy their vast orchard and build condominiums on the property. Michael, played by Lee Becker, offers them a lot of money but the family is sentimentally attached to the orchard and is having difficulty giving it up.
The family’s elder, Ruby, is a bright, cheerful woman who loves her orchard but also loves to shop. Her shopping addiction is one reason why the family has financial problems. Ruby is played by an AFT newcomer, Raeleen Mcmillion, who cheerfully sings about her shopping problem in a song entitled “Retail Therapy.”
While Ruby and her family are trying to figure things out, Ruby’s daughter Anna, as played by Molly Rhode, is having boyfriend problems. She once had a close relationship with a local guy Pete, played by Chase Stoeger. They are having an on-again, off-again relationship. At one time they had a strong connection through classic, romantic movies. They quote from their favorites including “Say Anything,” Sleepless In Seattle,” “It Happened One Night” and, of course, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” However, it seems that Pete is getting cold feet and tries to keep his distance from Anna. Even though he really loves these films and cares for Anna he becomes cold and uncaring.
This is all too much for their mutual friend Maggie who cannot stand seeing them apart. Maggie is a bit like Jane Austen’s character Emma. She is the consummate matchmaker. Maggie works hard to get them together and tries to help the couple work things out. She even manages to lock them together with a pair of handcuffs so they can sit down and talk things out.
Maggie, as played by Pamela Niespodziani steals the show. Her character is quirky, has strange clothing and cannot help keeping herself out everybody’s business. You always know what she is feeling. Niespodziani is very funny.
So what about the orchard? Ruby’s friend, Chuck, played by Doug Mancheski, is trying to help Ruby through the mess she has created. Yet, as fate would have it, they are forced to put the property up for auction. Its dark day in the Christiansen family but eventually things work out.
Along with AFT’s Muskie Love the show’s events take place in Door County. The setting gave its creators, Dave Hudson and Paul Libman, a lot to work with. It is filled with Door County references that will delight anybody who enjoys this part of the world.
There are a few songs that are hard to forget. I loved Niespodziani’s rendition of “Love Rocks.” The ensemble has fun with two great songs that celebrate Door County cherries: “Bing” and “Spit The Pit.” The lyrics that Hudson and Libman created are hilarious and very imaginative.
Don’t miss this one and be sure to get there early for the pre-show cherry pit- spitting contest.
Just the facts:
Bing, The Cherry Musical plays Mondays and Fridays at 8:00pm and Wednesdays at 6:00pm through August 26, American Folklore Theater, Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek. Reserved tickets are adults $25, teens $14 and children $11. General admission is $19 adults, $8 teens and $5 children.