Home for the Holidays

Northern Sky Theater Home for the Holidays

2018 Concert Show
Our Last Time in the Town Hall
Featuring Jeff Herbst, Ryan Cappleman and Tom Donoghue

Fri, Dec. 28 at 7:00pm
Sat, Dec. 29 at 4:00pm
Sat, Dec. 29 at 7:00pm
Sun, Dec. 30 at 4:00pm
Mon, Dec. 31 at 4:00pm

Old Gibraltar Town Hall,
Fish Creek

Celebrating the season, Home for the Holidays will have five performances between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Reunite with Northern Sky favorite Jeff Herbst and his friends for an uplifting evening of intimate seasonal songs and delightful holiday humor!

Running time: One hour, 10 minutes    

The stars of Home for the Holidays 2018 took time out of their rehearsal to talk to Tim Kowols at WBDK radio about this year’s show and what makes the season so special. Listen below or click here!

“It all started as a opportunity to extend that holiday feeling beyond Christmas morning,” said Holly Feldman, Director of Public Relations, of the beginnings of Home for the Holidays. “So many people talk about the ‘let down’ that follows shortly after the ‘build up’ to the holiday season. Our Home for the Holidays concert has been very popular with folks who cherish the season of giving and don’t want to see it end on December 25th.”

Early evening performances of Home for the Holidays are scheduled for 4pm on December 29th, 30th and 31st plus 7pm on December 28th & 29th. Tickets for are $24 for adults and $14 for students age 17 and under. Advance tickets are available by calling (920) 854-6117, online, or by stopping in the Northern Sky office, which is located at the Green Gables Shops in North Ephraim. All seats are General Admission. Any remaining tickets will be sold at Gibraltar Town Hall beginning 45 minutes before each performance. As a special holiday treat, each show will also feature a drawing for gift certificates from local businesses.

“The concert is distinctive for how it touches familiar chords and yet explores the new and off-the-beaten track. Imagine buying a new pair of shoes that feel just right right away…There, you’ve got it.” – Warren Gerds, Critic at Large


2018 Cast

Jeff Herbst headshot 2016Jeff Herbst has been with Northern Sky since 1991 and became Artistic Director in 1993. He began his collaboration with the Heritage Ensemble, Northern Sky’s predecessor, in 1985 as part of the Governor Dodge State Park troupe and then migrated north to direct for the Peninsula State Park group in 1988 and 1989. He has worked on over sixty original productions with Northern Sky, including Guys on Ice, Lumberjacks in Love, Packer Fans from Outer Space, and Bone Dance. Jeff was instrumental in developing Northern Sky’s New Works Program and the Fred Alley New Musical Fund, nurturing writing teams in bringing an original work “from the page to the stage.” Jeff has an MFA in Acting from the Asolo Conservatory and has performed on and off Broadway, as well as at regional theaters throughout the United States. Jeff first appeared on the Gibraltar Town Hall stage in 1992 with Fred Alley and Karen Mal in the premiere Northern Sky fall season. He and Fred Alley were honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from their Alma Mater, Mt. Horeb High School, for their work in creating original musical theater.

Ryan Cappleman is a performer, choreographer, music director, and teaching artist based in Milwaukee. He is delighted to return to Northern Sky after music directing Guys & Does and appearing as the Space Bear General in the Milwaukee cast of Packer Fans From Outer Space. He just finished Billy Bishop Goes to War at TAP, and choreographing Hairspray at the Skylight Music Theatre, where he is the Resident Education Music Director. Favorite credits include the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, Pooh Bah in The Hot Mikado, Woof in Hair (Skylight), Balladeer/Oswald in Assassins (Windfall Theater), and Jake in Waiting…a Song Cycle Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater. He is a two time Footlights Award Winner for Outstanding Choreography (Sweeney Todd and Pirates of Penzance) and has a shelf full of Jerry Awards (celebrating excellence in High School level musical theater) for Outstanding Choreography, Music Direction, and Direction. Catch him dancing in Danceworks’ Torch and Glamour this February! Happy holidays!

Tom DonoghueTom Donoghue resides in New York City, where he currently produces benefit concerts while continuing to write songs, screenplays and musicals. His favorite was producing Aretha Franklin in Concert in New York. He and Jeff Herbst worked together in their early careers in New York, first appearing together in an original Off-Broadway show. Tom went on to play Marius in Les Miserables on Broadway and on the Broadway National Tour. He toured with Michael Crawford as a featured singer in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at Radio City Music Hall and on the national/international tour. Regionally, he starred in Big River, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 1776, and othersHe appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and, recently, sang the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for the Eastern Division Basketball Finals. Tom is a singer/songwriter and recorded for Clive Davis and J Records.  Tom’s musical, The Next Big Thing, was developed at Signature Theater, with selections performed in a concert at The Kennedy Center. He dedicates his performance to his beloved mother, stepfather and stepmother, all of whom passed away this year.


Performance History

Performers by Year

2018 – Jeff Herbst, Ryan Cappleman & Tom Donoghue

2017 – Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon

2016 – Eric Lewis, Doc Heide & Holly Feldman

2015 – Doc Heide, Amy Chaffee & Craig Konowalski

2014 – Molly Rhode & Chase Stoeger, Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon

2013 – The Rhode Sisters

2012 – Doc Heide, Claudia Russell & Chris Irwin

2011 – Katie Dahl, James Valcq & Karen Mal

2010 – Eric Lewis, Doc Heide & Holly Feldman

2009 – Eric Lewis & Doc Heide (guest Holly Feldman)

2008 – Eric Lewis & Chris Irwin

2007 & 2006 – Scott Wakefield & Claudia Russell




‘Home for the Holidays’ again engaging in Fish Creek

Warren Gerds – December 28, 2017

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – In the final week of each year, Northern Sky Theater puts on a performance titled “Home for the Holidays” in Old Gibraltar Town Hall. The title and the place stay the same. The cast changes from year to year. Songs change from year to year. The overall tone of warmth and camaraderie stays the same. Performances tend to feel homey and relaxed.

And so it is with the 2017 edition of “Home for the Holidays,” which opened Wednesday to a sold-out house and will close Sunday, Dec. 31, to a sold-out house – and has lots of folks coming in between.

Performing in this show are three skilled and sensitized musicians who this year presented an album-release concert of songs by Northern Sky Theater co-founder Fred Alley – Katie Dahl, Eric Lewis and Rich Higdon. Two of Alley’s song are in this concert. One, “Solid Ground,” contains the line, “I’ll leave my song for you to carry on.” Prescient? It sure seems that way with this threesome.

The concert has a certain spirit.

It also pushes the envelope. One sequence Wednesday held the audience breathless because of this: Eric Lewis is a string instrument whiz. He is playing mandolin. Also playing mandolins are Rich Higdon and Katie Dahl – though the instrument for them is a second or third language. Higdon and Dahl are trying to keep up with Eric Lewis’ lead on tunes everybody knows, starting with “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Little plinks in dinks pop up in their playing as Eric Lewis steams on, but a chorus emerges… the playing is intent (as in firm resolve)… the listening is intense… and the effort and result become golden/wonderful.

Katie Dahl, guitar, mandolin, vocals; Rich Higdon, bass, ukulele, percussion, mandolin, vocals; Eric Lewis, guitars, mandolin, vocals

Musical selections

“Listen to the Angels” – Katie Dahl

“There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” – Eric Lewis

“Angel Dream” – Eric Lewis

“Lombardi Avenue” (Katie Dahl) – Katie Dahl

“Jingle Bells” – Eric Lewis, mandolin, Rich Higdon, spoons

“Solid Ground” (Fred Alley) – Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl

“Christmas in the Trenches” (John McCutcheon) – Katie Dahl

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”/“Ode to Joy”/“Angels We Have Heard on High” – mandolin trio: Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon

“Don’t Go Down to Aurora” (Fred Alley) – Katie Dahl

Guitar solo (Eric Lewis) – Eric Lewis

“It Wasn’t His Child” (Skip Ewing) – Eric Lewis

“How’d You Like to Spend Christmas on Christmas Island” – Rich Higdon, ukulele, vocals, Eric Lewis, guitar

“Here Comes Santa Claus” – Katie Dahl; Eric Lewis, mandolin

“In the Dark” (Katie Dahl) – Katie Dahl

“Where is the Light”/“This Little Light of Mine” – Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon, Eric Lewis


‘Home for the Holidays’ sifts, winnows

Warren Gerds – December 28, 2016

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Doc Heide is an inquisitive sort. He got to wondering how far the Three Wise Men of The Christmas Story traveled. Some scholars say Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar – “sounds like a Palestinian law firm,” Heide says – started in Persia. Some say they started in Yemen. To travel to Bethlehem, they would have traveled either 1,700 or 1,300 miles, respectively. Either way, by camel, “it was a really big deal,” Heide says. Their directions weren’t exactly pinpoint: Under a bright star.

This is part of the lead-in to “Follow That Star,” a song Heide wrote for Northern Sky Theater’s 2016 edition of “Home for the Holidays,” a five-performance concert running through Saturday, Dec. 31, in Old Gibraltar Town Hall.

Doc Heide being a creative sort, “Follow That Star” is not a toss-off ditty. Its words explore the perspective of the Three Wise Men. The music involves Heide in lead with colorings all the way through by colleague Holly Feldman, and at the very end added touches by Eric Lewis; to Heide’s guitar lead, Lewis comes in on mandolin to complete a musical illustration of care and reverence.

The stamp of Northern Sky Theater means something, and the first performance of “Home for the Holidays” attracted a sold-out house. The concert is distinctive for how it touches familiar chords and yet explores the new and off-the-beaten track. Imagine buying a new pair of shoes that feel just right right away…There, you’ve got it.

The concert comes with doses of reverence and irreverence.

Reverence: Songs from old spirituals (“Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain”) to those of new and/or different perspectives, including Heide’s “Follow That Star” (tale of Wise Men) and “Stranger Keep on Walking” (of stable owner) and Lewis’ offering of “It Wasn’t His Child” (of Joseph).

Irreverence: A tease of clashing family opinions at holiday gatherings set to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and a lampoon of our next U.S. president with “Tweeting in a Donald Trumperland” set to “Winter Wonderland.” Advice in the latter: “When speaking your mind, it’s best to be kind.”

The performers’ personalities come out. Feldman ranges from light-hearted in tunes with her first name somewhere in them to motherly concern in Katie Dahl’s “In the Dark.” Lewis is a musician whiz with a flair for fun, as in the catchy “I Love the Packers,” told from the perspective of a fan from Tennessee, as he. Heide is a font of creativity, as one would expect of a co-founder of Northern Sky Theater who in his real life in teaching/research deals with matters of the mind. Performing is but a playroom in his house.

The show comes with giveaway prizes. Audience members have to answer multiple-choice questions on the same premise: Which one of these was not a Northern Sky Theater show? The answers are so easy that even I could get them.

Performers: Holly Feldman, vocals, percussion; Doc Heide, vocals, guitars; Eric Lewis, vocals, mandolin, guitar

Musical selections

“Mary Did You Know?” – mandolin-guitar instrumental

“Wasn’t That a Pity and a Shame” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman

“Run, Run Rudolph” – Eric Lewis

Bob Gibson/Joan Baez’ “Virgin Mary Had One Son” – Holly Feldman, Doc Heide

Doc Heide’s “Follow That Star” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman

Eric Lewis’ “Off to Lambeau”/“Jimmy Ryan’s” – Eric Lewis mandolin instrumental

Songs with “Holly” in lyrics – Holly Feldman

“Home for the Holidays” – Eric Lewis

“Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman

Doc Heide’s “The Girl with Winter in Her Eye” – Doc Heide

Skip Ewing’s “It Wasn’t His Child” – Eric Lewis voice-guitar solo

“Winter Wonderland” a spark for parody – All

Katie Dahl’s “In the Dark” – Holly Feldman

Eric Lewis’ “I Love the Packers” – Eric Lewis, then audience

Doc Heide’s “Love Our Enemies” from “Packer Fans from Outer Space” – Doc Heide

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” as spark for parody – All

Doc Heide’s “Stranger Keep on Walking” – Doc Heide

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” – All

Encore; “This Little Light of Mine” – All


‘Home for the Holidays’ is living history

Warren Gerds – December 27, 2014

FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Music and history and memories and holidays and musicality and marital bonds and a Door County aura are rolled into one in “Home for the Holidays,” a year-ending and era-ending concert running through New Year’s Eve at Old Gibraltar Town Hall.

“We are so proud to be the last show under the moniker of American Folklore Theatre,” performer Molly Rhode told the opening night audience Friday. Throughout the performance, Rhode said (often), “American Folklore Theatre (or AFT), soon to be Northern Sky Theater,” in keeping with the name change that “most sincerely” takes place Thursday, Jan. 1. (One of my article/columns on the change is at http://www.wearegreenbay.com/story/d/story/critic-at-large/35030/-9lniqtYoUi9jwL55ysg0w. The “most sincerely is lifted from the Coroner in “The Wizard of Oz.”)

In its simplest form, “Home for the Holidays” is a folk music-driven show. Performing are four people who are well versed in the genre – Katie Dahl and Rich Higdon (who are married – “To each other,” Dahl noted) and Molly Rhode and Chase Stoeger (who are married). Performing this music to them is akin to water pouring off a roof in a healthy rain – very natural and flowing. Along with vocals, the four tap into a bunch of instruments necessary for their excursion – washboard, upright bass (sometimes two at once), spoons, bells (as in jingle bells), guitars, ukuleles (sometimes four at once!), concertina, shaker/rhythm-sound-making thingie, harmonica, kazoos, mouth harp, mandolin and banjo. My only wish is that Dahl wouldn’t stand so close to her microphone because it masks her mouth and makes some of the lyrics of songs (some of which she wrote) less clear.

The first performance started hot from the performers and the crowd; the hall, set up for 99 seats, was full. It was as if the audience was hungry – a turn-on for entertainers.

The 2014 edition of “Home for the Holidays” is easy to savor. Songs and sections segue to tantalizing cross references. A prime example: “I May Not Be a Football Hero” starts as a slightly risqué tune by the guys that evolves into a four-ukulele ditty/homage to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Packers heroes (even Brett Favre) with Dahl singing of Rodgers, “he helps me R-E-L-A-X.”

The show includes references to the late, great Fred Alley, co-founder of American Folklore Theatre and writer and performer with a supreme tenor voice. His songs in the show illustrate his range from sensitivity to all-out, fired-up rhythmic imagination. To me, it is no accident that the show draws to a close with the performance of his gentle “Beneath the Northern Sky” (source of the troupe’s new Northern Sky Theater name) followed by “Auld Lang Syne.”

VENUE: Old Gibraltar Town Hall, built around 1880, is dominated by white on its exterior and interior. The building near the shore of Fish Creek Harbor in Fish Creek was restored as a project of Gibraltar Historical Association. Among its functions, the rectangular hall is a performance space, with a raised stage that includes an optional stage curtain. The space is historical for American Folklore Theatre as the site of its first fall production, “And If Elected” in 1992, and now as the site for its final production under the name of American Folklore Theatre as the organization officially becomes Northern Sky Theater on Jan. 1, 2015. The fiber board ceiling and wood walls are plain save for historical photos on the walls and wainscoting rimming the lower walls. The floor is of narrow wood strips. The space works quite well for folky performances.