GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – “Stuck in the Sixties” is the eighth time Daddy D Productions has put on a ’60s theme show, but the Green Bay entertainment group is nowhere near stuck in a rut. New material and new faces take care of that. Performances (4½ stars out of 5) of “Stuck in the Sixties” started Thursday, March 13, at the Riverside Ballroom and continue there through March 21, with an additional date March 29 at Fox Hills Resort in Mishicot.
The people at my table kidded that they wanted to read this review to find out whether they enjoyed the show. Hey, folks, you enjoyed the show quite a lot. The singing is often splashy, the costuming of the women flashy and the comedy sometimes outrageously funny. It’s a lively night out with a bundle of memorable songs, and more.
The company: Darren Johnson, Shelly Emmer, Doug Dachelet, Maria Sausen and Maddie Forrest, with Barb Hinnendael, keyboard; Bob Balsley, guitar; Woody Mankowski, saxophone and flute; Ryan Sette, bass; and Dan Collins, sound and lights.
The show opens with singers nailing songs (getting them right) one after another. It’s a nice sequence of blues and soul songs that sets the tone of quality for the rest of the show.
Darren Johnson and Daddy D Productions have a knack for finding young talent. New in this show is Maddie Forrest, a 17-year-old junior at Bay Port High School, who has a smooth, comfortable stage presence. Maria Sausen, a Green Bay Notre Dame Academy student, returns as a veteran. They add a youthful perspective, with familiar songs sung young – for instance, “Georgia” (Sausen) and “One Tin Soldier” (Forrest).
For this show, Woody Mankowski is aboard to wrapping his voice into blues/soul songs and apply moody shadings to many songs (his and others’) with his saxophone.
The beaming Shelly Emmer, booming Darren Johnson deliver the vocal goods all over the place, as usual. Doug Dachelet has outstanding performances in “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Town Without Pity,” to name just two of his featured songs.
Dachelet’s comedy routine as the Great Flydini is outrageously funny. Items magically appear from a part of his clothing referred to in his name. Darren Johnson’s routines range from clever to oh my goodness. But they’re fun.
Sound man Dan Collins’ use of soundtracks enhances the show, starting with the show opening John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what you’re country can do for you…”
There’s lots of good stuff in this production – the women being clothes horses, for instance – but I want to focus on three sequences.
One. A soundtrack for a Speedy Alka Seltzer commercial leads into a hilarious section with Doug Dachelet and Shelly Emmer dressed and bewigged as Sonny and Cher, who are under the weather. The hit song, “I Got You, Babe,” becomes “I Got Flu, Babe,” with all the lyrics fitting in with how bad off they are.
Two. Playing guitar and singing, Jeff Hinnendael’s take on Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are a-Changin’” takes on added meaning with sound bites from the era – Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream,” Walter Cronkite’s “Kennedy is dead” and Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The whole of the song is fabulous.
Three. Jeff Hinnendael is featured in the next song, “My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He plays and sings with a certain intensity, while Darren Johnson joins on guitar only at first and Bob Balsley lays soulful lines on a third guitar. Jeff Hinnendael ends at the drums, and Darren Johnson takes over the vocals and powers his voice to overdrive.
REST OF SEASON: “USO Tribute Show,” April 26; “Country Classics,” May 8-10; 15-16; “Broadway,” Aug. 8; “Radio Days (’40s, ’50s, ’60s),” Sept. 4-5,11-12; “Shake Rattle & Riverside (’50s),” Oct. 23-24;30-31 and Nov. 1; “A Christmas Carol,” Nov. 19-22; “Daddy D Christmas, Dec. 10-13 and (Stadium View), Dec. 17-20.
THE VENUE: This production was put on in a space to the north of the spacious Crystal Ballroom in the Riverside Ballroom, the 1936 Art Moderne building on Green Bay’s east side. Daddy D uses this space for its more intimate productions. A raised stage is put up in front of room dividers. Above is a low-slung acoustic-board ceiling, with a few Art Deco-type boxed light fixtures placed below the building’s trademark arched roof. Dinner seating is at tables of eight.
The Riverside as a whole brims with history, from the dance band stars of the ’30s and ’40s to a famed concert with rock ‘n’ roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Years ago, according to the Packers Heritage Trail plaque outside, the Green Bay Packers held some practices inside the ballroom. Isn’t the Packers lore great?
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