- Traditions rule certain holidays.
We see it especially at Christmas with shows that have
sustained interest and drawn audiences over many years. The
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s “Nutcracker Suite,”
“The Milwaukee Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” and now a
frequent showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A
Christmas Story,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and
“Candy Canes and Christmas Carols” at various local
Tandem has also made its unique contribution to holiday
traditions in its production of “A Cudahy Caroler
Christmas,” now running for the seventh time.
locale has its flavor, and this show targets the “culture”
of Cudahy. Many allusions to beer, football, factories,
hunting, bowling, Polish sausage, and babushkas sprinkle the
landscape amid the caricatures of idiom, dress and dŽcor. As
long as people are not too sensitive about their territory and
customs and realize that there is always some truth in all
stereotypes, they can enjoy this affectionate satire by the
talented Anthony Wood, Lee Becker and Dylan Bolin.
Along with the somewhat bawdy humor and outlandish plot
twists are some very oxymoronic renditions of familiar
Christmas carols. The beautiful blending of music with the
hilariously doctored lyrics is quite the concoction.
plot is loosely held together by narrator Chris Flieller, who
as Stasch Zielinsky, is trying to pull together his motley
crew of singers to perform one last time on a cable TV
Christmas show. Stasch has been recently widowed and is at
odds with his old buddy Pee Wee Kaputish, who is separated
from his wife, Edna, who is angry at her daughter Nellie
because of her strange career aspirations. The other members
of this checkered entourage include Stasch’s son Zeke who is
obsessed with Nellie; Wanda, a sex-crazed beautician; Trixie,
a shy, stuttering librarian who uses alcohol as fortification;
and a blind, mentally impaired pianist named Myron. The only
time this group is harmonious is when they are singing.
new members joined the cast this year and meet the challenge
of following many stellar performers from the past. Samantha
Sostarich, last seen in “Pump Boys and the Dinettes,”
creates a memorable bumbling librarian, and Megan Kaminsky, a
newcomer in the role as Nellie, captures the character’s
wide-eyed romanticism as the hopeful water skier.
repeat performers include Joe Fransee, as the inimitable Zeke;
Nathan Wesselowski as PeeWee, the owner of the local bowling
alley who knocks us out with his soaring final number;
Kathleen Miller, who plays Wanda, the epitome of the sexy
broad; and Lisa Morris, Pee Wee’s
wife, who longs for a more sophisticated existence in
Whitefish Bay but can’t quite pull it off. And one can’t
forget David Bonofiglio, who plays Myron, and is responsible
for the musical direction and accompaniment and a lovely solo
of his own.
many of the clever 15 songs that are beautifully rendered, my
favorites remain “O Bowling Night,” “When I First Saw
Nell,” “We Tree Guys” and “Da Little Pin Setter
singing supersedes the acting, and the acting is superb.
Directed once more with love by Jane Flieller.
the stresses of Christmas preparation get to you, take time
out for some light, cultish fare at In Tandem Theatre.
Cudahy Caroler Christmas” runs through Jan. 5 at the In
Tandem Theatre, 628 N. 10th St., Milwaukee. For show times and
tickets, call 414-273-7206 or visit www.intandemtheatre.org