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'Packer Fans from Outer Space' Invades Marcus Center

Jun. 13, 2012
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The rare Wisconsinite who isn't an avid Green Bay Packers fan may be tempted to say that all of us enthusiastic football fans are from “outer space.” But in one wacky comedy, created by members of American Folklore Theatre, the Packers actually do have fans from faraway galaxies. In Packer Fans from Outer Space, a group of aliens (complete with springy antennae coming out of their heads) comes to Earth on a preposterous mission. Their earthly portal is an outhouse owned by Harvey Keister, a Packers fan and apple farmer who lives in the fictional town of Juddville, Wis.

Packer Fans from Outer Space
continues through July 22 at Vogel Hall in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. It is a family-friendly show designed to entertain both young and older audiences.

The musical is set in the early 1950s, years before women's liberation, and so Harvey and his wife, Marge, aren't so sure about their teenage daughter's passion for becoming a scientist. But Beth Mulkerron (as Peggy Keister) soon wins them over. What's more amazing in this family is that Marge is as die-hard a football fan for the Chicago Bears as Harvey is for the Packers.

Taken as a whole, the musical doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Some of the jokes are lame, and the dialogue in general isn't great. The intentionally cheesy sets don't help matters, either. Any way you slice this block of cheese, Packer Fans doesn't measure up to some of the company's other shows seen in Milwaukee, such as Guys on Ice and Guys and Does.

But none of that will matter one whit to many Green Bay Packers fans. They'll laugh—and perhaps even cheer—at the “go Pack”-themed show. And a few of the one-liners are very funny. The show's best line is delivered by an alien, when he recalls the time that their intergalactic foes, the Space Bears, boarded their rocket ships and tried to charge them for tolls.

The show would improve with some editing, as the two-hour performance is about 20 minutes too long.

Some of the city's most recognizable performers grace the cast, including Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Bill Theisen and veteran actor Norman Moses. Those who enjoyed last year's Church Basement Ladies also will see some familiar faces. Remember last year's church lady who kept jumping into the church cooler during her hot flashes? That's Rhonda Rae Busch, who plays Marge in this production.

Aside from the set, the show's production standards certainly aren't lacking. Norman Moses looks almost distinguished in his Vince Lombardi-type trench coat, glasses and fedora. But not knowing any better (because he is an alien), Moses' “space ensemble” includes a sparkly gold lame coat, a glittery green fedora, etc. Some of the earthlings also sport some hilarious getups. (Any hints would spoil the fun.) Finally, mention must be made of Jenny Wanasek's brisk direction, excellent lighting throughout, and also Connie S. Furlan's choreography, which adds pep to some otherwise languid show tunes. When the aliens turn into a doo-wop chorus during one of the songs, the result is awesome.

For ticket information, visit www.marcuscenter.org or call 414-273-7206.


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