Book, Music & Lyrics by
Fall 2019 World Premiere
A musical comedy celebrating family, folly and football.
Which of Frank’s three daughters will inherit his treasured season tickets? The Kosinski sisters employ every trick in the playbook. From kick off to the final Hail Mary, it’s anyone’s game. To reach the end zone, our home team must first relearn that family isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.
MATT ZEMBROWSKI (Composer-Playwright–Lyricist)
In 2016, Matt’s lifelong dream of having a musical produced by Northern Sky Theater came true when his show Doctor! Doctor! spent the summer on the Peninsula Park stage. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Matt attended Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay where his love of performing was born. He later received a degree in theater from UW-Milwaukee. In 2009, Matt wrote music for and performed in Sunsets and S’mores for AFT/Northern Sky, joining his “little” brother Zach, who was a member of the technical staff that summer. Currently, Matt lives with his wife Lori and cat Tom-Tom in West Allis, where he continues to write and tell stories.
Frank Kosinski (Lifelong Packer fan and season ticket holder)………………..Ray Jivoff*
Rhonda Kafura (Frank’s eldest daughter, doesn’t understand football)………………..Kelly Doherty
Gabby Nimwitz (Frank’s middle daughter, as big a fan as her father)………………..Anna Cline
Cordy Kosinski (Frank’s youngest daughter, family peacekeeper)………………..Jamie Mercado
Ralph Kafura (Rhonda’s Packer-loving husband)………………..Doug Mancheski*
Edgar Nimwitz (Gabby’s husband, mild-mannered English professor)………………..Chase Stoeger
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Dad’s Season Tickets Charms Sports Fans and Non-Fans Alike
by Andrew Kleidon, Peninsula Pulse Newspaper – October 3, 2019
I don’t like sports. I like theatre. Seeing theatre about sports is weird for me, but I was very excited to take in a show at Northern Sky’s brand-new, indoor Gould Theater. And, despite my initial reservations as a Minnesota-born Wisconsin transplant about seeing a show based on Packer fanatics – and my Minnesota heritage was crucial to my viewing of the performance, but I’ll say more about that later – Dad’s Season Tickets absolutely thrilled me by its finale.
I have a background in theatre, so I’m critical of every show I see. I can’t help it. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to lower my guard and immerse me in a production. I’m a sucker for effort and honesty, and the small ensemble cast of Dad’s Season Tickets really lays on the charm.
The best farces feature honest characters. Absurd, yes, but honest, and each member of the Kosinski family is portrayed skillfully in a way that is at times completely off the wall, but the portrayals are always rooted in sincerity as the characters try to become the heir to Dad’s season tickets – you know, like the name of the show? I’m told those are a big deal for Packer fans.
Matt Zembrowski’s music was incredibly fun and varied throughout, with numbers bouncing around among a lot of genres. The melodies were simple, which made them all the more catchy, but Zembrowski has an ear for harmony that adds a lot of flavor to each piece, and each was executed wonderfully by a cast with some major pipes.
I was really thrilled by Northern Sky’s new indoor home base, the Gould Theater, and how it provides a venue that’s totally modern, yet brings the outdoors inside in a way that makes it seem rustic and as though it belongs. The new theater affords Northern Sky plenty of new and exciting technical opportunities – in this case, using a fully loaded lighting grid to break the set into different worlds as the characters moved from their homes to Lambeau Field and back again. The ramps leading off stage are built seamlessly into the proscenium, which extends the already ample playing space quite far to the sides.
Remember how I said I was Minnesota born? Well, I grew up around Vikings fans, and let me just say that the rivalry between the Vikings and the Packers is a much bigger deal in Cheese Country than it is in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. One of the characters in Dad’s Season Tickets is a secret Vikings fan (I won’t say who though it’s pretty obvious from the individual’s first appearance on stage), and though this person is the butt of many jokes throughout, the musical number that brings this individual’s Vikings fandom to a climax in the second act steals the show.
Dad’s Season Tickets is a charming story about family. Yeah, it’s about the Packers in a lot of ways, and if you find yourself saying, “Go, Pack!” instead of “Goodbye” every football season, you’re going to be rolling the entire show. If you’re more tempered in your love of football, or, God forbid, not a sports fan at all (like me, but don’t tell anyone because this is Packer Land), absolutely still take in a production of Dad’s Season Tickets. The energy on stage is contagious.
‘Dad’s Season Tickets’ is a winner-plus in Fish Creek
Warren Gerds/Critic at Large – September 10, 2019
FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) –
Special sports franchise. Special season. Special theatrical company. Special musical. World premiere. New, specially designed theater.
A whole lot of happy wallowing is to be had surrounding the show “Dad’s Season Tickets” taking place for the next six weeks.
The musical is a terrific introduction to the new Barbara and Spencer Gould Theater on the new (with added touches continuing) Northern Sky Theater Creative Center on a wooded, 40-acre site outside of Fish Creek.
“Dad’s Season Tickets” celebrates Green Bay Packers fandom. The show is certainly Go Pack Go, but it is much more as a full-bodied story about family and feuding and frustrations.
“Dad’s Season Tickets” revels in the stuff that the outside world considers corny about Packers fans but people here who live the aura know it is warmly real and ours. What’s more, the show delves the difficulties of one family that is like most families. Everybody’s different, you know?
Right away, there’s tenderness. Frank, the father, speaks to a photograph on the living room wall. The photo is of his wife, gone three years now. Frank is just climbing out of mourning.
Action starts as Frank’s family gathers – three daughters and two sons-in-law – to enjoy watching a Packers game as the team heads for the playoffs in late 1996 behind Brett Favre and Reggie White. It’s a festive day, with Packers do-dads all over the living room and Christmas tree. The family holds ritual good-luck ceremony that includes a unison rhymed chant with a bobble-head doll, Little Bart (an homage to Bart Starr).
Frank – Dad – drops a shoe when he tells the kids he has scheduled an appointment to set up his will. That means someone will inherit his Packers season tickets, which can only be held by one person.
Immediately, one daughter claims the tickets. It was very interesting to experience the reaction of the audience at the performance I attended Monday: DEAD SILENCE – like holy cow, THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT – and how dare she?
Season tickets and how they are passed on are something of legend and mystique about the Packers, and “Dad’s Season Tickets” cleverly taps into that feeling of “holy grail” (the phrase is used in the show).
What creator Matt Zembrowski of West Allis does is a feat – writing the book, music and lyrics. Along with capturing the Green and Gold Forever feeling, Matt Zembrowski slips in understanding of classical literature, quandaries of sibling rivalry and hormonal bonks of pregnancy. One of my favorite parts is how one character is trusted for listening to both sides, for searching for truth, for telling a story on a path to being a journalist. I like how Matt Zembrowski makes journalism important.
Directors Jeff Herbst and Molly Rhode and their excellent cast leap into the buffet that Matt Zembrowski has laid before them.
Side note: This “buffet” includes game-day snacks such as bacon-wrapped cheese curds, spicy tuna nachos and… and… oh, my aching gut.
The characters and players are delicious.
Ray Jivoff is Frank, the father. He recalls going to his first Packers game as a child with his father, who worked for 38 years at Fort Howard paper mill. Frank loved/loves his wife dearly. He loves his children, but are they a pain right now. He lets loose a lament, “Why Did I Ever Have Children?” Still, Frank connects with each child and the two husbands. Nice guy. Regular guy.
Jamie Mercado is Cordy (Cordelia), who is still as home as she finishes high school. Universities are beckoning her – Northwestern, Michigan State, NYU, Alaska – and she will be moving on. Cordy is caught in the middle between sisters who have not seen eye to eye for her lifetime. She sings of them with sweet melancholy in “Two Sides to Every Story.”
Kelly Doherty portrays the eldest daughter, Rhonda. Rhonda likes to cook. She hasn’t been much on football, though she enjoys family get-togethers to watch Packers games. A line in one of Frank’s songs is, “Thank goodness for the Packers, who helped us put our troubles away.” Often, though, Rhonda throws imaginary knives at the next sister in line.
Anna Cline portrays Gabby, the middle sister. Having gone to Packers home games with her father from childhood on, Gabby has green and gold running through her veins. Gabby is seven-plus months pregnant, leading to all sorts of side action for her character. Anna Cline plays up the infamous pregnancy quirks colorfully – the snippy tongue, the mutant-food munchies, the duck waddle. Anna Cline breathes fire when Gabby lets loose on her husband in “You Think You Know a Person.”
Chase Stoeger portrays Gabby’s husband, Edgar. Along with playing with the fire of Gabby’s pregnancy, Edgar is notable when he walks in the door wearing a purple coat and for his elevated quotations as an English teacher. A pithy one: “Things done well and with care exempt themselves from fear.”
Doug Mancheski portrays Rhonda’s husband, Ralph. Like Edgar, Ralph is a guy who loves his wife. On game days, Ralph wears the No. 7 jersey of Don Majkowski – “Majik” was his nickname for his magic touch. Ralph has worn the jersey since Majik was injured and replaced by Brett Favre (I attended that game with my daughter!) four years earlier in the story, Sept. 20, 1992. Ralph and Rhonda are part of a great song – a showstopper, “Football is Like Love” – about teaching the rules of football to a novice. The song is full of comic lessons and playful information. Doug Mancheski also unleashes a nifty word/body-action riff that Monday brought the house down, prompting a spontaneous strut by the master of mirth.
All this is done with a live orchestra, playing in the upper reaches of what is sometimes Lambeau Field in the story. Everything melds – the singing, the music, the flow.
In this show, nobody is stupid. Nobody is an oaf. Even in the farcical sections, nobody is a fool – just people with differences and misunderstandings.
This is a fabulous show that none other than Northern Sky Theater can do with the same meaning, heart and humor.
VENUE: Barbara and Spencer Gould Theater is located in the Northern Sky Theater Creative Center, 9058 Door County Road A near Fish Creek. The 248-seat theater carries two themes – wooded Wisconsin and a carryover of Northern Sky Theater’s summer home in Peninsula State Park Amphitheater. Height factors in. As do tall pine trees in and around the stage of the amphitheater, the knotty pine wall to the audience’s left reaches three stories. To the right, the woodsy outside is brought in through 28-foot high windows (in two sections) that are shuttered by huge wood shutters during performances. Color schemes are gray and taupe – gray in the seat cushions and aisle carpeting and taupe in the wooden seat backs and arms, with the wood walls, stage front and shutters finished to taupe. The stage curtain is midnight blue, as are acoustical clouds on the ceiling. The stage floor is unique to the region, arcing in from the rear of the theater along the side walls to the front. In the shoulders of the main stage, space is open for scenes to take place (with set pieces) in addition to action on the main stage. The space was designed by Peter Tan of the Madison-based Strang, Inc.
THE PEOPLE: Barbara and Spencer Gould are longtime Door County philanthropists. They have been residents since 1988, after years of residing in St. Louis and being summer residents.
Contact email@example.com. Watch for on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.
‘Dad’s Season Tickets’ at Northern Sky’s New Gould Theater in Fish Creek
by Blaine Schultz – Sep. 02, 2019
There is a mystique about the Green Bay Packers. Something that is difficult to explain to folks outside Wisconsin. Where else would you find such a scheduling note: Featuring a Green Bay Packers friendly schedule with no Sunday shows and 3 p.m. matinées on weeknight games.
Around these parts, Packers tickets are worth their weight in (green and) gold; Dad’s Season Tickets, which opened Saturday, Aug. 31, at Northern Sky Theater’s new Gould Theater, tells the story of a family’s bond and the role of the tickets.
In this play written by West Allis playwright Matt Zembrowski and directed by Jeffrey Herbst and Molly Rhode, we learn that, decades ago, Mom broke her ankle (or foot, depending on whose version of familial history you choose). Rhonda (Kelly Doherty, last seen as the scene-stealing gangster in Skylight’s Kiss Me Kate), the eldest daughter, stayed home to help Mom in the kitchen. She is not the football type. Gabby (Anna Cline) went to the Packers game with Frank, their Dad (Ray Jivoff), thus cementing the daughters’ roles in the family dynamic.
Frank has attended every home game since his Dad got season tickets in the pre-Lambeau days, when the Packers played at East High School. In fact, his first date with his now-deceased wife was a Packers game, and they went to all the home games together. He still talks to her portrait hung in the living room of the house he shares with his youngest daughter, Cordy (Jamie Mercado).
But there is a problem: The family does not talk. The oldest sisters are at odds, and Cordy just wants to graduate high school and go to college as far away as she can. When Mom was alive, game day was the only time when everyone got along.
This underlying touch of Eugene O’Neill is balanced with a handful of tunes that range from downright hokey to deftly cultural and Packers references to the historic 1996 season. (It really is hard to beat actors in referee uniforms singing backup parts and a song like “What Do You Do with a Bye Week?”)
The fulcrum, suddenly, is Frank announcing to his kids that he is scheduling a visit with an attorney to set up his will, which, of course, means who will get the tickets. The running gag of reasons why the attorney needs to keep rescheduling is paced by the updates of all the colleges Cordy gets accepted to attend.
In a pair of Packers-centric subplots, Gabby’s English professor husband gets outed for his allegiance to a rival NFL team, while Rhonda is convinced her husband only loves her for the chance to get access to the tickets. (“I know a guy whose spot on the Packers tickets waiting list was willed to son.”)
Substituting a scoreboard for a Greek chorus, the season ramps up to the playoffs with Cordy emerging as the voice of reason. Her plan to find out the cause of her sisters’ rift digs into coveted halftime snack recipes and family artifacts stashed in the attic, including a menu from Marc’s Big Boy.
After a playoff game day argument, Frank is fed up and goes to the game alone. “Why Did I Ever Have Children,” his tune sung from the bleachers, includes a play-by-play commentator that is an homage to Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.”
When a very pregnant Gabby goes into labor (the baby’s name will make sense many years later) and can’t go to the game, Cordy volunteers. She has a heart-to-heart with her Dad at Lambeau that sets a plan in motion to tie up the family’s loose ends.
And we all know how Super Bowl XXXI ended.