Hell’s Belgians | Northern Sky Theater

Book and Lyrics by
Frederick Heide & Lee Becker
Music by Frederick Heide & James Kaplan

Hell’s Belgians is the long-awaited prequel to the much beloved musical comedy Belgians in Heaven, which has sold over 70,000 tickets and earned a passionate return audience. This hilarious and uplifting show brings back bumbling Belgian brothers, Roger and Leo, who square off in a bedeviled bowling contest, as their wannabe guardian angel, Angelique, contends with the funny forces of Farming Hell. Plus, see the diabolical origin of Mildred, the talking chicken!

Fun for all ages, Hell’s Belgians is an absolute must-see for fans of Belgians in Heaven, while also being completely understandable to anyone who has yet to see the original Northern Sky cult classic. Thank heaven the outdoor season schedule allows audience members to see both shows on the same night in either order

Show Sponsors: Door County Medical Center, Parkwood Lodge, Wulf Brothers
Season Sponsors: The Cordon Family Foundation, Tony & Judy Licata

Produced in 2024


Henry, a hired hand - Jeff Herbst*

Leo Dewarzeger, a farmer - Doug Mancheski*

Roger Dewarzeger, another farmer - Frederick Heide

Angelique/Smirch - Karen Mal

Farmageddon - Kelly Doherty*

Mildred, a chicken - Lee Becker*

Dreck, an imp - Lee Becker*

Various Otherworldly Voices - Lee Becker*

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


From Heaven to Hell: The legacy of Northern Sky’s Belgians 

By  Peninsula Pulse – 

After a showing of Belgians in Heaven, Northern Sky Theater co-founder and playwright Fred “Doc” Heide had an unusual encounter. A woman with terminal cancer approached him, explaining she had been afraid of dying, but his play would allow her to pass away in peace. 

“It’s an amazing privilege,” Heide said. “That’s what you’re hoping will happen.”

Heide said this moment legitimized his career and became an incentive for a continuation of Belgians in Heaven. 

That continuation was Hell’s Belgians, a prequel to the original play. The story followed Angelique, a guardian angel from the original show, and her contention with evil forces as she watched over two brothers, Roger and Leo. 

As dusk fell at the Northern Sky’s Peninsula State Park Amphitheater on June 17, both Belgians plays were performed back-to-back. It was Northern Sky’s first two-show day and the premiere of the prequel. 

Belgians in Heaven was a therapeutic outlet for Heide, who himself has faced a fatal disorder in the past, and whose mother, at the time, was dying of cancer. He said the play allowed him to contemplate life’s meaning.

“It gave me a very existential perspective for a while,” he said. 

After its production in 1994, Belgians in Heaven became highly-acclaimed among Northern Sky’s musical comedies, said Heide. With the creation of the prequel, Heide and co-playwright, Lee Becker, incorporated more of the characters that audiences adored, including Angelique and the chicken, Mildred.

Heide and Becker’s writing process spanned 15 years, with a majority of their creative genius thrashed out on hiking trails. 

“We’ve put on many miles in many beautiful places as we’ve written our shows,” Becker said.

Throughout their writing process, they sought to personalize their script. For example, the quirky role of Angelique is designed to be played by Northern Sky music director, Karen Mal. Becker said they also slipped in a reference with the bowling alley’s name, “Fred’s Alley,” as a tribute to their friend Fred Alley – the curator of American Folklore Theatre, who passed away unexpectedly in 2001 while out for a run in Door County. 

Once the script was written, the actors and playwrights fine-tuned it.

“The actors who are in the skin of most characters often have more organic responses in the moment, and [it] helps us see things that [we] were oblivious to, not being in that role,” Becker said. 

Mal said this relationship is a metaphor for what Door County is – a tight-knit community.

“It’s a perfect marriage between the theater company and the land that we love and inhabit,” Mal said. 

Heide credits the Door County community for making the two original plays possible, which together form a full-length Broadway musical.

The final product is a musical that grandparents saw when they were little, and 30 years later, their kids and grandkids are able to see with its four original cast members and the addition of a prequel, said Becker. 

“We feel so incredibly blessed,” Heide said. “It feels like a dream come true is quite the way to describe it.” 

For more information on Northern Sky’s showings of both musicals, visit northernskytheater.com.