When Pigs Fly! | Northern Sky Theater
When Pigs Fly logo

Created by Frederick Heide & Lee Becker
New Music by Frederick Heide
Arrangements by David Peterson & Frederick Heide

The hilarious and heart-warming story of Bob and Dottie Dumkee.

Colorful Door County characters tell hilarious stories and sing uplifting songs, all while seeking help from a local saint to find romance, win a pie contest, and lift the curse on the family farm. With the wit and warmth of A Prairie Home Companion, the show brims with nonstop laughs, rich harmonies, and instrumental fireworks from an award-winning multi-instrumentalist. Will you find a funnier, more heartwarming show this fall? When pigs fly! 

A heart-warming celebration of traditional American humor and harmony, featuring Northern Sky veterans Doc Heide and Lee Becker (Belgians in Heaven, Packer Fans from Outer Space), Amy Chaffee (co-star on Desperate Housewives, Judging AmyThe Young and the Restless, AMC’s Interview with the Vampire, etc.) and the instrumental fireworks of Door County legend Eric Lewis!

“Four stars out of four! Just plain down-home fun. Beautiful harmonies and nifty instrumentalizing. Brimming with local character and color. Clever, light, tender, comical, knowing, and earthy!” – Warren Gerds, Critic-at-Large

“Amy Chaffee is wonderful—a perfect match in song and acting for anything she’s called on.  Her radiance gives the show a special dimension.” – Warren Gerds, Critic-at-Large

Showing: September 15 – October 21, 2023
Monday through Friday at 7:00pm*
Saturday at 2:00pm & 7:00pm
*Packer-friendly shows 9/28 & 10/9 at 2:00pm
At the Gould Theater

Sponsored by: Wisconsin Public Radio | Season Sponsors: Door County Medical Center, The Cordon Family Foundation, Tony & Judy Licata

About the Writers
Cast of Characters
Designers, Directors & More

About the Writers

Playwright & Composer
This summer Doc celebrates 50 years on the Peninsula State Park stage. He first appeared here in 1973 in Northern Sky’s predecessor troupe, The Heritage Ensemble. For the next half-century, he returned in summers from Pennsylvania and California to sing under the stars in his home state of Wisconsin. Doc has authored or co-authored almost two dozen musicals including Guys & Does, When Pigs Fly!, Packer Fans from Outer Space, Belgians in Heaven, and several with Second City founding director Paul Sills. Doc has released three CD’s and a songbook (2022’s Tangled in Wonder) and published in lots of dense professional journals with imposing titles. His award-winning research on relaxation-induced anxiety has been heavily cited for 40 years and even generated a colloquial term (“stresslaxation”). Retiring from full-time teaching in 2020, Doc is Professor Emeritus at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University and teaches improv (with Lee Becker) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He now premieres his newest songs for Bailey, his darling 2-year-old granddaughter.

Since 1994, Lee has appeared in 15 world premieres and over 50 productions for this remarkable company. Favorite roles include Mildred the Chicken, Dirty Bob, DNR Doug, Ernie the Moocher, and Duane Puddles. In addition to Guys & Does and When Pigs Fly!, Lee and Doc collaborated on Packer Fans from Outer Space, Ya! Ya! You Betcha!, Sunsets & S’mores, Northwoods Nightcap, Belgians In Heaven and its nearly completed prequel, Hell’s Belgians. Lee was a founding member of Door Shakespeare, improvised with ComedySportz in Wisconsin and NYC, and performed with Milwaukee’s First Stage Children’s Theater, where he co-wrote the musical, Anatole: Mouse Magnifique. Lee is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, Dramatists Guild of America, Inc, and his family, with his amazing wife, Sara, and their phenomenal 10 year old, Wilbur.

Cast of Characters


Bob Dumkee: Doc Heide
Dottie Dumkee & Saint Diligencia:
Amy Chaffee*
Wilbur Schlump:
Lee Becker*
Humphrey Dumkee:
Eric Lewis

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

Designers, Directors & More

When Pigs Fly! 2023 Creative Team

Director: Jeff Herbst

Stage Manager: Shawn Galligan*

Asst. Stage Manager: Heather Sopel

Costume Designer: Shima Orans

Lighting & Sound Designer: David Alley

Scenic & Props Designer: Lisa Schlenker**

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
**Member of United Scenic Artists Local 829


It's a sneaky show, hilarious one moment, deeply emotional the next

by Heidi Hodges - October 17, 2023

It’s a sneaky show. On the surface, it feels light. Fun. A little silly and quite funny at times.But then, when you aren’t expecting it, there’s a rush of emotion. It will catch you unaware.

What’s sneaky about it? Interestingly, that emotional response does not necessarily come from something obvious happening on stage. It comes from within. Almost like a guided meditation.

It’s brilliant. Subtle, profound, and lasting. You walk out humming the last song from the show, and feeling…is it gratitude? It’s something warm and good.

“When Pigs Fly,” Northern Sky Theater’s autumn show at the indoor Gould Theater in Fish Creek, has been selling out houses since it opened in September of 2023. And for good reason. One minute you are laughing out loud about an improbable situation or a very unexpected, clever joke. And the next, you are wiping a tear you feel streaming down your cheek, it summoned by a song that strikes deep.

On the surface, Dr. Fred Heide and Lee Becker’s marvelous show is a cute, quirky two-act with knee-slapping jokes and folk songs, woven together with a seemingly light-weight plot featuring a farming couple trying to win a pie-baking contest. There’s also a family friend who wants to woo a woman but lacks confidence. And, for good measure, Heide’s character, Bob Dumkee laments a long standing “curse” on the farm. There’s a lot to chew on as the characters break down the fourth wall, and include the audience to their front porch, like treasured guests on a mild autumn afternoon. So far, so good.

But before you know it, you find out the whole thing is about so much more.

Deep down, it’s about a farming couple who has struggled through life. Ups and downs, but still loving one another and understanding each other’s quirks.

And then, even deeper down, it’s an ode to a friend who died—in the show and in real life. Originally conceived to showcase folksy tall tales, “When Pigs Fly” became a means to navigate playwright-singer-songwriter Fred Alley’s unexpected death at age 38 of a heart condition. Alley was arguably the soul of the theater company and had deep connections with all the actors in this production, Heide, Becker, Amy Chaffee, and Eric Lewis.

When the original version of the show mounted in 2001, at the time named “Bob Dumkee’s Farm,” It was a means of moving through the grief following Alley’s passing only four months prior.

But then, days after the show’s opening, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened, and the show took on an additional dimension: processing a more widespread sense of horror and grief. Audiences were receptive, but diminished, as so many canceled travel and entertainment plans.

After that terrible year, the sweet show sat on the shelf for over two decades.

But Heide and Becker knew it still had good legs and needed to be set free. Over the years, they said they hoped Northern Sky could revisit it. And this year, after revamping it, writing new songs, and adding a brief but spectacularly hilarious second role for Chaffee (who, otherwise, throughout the show plays the long-suffering but loving wife to Heide’s Bob Dumkee), it finally made the company’s roster for autumn 2023.

It's the original cast, except for the addition of Eric Lewis. It’s a cast that has deep roots with the company.

For fans of Northern Sky, having the stalwart crew back together again was just what the doctor ordered. Heide has been celebrating his 50th anniversary with the company (there are dedicated fans who remember when he first graced the company’s Peninsula Park amphitheater stage as an undergrad student from UW Green Bay.)

But as time marches on, everyone scattered to the four winds, until reunited with this show. Heide was a professor of psychology in California until his recent retirement, Chaffee is on sabbatical from her professor position at Tulane University, Lewis is in Door County from his home in Memphis, and Becker returns after a long Northern Sky absence, from his home in North Carolina. So, yeah. Scheduling was a tad difficult.

But it happened.

And as much as the audience is enjoying it, you can tell, the cast is too. There’s deep respect, trust, and love among them, and they wear their souls on the outside for all of us to watch.

You still have a chance to see the show, and if you haven’t, you really should.

The last shows are Wednesday Oct. 18- Saturday Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

For fans of Northern Sky, it’s a “don’t miss” event. For those who aren’t, go to the show. Join the club.