Author Archives: packerland

Love is in the Air

52336340 – origami made hot air balloon in a heart shape.

On a day that is all about love and romance, let us share with you our top 5 Broadway couples that are sure to make you swoon.

  1. Captain Von Trapp and Maria (The Sound of Music)
    You have a man, a woman, and seven singing children on the mountains of Austria. You can only butt heads for so long before you realize that the person loves you, stubbornness and all. I guess they must have done “something good”.
  2. Rapunzel and her Prince (Into the Woods)
    Boy sees girl. Boy fall in love with girl. Boy must climb up girl’s long blonde hair? All I can say is that waiting to be together must have been “agony”.
  3. Esther Smith and John Truitt (Meet Me in St. Louis)
    Is there anything sweeter than “the boy next door”?
  4. Cosette, Eponine, and Marius (Les Mis)

This list would not be complete without a love triangle! Is there nothing more dramatic than unrequited love?

So, who is our mystery couple number 5? None other than the silent film star and the aspiring stage actress, Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden of Singin’ in the Rain. You will have to see the show and find out how this love story ends!

So, grab your sweetheart and come to the Abrams theater for their production of Singin’ in the Rain. Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

New Year and the Stage Still Stands

2018 Happy New Year

“Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” – William Dafoe

From our theater family to yours, we want to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thank you for your support in 2017, and we cannot wait to share with you what 2018 is going to bring.

So, what do you need to know about ASPI in 2018?

We are going to be having FOUR new productions! Mark your calendars for the following unforgettable performances:

  • Singin’ in the Rain — March 16-18 & 23-25
  • Barefoot in the Park — June 15-17 & 22-24
  • Cabaret — Sept. 13-16 & 20-23
  • A Christmas Story: The Musical — Dec. 7-9 & 14-16

When you visit the theater in the new year, you may notice something is different. There is going to be new seating! Out with the church pews and in with cushioned chairs. As the recipient of a grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, the theater will be able to replace their church pews with 200 cushioned chairs. Just in time for the first performance of “Singing in the Rain.”

While a new year for ASPI brings new shows, it also brings new hopes, dreams, and opportunities. Let’s hear from some of our cast and crew about what they hope the new year will bring for the theater.

Brigette Finger, volunteer coordinator:
“I am looking forward to the fantastic shows that we’re going to produce in 2018! I am also excited to see the reaction of our patrons when they try out our new seating in March (no more hard church pews)!”

Pam Loberger, most recently seen in her role as Clairee in “Steel Magnolias”:
“2018 is going to be a banner year for the theater with the Bond Foundation’s generous donation enabling the theatre’s uncomfortable pews to be replaced with comfortable chairs, which will add to the enjoyment of all productions… My dream is to have many familiar faces, joined by new talent to grow the ASPI family with talent both on the stage and behind the scenes. Wishing the entire ASPI family a wonderful 2018. Hope to see you all soon.”

David Jolly, most recently seen in his role as Daddy Warbucks in “Annie”:
“I hope the next year will see us continue to gain in volunteer support. This is a group owned operation and each person who contributes in any way is a stakeholder. One of our volunteers recently commented that he understands what we are trying to do and the impact that ASPI has had on his family and the community. He pledged that he is a “volunteer for life”.

Thank you all for your support in 2017 and let us make 2018 the best year yet!

Count your blessings and don’t forget to count the Abrams Theater twice

Count your blessingsIt’s that time of year again where you count your blessings over the past year. What a year 2017 has been!

Four productions and nearly 3000 people filling the seats throughout the 2017 season. Our cast and crew have taken the audience from the streets of NYC to the gymnasium of Putnam Valley Middle School. From a beauty parlor with southern belles to St. Louis World’s Fair. There were tears shed, many laughs, and I’m sure we all left the theater with a tune running through our head.

2017 was a year of changes and firsts! You may have noticed that the theater had a bit of a facelift. There’s a new interior paint job, a new sound and lighting booth, and the installation of modular set booms. All these changes are helping us create an even greater theater experience for our audiences.

You may have also noticed some new faces around the theater. We had 24 newcomers to the theater throughout the year, whether they were actors on stage or part of the backstage crew.

The theater also had their first collaboration with After Dark Productions for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. After Dark Productions produce edgier shows that are geared for adult only crowds. Director Kari Devine (and the cast and crew) brought something new to ASPI. With nonstop laughs and audience participation, this quirky comedy was a great success!

So, what has working with the Abrams Theater meant to director Kari? — “I’ve worked with a lot of different companies in my theatre career, but this is one of my absolute favorites. In Abrams, I get the can-do and community atmosphere that a lot of other places lack. I’ve found people open to learn, support each other, and put on great shows. It’s an amazing dynamic here.”

ASPI is a unique community and has an atmosphere unlike any other! And our audiences and readers like you make what we do all worthwhile.

But don’t worry. We’ll be back in the new year! And you have the chance to join our team. Do you tap dance? Sing? Dance in the rain? Auditions for “Singin’ in the Rain” will be held 6 to 8pm Tuesday, Jan. 2, or Wednesday, Jan. 3, at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Ave., Abrams. Any questions call our box office at 920-826-5852.

Not just any festival….It’s the World’s Fair!


Join ASPI for their production of Meet Me in St. Louis! The year is 1904, the Smith family experiences life and love’s woes, all leading up to a family trip to the St. Louis World’s Fair.

So, what exactly is the world’s fair?

The world’s fair is an international exhibition meant to showcase a nation’s accomplishments. The most recently hosted was the Expo 2017 held in Astana Kazakhstan.

The tradition of the world’s fair began in Paris with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844. After which, other European countries decided to follow suit. A world’s fair can last anywhere from three weeks to six months.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle? Many structures and towers built to be used temporarily for the fair are dismantled at the close of the festivities. But not the Eiffel Tower! While some opposed the construction, and wanted it dismantled after the fair, the Eiffel Tower is here to stay and has become an icon of Paris.

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also knows and the St. Louis World’s Fair, was held in St. Louis, MO from April 30th to December 1st, 1904. It was intended to celebrate the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, though the opening of the exposition was delayed until 1904. It cost $15 million to fund the construction and festivities. The fair site took place over 1200 acres and close to 19.7 million people who attended the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Exhibitions included concessions, theater troupes, educational displays, local history displays, etc. from 50 nations, and 43 U.S. states (of the then 45 states).

One exhibition building was the Palace of Electricity. With a cost of $400,000, the building was to share progress in electrical engineering. Different technologies on display included the Finsen light, x-ray apparatus, radiophone, electrical lighting, and electric locomotives (to name a few).

While not invented at the fair as previously believed, there were many foods that were popularized by the fair. Can you guess what these foods are? Hamburgers, hot dogs, peanut butter, and cotton candy. The fair is also said to have introduced Dr. Pepper to the mass of attendees.

Come and join ASPI family on December 1st-3rd and the 8th-10th for their production of Meet Me in St. Louis. Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Cushioned chairs will replace church pews

Bond Foundation presents $11K grant to Abrams theater

By Joan Koehne
Owner of Writer to the Rescue

Theater Chairs Bond Foundation

Seated in a church pew at the Byng Community Theater, Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc., and Debra Jolly, vice president, accept an $11,535 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, presented by Mary McMonagle, left, president of the foundation, and Jenni Hanna, executive director. The theater will use the grant funding to replace the pews with cushioned chairs.

The Byng Community Theater in Abrams will install new seating for its audience, thanks to an $11,535 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation. Abrams Spotlight Productions will replace the theater’s church pews with more comfortable and versatile chairs.

According to Bond Foundation executive director Jenni Hanna, the project was selected for funding because of the theater’s significance in the community.
“The foundation’s board of directors recognized Abrams Spotlight Productions as a great creative outlet for the local community as well as an entertainment venue for people of all ages,” she said.

“The board was also impressed with the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers who are responsible for the success of Abrams Spotlight Productions. The board felt the theater seating will improve not only the function of the theater but also allow Abrams Spotlight Productions to better serve the community.”

“We are so grateful to be selected for a Bond Foundation grant,” said Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions. “These chairs will provide added comfort for our patrons and the opportunity for us to better utilize our space and more easily accommodate patrons with disabilities.”

The 200 new chairs will replace all 22 pews in the church, plus three rows of metal folding chairs. The new chairs are solidly built, durable, washable, and stackable.

The grant also provides funding for the flooring to be cleaned and prepped before the new chairs are installed. In order to keep costs to a minimum, volunteers will remove the pews and install the chairs. The renovations will take place in late December or early January, and the church pews will be available for purchase.

The pews are remnants of the building’s previous use as St. Louis Catholic Church. The facility, home to Abrams Spotlight Productions since 2007, has undergone a series of transformations that include the construction of a stage with modular set booms, backstage dressing rooms, a concession stand, and a light, sound, and projections booth.

The new seating is scheduled to be unveiled Feb. 15, 2018, at a joint Oconto Falls/Oconto Chamber of Commerce event. Patrons attending the spring performance of “Singing in the Rain” will be the first to sit in the new chairs. The show will be performed March 16-18 and March 23-25 at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St. in Abrams.

The theater is currently running “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a classic holiday musical presented Dec. 8-10.
The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation is a family-endowed foundation committed to the growth and improvement of Oconto County and its surrounding areas. The foundation was established in 1993 by Leon Bond (benefactor of the foundation and founder of the Bond Pickle Company) and Earl DeCloux.

Halloween Munsters Throwback

Halloween musters feelings of magic and mystery. In the spirit of this spooktacular season, join ASPI as we take a look back at some of our most frightful, fantastical, and mysterious productions!

Let’s start with our 2012 production of Arsenic and Old Lace starring Bill Wons as Mortimer Brewster. Mortimer must figure out a way to deal with his homicidal aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster (played by Karen Fuller and Sharon Fischer, respectively) who kill off lonely old men with a drink of elderberry wine laced with arsenic. Mix in a waiting fiancée, one brother who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, and another brother with ill intentions and you’ve got a dark comedy that will make you think twice about accepting that glass of elderberry wine.

Pictured L to R Early Fuller, David Woosencraft, Conner Suddick, Karen Fuller, Sharon Fischer

Pictured L to R: Megan Sopata as Elaine Harper, Bill Wons as Mortimer Brewster along with Karen Fuller and Sharon Fischer

Let’s go back a little further with our 2010 production of CLUE: The Musical. Go from the board game to the actual scene of the crime. Who killed Mr. Boddy? The cast of iconic characters included Bill Koehne as Mr. Boddy, Linda Druckrey as Mrs. Peacock, Brandon Byng as Professor Plum, Suzie Wons as Miss Scarlett, Jerard Nighorn as Colonel Mustard, Sharon Fischer as Mrs. White, and Bill Wons as Mr. Green. This interactive musical comedy had the audience deducing from clues as the actors went from room to room. Was it Mr. Green in the conservatory with the revolver? Only the cards know!

Pictured L to R: Jerard Nighorn as Colonel Mustard, Bill Wons as Mr. Green, Suzie Wons as Miss Scarlett, Bill Koehne as Mr. Boddy, Linda Druckrey as Mrs. Peacock, Sharon Fischer as Mrs. White, Brandon Byng as Professor Plum

Spelling B-E-E and After Dark Productions

2017 is zipping by, especially at Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. where we have been busier than usual because we added a fourth show to our season’s line-up.

Our theater is well known for family-friendly shows, and we don’t want to change that. We remain committed to bringing three, high quality community theater productions to the stage each year. So far in 2017 we’ve produced “Annie” and “Steel Magnolias,” and we’ll wrap up the year with “Meet Me in St. Louis” in December.

As a bonus this year, we added a fourth show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” We wanted to produce something out-of-the-box that would be fun for the audience. We knew it would be a challenge to break away from the traditional shows we’ve been producing, but we believed the community was ready for something edgier and PG-13, as long as it was done well and was highly entertaining.

We found that combination with this show. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is performed by an extremely talented cast and maintains the perfect balance of humor and poignancy.

To bring this show to the stage, Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. created a division called “After Dark Productions.” The purpose of After Dark Productions is to present plays that don’t fit into the mold of our three family-friendly shows each season. The new division allows us to draw upon the talents of new actors, directors, and outside resources. After Dark Productions creates an additional entertainment opportunity for the audience, and it also allows the theater to grow into a more mature theater without losing sight of its principal values.

If you’ve been a regular patron, you’ve seen a lot of growth at the theater over the years, and you can be sure to see more growth to come. We want Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. to be a special part of the community and a long-lasting source of entertainment, offering something for everyone.

We’re glad you’re here to join us for a spelling bee unlike any you’ve ever experienced. You’re encouraged to laugh out loud and have a good time. You’re also encouraged to become even more involved with our, and more importantly, your community theater. Just ask one of our volunteers how!

Enjoy the show!

Sincerely,
Bill Koehne
President, Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc.

“Steel Magnolias” auditions for summer show,

Abrams, WI May 19, 2017: Abrams Spotlight Productions will hold auditions for its summer show, “Steel Magnolias,” a production full of sass, style and sisterhood.

Written by American playwright Robert Harling and based on his experience with his sister’s death, the show is set in Louisiana in the 1980s and is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. At Truvy’s beauty shop, the motto is: “There’s no such thing as natural beauty.” Gossip, revelations, and witty Southern banter flow like refreshing sweet tea on a hot summer day. Through clouds of hairspray and over the buzz of blow dryers, six southern spitfires gather each week to chat and support each other through thick and thin.

The play was adapted as a film released in 1989 which earned Julia Roberts an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Shelby. Infused with heart and humor, “Steel Magnolias” is a story of love, loss, and enduring friendship.

Auditions will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, and Wednesday, June 7, at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Ave., Abrams. The play calls for six adult females of various ages. Women auditioning will be asked to read from the script.

Newcomers are encouraged and welcome to audition! Back-stage volunteers also are needed, so consider sharing your time and talent.

The show will be performed Aug. 4-6 and 11-13 at the Byng Community Theater in Abrams. Rehearsals are set for Sundays and Thursdays.

For more information about auditions or to volunteer, call 920-826-5852.

Family Spotlight: The Wons Family

Bill, Suzie, and their children Leah, Garrett, and Sophia

  • Roles
    • Suzie and Leah’s first play was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in October 2007
    • Bill and Garrett’s first play was Unwrapped in October 2008 along with Suzie and Leah
    • Sophia’s first play was Rented Christmas in December 2008 along with Garrett
    • Bill is currently an ASPI board member
  • What got them started in ASPI?
    • When Leah was not able to make the dates for the Missoula Theater, a friend suggested that they check out ASPI. It was something Leah really wanted to do, so Suzie and Leah both auditioned and got roles in the 2007 production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  • How does it feel to be involved in ASPI as a family?
    • Sophia- “You get to practice lines together.”
    • Bill- “You get to spend quality time with the family!”
  • What draws them to ASPI?
    • Bill- “It’s a lot of fun to perform and build relationships with the other actors. We built a lot of friendships over the years that now extend outside the theater because of the shows we have been in.”
    • Suzie- “It’s something we can do as a family. It’s close to home.”
  • What would they say to other families about getting involved in ASPI?
    • Bill- “Don’t be scared. It’s a lot of fun! It’s a great way to strengthen and build your relationships with your children. There will be plenty to talk about around the dinner table.”
  • Favorite family activity outside of ASPI

The Wons family enjoys sailing and traveling.

Fun Facts

  • Leah is currently pursuing performance as a career majoring in musical performance at Viterbo University in La Crosse.
  • Sophia is also involved in Missoula Theater and Destination Imagination.
  • Bill has also been involved in performances at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Little Suamico.

The Wons family was recently in ASPI’s production of ANNIE on March 31st, April 1st, April 2nd and April 7th, April 8th, April 9th.

Family Spotlight: The Jolly Family

David, Debra, and their daughter Liz

David, Debra, and their daughter Liz

  • Roles
    • The family’s first play was Bah, Humbug in the winter of 2009.
    • Debra helps with costumes, makeup, and hair and is also the board’s Vice President and resident choreographer.
    • David is involved in tech and is also a board advisory member.
    • Liz has performed in many shows and helps with costumes.
  • What got them started at ASPI?
    • David- “All of our backgrounds.”
    • Debra- “We are theater people!”
    • Liz- “We were here from the beginning.”
  • What draws them to ASPI?
    • Debra- “It’s a good group of people!”
    • Liz- “We do such high-level, high- quality productions for a community theater.”
  • How does it feel to be involved in ASPI as a family?
    • Liz- “I think it’s cool to work together as a family. That’s not an opportunity you get much in your life.”
  • Favorite family activity outside of ASPI
    • The Jolly family likes to travel and watch old movies and musicals.
  • Fun Facts
    • David and Debra met on the stage in ’76 when he volunteered for a ballet she was involved. “So Elizabeth had no choice but to be involved in theater. It was inevitable,” says Debra.
    • Liz graduated from St. Norbert in 2012 and studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she graduated in 2015.

Recently Liz was Miss Hannigan and David was Daddy Warbucks in ASPI’s production of ANNIE on March 31st, April 1st, April 2nd and April 7th, April 8th, April 9th.