My Fair Lady

Oh Eliza!

Wendy Hiller, Julie Andrews, and Audrey Hepburn. What do these three ladies have in common? Each lady has dazzled audiences in the leading role of Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady. These three accomplished actresses transform with Eliza from a Cockney accented flower seller to regal “Hungarian princess”.  

Wendy Hiller
Wendy Hiller Reading

Our first notable Eliza is Wendy Hiller, who appears in the 1938 British film adaptation of George  Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. It was only natural for Hiller to be cast in the lead as she had already portrayed the character on the Festival Theatre stage in Malvern Worcestershire, England in 1936.

The film adaptation featured Hiller as leading lady and Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins. The adaptation itself was an Oscar winner for Best Screenplay and Hiller received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

The film held a first for Ms. Hiller. She became the first actress to utter the word “bloody” in a British film. The line, “Not bloody likely, I’m going in a taxi!” was in the original play and the filmmakers decided to keep the line in the film.

Throughout her 60 year acting career, Hiller was primarily a stage actress, but her most notable film roles include the role of Pat Cooper in the 1958 film Separate Tables, earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express as Princess Dragonmiroff, earning her the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress.

Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews

Eighteen years after the film Pygmalion, the screenplay was adapted to the hit musical starring Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins and leading lady Julie Andrews as Eliza Dolittle

The musical made its Broadway debut at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in NYC on March 15, 1956. The musical ran for a total of 2,717 performances, with its last being on September 29, 1962. At that time, it was a record breaking run! However, Harrison and Andrews did not appear in all of the performances. In 1957, Harrison was replaced by Edward Mulhare and in 1958 Andrews was replaced by Sally Ann Howes (who you may recognize as the actress who played Truly Scrumptious in the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).

In 1958, Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews reprised their roles in the London production of My Fair Lady. The production ran for 2,281 performances, with Harrison and Andrews exiting their roles in 1959.

Accolades all around! In 1957, the Broadway musical was a Tony Award winner with Julie Andrews receiving a nomination for her leading lady role.

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

For the 1964 film adaptation of My Fair Lady, producer Jack Warren cast Audrey Hepburn in the lead role, coming as a shock to the many fans of Julie Andrews! This was considered outrageous because fans believed Andrews was the embodiment of Eliza and that the role was made for her.

Another surprise came when audiences found out that Hepburn’s singing voice was not her own, and that it was in fact dubbed by Marni Nixon. While Hepburn’s vocals were not considered “good enough” for the role, her vocals can be heard in the chorus of the musical number “Just You Wait”.

At the 1964 Academy Awards, Andrews won Best Actress for her lead role in Mary Poppins, the award for Best Actor went to Rex Harrison for his role as Professor Henry Higgins, and the award for Best Picture went to My Fair Lady. While the film My Fair Lady received nominations in every major category, Audrey Hepburn did not receive a nomination for Best Actress in her role as Eliza. It is said that the lack of nomination, along with Andrews’ Oscar win, was to show support to Andrews and disapproval to Jack Warner for his refusal to cast her in a role that was viewed as rightfully hers.

While there was much controversy surrounding Hepburn in the role of Eliza Dolittle, Hepburn was a star and icon in her own right. Her prominent films include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, and Roman Holiday, just to name a few. Hepburn was a recipient of an Academy Award for Best Actress for Roman Holiday and a recipient of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards for Best British Actress for her roles in Roman Holiday, The Nun’s Story, and Charade.

ASPI’s very own Abby Frank will follow in the footsteps of the women before her to bring Eliza Dolittle to the stage.

Tickets are on sale NOW and wouldn’t it be loverly for you to join us! Performances run March 20-22 and March 27-29. Just you wait! This production is sure to be anything but ordinary. For more information check out or call the Box Office at (920)826-5852.

Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show is April 5

The Stadium View, JPS Nvitations and Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. will present the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Street, Abrams. Brides, grooms, their families and friends are invited to attend the show, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 5, at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, formerly a quaint country church, has been newly renovated and is now open for weddings and funerals.

Guests at the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show will have the opportunity to speak directly to a variety of wedding vendors from Northeast Wisconsin. Vendors will provide information about their products and services, including wedding cakes, music, photography, invitations, make-up, and more.

Drawings for prizes will be held throughout the event.

Tickets are $10; however, fees will be waived for the first 200 registrants. Call the Abrams theater box office to reserve your tickets, 920-826-5852.

Wedding vendors interested in exhibiting at the show are encouraged to call the box office for prices and availability, 920-826-5852.


Notice something different about our upcoming winter musical?! ASPI is proud to present Elf The Musical, Jr. That Jr. part is very important because it means that all the cast and production crew are between the ages of 6 and 15. This production is 100% youth driven!

While ASPI makes it a priority to have multi-generational musicals with children’s roles, this will be the very first musical with an entire youth cast. This also includes youth in the production staff, where they will be mentored by their adult counterpart.  You can see the entire lineup of cast and crew here.

Elf The Musical Jr. is being directed by Liz Jolly along with her junior director Sydney Surber. An instant Christmas classic, this musical production of the hit film is an opportunity for our young cast and crew to shine!

In their working relationship as director and junior director, Liz includes Sydney in all her duties and decisions. Sydney’s role as junior director involves various roles such as blocking part of a scene, casting parts in a song, and attending production meetings. Just to name a few!

It may be a junior production, but Liz is demanding the highest professional-level quality from the cast and production staff. She believes they are all more than up to the challenge! Since the “adult” characters in the production are also played by children, casting requires looking at each child is capable of, which gives youth the opportunity to play roles they normally wouldn’t.

The great opportunity a junior production brings to the theater, Liz explains, is that it allows junior members to become more involved in different aspects of theater, such as production. Production roles, while generally not considered as popular as acting on the stage, are just as essential for a show’s success.  Liz cannot wait to see how her young cast and crew grow in their roles both on and off stage.

Liz also believes that directing a junior production breathes new life into all parts of the job. The adults involved in the production are mentoring their junior counterparts, which involves explaining what they are doing and why. Which Liz thinks is great because sometimes why things are done can be forgotten and this mentorship encourages communication.

Both Liz and Sydney believe everyone should make attending Elf The Musical, Jr. part of their Christmas festivities this winter season. This show is sure to get you in the holiday spirit with its huge song and dance numbers and its way of tugging at one’s heart strings. This hilarious show with it’s positive uplifting message will take you from Bah Humbug to Sparklejollytwinklejinglely!

Want to be on Santa’s nice list? Order your tickets for Elf The Musical, Jr. NOW. They make the perfect gift! Showtimes are December 6-8 and December 13-15. It’s sure to be a Santa approved evening 😉

Meet the Directors

Liz has been involved with ASPI since 2010. Her many roles have included director of Meet Me in St. Louis, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Kathy Selden in Singing in the Rain, and The Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, where she also lended her talents as costume designer. Liz’s theater experience also includes work with Theatre Z, PlayByPlay Theatre, Evergreen, Green Bay Community Theatre, SNC Summer Music Theatre, and appearances in Drunken Shakespeare at The Green Room Lounge in De Pere.

Liz is more than qualified to mentor this young cast and crew as she holds a BA in Theatre Studies and Classical Studies from St. Norbert college and an additional degree in acting from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

Miss Sydney Surber has been involved in theatre since the age of 4 years old! Elf will be her eighth production with ASPI. She also had the opportunity to shadow her mom as assistant director for ASPI’s production of Barefoot in the Park. A 6th grader at Bay City Christian School, Sydney is on the volleyball team. When not acting or playing volleyball, she enjoys taking piano and voice lessons.

How Building a Patio Also Built a Community

What started out as a simple sidewalk project morphed into something much more this summer. The Nancy Byng Community Theater now has an entirely new element which will make a long-term impact – an outdoor patio. The patio beautifully dresses up the theater’s entrance with a colorful flowerbed during the day and twinkling lights in the evening. It’s the perfect backdrop for mingling, day or night.

We now have a gathering area that can be used for various purposes, including our opening night gala and Happy Hour before a comedy show. We can sell food and beverages outdoors, creating an ongoing source of additional revenue for the theater.

In addition, as was our original goal, the patio provides a safe pathway for our actors from the backstage exit. It also alleviates water-ponding issues that occurred in that spot.

The patio became a possibility due to a generous $1,500 gift from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation. We allocated an additional $1,300 to complete the landscaping and new backstage stairway, but took seriously the challenge to stay within the budget based on the foundation’s gift.

In order to complete what should be a $12,000 project, we solicited the help and assistance of many of our friends. Once others understood that our goal was to do this within the scope of the Bond Foundation gift, they stepped up to the challenge. This is an inspiring example of how to be good stewards of the foundation’s generosity while creating community.

The following businesses and individuals contributed equipment, labor and materials:

  • Jackie Foster Inc.
  • Central Heating LLC
  • Wirtz Septic Pumping
  • Duame Sand and Gravel Inc.
  • Jerry Parham and crew
  • Mike Konkel
  • Joe Konkel
  • David Jolly
  • Bill Koehne
  • Chris Weiss
  • Jerry Schmit
  • Steve Druckrey
  • Brigette Finger and family

By combining time, talent, and treasure, we successfully completed the patio project while forging new partnerships in the community. We’re looking forward to spending many relaxing hours on the outdoor patio. We hope you’ll join us.

Mark Twain’s the Diaries of Adam and Eve

June 19, 20, 21 and June 26, 27, 28

This play is a light-hearted look at the world’s first love story through the eyes of America’s greatest humorist- Mark Twain.  Throughout this play, the Garden of Eden bursts with wit, laughter and the lyric poignance of the first love and the first loss.  Based upon Mark Twain’s book from the early 1900’s titled the same name, this play is sure to hit home with all audiences!

First produced for PBS “American Playhouse,” The Diaries… is a uniquely American theatre piece. Since that time, the show has enjoyed well over 200 productions, in both extended runs and touring engagements at regional theatres, college and university theatres, and performing arts centers on both coasts and across the country.

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

Production Dates: March 20-22 & March 27-29

Book and Lyrics by ALAN JAY LERNER             

My Fair Lady Is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Hailed by critics and audiences alike for its heart and wit, My Fair Lady is a beautiful musical about transformation, patronage, gender politics and class.  Acclaimed Professor and confirmed bachelor Henry Higgins makes a wager with his linguistic colleague Colonel Pickering that in six months he can pass off “gutter snipe” Eliza Doolittle as a duchess at an embassy ball. Through arduous training, Eliza learns how to speak English “properly,” and transforms into a lady respected and adored by all classes.  Originally produced on Broadway in 1956, “My Fair Lady” is Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s most popular musical collaboration, earning nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. There have been numerous Broadway revivals and a 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn. 

Auditions will be December 16 or 17 @ 6 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: Nancy Byng Community Theater

For more information on the show and roles please click here!

Director Tim Rutten-Kempees

Numbers by Day, Director by Night

ASPI is proud to present “Escanaba in da Moonlight” as the “After Dark” Production for the 2019 season.

Ever have a disappointing hunting season where nothing seems to be going your way? In Jeff Daniels’ play “Escanaba in da Moonlight”, that’s exactly what huntsman Reuben Soady feels like. Except his unlucky streak will make him the oldest Soady in history to not shoot a buck.

Director Tim Rutten-Kempees
Director Tim Rutten-Kempees

Meet the Director who will bring the Yooper hunting experience to life, Mr. Tim Rutten-Kempees!

Accountant by day, director by night, Tim comes to ASPI with years of experience wearing multiple theater hats. On top of having a bachelor’s degree in theater, Tim has acted in over 20 shows. “Escanaba in da Moonlight” will be the seventh show he has directed and the second second he has directed with ASPI, his first being “Barefoot in the Park”. Tim also played Warren in ASPI’s production of “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

The cast of “Escanaba in da Moonlight” is what Tim believes will really draw the audience to the show.  The production is early in the rehearsal process, but it has already been filled with lots of laughs and a lot of fun!

Did we mention that the play takes place in Upper Michigan? So, this production is sure to hit close to home to many in the audience! Get ready for some slang and references only a true “Yooper” would know.

Will Reuben Soady go down in history as the oldest Soady to not shoot a buck by the end of hunting season? Buy your tickets now to find out! Performances will be September 12-15 and September 19-22.

Elf The Musical, Jr.


  • Friday – Saturday, December 6 & 7 @ 7 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday, December 7 & 8  @ 1 PM
  • Friday – Saturday, December 13 & 14  @ 7 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday, December 14 & 15 @ 1 PM
Dec 6-8, 13-15!
Nancy Byng Community Theater

Elf The Musical JR. is based on the 2003 New Line Cinema hit and features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer) and Chad Beguelin (Disney’s Aladdin On BroadwayThe Wedding Singer), a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (AnnieThe ProducersHairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).

The musical tells the story of a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is given the name Buddy and raised by elves in the North Pole.  Buddy lives happily unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth.

With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list, and his stepbrother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of the holidays.

Elf The Musical JR. is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).  All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-541-4684 Fax: 212-397-4684


Buddy – Bella Frank
Jovie – KK Blau
Walter Hobbs – Kael Richard James
Emily Hobbs – Myah Jane Mlnarik
Michael Hobbs – Natalie Pera
Deb – Paityn Keller
Charlie/Macy’s Store Manager – Nick Blaser
Sarah – Brynna Moody
Chadwick – Lauren Herison
Matthews – Emma Ronk
Mr. Greenway/Taxi Driver – Brady Cox
Santa/Souvlaki Seller – Sophia Wonz
Shawanda/Macy’s Saleswoman – Sadie Smith
Police Officer – Faith Marquardt
Charlotte Denon – Sydney Surber
Teenager – Ashlynn Vanderheyden
Fake Santa – Cora Heinecke
Darlene Lambert – Mary Peterson
Emma Van Brocklin – Hailey Marquardt
Elf 1/”Santa’s” Helper – Jaycie Norman
Elf 2 – Hannah Nicholson
Elf 3 – Darcin Wright
Elf 4 – Eden Kuchta
Elf 5 – Alexa Samsa
Elf 6 – Maria Ronk
Elf 7 – Sawyer Norman

Production Staff:

100% Youth Driven (even behind the scenes):

Jr. Director – Sydney Surber
Jr. Asst Dir – KK Blau
Jr. Production Coord – Ellie Finger
Jr. Stage Manager – Allie Brehmer
Jr. Choreographer – Bella Frank
Jr. Technical Director – James Perkins
Jr. Marketing – KK Blau
Jr. Lights / Sound – Nick Symons
Jr. Costume Designer – Calea Wirtley
Jr. Props – Alyssa Peterson
Jr. Make-up – Gracelynn Williquettes

Young @ Heart Production Staff:

Director – Liz Jolly
Asst. Director – Josh Blau
Choreographer – Debra Jolly
Stage Manager – Tanya Brehmer
Technical Director – David Jolly
Scenic Design – David Jolly & Mike Konkel
Lighting Designer – Debra Jolly
Costume Designer- Katie Myrick-Jackson
Props Manager- Jim Klein
Marketing – Josh Blau
Volunteer Coordinator – Brigette Finger
Production Coordinator – Ali Carlson

Want to help out? We need lots of extremely important behind-the-scenes elves! 
Contact for more information. 

And 5, 6, 7, 8!

the movements used by dancers esp. in performing ballet, or the art of planning such movements

In other words, choreography is what can take a show from BLAH to WOW!
For ASPI’s upcoming production of “Footloose: The Musical”, we have two choreographers, Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard, dedicated to creating the dance numbers for the show and to teach those dance numbers to the cast.

Ali has been dancing since the age of 3. With her entire family being involved in the theater, she got involved at an early age. However, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she found her passion for choreography.

Jennifer has danced jazz and ballet since the age of 7 and has received a secondary major in dance from Butler University, Jordan College of Fine Arts. Fun fact: Jennifer started and ran her own dance studio for 10 years.

Both have many years of choreography experience under their belt, so who better to explain the importance of choreography and how it goes from rehearsal to the stage!

The choreography process begins by creating the dance numbers. That creative process takes a lot of preparation and is different for every choreographer! One approach is to work with the Director of the production to get a feel for the style of the show, which is different for every production. The choreography is one way to set apart one musical from the next. For example, the free-spirited nature of “Footloose” is going to be different from the sultry atmosphere of “Cabaret”. For the next step, the choreographer looks at the cast and their abilities and creates the dance numbers from there. Other factors in the beginning stages of choreography include the spacing in the theater and the timeline of the production.

For this end of June production, choreography rehearsals began at the beginning of May. Teaching the choreography to the cast usually begins after the music has started- it’s important for the cast to know the music first before learning movement. Once the teaching portion is complete, it’s then time for REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW! A Dance Captain is crucial for running reviews at rehearsals. For “Footloose”, Bella Frank is serving in the role as Dance Captain. Did we mention the role is crucial? The show would not run without her!

What are our two choreographers most excited about for “Footloose”?

Jennifer- To see the enthusiasm and joy the cast portrays. It’s such a fun cast!

Ali- Seeing the performers develop from audition to opening night! That is always my favorite part. They start out scared, then I challenge them (and sometimes I can see the overwhelming feeling… but the actors have such perseverance), to opening night where they know they GOT THIS!! It’s such a great feeling to know that I had a part in their development from start to finish.

Come see the choreographers and the cast kick off their Sunday shoes for ASPI’s production of “Footloose: The Musical”! Tickets are on sale NOW! Showtimes include June 21, 22, 28, and 29 at 7pm and June 22, 23, 29, and 30 at 1pm. To purchase tickets, check out the ASPI website at or by calling the box office at 920-826-5852.

Special thanks to Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard for their contribution to the blog post. You may have recently seen Jennifer and Ali on stage for ASPI’s production of “Cabaret”. When not on stage, you can find Ali behind the scenes as ASPI’s Resident Production Coordinator as well as ASPI Board Secretary.

♫ Let’s Hear it for the Funding ♫

In our last post, we talked about all the volunteers and community support that it takes to make ASPI a success. After the last blog post, you may be thinking, so where do the funds come from to maintain the theater building, daily operations, and production costs?

ASPI needs not only the community’s time and talents, but also monetary support. The theater is largely funded through ticket sales, so come see our shows! Invite your friends. Spread the word about this hidden gem in Abrams.

(Also, those yummy concession stand snacks also go back to support the theater. Supporting the theater never tasted so good ?)

Other ways the community can contribute to the theater is through sponsorships, advertising, and donations.

Sponsorships start as low as $25 per year through $500+, and sponsorships are acknowledged with our gratitude in the production programs. Did we mention that sponsorships at the higher levels get discounted ticket prices? Click here  to learn more about how you can sponsor ASPI.

Advertising is a way for businesses to support the theater and vice versa. A full page black and white ad is only $180 for the year. This ad will appear in the season’s programs of all four productions. With 8 performances per production there is the potential of reaching 3,000+ people. Advertisers also receive 2 complimentary tickets to 3 of the 4 shows that year. That is a $90 value! Through the advertising, ASPI also seeks to support and promote area businesses.

And finally, ASPI accepts monetary donations of any amount. That is how we were able to fund our new cushioned chairs, through the generous donation of the Bond Foundation . A quick and easy way to donate is online at our website. Follow the link here.

Looking ahead, the financial vision of ASPI is to be debt free of the mortgage in approximately 5 to 7 years. In the long term, other potential updates to the theater space include additional bathroom space, a new roof, an updated sound system, and LED lighting for the stage.

Also looking towards the future, the theater is looking into ways to make good use of the theater space during down times. This includes renting the theater space for weddings, gatherings, and funerals. Most recently, the theater hosted an Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show, which brought together Northeast Wisconsin wedding vendors for a spring wedding show in a unique and quaint setting.

Again, the theater thrives off community support, whether that be through volunteering time, attending shows, spreading the word, or through financial support. We want this community theater to be at the heart of its community, for the community to see the theater as their own.

Want to be part of ASPI and the theater family? Have questions about how you can financially support the theater? Contact the box office at (920)826-5852!

Special thanks to Jim Klein for his contribution to the blog post!