Review: Whistling Idiots hits the ground running with 'Over the River and Through the Woods'

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: Friday, September 27, 2013 8:47 PM

Pati LaLonde |

BAY CITY, MI — Laughter, a few tears, an impromptu sing-along, ending with a standing ovation kicked off of third season opener at Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre.

Under the direction of Sue Lombardo, a cast of Idiots veterans and newcomers kept the almost sold-out audience at “Over the River and Through the Woods” engaged throughout heartwarming comedy about an Italian-American New Jersey family whose life centers around family, faith and food.

Taking place in the Gianello home, where the family gathers for dinner every Sunday, the plot centers around grandson Nick who has been offered a job in far-off Seattle and his grandparents who want the status quo.

Written by Joe DiPietro, this play offers up a slice of life happening in dining rooms across the country.

The cast includes Shawn Finney as Nick; Jerry Lombardo playing opposite his wife Sue Lombardo, as Frank and Aida Gianello, respectively; Steve Steer and Carol Rumba as Nunzio; and Emma Cristano and Cassandra Honson as Caitlin O'Hare.

Scene-stealer for the evening is Jerry Lombardo playing Frank, giving a performance that is not only loud, but loveable as he ponders not only losing his grandson, but his car keys.

Not to say the other cast members didn't hold their own with this hugable character. Sue Lombardo's Aida thinks there isn't anything that can't be handled with a good meal, whipping up a man-size sandwich, a 3-pound lasagna, spaghetti and various desserts at the drop of a hat.

While Aida cooks, Emma attends church and brings Mass cards to all the gatherings.

While the grandparents pull out all the stops to keep Nick at home, it's the character of Nunzio who is keeping a secret that could well do the trick.

When the grandparents' meddling sends Nick to the hospital, he takes a look at what he has and what he will be giving up. Ah, the lesson to be learned.

Proving Aida isn't the only one who knows her way around the kitchen, the staff at Mornin' at Maggies serves a meal that any grandmother would be proud to serve.

Heading off the beaten path, Rod Nimtz and crew offered the audience an Italian meal of lasagna, veal-stuffed tortellini, chicken Parmesan, mussels and clams, steam vegetables and warm apple crisp for dessert.

All in all, the two-act, two-hour play came off without a hitch. The cast did so well, the audience joined them in a chorus, “Yes Sir That's My Baby” before offering up a standing O at the conclusion.

If you go

What: "Over the River and Through the Woods"
When: 6:30 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m. show Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 19
Where: Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre
Tickets: $37 for adults, $34 for senior citizens, $20 show only
Info: 989-893-2000, Whistling Idiots


Whistling Idiots prepare for "Over the River and Through the Woods" dinner theatre

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:05 PM

Danielle McGrew |

The Whistling Idiots, including Shawn Finney and Jerry and Sue Lombardo, rehearse Over the River and Through the Woods on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at their theatre at the corner of North Van Buren and Sixth Streets in Bay City. The "dramady" is about a 35-year-old man's grandparents trying to convince him not to move across the country by setting him up with an attractive young woman. Over the River will debut on Sept. 20 with a cash bar at 5:45 p.m., dinner at 6:30 and the show at 7:30.  

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Whistling Idiots rehearse for upcoming performance of 'Move Over Mrs. Markham'

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:37 PM


Bay City's Whistling Idiots leaves them laughing with 'Fox on the Fairway'

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 9:00 AM
BAY CITY, MI —From the opening monologue to the final romp, the cast of “Fox on the Fairway” had the audience laughing out loud throughout this almost two-hour stage farce.
The Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre troupe proved when it comes to madcap antics, they know what they are doing – even with a cast of almost all newcomers.
The comedy is about man's love affair with golf and competition.
While the plot is simple, the action isn't. Under the direction of Idiots' Jerry Dennis and Caitlin Berry, the actors proved they are up for giving the audience what they paid for.
For the past 43 years, Quail Valley Country Club has lost the annual golf tournament to rival Crouching Squirrel, but this year, president Henry Bingham thinks he has an ace in the hole when one of the town's top golfers joins his club, leading him to make a bet of $200,000 and his wife's antique shop on the outcome.
What he doesn't know is it was all a set up by his nemesis, Dickie Bell, president of Crouching Squirrel.
All is not lost. New hire Justin Hicks, played by Idiot's staple Kyle Betzold of Kawkawlin, just happens to be one heck of a golfer – when he isn't upset.

Bay City's Whistling Idiots take on British farce 'Move Over Mrs. Markham'

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: January 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM
BAY CITY, MI Phillip and Joanna Markham have dinner plans. Their friends, Linda and Henry Lodge have plans too – just not with each other.

However, their plans do include the Markham flat.

It seems Henry has persuaded Phillip, his business partner, to let him use the flat while the couple are out. Linda requested the same of Joanna.

This British farce, “Move Over Mrs. Markham,” by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, is the February offering by the Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre.

Robert Graczyk Jr., once again taking the directors reins, says it's been about 20 years since the play was done in the area.

How funny is this play? Graczyk says when it comes to longest laugh sequences in a farce, it is in the top three. It has a little something to do with mistaken identity.