'Escanaba in da Moonlight' is a laugh out loud hit at the Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre

Courtesy of M-Live - Published: September 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM

BAY CITY, MI — Cheers, clapping, foot stomping, and lots of laugh out loud laughter greeted the boys from the UP last night as Whistling Idiots Comedy Dinner Theatre opened its season with 'Escanaba In da Moonlight.'

And when it was over an almost sold out crowd gave the cast a standing ovation.

From start to finish, this cast of seasoned veterans and two new comers hit their marks and the laughs time after time.

If there was opening night jitters, it didn't show. But then, for most of the cast, this is their third time around with the Jeff Daniels comedy.


The veterans include Kurt Miller, playing Albert Soady, Jade York as Remnar Soady, Steve Steer as Jimmer Magamanee and Paul Lutenske as Ranger Tom T. Treado. Newcomers are Eric Lewis Johnson as Reuben Soady and Liz Dillon as Wolf Moon Dance Soady.

Jerry Dennis is taking his third time at directing this crew as well.

Set in the Soady deer camp, this is play is all about the fifth season in Michigan – bagging the big buck, and all the superstition that surrounds this yearly event.

You see, when the Soady family and friend Jimmer head to deer camp, there are rites to be followed, such as having some maple whiskey, eating pasties, playing euchre and wearing the same clothing year after year.

However, this year things are amiss. The whiskey tastes like pancake syrup and all the numbers on the euchre cards are twos and threes. To top it all off, Reuben, who is in charge of bringing the pasties, instead brings a couple of concoctions – made up of various things found in the woods - made by his wife, Wolf Moon Dance, to help him get that elusive buck.

Something he must do this year or become the oldest Soady in history to have never bagged a buck.

Although everyone is a Mid Michigan native, aka “the trolls under the bridge” each knows how to “UP speak,” including giving the hairy eye ball.

The set designed by Dennis, Steer, who also owns the theater, and Bob Graczyk Jr., is one of the best and most intricate to grace the stage at the Idiots.

Rough hewn walls are home to old license plates, animal heads and skins, guns and the tools of the woodsmen. A table and chairs and three bunks complete the scene.

A note, special affects include strobe lights, chemical foggers and a few liquids flying around.

While the set was deer camp, the setting was anything but.

Dinner, served buffet style, for the evening includes Mornin' at Maggies signature roast beef au jus with homemade horseradish sauce, pork with bourbon sauce, mashed red skin potatoes, wild rice, and the every popular kielbasa and sauerkraut. Warm bread pudding is for dessert.

While many audience members did dress up, a few came in the plaid shirts and red suspenders of deer camp.