If you are a child of the late 1960s or early 1970s, you may have grown up on the television comedy show, Rowen and Martin's Laugh-in that featured such memorable characters as Edith Ann, Ernestine and Wolfgang, the German Soldier.
Those same outrageous characters who brought catch phrases like "sock it to me," "you bet your sweet bippy" and "here come da judge" into the mainstream are being revived in Alpena Civic Theatre's newest production. ACT's "Laugh-in" hits the stage next week with a cast of 15 local performers.
The show marks the directorial debut of Robert Sylvester, both a seasoned performer and a jack of all trades at the theatre.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Appearing in Alpena Civic Theatre’s upcoming production of “Laugh-in” are, front row left, Gary Goren, Calvin Briggs, Margaret Woodruff, Robert Sylvester, Kristi Carr and Bob Coleman. Featured in the second row are John Pines, Jackie Herbert, Sherry Doaust, Marie Misel, Kathy Klimek, Pat Skiba, Jeannie Pines, Tom Robson and Alexandra Hamp.
"The show is a lot of fun. It's got outrageous jokes and skits and laughs everywhere," said Sylvester, who credits Chip Lavely for allowing him to serve as assistant director on "70, Girls, 70" and Evelyn Hunter, his current assistant director, for making his first-time directing job much easier.
"It's been a long, hard job with lots of time consumption," Sylvester said. He also expressed his appreciation of Karl Heidemann of Rogers City, who helped to set the lights in the absence of ACT's usual lighting designer.
"And Nancy Mead, as usual, did a beautiful job on painting the set," he added.
Alpena Civic Theatre
March 15-18, March 22-25
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
2 p.m. Sunday
Box office: 354-3624
Sylvester chose to direct "Laugh-in" on the recommendation of Hunter, who had held on to the script for about five years in anticipation of it eventually being done at the theatre.
"My daughter saw it done in Lansing and really liked it," Hunter said. "At the time my husband, Frank, was sick so I just hung onto it. When Robert decided to direct a show, I suggested 'Laugh-in.' He's done a good job as a first-time director."
The television show, hosted by comedians Dan Rowen and Dick Martin on NBC, ran from 1968 to 1973 and was characterized by rapid-fire gags and sketches. It started with a short dialogue between Rowen and Martin, then Rowen would in-tone, "C'mon Dick, let's go to the party."
The party was comprised of all cast members and occasionally surprise celebrities dancing before a 1960s "mod" party backdrop and delivering one or two-line jokes interspersed with a few bars of dance music.
Sylvester is quite pleased with the job the cast is doing in recreating the humor of "Laugh-in." Gary Goren and Bob Coleman are filling the roles of Rowen and Martin. Taking on the well-known roles of Goldie Hawn, Lilly Tomlin and Joann Worley are Kristi Carr, Jackie Herbert and Kathy Klimek.
Besides directing the show, Sylvester is playing Arti Johnson. Other roles include Margaret Woodruff at Ruth Buzzi, Calvin Briggs as Henry Gibson and Sherry Doaust as Eve Arden. Appearing as "extra added attractions" are Alexandra Hamp, John Pines, Marie Misel, Jeannie Pines, Pat Skiba and Tom Robson.
While ACT always relies on its veteran performers to make each show come alive, just as important is introducing new performers to the stage and the community. "Laugh-in" showcases five newcomers in Woodruff, Carr, Klimek, Doaust and Robson.
Sylvester said there a number of stand-out performances to watch for, including Klimek as Joann Worley and Herbert as Lilly Tomlin's Ernestine, the telephone operator.
"Most people will identify right away with some of these characters," Sylvester said. "We tried to cast everyone according to their character."
Production team members include Judy Beyer as stage manager and on props, Sylvester on set design, Nancy Mead as set artist, Adam Pieczynski as construction director, Karl Heidemann as lighting designer, Scott Edgar as lighting technician, and Herbert, Marie Misel and Diana Standen as costume assistants. Serving on the set crew are Robert Sylvester III, Briggs, Robson, Herbert and Duane Beyer.
"Laugh-in" will be performed March 15-18 and March 22-25 with showtimes as 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call 354-3624.