No old saws cut into "Lumberjacks in Love." This delightful romp through Wisconsin's north woods takes more unexpected twists and turns than a timber trail, spiked with fabulous harmonies from the Old Creamery Theatre crew. The show, which runs through Sept. 1, opened Thursday afternoon (8/1) to more howls than a pack of wolves in the night. It's sure to create more buzz than a chainsaw. Of course, chainsaws weren't a tool of the trade in 1908, when the play is set. Technically, "Lumberjacks" a musical comedy, but this is one time when the story and characters are so engaging, the music just seems to grow organically out of the action, instead of the other way around. The details:
  • "Lumberjacks in Love"
  • Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
  • Through Sept. 1; 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
  • Tickets: $27.50 adults, $18 students, $12 student rush 30 minutes before showtime; Old Creamery Box Office, 1-(800) 352-6262 or Oldcreamery.com
Four filthy lumberjacks -- and one scrappy Kid the guys don't seem to realize is really a lumberjill --are camped in a cramped log cabin deep in the woods, where fresh air is probably the only reason they're all still alive. Three take weekly baths, but Dirty Bob hasn't bathed since his childhood, when his mother lost the family's only bar of soap. Thankfully, this is live theater, not smellavision. After the sun goes down, they dance and read dime romances. One dance in particular just screams Monty Python, so fans will appreciate when Dirty Bob -- the always hilarious Sean McCall of Marengo -- says "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK" after prancing in a petticoat. They travel the same road the same way day in and day out, until one day, another road diverges in their yellow wood. A mail-order bride is on her way to marry Minnesota Slim. He didn't place the order, doesn't want the order, but doesn't have enough money for return postage. So he hides in a barrel, but quickly rolls out. Mistaken identities, woeful laments, disguises and hilarity ensue. Joining McCall in the merry band, where everyone strums a musical instrument at some point, are Scott Wakefield of New York City as sensible Minnesota Slim, Eddie Skaggs of Cedar Rapids as numbskull Muskrat, Tim Abou-Nasr of Omaha as boyishly adorable Moonlight and Lisa Crosby Wipperling of St. Albans, Vt., as The Kid, who only lets her hair down in attempt to charm the pants off Minnesota Slim before the intruder arrives. These are all seasoned pros, who handle the physical comedy, music and clever choreography with equal aplomb. Deborah Kennedy of West Amana makes a grand entrance in the second half as Rose, wearing a costume so gorgeous (by the uber-talented Marquetta Senters) it takes your breath away. The lumberjacks are speechless, too, as Rose sniffs her displeasure at the scenario, but is intent to carry through her mission. Since this play is new to the region, I won't divulge the various roads the characters take to chop down all the obstacles they encounter in the appropriately named the Haywire Lumber Camp. A special nod goes to Nicholas Hodge for designing scenery that only looks authentic, but can stand up to all the pounding from the antics that would knock down lesser doors and walls. Tom Schwans' lighting design gives audiences plenty of campy fun hearts and stars on the backdrop and flickering lights that give one especially hilarious scene the feel of a silent movie. Shari Rhodes tickles the ivories impressively there and everywhere, and Jeanette Welch adds in bass to round out the guys' impeccable banjo, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, washboard and spoons. These lumberjacks are all OK.