Except for the weather-toughened guys who actually chop holes through the ice (shiver) to fish (shudder), who dreamed the sport of ice fishing could produce an all-round good time? That proved to be the case, however, when a troupe from the Springville Center for the Arts presented "Guys on Ice," at the Cattaraugus-Little Valley Theater, earlier in February.
During the two-act musical comedy, actors David Danielson (as Marvin), Keith Cordaro (Lloyd) and Mike Baronich (Ernie) reeled in lots of laughs, despite their austere surroundings. The set was a bare-bones fishing shack, located on a lake somewhere (probably Wisconsin or Minnesota,* judging by the actors' off-again, on-again semi-Scandinavian accents).
The play's plot, what there was of it, celebrated the fine art of male bonding. Two of the ice fishermen, Lloyd and Marvin, spent their "fishing time" doing pretty much what women do in the warmer confines of a beauty salon - gossiping.
The third character, Ernie, came and went in his role as an affable moocher, who zoomed across the frozen lake on his snowmobile, in an endless quest for free sandwiches - or better yet, a beer or two.
The actors exhibited plenty of experienced musicality and stage presence. They obviously enjoyed delivering their performances as much as the spectators enjoyed receiving them. Midway through the play, during "Ernie's Half-time Show," the exuberant and quick-witted Baronich, still in "Ernie" mode, came down off the stage to interact and ad-lib with audience members. He baited them with "fishy" quizzes, rewarded them with an assortment of not-so-grand prizes, and warbled an entertaining ditty, "Leinie's Is the Best Beer."
"Men on Ice" was produced by Kim Higgins and directed by Doris Biscup. Brayton Wilson was Stage Manager, and also did the offstage voice of the Radio Announcer in the play.
Karen Sorenson acted as choreographer and assistant stage manager, while musicians Kim Higgins and Charlie Porter did the honors on keyboard and percussion, respectively. Kudos also are merited by the "Center's" members who handled the unsung work of constructing, decorating and lugging the set to Cattaraugus. The play was presented multiple times during February at the Springville Center for the Arts, also at the Colden Fire Hall and at the Holland Willows.
Special mention goes to Cattaraugus-Little Valley music instructor, Chris Maguda, who volunteered to come in and operate the theater's sound/light console for the performance.
The Cattaraugus show was arranged by the Timberwolves Community Alliance, whose share of the proceeds will go to bolster the treasury of that recently founded group. The "Alliance's" goal is to provide resources and support to local organizations and municipalities, as well as the school.
*A Google search of Leinie's Beer (featured in Ernie's halftime song) reveals that Leinenliugel's Brewery is located in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Presumably the fictional lake of "Guys on Ice" is not far distant.