Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 9, 2008

“Guys on Ice”

Majestic Theater, West Springfield
Through February 10
By Shera Cohen

No, the musical currently running at the Majestic is not about Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton, or even Will Farrell. “Guys on Ice” is, however, a lot slicker than any movie starring Farrell.

When this play was listed on the Majestic’s 2007/08 roster it brought quizzical looks and “I never heard of it” comments. Written by Fred Alley and James Kaplan added little insight. This was not to be a “Miss Saigon” – the Majestic’s huge hit in recent years. Yet, this musical, with its cast of three, may go down in WestSide as the funniest ever produced.

With the backdrop and floor of pastel blue and white, lighting created the set for this contemporary Wisconsin winter fishing hole. A rustic shanty turns 180 degrees for the audience to see the exterior and interior. Throughout the play, two buddies prepare to ice fish as they await a local television crew to film them. The men are equally dim, nice people, who seek very little in life but their 15-seconds (not minutes) of fame.

Equity actor Sam Rush and novice Alec Nelson are Marvin and Lloyd, respectively. Each is perfect for his role, and they are perfect together as they portray guys just being guys, telling jokes, drinking beer, wishing their love lives were better, drinking more beer. Neither actor is a great singer, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. The songs are funny; i.e. Rush doing “King of the Icemen” a la Elvis, and the showstopper “Snowmobile Suit” with its ingenious choreography. Without “giving it away,” never before have Velcro and zippers been utilized to achieve such humor. Special note must be made on their wonderful ability to maintain their accents. It wouldn’t be a surprise if after six weeks in this play, the actors find it hard to kick the Wisconsin “yaaah.”

Frank Aronson, in a smaller role, creates an intermission segment with audience participation that has everyone laughing. Talented Amy Crawford “is” the orchestra, on her piano.

“Guys on Ice” is a musical play to warm your heart with a smile and a belly laugh. Both are welcome. The Majestic has the perfect show for this season.