By Harley Buchholz
Part-time milker Brenda Strack likes to compose jingles in her mind while waiting for her charges to empty their udders on the Kewaskum area farms where she works. Then, while watching her son in a musical play in Sheboygan an idea formed. "I can do that," she thought. "Dairymen the Moosical" takes shape. Brenda writes a play, a first-time experience for her, and collaborates with her musician sister, Melanie Wiltse of Stevens Point, to put some of the jingles to music.
"We worked with it together for a week," Brenda says. "She was amazing with it." That was about a year ago. The two continued to meet, usually in Oshkosh as a central location until the script took shape. With a finished product in hand, a director was located and auditions were held in February. Rehearsals began April 1.
"Dairymen the Moosical" will be performed six times in mid-May at Kewaskum High School. Opening night is Saturday, May 11 in conjunction with the start of Kewaskum's Gateway to the Arts Festival. Matinee performances will be at 1:30 p.m. May 12, 16 and 19, with additional 7:30 p.m. shows scheduled May 17 and 18. Tickets are available at Campbellsport, Kewaskum and West Bend Piggly Wiggly stores and at the door. Call 262-334-4998 for more information.
There's a cast of eight main characters, plus ensemble groups to sing the 16 songs in scenes that range from a summer festival to a milkhouse to a Florida Tiki bar to a funeral home. Despite the funeral scene, Brenda laughs while playfully singing bars from some of the tunes, "This is not a serious play at all. It's definitely a comedy." It centers around neighboring farm families, one with old-fashioned, thrifty, live-within-your-means ideals and a sage old grandfather, the other believing in success-by-size, owning the most land, biggest tractors and largest dairy herd in the area. Naturally, the son in one family and daughter in the other fall in love. To say more would give away the plot.
All of the players and the director are from the Kewaskum area. One of the male leads is a herdsman for an area dairy. The Washington County Dairy Promotion Committee is sponsoring the performances and will offer cheese samples during intermissions.
Brenda and her husband have a hobby farm with Haflinger horses. Melanie runs a music studio and builds harps. The project, Brenda says, "really brought us closer together." And, she adds, "If you don't love a dairy farmer now, you'll walk out of there loving one."