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Veterans performance takes dramatic turn

Left to right, Ed Charbonneau, sings “The Unicorn” to Sophia, Bella and Josie Hanson during rehearsal for “Welcome Home Danny” in the Lake Nebagamon Auditorium on Sunday. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium, with proceeds earmarked for the planned Lake Nebagamon Armed Services Tribute. (Maria Lockwood)

Skeletons come out of the cupboard and Elvis returns to the stage as the Nebagamon Players perform “Welcome Home Danny.” 

The musical drama by Kay Coletta blends elements of “Cinderella” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” into the story of a local Marine injured serving in Afghanistan. A guardian angel appears, allowing him to glimpse how his loss affects the village. Meanwhile, a couple of scheming residents are about to reveal some long-kept secrets.

Coletta has penned 38 original plays — musicals, mysteries, dinner theaters, historical plays and more. The Lake Nebagamon playwright still has some surprises in store.

“This one is very different,” Coletta said. “It’s much more serious than plays we did before.”

Audience members can also expect plenty of music, a host of familiar faces and a happy ending.

Coletta said she starts each production with a soundtrack in mind, than tailors the script to the music and cast.

“Welcome Home Danny” features songs that span genres and generations, from “Danny Boy,” “G.I. Blues” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” to “Hell on High Heels.”

Although there is a basic script in place, the musical will continue to evolve until show time.

“I change it every day and they change it every day,” Coletta said. “So anything could happen.”

Ed Charbonneau, who has been in every production, said script changes happen on stage, too. Cast members have dealt with lost power, missed cues and impromptu improv to keep the show rolling.

“Some of my favorite ones, we miss whole sections (of the script),” Charbonneau said, but the audience is always supportive of the turns the tale takes.

Tina Souza, who plays one of the villains of the piece, said she had never seen a Nebagamon Players production before.

“It’s interesting, it’s fun,” she said. “I wish I would’ve done it before. I’ve lived here 20 years.”

Singing is her passion, and Souza said it was fun to take on the persona of Tina, “an outgoing, flamboyant, naughty little thing.”

“You get to be this whole other person and let it fly,” she said.

Does Tina have a heart of gold hidden beneath that bling?

Audience members will have to find out for themselves during the 7:30 p.m. performance Saturday in the Lake Nebagamon Auditorium.

The multi-generational cast includes Souza, Ed and Doris Charbonneau, Jann Brill, Shirley Rouleau, Cheryl Tidemann, Lesley Nicholas, Janine and Doug Seis, Jim and Swan Dawson, Kelby Werner, Ron Scott, Jean Germano, Mellissa Hogfedlt, Lee Olson, Jim Pellman, Cathy Rose, Ella and Samantha Brill, and Travis, Sophia, Bella and Josie Hanson.

Tickets are $10. To reserve tickets, call the village office at 715-374-3101 or Coletta at 715-374-2283.

Coletta suggested pre-ordering tickets as Nebagamon Player productions tend to sell out.

Proceeds from “Welcome Home Danny” benefit the planned Lake Nebagamon Armed Services Tribute. The tribute will be located on the outer wall of the Lake Nebagamon Auditorium tol honor more than 200 local veterans from the Civil War to present resting in the Lake Nebagamon Cemetery and other residents who have served their country.