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Escanaba in da Moonlight

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"It's like Christmas with guns!" says yooper Remnar Soady when he, his brother Reuben and their pop, Albert, come together for their November hunting ritual. It's up in da woods near Escanaba. If you don't know where dat is, you must be some kind of flatlander. Everybody should oughta know about the UP, Michigan's world-renowned hanging part ... uh, over dere on the left.

Lookin' at da family history of huntin', says Albert, may sound like and look like a story you ain't gonna believe. But it's a story ya gotta like.

Reuben has had bad luck bagging a buck all dese years, and everybody in da neighborhood figures his bad luck is gonna rub off on them. But dis time Reuben has brought along magic porcupine piss to ward off evil spirits. And his Ojibwa wife, Wolf Moon Dance, has given him spells and stuff to help him become more like a regular man.

But up dere in da woods, strange tings is happenin'. Like Albert's moonshine don't shine no more. Like da playing cards is all weird. Like DNA ranger Tom T. Treado says he seen God over on da ridge. Like Jimmer Negamanee from Menomonee's Chevy spontaneously combusted. Jimmer, by the way, was abducted by some of them UFOers who keep showin' up in those parts. You gotta figure he got away on account of his talent for emitting dangerous gas, even when he's not outside using the two-holer.

So look, consider Jeff Daniels' 1995 comedy Escanaba in da Moonlight a goofy, hilarious visit with people from up nort' over by Canada. Daniels himself spent formative years not too far east of there, and came up with a oad of earthy laughter.

Director Mark A. Calla has put the whole shebang together with great pacing and the kind of style that tells it like it is. And the cast hangs in dere with him for a bagful of believability. Bill Bennett, as Albert, nails the trophy to the wall. (He even adds some written comments in the program, to help you cross the border.) As Reuben and Remnar, Scott Van de Mark and Matt Marceau remain right dere with him, making you think they're so funny because they're real and don't know they're funny. Oh yeah, and actors Jesse Warnick, Rick Bryant and Zola Alvez have got it made in da shade too.

Hey! You know?

Escanaba in da Moonlight continues through Nov. 24. Little Lake Theatre, 500 Lakeside Drive South (off Route 19), Canonsburg. 724-745-6300 or www.littlelaketheatre.org

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