Northern Sky Theater is back to in-person audiences for this year's 'Home for the Holidays'

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Matt Zembrowski, from left, Karen Mal and Doc Heide bring holiday humor and music to the stage when they perform Northern Sky Theater's "Home for the Holidays" from Dec. 27 to 31 in the company's Gould Theater.
Matt Zembrowski, from left, Karen Mal and Doc Heide bring holiday humor and music to the stage when they perform Northern Sky Theater's "Home for the Holidays" from Dec. 27 to 31 in the company's Gould Theater.

FISH CREEK - For those who believe the holidays are about gathering together with friends and families, this year's production of "Home for the Holidays" might carry more meaning.

Northern Sky Theater is presenting its annual holiday-time revue five times during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve to live, in-person audiences, as it has in years past — except last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic saw the company hold the show as a streamed, daylong virtual performance.

With health protocols in place for audiences, Northern Sky will put on its show of holiday humor and both traditional and original holiday songs in its intimate Gould Theater.

The show has had a rotating cast over the years, and this year's production has company co-founder Doc Heide joined by longtime Northern Sky favorites Karen Mal and Matt Zembrowski. It'll be the first time the three have performed together on stage.

Besides being a co-founder of the company, Heide is perhaps best-known in Door County for writing or co-writing the book, lyrics and music to a number of Northern Sky hit musicals, including "Belgians in Heaven," "Packer Fans from Outer Space" and "Guys and Does." Outside of musical theater, he's also an acclaimed singer-songwriter with three studio albums to his credit, including "Christmas in Door County" with string instrument wizard Eric Lewis.

"I have a number of new songs for the show. Some that are funny, like one about why the Packers are called the Packers, and some that are pretty and optimistic, like one about the 14th-century saint Julian of Norwich," Heide said. "We're planning on some other originals by Karen and Matt, as well as a number of traditional holiday favorites. It's going to be a really lovely mix, I think."

Mal first appeared with Northern Sky in 1992, and her voice and instrumental skills since have graced its stage in dozens of productions over the years, most recently this past summer in the company's production of "Whatever Happened to Karl Janko?" Other noteworthy roles at Northern Sky were as the original Kid in "Lumberjacks in Love" and the original Angelique in "Belgians in Heaven." She has played in previous incarnations of "Home for the Holidays."

Zembrowski wrote the book, lyrics and music for the company's premiere this summer of "Whatever Happened to Karl Janko?" as well as its productions of "Doctor! Doctor!" (premiered in 2016) and "Dad’s Season Tickets" (2019). Though he's known mainly as a writer to Northern Sky audiences, Zembrowski is a singer and pianist and has appeared on its stage in the 2009 production of "Sunsets and S'mores," for which he wrote the music.

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"Home for the Holidays" shows are scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 27 to 31 in the Gould Theater on Northern Sky's Creative Center, 9508 County A, just south of County F, Fish Creek. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 students and $15 ages 12 and younger; all seats are reserved. Each show will feature drawings for gift certificates from Northern Sky's local business sponsors.

Because of the continued pandemic, public health protocols will be in place in the theater. As of Dec. 10, all patrons ages 5 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the show they're attending; must wear a mask at all times inside the theater, lobby and restrooms; and must respect socially distanced seating assignments.

All Northern Sky cast, crew, staff and volunteers have agreed to these conditions, although actors will not be masked when onstage. Ticket holders should check the Northern Sky website for updates.

For tickets or more information, call 920-854-6117 or visit northernskytheater.com.

Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or cclough@doorcountyadvocate.com.

This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Northern Sky Theater is back to live audiences for its holiday show