WATCH NOW: ‘Laugh-In’ arrives at Fremont Opera House | Local News
The popular TV show aired from 1968 to 1973 with episodes consisting of one crazy comedy skit after another.
“It was goofy,” Campbell said. “It was ugly. It was a leak. It was cheesy, but it was wacky enough to appeal to my personality and very, very innocent by today’s standards.
Decades after watching the hit comedy, Campbell now has a starring role in a stage adaptation of it.
Performances begin at 7 p.m. on February 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. on February 13 at the Fremont Opera House, 541 N. Broad St. Cost is $20 per person.
Campbell plays Rowan’s sidekick, Dick Martin. Fellow Fremonter Doyle Schwaninger portrays Rowan.
In the TV show, Rowan – a former World War II fighter pilot – and Martin served as comedic hosts.
Rowan was the straight man, who made comments that gave Martin, the funny man, the opportunity to crack jokes.
“It’s probably the first comedy I’ve played a straight guy in, so it’s very interesting,” Schwaninger said. “It’s been kind of a challenge to create jokes, instead of telling jokes.”
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Schwaninger’s funny man roles in opera have included those in “Leaving Iowa,” during which he played several silly characters and had 10 costume changes.
He was a talk show host in the comedy murder mystery, “The Fatal Fifties.”
Schwaninger was also on another team of comedians, playing the crunchy Al Lewis opposite a crunchier Willy Clark — two former vaudeville performers in “The Sunshine Boys.” Former Fremonter Don Cunningham played Clark.
“It was awesome,” Schwaninger said.
Schwaninger is also enjoying his last stage role.
“I enjoyed the challenge,” he said of Rowan’s role. “It’s something new for me and during the sketches I always go crazy, so I like that.”
Campbell, a longtime musician, said he was surprised when director Lee Meyer cast him as Rowan’s comedic partner.
“I prefer to hide behind my drums, but it’s been a great experience to be front and center with Doyle,” Campbell said.
Campbell notes that her friendship with Schwaninger dates back to her graduate studies in the 1980s at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“That’s where our friendship started and it grew over the years,” Campbell said.
Campbell taught journalism at Fremont Junior High School and Schwaninger at Fremont High School.
“I would send kids interested enough to continue journalism at Doyle in high school and they would have him (as a teacher) for three years,” Campbell said.
Men who have been friends for years in real life are now becoming friends on stage.
However, this is not their first time together on stage.
Schwaninger had the title role in 2017’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and Campbell starred as the dusty character, Pig Pen.
Besides the roles of Schwaninger and Campbell, “Laugh-In” features a cast of goofy characters, which include a soldier on a tricycle, a judge in a long white wig, and girls in go-go boots.
“What I love about the play is that it’s just a chance to escape the winter doldrums, to escape the pandemic — just have fun,” Schwaninger said.
For Campbell, the show provides a bit of nostalgia.
“It’s an opportunity to relive great memories that I thought were long lost,” he said.
Campbell notes that the original “Laugh-In” aired 50 years ago and appreciates Meyer’s confidence in his ability to portray one of the characters.
“What a wonderful director Lee Meyer is,” said Campbell. “She makes the game fun!” »
Recently, Campbell encountered a bit of nostalgia in her own home.
“I’m down in my man cave watching TV and all of a sudden I look up on a shelf and there were two ‘Laugh-In’ VHS tapes that I had never opened. “, did he declare.
So Campbell plugged in his VHS player and started watching the videotapes.
“It was a throwback to those days,” he says.
Other people who want to laugh, nostalgia or discover something new are invited to attend the show.
Tickets are available online at fremontoperahouse.org or 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, 128 E. Sixth St. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. Methodist Fremont Health is sponsoring the event in the historic opera house.