Sweet Lips is bringing its show back to the Wheelhouse Restaurant.
It is being called a “reunion show,” because for years, the group did a full season of summer theater at the restaurant.
“We did shows five nights per week, Sunday through Thursday for six weeks, everything but Friday and Saturday,” said Dennis Sutliff.
Sweet Lips’ first season there was in 1982.
The group performed at the Wheelhouse for about 10 years.
“We got really busy. They got busy,” Sutliff said. “I tend bar at the Wheelhouse so Jeff (Maiman) said, ‘Why not do a reunion show at the Wheelhouse?’ He’s been mentioning it on and off a while. We haven’t done summer shows in a number of years.”
On Thursday, Aug. 15, Sweep Lips is returning there to do a show on the deck.
It starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15.
“We are not taking reservations. We are selling tickets at the door, so I suggest people come early, get a table, eat and stay,” Sutliff said.
Sutliff is being joined on stage by Dave Bell, Pat Enright, Cheri Marks and Harry Porfilio. Jim Marks retired after doing his final show with them in the spring.
“We’ve all been together the whole time,” Sutliff said.
Sweet Lips’ history begins in 1981.
Sutliff, a Seymour native and acting major in college, began teaching English and drama at Almond-Bancroft High School.
“I had done a lot of shows in California,” he said. “When I moved here, there was nothing other than community theater. I decided to start something.”
He used a $2,000 inheritance to build a stage.
“We would rehearse the plays in my garage,” Sutliff said.
Depending on work schedules, some members arrived as early as 7 a.m., while others showed up after work to help build sets.
Sweet Lips eventually began doing comedy, too.
“During the winter, at the Wheelhouse, we started doing comedy shows Thursday nights for $2. We packed the place. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Prior to doing a full summer season of theater at the Wheelhouse, Sweet Lips also performed at Simpson’s Restaurant and at the former Outrigger.
“The next year, the Wheelhouse said, ‘Why not set up the season here?'” Sutliff said.
They did, and over the past 30-some years, have performed throughout the area.
In their early years, tickets were $4.50 a show, and actors were paid $25 a show.
“At one time, we went to Madison for auditions. It was something fun to do, and people really liked it. There was nothing like it around here,” he said of the theater company.
In recent years, Sweet Lips has done shows featuring their original comedy.
The Aug. 15 show at Wheelhouse will be about a two-hour show, he said.
He said they have plenty of new material and songs.
The show will include a ballet called “Duck Lake,” a fishing show, spoofs about county highway workers, songs about Fleet Farm and cell phones and their own version of the news.
“We’ve been rehearsing this for probably three weeks,” Sutliff said.