Warren Gerds column: Showman enjoys his lives in Wisconsin, California

The fellow who had a hand in writing "Packer Fans from Outer Space," "Guys and Does" and "Belgians in Heaven" also has a hand in "Do You Hear the People Sing? Musical Theatre and Attitude Change."

Fred Heide leads two lives, one in Wisconsin and one in California.

He says folks on either end generally don't clue in on his other half.

In Wisconsin, thousands of people see Heide sing, play guitar and cavort in musical comedies during the summer at American Folklore Theatre in Door County.

Some of the shows that he performs in he helped write, and they tug at the imagination. One tells of bickering Belgian brothers who find the meaning of life with the help of a clumsy angel and invisible chicken. Another is about the Packers (Heide grew up in Green Bay) playing the Chicago Bears in a universe parallel to ours, until the time they cross over.

Folks at AFT watching Heide perform also are seeing Frederick J. Heide, Ph.D, who teaches in the couple and family therapy department of the California School of Professional Psychology.

"Doc" Heide, as he is called at AFT, crossed his two lives recently in a paper he co-authored in the American Psychological Association journal, "Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts."

Imagine a study on audience attitudes about deer hunting as the result of seeing a musical comedy that includes a white buck that sings and dances.

"Audience members' reports of emotional engagement and insight were significantly related to hunting attitude change," an introduction to the paper reports.

Serious studies are serious studies, but Heide and two colleagues had to have more fun than usual when they entered the loft of scholars with their examination of folks who went to "Guys and Does" just for laughs.

"Measures included an eight-item Hunting Attitude Scale and an instrument assessing audience engagement — captivation, intellectual stimulation, emotional resonance, spiritual value, social cohesion/insight and specific emotional reactions," the intro says.

It's a safe bet that people leaving the show did not immediately shoot a deer, even if they felt like it. They were probably caught up saying, "That was funny."

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