Vandertie Lends Energy to Community

Pageant, 2 ½ Belgians kick off full season at Southern Door Auditorium

Former principal-turned-stay-at-home-dad Cory Vandertie threw what’s left of his energy into assembling the first full season of events at Southern Door Community Auditorium since the pandemic.

Like last year, the auditorium in Brussels hosted the Miss Door County pageants, Saturday, Feb. 3. 

“It’s always felt like home to our program,” said pageant director Kimberly Sawyer, 2008 Miss Door County and 2010 Miss Green Bay and Miss Wisconsin. Sawyer said the school staff, event volunteers and technical director, Josh Lardinois, provide great support and a welcoming atmosphere, and directors from other pageants provide frequent compliments on the organization and the 592-seat theater space.

In addition to the pageant and regular school events, the auditorium hosted a Vegas-style improvisational troupe and had a sellout for The Kids From Wisconsin musical-theater extravaganza in 2023. But that schedule doesn’t compare to this season.

Those ‘Kids’ are back later this year, along with monthly professional acts. Plus, nine years after their sold-out show at Southern Door, the Belgian Pankratz boys from Frosty Tip are back Feb. 18 for rollicking comedy. 

Vandertie relishes kicking off the winter with 2½ Belgians, which comedian, actor and playwright Frank Hermans wrote about the brothers who worked at a drive-in just south of the Door County line. Now operated by the Deprey family, the outdoor diner serves ice cream, malts, food and golden-oldies tunes that still attract a lot of Brussels-area customers. 

“It features music from the ’60s and ’70s. It’s iconic music and I think what’s special about the show is the scene is set at the Frosty Tip, which is out at Dyckesville,” Vandertie said. 

He likes the way Hermans, founder of Let Me Be Frank Productions, wrote the story about his Green Bay-area Pankratz neighbors who spent summers mixing work and shenanigans at the drive-in.

“They poke fun a little bit about the Belgian heritage, but in a friendly, polite way,” Vandertie said. “I think there’s different aspects that our Belgian community here in Brussels and Namur can relate to.”

Frank’s tale really gets rolling after some of the older boys accept an invitation from Illinois girls to a party in Fish Creek, and they leave cooking duties to the younger children. 

While his show is “90% fiction,” he did some homework, over beers. Frank said one of the Pankratz boys told him the family had so many kids that they assigned each child a number. 

“They actually had bunk beds in a garage behind the place,” Frank said.

For the play, and because of the popularity of “Two and a Half Men,” he named the biggest of the characters “2½.” Frank portrays No. 2½ because he’s the huskiest actor in the troupe. 

The curtain rises on “2½ Belgians” at 3 pm Feb. 18. Tickets are $25, $30 and $35. The auditorium is at 2073 County Road DK, Brussels. For tickets, visit

Vandertie created tiered pricing in an effort to keep it affordable and attractive for families and individuals of all income levels. Sponsors also help keep ticket prices down. “Belgians” tickets are the priciest, but the auditorium had only 190 tickets left as of Jan. 29.

There’s a new show each month throughout 2024. For a complete listing go to


Vandertie says making the auditorium available for rental also can bring in more funds to strengthen programming. 

He believes the auditorium serves a vital purpose for the community, as the only major venue between Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, so Vandertie hopes to build on the momentum from this year’s season and celebration of the fine arts.

“It does a body good – it’s good for mental health and it’s good for emotional health,” he said of the arts. 

To that end, Vandertie has approached area school leaders about creating an educational performing arts series for all Door and Kewaunee schools starting with the 2024-25 school year.

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