Take 3 friends and legends of the Omaha musical stage and what do you get? Something completely sublime. This is Broadway and Beyond which was performed at the Jewish Community Center under the auspices of Performing Artists Repertory Theatre.
Sometimes all one needs is the simple things in life. Three magnificent singers performing show tunes from some of Broadway’s best (and some lesser known ones) and sharing stories from their long history of performances and I’m as happy as a clam. And the rest of audience seemed to be in the same state of euphoria as Camille Metoyer Moten, Paul Tranisi, and John Patrick Morrissey swept us away in an amazing afternoon of songs and stories.
The friendship between the three was palpable as they bantered with each other as they reminisced about shows past, but when they started singing, that’s when things really got cooking.
Under the accompaniment of Katherine Turner on piano, Metoyer Moten, Tranisi, and Morrissey each held the audience in the palms of their hands as they took turns singing some of their favorite songs. My only regret is that they never joined forces on anything but the intro and outro of the show.
Camille Metoyer Moten’s golden alto dazzled the audience with the sonorous “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from Evita and the soaring “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar. But she swept me away in a cloud of musical ecstasy with the hauntingly beautiful “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.
Paul Tranisi got the show off to a thunderous start with the godly “Rain” from Once On this Island. From there, he blended his mighty baritone with a bit of theatricality as he morphed into Tevye musing about what he would do with a small fortune with “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof and then blew the audience away with “I, Don Quixote” from Man of La Mancha.
John Patrick Morrissey exudes youthful energy and has quite the vocal range. Morrissey belted out “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha with extreme confidence and optimism, serenaded us with a determined take on “My Corner of the Sky” from Pippin, but could also handle pieces with more gravitas such as the thoughtful “Pilate’s Dream” from Jesus Christ Superstar.
I audibly “awwed” with disappointment when the afternoon ended as I could have spent a few more hours enjoying the trio’s songs and stories. Sadly, it was also the only day to enjoy this concert, but I hope they consider doing this production again in the very near future.
Until then, you can still enjoy a fine performance from Performing Artists Repertory Theatre with its closing performance of Always. . .Patsy Cline on October 31 at 3pm at the Jewish Community Center. Tickets are $37 and can be purchased by calling 402-706-0778. The Jewish Community Center is located at 333 S 132nd St in Omaha, NE.
Omaha, NE: Just in time for Halloween, Rave On Productions continues its spectacular Omaha Series with Richard O’Brien’s legendary ode to schlocky sci-fi, The Rocky Horror Show.
This musical tells the story of newly engaged Janet and Brad whose car breaks down in the middle of who knows where. Seeking help, they find the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, a delightfully deranged transvestite scientist who has created a new playmate for himself in the form of Rocky. What follows is a wildly raucous night of comedy, double entrendres, and hijinks.
Now you can enjoy The Rocky Horror Show in all of its audience participating glory when it runs at The Slowdown (729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE) for six performances Oct 29-31.
Rave On’s show brings back some of the award winning cast and crew from the 2019 production mounted at the Omaha Community Playhouse including director Kaitlyn McClincy, Erika Hall-Sieff, Kevin Buswell, and Benn Sieff who reprises his Fonda-Maguire award winning role of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter.
Joining them is a cast of some of Omaha’s finest theatrical talent and singers and they can’t wait for you to join in the fun.
Tickets begin at $30 and can be purchased by visiting https://www.theomahaseries.com/rockyhorror. For an additional $10, you’ll be able to purchase a prop bag at the door (no personal props, please) to immerse yourself in this show the way it was meant to be (VIP Balcony tickets will receive a free prop package).
Ready yourselves for a haunting good time and throw yourself into the experience of The Rocky Horror Show.
*Parental discretion highly advised due to mature themes and adult content.
Directed By: Kaitlyn McClincy and Kimberly Faith Hickman Musical Direction By: Matthew McGuigan
Benn Sieff as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter Jesse White as Brad Majors Nina Washington as Janet Weiss Kevin Buswell as Riff Raff Erika Hall-Sieff as Magenta Courtney Cairncross as Columbia Evelyn Hill as Narrator Billy McGuigan as Rocky Ryan McGuigan as Dr. Scott Eric Perlstein as Eddie Brittney Thompson as Transylvanian
Matthew McGuigan, Stan Harper, Jay Hanson, Max Meyer, Darren Pettit, and Larell Ware
It’s a story of friendship between a down to earth country star and her biggest fan. This is Always. . .Patsy Cline and it is currently playing at the Jewish Community Center under the auspices of Performing Artists Repertory Theatre.
Ted Swindley has written a pretty effective script. While the show does pay tribute to Cline’s music (skillfully performed by Vince Learned and his band), it is more about the true story of the friendship between Louise Seger and Patsy Cline. Swindley deftly cuts the duties of this show between a top flight storyteller and a world class singer as the character of Seger shares the story of how she became a fan of Cline’s music and then befriended her when she performed at a honkytonk in the early 60s. The character of Cline doesn’t do much acting, but needs a mountainesque presence to go with a superior set of vocal chops. Fortunately, this show has both elements in spades.
Gordon Cantiello’s direction is quite exceptional. Not only do his two actresses perfectly embody their characters, but the relationship between them feels organic and genuine. Cantiello also found a surprising number of beats in the script and keeps it engrossing as the story of Seger and Cline is, at turns, sweet, humorous, loving, and sad.
Connie Lee turns in a winning (dare I say award winning?) performance as Louise Seger. Seger is definitely a character. She’s iron willed, free spirited, and brassy as all get out. But she’s also loyal, caring, and an awful lot of fun to be around. Lee is a delight to watch with her incredible animation. I just got a kick watching her react to Cline’s performances as she swayed to the music, outright danced to it, and made VERY sure that Cline’s drummer didn’t rush the backbeat. More impressive is how she does it in a way that you notice it, but it doesn’t pull attention away from Cline. Lee also does a bit of nifty improvisation to get the audience involved in the show.
Kellyn Danae Wooten was so spot on as Patsy Cline that if my eyes were closed I would have thought she was Cline. Wooten perfectly emulates Cline’s throaty alto as she performs her classic hits including “Crazy”, “Sweet Dreams”, and “Walking After Midnight” just to name a few and also threw in a few encores for the audience at the end. Though the character of Cline has very little spoken dialogue, Wooten had the warm, welcoming presence of the down to earth singer who I’m certain was “greatly relieved” to be treated like a regular person by Seger.
It’s a fun and amusing show and you don’t even have to be a fan or know much about Patsy Cline to enjoy the show. If you enjoy a good bit of storytelling and enjoy good music, you will have a fun time watching this production.
Always. . .Patsy Cline runs through October 31. Showtimes are 1pm and 4pm on October 23 and 3pm on October 31. Tickets cost $37 and can be purchased by calling 402-706-0778. The Jewish Community Center is located at 333 S 132nd St in Omaha, NE.
It was a dark and stormy night. . .ah, to hell with it. It’s The Mystery of Irma Vep and it’s currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
This show is truly a spectacle that you have to experience so I won’t blow things with any kind of a plot description. Charles Ludlam’s script is very meta as the show is aware that it’s a show with the twist that all but two cast members are unable to perform forcing the two available thespians to play every role. And play them they do. Way beyond the hilt as they tell the story of the tragic Hillcrest family plagued by memories of a dead spouse, werewolves, mummies, and more. This is truly a howler of a comedy fit for the Halloween season.
Jim McKain understood that the way to tackle this show was not to take it seriously at all. Nothing is off limits and the actors are given the leeway to ham things up to the extreme. Still, you can see McKain’s disciplined hand with the tightly controlled pace and the nuances that make the multiple characters played by the two actors seem like different people. McKain also takes full advantage of the beats of this farce, milking every drop of comedy from the tropes of huge dramatic pauses, cheesy “duh DUH duh” organ chords, and sound effects that make one feel like you’re watching an old radio show from the 1940s. He’s also guided his actors to gutbusting performances guaranteed to give audience members a great ab workout as they guffaw through the night.
Ben Beck’s star shines brightly in this show as he’s able to use the full breadth of his character acting prowess. Whether he’s the wooden legged servant, Nicodemus, making lewd double entendres towards the maid; the buxom Lady Enid Hillcrest trying to keep her husband from pining over his late wife; or the scheming Egyptian guide, Alcazar, looking to snare a few bucks from Lord Edgar Hillcrest, Beck clomps, howls, and frets his way into your funny bone. Some of his best moments are his improv moments where he seems to break character to make a witty aside or reaction before snapping back to whatever character he is playing.
Anna Perilo will have you gasping for air before the night is through. Her sense of timing is deadly accurate and she is an acting chameleon. Her amazing characters include the very Cockney maid, Jane, who has an attitude well above her station and enjoys a good draught of booze and the mysterious lrma Vep. But her best character is her rendition of Lord Edgar Hillcrest, the very British Egyptologist who’s quick to hunt down the wolf plaguing his sheep with guns a blazing and gamely exploring unopened tombs. But her histrionics with Hillcrest’s temper tantrums and fear of “the horrors” will leave you wheezing for breath.
I absolutely loved Matthew Hamel’s set which included its own stage with clam footlights and a very British manor with its fireplace with smoldering embers, massive French doors, and fine oak woodwork. Combined with Andrew Morgan’s properties of books, bric a brac, and portraits, I felt like I was watching something straight off the BBC. Timothy Vallier has a very fitting horror score for the show that sometimes gives you a wink and a nudge when it segues towards 80s hits. Chris Wood’s lights embellish the story’s absurdities with dropdowns to blues and reds for scary moments, a cacophony of colors when a mechanism is activated to reveal a sarcophagus, and flashes of lightning. John Gibilisco’s sounds keep things humming with gunshots, thunder claps, and smashing glass. Lindsay Pape’s costumes suit the period and the over the top feel with Lord Hillcrest’s tweeds, Lady Enid’s billowing, poofy, pink dress, Alcazar’s fez and robe, and the Grim Reaper outfit adopted by a grim intruder.
It’s the perfect treat for the Halloween season with its spooky theme and hammy antics and you’ll have a ripping good time during a night of humorous horror.
The Mystery of Irma Vep runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Nov 7. Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $36 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.
From the moment I saw Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn, owned and operated by Gary and Dawn Bahr, I knew it was going to be the next B & B I would visit. So I took advantage of an unseasonably warm early October to have one of my more enjoyable adventures.
I hit the ground sprinting on this jaunt as I partook of my first activity before I even arrived at the inn. That activity was Cave of the Mounds located in Blue Mounds, WI.
Cave of the Mounds was discovered in August 1939 when a quarry blast revealed the mammoth caverns. From that discovery, the caves have now become an educational tourist attraction.
There are more than just the caves to explore. Several trails are available for hiking as well as a gift shop and a sluice (bags of dirt are available in the gift shop for sluicing). But the caves are what everybody comes to see.
Tours have resumed at the caves, but they’re a little different from pre-pandemic times. Now the tours are self-guided, though guides are available at certain points to answer questions and information kiosks are available to educate you throughout your tour. So, on one hand, you may not get as much information, but you can leisurely enjoy the caves and see the awesome formations of nature.
After enjoying a pleasant walk through the caves, I made my way over to Belleville to check into the inn.
Cameo Rose is located on a secluded acreage just outside of Belleville where one can enjoy true peaceful solitude. Unlike many B & Bs which were private homes, Cameo Rose was specifically built to be an inn so you get a traditional country inn set in the modern times.
I was greeted at the door by Dawn who has a wealth of information about the area. She gave me a tour of the home and led me to my base of operations: Battenburg Lace Whirlpool Room. It’s a spacious room with a king-sized bed, rose wallpaper, wine-colored carpet, a fireplace, an easy chair, some antique fixtures and a large bathroom with a soaker whirlpool (no soaps, oils, or shampoo).
While I got comfy, Dawn brought me a pumpkin spice bar and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. After drinking that cup, I don’t think I’ll ever drink anything less than the real McCoy again. I unwound for a bit before heading out to nearby Mt Horeb for a bite to eat.
My dinner would be at Grumpy Troll, a famed local eatery. Like many businesses, Grumpy Troll is suffering some understaffing due to COVID, so you might need to have a bit of patience. I opted to sit at the bar to avoid a wait for a table.
I ordered the namesake burger which was nice and juicy, but, surprisingly had no vegetables which was the only thing missing to make it a perfect burger. However, it did fill the cavity and give me the juice I needed to close out the night at Screamin’ Acres in Stoughton, WI.
Screamin’ Acres is a haunted attraction created by Jacob Eugster in 2011. Originally, it was intended to help Jacob pay off his school loans, but it has morphed into one of the top seasonal attractions in the area.
I started my night getting “disinfected” when I stepped into a machine that buried me in bubbles which felt refreshing on a muggy night. From there I had a brief wait in line before beginning the attraction.
You will definitely get your money’s worth out of this one as it will take at least an hour to make it through the haunts. Time clocks are at the start of each attraction so the staff can socially distance groups for an enjoyable experience. Screamin’ Acres has an impressive attention to detail with each attraction having its own in-depth story and you can read about those at the link provided a few paragraphs ago. The actual haunted house portion was my favorite due to its properties which made it feel like an old, creaky mansion.
I was surprised by the lack of jump scares, but chalked it up to COVID precautions to keep the actors distanced. For a truly unique experience, you must try the “superhaunt”, Death Trap.
Death Trap uses natural human fears and reactions to spook you. This season the title is Shock Therapy, though given the tight squeeze to get through some of the parts of this haunt, claustrophobia is another fear that might plague you. The title is very true as I got zapped by some chains right off the bat, though the sensation is the full body equivalent of sticking your tongue on a 9 volt.
I truly enjoyed the challenge of attempting to dodge the many jolts waiting for me before escaping. I then returned to Cameo Rose for the night, but Screamin’ Acres is definitely a fun group activity to get the blood pumping.
I enjoyed a truly restful night on the soft memory foam and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
Due to COVID, the dining room is not currently being used at Cameo Rose so you can enjoy breakfast in your room or outdoors in various spots on the property. Dawn prepared a 4 course meal with fruit, an apple nut muffin, sausage, and mango stuffed French Toast followed by mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. The meal is perfectly portioned so you won’t feel overstuffed and the sausage is amazing (it’s organic). I felt amply fueled to visit The House on the Rock in nearby Spring Green.
If you’re in the region, you must visit the House. It was built by Alex Jordan as a private home for himself back in in the 1950s. But it was so original that people clamored to see it and Jordan eventually opened it up to the public and it became his life’s work.
Jordan built the house himself purely out of instinct and a knack for tinkering as he had no knowledge of architecture. Outside of its fascinating construction which includes a room dubbed the Infinity Room (it looks like it goes on forever), the house also contains some of the most incredible bric a brac you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Jordan was one of the world’s foremost collectors and his house expanded to huge rooms containing the many items he discovered over his life ranging from rare treasures to the bizarre and fantastical. You’ll see a suit of armor made for a dog (built by Jordan), radical combinations of instruments that will play for a token, intricate dollhouses, a main street from the turn of the century, a room containing 5 massive organs, the world’s largest carousel (and it has no horses) and so much more.
You could spend the day immersed in this incredible place and still return again and again to find something new.
I spent several hours here myself before returning to Cameo Rose to organize some photos and then I headed off to worship at St Francis of Assisi.
Father gave a pretty poignant sermon about having the faith of a child. When you’re a child, you instinctively trust your parents and you trust God without question. But in the process of growing up and learning how to support yourself, that faith wanes. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way where it becomes harder to “let go, let God” because you train yourself to feel like you have to do something instead of simply trusting and being led to the right spot. I assuredly have a lot to digest with this sermon.
This restaurant is actually in an old schoolhouse and provides an intimate gourmet experience. I had the filet mignon in a marrow demi-glaze with whipped potatoes and Brussel Sprouts. I had never eaten sprouts before, but they taste like leafy broccoli. The potatoes were light and fluffy and my filet was cooked to perfection. This was truly dining.
After dinner, I retired to Cameo Rose for the night.
The trip seemed to end as quickly as it began. At first light, I was writing and editing. Then I got cleaned up for breakfast.
I decided to eat in the gazebo this morning and Dawn had prepared crustless quiche with a cacophany of ingredients, wheat toast, cinnamon scone with raisins, macademia nuts, and white chocolate chips, fruit, and a Neopolitan sundae for dessert.
I was so relaxed, but reality beckoned. But if you want to get away from it all and have a lot to get away to, make a reservation with Dawn and Gary to stay at Cameo Rose.
A group of students from a small Catholic college in Wyoming reunite to celebrate the installation of a beloved professor as the school’s new president. During their conversations and debates, ugly truths are revealed and raw emotions come to the forefront. This is Heroes of the Fourth Turning and it is currently playing at BlueBarn Theatre.
Without question, this is one of the deepest plays I’ve ever seen. Will Arbery has an ironclad grip on the current times and asks a lot of questions in this modern morality play. These questions have no easy answers and Arbery does not attempt to answer them. He merely poses the talking points. Arbery asks questions of the true nature of morality; the raging us vs them mentality of society, especially when it comes to political platforms; why people gravitate towards certain collectives; the inability to have civil discourse with differing opinions; the dangers of pride and ambition carried too far, just to name a few. That he does it through a quintet of conservative characters is a particularly clever touch and a good way to get people to walk a mile in another’s shoes as the old saying goes. These powerful questions almost make the audience forget that Arbery leaves a couple of plot threads dangling especially one including a Twilight Zone style twist.
Barry Carman helms this production and his direction is of sterling quality. Carman cuts a fierce pace for this juggernaut production. He intimately understands the beats and momentum of this show as it just builds and builds into a runaway train that threatens to derail until finally applying the brakes at the critical juncture. Carman also has a sense of movement that is second to none. Each and every time his characters move, there is a clear purpose behind it that speaks as loudly as words. Carman has also led his cast to remarkable performances. There isn’t a weak link among them and each performer gets a moment in the spotlight.
As Gina, Joey Hartshorn is the beloved teacher who had a hand in molding the thinking of her 4 students, one of whom is her daughter. Hartshorn brings a definitive intelligence to the character and a certain open-mindedness in her conservatism. She’ll always vote the platform out of principle, but chooses to follow leaders that she believes are best for the country such as Barry Goldwater and Pat Buchanan. She also doesn’t buy into the “gloom and doom” thinking of her protégé who believes that a culture war is brewing. Hartshorn also brings a certain coldness to her interpretation. She clearly doesn’t have a good relationship with her daughter and didn’t seem all that interested in seeing her students again. Not only does she lay into her protégé, Teresa, for not thinking exactly as she does, but she shows some liberal leanings now that she’s running the show at the college.
Suzanne Withem does some exemplary work with her take on Teresa. As Gina’s protégé, Withem’s Teresa drank copious amounts from her fountain of knowledge and seems to aspire to be a better Gina than Gina. Teresa is the most conservative of the group and appears to downright hate liberals with her comments about them being evil due to their adherence to the pro-choice platform. Withem brings an ice-cold selfishness to Teresa who clearly believes herself to be smarter, more moral, and simply better than her classmates. She’s utterly disdainful of Kevin, backhand compliments Emily, has some respect for Justin, and fawns over Gina. Gina’s dismissal of her gives Withem the chance to break Teresa’s chilly exterior and show the scared child hiding behind it.
I’ve always been dazzled by Anna Jordan’s mastery of body language and her turn as Emily further bolsters that amazement. Jordan’s Emily suffers from a nameless disease that leaves her frail and constantly hurting. With her caved in chest and heavy leaning on her cane, Jordan truly appears haggard and ill. Emily is the most open-minded of the group and seems to always look for the truth and the good. It’s hinted that her illness may just be in her head and that she truly suffers from extreme empathy. You can see Jordan visibly start to break as tensions get higher and higher, triggering flashbacks to a distressing incident with a client which might have been the onset of her own illness.
Thomas Gjere is a truly good man as Justin. Justin is definitely the rock of this group. He clearly had a rough past and Gjere makes you believe that he was a hard-edged man who had those edges softened after finding the college and Gina who he says “saved his life”. Justin is a flawed man and Gjere has subtle guilty expressions when he recalls some of his past troubled life. He’s on the search for something greater, but whether he is doing so out of personal growth or fear is left for the viewer to decide.
Michael Judah’s Kevin is definitely the most broken character in the show. Judah does splendid work essaying Kevin’s drunkenness and the truth that almost literally spews from him due to the loosening power of booze. Kevin seems to pine for perfect morality and emotionally flagellates himself whenever he falls short of it. This seems to happen frightfully often due to his utter loneliness which appears to be caused by fear of women (he gets physically sick talking about the Virgin Mary) which, in itself, was caused by his repression of love for Teresa and Emily.
Jason Jamerson has designed an extraordinary set that looks like you are genuinely outside in a wooded area with its long grass, trees, bushes, and stumps with the back of Justin’s house butting up against it. I swear I could almost feel the cool breeze blowing in from a nearby river. Homero Vela’s lights perfectly emulate a starlit night, but the flip side of being true to the setting meant the faint light made it hard to see the actors’ faces and expressions when they were in darker parts of the stage. That leads to an interesting conundrum and I’ll be honest in admitting I’m not sure how to get the best of both worlds. Bill Kirby’s sounds make for an ambient night and, at points, something a little more terrifying and jumpy. Jocelyn Reed’s costumes helped to flesh out the characters from the business pantsuit of Gina to the outdoorsy clothes of Justin, the hoodie of the frail Emily, the stiff, professional clothes of Kevin, and the practical clothes of Teresa.
Buckle yourself in for a challenging night of theatre, but there is a powerful kernel of hope in this show in that it may encourage people to talk to each other instead of at each other.
Heroes of the Fourth Turning runs at BlueBarn Theatre through October 24. Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm with the exception of a 6pm show on October 17. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased by calling 402-345-1576 or visiting www.bluebarn.org. Due to mature themes and language, this show is not suitable for children. BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.
Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of The Mystery of Irma Vep will open on Friday, October 8th, 2021. The show will run in the Howard Drew Theatre through November 7 with performances Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now starting at $36 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.
Vampires, werewolves, mummies and an ancient family curse: Two actors take on all of this and more—via dozens of warp-speed quick changes—in this wildly absurd comedy. A feverish spectacle from beginning to end, delightfully campy and dripping with satire, The Mystery of Irma Vep is a farce to be reckoned with!
To schedule an audition, contact Chris at: firstname.lastname@example.org
**All artists working at the BLUEBARN are required to have been vaccinated for COVID-19**
Company members needed:
CATHAY (30s-50s): Alto. Cathay is soft spoken and wise. A lot happens internally before she says anything externally. “Keeping my head down kept me alive.” Cathay is the trained soldier of the group. She knows how to attack and when. And always two steps ahead of their enemies. True historical figure.
BIDDY (30s-60s): Soprano. No-nonsense, intellectual, calculated. Biddy is a natural businesswoman…with big dreams and a rap number. Biddy has been on this type of journey with her own children, she’s the mama, the guider, the financial planner. She’s the Oprah. Hahahaha. True Historical figure.
STAGECOACH MARY (40s-70s): Contralto. Stagecoach is a fearless, cigar smoking, whiskey drinking, rifle carrying, mail carrying bad mamma jamma. She’s Bethulah with experience. True Historical Figure. Mary’s songs range from sexy ballads to high-stepping country.
PLAYWRIGHT (37): The playwright serves as the narrator, the dreamer, the snake, the historian, and the roadmap. Stepping in where context or a new element is needed, the playwright is omnipresent -past, present and future.
The roles of Bethulah and Zadie have already been cast.
A murderer is lurking aboard the famed Orient Express. Unfortunately for the fiend, the world’s greatest detective is also riding the train. Will Hercule Poirot be able to solve the baffling killing of a shady businessman? Find out in Murder on the Orient Express currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
As I stated in a previous review of this production, I’m not going to delve into plot details as I want the audience to experience the story fresh so they get maximum enjoyment out of it. However, I can say that Ken Ludwig does an admirable job adapting Agatha Christie’s classic novel. Ludwig stays fairly close to the source material though he does eliminate several characters which is a salient plot point and clue in the novel, but works around it pretty well. Though known for farce, Ludwig plays this show pretty straight, yet manages to work a little humor into the story with his vaunted wordplay.
Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek’s direction is, on the whole, very accurate and precise. He cuts a brutally brisk pace which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as Poirot peels back the layers of the case. His staging is spot on, making us feel the enclosed nature of the train and always well placing his performers so you can see their reactions to the goings-on at any given moment. Clark-Kaczmarek also proves adept at pulling out some truly masterful performances from his thespians. That being said, it also seemed like he tried to force a little comedy into the production as several of his actors were a little over the top which made them feel like caricatures instead of characters and didn’t always gel with the more grounded performances.
Some of the highlights of the night were Brennan Thomas who is a pretty mean S.O.B. as the murder victim, Samuel Ratchett. Olivia Howard gives a beautiful, underplayed performance as the governess, Mary Debenham. Ethan Dragon gives a master class in animation as the affable, and theatrical, Monsieur Bouc.
Connie Lee dominates her scenes as the obnoxious Helen Hubbard. When Hubbard starts talking, one starts looking for her off switch as she never shuts up and has a grating personality that would even rub Mr. Rogers the wrong way. Whether she’s frustrating passengers with late night singing and dancing or flirting with the conductor in an attempt to nab a new husband, Lee simply lights up the stage with her effervescent presence.
Daena Schweiger displays a superior dry wit as Princess Dragomiroff. Seldom have I seen such potent hilarity come from such monotone delivery. Schweiger knows just what words to emphasize or phrasing to utilize to get the fullest effect from Dragomiroff’s lines and her verbal sparring with Lee’s Hubbard was one of the show’s shining moments.
Seth Maisel wows in his Playhouse debut with a superb turn as Hercule Poirot. Maisel easily conveys Poirot’s uber fastidious (bordering on OCD) personality with his hyper attention to details and the wiping of his hands after shaking with an old friend. He also well communicates his genius with his rapid-fire deductions and ability to see through red herrings. Maisel also brought a fantastic intensity to the role which I thoroughly enjoyed. Maisel’s Poirot kowtows to nobody and has a highly developed sense of justice which is put to the test when that sense of justice is challenged by his dedication to the law. His realization that, for once, justice and the law may not be one and the same leads to a haunting monologue excellently and subtly delivered by Maisel.
Justin Payne’s score had me ready for a night of mystery with its relentless eeriness. Jim Othuse surpassed himself with this set as the Orient Express became another character with its luxurious sleeping compartments, elegant dining room, and imposing edifice during a scene done on the back of the train. Lindsay Pape’s costumes were right on the money with the elegant suit of the impeccably dressed Poirot, the doughty dress of the uber religious Greta Ohlsson, or the spiffy uniform of Michel, the conductor highlighting some of her costuming prowess. John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart impressed with their sounds whether it be a gunshot, a chugging and braking train, or the flashback effect used on voices during the denouement.
The show will assuredly hold your attention and perhaps even have you white knuckling your armrests at points. With its blitzkrieg pace, strong writing, assured direction, and solid performances, Murder on the Orient Express does provide a gripping night of mystery.
Murder on the Orient Express runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Oct 10. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.
Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding auditions for the upcoming production of Outside Mullingar on Sunday, September 26 at 1 p.m. at OCP and Monday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. at OCP.
Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, OCP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which all community members feel a sense of belonging, and does not discriminate in casting practices on the basis of an individual’s ethnicity, age, gender, physical and cognitive ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse and inclusive casting.
Director: Susan Baer Collins
Show Dates: Feb. 11–March 13, 2022
Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. in the Howard Drew Theatre. Actors are called to the theatre one hour before curtain.
Rehearsals: Schedule and Start Date TBD
Show Synopsis: The play Outside Mullingar, by John Patrick Shanley, focuses on Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted, 40-something misfits. Anthony has spent his entire life on a cattle farm in rural Ireland, and – due to his painful shyness – that suits him just fine. Rosemary lives right next door and since she was 6 years old. She’s determined to have him, but as the years slip away, Rosemary has every reason to think they’ll never be together. This very Irish, poetic, and somewhat magical story finds these yearning, eccentric souls fighting toward their own kind of happiness. Oddly funny, heartbreaking, and deeply moving, Outside Mullingar, sparks hope in each of us that it’s never too late to take a chance on love.
Tony Reilly – a willy old Irishman, 75 or so years old
Rosemary Muldoon – In love with Anthony, around 40, plans to stay and work the farm after her father’s death
Anthony Reilly – Tony’s son, an intense dreamer, around 42
Aoife Muldoon – Rosemary’s mother, in bad health, short of breath, walking with a cane, recently widowed, around 70
Those who wish to audition may choose one of the following audition dates:
§ Sunday, September 26, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m
§ Monday, September 27, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132
Callbacks: Wednesday, September 29, 6:30 p.m.
Compensation: Onstage performers for this show will be compensated $725 in total.
Auditions are by appointment only. Please contact Becky Deiber at email@example.com to schedule an audition appointment and request audition paperwork and sides.
Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script provided at auditions.
Please bring all contact information, personal schedules and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form. To expedite the check-in process, please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.
Protocols: Masks are required for everyone inside of the Omaha Community Playhouse. No exemptions. All performers are required to be fully vaccinated by the first date of rehearsal. Proof of vaccination will be required upon casting.
For more information, contact Becky Deiber at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 553-4890.