Auditions for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Bellevue Little Theatre

Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 W. Mission Ave., in Bellevue, will hold auditions for the classic play ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on Sunday and Monday, Sept. 13 and 14 at 7 pm. Auditions will be held at the theatre, 203 W. Mission Ave., in Bellevue, Callbacks, if needed, will be held on Tues. Sept. 15 Rehearsals are tentatively scheduled to begin on Sept 16.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is scheduled to open on Friday Nov. 6 and run for 3 week-ends, with performances on Fri. and Sat. evenings and Sun. afternoons. The production will close on Sunday Nov. 22.

Lorie Obradovich is directing this classic, with Robin Klusmire serving as producer. For information call the director at 402-991-9155

Cast requirements for this play are:
10 men of various ages, including 2 African Americans
5 women of various ages, including 1 African American
1 girl approximately 9 years old
1 boy approximately 12 years old.

Since the play takes place in Alabama, Southern accents will be required.

Please note that the original language from the novel will be used, and that may be offensive to some.

This drama, based on the acclaimed novel by Harper Lee, is set in Alabama during the 1930’s . The play follows Atticus Finch and his crusade to bring justice to a black man accused of raping a white woman. The ensuing drama brings racial prejudice to the spotlight in the small town. Atticus struggles to explain his defense of the man to his family, especially to his young daughter ‘Scout’ as she and brother Jem, try to understand the problems of injustice which her father is trying to overcome.

You’ll Feel this One ‘In The Bones’

A young man dies.  What are the factors that led to his death?  What are the consequences of his passing?  How do his family and loved ones cope now that he is gone?  These are the questions posed and answered in the drama, In The Bones by Cody Daigle-Orians, currently performing at SNAP! Productions.

Though the theatre season has just begun, SNAP! stakes an early claim to this year’s best drama with a tip top script that fuels one of the finest pieces of ensemble acting that I have seen in many a season.  Daigle-Orians’ story manages to strike all the right notes at precisely the right times.  It is serious where it must be.  Funny where it should be.  Heartbreaking where it needs to be.  M Michele Phillips’ direction is absolutely flawless.  She has missed no beat, maximizes each moment to its fullest potential, and has produced a bumper crop of fantastic performances from this amazingly talented cast.

In the hands of a lesser actor, the role of Luke could easily be treated as a throwaway part.  But Eric Grant-Leanna gives one of the best performances of his career in the role of the young soldier whose death drives this story.

The play opens on the day of Luke’s death and from there goes back and forth through time through the use of pre-filmed vignettes for the past and stage acting for the present and future scenes.  Grant-Leanna’s natural, boyish charm makes him ideal for the role of Luke.  Clearly, this young man is the glue that held his family and loved ones together.  One cannot help, but be infected by Luke’s sweet innocence.  He’s fun and a bit of a prankster and seems fixated on getting people to say nice things for his videos.

But Luke also carries some heavy burdens.  He is a closeted homosexual who has finally decided to reveal to his mother that his “renter” is actually his long term boyfriend.  Luke is also a soldier who has done 2 tours of duty in Afghanistan.  On one of those tours, he made a choice which haunts him until his death.  Grant-Leanna’s delivery during the more serious moments is nothing short of mesmerizing and some of the best scenes in the play are when Luke is watching the video footage he has shot where Grant-Leanna’s clean and clear facial expressions tell you all the story you will need.

Sally Neumann Scamfer is splendid in the role of Dee, Luke’s mother.  Through Ms Neumann Scamfer’s wonderful storytelling abilities, you will know the angst and anger of a woman unable to cope with the death of her son and unwilling to accept his sexuality.  At points, Ms Neumann Scamfer’s Dee will seem like a heartless shrew as she, more or less, forces Luke’s lover out of their home before disavowing his existence, makes her daughter feel like she ranks a distant second to her dead son, and nastily (sometimes hilariously) snipes at her sister.

Then, just as easily, Ms Neumann Scamfer will show Dee’s better qualities such as her kindness and witty sense of humor.  Her Dee is not a bad person, merely broken and devastated that so many things were left unsaid with Luke.

Dan Luethke is sympathetic as Ben, Luke’s partner.  At the play’s beginning he is already a crushed man as his slightly bent shoulders and soft-spoken delivery reveal his immense sadness over the loss of his lover.  As the years go by in the show, Ben’s sadness transforms into anger not only due to Luke’s demise, but because his part in Luke’s life is essentially erased by Luke’s family, especially Dee.  This anger could easily be overplayed, but Luethke keeps it perfectly real.  It’s neither too much nor too little.

Luethke is just as strong in the pre-filmed vignettes where he plays Ben as a much happier man with a dry wit and a willingness to play with Luke and his sister, Chloe, who was aware of their relationship.  My only criticism about Luethke’s performance is for him to be a little more natural with his gestures.  In tonight’s performance, some of his hand movements seemed rehearsed.

Corie Grant-Leanna (the real life sister of Eric Grant-Leanna) is sweet and vulnerable as Chloe.  The casting of a real life brother and sister was a stroke of casting genius as it lent gravitas and power to Ms Grant-Leanna’s interpretation of Chloe.  All of the emotions she feels towards Luke are so very, very real and natural.  You’ll be brought along for the ride as you share her pain at Luke’s death, her uncertainty when Luke decides to reveal his sexuality to their mother, her skittishness as she tries to connect with an old army friend of Luke’s, and her anger with her mother who just cannot move on from Luke’s death.  Ms Grant-Leanna does need to put just a tiny bit more power into her projection as she sounded a touch breathy, but this did not take away from her beautiful performance.

Stephanie Anderson kept the audience in stitches with her energetic and raucous rendition of Kate, Luke’s aunt.  Ms Anderson easily handles the comedy of Kate with well aimed zingers and imbues Kate with a strong zest for life.  But Ms Anderson also takes care of Kate’s more serious moments with equal grace.  A meeting between Kate and Ben a year after Luke’s death and a heart to heart talk with Dee at the play’s climax will have your heart aching.

David Mainelli returns to the stage after a four year hiatus and has not lost a step.  Mainelli plays Kenny, a friend of Luke’s from the army.  Mainelli makes for a fine Southern gentleman as his Kenny is laid back and easy going, but a little persistent as he constantly tries to contact Chloe to learn why she was trying to get hold of him.  He is also thoughtful and intelligent and has a wonderful monologue towards the end of the play where he discusses his thoughts on his faith and marriage which I consider the most thought provoking moment of the play and was enhanced by Mainelli’s straightforward, sincere delivery.

Aside from the tremendous acting and directing, this show was equally brilliant on the technical side.  Ronnie Wells’ simple, broken wall set accurately depicts the brokenness caused by Luke’s death.  Joshua Mullady’s light design is well suited to the shifting moods of the play.  Daena Schweiger’s visual media and sound design, especially her music choices, bolster this play admirably.

A young man dies.  His death means different things to different people.  I do not know what Luke’s death will mean to you after watching In The Bones, but I do know that you will be in for an epic night of theatre and a drama that will rank among this season’s best.

In The Bones runs at SNAP! Productions through September 13.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  The closing performance on Sept 13 will be at 2pm.  Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, T.A.G. members, and the military.  Thursday night shows cost $10.  Due to the subject matter and coarse language, In The Bones is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California St in Omaha, NE.

Dogfight Auditions at Omaha Playhouse

Dogfight Auditions at Omaha Playhouse (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)

Auditions on August 24 and 25 at 7pm

Staged reading as part of Alternative Programming Series
Reading date: Jan. 25, 2016
Director: Ablan Roblin

Character Breakdown
Eddie Birdlace: A Marine private first class. He is well respected and a natural leader amongst his comrades. Initially a hothead; a cocky smooth talker. He eventually sheds his brash exterior when he falls for Rose.
Male, 18-25 yrs old

Rose Fenny: A diner waitress who dreams of life as a musician. She is a naturally shy girl, naive of the world around her. Becomes smitten with Birdlace and discovers a lot about her self-respect and confidence along the way.
Female, 18-21 yrs old

Bernstein: A Marine private first class and Birdlace’s good friend. A bit nerdy and very inexperienced with the opposite sex.
Male, 18-25 yrs old

Boland: A Marine private first class and Birdlace’s closest friend. A poor Southern cad, he is the most vocal supporter of the dogfight and fairly crude in his behavior and language.
Male, 18-25 yrs old

Marcy: Boland’s date for the dogfight. She is a nearly toothless and homely prostitute. Crass and brash, but sneaky and cunning.
Female, 25-35 yrs old

Mama: The owner of the local diner. She is unamused by the Marines’ antics and protective of her daughter, Rose.
Female, 40-50 yrs old
Speaking Role

Ensemble: Marines (Sergeant, Gibbs, Fector, Stevens); Bus Passengers; Singers; Hippies

Treasure Island Auditions at Omaha Playhouse

Treasure Island Auditions at Omaha Community Playhouse

Auditions: Sept. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m at Omaha Playhouse (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)
Staged Reading for Alternative Programming Series
Reading date: Feb. 8, 2015
Director: Vince Carlson Brown

CASTING NOTE: Most of the actors will play multiple characters. Although some of the characters are gender specific, actors of all genders will be considered for most of the roles, including Jim Hawkins.

Characters

Jim Hawkins – A young boy who loves Shakespeare and yearns for adventure.

Mrs. Hawkins – Jim’s mother. She runs an inn with only the help of her son. She is a strong woman who doesn’t let her hard life get her down.

Dr. Livesy – A friend of Jim and Mrs. Hawkins. He is a gentleman, a scholar, protective of Jim, and distrustful of strangers.

Billy Bones – An old sailor who arrives at the Hawkins’ inn. He is past his prime, but still troublesome to have around.

Blind Pew – An evil pirate who brings death and destruction with him wherever he goes. He may be blind, but he is extremely dangerous.

Squire Trelawney – A good friend of Dr. Livesy who has an almost child-like glee. He is wealthy and like Jim, yearns for adventure.

Captain Smollet – A rough and ready sea captain. He is honest and trustworthy, but not afraid to pick up a sword when it becomes necessary.

Tom Morgan – Captain Smollet’s first mate. Young and naïve.

Long John Silver – A blood-thirsty cutthroat that takes a liking to Jim, prompting him to try and balance his lust for gold and his protective nature toward his new mentee. The original anti-hero.

Ben Gunn – An ex-pirate who has been marooned on an island for years. A little crazy, and ready for revenge.

Pirates – There are several other pirates who appear throughout the story. They include CAPTAIN FLINT, JOB O’BRIEN, BLACK DOG, JEMMY RATHBONE, JOSIAH BLAND, ANNE BONNY, JUSTICE DEATH, ISRAEL HANDS, CALICO JACK, GEORGE MERRY, EZEKIAL HAZARD, TOM MORGAN, CUT PURSE

*Please note, the rehearsal period and performance of Treasure Island conflicts with the rehearsal period for Caroline, or Change and City of Angels.

Adult Auditions for A Christmas Carol at Omaha Playhouse

Adult Auditions for A Christmas Carol

Omaha Community Playhouse – enter through stage door on west side of building (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)
Adult Auditions: Monday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

Production dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 2015
Rehearsal dates: October-November, 2015

Audition requirements: Those auditioning should bring a piece of music (16 bars) to sing at the audition. A piano accompanist will be available.

Show summary: It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol. Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets and special effects second to none.

Contact info: Jeannine Robertson – jrobertson@omahaplayhouse.com, (402) 553-4890, ext. 164

Director: Hilary Adams
Roles: All roles are open except Ebenezer Scrooge

Auditions for Dracula at Chanticleer Theater

Auditions for the second production of the Chanticleer Community Theater 2015 – 2016 season, Dracula, by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, will be held on Sunday, September 13 at 6:00 p.m. and Monday, September 14 at 6:00 p.m. at Chanticleer Theater (830 Franklin Ave, Council Bluffs, IA).

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script.  Please bring a calendar and a list of ALL conflicts from September 16 – November 1, 2015.  Cast read-thru tentatively scheduled for audition week with rehearsals beginning week of September 21.

Dracula opens October 23 and runs through November 1, 2015.  Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons for two weekends. For this production we will be including an additional midnight performance on Halloween!

Show Summary
Lucy Seward, daughter of the physician in charge of a sanatorium near London, is mysteriously anemic. Doctor Van Helsing, a specialist in obscure diseases, suspects a vampire which, according to legend, is an ugly soul that, grave-bound by day, roams the earth at night, and sustains its earthly life by sucking the blood of approachable victims.

The Players
Dracula: A tall, mysterious man. Polished and distinguished. Continental in appearance and manner. Age 40 – 60.

Harker: A young man age 20 – 30; handsome in appearance; a typical Englishman of the Public School class, but in manner direct, explosive, incisive and excitable.

Dr. Seward: Age 50 – 65; intelligent, but a typical specialist who lives in a world of text books and patients; not a man of action or force of character.

Van Helsing: Age 50 – 65; Clearly a man of resourceful action; nervous, alert manner; an air of resolution; incisive speech, always to the point; raps his words out sharply and quickly.

Renfield: Repulsive young man age 20 – 30; repulsive; face distorted, shifty eyes, tousled hair.

Lucy Seward: Daughter of Dr. Seward; A beautiful young girl age 20 – 30; her face is unnaturally pale and she walks with difficulty; fiancée of Harker.

Maid: An attractive young girl age 20 – 30; possibly to double in non-speaking role of Mina.

Attendant: Young man of 20 – 30; Sanatorium worker for Dr. Seward.

Dracula will be directed by Daena Schweiger and is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French. For more information or to check out a script please contact the Chanticleer Community Theater at (712) 323-9955

Taut, Tense ‘Mauritius’ a Gripping Tale of Mystery and Intrigue

From left to right:  Chris Shonka (Sterling), Alissa Walker (Jackie), Karl Rohling (Philip), Will Muller (Dennis), Julie Fitzgerald Ryan (Mary)

From left to right: Chris Shonka (Sterling), Alissa Walker (Jackie), Karl Rohling (Philip), Will Muller (Dennis), Julie Fitzgerald Ryan (Mary)

What is the value of two little pieces of paper?  Is it intrinsic?  Financial?  Sentimental?  Whatever the worth, these two little pieces of paper bring out the worst in people in Mauritius, the Omaha Playhouse’s 91st season premiere.

Theresa Rebeck’s script is a nice, modern take on the crime noir genre.  While mostly dialogue driven, the words have a sharp, crisp energy that immerses the audience and makes one lose track of time though the ending is a bit overlong.  Most intriguing is the fact that Rebeck often makes innuendos about what happened in the past to these characters, but leaves it to the audience’s imagination to determine what may have happened.  Sometimes this technique works well such as the reasons for a mysterious grudge between two characters and not so well at other points such as the lack of explanation for a character’s knowledge of a trick involving duct tape and a plastic bag.

Jeff Horger, making his full directorial debut at the Playhouse, and Assistant Director Nick Albrecht have done exceptional work in guiding this mystery story.  The action slowly builds, beat by beat, growing ever tenser until the play’s climax and denouement.  Horger and Albrecht have also done a fine job shaping the performances of their quintet of actors.

Alissa Walker strikes gold in her Playhouse debut.  As Jackie, the younger of two half-sisters, Ms Walker paints a tragic picture of an emotionally dead woman who wants nothing more than to escape her wretched life and be reborn into a better one.  Jackie believes this new life can be bought with a lot of cash and stakes a claim to an album of rare stamps, hoping to sell two Mauritius stamps and be set for life.

Labeled as a lamb by another character early in the show, Ms Walker’s Jackie is anything but.  She is so eaten up by anger that she has nothing left to give emotionally.  Ms Walker skillfully demonstrates this state with a flat, controlled, nearly emotionless tone of voice.  However, her character’s anger does become more volatile when she senses that her dreams of Easy Street may be threatened such as wrecking her late mother’s living room and punching out her half-sister. Ms Walker’s Jackie is also a survivor which has given her a surprising strength and confidence mighty enough to go verbally, intellectually, and physically toe to toe with a dangerous criminal determined to get her stamps.

As good as her performance was, Ms Walker does need to keep up her projection which weakened a bit in Act II.  She also needs to watch her positioning as she upstaged herself on a couple of occasions.

Julie Fitzgerald Ryan is wonderful as Mary, Jackie’s much older half-sister.  She escaped from a bad home situation when she was 16 and has finally returned home to ostensibly pay last respects to her and Jackie’s late mother and attempt to build a relationship with Jackie.  While an element of those sentiments may exist, Mary really wants the stamp book which she says was left to her by her grandfather.

While Ms Walker’s Jackie is almost devoid of emotion, Ms Fitzgerald Ryan’s Mary is almost afraid of it.  Mary also bottles up a lot of anger, but Ms Fitzgerald Ryan has her attempt to ignore it by being overly solicitous and friendly instead.  But her true feelings often explode out of her as she constantly clashes with Jackie over their mother and what to do with the stamps.  But each time she explodes, she catches herself and tries to smother it with more attempts at solicitude.

What I truly enjoyed about Ms Fitzgerald Ryan’s performance was how subtle she made Mary’s true nature.  You may think she’s a nice person.  She isn’t.  Mary is incredibly selfish as she will not share the stamps with Jackie.  Her love of the stamps for their sentimental value is equally as powerful as Jackie’s greed and those motivations coupled with tremendous chemistry with Ms Walker made for some powerful confrontations.

Will Muller is perfectly cast as Dennis, the con artist.  With his babyface and velvet smooth voice, how could you not trust him?  Dennis is the one who first learns of Jackie’s Mauritius stamps and concocts the scheme to get them from her.  Interestingly, Muller gives his con artist a shocking bit of honesty and sincerity.  He is not out to steal the stamps from Jackie.  He merely wants to get them for as low a price as possible so he can profit more from a resale.  Muller’s easygoing, laconic delivery made his Dennis a very enjoyable watch, but he does need to increase his volume.  He was very soft-spoken in the first act, though he did pick up the volume in Act II.

Chris Shonka radiates menace and danger as Sterling.  Sterling is a wealthy criminal who loves collecting stamps despite having no knowledge of philately.  Be wary for he is not one to be trifled with.  What Sterling wants, he gets, and he has no qualms about using threats and violence to get what he wants.  Shonka’s awesome physical presence combined with a venomous delivery from his rich bass voice made his Sterling a beast to be feared and a force to be reckoned with.

Sterling’s love of stamps borders on the creepy and lewd.  He almost seems to view stamps as virgins as he loathes it when they are touched by others and describes his viewing of the Mauritius stamps as a post-coital experience.  The only critique I can make is for Shonka to go even further with Sterling’s nearly lascivious love of stamps.

Karl Rohling is a misanthropic grump as Philip.  He is the only character in the play who is a true philatelist, but even his love of stamps has faded as he has grown fed up with evaluating the worthless stamps of others.  Philip is a wonderfully multilayered character and Rohling deftly peels off the many layers of Philip like a snake shedding skins.  Starting off as rude and obnoxious, Rohling shows these traits to be mere symptoms of the fact that Philip is a broken, haunted man as the result of Sterling being involved in the dissolution of his marriage.  With a slump of his shoulders and a whiplash change in delivery, Rohling shows the deep sadness of Philip.  Later he is given the opportunity to show Philip’s vengeful side when he engages in a game of intrigue against Sterling and eventually indulges in unmitigated joy when his love of stamps is reignited.

Jim Othuse’s collectibles shop set is simple, understated, and pitch perfect.  Combined with Darin Kuehler’s wonderful properties, it becomes a thing of beauty.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes are well suited to the characters’ personalities.

The fight scenes could use a bit more rehearsal as the actors seemed a little hesitant and unsure which resulted in the brawls looking a little unrealistic and overly controlled.  However that confidence will come with more practice and performances.  I also thought that the age difference between the two actresses may be too disparate for them to believably be half-sisters, but the quality of their performances made this a fairly negligible issue.

Mauritius is an excellent, well paced mystery story that should enthrall the audiences and I foresee a successful run, especially as this group has built a strong foundation from which they will continue to evolve over the next few weeks.

Mauritius runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through September 13.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $35 for adults and $21 for students.  Tickets can be obtained at www.omahaplayhouse.com or call the Box Office at 402-553-0800.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.  Mauritius contains strong language and violence and is not recommended for children.