Come on Over to ‘Catherland’

Shelterbelt Announces Auditions for New Musical, Catherland
Shelterbelt Theatre will hold auditions for the new musical Catherland by Becky Boesen and David von Kampen, Dec. 5 and 6 at 7pm at the theatre, 3225 California St (Omaha, NE). Roxanne Wach will direct and Peggy Holloway will music direct. Those auditioning are asked to prepare 32 bars of a song of their choice, AND one of the song selections from the musical posted at www.shelterbelt.org/audition-and-submissions. An accompanist will be provided. There will also be cold readings from the script. Roles are available for 3 women and 3 men of various ages and vocal ranges. The show runs April 21-May 14, 2017. More information at http://www.shelterbelt.org/auditions-and-submissions, or email the director at executive@shelterbelt.org.
 

They Give the Gift of Laughter

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Noah Diaz (above), Jonathan Purcell (left), and Bill Grennan (right) star in The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) at the Blue Barn Theatre.

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Christmas pageant and this is nothing like a good old-fashioned Christmas pageant.  This is The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor and is currently playing at the Blue Barn Theatre.

Once more, the Blue Barn presents a piece of metafiction as Bill Grennan, Noah Diaz, and Jonathan Purcell play embellished versions of themselves trying to salvage the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church after a winter storm prevents all of the show’s acts from appearing.  Martin & Tichenor’s script walks a fine line between inspired genius and haphazard mess.  Martin & Tichenor rely on considerably more improvisation and audience participation than I’ve normally seen in scripts of this type.  In the hands of less capable actors and directors this show could easily fall on its face.  Luckily, this show has the benefit of the strong guiding hand of Randall T. Stevens and his trio of gifted comics to make the most out of this spectacle.

Feigning chaos is difficult.  Mimicking that sense of frustration, desperation, and flat out being lost requires a fine touch and Randall T. Stevens provides that touch with confident, surefire direction.  At no point did I doubt that his actors were not making up stuff off the tops of their heads and his staging is quite crafty as his performers make full use of the theatre as they vainly try to cobble together a watchable show.

Bill Grennan is a raging doofus and a hammy overactor.  Those are indeed compliments.  Grennan presents himself as a somewhat naïve waif who loves everything about Christmas, but is pretty oblivious to the world around him.  Whether he’s singing a racist version of White Christmas which goes over his head because he prefers music to lyrics or letting his cohorts hold an excessively long note because he interrupts a song for a speech, Grennan consistently proves himself to not be the brightest bulb on the tree.

The energy Grennan throws out is unbelievable as he maintains a frenetic pace throughout the show as he races about the theatre and especially when he indulges in scene chewing luxury as King Herod in an English panto about the Nativity.  Grennan also has a great light tenor voice as he leads the audience through a unique version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, a terrific medley of Christmas songs, and a rousing version of Jingle Bells.

Jonathan Purcell plays the stick in the mud of the group.  His exaggerated self is an ultra Christian with a pathological fear of Santa Claus and is quite hypocritical with his constant judging of others, referring to Grennan as a pagan, and growing angry when a holiday greeting other than Merry Christmas is used.

Purcell has comedic timing that simply cannot be taught.  He shines as a very Jewish Mary in the Nativity sequence, is quite a strong percussionist playing bells and xylophone in Jingle Bells, slays in a dual performance with Grennan as the Rat King in a miniature ballet version of The Nutcracker, and does an expert job of seeming like he has several rods shoved up his back at all times.

Noah Diaz brings his own strong comedic chops to bear by interpreting himself as a greedy little slob.  For him, Christmas is all about the getting as he pines for high dollar Christmas gifts, tries to steal gifts from a gift exchange, and cons his two friends out of money by pretending to be collecting for the Salvation Army.  Diaz excels in high energy farce especially in a signature number extolling the virtues of Mrs. Claus as he laments about an overall lack of strong women in Christmas.  Diaz does need to keep his projection up as I lost his lines on a few occasions when he dropped his volume.

I give this show an A+ on the technical side of things.  I absolutely loved Martin Scott Marchitto’s simple set of Christmas tree, gifts, and cutouts of Santa, fireplace, and Nativity.  Carol Wisner’s lighting was festive and always apropos to the moments of the show.  Melissa Penkava Koza’s costumes were perfect and outrageously funny, especially a getup for Grennan when he misinterprets gay apparel complete with Juicy shorts and a, ahem, well placed piece of mistletoe.  Craig Marsh does it again with pitch perfect Christmas sounds that hit the mark for the holiday season.

Some of the improvised jokes fizzled and the audience participation scenes will always hinge on how creative and on the ball that particular crowd is, but this rather zany and irreverent show will provide some deep belly laughs and a truly good time at the Blue Barn this holiday season due to the amazingly talented trio running amok.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) plays at the Blue Barn through December 18.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6pm.  Additional performances will be held on Dec 7 and 14 at 7:30pm and at 2pm on December 4 and 17-18.  Please note that performances on Dec 2-3, 9-11, 16 and the 6pm show on Dec 17 are sold out.  Ticket prices are $30 for adults $25 for students, seniors (65+), T.A.G. members, or groups of 10 or more.  For reservations call 402-345-1576 from 10am-4pm Mon-Fri or visit www.bluebarn.org.  Parental discretion is advised for this production.  The Blue Barn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  During intermission, stop and visit the Giving HeART’s Tree in the Blue Barn lobby.  The Blue Barn is partnering with ENOA (Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging) to bring a Merry Christmas to the elderly in eastern Nebraska.  A $20 donation to ENOA will allow you to select an ornament from the Giving HeART’s Tree and your $20 will be used to buy gift cards for the elderly in eastern Nebraska.  For some, it will be the only gift they receive.  Please be generous this holiday season.

Blue Barn Holding Auditions for Regional Premiere, ‘Silent Sky’

The BLUEBARN Theatre is pleased to announce open auditions for the regional premiere of Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson. Auditions will be held on Saturday, December 3 and December 10 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Auditions will be held at the BLUEBARN located at 1106 S. 10th St. (10th & Pacific Streets.)

Performances for Silent Sky run March 23 – April 15, 2017 with rehearsals scheduled to begin February, 2017. Susan Clement-Toberer directs. Please contact Randall T. Stevens for more information at rstevens@bluebarn.org.

Available Roles

Henrietta Leavitt – 30s, brilliant, meticulous

Margaret Leavitt – 30s, handsome, creative, Henrietta’s sister

Peter Shaw – 30s, head astronomers apprentice

Annie Cannon – 40s, leader of the female commuters, terse, sure

Willamina Fleming – 50s, smart and fun, Scottish

About Silent Sky

A new play about Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the real women “computers” working at Harvard Observatory at the dawn of modern astronomy. In this exquisite blend of science, history, family ties, and fragile love, a passionate young woman must map her own passage through a society unaccustomed to strong women in a man’s world. A celestial romance and true story of discovery.

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company. Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons.

It’s Going to be ‘Beautiful’

BROADWAY’S NEWEST SMASH HIT

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

TICKETS GO ON SALE DECEMBER 9 FOR OMAHA’S ORPHEUM THEATER PREMIERE APRIL 4-9

OMAHA, Neb. (November 16, 2016) – Producers Paul Blake and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have announced that the Tony® & Grammy® Award-winning Broadway hit Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, will make its Omaha Premiere at the Orpheum Theater, April 4 – 9, 2017 as part of Omaha Performing Arts’ Broadway Series. Tickets for the musical, about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter, go on sale December 9. To purchase tickets, visit TicketOmaha.com, call 402.345.0606 or visit the Ticket Omaha* Box Office inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Ticket prices start at $30.

“Carole King might be a native New Yorker, but her story of struggle and triumph is as universal as they come – and her music is loved the world over,” producer Paul Blake said. “We know that audiences throughout the country will embrace this show just as Broadway and London audiences have.”

Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice.  Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song.

For more information and a video sneak peek, please visit www.BeautifulOnBroadway.com

www.beautifulonbroadway.com

www.twitter.com/beautifulonbway

www.ticketomaha.com

ABOUT OMAHA PERFORMING ARTS

Omaha Performing Arts is dedicated to providing the best Broadway, jazz, blues, dance, comedy, family and popular entertainment to the citizens of Omaha at the Orpheum Theater, Holland Performing Arts Center and beyond. As Nebraska’s largest arts organization, we also provide education opportunities and free community events to expand arts appreciation.  Ticket Omaha is our official ticket provider. We are grateful for support from the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Omaha and Douglas County. We also rely on corporate sponsors, donors and foundations.

ABOUT BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes Broadway.com and is operated by John Gore (Owner & CEO).BAA is the foremost presenter of first-class touring productions in North America, operating in 38 markets. Current and past productions include Beautiful, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Quartet, Hairspray, On Your Feet!, The Producers, and Shuffle Along.  Broadway.com is the premier theater website for news, exclusive content and ticket sales. For more information please visit BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com and Broadway.com

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It’s Christmas Time at the Blue Barn

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Noah Diaz (above), Jonathan Purcell (left), and Bill Grennan (right) star in The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) at the Blue Barn Theatre.

Spend the Holidays at the BLUEBARN Theatre With The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

The BLUEBARN Theatre is proud to continue Season 28 with the irreverent, zany comedy, The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged).

BLUEBARN Associate Artistic Director Randall T. Stevens directs with set design by Martin Scott Marchitto, lighting design by Carol Wisner, costume design by Melissa Penkava Koza, sound design by Craig Marsh, and properties design by Amy Reiner.

Shows run Nov 25-Dec 18, 2016.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm; Sun Nov 27, Dec 4, 11, and 18 at 6pm.  Additional performances will be Wed Dec 7 and 14 at 7:30pm, Sun Dec 4 and 18 and Sat Dec 17 at 2pm.

PLEASE NOTE:  The performances for the 6pm show on Dec 11 and the 7:30pm show on Dec 17 are sold out.

Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $25 for students, seniors 65+, TAG Members, and groups of 10 or more.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) is generously sponsored by Omaha Steaks.

The BLUEBARN Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

About The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

Welcome to the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everbody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church, where all faiths are welcome because we’ll believe anything.  But there’s a problem:  none of the acts scheduled to perform have arrived, so three members are pressed into service to perform the entire Variety Show and Christmas Pageant by themselves.  An irreverent yet heartwarming trip through the holidays, The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) is festive and funny as these Three Wise Guys send up and celebrate our favorite holiday traditions.

About the Stars of The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) boasts the talents of three of Omaha’s funniest comedic actors:  Bill Grennan, Jonathan Purcell, and Noah Diaz.  All BLUEBARN veterans, their collective credits show great range and include such shows as Bad Jews, Gnit, Spring Awakening, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, American Buffalo, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company. Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons.

A Plethora of Auditions for OCP in December

Throughout the month of December, the Omaha Community Playhouse will be holding several auditions for the 2nd half of its season.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Production Dates: January 20-February 12, 2017
Performs in: Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Director: Carl Beck

Synopsis: Around the World in 80 Days is a fantastic journey filled with exotic locations and cultures, with comedy and suspense leading the way. Phileas Fogg, an Englishman, and his French manservant, Passepartout, create a strange pairing with their distinct cultural backgrounds. Their journey challenges both Fogg and Passepartout in many ways, but they come out as winners in the end. The two men journey around the world to win a simple wager, but they leave an incredible story about loyalty and friendship in their wake. This production consists of five extremely resourceful actors who bring Jules Verne’s incredible story to life. Making the most of the Playhouse stage, they create all the exotic locales, the international cast of characters and even an elephant!

Audition Dates: Monday, November 21 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, November 22 at 7:00 PM

Character Descriptions:
Note: Actors of all ethnicities are encouraged to audition

PHILEAS FOGG – A wealthy British adventurer.

JEAN PASSEPARTOUT – Fogg’s very clever and resourceful French man servant.

AOUDA – An Indian/European princess who is rescued from death by Fogg.

ACTOR #4 – Plays 11 characters including Detective Fix, a dense, bumbling member of Scotland Yard in hot pursuit of Fogg.

ACTOR #5 – Plays 17 characters from many places all over the world.

ROCK OF AGES
Production Dates: March 3-April 2, 2017
Performs in: Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Synopsis: Set in L.A.’s infamous Sunset Strip in 1987, Rock of Ages tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in L.A. to chase their dreams of making it big and falling in love. Nominated for five Tony Awards, this smash-hit musical comedy is an arena-rock-n-roll love story told through the hits of the 1980s like “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Dead or Alive,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Here I Go Again,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and many more! Rock of Ages takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos and sporting even bigger hair! Contains mischievous behavior, suggestive and adult language and comedic reference to drug usage.

Audition Dates: Monday, December 5 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 PM

• Please come prepared with 16 bars of music prepared to sing. An accompanist will be provided.

• There will be a dance audition, pleased come dressed ready to move or bring a change of clothes with you. Boots, sandals, flip-flips, slick shoes, etc. should not be worn during the dance audition.

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
Production Dates: February 10-March 12, 2017
Performs in: Howard Drew Theatre
Director: Jeff Horger

Synopsis: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a dramatic play set in the 1890s American West. It contains all the staples of a cinematic western, including a rustic saloon, a stranger in a small town, and familiar characters with wide brimmed hats and guns on their hips. It tells the story of a scholar from New York City whose journey west in search of a new life is side-tracked when he is beaten and left for dead outside the small town of Two Trees, where he must decide whether or not to face his attacker when he returns. It tells the story of a young woman whose routine attempts to carve out a place for herself in society is interrupted by the appearance of an intriguing stranger. It tells the story of a deadly gunslinger who wants nothing more than to stay away from the violence that he knows is coming. It tells the story of a man who makes a living instilling fear in and inflicting pain on others, never dreaming that anyone would ever stand up to him or challenge his reign of terror. Notes about the play: This production is not a send-up or parody of the western genre. The characters are grounded in reality. They are Midwesterners, and require no accents or dialects. This production features stage combat, gunplay, mild language, music, singing, and passages from Shakespeare and The Bible.

Audition Dates: Monday, December 12 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, December 13 at 7:00 PM

Character Descriptions:
RANSOME FOSTER (Mid 20s to Late 30s, male, any ethnicity) – A fish out of water. He is educated but not worldly. He is eager to embrace the culture of the American West, but lacks the survival skills necessary to navigate it.

HALLIE JACKSON (Early 20s to Mid 30s, female, any ethnicity) – The proprietor of the Prairie Belle saloon. She enjoys her independent status in a male-dominated society. Her heart is open to love, but marriage is not a priority.

BERT BARRICUNE (Late 20s to Early 40s, male, any ethnicity) – A struggling rancher, and the toughest man in town. He is an accomplished gunslinger, but not a natural protector of the innocent. Over the years his respect for Hallie has turned into desire.

JIM MOSTEN (Early 20s to Mid 30s, male, black) – Hallie’s sole employee at the Prairie Belle. Although he is uneducated, he is far from simple and eager to learn more about the world. He is loyal, sweet, and very pleasant company. He enjoys singing and reciting scripture.

MARSHAL JOHNSON (Mid 30s to Mid 60s, male, any ethnicity) – The local authority in Two Trees. He may have been the face of justice back in the day, but time has taken its toll and he is no longer a beacon of law and order. He might be corrupt. He might be a coward. He might be a drunk. Then again…he might not be.

LIBERTY VALANCE (Late 20s to Mid 40s, male, caucasian) – A man who operates outside of the law. He lives off the suffering of others. He has no moral compass. He gambles and kills for profit and for pleasure.

ENSEMBLE (3-6 males and 1-3 females, any ethnicity) – Minor roles. Some non-speaking. Some singing.

• For all 3 shows, you will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

• To expedite the check in process – please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

It Just Wouldn’t be Omaha Without ‘A Christmas Carol’

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41st Annual A Christmas Carol at Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha’s Holiday Tradition Opens November 18, 2016

Omaha, Neb.— A Christmas Carol will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016. This will be the 41st year for this holiday production at OCP.

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. Perfect for the whole family!

This year, the production will be led by a team of directors: OCP’s former longtime artistic director Carl Beck, OCP’s former longtime associate artistic director and former interim artistic director Susan Baer Collins, OCP’s artistic director Kimberly Faith Hickman, OCP’s associate artistic director Jeff Horger and guest director Ablan Roblin. Beck and Collins directed A Christmas Carol on the Mainstage for many years and will “pass the baton” to Hickman and Horger as they establish themselves at the artistic helm of OCP.

Production: A Christmas Carol

Credits

Written by Charles Dickens

Adapted by Charles Jones

Musical orchestration by John J. Bennett

Directing Team: Carl Beck (Director), Susan Baer Collins (Director), Kimberly Faith Hickman (Shadow Director), Jeff Horger (Shadow Director), Ablan Roblin (Cratchit Director/Shadow Director)

Music Director: Jim Boggess

Choreographer: Michelle Garrity

Cast

Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge

Chris Berger as Bob Cratchit

William Wisneski as Tiny Tim

Ron Chvala as Jacob Marley, Ball Musician, Man at Cart

Julie Huff as Ghost of Christmas Past, Myrtle Crow

Don Keelan-White as Ghost of Christmas Present, 1st Charity Man, Mr. Fezziwig, Baker

Scott Ven Den Top as Fred

Marcus Benzel as Jake, Man at Cart

Rusheaa Smith-Turner as Nell

Don Harris as 2nd Charity Man, Man at Cart, Toyshop Keeper

Henry Wisneski as Peter Cratchit

Brodhi McClymont as Francis Cratchit

Maddie Smith as Belinda Cratchit

Daniel Davis, Andrew Hedin, and Samuel Ortner as School boys

Keithen Cudly as Ebby

Ella Coombs Walker as Fan

Joseph Mokrycki as Dick Wilkins, Poulterer

Sara Planck as Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber, Baker’s Wife

Ian Hill as Young Scrooge

Emily Smith as Belle Fezziwig

Emily Mokrycki as Mrs. Cratchit

Clara Pohlman as Martha Cratchit

Julia Ervin as Millie

Emma Chvala as Lucy

Geroge “Nick” LeMay as Topper

Judson Cloudt as Boy with Sled

Alexis Reynolds as Little Bo Peep

Gracee Fitch as Little Boy Blue

Kole Rowan as Beggar

Jenna Hager as Chestnut Vendor

Amina Teri as Greenery Vendor

Featuring:  Josie Ausman, Hannah Fay Johnson, Taylor Morrison, Katie Hoskins, Cora Johnson, Abbey Lienemann, Ella Walker, Henry Wisneski

Show dates: Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016; Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Thursday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2:00 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. (No performances on Weds., Nov. 23 and Thurs., Nov. 24.)

Tickets: At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Before Dec. 15, tickets are $38 (adults) and $25 (students). Dec. 15-23, tickets are $42 (adults) and $29 (students). For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $32 (adults) and $18 (students) for all dates.

Sponsored by: First National Bank, KPMG (orchestra sponsor), JK Barker Foundation (cast dinner sponsor), Rotella’s Bakery (bakery shoppe sponsor), SilverStone Group (counting house sponsor) and Cox (media sponsor).

Location: Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132

Performance note: A shadow interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Food drive: Audience members are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to OCP to benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland as part of Conagra Brand’s Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.