‘Jersey Boys’ Working its Way Back to Omaha

Omaha, NE (January 31, 2017)–Omaha Performing Arts presents the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning hit musical, Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  The musical will make its much-anticipated return to Omaha, playing the Orpheum Theater, March 7-12, 2017.  Tickets, starting at $35, are available at the Ticket Omaha Box Office inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street, by calling 402-345-0606 or online at TicketOmaha.com.

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons:  Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi.  This is the true story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time.  They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds, and sold 175 million records worldwide–all before they were thirty.  The features all their hits including, “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Oh, What a Night”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, and “Working My Way Back to You”.

Jersey Boys is the winner of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award, the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and the 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Musical (Australia).  Jersey Boys has been seen by over 24 millions people worldwide.

Directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Des MacAnuff, Jersey Boys is written by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

Jersey Boys is produced by Dodger Theatricals, Joseph J. Grano, Tamara and Kevin Kinsella, Pelican Group, with Latitude Link, and Rick Steiner.  The Original Broadway Cast recording of Jersey Boys, produced by Bob Gaudio, was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.  The cast recording is available on Rhino Records.  Jersey Boys:  The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (Broadway Books) is the official handbook to the smash Broadway hit.  Seasons Greetings:  A Jersey Boys Christmas, a holiday CD featuring international cast members of Jersey Boys, produced by Bob Gaudio, is available on Rhino Records.

For more information on Jersey Boys, go to www.OmahaPerformingsArts.org or www.JerseyBoysTour.com or watch online at www.JerseyBoysTour.com/watch.

OCP Goes to the Wild West with ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

Omaha, Neb.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, running at the Omaha Community Playhouse February 10 – March 12, 2017 in the Howard Drew Theatre, is a classic western story of good versus bad and the law versus the gun. Made popular by the 1962 film version starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is set in 1890 in the Wild West and tells the tale of a young scholar from New York City who travels west in search of a new life, but arrives badly beaten in the town of Twotrees. After being rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home. A local girl gives him purpose, but a fierce outlaw wants him dead. He must make a choice: to turn and run or to stand for what he believes; to live or to fight; whether or not to become the man who shot Liberty Valance.

Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has been named an official event of the Nebraska 150 Celebration, which is a yearlong celebration across the state of Nebraska in 2017 marking the 150th year of statehood. The Sesquicentennial is a strategic initiative that promotes a spirit of pride, growth, engagement and connection within our state by bridging Nebraskans across different communities, perspectives and cultures. For more information, visit https://ne150.org/calendar/man-shot-liberty-valance-play/

Production:        The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Credits:                Book by Jethro Compton; Based on the short story by Dorothy M. Johnson

Director:              Jeff Horger


Dennis Stessman as Ransome Foster

Sydney Readman as Hallie Jackson

Isaac Reilly as Bert Barricune

Chad Cunningham as Jim Mosten

Christopher Scott as Marshal Johnson

Brennan Thomas as Liberty Valance

Chris Berger as The Narrator

Ensemble roles filled by Aubrey Fleming & Gary Williams

Show Dates:       February 10 – March 12, 2017 (Thurs – Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2pm)

Tickets:                At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students. Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $24 for adults and $16 for students.

Discounts:           Twilight Tickets – A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability.

Sponsored by:   2016-2017 Pegasus Travel Tours and Cox (media sponsor)

Location:             Howard Drew Theatre | Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass Street Omaha, NE 68132)


Do You Want to be a Leading Lady?

Leading Ladies Auditions

Production: Leading Ladies

Auditions: Monday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. and Tuesday, February 14 at 7:00 p.m. Director: Jeff Horger

Location:  Om

Synopsis: A farce set in the 1950s. When a couple of low-rent English actors hit a low point in their careers, they concoct a scheme to swindle an inheritance out of an old lady in York, Pennsylvania. They are willing to do whatever it takes to close the deal, even if it means posing as her long-lost nieces in the process. A colorful group of supporting characters hinders their progress through counter-schemes, general confusion and even romance.

NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR: Dress comfortably, but not for the part. We have a fabulous costume department that will take care of our wardrobe needs. Right now we’re just looking for actors who can create characters and live in them truthfully. This will be a time for actors to show off their ability to act, not to prove their level of comfort in any particular style of dress. Auditions will include scenes with Leo and Jack dressed both as men and as women, so any type of attire is equally appropriate.


Note: Actors of all ethnicities are encouraged to audition

LEO CLARK – (Late-20s to Mid-40s, male) A failed Shakespearean actor in search of fame and fortune. If not the lead actor, he is certainly the stronger presence in Clark and Gable’s two-man theatre troupe. Confident and scheming in his day-to-day life, and no less so when he masquerades as Maxine. The roles of Leo and Jack require solid comedic skills and a strong middle-class British dialect. The role of Leo has a lot of heavy lifting to do in regards to dialect, as it contains the portrayal of an actor of two separate genders both on stage and off.

JACK GABLE – (Mid-20s to Mid-30s, male) Leo’s second banana. A little more naïve than Leo and a lot more nervous about their get-rich-quick scheme. He masquerades as Stephanie, who is deaf and mute. He spends most of the play in a state of either blatant frustration or a concentrated effort to hide his frustration. The roles of Leo and Jack require solid comedic skills and a strong middle-class British dialect.

MEG SNIDER – (Late-20s to Late-30s, female) A local woman with big dreams. She is serious, smart and concerned with the current state of the universe, but she is not aggressive, mean or rash. She is kind, warm and has a great sense of humor – the kind of woman you want to take home to meet your parents.

AUDREY – (Early-20s, female) an extremely sweet, good-natured and very talkative young woman. She is strikingly beautiful, but doesn’t realize it. This role requires roller skating.

DOC MYERS – (Late-40s to Early-60s, male) A local doctor and head of the local Moose Lodge. A likeable curmudgeon who dispenses more smart aleck comments than sage wisdom. Sort of a “salt of the earth” type. He is “as proud as can be expected” of his son Butch.

FLORENCE SNIDER – (Early-60s to Mid-70s) A crotchety old woman with a whole lot of money and very little hearing capability. She has been the matriarch of the family for several decades and is used to being the center of attention, if not the universe.

DUNCAN WOOLEY – (Mid-30s to Early-40s, male) a local minister who is engaged to Meg. He’s not a villain, but he is the character you would probably enjoy spending time with the least. He is not particularly likeable, even though he might be a good man at heart. He is a bit fussy, a bit compulsive and a bit absent-minded.

BUTCH MYERS – (Early -20s to Early-30s, male) A loveable meathead. A former high school football player and current blue collar laborer, he is a bit of a blunt instrument. He’s a bit slow on the uptake, but he is honest, sincere and a generally pleasant person to be around. This role doubles as Frank, a member of the Moose Lodge.


What to bring: • All contact information, personal schedules, and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out the audition form. • A recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

Show Dates: April 14 – May 7, 2017

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

Contact: For more information, contact Jeannine Robertson, jrobertson@omahaplayhouse.com, at (402) 553-4890, ext. 164.

‘Sonder’ is Coming Before the Boards

Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to announce their upcoming Before the Boards reading of Sonder by Beaufield Berry-Fisher, directed by Emma Rasmussen on Monday, February 6 at 7pm at the theatre, 3225 California St.  Tickets are $5, which includes a free beverage.  Reservations (recommended) may be made at the theatre’s website:  www.shelterbelt.org– click Box Office or e-mail boxoffice@shelterbelt.org.

The cast features:  Natalie Hanson, TAmmyRa’ Jackson, Charleen Willoughby, Jayma Smay, Natalie Weiss, and Beth Thompson.

When the manager of a small town Wal-Mart throws himself off a building, his remaining employees must cope with the loss and changes it brings, including an anxiety-ridden manager from corporate and the large tree that has erupted through concrete and taken root in aisle 7.  Sonder is a play about intersectionality, freedom, restraint, and all of the walls in place that keep us from reaching the American Dream.

Sonder was born from a need to explore the experience of other humans, the juxtaposition of greed and humanity, and the immediacy of empathy—without actually finding any answers to anything—all set in a value Superstore,” said Berry.

Beaufield Berry-Fisher is a playwright and novelist out of Omaha, NE.  Her work has been performed and read at theatres and festivals across the country, but her heart has remained in Omaha where she’s served her city as a member of the Black Democratic Caucus, Vice President of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, board member for North Omaha Summer Arts Program and Shelterbelt Theatre, co-founder of Firebelly Repertory Theater.  She’s a freelance journalist for American Theater magazine and her first novel, Childhood Friends, is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

As Omaha’s home for new plays, Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to give the audience a chance to be a part of the page to stage experience:  hear the reading of a new play, participate in a talkback with the playwright and give written feedback—all providing invaluable information to a playwright creating a new play.

Blue Barn Season Continues with Regional Premiere, ‘Hir’

The BLUEBARN Theatre is proud to continue season 28 with the sly, subversive comedy, Hir, by Taylor Mac.

BLUEBARN Producing Artistic Director Susan C. Toberer directs with set design by Martin Scott Marchitto, lighting design by Carol Wisner, costume design by Lora Kaup, sound design by Craig Marsh, and properties design by Amy Reiner.

Shows run February 2-26, 2017; Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday, February 12, 19, and 26 at 6pm.  The BLUEBARN Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St (10th and Pacific) in Omaha, NE.

Single tickets for Hir are $30 for adults and $25 for students, seniors (65+), TAG members, and groups of 10 or more.

Hir is generously sponsored by Jannette Davis, Dr. Kerry Dobson, Bruce Reneaud, Bluestem Prairie Foundation, and Burlington Capital Foundation.

About Hir

Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father, only to discover a household in revolt.  The insurgent:  his mom.  Liberated from an oppressive marriage, with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy.  But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.

About the Stars of Hir

Hir introduces Joe Mendick as Isaac and Nick Butt as Max in their Omaha stage debuts.  Brent Spencer (Frost/Nixon, BLUEBARN Theatre) returns to the BLUEBARN stage as well as award-winning actress, Kim Jubenville (Becky’s New Car, Calendar Girls Omaha Community Playhouse) who was last seen on the BLUEBARN stage in Hot ‘n’ Throbbing.

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.

About the Playwright, Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, cabaret performer, performance artist, director and producer. TimeOut New York has called Mac “One of the most exciting theater artists of our time.” The Village Voice named Mac the best theater actor in New York (2013), and The New York Times says of Mac in general,  “Fabulousness can come in many forms, and Taylor Mac seems intent on assuming every one of them.” Taylor Mac’s work has been performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center and The Public Theater, the Sydney Opera House, American Repertory Theater, Stockholm’s Sodra Theatern, the Spoleto Festival, Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, London’s Soho Theatre and literally hundreds of other theaters, museums, music halls, cabarets and festivals around the globe. Playwright credits include Hir (recently premiered at San Francisco’s Magic Theater), The Lily’s Revenge (Obie Award), The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (named One of the Best Plays of 2011 by The New York Times), The Young Ladies Of (Chicago’s Jeff Award nomination for Best Solo), Red Tide Blooming (Ethyl Eichelberger Award), The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac (Edinburgh Festival’s Herald Angel Award). He is the recipient of a Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, two Sundance Theater Lab residencies, three Map Grants, the Creative Capital Grant, the James Hammerstein Award for playwriting, three GLAAD Media Award nominations, two New York State Council on the Arts grants, a Massachusetts Council of the Arts Grant, an Edward Albee Foundation residency, the Franklin Furnace Grant, a Peter S. Reed grant, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s New Voices fellowship in playwriting. Mac is a proud alum of the HERE Arts Center Resident Artists program and is currently a New Dramatists fellow and a New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect.

Lighthearted Play is Precise, a Little TOO Precise

Phileas Fogg wagers half his fortune that he can travel around the world in 80 days and engages in a series of adventures in pursuit of the prize.  This is Around the World in 80 Days now playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Mark Brown clearly has intimate knowledge of Jules Verne’s classic novel as his adaptation is nearly a word for word match of the book.  This is both the play’s greatest strength and weakness.  It’s strong because one gets a very faithful telling of the story.  But it’s weak because Brown uses long stretches of exposition to explain what is happening as opposed to using the efficiency of the medium to show the audience what is happening.  This takes some of the zip out of the play, though a cast of 5 strong character actors do restore a bit of pep through their quality performances.

Carl Beck returns to the Playhouse to direct this comedy and hasn’t lost a step.  His sense of timing remains as tight as ever and he still has a keen eye for a good gag.  Beck led his actors to very solid performances, though the overall pace and cue pickups could have been quicker in tonight’s performance.

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek gives a very restrained performance in the role of Phileas Fogg.  As Fogg, Clark-Kaczmarek presents a rather eccentric English gentleman whose need for preciseness borders on the obsessive-compulsive.  Indeed, he seems more machine than human.  Fogg takes the bet to travel around the world purely to prove he can do it, showing little desire for the money or even to see the sights of the planet as he spends most of his time alone planning his schedule.

This changes when Fogg makes the decision to save the rani of a dead rajah from being a human sacrifice.  From that point onwards, Clark-Kaczmarek does a wonderful job of gradually revealing the great heart of Fogg as he transitions into a real human being as he slowly falls in love with the rani, Aouda, and builds a bond of friendship with his servant, Passepartout.

Ablan Roblin is quite amusing as Fogg’s servant, Jean Passepartout.  Passepartout takes the job to enjoy a quiet life, having led an energetic and adventurous one prior to the start of the play.  His life is immediately turned upside down as Fogg makes his wager on Passepartout’s first day on the job.

Roblin imbues Passepartout with a terrific sense of loyalty as he is feverishly dedicated to his master.  He also ably handles the comedy of the character as he is at the center of most of the play’s misadventures. From his mugging at a pagoda for wearing shoes to a wonderful drunken defense of Fogg’s character in an opium den to his constant botching of the name of an inept detective, Roblin made the most out of the funny Frenchman.  His French accent was a little too thick at some points, so he does need to pull it back a touch so his dialogue isn’t lost.

Teri Fender’s primary role is that of Aouda, the rani saved by Passepartout and Fogg, but she really shines in some of the character roles she plays.  Most entertaining were her portrayals of Sullivan, Fogg’s former servant who is fired for bringing him shaving water two degrees too cold and as a “man on the street” reporting the news surrounding Fogg and his wager.

As Sullivan, Ms Fender drops the timbre of her voice, bends her knees, and slouches to make for a very convincing elderly man who makes some very polite verbal ripostes in regards to his termination.

Ms Fender brings a youthful energy and exuberance to her “man on the street” as he pops in and out to report on Fogg’s goings-on as well as engages in an exhausting monologue explaining how Fogg is going to go around the world in 80 days.

It is always a pleasure to watch Monty Eich perform and he is able to use his chameleon-like acting powers to the fullest in this show as he portrays a myriad of characters, each with a distinctive voice and bearing.  In the blink of an eye, Eich transforms from a pompous member of the Reform Club to a southern train conductor reminiscent of Andy Devine to the wife of a reverend.

But his best role in the show is that of Detective Fix who chases Fogg in the mistaken belief that he is a bank robber.  Eich got the biggest laughs of the night as he stumbled and bumbled his way across the world to arrest Fogg.  A few of his best moments were his shooting himself in the foot during an Apache attack and being swatted by the English consulate in India.  And his chemistry with Ablan Roblin and Ben Beck made for some excellent give and take in their shared scenes.

Ben Beck also gets to dip into his own formidable bag of tricks as he portrays a slew of characters.  Some of the highlights of his performances were his servant narrator who sagely gives the idiotic Fix a plan to detain Fogg in Hong Kong while he waits for the arrest warrant, a sea captain (bearing a strong resemblance to the Gorton Fisherman) who pilots Fogg to Yokohama during a typhoon, and the blustering Colonel Proctor who’s willing to duel at the drop of a hat, but ends up proving a formidable ally when the chips are down.

I found the sets of Bryan McAdams to be some of the most elegant I have seen at the Playhouse.  There was both a simpleness and a richness to his scenery as the show slid from Fogg’s opulent home, to the steamers the characters sailed on, to the various locales they visited. Likewise, Jim Othuse’s lighting matched the locales and moods of the plays perfectly.  From the sinful red of an opium den to the swirling blues and lightning of a mighty typhoon, Othuse never missed a beat.  John Gibilisco’s sound was always on target and Georgiann Regan’s costumes were top notch from the finely tailored suits of Fogg and Passepartout to the numerous character outfits utilized by Beck and Eich to the elegant dresses of Aouda.

At the end, I think the play provides a night of lighthearted distraction.  Brown’s desire to do a nearly ad verbatim version of the novel keeps the play from being all it could be, but solid direction and talented actors help pick up the slack.

Around the World in 80 Days plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Feb 12.  Performances are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $36 for adults and $22 for student ($28 and $18 on Wednesdays).  For tickets, call 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Dodge Street in Omaha, NE.

‘Cotton Patch Gospel’ to Play at Hoogland Center for the Arts

What:  Cotton Patch Gospel by Tom Key and Russell Treyz with music & lyrics by Harry Chapin

Where:  Hoogland Center for the Arts (420 S 6th St, Springfield, IL)

When:  March 3-12

This “Greatest Story Ever Retold” is based on the book The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John by Clarence Jordan in which the Gospel is presented in a setting of rural Georgia with country music songs. The music is the final, and perhaps best, work of Harry Chapin.

As this Gospel begins, they sing that “Somethin’s a-brewin’ in Gainesville.” Herod is the mayor of Atlanta and, inevitably, Christ is lynched by local thugs only to rise again.

Drama critics loved this show and so did a broad spectrum of religious commentators:

“Entertaining and inspiring, it will lift your spirits and renew your hope.” —The Long Island Catholic

“Rollicking, foot-stomping, hand-clapping new musical!” —The Messenger

The Hoogland’s production will be directed by the popular local director and playwright, Ken Bradbury. Ken directed a very successful production of the show years ago in Jacksonville, and to this day it is the show he is most often asked to stage again. We are thrilled that he has agreed to present the show at the Hoogland!

The stellar cast features Greg Floyd as Jesus, Nathan Carls as Matthew, Ken Bradbury on accordion, Mark Mathewson on guitar and other strings, Carrie Carls on vocals and autoharp, Barry Cloyd on banjo, dobro and other strings, Steve Vincent on fiddle and other strings and Rob Killiam on bass.

Tickets are $18 for adults, and $16 for seniors and students.  Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.  For tickets contact the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 217-523-2787 or visit their website at www.hcfta.org.

Cotton Patch Gospel is being sponsored by Concordia Village:http://lssliving.org/communities/concordia-village