Come to “The Mountaintop” at OCP

The Mountaintop_4

Donte Plunkett as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Catie Zaleski as Camae

Omaha, Neb.— The Mountaintop, which is a fictional telling of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,’s final night when he returned to his room at the Lorraine Motel, will run May 4 – 27, 2018 in the Howard Drew Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse.


An Olivier Award-winning play of historical fiction, The Mountaintop imagines the final night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After giving his speech, “The Mountaintop,” Dr. King returns to his room at the Lorraine Motel. When a mysterious woman with a secret agenda pays a visit to Dr. King, the resulting confrontation imaginatively explores destiny, legacy and mortality.
Disclaimer: Contains dialogue related to racial tension and adult language.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. The events in this timely and powerful story take place the night before his death, 50 years ago on April 3, 1968 after Dr. King gave his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

Production:    The Mountaintop

Credits:          By Katori Hall

Director:         Denise Chapman

Cast

Donte Plunkett as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Catie Zaleski as Carnae

Show dates:   May 4 – 27, 2018; Thursdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m.

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets start at $24 for adults and $18 for students. Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $20 for adults and $14 for students.

Sponsors:      Friend of the Playhouse, The Reader (media sponsor)

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

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Springtime Snowbird: Red Wing, MN & Golden Lantern

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The travel content in my blood had gotten pretty low so I decided it was time to get away for the weekend.  I booked a getaway in Red Wing, MN, home of the Golden Lantern.

While I love travel immensely, sometimes the travel part of travel can get mighty tedious.  My father has an interesting hobby in that he likes to look at atlases to plan his journeys or simply to learn more about the cities that I visit.  When I told him I was heading to Red Wing, I half jokingly asked him if he could plot a route that would be light on interstate.

Dad rose to the challenge and plotted a route.  I asked him how much time this would add to my trip and he asked what time I had planned on getting there.  When I said 3pm, he said I could leave at 6am.  I didn’t particularly relish the idea of tacking an extra 3 hours onto the drive so I figured it would be back to the interstate for me.

A few days before I left, I realized that the route to Minnesota takes me very close to my old hometown of Fort Dodge, IA.  I checked to see how much more time would be added if I went that route and found it would only add an extra hour to the drive.  I contacted my best friend, Josh Kudron, and asked if he wanted to meet me for lunch.  He said yes and I now had a much more satisfying drive on my hands.

It was a very pleasant drive as I drove the route I knew so well, passing through numerous small towns on my way to Fort Dodge.  It had been quite a while since I had visited the old burg and noticed a lot of changes to these small towns.  Just outside of Rockwell City, I found that they were tearing up the highway and had to take a detour which routed me through the tiny town of Rinard and I appreciated adding a new small town to the journey.

I ended up arriving in Fort Dodge about a half hour before I was to meet Josh.  I decided to take a quick jaunt down memory lane and actually get a picture of my first childhood home.  I still remember every nook and cranny of the place.  The house and property had once fallen into quite a bit of disrepair in the years since my family had moved out.  My dad’s lovingly maintained backyard had transformed into an overgrown jungle due to a dispute between the house owners and the owners of the convenience store next door.  At one point, the house had been condemned until it was bailed out by a new owner.

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My childhood home. It’s seen better days, but it’s also seen worse.

The new owner made the house look a lot better with a new siding job and I was stunned to see the backyard restored to quite a bit of its former glory.  I snapped a photo and drove off to my old elementary school.

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This was my old elementary school

The school had once been a Catholic school and church called Holy Rosary, but had been sold off many years prior.  It had been a rehabilitation center for young girls suffering from drug and alcohol addictions before being bought out by an evangelical church and renamed Community Christian School.  Though I only got one photo, a flood of childhood memories washed over me as a lot of the good times spent there ran through my mind.

Then it was time for lunch.  I met Josh at my favorite fast food joint, Taco Tico.  It’s a pity that there are only 16 of these restaurants in the United States because these are the best tacos ever made.  Josh picked up the tab and we spent a long lunch catching up on old times and filling each other in on recent events.  I ended up having to call an end to lunch as I had to get to Red Wing to check in and bad weather was looming.  Keep that last point in mind.

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Ah, Taco Tico!! Yum!!

Now it was off to the interstate to complete my drive to Red Wing.

I arrived in town about 5pm and made my way to the Golden Lantern.  I was greeted by the inn’s owner, Sioux Christensen, and led to my room, J.R.’s Suite.  The room had an incredible calming quality and is very. . .red from thee burgundy curtains and easy chairs to the red blanket on the king bed to the carpeting to the towels.

 

The Golden Lantern is a Tudor Revival mansion that was originally the home of Jesse R (J.R.) Sweazy who was the president of the famed Red Wing Shoe Company which is still in operation today.  The house remained in the family for several generations before his grandson sold the property in 1992 at which point it was renovated into a B & B.

 

I did my normal explorations and helped myself to some cheese and crackers in the living room.  After settling in, I headed to the main drag to have dinner at Bev’s Café.

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Bev’s Cafe

Bev’s is normally only open for breakfast and lunch, but stays open for dinner on Friday nights.  I ordered an Inferno burger with some crinkle cut French fries and I enjoyed a leisurely dinner as I continued reading Ten Little Aliens, a sci-fi retelling of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians.

I returned to the inn after dinner where I put my Jacuzzi tub through the paces, even adding a splash of pomegranate to the water because. . .why not.  I don’t know if it added to my relaxation, but I felt pretty sedate when the bath was over.

From there I posted pictures before going to sleep for the night.

Earlier I had mentioned that bad weather had been looming.  Well, I woke up the next morning to. . .wait for it. . .A SNOWSTORM. . .IN MID-APRIL.  I’m talking a full blown, wind whipping snowstorm which canceled all of my exploration plans for the day.

There are worse things than being forced to stay indoors in a comfortable inn.  Luckily I had arranged for even more relaxation by opting to have breakfast in bed that first day.  A tray was left outside my door at 9am and I enjoyed a long breakfast of bacon, fruit, orange juice, apple cinnamon roll, and a frittata/omelet entrée.

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Afterwards it was pretty much reading, a little TV, and working on the computer for the day.  I did take my car for a brief spin to keep the engine warm, but the wind was whipping around the snow so much that I was only out for 15-20 minutes.

About 5pm, I walked the block to St Joseph’s Catholic Church to attend worship services.  For a small town, the church was surprisingly big.  Almost as big as the church I attend back in Omaha.  The storm had mushroomed into a full blown blizzard threatening to dump up to a foot of snow by 7am the next day.  Due to the storm, less than 50 people attended the service and the sermon and songs were clipped a bit to get us back home.  Still, it was a good service, if a bit edited.

 

I still needed to eat and ending up finding a Perkins nearby where I started reading a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Red Tower, while I ate a Country Club Melt.  After dinner, I noted with relief that the snow had tapered off which gave the city plenty of time to clean up.  This meant I would be able to head for home tomorrow as extending my stay had been a very serious possibility.

I enjoyed another bath and began writing this article before retiring for the night.

When I woke up the next morning, I peeked out my window and noted that the streets were very clean.  Red Wing only got 5 inches of snow, but had I been just an hour west, I would have been buried.  The Twin Cities received a whopping 10.5” of snow and it was still falling.  At this writing, they are up to 18”.

I joined two other couples for breakfast where we enjoyed strawberries and cream, sausage patties, chocolate crepes, and Eggs Benedict.  A nourishing, tasty breakfast indeed.  Some interesting conversation followed and then I made the long drive home.

I’d like to give the city of Red Wing a redo at some point so I can truly experience the city, but the Golden Lantern is a fabulous inn and definitely gets a recommendation for a visit.  From the large rooms and bathtubs to the gourmet breakfasts, you will certainly have a grand and relaxing time.

Until the next time. . .happy travels.

Shelterbelt Boldly Goes Where No Man has Gone Before

SHELTERBELT THEATRE PRESENTS THREE TO BEAM UP BY DON X. NGUYEN,
Dates:  APRIL 20-MAY 13, 2018
Somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant, a distress signal calls…
Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to present Three to Beam Up by Don X. Nguyen at 3225 California Street, April 20-May 13, 2018.  The play is directed by Roxanne Wach.  Performances are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm except for one matinee performance at 2pm on May 13.  Tickets are $12 for Thursday performances and $20 Thurs-Sun.  Ticket prices for students, seniors (65+), and TAG members are $15.  Tickets are on sale at www.shelterbelt.org (click box office) or boxoffice@shelterbelt.org or 402-341-2757.  The April 21 performance includes a post-show talkback with the playwright, director, and cast.
Sam Wisher returns home to Riverside, IA at the urgent request of his sister.  There, he discovers Jules and their father, John, have built a holodeck and John has locked himself inside for 2 weeks.  Jules and Sam must rescue their father before they lose him forever.  Three to Beam Up is the story of a man who believes he is the Captain of a Federation Starship and the children that fight to keep his feet firmly planted on Earth.
Don’t miss the world premiere of this play by former Omahan, Don X. Nguyen.  Originally performed as part of the 1999 Shelterbelt season, Nguyen has completely rewritten the original play as part of the Shelterbelt’s 25th season.  “I wrote this play about sixteen years ago when I was running the Shelterbelt Theatre.  I came up with this crazy idea of a father who thinks he’s a captain of a starship and started to explore that further and it quickly turned into a play about my family and the fact that, growing up, my parents worked all the time.  I’d hardly see them and that kind of pushed me to interrogate this notion of absent parents and the children who are left behind.”
“I remembered the original production and suggested it to our reading committee.  I thought it would be fun to bring it back, but give Don a chance to revisit it.  It’s been exciting exploring this new script and seeing how Don’s work has evolved.  The play has such a great mix of family drama, comedy, and Star Trek,” said Roxanne Wach, director.
“The script didn’t really age well,” continued Nguyen.  “It’s the very first full length play I’d ever written so there were a ton of rookie mistakes.  I knew it wouldn’t work in its current form.  This upcoming production at the Belt gave me a chance to do a page one rewrite of the script and really delve into the emotional connections of my characters.  One priority for me was to strengthen all my female characters and I’m really happy with where they ended up in this new version.”
The Shelterbelt production comes on the heels of the world premiere of Nguyen’s play, Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth, performed Off-Broadway at The Playwrights Realm in New York City.
“It’s very exciting to be able to come back to Omaha and, particularly, the Shelterbelt.  I haven’t stepped foot inside the theatre since I moved to New York City twelve and a half years ago,” said Nguyen.
The cast features Pam Chase, Nathan Dunham, Kevin Goshorn, John Haverkamp, Matt Karasek, Willa Rauch, Meganne Horrocks Storm, AJ Stoscher, and Brennan Thomas.  Mary Beth Slater stage manages with set design by Ben Adams, costume design by Erienne Wredt, lighting design by Laura Arias, sound design and original music by Shannon Smay, assistant lighting designer is Taelore Stearns, and props/set dressing by Roxanne and Dan Wach.
In the gallery:  Carl Dumicich, mixed media
Shelterbelt Theatre is Omaha’s home for new plays.  Three to Beam Up is part of Shelterbelt’s 25th season, Original Lives Here, featuring scripts celebrating our local playwrights, past and present.  Shelterbelt Theatre is a 2015 and 2016 recipient of the international 50/50 Applause Award by the International Centre for Women Playwrights which honors theatres that produce a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. (www.womenplaywrights.org)