After the Love Has Gone

Bailey Carlson (L) and Thomas Gjere sing a tale of doomed love.

Jamie and Cathy were always on parallel paths.  He was from a traditional Jewish family.  She was a free spirit.  He was a successful writer.  She was a struggling actress.  As his career soared, hers bottomed out.  It was a love doomed to fail.  See their story in The Last Five Years currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Stunning.  Simply stunning.

Every now and again, one comes upon a piece of theatrical kismet.  The story is just right.  You have the right performers.  You have the right director.  The music is just right.  The needed intangibles are in place.  And the end result is something almost transcendent.  The Playhouse’s production of The Last Five Years is one of those shows.

Jason Robert Brown has worked an impressive piece of magic with his story and score.  The framing device of telling the two characters’ stories simultaneously, but oppositely (Jamie’s story is told from beginning to end while Cathy’s story is told from end to beginning) is an inspired touch.  He has also written a moving tale that grabs your soul from the start and doesn’t let up until the final note is sung.  And his score?  Wow!  Nothing but a slate of memorable tunes that are touching, funny and, at times, painful.  Stylistically, the show is similar to an Andrew Lloyd Webber production as very little dialogue is utilized.  The story is operatic and told almost entirely in song.

Susie Baer-Collins returns to the Playhouse to direct and does a superlative job with the production.  Her staging was original and truthful to the story.  Taking advantage of social distancing, Baer-Collins always makes sure there’s a space between the performers, but that’s critical to the story because there is always something keeping Jamie and Cathy apart.  Her coaching of the two thespians is epic as their performances are spot on and nuanced.  No emotional moment is missed or wasted.  No note is off key.  And the show’s emotional trek is precise and gripping.

The theatre could barely contain the energy of Bailey Carlson.  She was a dynamo and had my attention riveted from the moment she uttered the first notes of “Still Hurting”.  Her animation was off the charts and always apropos to the emotional beats of her songs.  Her Cathy begins as an angry woman who refuses to accept any responsibility in the dissolution of her marriage, but as her story winds to the beginning, we get to see that she was once a fun loving, if high spirited gal.  Yet there was always an edge of jealousy to her personality as she wanted her own success and refused to be seen, in her own mind, as lesser than her “genius” husband which explains her obsession with becoming a big star.

Carlson also possesses a knockout alto that captured the subtlest emotion or overwhelmed you with its strength.  If she wasn’t wowing you with her anger and sadness in numbers like “Still Hurting” and “See I’m Smiling”, she was making you laugh with “A Summer in Ohio” or just getting you to remember the bloom of first love with “Goodbye Until Tomorrow”.

I personally considered Thomas Gjere’s performance as Jamie his best to date and I was glad to see him play a bit against type as I’ve normally seen him in more unsympathetic roles.  His take on Jamie is complete and utter perfection.  His childlike glee when his Jamie gains a powerful literary agent is infectious and delightful and his love for Cathy is palpable and real.  Seeing him collapse emotionally as his marriage crumbles melts even the coldest of hearts and it allows the audience to understand, if not necessarily agree with or condone some of his poor personal responses to his failing nuptials.

Gjere has got one, smooth mellow tenor which he harnessed to full potential as he made the audience laugh with “Shiksa Goddess” where he professes his love for Cathy while shocking his mother at the same time.  He also shines in favorite number, “The Schmuel Song”, where he tries to inspire Cathy with a story.  Yet he can also reduce your innards to pulp as he tries to shore up Cathy’s confidence while telling her he won’t fail to make her feel better in “If I Didn’t Believe in You” and will crush you with his tragic “I Could Never Rescue You”.

Jim Othuse supplies some scenic prestidigitation with a simple set of stairs, a boat and a few pieces of furniture that effortlessly slide in and out to set up scenes.  I was bowled over by Janet Morr’s artistry on the seaside set, especially by the rolling waves which was furthered enhanced by the sea sounds supplied by John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart.  Michelle Garrity’s choreography was simple, yet effective and made good use of social distancing.  I loved the emotional coloring of Lindsay Pape’s costumes.  When the characters are at their happiest, their clothes are the brightest.  At their saddest, they wear mournful black.  Jim Boggess and his mighty orchestra nail the score to the floor.

At the beginning, there was an ending.  At the ending, there was a beginning.  But, for me, it was one of the most personally satisfying shows I’ve seen in a spell and you need to get a ticket and experience it for yourselves.

The Last Five Years plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through March 21.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets begin at $25 and may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at The show will also be available via streaming starting March 5 via the ShowTix4U platform. Due to adult language, the show is not recommended for children. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

Searching For a Half

Internationally ignored musician, Hedwig, decides to tell her life story at a concert and perhaps discover her missing half at the same time.  This is Hedwig and the Angry Inch currently playing at the Waiting Room Lounge under the auspices of Rave On Productions and is the debut performance for their Omaha Series.

This was one of the most refreshingly original shows I have viewed.  Powered by hard hitting rock songs and power ballads by Stephen Trask, John Cameron Mitchell has written a pretty deep and moving tale framed within a rock concert.  Hedwig, born Hansel, has always been searching for her missing half i.e. her soulmate.  And she has gone through a lot to find that soulmate.  From living with a mother who showed no love to enduring a botched gender reassignment surgery to escape communist East Berlin to surviving as a hooker to having her songs stolen by a lover she thought was “the one”, Hedwig has lived a fascinating, if difficult life.  The pressure seems to be finally getting to her as she feels compelled to share her life’s story and her grip on reality weakens with each passing moment until the final song when. . .well, you’ll have to see the show to find that out.

Kimberly Faith Hickman’s direction soars throughout the production.  This show has beats aplenty and Hickman knows how to hit them all as she has guided her lead actor through the myriad twists and turns of Hedwig’s emotional journey.  She clearly understood the end game of this show and knew the most interesting and correct path to get her Hedwig to that point.  I especially liked how she made certain Hedwig was always at the right emotional pitch when segueing into the musical numbers making the transitions seamless.

Jesse White has placed himself thoroughly in the running for the OEA Outstanding Actor in a Musical prize for his performance as Hedwig.  White is so natural and believable as the glam rocker.  He snaps off Hedwig’s numerous double entendres with effortless ease and gently leads the audience down Hedwig’s emotional road.  The nuance in his voice is beautiful and captures the subtlest emotion usually best exemplified with Hedwig’s cruel treatment of her husband, Yitzhak.  White never gets loud, but his delivery has a barbed nature that really ticks you off.

White also has a good knack for improvisation with his reactions to the audience, especially in his handling of a couple of boisterous audience members on a few occasions.  He’s also got a knock out, power tenor singing voice that tore the house down in numbers such as “Tear Me Down”, “Sugar Daddy”, “Wig In a Box” and “Wicked Little Town”.

I am constantly amazed by the talent of Evelyn Hill whenever she takes the stage.  Though she’s only a high school senior, she’s already built a reputation as one of Omaha’s finest musical talents.  This time her pantomime skills are on fine display in this production.  Her Yitzhak rarely speaks, but his expressions speak volumes with the utter disdain and hatred he harbors towards Hedwig for suppressing his far greater natural talent and keeping him from performing as a drag queen which he loves.  Hill even gets a few moments to wow us with her musical chops as she briefly belts out “I Will Always Love You” and takes over on “Exquisite Corpse”.

But what is a singer without a band?  Under the musical direction of Matthew McGuigan, the Angry Inch (Matthew McGuigan, Ryan McGuigan, Larell Ware, Max Meyer, Jay Hanson) shines as they superlatively rock out the score of this show.  Amanda Fehlner nails the costumes with the glam look of the Angry Inch which conjured images of Twisted Sister and the look of Hedwig who appears to be the next coming of Ziggy Stardust.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an explosive theatrical debut for Rave On Productions and one I feel has the potential to be a big awards season darling.  If you’re ready for a night of safe, socially distanced entertainment, give this rocker a try.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch plays at the Waiting Room Lounge (6212 Maple St, Omaha, NE) through Feb 27. Ticket prices are $35 and can be purchased at Showtimes are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and 10pm and Sundays at 7pm. Due to mature themes and language, this show is not suitable for children.

‘The Last Five Years’ Launches 2nd Half of OCP Season

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse kicks off its second half of the 2020/21 Season with The Last Five Years—opening Friday, Feb. 26. The show will be held in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP. Performances will run Wednesdays through Sundays through Sunday, March 23. The Hawks Mainstage Theatre will allow for social distancing and other safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A captivating, intimate musical that retraces the rise and fall of a five-year romantic relationship. The story is presented in chronological order by Jamie, the man, and in reverse by Cathy, the woman, with the two versions of the story meeting only once—at their wedding in the middle. Profoundly emotional with comedic moments sprinkled throughout, The Last Five Years is beautifully heartbreaking.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $25, 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


All audience, staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Masks will be available free of charge and must be worn properly in accordance with CDC guidelines. Patrons attending a show in either theatre will be socially distanced from other guests with all groups at least six feet apart. Productions will not incorporate any physical audience participation.

Audience members will be required to self-screen for a fever and symptoms of illness prior to arriving at OCP. Those with fever or other symptoms may exchange their ticket at no cost.

Lobbies, reception areas and lines will be arranged and marked to encourage social distancing. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in the box office windows with cash-free payments encouraged, touchless credit card transactions offered and touch-free ticket pickup available. Common areas and performance halls will be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis with both cleanser and electrostatic technology.

All restrooms will be outfitted with touchless fixtures and will be sanitized daily and throughout performances. We will no longer hold post-show meet and greets with the actors in the lobby. Concessions and drinks will not be available and public water fountains will be closed.


The Last Five Years will be available to rent for at-home viewing beginning Friday, March 5 on the ShowTix4U platform. To view all OCP streaming events on ShowTix4U, visit

The Last Five Years
by Jason Robert Brown

Directed By: Susie Baer-Collins

Thomas Gjere as Jamie
Bailey Carlson as Cathy

OCP Announces Auditions for ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”

Omaha Community Playhouse Announces Auditions for:

Ain’t Misbehavin’
Directed by: Kathy Tyree
Music by: Thomas “Fats” Waller | Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz

Production Dates: May 21–June 20, 2021 | Hawks Mainstage

In-Person Auditions
Sunday, March 7 & Monday, March 8
5–9 p.m. at OCP (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)
Please reserve Wednesday, March 10 from 6–9 p.m. for callbacks.

Details & Instructions
To receive paperwork and to schedule an audition time, please email Becky at

–Auditions are being offered in-person only and will be scheduled in groups of three to five people. Please have 16 bars of music prepared for the audition and bring the accompanying sheet music. Also have a monologue of your choice prepared that is approximately 30 seconds. The dance portion will take place with the group.

–Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Specific time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. In-person auditions will be in groups of no more than 10. Auditioners will be required to wear a facemask. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the stage door on the west side of the building.

–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.

Show Synopsis
The music of legendary jazz musician and entertainer Fats Waller comes to life in this wildly popular Tony Award-winning musical revue. Experience the contagious rhythms and electric energy that made Waller an international icon. Featuring five triple-threat actors and a slew of infectious jazz and swing hits, Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a musical delight!

Ain’t Misbehavin’, the Fats Waller Musical, celebrates the music and culture of Harlem, NY in the 1930’s. To be true to the composer and the origins of the music, the cast will consist of 5 Black performers, 2 men and 3 women. Actors of all abilities, gender identities, sexual orientation, shapes and experiences are encouraged to audition. Actors of all ages are encouraged to audition.

Andre–An unrepentant party hound. A flirt and a bit of a womanizer.
Armelia–A voluptuous and sassy woman. Very strong-willed and not afraid to share her thoughts.
Charlaine–A sweet, young lady. Very innocent.
Ken–Jovial, cheerful and loud. Larger than life.
Nell–Confident and charming. A knowledgeable woman of the world.

To receive paperwork and to schedule an audition time, please email Becky at INFO:…/view/season-productions/

Professional Opportunities Available at Maples Repertory Theatre

Macon, MO–Maples Repertory Theatre is holding open auditions for actors and technicians for its 2021 season: Looking Forward. For a listing of the season productions, please click here.

Open auditions will be held at the Royal Theatre on 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, Feb 20, 2021.

Actors: Please bring a headshot/resume along with a comic monologue and song. Accompanist provided.

Technicians: Please bring resume (and portfolio, if applicable).

For Annie auditions: The theatre is seeking girls 6-13 for the six orphan roles.

To arrange an audition, e-mail

To submit electronically, e-mail

Note: If there is inclement weather, auditions may be postponed. Please double check by calling the box office at 660-385-2924 or visiting our Facebook page on the day you plan to audition.

Maples Repertory Theatre is also seeking a full time Box Office/Group Sales Manager and a full time Educational Theatre /Marketing Director. For more specific information, please send resume to

Be a Star in OCP’s ‘Constellations’

Omaha Community Playhouse Announces Auditions for:

Constellations by Nick Payne

Directed by: Denise Chapman

Production Dates: April 30–May 23, 2021 | Howard Drew

To receive paperwork and sides, to schedule an audition or to submit a video audition, please email Becky Deiber at

Three Ways to Audition:
1. Audition in Person
Sunday, Feb, 21 at 3 p.m. | OCP
By appointment only. When arriving to audition, please enter through the stage door on the west side of the building located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

2. Audition via Zoom
Monday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.
By appointment only. A link will be sent to those who choose this option.

3. Submit a Video Audition
Video submission are due by Monday, Feb. 22.
Email video audition to Becky Deiber at

Details & Instructions
–Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Specific time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. In-person auditions will be in groups of no more than 10. Auditioners will be required to wear a face-mask. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the stage door on the west side of the building.

–All auditioners are encouraged to select one of the Constellations sides or another piece of literature that speaks to them to prepare for the virtual general auditions. Alternate pieces of literature could originate from fiction, poetry, music, film or any other source. Actors may choose to read or memorize their selection. Actors should demonstrate their ability to make strong character choices and maintain realism in performance. Actors are encouraged to keep the total time of the general audition selection to four minutes or less.

–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.

Show Synopsis
Marianne is a cosmologist, keen on quantum theory and the idea that each of life’s infinite possibilities plays out in some parallel universe. Her chance encounter with Roland marks the beginning of a romance with countless outcomes. But when Marianne’s health begins to fail, the balance between destiny and freewill begins to shift. Eloquent, sweet and haunting, Constellations is a complete emotional journey from beginning to end.



We are seeking diverse representation in casting. Actors of all abilities, races, gender identities, sexual orientation, shapes, countries of origin, and experiences are encouraged to audition. Age noted in the script and character descriptions will not be determining factor in casting. Actors of all ages are encouraged to audition.

To receive paperwork and sides, to schedule an audition or to submit a video audition, please email Becky Deiber at MORE INFO:…/view/season-productions/

Maples Repertory Theatre Announces 2021 Season: Looking Forward

I Love a Piano

June 16 – July 11

This celebration of music and lyrics of Irving Berlin follows the journey of a piano as it moves in and out of American lives from the turn of the century to the present. Along the way, the story comes to vibrant life as the cast sings and dances over sixty of Irving Berlin’s most beloved songs including “Blue Skies”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Always”, “White Christmas”, and, of course, “I Love a Piano”.

Greater Tuna

June 23 – August 1

Two men play the entire cast of over twenty eccentric characters of both genders and various ages who live in the second smallest town in Texas. It’s an affectionate comment on small-town life and attitudes. Two of Maples Rep’s favorite comedic actors, Michael McIntire and Sean Riley, are slated to star.


July 16 – August 8

Everyone’s favorite orphan takes the Maples Rep stage to remind us all that optimism and hope will win the day.  Featuring a Tony Award-winning score including “Tomorrow” “Maybe” “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and “Little Girls”.  Annie is a lively, exuberant show loved by all ages.

Church Basement Ladies: You Smell Barn

September 29 – October  17

The ladies of the East Cornucopia Lutheran Church are famous for keeping the church running and meeting every hilarious challenge head on.  The new musical follows them home to see how chores family life test their mettle.  It’s nothing a hot dish can’t cure.


October 27 – November 7

Abby has always had a quiet room to herself at the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility. If a new roommate was assigned to the second bed, Abby – cantankerous and private – quickly got them out. That is until enthusiastic, optimistic Marilyn arrives. Soon Abby realizes that unseating Marilyn is going to take something special. A high-stakes bet quickly leads to an all-out war of comic proportions. Ripcord is an often slapstick, always surprising comedy about enemies who may or may not become friends.

Tis The Season: A Maples Rep Holiday Celebration

December 1-12

Christmas traditions come to life on stage in the all new, singing and dancing extravaganza.  Your favorite holiday songs and characters will delight the whole family.  It’s the perfect way to celebrate the season with your family and friends.

For tickets, visit Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.