Motherly Wisdom

“The secret to my writing is that I’m ordinary.”—Erma Bombeck

But she made the ordinary extraordinary as America’s most celebrated housewife.  Beloved for her wit and wisdom, Erma Bombeck entertained the public for years with her observations on the home front with her syndicated column.  Now you can learn a bit about the world’s most famous mother in Erma Bombeck:  At Wit’s End which is currently playing at Lofte Community Theatre.

The best thing about this show is that you don’t even need to know anything about Erma Bombeck in order to enjoy it.  Allison and Margaret Engel do an amazing job summarizing the life of Bombeck through the use of her own voice as she shares the story of her life, her accomplishments, her family, and support of the ERA with plenty of her one of a kind witticisms enhancing the monologue of this one woman show.

Kevin Colbert’s direction is quite exceptional.  Static this show is not as his Erma constantly bounds around the stage doing housework and writing articles as she shares her life’s story.  Colbert also has a firm grip on the numerous beats of the stories as his thespian hits them all squarely and truly.  He has also guided his lone actress to a most marvelous performance.

Melinda Mead beautifully underplays the role of Erma Bombeck.  Her naturalism is off the charts and she always had a quiet animation about her that fueled her actions and words.  Mead is a gifted comic performer who tosses off bon mots as easily as some skip stones and has some of the most precise diction I’ve ever heard delivered by a performer.  Her mastery of Bombeck’s wordplay borders on genius, though I did note a moment or two where the spaces between her words could have been tightened a bit.

Kevin Colbert pulled double duty with lighting and set design.  The set has the feel of a typical suburban home with the addition of Bombeck’s home office and his use of lights is novel as the spotlight followed Bombeck around her home.  A scene with Bombeck playing her husband turning off the house lights is a particularly well executed moment.  Janet Sorensen picked out the perfect purple housedress for Mead’s Erma.  Ken Snyder’s sounds added quite a bit to the production with his ringing phones, doorbells, and kids pounding on the doors.

It’s a night of mirth combined with a bit of education and Mead’s solo performance is guaranteed to have you laughing and thinking the night away.

Erma Bombeck:  At Wit’s End plays at Lofte Community Theatre through June 6. Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $24 and can be obtained at, calling 402-234-2553 or e-mailing  Lofte Community Theatre is located at 15841 Manley Rd in Manley, NE.

‘Gutenberg: The Musical’ Opening at OCP

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse and The Candy Project are proud to present Gutenberg! The Musical!, opening Friday, June 4, 2021 in the Howard Drew Theatre at OCP. The show will run through Sunday, June 27, Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now starting at $30 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


Join The Candy Project, friends of OCP, for a special presentation of Gutenberg! The Musical! A pair of aspiring playwrights audition their newest work—a big, splashy musical about the inventor of the printing press—for an audience of potential investors. This two-man musical spoof offers an unending supply of enthusiasm and laughs.

Produced By: Cathy Hirsch and The Candy Project

Directed By: Kaitlyn McClincy


Dan Chevalier as Bud
Steve Krambeck as Doug

OCP Announces Auditions for Season Premiere, “Dear Jack, Dear Louise”

Omaha Community Playhouse Announces Auditions for:

Dear Jack, Dear Louise

by Ken Ludwig

Directed by Susan Baer Collins

Rehearsals Begin: Sunday July 11, 2021

Production Dates: August 20 – September 19, 2021
Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. in the Howard Drew Theatre. Actors are called to the theatre one hour before curtain.

Saturday, June 12, 11:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Revive Center Omaha 2402 Lizzie Robinson Ave., Omaha, NE 68111

Sunday, June 13, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE, 68132

Monday, June 14, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132

Callbacks: Wednesday, June 16, 6:30 p.m.

For those auditioning at Revive Center Omaha: Auditioners may enter through the glass doors on the south side of the building along Lizzie Robinson Ave. Parking is available in the parking lot west of the building, adjacent to the Family Housing Advisory Services building. Face masks are required while inside the building.

For those auditioning at Omaha Community Playhouse: Please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building.

Please contact Becky to schedule an audition appointment and request audition paperwork and sides.

The Story: U.S. Army Captain Jack Ludwig, a military doctor stationed in Oregon, begins writing to Louise Rabiner, an aspiring actress in New York City, hoping to meet her someday if the war will allow. But as the war continues, it threatens to end their relationship, before it even starts. Tony Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig tells the joyous, heartwarming story of his parents’ courtship during World War II and the results are anything but expected.


Jack Ludwig – Male identifying, early to mid-thirties, all ethnicities. An Army medical officer serving in the Second World War, stationed in Portland, OR. A bit reserved.

Louise Rabiner – Female identifying, mid-twenties to early thirties, all ethnicities. An aspiring actress from Brooklyn, living in New York City. Outgoing and stylish.

Please bring all contact information, personal schedules, a list of rehearsal conflicts and resume if available. To expedite the check-in process, please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

Face masks are required for all auditioners, staff and volunteers while indoors during the audition process. All masks must be worn properly in accordance with CDC guidelines, covering both the nose and mouth. All performers are required to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon casting.

For more information, please contact Becky Deiber

Analysis of a Murder

On the night of October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten, tortured, and left to die, tied to a barbed wire fence.  His assailants were caught within a day, but the revelation that the vicious attack was, at least, partially motivated by Shepard’s orientation and his subsequent death six days later shone an ugly spotlight on the small town of Laramie, Wyoming.  In an attempt to understand the factors that led to the savage crime and to share the truth, Moises Kaufman and Members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie to conduct interviews with the town’s citizens and those who knew him.  The end result of these interviews and news stories was The Laramie Project and it is currently running at The Barn Players.

This is certainly the most ambitious play that I’ve ever seen as Kaufman and Members of Tectonic Theater Project conducted nearly 200 interviews, spliced in news stories, and somehow managed to edit it into the most real play I’m likely to view in my lifetime.  And the reason it’s so real is that is real.  Every word said in this show was said in reality and everything that occurs happened in real life.  The show completely eschews the normal narrative style as each scene is a disparate, standalone bit.  Yet, somehow, it all has a natural flow and tells a gripping tale about the evils of prejudice.  It was both an education and a privilege to watch this masterful bit of storytelling by an ensemble of talented performers that were universally up for the game.

In order to do true justice to this production, I would have to write a 50 page review.  But let me say that this show is an actor’s dream as each and every performer has to play multiple characters.  This requires a cast of top flight, versatile thespians and this show has that in spades as there isn’t a weak link to be found.

Some of the many stellar performances to be found in this production come from Christa James who excels as Shephard’s close friend, Romaine Peterson; Gideon Madison who is particularly convincing as Jedidiah Schultz, a young theatre student who also has the biggest character arc in the show; Larissa Briley as the compassionate Officer Reggie Fluty who cared for the brutalized Shephard at great personal risk after it was discovered he was HIV positive; Christoph Cording who provides levity and wisdom as Doc O’Connor; and Matt Fowler who has the night’s most heart rending moment with his portrayal of Shepard’s father, Dennis, who will get tears flowing with his victim’s statement at the sentencing of his son’s killer.

I was quite taken with Ron Meyer’s portrayal of Father Roger Schmit.  He was gregarious.  He was bold.  He was even humorous with his preciseness of speech.  Most importantly he had a powerful sense of justice.  Schmit helped to organize the vigils for Matthew Shephard, believing it to be right.  But he was also bound and determined to see the truth of the situation be told about the situation.  He wanted justice for Matthew and believed part of the sentencing of his killers should include them telling their story to explain how they reached their particular point and he also insisted that the makers of the play “tell the story correct”.

Brent Custer has some incredible versatility and an epic example of this ability is demonstrated in his beautifully disparate renditions of Aaron McKinney, one of Shephard’s killers, and Matt Galloway, the bartender who was the last person to see Shephard before the crime.

As Galloway, Custer is friendly and observant as he proves to be a potent eyewitness for the prosecution and a bit of a philosopher.  He helps to damage the credibility of the defense’s gay panic theory (claiming that McKinney murdered Shephard in a fit of rage after an unwanted sexual advance) with his theories on territoriality as he claims Shephard’s killers approached him and not the other way around.  His Galloway is also a bit of a ham who clearly enjoys his 15 minutes of fame as a star witness and is quite amusing with his explaining the art of testifying.

With a snap of the fingers, Custer changes from the affable Galloway to the cold and sullen Aaron McKinney.  As McKinney he is as cold-blooded as a reptile and as remorseless a human as you’ll ever see as he calmly admits to his dislike of homosexuals and casually describes the horrific beating he inflicted on Shephard while callously ignoring his pleas to stop.  His only concern is whether he gets 25 to life or the death penalty.

Josh Jackson gives a tour de force performance with the many different roles he portrays in the night’s production.  Seldom have I seen an actor with such transformative abilities as he becomes different personas with slight changes in body language and vocal control.  Through the night, he’ll tug at your heart as Greg Pierotti, a theatre member who felt a kinship with Shepard, repulse you as the hate-mongering Fred Phelps, and make you laugh as the bar owner, Matt Mickelson.

Guiding a show of this difficulty requires a steady and confident director and this show assuredly had one and then some in the form of Ashton Botts.  Her staging is immaculate and struck a unique dichotomy with static movement combined with unyielding energy.  The actors don’t move much, but that’s actually crucial for this show as the energy needs to be on the words in order to draw in the viewer.  It’s also one of the most impressive pieces of coaching I’ve ever seen as the energy of her actors never wanes and each of the sixty characters they play are well-defined and different.  There’s never a point when you don’t know which character an actor is playing.

Nathan Wyman’s simple set of risers and chairs unlock the theatre of the mind as the actors adjust the chairs to suit the scenes and let the audience’s imagination do the rest.  Chuck Cline’s use of lights enhance the story so much with his minimalist application to put the focus squarely on the essential performers of each scene.  Brenna McConaughey’s costumes are as real and natural as the performances of the actors.

This is a very hard show to watch, but it is also a very necessary show to watch due to the challenging themes it presents and the difficult questions it asks.  Where are our values?  Why do we hate that which is different?  Why does society relish sensationalism?  There are no easy answers to these questions, but a statement from Jedidiah Schultz points us in the direction we should be going when he says, “How could I ever think they were different from me?”  When society makes that same realization and starts pulling together like the family it is, this world will be a marvelous place.

The Laramie Project runs at The Barn Players through May 30.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm (and for a showing on Monday, May 24) and Sundays at 2pm.  The show is only available via livestream and tickets may be purchased at  Tickets cost $15.  Due to mature themes and language, the show is not suitable for children.  The Barn Players is located at 1000 E 9th St, Ste 225 in Kansas City, MO.

It’s Got that Swing

The cast of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. Back row (L to R): DJ Tyree & Jus.B Front row (L to R): Tiffany White-Welchen, Dara Hogan, and Leiloni Brewer

It’s a tribute to the music of Fats Waller and, trust me, this cast Ain’t Misbehavin over at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

If you’re having a bad day when you watch this show, you’ll feel light as a feather afterwards.  If you’re having a good day, you’ll leave feeling like you kissed Heaven.

This is not a musical.  It’s a revue.  So don’t go in expecting plot and a story.  What you can expect is a powerhouse troupe of 5 performers who will sing, dance, and entertain their way into your hearts.

The show benefits tremendously from the choreography of Ray Mercer.  It is so fun and inventive and enhanced the songs so much, especially with its skillful execution by the performers.  The choreography runs the gamut from the popular dances of the 20s through the 40s, but always with a dash of spice that makes it original and unique.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra are precisely on point with the classic jazz numbers which invoke memories of smoky clubs and speakeasies, yet still feel like they belong in the modern times.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes burst with color and class.  Each of the women wears a brightly colored gown (purple, red, and turquoise) while the men are snappily dressed in three piece suits that look like they’re from the 1920s.  Jim Othuse’s set is simple, but effective with his piano key arches and a backdrop of instruments.  Othuse’s lights lend emotional heft to the songs as they amplify the moods of the numbers.

Kathy Tyree’s direction is a real winner.  For a revue, staging is an absolute key and hers is magnificent.  The performers use the space extremely well and they are incredibly animated.  Tyree manages to add a bit of theatre to the production as she’s able to get a few amusing bits of comedy into the piece, but also knew how to guide her troupe through the emotions of a song.  I also especially appreciated how she worked moments with troupe members not directly singing as they were always engaged in appropriate actions and reactions which really made it feel like they were performing in a club.

The dancing of DJ Tyree is worth the price of admission by itself.  He is so lithe and smooth and his dancing reminded me of a young Cab Calloway.  And his tenor voice is rich and velvety and just livens up his moments.  Hallmarks of his performance are his showstopping numbers “The Viper’s Drag” and “That Ain’t Right”.

Jus.B has a stellar debut at the Playhouse.  He has a towering presence that grabs attention and a wry sense of humor enhanced by his mighty baritone.  A few of his shining moments are his awesome and sustained high note in “Honeysuckle Rose”, a tour de force comedic delivery in “Your Feet’s Too Big”, and a sweet rendition of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”.

Dara Hogan adds a nice bit of ditz to her character of Charlaine which made for some amusing moments.  She made full use of it in “Yacht Club Swing”, but also soared in “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” and “Lounging at the Waldorf”.

Leiloni Brewer exudes a strong diva nature as her Armelia enjoys being the center of attention.  Brewer also has a tight grip on comedy as her repartee with Nell provided some of the funniest moments of the night.  And, man, can she belt out a tune.  Some of my favorite numbers came from that potent alto and included “When the Nylons Bloom Again” and “Find Out What They Like”.  The latter was further boosted by her lively power dancing.

Last, but not least, is Tiffany White-Welchen who is smokin’ good as Nell.  The character is explicitly said to be Nell Carter and I’d put up her ability to power out a song against Carter’s any day of the week.  She nails Carter’s style to the floor in “Cash for Your Trash” and also gets one of the most beautiful songs of the night with her rendition of the tragic “Mean to Me”.

If you’re a lover of Fats Waller or jazz in general or just in need of a good time to take you away from the cares of the world, then Ain’t Misbehavin is going to be the show for you.

Ain’t Misbehavin runs at the Omaha Playhouse through June 20.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $42 and can be purchased at the OCP Box Office or by calling 402-553-0800 or visiting  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

OCP ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ will open Friday, May 21, 2021. The show will run through Sunday, June 20, Wednesdays through Sundays in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP. Tickets are on sale now starting at $42 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


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!

Directed By: Kathy Tyree


Justin Blackson as Ken
Leiloni Brewer as Armelia
Dara Hogan as Charlaine
DJ Tyree as Andre
Tiffany White-Welchen as Nell

The Funny Truth About Politics

When a sex scandal forces the current governor to resign, Lt. Governor Ned Newly is sworn in as the new governor.  Ned is a whiz in administration and government functions, but has crippling social anxiety and low self-confidence so he comes off as an idiot in public.  After seeing his wretched swearing in ceremony, a famed political advisor decides he can make Newly into a political superstar by presenting him as the worst candidate in history.  This is The Outsider by Paul Slade Smith and is currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.

This is one of the most insightful comedies I’ve ever seen and one of the best productions mounted by Bellevue Little Theatre.  Smith’s script is an apt commentary on the modern political climate where the public seems obsessed with celebrity status instead of competence and focuses more on the sizzle instead of the steak.  Newly is the official people actually need since he truly is good at his job, but his advisor wants to present him as a dope because he believes that is the official that people actually want since a candidate should be just as clueless as the public according to his philosophy.

Marya Lucca-Thyberg has supplied an ace piece of direction for this show.  She keeps her actors briskly moving about the stage to keep the energy of the show up (though the pace of tonight’s show needed a bit of quickening) and the staging is of excellent quality especially with the visual gags and reactions of her performers.  Lucca-Thyberg also guided her actors to fairly effective and strong performances.

Strong supporting performances were supplied by Mike Pilmaier as a laconic cameraman who serves as the voice of the American people who has lost faith in government and is weary of politics in its current state.  Sara Scheidies also gives a fine performance as an effective and efficient pollster who enjoys the current state of politics, but understands that the people deserve something better.

Louise Peakes has one fewer brain cell than an amoeba.  It is a one note character (possibly a parody of Sarah Palin), but Sarah Dighans plays it for everything its worth.  Dighans comes off as a blithering dolt, but at least she’s happy and enthusiastic.  She’s the epitome of America’s fascination with the sizzle as she only spouts pithy phrases and makes pie in the sky promises.  The difference is that she’s wholly sincere.  She isn’t out to manipulate the public for any selfish gain.  She’s just eminently unqualified and, if elected, would simply be the blind leading the blind.

Matthew Bell is pitch perfect as Arthur Vance, the famed political advisor.  Bell’s Vance is the P.T. Barnum of politics because for him it’s all about the show.  Without question, Vance has a lot of political savvy, but he tends to misuse that savvy as he’s more fixated on the win than the quality of the candidate.  Clearly he has a low opinion of the voters as his intention is to give them candidates that either are or appear to be stupid because he thinks that’s what they want.  Bell does an admirable job in keeping Vance somewhat likable as he really isn’t a bad person.  He’s just so caught up in politics that he’s forgotten what is the true purpose of government.

Brennan Thomas gives an absolutely flawless performance as Ned Newly.  Thomas presents Newly as a man virtually paralyzed by social anxiety with his inability to speak when around strangers and his palpable fear at public speaking of any type.  With his hunched shoulders and limbs pulled into his body, Thomas always resembles a coiled spring ready to snap at the slightest sound.  His reactions and vocal effects are hilarious, but he also brings real intelligence and heart to the character.  Newly wants what is best for the people and has ideas and plans to get there, but has been forced to work from the shadows since he lacks the charisma to be the face of the party.

Joey Lorincz has assembled yet another top notch set as the Governor’s office has a real sense of authority with its imposing size, elegant balcony doors, and fine furniture.  Nancy Buennemeyer clothes the characters to their personalities from the flashy and expensive suit of Arthur Vance to Newly’s more sedate and professional suit to the bright blue dress to match the perky personality of Louise Peakes.  Sam Bass did some fine sound design from the beeps of an intercom to a soundtrack featuring classic rock hits.

If you want a clear idea of the difference between politics and leadership, then this is the play for you.  It’s funny.  It’s truthful.  And it gives you a lot to think about.  One never knows.  Perhaps a future leader may be watching this show and be inspired to be the leader we need and not the leader we think we want.

The Outsider will run through May 16 at Bellevue Little Theatre. Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $20 ($18 for seniors, $10 for students) and reservations can be made at  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.