adapted by Eric Coble from the Newbery Award-winning book by Lois Lowry
Production dates April 15 – May 8, 2022
The Giver – Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control and safe. There is no war or fear or pain. There are also no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. But when Jonas turns 12, he is chosen for special training from The Giver – to receive and keep the memories of the community. The Giver is the only person who holds the memories of real pain and joy. Now Jonas will learn the truth about life – and the hypocrisy of his utopian world.
Sunday, January 30, 2022 1:00-5:00pm by appointment Omaha Community Playhouse 6915 Cass St. Omaha, NE 68132
Monday, January 31, 2022 6:00-10:00pm by appointment Omaha Community Playhouse
Callbacks will be Thursday, February 3, 2022 at OCP at 6:00pm
Place and Time: Soon – In and around the community.
Characters (All characters can be any ethnicity.)
Father Jonas’ good-natured father.
Mother Jonas’ good-natured mother.
Lily Jonas’ little sister. (Audition age range, 10-15)
Jonas an 11-year-old about to grow older. (Audition age range, 10-15)
Asher Jonas’ best friend. (Audition age range, 10-15)
Fiona another friend of Jonas’. (Audition age range, 10-15)
Larissa an old women in need of care.
The Chief Elder the master of the ceremony.
The Giver (Old Man) an old man about to change.
Compensation: Onstage performers 18 and over for this show will be compensated $675.00 in total.
Yes, sir, it’s time once again for my favorite event and, I hope, yours. It’s the annual Christmas B & B review.
This year’s review brought me to Lake Mills and The Fargo Mansion Inn owned and operated by Tom Boycks and Barry Luce.
Fargo Mansion Inn is an 1881 Queen Anne mansion which had been bought by E.J. Fargo, son of the founder of Wells Fargo, in 1883. Fargo was also a bit of an inventor as he created the central vacuuming system still used in homes today. He lived in the mansion until his death in 1921 and his third wife continued to live there before moving to a nearby nursing home where she passed away at the age of 67. At that point, the mansion was transformed into apartments for years before falling into disrepair and condemnation.
Boycks and Luce bought the mansion in 1985 and spent two years restoring it and were actually one of, if not the first, B & B proprietors in Wisconsin. In fact, the partners are the founding members of the Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association. If the inn and the association don’t keep them busy enough, Boycks and Luce also have several other business interests in the community.
Unlike a great deal of my outings, I was only going to have one day to enjoy the inn and community so I had to hit the ground running. Once I spotted the mansion, I knew I had hit the jackpot.
One of the inn’s calling cards is that the owners like to decorate it according to a 19th century Victorian Christmas and I felt my Christmas juices flowing when I saw the Christmas tree and pine strings decorating the outside of the inn along with cutouts of toy soldiers.
Tom opened the door before I even had a chance to ring the bell and welcomed me into the home where I also met Barry. Tom gave me the quarter tour of the home and I marveled at the decorations and period antiques in the common areas. He then led me to the Enoch J Fargo Suite which was my room for the night.
This is Fargo Mansion’s largest room and dubbed the honeymoon suite containing a queen-sized bed, English writing desk, and a secret. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you in the dark. The bathroom has a secret entrance behind one of the bookshelves and is the closest I’ve come to seeing a true secret passage.
Once I got settled, I returned to the commons where I took a really good look around and enjoyed the fresh, piney smell of a real Christmas tree and took a close look at the intricate Christmas decorations and enjoyed some photos of the mansion back in its original heyday.
Before I knew it, it was time to go to church. I visited St Francis Xavier and this was a mighty small chapel; about on par with my visit to Our Lady of Victory in Limon, CO over the summer. Father Bob conducted the service and he was a gregarious and entertaining pastor. This was the third Sunday of Advent known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday and is represented by the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath. Rejoice was the key word of the service as Father’s sermon centered around rejoicing that our Savior was coming and our Savior was here and with us. It was definitely a good one to feel the Spirit moving and I left worship with a flutter in my heart and a rumble in my stomach.
It was indeed dinnertime and I headed over to the nearby town of Johnson Creek to eat at Crawfish Junction.
Crawfish Junction is a bar/restaurant known for its Cajun fare. Surprisingly it does not seem to serve gumbo (unless it pops up as a soup of the day), but does serve an excellent plate of jambalaya to which I added some delectable shrimp and forewent the hush puppies for homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. The gravy had a great taste, but was much too thin, but the potatoes were right on the mark.
Satiated, I then headed to Janesville, WI to enjoy one of the region’s premier holiday events: the Holiday Light Show at the Rotary Botanical Gardens.
I had read of the event prior to my arrival, but, thanks to Sandy, whom I met in my previous review, I learned that the tickets had to be bought in advance and would not be sold at the door. So keep that in mind if you want to visit.
This truly is a popular event as there was a large line of people still waiting to get into the gardens, but it is well worth it. A million lights transform the gardens into a Christmas wonderland where you get to see flowers, Christmas trees, old-fashioned lampposts, sea serpents, Old Glory, and many other colorful surprises guaranteed to make your eyes pop.
I could have spent hours there, but had to settle for 40 minutes as plummeting temperatures were turning me into a Chrisicle. Afterwards, I returned to Fargo Mansion for some article prep and then sunk under the thick quilt for the night.
I wish I could sleep like that all the time. I closed my eyes and when I opened them it was nearly 6am. I had some time to write and ablute and then went down to breakfast.
Tom served up some lemon bread with a granola/yogurt/fruit dish and a main course of cheesy scrambled eggs, orange slices, and sausage links. Tom is easily one of the best conversationalists I’ve had as a host and he may be the future version of myself as we seem to share similar senses of humor and personality traits. But he is truly a master at the art of hospitality as we talked about the B & B industry and the events of the day.
Alas, I had to start heading the preparations for my drive home. But if you’re in Lake Mills, especially around Christmas, stay at Fargo Mansion. You’ll have an excellent pair of hosts, a wonderful mansion to relax in, and a fine feed in the morning.
And that wraps up this review, join me in about two weeks when I close out the year with a special holiday series when I travel to Orlando, FL to experience Walt Disney World for the holidays. It’ll be a grand adventure.
Tilly is having a rough holiday season. Her sister ran off with a guy and left her in sole control of their diner which is in danger of going out of business. She misses her father. She’s lonely and her beau hasn’t proposed to her. And her Christmas Extravaganza talent show is lacking star power and talent. Will her apprentice guardian angel be able to help her find her Christmas spirit? Find out by watching Tilly’s Holiday Extravaganza currently performing at Harold’s Koffee House under the auspices of 2×4 Planck Productions.
For full disclosure, the show’s playwright, Doug Marr, was a friend of mine and I performed in several of his original works so I have a good feeling for his style of writing. This show definitely has the feel of an early work (it hasn’t been performed for 30 years) and seemed like a tale of two plays. The first act needed a bit of polish. It sets up Tilly’s woes and introduces Novice Betty whose “help” just seems to make things worse and then she vanishes and Tilly’s day just goes from bad to worse with various mishaps. Act II jumps ahead to Christmas Eve and the extravaganza and is a much stronger act centering on the, ahem, “talent show” and the turn things take when a pair of strangers arrive at the café before everything gets wrapped up in a bow (Christmas pun intended).
Though it has some weaknesses, Doug’s love of Christmas and nostalgia are palpable and the play does feature some of his hallmarks. Witty one-liners. Ridiculous situations. Frenemy characters. And the energy of his family and friends who came together to produce this show definitely boost the production.
Lorie Obradovich does a laudable job of directing this play and does a very strong job of staging the actors, though there are points where the actors are out of the view of some patrons depending on where they’re seated in the diner. Her coaching is quite solid as she really got her actors to embrace the silliness of their characters and just have some fun.
Some amusing performances come from Mike Downey as a dumb as a brick mechanic whose angry singing of “Frosty the Snowman” to the tune of “The Little Drummer Boy” is the play’s highlight; Dylan Marr and Elizabeth Planck make for a cute newlywed couple with an enjoyable pair of bad songs; Rob Baker brings some smiles as a never will be singer whose act is more lounge lizard than Sinatra; Ann Downey serves as a capable “straight man” to her goofball husband; Daniel Baye supplies some yuks as a befuddled thief; Wes Clowers has a nice everyman quality as Tilly’s boyfriend, Dale.
Rose Glock is an absolute delight in the dual roles of Novice Betty and Marlene. As Novice Betty, apprentice guardian angel, Glock summons the spirit of Jean Stapleton’s Edith Bunker with the Queens accent and her good hearted ditziness. As Marlene, Glock comes off as a mannish Lucy Van Pelt. She’s crabby and she’s the boss (especially with her dominance of her brother, Pee Wee) and few are the people she can stand (and probably vice versa) for more than 5 minutes.
Laura Marr shines as the titular Tilly. There’s definitely a flavor of Vicki Lawrence’s Mama character in her performance. Marr’s Tilly is, more or less, the level headed leader of this neurotic group. She never seems short of a snarky one liner, has a real take charge attitude, and can deliver extemporaneous, subtle sarcasm like a champ. Still, she has a good heart and you genuinely want her to find her Christmas cheer.
The costumes supplied by Laura Marr, Paula Clowers, Robyn Baker are well done, indeed. Most enjoyable were Tilly’s waitress outfit and poofy wig, Murray’s ugly as sin “tuxedo”, the coveralls for the mechanics, and Novice Betty’s flapper outfit. There’s even a few clever light tricks from the director and cast as flickering lights (both regular and Christmas) abound whenever divine intervention is afoot.
It’s a sweet show for the holiday season and a worthy tribute to the late Doug Marr. Come for the show. Come for the pie. Come for some Christmas cheer.
Tilly’s Holiday Extravaganza plays at Harold’s Koffee House through Dec 21. Showtimes are 7:30pm Thurs-Sat (Dec 21 is a special added Tuesday show). Tickets cost $18 for the show and $25 for show, pie, and coffee or soft drink. Harold’s Koffee House is located at 8327 N 30th St in Omaha, NE.
A hard-edged NYC police officer flies out to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and family, but gets caught up in a massive robbery attempt and he’s the only hope to stop the thieves. Hey, this might make for a good movie! But it’s A Very Die Hard Christmas and it’s currently playing at BlueBarn Theatre.
Jeff Schell and the Habit knew just what notes to strike when they decided to lampoon this classic action flick. They actually stay true to the story, but completely upend its spirit with a comedic tour de force guaranteed to leave you wheezing for air before the night is through. The meta aspect of the script is its finest quality as the show is aware it’s a show. And a show done on the cheap at that as they can’t afford a full contingent of criminals and rely on Nerf ammo and squirt guns to mete out the show’s rampant violence.
Susan Clement dives into the heart of this show with a stylish bit of direction. The show is immaculately staged as actors flow in and out of scenes as seamlessly as a rolling river. Clement is able to give each actor a moment to shine and each feels like an individual and not just a piece of the ensemble. Her coaching is right on the money as each performer gives a well-developed performance. But keep your eyes on everybody or you might miss some subtle sight gags going on in the background of the crowd scenes.
Each member of the ensemble is a joy to watch and you’ll be treated to some quality work from Jonathan Purcell as Ellis, a coked-up prick who arrogantly thinks he can negotiate his way to safety and has a surprising set of pipes when he sings about how he “doesn’t want to die tonight”. Roni Shelley-Perez lights it up in overacting, soap operatic glory as McClane’s estranged wife, Holly. Raydell Cordell III is a scream as a Nakatomi employee who continuously pops up to say, “Oh, snap!” as well as providing a gentle take on Sgt. Al Powell, a police officer who lost some of his heart when he shot a kid.
Katie Becker-Colon might have the best role in the show as the Narrator. Dolled up like Andy Warhol, Becker-Colon pops up to move the story along with endless variations and styles of Twas the Night Before Christmas while filling in needed gaps for assistance such as playing the piano or serving as a cameraperson for the obsequious reporter hungering for a scoop. Becker-Colon is also a heck of a hoofer as I was blown away by her crisp dancing in the musical numbers.
Hughston Walkinshaw is magnetic as Hans Gruber, the criminal mastermind. His performance invokes reminisces of Alan Rickman without aping him. Walkinshaw is clearly having a ball as he cold-bloodedly squirts people to death, clomps around the stage while monologuing, and occasionally flips characters to Severus Snape for obligatory Harry Potter jokes.
Josh Peyton is a worthy John McClane as he makes the role his own. He’s a chain-smoking, blue collar cop determined to see justice done regardless of regulations. Peyton’s physicality is staggering as he deftly moves between building floors to dodge murderous thieves, hangs and shimmies down a bar, and rolls, rolls, rolls his way to justice and cover. His fistfight with a life sized doll near the end of Act I is easily one of the funniest sight gags I have ever seen on stage.
Melanie Walters’ choreography is a blast to watch. Robert Donlan’s set provides the feel of a cheaper version of downtown LA with the towering Nakatomi building. Joshua Mullady’s lights really add some spice to the show with the starlit night sky and the complete drop to darkness before doing a slow light rise for the entrances of the FBI. Jennifer Pool’s costumes evoke memories of the film from McClane’s dirty T-shirt to the 80s style clothes of the Nakatomi employees.
It’s fast, furious, and funny and it’s almost sold out. As of this writing, the only available tickets remaining are for the Dec 8 show at 7:30pm and they’re limited. So visit www.bluebarn.org or call 402-345-1576 to grab one of the last tickets for this Christmas blockbuster. Tickets cost $35.
A Very Die Hard Christmas runs through December 19. Due to profanity, the show is not recommended for young children. BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.