A Hot Time in the Old Springs: Gables Inn & Hot Springs, AR

Gables Inn

Today the road has brought me to Hot Springs, AR.

I had some time to burn, so I decided to go on an outing, but wanted to go in a new direction and, preferably, someplace warm.  A little look through my spreadsheet and I settled on Hot Springs, AR where I would stay at Gables Inn, owned and operated by Dave and Judy.

It was a beautiful day for travel and I enjoyed the weather and my tunes as I made my way to my stopping point of Miami for the night.  Miami, OK that is.

Miami is a small town nicknamed “The Gate” due to its being about 30 minutes from the Kansas border and about 20 minutes from the Missouri border.  The legendary Route 66 also runs through the town.

I checked into my suite at the town’s Holiday Inn Express and rested for a few hours before heading off to worship at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Sacred Heart

It was a mighty good service as Father warmed up to his sermon which centered on the parable of The Prodigal Son where he talked about the role of forgiveness in Lent.  Father said nothing thrilled him more than when people came to Confession and told him that they hadn’t come in years.  He saw it as a time for celebration as they recognized their need for forgiveness.

I also ended up providing a little entertainment for the congregation as I was seated near the front and didn’t know what to do for Eucharist as nobody appeared at the front to distribute it.  One of the parishioners eventually pointed out that they were really old school and actually knelt at the Communion rail in order to receive it.

After church, I began looking for something to eat, but found myself thwarted a bit.  My first choice was closed for the day and the town is also suffering from the short staffedness caused by the pandemic so I ended up skipping my second choice as the wait would have been too long.  Eventually, I hit pay dirt with my third choice of Montana Mike’s Steakhouse.

I enjoyed a surprisingly tender sirloin with a topper of Creamy Cajun shrimp.  The cream was nice and sharp and really enhanced the flavor of the beef.  After the meal, I returned to the hotel where I enjoyed a quiet night capped off with a relaxing jacuzzi bath before going to bed.

The next day I was back on the road and soon found myself in the Natural State enjoying the views of forests and mountains as I made my way to Hot Springs.

Hot Springs is a village nestled within the Ouachita Mountains and the last 70 miles found me navigating twisty roads and hills as I admired some of God’s scenery.  Around 4pm I found myself at Gables Inn.

Gables Inn is a Victorian house which had been built as the dream home of Fred and Myrtle Sammons.  The home was gutted by the infamous Hot Springs fire of 1904, but the Sammons rebuilt the entire thing from top to bottom and returned to their home in 1905.  The house became an inn in 1993 and was taken over by Dave and Judy in 1996 which makes it the longest continuing B & B in Hot Springs.

Judy met me at the door and led me to the Governor’s Room which would serve as command center for the next few days.  The room has the feel of a classic Victorian inn with its fireplace and Victorian lamps.  For more modern comforts, the room contains a king-sized bed with memory foam pillows and a two person jacuzzi bath.

On the desk was a bottle of the town’s namesake water which is reported to have high healing properties and I can certainly testify that it healed my thirst.

I didn’t plan too much for my first night.  I just went to Red Pier for dinner as I was in the mood for Cajun food.  It’s a chain restaurant very similar to the Angry Crab Shack of Phoenix, AZ.  The meal balanced out to OK.  I had a small bowl of gumbo which had a decent taste, but was more like soup instead of stew.  The chicken strips I had were incredibly juicy with flavorful meat, but had bland breading.

Red Pier

After dinner, I just returned to the inn where I puttered around before going to bed to energize myself for the next day.

In the morning I went down to the dining room for breakfast and heard the other guests excitedly planning their days while we dined on a delicious 4 cheese quiche with cherry tomatoes and sausage.  With the other guests plotting their own adventures, there wasn’t much conversation so I finished eating fairly quickly before heading out the door.

4 cheese quiche, cherry tomatoes, and sausage

Hot Springs is interesting as it is not only a tourist town with a lot of activities, but it’s also built around a national park so there’s something for everybody.  Is shopping your bag?  Lots of interesting stores to visit.  Enjoy nature?  Plenty of hiking and scenery.  Perhaps you like shows?  The #1 magic show in all of Arkansas holds court in Hot Springs.  Maybe you just want to relax?  There’s a series of bathhouses and spas along Bathhouse Row.

For myself, I went to the national park and went to the top of the Mountain Tower.  This 216-foot structure provides a panoramic view of Hot Springs and in the distance you can see the West and Sugarloaf Mountains.

After enjoying nature, I went back to the main drag and bought tickets to take a duck boat tour as well as visit Josephine Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

A duck boat is a truck that can transform into a boat.  So our captain took us on a tour of Hot Springs on the streets before taking us onto the lake in boat mode and show us some of the luxury homes.  A lot of wealthy people like to use Hot Springs as a vacation home.  The owners of one of the houses only visits 3 days out of the year and, the rest of the time, the house is occupied by a housekeeper and her daughter who keep the place tidy.

Speaking of “vacation homes”, a lot of notorious gangsters liked to spend time in Hot Springs.  Lucky Luciano and Al Capone were frequent visitors who often plied their trade while relaxing.

When the tour was done, I went to Josephine Tussaud’s Wax Museum.  If you’re wondering, she is the great-great granddaughter of Madame Tussaud, but this museum is not connected to that famous chain.  It’s been the same exhibit since 1971, but is still in pretty good condition.  I enjoyed replicas of The Last Supper, wandered through a Chamber of Horrors, experienced historical moments like Lincoln’s assassination, and ambled through a land of fantasy where characters from fairy tales and Mark Twain stories greeted me.

From the museum, I wandered up and down the drag, stopping in at an old-fashioned candy store where I picked up some cinnamon bears and at a beef jerky outlet when I picked up a snack pack of cracked pepper jerky.  Heads up, the jerky isn’t cheap.  My snack pack cost nearly $12.

I also took a brief stop at Arlington Lawn to see the hot springs and briefly touch the 143 degree water.

Hot Springs

Then I got in my car and headed off to Anthony Chapel.  This wood and glass structure looks like the twin of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the inside of it as a wedding was being held.

Anthony Chapel

I was ready for a little break and returned to the inn to rest up a bit before walking downtown for an early dinner at Brick House Grill.

This is one of the favorite restaurants of Dave and Judy and after experiencing it, I can see why.  Brick House Grill has a bistro feel and even includes outdoor seating.  I had the Brick House Burger and it was one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten.  I could smell the chargrill as it was placed in front of me.  It was so juicy and the grilled onions and crispy bacon really hit the spot.

When dinner digesting I headed over to the Malco Theatre AKA The Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic.

Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic and Comedy

Maxwell Blade’s magic show has been the top rated show in Arkansas for the better part of three decades and I highly recommend a visit to the theatre to experience both the Close Up show and the full theatre show.

The Close Up show takes place at 6pm in a tiny theatre just behind the bar.  And I do mean tiny.  The theatre only holds about 24 people so I can assure you the tricks are done right in front of your face.

The Close Up show is performed by Jonathan Erlandson, a very talented magician.  He did things 3 feet from my face that just didn’t seem possible such as making a table float and dance.  He even did variations of classic tricks with bold twists.

At one point, Erlandson brought up an audience member and had her shuffle a deck of cards and give him half.  Then he offered to switch decks or even have her take cards from his pile or add cards to his pile from hers.  She added to his pile.  Then she picked a card and he picked a card.  Then they switched decks and he correctly picked her card.  But the real trick was that she was going to pull his card.  Erlandson told her to fan the cards and pick any card she wanted from his deck.  Then he calmly stated what his card was and the eyes of the audience member bugged out as she turned the card around and it was right!!

I thought his most impressive illusion was when he asked for a bill.  I offered up a $20 and Erlandson had me write my name on it.  He then folded it up, tossed it into a bowl of lighter fluid, and lit it on fire as a stopwatch while he sped solved a Rubik’s Cube.

He solved the puzzle in a matter of seconds, but my $20 was ash.  Then he talked about the Attention Test (watch the video first).

Did you do so? OK.

Then he asked us if we had noticed the point he walked over to the sealed jar on the opposite side of the stage.  He went to the jar, removed the lid, and took something off of the clip hanging to it.  He handed it to me and had me unfold it.  It was my $20. And, no, he never walked near the jar.

You must see this show and enjoy some truly in your face magic.

Maxwell Blade

The main show, performed by Maxwell Blade, is also a treat.  Blade’s show is full of comedy, music, and magic.  His sleight of hand is so quick and sure.  He’s an accomplished piano player and he and his girlfriend belted out a pretty fair rendition of “Rocketman”.  Blade’s tricks and illusions are performed at a blitzkrieg pace, but my two favorites were his new take on Houdini’s famed Metamorphosis trick.  Though, in this one, his assistant was chained up in an iron maiden shaped cage in full view of the audience before they swapped places with a close of the curtain.  With another sweep of the curtain, Blade had escaped and the stagehand was now shackled.

His final illusion was incredible as he poured various colored powders into a fish bowl and swirled them into liquid.  After showing us his clean hands, he swirled again and broke them back up into solid powders.

If you’re a fan of magic and fun, buy a ticket for this show and find out why it’s the best in the state.

Then I walked back to Gables Inn, drew a jacuzzi bath, and just relaxed while sipping a cream soda before going to sleep.

The next morning found me back in the dining room where I had some conversation with a couple from Texas and a couple from Germany while enjoying blueberry cream cheese stuffed French Toast and sausage.

Sausage and Blueberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

This was a great trip and I’m a little blue to see it come to an end.  But take some time in Hot Springs where you can enjoy almost any sort of activity you can imagine.  And be sure to take a room in Gables Inn where you can enjoy some classic Southern hospitality in a comfortable Victorian inn.

Until the next time. . .oops, wait a sec.

It’s bonus time.

On my way home, I took an extended break in Fayetteville, AR so I could experience Arkadia Retrocade.

Arkadia Retrocade

Hands down, this is the best vintage arcade I have ever seen and it wasn’t operating at full strength. The arcade has only recently reopened so some of the games are being worked on, but even at partial strength, this place is amazing.

For $5 (yes, you read that right) you can play all you want for the day. This place not only has classics, but has some next door to impossible games to find as well. Some rare gems I found at this arcade were Thayer’s Quest, a Dragon’s Lair type game that was never fully finished; Hologram Time Traveler, another Dragon’s Lair type game which simulates the look of a hologram; Gold Medalist which was made for the Seoul Summer Olympics; 720, Krull; and many more. There are even sections set up where you can play classic systems like Coleco Vision and Atari 2600. If I’m ever through this way again, I’m going to arrange for a full day of gaming as two hours was simply not enough time.

And now, until the next time. . .happy travels.

The Frailty of the King

An aging king decides to retire and divide his land between his three daughters, but first requires his daughters to make a declaration of love to him in order to determine which one loves him best.  This requirement triggers a series of events that cause the land to descend into chaos, war, betrayal, madness, and death.  This is King Lear and it is currently playing at the BlueBarn.

It’s been said that the tragedies of William Shakespeare laid the blueprint for the modern-day soap opera and that’s very believable as all of the Bard’s tragedies tend to follow certain patterns and contain similar themes prevalent in that genre of entertainment.  You have protagonists with fatal flaws, warring families, backstabbing (sometimes in a very literal sense), betrayal, intrigue, alliance, and complex schemes, just to name a few.  Great elements for an engaging spectacle, but BlueBarn’s King Lear has an x factor that raises it to another level.

It’s a masterpiece.

Believe me, I don’t bandy that word about very readily.  But this show is virtually perfect.  Direction that is spot on.  Acting that held nary a flaw.  Beautiful costumes.  Atmospheric lighting.  A transcendent set.  And a story that will have you heart aching at the folly and depravity of man.

I’d known of Jill Anderson’s sterling reputation as an actress, but she proved that she is equally golden as a director.  Anderson truly understands the complexities of Shakespeare’s writing and language and easily guides the audience through its labyrinthian path.  She knew when to punch up a moment with just the right amount of big emotion and when the subtlest of subtlety was needed.  The pacing was sure.  The staging was immaculate.  Anderson’s grip on the language was so ironclad that she had an entire cast tossing it off as if it were their natural tongue.  Her coaching of the actors was championship quality as they worked like a well-oiled machine with hardly a blip in their work.

 I could easily wax poetic on the work of the entire cast, but for brevity’s sake, let me simply say that some of the truly excellent performances you’ll see come from Josh Peyton who shines in my favorite role of The Fool, who just may be the wisest person in the show.  Matthew Kisher is stellar as Edgar, a good and innocent man who is compelled to accept the heavy mantle of avenger and hero when he finds himself and his father the target of a conspiracy.  Ashley Kobza and Melissa King kill it as Goneril and Regan.  Kobza is particularly impressive as the brutish, more military minded Goneril while King’s Regan is a bit more Machiavellian, yet is capable of a frightening level of viciousness as when she claws out the eye of an ally of her father, Lear.  Delaney Jackson is haunting as the gentle Cordelia who is disinherited by Lear simply because she is sincere about her love for him.

I’ve seen Thomas Becker essay many a fine role over the years, but his King Lear might just be his crowning achievement (pardon the pun).  This is a very difficult role to perform as the actor needs to play a man who is both strong and weak.  Lear is very much the warrior king, yet is cursed with the fatal flaws of arrogance, stupidity, and ability to be easily manipulated due to his ego.  Becker is incredible as a ruler whose age and ego make him quite irascible, but whose behavior may also indicate the onset of dementia and certainly madness as his eldest daughters break his spirit after they get his land which is all they wanted from him.

Becker makes massive emotional changes on the turn of a dime as he can go from being explosively angry to childishly humorous in the blink of an eye.  Some of Becker’s best scenes are his moments of clarity when he realizes what he has done to himself and to the daughter that truly loved him and you see a glimpse of the good man who got lost somewhere along the way.

Shane Staiger is evil personified as Edmund.  While one can have sympathy at his inability to inherit his father’s lands due to his illegitimate status, his plan to bypass that is reprehensible.  This is truly one of the most selfish people I’ve seen portrayed on stage and Staiger is phenomenal.  In the presence of others, he assumes a gentlemanly and honorable persona, but removes that mask in his monologues where his derisive sneers and demonic smirks fully make you buy into his evil.  This man truly looks out for number one and he will lie to, kill, and seduce whomever he has to in order to obtain the power he desperately craves.

Ryan Kathman is a truly noble man as Kent.  This is a man who truly loves his king and because of that love can’t be anything less than honest with him.  Kathman’s Kent boldly and bluntly tells the king when he does wrong even when that directness results in his exile.  Yet so great is his love that he continues to serve his king in disguise in order to protect him from himself.  Not only does Kathman project that needed sense of decency and loyalty, he also shows some dandy comedic chops with his hilarious abuse of the servant, Oswald.

Steven Williams’ set transports you back to a long-ago time with its wooden outline shaping into elegant castle doors and staircases as frilled sheets decorate the ceiling and descend into tapestries.  His lighting is so atmospheric especially during the monologue scenes when the lights go low except for a lone light on the speaker with the color matching the speaker’s personality such as the sadistic red of Edmund’s speeches.  His lighting for the storm sequence combined with Bill Kirby’s booming thunder made for one of the best technical scenes I’ve ever seen on stage.  And speaking of sounds, Kirby’s are top notch from the relentless drumbeats that drive the story to its finale to the definitive thump of a drawbridge closing, effectively imprisoning Gloucester in his own home.  Jill Anderson did double duty as she was also costume designer and they are dynamite with their medieval look from the knights to the Fool’s jester outfit to the elegant dresses of the ladies and the robes of the men.

This is an extremely worthy night of entertainment and don’t be concerned that you might not understand the classical language.  The program contains a synopsis of the story so you’ll understand what’s going on and then can merely immerse yourself in the language, acting, and tragic story of a land’s downfall due to a foolish king.

King Lear runs at BlueBarn through April 16.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm with a performance on April 3 at 2pm and April 10 at 6pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased by calling 402-345-1576 or visiting www.bluebarn.org. BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

The Adventure of the Nameless Corpse

Lovely little nutcracker, isn’t it?  Well, this nutcracker has a very interesting story behind it.  This nutcracker is both a trophy and a reminder of the time I assisted Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in solving a murder at the Victorian Villa in Union City, MI.

I had alluded to this story when I wrote my remembrance of the inn back in 2014, but enough time has passed that it is now safe to share the tale.  Some elements must still remain hidden, so some names may be changed and some details removed and altered, but those that know the truth will understand.

Many believe Holmes and Watson to be fictional characters, but that is a myth perpetuated by Dr. Watson’s literary agent, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who published Dr. Watson’s stories under his name.  In truth, they are real and much older than one would believe. 

In his retirement, Holmes had cultivated a royal jelly elixir and ingestion of it had greatly extended his life span and that of Dr. Watson.  Over the years Holmes and Watson had regularly visited the Victorian Villa as its owner, Ron Gibson, is the great-grandson of Senator Neil Gibson referenced in the case known as “The Problem of Thor Bridge”.  Aside from their friendship, Holmes also enjoyed visiting Union City as, in his own words, “it is a hellhole of crime of great depth and brilliance”.

When I learned that Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson would be visiting, I immediately booked a weekend stay to meet the famed detective and his trusted associate.

It was September of 2005 and I was making my second foray out to the Villa.  I was a bit weary as I had mistakenly forgotten to schedule myself as unavailable for Hamlet rehearsals the night before so I had put in a long night of rehearsing before setting off on my drive at 10pm.  By midnight, I was exhausted and collapsed at a Motel 6 in Des Moines, IA before driving another 8 hours to Union City the next morning.  The welcome sight of the gorgeous Victorian mansion served as a salve to my spirits and boosted my energy level as I pulled into the tiny parking lot.

The Victorian Villa

Once more, I was greeted by Ron and his two sons, Zach and Josh, before being led to my room for the weekend:  the Victorian Country Bedchamber.  As I got myself situated, I found a note under my pillow.  It was rather snarky and, I noted, written in a feminine hand.  I put it away before freshening up and reacquainting myself with the Villa.

Around 6pm, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson arrived at the inn.  I introduced myself to Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson who politely shook my hand.  Holmes was just as Watson had described him with his aloofness and unmistakable air of authority.  Watson was friendly and every bit the gentleman.

I retired to the parlor with Holmes and Watson and the other guests who had come to meet the legendary duo.  Among them were Ted and Rhonda Cowell and their Holmesian scion society, The Stormy Petrels of Maumee Bay; the Mallon family; George Ault; and Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Harbaugh.

We opened up the night with a round of Sherlockian Trivial Pursuit.  We formed into two teams and Mr. Holmes asked diabolically difficult questions relating to the many cases he had investigated.  As the two teams battled back and forth, Mr. Holmes would vacillate between contentedly smoking his pipe and brooding about some vexing problem.  On several occasions he alluded to a case he was working on before returning to the game.

Sherlock Holmes relaxes

By the end of the game, the two teams were locked into a tie, though I ended up stealing a symbolic victory for my side when I answered the question “Who killed Victor Savage?”  After the hard-fought game, we entered the dining room where Mr. Holmes gave us a demonstration on the art of observation and deduction while we dined on one of Ron’s fine meals which consisted of English Cheshire Cheese Soup and roasted loin of boar among other delicacies.  I did note that Ron had brought on some help for the event as a placard on the table said the meal had been partially catered by Maxine Simons.

Upon finishing our meal, we returned to the parlor where Mr. Holmes told us he was investigating a murder that had taken place at the Villa a few days prior.  A man had shown up at the Villa around 11am on the fateful day and asked Ron if he could have a room.  As Ron had no reservations, he rented a room to the man who gave no name, but simply went upstairs to his bedroom with his dressing bag.  A short while later, Ron saw him descend the stairs sans bag and enter the parlor.  Ron left him to his own devices as he had to leave the Villa to run some errands.  When he returned later, he found the man collapsed on the floor, arm outstretched in front of him, and clearly dead.  Ron contacted the police who found no identification on the man nor in his room.  The labels on his clothes had been cut off and the only items found on him were a handkerchief, some cigarettes, and a pen.  Ron had told Mr. Holmes of the baffling death and he agreed to look into it.

Mr. Holmes wanted us to be his eyes and ears and help him investigate.  He asked us to discover the following:

  1. Who was the victim?
  2. How was he killed?
  3. Who killed him?
  4. Find a way to link the killer to the crime and unmask him or her.

Certain rules were set in place for us.  As Mr. Holmes had already investigated the private areas of the mansion, we were not to enter them.  He also told us not to snoop into Ron’s desk as only he would be allowed to investigate it.  Short of that we were free to investigate as we chose. If we managed to discover any evidence, we were only to hold onto it for 10 minutes before returning it exactly where it was found.  Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson bade us good evening and left the Villa promising to return after breakfast in the morning.

Exhaustion had found me again so I retired to my bedroom, vowing to rise early and begin looking into the case.

I arose the next morning feeling refreshed.  After heading to the dining room and enjoying some of Ron’s special scrambled eggs and sausage patties, I began to look into the case. 

From re-reading Ron’s statement, I realized that the victim had not carried his dressing bag back down with him so I immediately went to the second floor and began searching for it, but was unable to find it.  I searched the mansion from top to bottom and then made my way over to the Carriage House.  Up in the Sherlock Holmes Bedchamber, I discovered George Ault and Glenn Harbaugh discussing something and they froze when they saw me.  I asked if I could enter and Glenn said I could.  I quietly closed the door and noted they had the dressing bag.

“So you found it,” I said.

Realizing I had already deduced the clue, George and Glenn opened the bag and we all looked into it.  Among the toiletries, we found a letter addressed to James Fitzsimmons requesting a meeting in the parlor of the Villa to discuss the matter of a deadly toxin that had been developed by the writer of the letter.  Apparently Fitzsimmons had been the letter writer’s boss and had aspirations of selling the toxin to the highest bidder who would likely weaponize it.  The toxin caused almost instantaneous paralysis before shutting down the body’s vital organs.  Death would occur in a matter of minutes.  The writer wanted Fitzsimmons to destroy the toxin and begged for a meeting to convince him of this.  It was simply signed Max, though I recognized the handwriting as being the same as that on the note in my bedroom.

After examining the evidence, I asked the two men if they had found notes as well.  They admitted they had and let me read them.  Red herrings and smart alecky comments.  After reading this, we looked at each other and I suggested pooling our resources to which George and Glenn readily agreed.

“All right, we’re now a team,” I said.

Upon forming our alliance we headed down to the parlor to meet Mr. Holmes who asked if anybody had anything to share.  I casually blurted the bag clue to which Mr. Holmes looked at me and said, “You’re a rather blithe young man, aren’t you?”

After unintentionally giving out the clue, the race was on.  Though we were investigating a crime, it was treated more like a competition and ended up as a three way battle between The Stormy Petrels, the Mallons, and my little triumvirate.  The Petrels played for keeps and were not above providing a few red herrings.  The Mallons were smart and crafty, though I engaged in a little quid pro quo with Mrs. Mallon which I’ll get to in a bit.

Mr. Holmes was always available for private consultation where we could bring our discoveries and theories and he would make comments and subtle suggestions to help light our path.  When we first informed Holmes about the letter we found, Glenn kept referring to the writer as a he, to which Mr. Holmes asked, “Why do you keep saying ‘he?’”.

“What do mean?” asked Glenn.

“He means how do we know it’s a man,” I replied.

“Precisely,” said Holmes as he clasped my shoulder.

A vital clue, indeed.  While not a guarantee, we did have to open our minds to the possibility that Max, if that was the real name, was a woman.

We continued to investigate.  I realized that no matches or lighter were found on the corpse, though cigarettes had been discovered.  No smoker would ever lack those items and there was no reason for the killer to take them.  Remembering the outstretched arm, I assumed the position of the corpse and found a book of matches under the coal scuttle.

Taking them, I opened up the packet and found a scrawled message which said “Beware TR-70”.  The name of the toxin had been found!!

Outside the parlor, I found a business card book on a stand and began thumbing through it and saw Mrs. Mallon watching me.  When I leafed to the third page, she suddenly coughed.  I looked up and saw her smiling at me, I took a hard look and found the business card for Maxine Simons—Caterer.  However, “caterer” had been written in pen over a blacked out word.  Reversing the card and holding it up to the light, I saw “chemist” written under it.  I had the name of the killer!!  I then shared with Mrs. Mallon the name of the poison out of gratitude.

My team had another consultation with Holmes where Glenn spun an amusing, but outlandish, theory that Ron Gibson was the killer or, at least involved with her.  Mr. Holmes and I shared some glances and after Glenn finished his theory, Holmes simply stated, “I sense you have some misgivings about his theory.”

“One or two,” I replied.

I then finally had a chance to fill in Glenn and George on my discoveries and had a private conversation with Mr. Holmes and Mrs. Mallon while I made my deductions.  When I finished, Mr. Holmes looked to Mrs. Mallon and said, “You know, I have great faith in this young man.  He’s quiet, thoughtful, and observant and everything he says is based soundly on logic.”

Then we took a break and had a reading of one of Watson’s stories followed by a pop quiz.  I ended up winning the quiz contest and surprised Mr. Holmes with one of my answers.

“This number is the square root of the number alluded to by Watson,” said Holmes.

“Sixteen,” I readily answered.

“Sixteen is correct!!” said Holmes with some wonderment.  “Tell me, young man, how did you come up with that answer?”

“Watson mentioned the wait was like the night the two of you faced the Andaman Islander which was a reference to the case known as The Sign of Four,” I said.

Holmes smiled and nodded approvingly.

After the quiz we had afternoon tea where Ron had prepared a whole turkey and we helped ourselves to little sandwiches with a bit of homemade mustard and fixings.

The case was solved, but there was still one last item:  how to unmask Maxine.  There was no real proof tying her to the death and all my deductions wouldn’t hold water in court.  I had a final consultation with Holmes where I told him everything I had learned, but felt I was just one step away from the total truth. 

“Think of the problem of the three Moriartys.  All of them were named James and were identical.  How would one tell them apart?” said Mr. Holmes.

I began to see the light when he gave me one final nudge.

“You have two pieces of vital evidence.  What you need is a third.”

The truth hit me like a thunderbolt.  The letter on my pillow plus the letter in the bag were my pieces of evidence.  What I needed was a way to get a third example of Maxine’s handwriting to connect her with the other two.  Handwriting was how you’d distinguish the Moriarty boys from each other.

Piecing the puzzle together

I expressed this problem to Glenn and George and we threw around ideas until I said, “Maybe we could get a card of some sort.”

“My son is serving over in Iraq.  We could get him a Wish You Were Here card,” said George.

“Yes, and we’ll have everybody in the inn sign it!!” I exclaimed.

The three of us dashed to Mr. Holmes where I laid out the scheme.

“An excellent plan,” said Holmes. 

I shook hands with Holmes and Watson and dashed to the bar area where I found Ron.

“Is there a drug store nearby?” I asked.

“Yes, just a few blocks up on Main Street,” said Ron.

“Thank you,” I said.

Then I speed walked through the front door and vaulted over the steps to the sidewalk.  I then sprinted and I do mean SPRINTED to the drug store where I bought the card and repeated the process back to the Villa where I hurdled the steps once more.  George later said it was the funniest thing he ever saw.

As I walked back in, I heard Mrs. Mallon’s daughter ask if there were a drug store nearby.  I then politely coughed and gently waved the card.  Knowing that the game was up, the Mallons signed the card and Mrs. Mallon’s daughter assisted me with finishing the job by asking Ron if there were any other people in the kitchen as Maxine was also helping to cater tonight’s dinner.  Ron stepped into the kitchen and asked Maxine to step out.  I told her about the card while George showed a picture of his son and Maxine signed the card.

I then led my team back to the parlor where the other guests had gathered. 

“Do you have something to show me, young man?” asked Mr. Holmes.

I presented the card to him and he looked at it.

“Were there any witnesses?” he asked.

“Yes, sir.   Myself, (Mrs. Mallon’s daughter), George, Ron, Zach, and Josh all witnessed this.”

“Very good,” said Mr. Holmes.  “This case has been solved.”

Then we proceeded to have a debate about what to do with the killer.  Her motivations were understandable.  Fitzsimmons would have unleashed a plague of death on the world.  He had committed no crime, but would have had the blood of countless people had he sold the toxin.  Maxine shouldn’t have killed him, but her act had thwarted a much greater evil so I pled for leniency.  Holmes said he would consider the situation.

Glenn gave me a hug and then bought George and myself a drink at the bar.  Mr. Holmes approached me privately and asked me to present the denouement after dinner.

A splendid dinner was served and after we were all satiated, Mr. Holmes signaled for silence, indicated my two partners and then clasped my shoulder acknowledging our victory.  He then presented me with the nutcracker as a trophy for the case.  Then he brought Ron, his two sons, and Maxine into the dining room where I presented my findings.

I walked the group through the maze of the case, casually keeping an eye on Maxine who whitened with every revelation.  When I explained about the card we had purchased and how the killer had sealed her fate by signing it, I calmly looked at Maxine and said, “Isn’t that right, Maxine?”

At that point, Maxine begged for mercy and Holmes gently led her out of the dining room while discussion resumed.  Shortly afterwards, he returned and he and Watson made their final farewells and exited.

And that was how I helped Mr. Holmes solve The Adventure of the Nameless Corpse.  I would later learn that Holmes did show mercy to Maxine, letting her leave the country.  George did send the card to his son with an incredible story.  I had made new friends and had a reminder of the case forever gracing my mantle.  And the next morning, I enjoyed some of Ron’s incredible cream cheese stuffed French Toast.

Little did I know that I would return to the Villa a few years later with my trusted friend, Mat O’Donnell, to engage in a peculiar investigation centering around a crying woman.

But that is a story for another time.

SNAP! is Back and Needs Some Guests for Supper

SNAP! Productions Proudly Announces Auditions for:

The Last Supper
by Dan Rosen

Auditions for The Last Supper will be held at HR Block (7013 Maple) on April 24 @ 1:00 pm and April 25 @ 7:00 p.m. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.

Rehearsal Dates: May 23 – July 7, 2022

Production Dates: July 8 – 24, 2022
Friday / Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Production Location: Bellevue Little Theatre

COMPENSATION
Onstage roles for this production will be compensated $300 in total.

Video only roles for this production will be compensated $100 in total.

SYNOPSIS
The Last Supper follows a group of liberal-minded roommates and their well-meaning descent into murder. After a dinner party goes wrong and their guest ends up unexpectedly slain after a violent political debate, the group decides that this can be their way of changing the world and making a difference…one unreasonable conservative at a time.

Unless noted in the script, all roles are open to all ethnicities.

The show will be directed by Todd Brooks.

For a list of roles and downloadable sides please visit our website
www.snapproductions.com

GPTC Announces Regional Premiere of ‘The Guadalupes’

Omaha, NE. —Great Plains Theatre Commons (GPTC) will premiere The Guadalupes April 14-16 at 7:30pm in partnership with Holy Family Community Center at 1715 Izard Street. Tickets are available for free here.  GPTC is pleased to welcome playwright and performer Noah Diaz back home to share a multigenerational story about his family. Diaz is currently creating his own television series for Hulu/20th Century Television with Eva Longoria’s production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.

“It has been a great privilege to watch Noah’s growth from a local student, acting in every show that he could get cast in, to a national theatre artist whose stories are seen on stages and screens across the country. We commissioned him to be a part of our Neighborhood Tapestries PlayFest series because of the depth of heart and vision that radiates from his work, and his perspective as a playwright who grew up in our community with deep connections to South Omaha,” said director and Artistic and Administrative Coordinator Kevin Lawler.

The Guadalupes is a meta-theatric exploration of history, memory, family, sadness, the importance of naming things, and the hard pill swallow of accepting our ancestry. This Neighborhood Tapestries commission and regional premiere continues GPTC’s community-based work with an autobiographical dive into a multi-generational South Omaha family.

Cast: Noah Diaz, Presciliana Esparolini, Jonathan Purcell

Set Design & Lighting Design: Brendan Greene-Walsh

Costumes: Valerie St. Pierre-Smith

Running time: 70 minutes (approx)

All Great Plains Theatre Commons events are free and open to the public. Visit www.gptcplays.com to learn more or email commons@gptcplays.com.

Natural Tranquility: Hidden Serenity & West Bend, WI

Hidden Serenity Bed & Breakfast

Today the road has brought me to West Bend, WI.

It’s nice to get back on the road after the winter months.  Though, honestly, I was originally going to take this trip back in January as the Midwest had been experiencing a very mild winter.  However, the night before my trip, the state of Iowa got crippled by a monster blizzard which stopped my excursion cold, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Mercifully, the owners of the inn I planned to visit were gracious enough to let me move my reservation to March so I wouldn’t be out the money plus the good people at Holiday Inn of Cedar Rapids gave me a refund on my nonrefundable rate without my having to ask so it all worked out for the best.  Thus, I finally found myself on the road to Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by Chris and Sally Cochran.

The trip didn’t start off the greatest as I had to listen to my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes make an ignominious first round exit from the NCAA BB tournament due to a combination of ice cold shooting and the refs missing some blatant fouls that would have likely led to us winning in spite of our shooting woes. 

A meal at my favorite hole in the wall, Iowa’s Best Burger Café, and a free upgrade to a king suite at the Holiday Inn at Cedar Rapids helped to improve my mood as well as grant me a satisfactory night of rest.

A grim and rainy day met me the next morning and followed me all the way to West Bend.  Hidden Serenity is located on a secluded acreage outside of West Bend and the bright white house shone like a beacon in the gloom.

I pressed the doorbell which chimed out a charming tune and the door was answered by Sally who showed me around the common areas and, to my delight, offered me a free upgrade to the inn’s honeymoon suite, the Kettle Moraine.  After showing me all the ins and outs of my room, she left me to my own devices.

Hidden Serenity isn’t your typical B & B abode.  The Cochrans built the house in 1997 from wood on their acreage and it was their private home where they raised “four extraordinary children”.  The Cochrans also hosted exchange students for years and have a travel bug that might even exceed mine.  But once the children had grown, they decided to start sharing their home with the public, filling the house with fine furniture and they are currently in the process of renovating the basement area into a spa complete with hot tub, sauna, and massage room (this is currently in use).

The house evoked memories of my visit to Otter Creek Inn in Eau Claire, WI in the sense that the house has more of a lodge feel with its massive great room which includes a pool table guests can actually play. The house is also a unique fusion of rustic and luxury.

The Kettle Moraine has the same blend of swank and hominess possessed by the rest of the house.  A soft king-sized bed is the centerpiece of the room, but it also contains a pair of comfortable leather easy chairs with a beautiful view of the forest.  A faux fireplace graces one of the walls and the mirror above it contains a hidden LCD TV.  The bathroom contains heated tiles, a rainfall shower, and a two person slipper tub.

I didn’t have too long to putter because I had a massage scheduled at 4:40pm.  I met my masseuse, Joann, who led me to the basement and the massage room.  As I readied myself for my massage, I noticed the starlit roof which made me feel like I was in a planetarium.  Soon all thoughts fled my brain as Joann worked the kinks out of shoulders and the aches out of my feet.

Jail House

Feeling good and relaxed, I headed out to get some dinner at the Jail House.  Sally had told me that the place might be jumping and right she was.  Luckily, on Fridays, the Jail House only accepts reservations for parties of 5 or more so people can move in and out more quickly.  I was told I’d have to wait 30-40 minutes which I was fully prepared to do as I had a new volume of Sherlock Holmes pastiches to read.  However, I only ended up waiting for about 20 minutes before being seated for dinner.

I opted for a Southwest Salmon served with homemade black bean salsa, a bowl of seafood chowder, and a side of steak fries.  The broth of the chowder was a little thin and could have used a bit more seafood, but had a good taste, especially when enhanced with a bit of pepper.  The salsa and salmon were excellent.  The salmon had a sweet chili glaze and was just slightly blackened which made it incredibly flavorful.

After dinner, I returned back to the inn and I advise caution as there are no street lights, but a path of lanterns does light the way to Hidden Serenity once you get close to the inn.

I started watching Cinderella Man, based on the true story of James J. Braddock, a promising boxer who saw his career derailed by injury and descended into poverty due to the Great Depression.  He staged a miraculous comeback which saw him upset the virtually unstoppable Max Baer for the world heavyweight championship.

Slumber beckoned to me throughout the film, so I stopped it and went to bed.

And sleep I did, not awakening until nearly 8am which is practically unheard of for me.  I spent a little time watching the The Price is Right channel before heading to the dining area for breakfast.

I saw the inn’s other guests being entertained by Chris as I took a seat.  Soon a plate of fruit and a small pot of herbal tea was placed before me.  The tea was an amazing blend of rosemary and peppermint which I contentedly sipped while nibbling on kiwi, oranges, strawberries, and blackberries.

Course number two was Polish sausage with peanut butter cream cheese stuffed French Toast served with the inn’s own maple syrup (also available in a peanut butter variety) and a maple vinaigrette salad.  For dessert, there was a concoction of blue Jell-O and Blue Moon ice cream which was a tasty treat of an exclamation point to the meal.

After breakfast, I headed out to West Bend to Blades Barbershop for a bit more pampering.

Blades Barbershop

Blades updates the traditional barbershop experience for the modern times.  I decided to have a shave and a haircut with Julie Kidder.  I was long overdue for a haircut and felt the relief of having a pound of hair cut away from my head.  But the shave was the real joy.  Julie treated my face with some tonic before lathering me and scraping off my beard with a straight razor.  I truly felt clean shaven afterwards and she mentioned I had an extremely thick set of whiskers (no hyperbole as I can grow a full beard in roughly 2 weeks).

For once, I decided not to book any other activities.  I just wanted to relax so I returned to Hidden Serenity where I walked its trail and then returned to my room to finish Cinderella Man.  With the movie over, I drew a bath and added a bottle of peppermint bath salts and just soaked until the heat left the water. 

St Frances Cabrini

With the bath done, I was ready to head off to worship at St Frances Cabrini.  It was a nice service with Father’s sermon focusing on how the time is now to change your heart as the theme of Lent this year is about conversion.  I also found it apropos as the Catholic church is making a concentrated effort to evangelize and St Frances Cabrini seems to be ahead of the game with literature encouraging their parishioners on how to welcome those curious about this branch of Christianity and not to be afraid to explain the ritual parts of the service to those unfamiliar with them.

After getting my praise on, I needed some dinner.  My first choice, Main Street Café, was closed so I went to Omicron Family Restaurant.  There’s nothing fancy about this place.  It’s just good, old-fashioned comfort food and I enjoyed a Gyro sandwich before returning to Hidden Serenity for a bit of writing and beddy-bye.

I was pleased to wake up to a sunny day which would make for a very pleasant drive home.  I really didn’t want to go home, but reality was calling.  But at least I could enjoy one more nourishing breakfast before I started the drive.

Today’s repast started with a bowl of carrot cake oatmeal. So tasty!! This was followed up by a custom made omelet (I had mine with the works. Ham, bacon, cheese, onions, olives, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms) with a bit of fruit and asparagus. Last, but not least, was a pair of chocolate cake/fudge bars drizzled with chocolate and (I believe) caramel. A fine, bracing meal to get me on my way.

This was a fine return to the B & B world and I consider Hidden Serenity to be my own personal Walden. So if you want to get away from it all and I mean REALLY get away from it all, book a stay at Hidden Serenity and enjoy some rustic luxury.

Until the next time. . .happy travels.

OCP Reveals 98th Season

The Legend of Georgia McBride
Aug. 19–Sept. 18, 2022
Howard Drew Theatre
By Matthew López

You’ve never seen Elvis like this.

A Southern straight boy and out-of-work Elvis impersonator discovers a hidden talent—and a way to pay his mounting bills—after a drag queen convinces him to fill in on stage for one of her shows. Now if he could only find a way to tell his pregnant wife about his new hobby. A laugh-out-loud comedy filled with music, heart and plenty of sass.

Disclaimer: Contains adult language.

School of Rock
Sept. 16–Oct. 16, 2022
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Based on the Paramount movie by Mike White | Book by Julian Fellowes | Lyrics by Glenn Slater | New Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll rock.

A middle-aged wannabe rock star lands a new gig as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school, where he transforms a group of straight-A students into a face-melting rock band. Based on the hit movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock features a cast of young rock stars who act, sing and perform all of the show’s rock instrumentals live on stage.

The Cake
Oct. 7–Nov. 6, 2022
Howard Drew Theatre
By Bekah Brunstetter

A new comedy from the writer of hit TV show ‘This Is Us.’

A celebrated North Carolina baker is thrilled to finally design a wedding cake for her goddaughter. But when she learns the marriage is between two women, she begins to feel conflicted. A surprising and sweet take on a modern-day controversy, seeped in humor and warmth.

Disclaimer: Contains adult language and brief nudity.

A Christmas Carol
Nov. 18–Dec. 23, 2022
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Written by Charles Dickens | Adapted by Charles Jones | Musical Orchestration by John J. Bennett

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol!

Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with stunning Victorian costumes, festive music and crisp, wintry sets, A Christmas Carol is a beautiful reminder that love and generosity are the heart of the Christmas holiday.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold
Nov. 25–Dec. 23, 2022
Howard Drew Theatre

From the creator of Late Nite Catechism.

It’s “CSI: Bethlehem” in this holiday mystery extravaganza, from the author of Late Nite Catechism, as Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages—whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? (“We know that Mary used the frankincense and myrrh as a sort of potpourri—they were in a barn after all.”) Retelling the story of the nativity, as only Sister can, this hilarious holiday production is bound to become a yearly classic. Employing her own scientific tools, assisted by a local choir as well as a gaggle of audience members, Sister creates a living nativity unlike any you’ve ever seen. With gifts galore and bundles of laughs, Sister’s Christmas Catechism is sure to become the newest addition to your holiday traditions.

August Wilson’s Fences
Jan. 20–Feb. 12, 2023
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
By August Wilson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning American classic.

A former Negro League baseball player struggles to co-exist with the racial trauma he still carries from his time in the league. When his frustrations lead to a series of tragic choices, his relationships with his wife and son suffer the consequences. Set in the 1950s, Fences is the sixth installment in The American Century Cycle, a series of ten plays by August Wilson that trace the Black experience through 20th century America.

RENT
Feb. 10–March 19, 2023
Howard Drew Theatre
Book, Music and Lyrics by Johnathan Larson

The cultural phenomenon that has inspired audiences for a quarter century.

A raw and emotional year in the life of a diverse group of friends and struggling artists, chasing their dreams under the shadow of drug addictions and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize, this iconic rock musical has become a cultural touchstone, rite of passage and source of joy and strength for millions.

Disclaimer: Contains adult content and language.

Dreamgirls
March 3–26, 2023
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen | Music by Henry Krieger

Stars rise and fall, but dreams live forever.

A trio of women soul singers catch their big break during an amateur competition. But will their friendship—and their music—survive the rapid rise from obscurity to pop super stardom? with dazzling costumes and powerhouse vocal performances, this Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical is inspired by some of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s—The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and more.

Little Shop of Horrors
April 14–May 7, 2024
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman | Music by Alan Menken

The gleefully gruesome cult comedy with an infectious 60s-style score.
Seymour, a nerdy store clerk at Mushnik’s flower shop, is thrust into the spotlight when he happens upon a new breed of carnivorous plant. But his newfound fame comes at a cost when Seymour discovers the sassy seedling has an unquenchable thirst for human blood. Ravenously fun, dripping with camp and nostalgia.

Pretty Fire
April 28–May 21, 2023
Howard Drew Theatre
By Charlayne Woodard

A profound celebration of life and the Black experience.

Charlayne Woodard takes us on an intimate and powerful journey through five autobiographical vignettes, each capturing different moments of her life growing up as a rambunctious, imaginative child in the 50s and 60s. From her loving family home in upstate New York, to her first experience with racism at her grandmother’s house in Georgia, Pretty Fire is a beautiful one-woman celebration of life, love and family, even in the face of adversity.

Disclaimer: Contains adult content and language

In The Heights
June 2–25, 2023
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda | Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Before there was Hamilton, there was In the Heights.

From the revolutionary mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this Tony Award®-winning musical recounts three days in the vibrant neighborhood of Washington Heights, NYC, where the Latino residents chase American dreams. This bubbly fusion of rap, salsa, Latin pop and soul music boasts an infectious enthusiasm from beginning to end.

Strength of Soul

Celie lives a tragic life.  She was forced to give up her children.  She was basically sold to a tyrant as a wife.  She believes her sister to be dead and her faith lies in tatters.  But with a new friendship, she slowly begins to regain herself and to live life to the fullest.  Watch her remarkable story in The Color Purple which is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This is unquestionably one of the most challenging shows I’ve ever seen.  Marsha Norman deals with some dark and ugly themes in this script.  Racism, physical and mental abuse, lust, abandonment, and loss of faith are just some of the themes explored and that’s just in the first act.  But themes of love, family, hope, perseverance, and redemption are also visited in the show’s second act.  This gives the show an incredible multifaceted nature.  Throw in a score that spans genres from Gospel to blues to jazz to swing to African along with a cast that was more than up to the challenge and you have one awe inspiring night of theatre.

Kathy Tyree’s direction is truly to be lauded.  Guiding a performer through an emotionally charged scene is always a difficult and nuanced task.  But to guide multiple performers through numerous emotionally charged scenes requires the hand of a master and Tyree has such a hand.  Not only does she lead her performers through the almost uncountable nuances and beat changes of this tale, but she also stages it immaculately using a surprisingly simple Jim Othuse set of steps, slatted beams which depict African tribal masks on the reverse, and a large screen of scribbles that flash colors to suit the emotions of the scenes.

The ensemble does a masterful job of always being in the moment to add the spark of life to group scenes, but you’ll also be treated to some stellar performances from Doriette Jordan who is full of sass and fire as one of the Church Ladies.  Anthony Holmes provides some levity as the sweet, but hapless Harpo.  Brandi Mercedes Smith is awesome as the tough as nails and brutally honest Sofia who gets one of the show’s most tragic scenes due to her refusal to take garbage from anyone.  Brittany Thompson provides some real sweetness and loving support as Celie’s younger sister, Nettie.

TammyRa’s performance as Celie is so heartfelt and moving that it stirs the dead.  I admit I was blown away by the power and nuance of her interpretation and TammyRa’ is going to be swarmed in award nominations and you can take that to the bank. 

TammyRa’ is so meek and pitiable at the show’s start and she makes you feel Celie’s pain and brokenness with each haunted look and reaction.  But her growing happiness when she begins to claim her life makes your heart soar.  And what an angelic alto!  TammyRa’ belts out a tune like few others can and it communicates the subtlest of emotions.  Some of my favorite numbers were her tortured “Dear God”, her magnificent “What About Love?”, and her confident “I’m Here”.

Jus. B is an utterly worthless piece of humanity as Mister.  This is a cruel, cruel man who does not have one redemptive value in him.  He practically salivates over Nettie, but takes Celie as a “wife” just for a free cow and treats her like a virtual slave as he demands she cook, clean, and satisfy his urges.  Jus. B has an incredible gift of acting with his eyes and you can feel the heat of his anger radiating from them while he smokes a pipe with such intensity that I feared he would snap its stem in two.  He is just as potent on the singing side when that powerful baritone hits you with “Mister Song”.

Dara Hogan has the energy of a dozen people and a magnetic presence as Shug Avery.  She’s the bad girl with a heart of gold and has loyalty to spare with her dedication to her friendship with Celie.  Hogan is truly a triple threat who can sing, dance, and act with numbers such as the heavenly “The Color Purple”, the humorous “In Miss Celie’s Pants”, and especially the showstopping “Push Da Button”.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra are superlative as they play the multiple genres of the score.  Jim Othuse’s lights really add to the production with the depressing darks of Act I and the hopeful colors and brightness of Act II.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco’s sounds seamlessly blend in and enhance the production with my favorite being the singing birds at a picnic.  LaTryce Anderson and DJ Tyree provide some smooth choreography with my favorite dancing sequences being “Big Dog” and “Push Da Button”.  Lindsey Pape’s costumes show the passage of time from 1910-1940 with the gingham dress of Celie giving way to the flapper dress of Shug Avery to the bright and colorful pants that Celie creates.  I was also highly impressed with the tribal masks painted by Janet Morr.

This is a show that is going to grip you by the throat in ways you never thought possible as indicated by the running commentary I heard from various audience members in Act II.  Due to its heavy themes and mild language, I’d suggest some parental discretion, but this is an artistic triumph for Kathy Tyree, her cast, and the Omaha Community Playhouse.  Buy a ticket and learn why The Color Purple is the color of passion.

The Color Purple runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through March 27. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 402-553-0800, visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com, or at the box office.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

Shakespearean Tragedy Heading for BlueBarn

BLUEBARN THEATRE Proudly Presents:

King Lear
by William Shakespeare
March 24th-April 16th, 2022

Performances

Thursdays -Saturday@ 7:30pm; Sun April 3rd@ 2:00pm; Sun April 10th@ 2pm
Virtual Presentation available beginning April 15th@ 7:30
ASL Interpreted Performance-Friday, April 8th@ 7:30

About King Lear

BLUEBARN takes on Shakespeare’s most intimate embrace of heights and depths of human experience with King Lear. When an aging monarch decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, chaos reigns, madness is ascendant and love’s labours come to nothing.

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”

About the Production

BLUEBARN’s production of King Lear features performances by Thomas Becker, Thomas Gjere, Delaney Jackson, Ryan Kathman, Melissa King, Matthew Kischer, Ashley Kobza, Mike Leaman, Josh Peyton, Paul Shaw, Brent Spencer, Shane Staiger, Michael Trunta, and Fred Vogel.

Directed by Jill Anderson.
Dramaturgy by D. Scott Glasser.
Set and lighting design by Steven Williams.
Costume design by Jill Anderson and Katherine Neary.
Fight Choreography by Terry Doughman.
Special Effects/Fight Assist by Wes Clowers.
Music by Vince Krysl.
Sound design by Bill Kirby.
Properties by Amy Reiner.
Scenic Arts by Craig Lee.

Seating & Tickets

Attendance is free to TruBLU members and $35 for General Admission tickets. Educator/Healthcare Workers/Military Personnel tickets are available for $30. To reserve and/or purchase your tickets, visit our website, www.bluebarn.org/tickets, or call the box office at (402) 345-1576, M-F between 10am-4pm. Covid vaccination required to attend any show at the BLUEBARN Theatre. You will be asked to show your vaccination card at the box office when you check-in. Masks will be required for King Lear.

King Lear is generously sponsored by:

Immanuel Communities
James and Susan Tracy Charitable Foundation
Dr. Bill Hutson
Nebraska Arts Council
Nebraska Cultural Endowment

BLUEBARN Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

Great Plains Theatre Commons Announces 2022 New Play Conference Playwrights

Omaha, NE: Great Plains Theatre Commons (GPTC) has selected 14 playwrights to participate in the 16th annual conference’s 2022 PlayLab program. Hosted by Metropolitan Community College, this year’s convening will take place Sunday, May 29 – Saturday, June 4.

The selected playwrights were chosen from a pool of more than 600 anonymous submissions. Each of the playwrights will work on their projects with a creative team and cast composed of local and national talent. The lab will culminate in a free staged reading, after which the playwrights will receive feedback from other playwrights, theatre scholars, directors, and public audiences. All public events at the conference are free and open to the public.

This year’s selected playwrights and projects include:

T. Adamson of New York, New York, No Nothing

Sarah Cho of Los Angeles, California, stains

Tina Esper of Montclair, New Jersey, Neighbor Jane

Daniel Hurewitz of Brooklyn, New York, In the Canyon

Shannon TL Kearns of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Body + Blood

Jennifer Maisel of Los Angeles, California, The Yellow Wallpaper 2.0 – 2020

Gloria Majule of Seattle, Washington, Culture Shock

Nia Akilah Robinson of New York, New York, Deadass

Kira Rockwell of Boston, Massachusetts, oh, to be pure again

Phaedra Michelle Scott of Nyack, New York, Diaspora!

Steven Strafford of Athens, Ohio, Greater Illinois

Caity-Shea Violette of Los Angeles, California, Rx Machina

Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters of Woodlynne, New Jersey, Acetone Wishes and Plexiglass Dreams

LaDarrion Williams of North Hollywood, California, Coco Queens

Founded in 2006, GPTC offers community and artist development programs year-round, and brings national and local playwrights and theatre artists together to develop new works at the New Play Conference each spring. The conference is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and Humanities Nebraska. The mission of the Great Plains Theatre Commons is to strengthen community by supporting the creation and sharing of diverse new stories. Click here to learn more about GPTC.