The McGuigans Invade Denison

Denison, IA–The McGuigans (Billy, Ryan, & Matthew) are set to bring their amazing Beatles tribute show, Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience, to the Donna Reed Theatre in Denison, IA on Thursday, Sept 29 at 7pm.

If you’ve never attended Yesterday and Today, it’s unlike any performance you’ve ever seen because the show is different every single time because you get to pick the music.

That’s right, Yesterday and Today, is an all request Beatles show where you can pick any and, I stress, ANY Beatles song and the McGuigans and their incredible band will perform it for you.

Are you a casual Beatles fan who only knows classics like “Yesterday” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”? No problem. Maybe you’re a bit more adept in your Beatleness and know “Tell Me Why” and “I Am the Walrus”? They do those, too. And, maybe, you’re that rarefied superfan who wants to separate the Beatles men from the Beatles boys and challenge them with rarities like “Old Brown Shoe” and “Baby, You’re a Rich Man”? They’ve got you covered.

It’s an experience you’ll never forget. Buy a ticket and see America’s finest ode to the Beatles from a band like no other. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Tickets for Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience cost $25 and can be obtained by calling 712-263-3334. The Donna Reed Theatre is located at 1305 Broadway in Denison, IA.

Dynamite Divas

From L to R: Dara Hogan, Dani Cleveland, Shirley Terrell-Jordan, Alisa Moore, Caitlin Mabon

If you like watching paint dry, grass grow, or wallpaper peel. . .well, to be honest, I worry about you and you’re reading the wrong review.  Now if you like sass, jazz, razzmatazz, soul, and rock n roll, buckle up your seat belts and get ready for four dynamite divas to add a little rocket fuel to your night.  They’re loud.  They’re proud.  They’re bold and they’re gold.  And all they want is a little Respect down at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Respect is a 90 minute concert that pays tribute to the trailblazing women of music.  You’ll sway, bop, and dance to hits from legendary performers such as Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, the Supremes, and many more.  While you’re “Dancing In the Street”, you’ll also learn some trivia and facts along the way.

How good is this show?

Why don’t you tell me?  How would you rate a show that gets people clapping, has them bouncing in their seats, earns spontaneous standing ovations, and has them roaring?

My sentiments exactly.

The four singers just dominate the stage and had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands.  All of them have big, beautiful, powerful voices that excelled in harmony and in solo work.  Their colorful, sequined dresses designed by Lindsay Pape sparkled just as much as their voices.  They clearly had a blast performing these numbers and that enthusiasm infected the audience with a frightening rapidity.

Dara Hogan’s star really shone tonight with her complete and utter ownership of her numbers.  Confidence just poured from her as she out-Tinaed Tina Turner with a thunderous take on “Proud Mary”; hit a bullseye with a solo moment in “Don’t Make Me Over”; and brought it all home with a classic performance of “I Am Woman” that would make Helen Reddy weep.

Dani Cleveland has a nice throaty voice that just wraps you in warmth and has a flair for comedy as shown by her witticisms.  And such skill!  Cleveland showed mastery of multiple genres from the country stylings of Connie Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now” to the soft pop of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and matched the mighty Diana Ross in “Stop!  In the Name of Love”.

Shirley Terrell-Jordan’s energy could power a bullet train and seemed imbued with the spirit of Dionne Warwick when she belted out “Don’t Make Me Over” and I thrilled to her take with Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”.

Caitlin Mabon really had a wide emotional spectrum with her numbers.  Particular standouts were an intense, even a little angry, take on Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” which was one of my favorite melodies of the night and a sweet take on Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend”.

Jim Othuse’s lights lent that big time concert feel to enhance the work of the larger than life quartet while Ananias Montague and his band (Myles Jasnowski, Darren Pettit, Jonathan Sanders, Raquel Taylor, and Jacob Sorensen) perfectly played the numbers of these legendary artists.

A few wonky microphone moments couldn’t stop the onslaught of this tuneful train and if you leave this show without having a good time. . .well, I fear you fit my opening sentence.

For the rest of you, you still have a chance to catch Respect, but move fast!  As of this writing, tickets are only available for June 23 and 25.  Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased by calling 402-553-0800, visiting the box office, or heading to www.omahaplayhouse.com.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Get a Little ‘Respect’ at OCP

Omaha, N.– Celebrate the divas who dominated the music scene for decades with this high-energy concert experience: Respect! The production features the music of Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Lesley Gore, Chaka Khan, Carole King, and more — served up by a team of powerhouse vocalists and backed by a full rock band.

Respect opens on Friday, June 10, 2022, and will run in the Howard Drew Theatre through June 26, with
performances Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale, starting at $35, 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 OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Directed by: Kathy Tyree

Featuring: Dara Hogan, Dani Cleveland, Shirley Terrell-Jordan, Caitlin Mabon, Alisa Moore

Enjoy a Musical Tribute. . .Rave On Style

Omaha, NE–Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time. I feel ali–i –i-iiiive celebrating the most popular and acclaimed rock musicals of all time! Don’t Stop Me Now delivers an energetic concert featuring favorites from musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Jersey Boys, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mamma Mia, Hair, Rent and more! Everybody cut loose – Footloose – kick off your Sunday shoes and be swept up in a rock musical journey through time. All the strange rock and rollers, you’re know you’re doing all right at Don’t Stop Me Now!

Buy Tickets!

THE VENUE:
SumTur Amphitheater
11691 S 108th Street, Papillion, NE

DATES:
Thursday June 9 @ 8:00pm
Friday June 10 @ 8:00pm
Saturday June 11 @ 8:00pm

TICKETS:
$25 Lawn or Bleacher Seating
Lawn Seating requires you to bring your own chairs.

Kids 5 and under get in for free. A ticket is not required.Have a group of 10 or more? Email Kate Whitecotton at kate@billymcguigan.com for group ticket pricing.

Featuring the Talents of: Erika Hall-Sieff, Evelyn Hill, Jesse White, Nina Washington, Ejanae Hume, Julian Hinrichs

Also featuring: Sammy Gillotte (Vocals) on June 9, Elliot Bartling (Vocals) on June 9, Miles Lento (Guitar) on June 11

Rave On Productions Announces Sophomore Season of ‘The Omaha Series’

Omaha, NE–After a critically acclaimed debut season that blew in with the ferocity of a hurricane and netted a jaw dropping 9 nominations at the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, Rave On Productions has announced its second season of The Omaha Series and its guaranteed to have something for everybody.

The brain child of Rave On’s owner, Billy McGuigan, and Rave On’s Artistic and Education Director, Kimberly Faith Hickman, the Omaha Series presents musical productions in traditional and non-traditional venues throughout the Omaha metro area.

The Omaha Series 2022 Season

Rock of Ages
April 7-16
Venue: The Waiting Room (6212 Maple Street)

Rock Of Ages is a five-time Tony Award-nominated musical telling the story of a small-town girl, a city boy and a rock ‘n’ roll romance on the Sunset Strip. When the bar where rock reigns supreme is set to be demolished, it’s up to a group of rockers and their band of friends to save the day…and the music! Can Drew, Sherri and the gang save the strip before it’s too late? Only the 80s best rock anthems and power ballads hold the answer!

Rock Of Ages’ electric score features smash, hair band hits like Bon Jovi’s WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE, Poison’s EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN, Foreigner’s I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOVE IS, Whitesnake’s HERE I GO AGAIN, Journey’s DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ and so many more! So grab your aqua net and get ready to rock and roll all night at The Waiting Room!

Don’t Stop Me Now
June 9-11
Venue: SumTur Amphitheater (11691 S 108th St in Papillion, NE)

Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time. I feel ali–i –i-iiiive celebrating the most popular and acclaimed rock musicals of all time! Don’t Stop Me Now delivers an energetic concert featuring favorites from musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Jersey Boys, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rock of Ages, Dreamgirls, Hair, Rent and more! Everybody cut loose – Footloose – kick off your Sunday shoes and be swept up in a rock musical journey through time. All the strange rock and rollers, you’re know you’re doing all right at Don’t Stop Me Now!

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka
July 22-31
Venue: The Scottish Rite (202 S 20th St)

Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life on the Scottish Rite stage July 22 – 31. Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka features a cast of young performers as they take the audience on a fantasy ride into the land of pure imagination! Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka includes classic songs like “Pure Imagination”, “The Candy Man”, “(I’ve Got a) Golden Ticket”, “Oompa-Loompa-Doompadee-Doo”, “I Want It Now” and more! This family-friendly scrumdidilyumptious musical is guaranteed to delight everyone’s sweet tooth!

Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra
August 18-20
Venue: SumTur Amphitheater (11691 S 108th St in Papillion, NE)

Like many of us out there, the feeling Billy got from watching big rock bands from the 70s was exhilarating and it’s an energy that is re-created with Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra. His musical influences left an incredible impact on the type of entertainer Billy was to become. Think of 1970’s Jumpsuit Elvis, the Moody Blues who put symphonic interludes in the middle of a rock song, ELO with an electric horn and string section – rock & roll was transformed! As Billy navigates the audience through decades of classic gems, he does so backed by a rock orchestra that can match his energy in force. The set list is as varied and versatile as Billy himself.

The Rocky Horror Show
Oct 21-29
Venue: The Slowdown (729 N 14th St)

One fateful night, Brad and Janet – a wholesome, well-behaved, utterly normal young couple in love – innocently set out to visit an old professor. A thunderstorm and a flat-tire force them to seek help at the castle of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, an alien, transvestite scientist with a manic genius and insatiable libido played by glam rocker, Benn Sieff. Brad, Janet and Frank ‘N’ Furter’s cohorts are swept up into the scientist’s latest experiment. A loving homage to the class B sci-fi film and horror genres with an irresistible rock ‘n’ roll score is a hilarious, wild ride that no audience will soon forget.

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience
Nov 25-Dec 30
Venue: The Slowdown (729 N 14th St)

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience is the nation’s most innovative and unique show utilizing the works of The Beatles. This amazing band, anchored by brothers Billy, Matthew and Ryan McGuigan perform as themselves and leave the song choices completely in the hands of the audience. This is done through request cards that audience members fill out prior to the show. On those cards, the audience member only needs to fill out three things: their name, their favorite Beatles song and the reason why they chose that song. The cards are collected and two minutes before the show begins, a set list is created based upon the songs chosen by that particular audience. As an added treat, the reasons that the audience members chose those songs make up the narrative of the evening. Every show is different, every show is interactive, and every show Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience proves that The Beatles’ music truly is the soundtrack to our lives.

Follow the Platte River Bard Podcast

Do you like the arts? Do you like the theatre? Do you like podcasts?

If the answer to any and all of these questions is yes, then follow the Platte River Bard Podcast today. Hosts Chris and Sheri Berger will keep you up date on all the happenings in the theatre and the arts in Nebraska and beyond while having conversations with the artists.

Platte River Bard Podcast is available at platteriverbard.com and can also be followed on the following social media sites:
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twitter.com/platteriverbard

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Camille Metoyer Moten to Grace Omaha with Some Christmas From Her Heart at OCP

Omaha, NE.– Christmas in My Heart: A Concert Featuring Camille Metoyer Moten will open on Friday, November 26th, 2021. The show will run in the Howard Drew Theatre through December 23rd. Performances will be held Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, December 22nd at 7:00 p.m. 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 OmahaPlayhouse.com.

SYNOPSIS

OCP legend Camille Metoyer Moten makes her highly anticipated return to the stage for an intimate holiday affair. Christmas in My Heart is all the wonder and magic of the season in concert. Cozy up in our Howard Drew Theatre and let Camille’s soaring voice warm your heart with beloved holiday classics, contemporary Christmas melodies and everything in between!

Photo provided by Richardson Photography

It’s Beatles Time in the City

Omaha, NE–The holidays are upon us which means it’s time for Omaha’s premier Christmas tradition: Yesterday & Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience. For the better part of two decades, the McGuigan Brothers (Billy, Ryan, & Matthew) and their band have been entertaining crowds with this all request show dedicated to the music of the legendary Beatles.

Now entering its 15th season, Yesterday & Today will be performing at a new venue: The Slowdown located at 729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE. Let the guys tell you a bit about it here.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Yesterday & Today is the concert series designed by the audience each night. Audience members will submit their requests and the McGuigans and their band will play them. It’s just that simple. And don’t worry if you like an obscure number because they know them all and will play them all from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Revolution No. 9”.

Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here. The show runs from Nov 26-Dec 31. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. And for a special event, you can ring in the New Year with the band on New Year’s Eve with performances at 7pm and 10pm.

Unsure of where to sit? No worries. Rave On Productions will host an open house at The Slowdown on Nov 7 from 11am-3pm. Tour the venue. Scope out the best seats. Buy tickets. You can even start submitting requests. Reservations can be made here.

Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth time, ready yourselves for Yesterday & Today. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Billy McGuigan Founds McGuigan Arts Academy & Announces Omaha Series

Omaha, NE–Super talent Billy McGuigan, known for bringing Buddy Holly and The Beatles to life on stage, announced the opening of McGuigan Arts Academy, a new twist on performing arts education and venues. The Academy’s mission is devoted to teaching life skills through hands-on studies in music, theatre, film, art and technology. Acknowledging that not every student of the arts wants to be a performer, McGuigan Arts Academy will nurture and showcase Omaha’s talent in every artistic realm. 

“If this year taught us anything, it’s the need to connect and nurture one’s soul,” said founder Billy McGuigan. “Art is essential to that. How we create and present that art can be done in many ways. There is nothing else like this in the Midwest. McGuigan Arts Academy is designed to give anyone – from age 3 to 103 – the opportunity to learn confidence, cooperation and creativity. It’s more than development of talent. It’s development of the human spirit. Believe me, there is nothing more important than being the best person you can be. The arts have taught me that.”

McGuigan Arts Academy classes will be taught by full-time professionals led by Artistic and Education Director Kimberly Faith Hickman. “Kimberly is this mega talent in our midst,” said McGuigan. “A rare Broadway-accredited director, she honed her talent working on numerous Tony Award winning and nominated Broadway shows.”

In addition to the Academy, Rave On Productions will launch The Omaha Series; a season of shows presented in various venues across the Omaha Metro. The 2021 Omaha Series includes Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Waiting Room, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story performed one night each at the Davies Amphitheatre, SumTur Amphitheatre and Soaring Wings Vineyard, The Rocky Horror Show and the McGuigan’s holiday tradition, Yesterday and Today, performed at the Slowdown.

Hickman most recently served as Artistic Director for the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). In her nearly five years there, she directed 19 productions and launched initiatives such as the OCP Directing Fellowship, sensory-friendly productions in collaboration with the Autism Action Partnership, and performances translated into Spanish in real-time. Her latest innovations, including Drive-In and virtual productions, assured that the show would go on.

“The pandemic helped me see endless possibilities for programming experiences – especially when I let myself break free from the traditional norms in theatre,” said Hickman. “Creating a production in a parking lot was really inspiring. We took a bold chance and before long, we had a sell out!”

Hickman and McGuigan agree that it was this collaboration during their days together at the Omaha Community Playhouse and the discovery that they both learned to love theatre via the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia, that drew them together as co-visionaries for McGuigan Arts Academy.

“Our biggest revelation,” said McGuigan, “is that performance is a gift from performer to audience. Where that happens should be less tied to one space and more tied to access and an environment that blends with the creative product.”

“In addition to a myriad of classes,” added Hickman, “we will be casting and rehearsing four productions that will be performed at venues across Omaha including The Waiting Room in Benson, Sumtur Amphitheatre, The Slowdown and more.

McGuigan Arts Academy is located in Countryside Village at 87th and Pacific Streets. Thanks in part to generous sponsors, the Academy will offer class scholarships to those from across the greater Omaha metro who may not have the means to pay for them.

For more information, contact Kate Whitecotton at 402-682-2868 and kate@billymcguigan.com.  For class and Academy schedules and to learn more, see McGuiganArtsAcademy.com. For The Omaha Series visit www.billymcguigan.com/theomahaseries.

Retro Review: ‘Billy as Billy’ is Simply Effective

Come take a walk with me down the hall of time.  The year is 2006.  I was merely a Chris Elston as opposed to THE Chris Elston (as one my friends jokingly calls me) as the Corner wasn’t even a thought.  And a local musician & actor who had rocketed to fame as Buddy Holly was now releasing his debut album.  Join me as I retro review Billy as Billy, the first album from Omaha singer/songwriter Billy McGuigan.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing McGuigan’s latest album, billymcguiganTOGETHER.  I then realized I had never heard his original album and decided to see if I could hunt it up.  A little research managed to help me lay my hands on a copy and I gave it a listen.  Quite frankly, I was blown away by the quality of the work as McGuigan demonstrated a depth and maturity with his songwriting that experienced and legendary performers would envy.

I found myself liking this album every bit as much as his most recent work and in some ways, even a little bit more.  What I liked most about Billy as Billy is that it was just that. . . purely Billy.  He had a sound that just reached right out and grabbed you and it was wholly his own.  Only at a few moments did I detect the influence of another artist.  Even then, it was only for a brief riff or chord.  And, again, the stories McGuigan shares obviously come straight from the heart from which the best work always comes.

What surprised me the most about the album was that it was, for McGuigan, considerably lower key and reflective as opposed to the stratospheric energy of his live performances.  But that reflection is what gives the album its strength.

The album opened with “That Wonder In Your Eyes (My Little Girl)” which is a moderate love rocker, but that love could be different depending on one’s point of view.  The wonder in her eyes could be the wonder of a lover or the wonder of a newborn child which makes it a truly compelling song.

The album follows with the sad, yet darkly humorous “She Never. . .” which is told from the voice of a someone consoling a friend who’d been dumped by a faithless woman.  “(And Everything’s Fine Down On) Mission Street” is a fun, reflective rocker on a neighborhood’s history.  “Separate” is a tearjerker about a crumbled marriage.  “Trying to Write This Song” is a touching number about a man trying to say how much he loves a woman.  “Eyes Wide Open” is the album’s most haunting number.  Driven by a tragic piano, it tells the story of a broken man who can’t escape his past even though he tries to honor his late father’s final words to “keep (his) eyes wide open”, but he doesn’t know what he’s “supposed to see”.  The album closes in fine fashion with “All This Time Has Passed” which is an effectively simple tune featuring McGuigan on acoustic guitar backed with synchronized strings as he tells a story about a man still in love and trying to love even better.

If you’re able to find a copy of this album I highly recommend it.  It’ll unleash a cornucopia of emotions within you and it’s a poignant piece of musical storytelling.  All I can say is that I hope it isn’t too long before McGuigan gets the itch to share another album with the public.