Give Kay & Ryan a Helping Hand

Kay & Ryan McGuigan are two of my closest friends.  I met Kay when I did my very first show in theatre and she has been a bedrock of support as I struggled through this business.  Through her I met Ryan whom I bonded with over a love of the Beatles.

This past weekend, Kay was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer and she, Ryan, and their lovely family really need your help.  Both are self-employed and have needed to put work on hold to focus on Kay’s health.  To help with day to day expenses a GoFundMe page has been set up and the link is below.

https://www.gofundme.com/support-for-ryan-and-kay-mcguigan

Please make a donation and then share the post on social media to help these truly wonderful people.

I thank you for your charity.

 

 

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July is a Hot Month for Area Auditions

At the Circle Theatre

Circle Theatre is holding auditions for its Dec 2016 Holiday Production A Charlie Brown Christmas. Performances run weekends December 2-17. Auditions will be held July 5 and 6th at 7:00p.m. at the  Urban Abby at 1026 Jackson Street in the Old Market.  The production calls for actors ages 8-50 who can sing and dance. Those auditioning will be asked to bring a prepared song to sing.  Auditions are by appointment only. To schedule an audition or for more info please e-mail dashmtheatre@gmail.com

At the Chanticleer Community Theatre

  • Elf – The Musical Jr.
  • Sunday, July 10 and Monday, July 11 @ 6:00 p.m.
  • Production Dates: September 16 – 25, 2016
  • Rehearsal Dates: Looking to begin Wednesday, July 13.
  • Bring sheet music and come prepared to sing 16 measures. Accompanist provided.  Wear shoes comfortable for dancing.  May be asked to read from script.
  • Show Summary: The Chanticleer Children’s Theater presents a modern-day holiday classic that’s sure to make you embrace your “inner elf”. This hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity.
  • Contact Information: 712-323-9955 or chanticleerthater@gmail.com
  • Director and/or Production Team: Denise Putman, Director, Jerry Gray, Musical Director & Ariel Ibsen-Bauer, Choreographer
  • Location:  830 Franklin Ave in Council Bluffs, IA

 

At Bellevue Little Theatre

Be a part of a time honored tradition!  Auditions for the Bellevue Little Theater’s production of The Music Man will be held on Sunday, July 10th and Monday, July 11th at 7:00 PM.

D. Laureen Pickle is the stage director with Chris Ebke serving as music director, Kerri Jo Watts as choreographer, and Jamie Jarecki as stage manager. Sandy Thompson, assisted by Kerri Jo Watts, is serving as producer.

Numerous roles are available for youth and adult singers, actors, and dancers, ages 8-108. Please prepare 16-32 measures of music with accompaniment. No acappella, please. An accompanist will be available for auditions. Also, bring clothing and shoes appropriate for dance auditions. Finally, please be prepared to list any conflicts during the rehearsal period. We will begin rehearsing July 17th, with productions on September 16th-October 2nd. Questions? Please email the director at laureen.pickle@cox.net. or call the BLT at 402-291-1554.

The Music Man is set in the small town of River City, Iowa, and follows the adventures of Professor Harold Hill, a fast talking traveling salesman,  as he attempts to convince town members to buy instruments and uniforms for a boy’s band he ‘intends to form’. Of course Hill intends to skip town with all the money and never form the band….a scheme the local librarian, Marian, suspects.

Before the play’s end Marian has transformed Hill and the boy’s band. You will see where it winds up as the Music Man concludes with a heartwarming finale.

Location:  203 W Mission Rd in Bellevue, NE

Diana Ross to Perform at Orpheum Theater

EXCEPTIONAL ARTISTS PRESENTS

DIANA ROSS

Friday, July 22, 2016 | 8:00 p.m. at Orpheum Theater

OMAHA, Neb. (March 28, 2016) – One of the most iconic female singers of all time, Diana Ross performs in Omaha for the first time in over 30 years – Friday, July 22, 2016; 8:00 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater.

Tickets priced $129.50, $89.50, and $69.50 will be available to the public Friday, April 1 at 10:00 a.m. exclusively through Ticket Omaha, (402) 345-0606, ticketomaha.com, or at the box office, 13th and Douglas streets.

Her musical repertoire encompasses R&B, soul, pop, disco and jazz, and includes Stop! In The Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, You Can’t Hurry Love and Endless Love, which remains one of the most successful duets in pop history.

Her lustrous career was celebrated by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 and the Grammys acknowledged her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. The Guinness Book of Records has named her the “Most Successful Female Vocalist of All Time”.

Diana Ross helped shape the sound of popular music and continues to perform as one of the most identifiable, unique, beloved and influential singers of successive pop generations.

Buyers beware: Ticket Omaha is the only authorized vendor for Holland Center and Orpheum performances; tickets purchased from other sources will be more expensive with higher handling fees and carry no guarantee of delivery or being honored for admission to the performance.

For more information, visit http://www.dianaross.com/

Biography

Diana Ross’ famed and remarkable career spanning almost five decades has resulted with major awards and accolades and music history milestones. Diana Ross is a consummate performer as well as one of the most iconic female singers of all time and one of the most prominent women in popular music history and pop culture of the late 20th century.

Her international achievements were acknowledged by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in December 2007 in Washington, DC. The honor celebrated her lustrous career of excellence in music, film, television and theatre, as well as her cultural influences, humanitarian work and her contributions to American culture. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (Grammys™) celebrated her remarkable career in 2012 with their highest honor, The Life Time Achievement Award.

The entertainment industry saluted her portrayal of Billie Holliday in the film Lady Sings the Blues with top awards and nominations. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences bestowed an Oscar nomination for her extraordinary performance as Best Actress and The Golden Globe Awards gave her a trophy for that same role. Diana Ross went on to star in further films, Mahogany and The Wiz. Ross won Broadway’s top honor with a Tony Award for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross. The same show was later broadcast as a television special.

Career milestones include induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Songwriters Hall of Fame, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Hero Award, NAACP Entertainer Award, Billboard’s Female Entertainer of the Century Award, The Soul Train Legend Award and International Lifetime Achievement at the World Music Awards. The icon is forever cemented in history with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stop! In The Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go and You Keep Me Hangin’ On have all been inducted into the NARAS Hall of Fame. Stop! In The Name of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love are among The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll. In February 2012, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences will bestow one of its highest honors to Ms. Ross by presenting to her the Grammy’s Life Time Achievement Award.

The Guinness Book of Records jointly awarded her with its Lifetime Achievement Award and the title of “Most Successful Female Vocalist of All Time.” She first reached the No.1 position on both the U.S. and UK charts with Where Did Our Love Go. This was the first of a number of consecutive No.1 hits in the U.S.

Beginning in the 60s, as lead singer of the world renowned group, The Supremes, Ross achieved the unprecedented feat of 12 number-one singles in the U.S. becoming the most successful American group in history and rivaled only by The Beatles for the position of the biggest hit group of that generation. Diana Ross went on to achieve six number-one single as a solo artist amassing a total of 18 number-ones. Diana Ross phenomenal music career is marked by chart and commercial successes. In the U.S. alone, to date, she has tallied 31 Top Ten singles and 14 Top Ten Albums selling over 100 million units around the globe.

When Endless Love hit number-one in 1981, Ross became the first female artist in music history to place six single at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Endless Love remains one of the most successful duets in pop history.

Diana Ross’ musical repertoire encompasses R&B, soul, pop, disco and jazz, the recently released I Love You CD, jumped onto the chart as Billboard Magazine’s Hot Shot Debut title.

As lead singer of The Supremes, in the 60s, Diana Ross helped shape the sound of popular music, changing the landscape and paved way for contemporary music. Her love of life, never-ending wonder, the appreciation of goals and achievements and sheer human spirit define the artist that is Diana Ross and continue to make her one of the most identifiable, unique, beloved and influential singers of successive pop generations.

The Beatles Would Pay to See the McGuigans

This is the story of three boys who were bestowed the great gift of love for the Beatles by their father.  When their father died tragically young, playing the music of their father’s favorite band helped bring closure and healing.  Now these three boys have taken this great gift and pay tribute to both their father and the greatest band in the history of rock with Yesterday and Today, an interactive Beatles experience currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Let’s get one thing straight right now.  Though Billy McGuigan and his brothers, Ryan and Matthew, pay tribute to the Beatles with this all request show, they are not a Beatles tribute band.  They don’t wear wigs or adopt Liverpudlian accents.  What they do is present the music of a legendary group that sounds distinctly familiar yet is enhanced by an original feel and energy that is uniquely the McGuigans.

I am a Beatles nut and I make no bones about it.  I own all of their albums, am well versed in their history, and am chock full of obscure knowledge that makes me a devastating Beatles Trivial Pursuit player.  Needless to say, I hold those who cover Beatles songs to exceedingly high standards and the McGuigans and their band shattered those standards and then some in a high energy two plus hour concert that literally had us dancing in the aisles.  If you love the Beatles, you will love this show.

What makes this show so enjoyable is not only the great music, but the incredible camaraderie between the three brothers.  Like the Beatles, the McGuigans have a natural banter with each other and the audience that is full of fun and wit.  These guys can also play.  All three men are multi-instrumentalists with precise musicianship and a minute and exact understanding of all, and I stress ALL, of the Beatles’ work.  They play the well known numbers at your request, but they also know the lesser known numbers as demonstrated with performances of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and, for the first time in their 8 year history, Baby, You’re a Rich Man which blew the roof off.

Billy McGuigan is the emcee of the show.  He’s also a natural showman and raconteur who revels in the energy of a live crowd and is able to take it and redirect it into the music and back to the audience with something more.  He’s also got a mighty rock tenor voice that shone in numbers such as Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and I Saw Her Standing There.  Billy is equally as strong on the slower numbers, especially with his haunting performance of Yesterday.

Matthew McGuigan got quite a vocal workout in this evening’s performance as he sang lead on a large number of the night’s tunes in addition to his nimble and flawless bass playing.  Matthew started the night off hot with the ferocious Revolution, had a superb turn with Hey Jude, and nailed the falsetto line in Baby, You’re a Rich Man.  But his capstone number was his pudding sweet solo performance of Blackbird which sent chills down spines.

John Lennon would be proud of Ryan McGuigan’s voice.  Like Lennon, Ryan has a unique vinegar sour singing voice that lends itself beautifully to subtle nuance and emotion.  That incredible instrument was put to excellent use in Come Together, I Am the Walrus (with a little theatricality thrown in for good measure), I Feel Fine, and especially with his solo sequence in This Boy.

The McGuigans are also supported by a band that loves this music every bit as much as they do and even got their own turns in the spotlight.

Jay Hanson was phenomenal on lead guitar and fired off some sensational licks on While My Guitar Gently Weeps and had a remarkable vocal similarity to George Harrison on his rendition of Do You Want to Know a Secret?  Tara Vaughan’s fingers flew across the keyboard and she glowed in a solo during Oh, Darling.  Rich Miller’s drumming fueled the performances with a rock solid backbeat and Aaron Slagle’s cowbell had the crowd roaring for more in A Hard Day’s Night.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, Yesterday and Today is far more than a tribute to the Beatles.  It’s also a tribute to the McGuigans’ father, Bill, who died too soon from leukemia at the age of 42.  Bill can be proud of the legacy he’s left in his sons who do him proud by sharing their father’s love of a band that was simply the best with an act that is nothing but the best.  If tonight’s crowd was any indication, this show is going to be a long series of sellouts.  Do not delay.  Buy a ticket to see this city’s best musical act before the tickets fly out the window.

Yesterday and Today runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through December 31.  Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm.  There will be a 2pm performance on Sunday, November 29 and a special double performance on New Year’s Eve at 7pm and 10pm.  Tickets cost $40 except for the New Year’s performances which will be $50 for the 7pm show and $75 for the 10pm show.  For tickets, contact the box office at 402-553-0800 or visit the Playhouse’s web site at www.omahaplayhouse.com.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Rock in the Holidays with the McGuigan Brothers in Yesterday and Today: An Interactive Beatles Experience

Yesterday and Today
©2007 By Rave On Productions

Date: Nov. 27-Dec. 31, 2015

LocationOmaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)

Theatre: Howard Drew Theatre

Curtain times: Thursdays-Saturdays – 7:30 p.m. and Sundays – 6:30 p.m.

Ticket cost: $40

Special Performances:  New Year’s Eve – $50 at 7 p.m. | $75 at 10 p.m.
Contact info: Box Office – (402) 553-0800
Show summary: Billy McGuigan and his brothers (Ryan and Matthew) are back! This all-request Beatles tribute show will have you dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song. Share your stories and relive your memories with your favorite Beatles songs. No two shows are the same, and every show is a guaranteed exhilarating time!

Off to the Cotton Patch, Day 1: A Journey to Luxury

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It is with a sense of utter glee and joy that I share this series of articles with you, dear readers.  I never thought it would happen, but I have embarked on an adventure that is merging all facets of my blog into one.

In one of my earliest theatre tales, I mentioned that one of my favorite plays is Cotton Patch Gospel.  While not a well known play, it was a big hit when it first appeared back in 1982.  A few years ago, I started keeping my eyes on a fansite for the show that marked where it was playing in the United States.  Given the subject matter of the show, it usually plays in the South, but I always hoped it would one day get to Omaha or close enough so that I could see it in person.  A few months ago, I saw that the show was going to be produced at the Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall, MI.  It was a long drive at slightly over 10 hours, but definitely doable.  When I found that Whitehall contained some B & Bs as well, I decided to buy a ticket to the show and break up the drive so I could review a few inns along the way.

So it was that I found myself on the road again on a spring-like summer’s day making the long journey to Whitehall.  For the first day, I would travel as far as West Dundee, IL, a village that is a mere 34 miles from Chicago.  I once wrote that Mapquest directions seem to assume that a person is driving 10 miles under the speed limit as I always seemed to arrive at my destination a good hour before the directions said I would actually arrive.  This time proved to be a different tale.

Just past Des Moines, IA, I stopped at a rest area to stretch my legs a bit and once I got back on the road, traffic immediately ground to a halt.  It turns out the state was repainting the lines on I-80, so I spent 45 minutes plodding along like a turtle while I listened to the comical rants of Lewis Black to pass the time.  Mind you, there was no warning about the painting. . .at least not up front.  As soon as I got past the painting vehicles, there was a massive digital sign blaring the warning, ROADS BEING PAINTED.  EXPECT DELAYS.  “Oh!  Is that what was happening?” I flippantly thought to myself.  State of Iowa, in the words of Jeff Foxworthy, here’s your sign.

The drive progressed pretty smoothly for a while, until I crossed the border from Iowa to Illinois.  At that point, things slowed to a snail’s crawl again because Illinois was performing heaping amounts of construction on the interstate.  To make a long story less long, I ended up arriving in West Dundee nearly two hours later than planned.

But it was well worth the drive.  I think I just may retire to West Dundee.  This is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.  There are so many historical homes here that I would have exhausted my camera’s memory card trying to take pictures of them all.  And I was going to get to stay in one!!

I found my way to The Mansion and my jaw dropped.  This inn, owned by Steve Fang & Eda Tomasone, is rivaled only by the Inn on Crescent Lake in terms of luxury and grandeur.  I was greeted by Steve who informed me that I had been upgraded to the best room in the house at no additional charge.  He said I would have room to spread out and that was understating things quite a bit.

I stayed in the Terrace Room which boasted a master bedroom, a sitting room, a private terrace, and a Jacuzzi bathtub and shower. I quickly settled in, dug out my camera, and began my explorations of The Mansion and the town of West Dundee.  The long walk felt good for my legs and worked up my appetite for dinner.

The master bedroom of the Terrace Suite.

The master bedroom of the Terrace Suite.

My private terrace

My private terrace

Jacuzzi tub and shower

Jacuzzi tub and shower

Sitting Room

Sitting Room

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Dinner was at the Village Squire, a nice bistro in the town that boasts live entertainment.  As soon as I stepped inside, the singer/guitar player began singing the classic Beatles tune You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away and I knew I was going to be in for an enjoyable meal.  I tipped the singer for playing music from my favorite band and sat down to enjoy a Chicken Caprese Panini with a side of steak fries.  I lingered over a tasty meal while listening to live classic soft rock and enjoying the escapades of the obsessive-compulsive detective, Adrian Monk.

After dinner, I made my way to Main Street where I went to the Underground Retrocade.  For a good portion of my youth, I was an avid video gamer and this place offered me a chance to relive a bit of my childhood.  It’s two floors of classic arcade and pinball machines.  All you have to do is pay a $15 cover charge and you can play to your heart’s content and, believe me, I more than went through the cover charge in the 2.5 hours I was there.  I felt just like a kid again as I battled the Sea Hag and Brutus in Popeye, dueled with Donkey Kong, served drinks in Tapper, and chased down criminals in A.P.B.

Underground Retrocade

Underground Retrocade

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It was still a pleasant night as I walked back to The Mansion.  Once I returned, I took a long soak in my Jacuzzi tub and then sank into the mattress of my bed.  My lights were out until the morning.

I awoke, fully rejuvenated and ready for a great breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of orange juice, scrambled eggs (with a splash of sriracha sauce), sausage links, and pancakes.  I savored my meal and ended up having a terrific conversation with Steve who shares my interests in music and theatre.  After 90 minutes, I returned to my home to finish today’s story.

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Shortly, I begin the 4 hour trek to Whitehall where the White Swan B & B and Cotton Patch Gospel await.  But if you find your way to West Dundee, get a room at The Mansion.  You’ll be glad you did.

My Monday with McCartney

He was a member of the greatest band in the history of rock.  He’s the most commercially successful singer/songwriter of all time.  He’s a melody man without peer who has written some of the most memorable tunes of all time.  His career has spanned over 50 years.  He is Paul McCartney.

I was first introduced to this master musician when I was a child.  My dad had shown me his lone Beatles album, Meet the Beatles and I was drawn to this music the way a man lost in the desert is drawn to water.  This music just seemed to complete me.  Instantly, the Beatles became my favorite band and I would tell anyone and everyone that they were the greatest group of all time.

As I grew older and my ear for music evolved, I appreciated the Beatles on a whole new level.  I became enthralled with the complexity and intricacies of their songs and how they seemed to speak to certain parts of me.

While I’ve always loved the music of the Beatles, I think I really became a fan of Paul McCartney’s music back in 2002 when I bought Flaming Pie.  I was so blown away by that album that I started buying his past albums and have purchased every new album he’s released.  Even today, at the age of 72, his musicianship and songwriting abilities are still stellar and he has released nothing less than a quality album since 1989.

Last night I finally had the chance to see this music legend live in concert at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, NE.  And it. . .was. . .awesome!!!

From the moment he stepped onto the stage, McCartney had the crowd in the palm of his hands.  Of all the Beatles, Paul was the one who always got the most charge out of performing in front of a live audience and his performance last night truly reflected that.  He really seemed to enjoy the energy of the crowd and used it to fuel a non-stop 3 hour block of songs.

All I can say is that I hope I have McCartney’s energy when I’m his age.  His voice, matured like a fine wine, belted out rockers such as Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, Save Us, and Everybody Out There.  On the turn of a dime, he would move to softer ballads and classics such as Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, Here Today, and My Valentine.

Between songs, he would engage the audience with little stories.  The best moment of the night was when he talked about how we sometimes want to say something nice to a person and decide we’ll tell them later and suddenly it’s too late.  Just as Sir Paul started to speak again, someone from the audience shouted, “I love you, Paul!!”  McCartney smiled and chuckled and said, “That was good.”

What was amazing was looking around the audience and seeing that fans of Paul’s music came in out shapes and sizes from the young to the young at heart.  The music is so timeless that the audience often sang along to the tunes.  The best moment of audience participation was when we all  joined in the Hey Jude chorus.

After 2.5 hours, McCartney and his band took their bows and left the stage to the thunderous applause of the audience.  Clearly we wanted more and two minutes later, McCartney obliged us with a 3 song encore.  After that we still wanted more and he came back out to the stage and gave us another 5 song encore.

Clearly we wanted to rock out even more, but McCartney told us, “There comes a time when we simply have to go. . .We’ll see you next time.”

Yes, you will, Sir Paul.  Yes, you will.