Buddy Needs a Few Members For His Band

Rave On Productions Proudly Announces Auditions For:

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Rave On Productions is holding open auditions for the roles of Ritchie Valens and Maria Elena in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. These are paid performance opportunities. This production will tour to three different outdoor venues in Nebraska and Iowa. All other roles have been cast.

Auditions will be held on Saturday, May 15 at Rave On Production Studios located at 8719 Countryside Plaza in Omaha, NE from 2pm-5pm by appointment only. Auditions can be scheduled by e-mailing info@billymcguigan.com

AUDITION INFORMATION

All actors in this production (with the exception of the actors cast as Buddy, Joe and Jerry) will play a primary character, in addition to other ensemble characters.  

Those auditioning should be prepared to sing 16 bars of an early rock n’ roll song, or a song from a musical.  Please bring your sheet music to the audition – an accompanist will be provided.  If you wish to accompany yourself, please bring your instrument with you.  (There will be an electric keyboard in the studio.)  If you have a performance resume, please bring it with you (though it is not required).

Due to Covid-19 protocols that are still in place, masks are required upon entering the studio.  Singers will be behind a plexi shield and can sing with masks off. 

AVAILABLE ROLES

Ritchie Valens / Ensemble – (male or gender non-conforming) A rock n’ roll singer / musician with serious charisma, a dedicated eye for the ladies and the ability to hold the stage in his own right.  His featured song is “La Bamba”.  Actor must be able to act and sing – ability to play an instrument or dance is a plus.  
Ethnicity:  Latino / Hispanic heritage.  

María Elena Holly / Ensemble – (female or gender non-conforming) Receptionist for a music publisher, classy and well-educated, she eventually becomes Buddy’s wife.  Actor must be able to act and sing – ability to play an instrument or dance is a plus.  
Ethnicity:  Latina / Hispanic heritage.

SHOW INFORMATION

Co-Directors: Billy McGuigan and Kimberly Faith Hickman
Co-Music Directors: Billy McGuigan and Matthew McGuigan

Rehearsals begin July 12, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska.ABOUT BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY

Rehearsals begin July 12, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Performance dates and venues are as follows:
July 30 at 7:30pm at SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion, NE
July 31 at 7:30pm at Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield, NE
August 1 at 7:00pm at Davies Amphitheater in Glenwood IA

Searching For a Half

Internationally ignored musician, Hedwig, decides to tell her life story at a concert and perhaps discover her missing half at the same time.  This is Hedwig and the Angry Inch currently playing at the Waiting Room Lounge under the auspices of Rave On Productions and is the debut performance for their Omaha Series.

This was one of the most refreshingly original shows I have viewed.  Powered by hard hitting rock songs and power ballads by Stephen Trask, John Cameron Mitchell has written a pretty deep and moving tale framed within a rock concert.  Hedwig, born Hansel, has always been searching for her missing half i.e. her soulmate.  And she has gone through a lot to find that soulmate.  From living with a mother who showed no love to enduring a botched gender reassignment surgery to escape communist East Berlin to surviving as a hooker to having her songs stolen by a lover she thought was “the one”, Hedwig has lived a fascinating, if difficult life.  The pressure seems to be finally getting to her as she feels compelled to share her life’s story and her grip on reality weakens with each passing moment until the final song when. . .well, you’ll have to see the show to find that out.

Kimberly Faith Hickman’s direction soars throughout the production.  This show has beats aplenty and Hickman knows how to hit them all as she has guided her lead actor through the myriad twists and turns of Hedwig’s emotional journey.  She clearly understood the end game of this show and knew the most interesting and correct path to get her Hedwig to that point.  I especially liked how she made certain Hedwig was always at the right emotional pitch when segueing into the musical numbers making the transitions seamless.

Jesse White has placed himself thoroughly in the running for the OEA Outstanding Actor in a Musical prize for his performance as Hedwig.  White is so natural and believable as the glam rocker.  He snaps off Hedwig’s numerous double entendres with effortless ease and gently leads the audience down Hedwig’s emotional road.  The nuance in his voice is beautiful and captures the subtlest emotion usually best exemplified with Hedwig’s cruel treatment of her husband, Yitzhak.  White never gets loud, but his delivery has a barbed nature that really ticks you off.

White also has a good knack for improvisation with his reactions to the audience, especially in his handling of a couple of boisterous audience members on a few occasions.  He’s also got a knock out, power tenor singing voice that tore the house down in numbers such as “Tear Me Down”, “Sugar Daddy”, “Wig In a Box” and “Wicked Little Town”.

I am constantly amazed by the talent of Evelyn Hill whenever she takes the stage.  Though she’s only a high school senior, she’s already built a reputation as one of Omaha’s finest musical talents.  This time her pantomime skills are on fine display in this production.  Her Yitzhak rarely speaks, but his expressions speak volumes with the utter disdain and hatred he harbors towards Hedwig for suppressing his far greater natural talent and keeping him from performing as a drag queen which he loves.  Hill even gets a few moments to wow us with her musical chops as she briefly belts out “I Will Always Love You” and takes over on “Exquisite Corpse”.

But what is a singer without a band?  Under the musical direction of Matthew McGuigan, the Angry Inch (Matthew McGuigan, Ryan McGuigan, Larell Ware, Max Meyer, Jay Hanson) shines as they superlatively rock out the score of this show.  Amanda Fehlner nails the costumes with the glam look of the Angry Inch which conjured images of Twisted Sister and the look of Hedwig who appears to be the next coming of Ziggy Stardust.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an explosive theatrical debut for Rave On Productions and one I feel has the potential to be a big awards season darling.  If you’re ready for a night of safe, socially distanced entertainment, give this rocker a try.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch plays at the Waiting Room Lounge (6212 Maple St, Omaha, NE) through Feb 27. Ticket prices are $35 and can be purchased at https://www.etix.com/ticket/e/1016517/hedwig-omaha-the-waiting-room. Showtimes are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and 10pm and Sundays at 7pm. Due to mature themes and language, this show is not suitable for children.

Rave On Productions’ Omaha Series Set to Debut with ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’

Rave On Productions Presents:

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Music and lyrics by Stephen Trask & John Cameron Mitchell

Directed by: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast
Jesse White as Hedwig
Evelyn Hill as Yitzhak
Matthew McGuigan, Ryan McGuigan, Larell Ware, Max Meyer and Jay Hanson as The Angry Inch

The Story
This groundbreaking Obie-winning Off-Broadway smash also won multiple awards for its hit film adaptation. It tells the story of “internationally ignored song stylist” Hedwig Schmidt, a fourth-wall smashing East German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation, which has left her with just “an angry inch.” This outrageous and unexpectedly hilarious story is dazzlingly performed by Hedwig (née Hansel) in the form of a rock gig/stand-up comedy routine backed by the hard-rocking band “The Angry Inch.” 

Using songs and monologues, Hedwig tells her story, which began in the former East Berlin where as Hansel he meets Luther, an American GI who promises to take the young man to the States on the condition that he switch his sex. After the bungled operation, Luther abandons newly named Hedwig in a Kansas trailer park where she turns to music and meets geeky Tommy Speck, whom she takes under her wing and soon falls for. Tommy steals her songs, achieves rock star fame, and Hedwig is once again cast aside. She decides to demand redress and stalks Tommy’s world tour, performing in the T.G.I. Friday’s that are situated next door to his stadiums. Hedwig describes her life’s search for “The Origin of Love” and her other half. It’s a rocking ride, funny, touching and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them an inch when they deserved a mile. 

Performances to be held at Waiting Room Lounge (6212 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104). Ticket prices are $35 and can be purchased at https://www.etix.com/ticket/e/1016517/hedwig-omaha-the-waiting-room. Performances will run Feb 19-27 and showtimes are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and 10pm and Sundays at 7pm.

AUDIENCE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Venue will be sold at 25% capacity.
This is a seated event and seats will be assigned on a first come, first serve basis each show.
Parties will be seated a minimum 6-foot distance from other parties.
Masks are required everywhere inside the venue. Masks may be removed only when you are seated at your own table.
All high-touch surfaces are sanitized frequently throughout the night by staff.
Hand sanitizer is provided at all high-traffic areas throughout the venue.

PARKING TIPS
–Public Parking Lot at 2729 N 61st Street
–On street parking with a 2-hour max from 8am – 5pm, no time restrictions from 5pm – 2am.

Business lots available for parking at select times
– Cavanaugh Law Firm, 6035 Binney Street – Evening and Weekends only
– Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2725 N 60th Ave – Mon – Sun between 7pm – 12am

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.

A Christmas Kind of Town: Phipps Inn & Hudson, WI

DSC02873

Phipps Inn

Today the road has brought me to Hudson, WI.

December has arrived which means it’s time for the annual Christmas review here at the Corner.  This year’s selection was Hudson, WI which is located right across the St Croix River from the Twin Cities and is home to Phipps Inn, owned and operated by Maryellen and Rich Cox.

Weather wise, I had a considerable amount of good fortune as no snow had fallen in the region so I had a clear and safe drive over to Hudson.  I arrived in town about 4:30 and was blown away by the activity in the downtown area.  I mean the joint was jumping!!  Very surprising for a small town.  Later I was to learn that Hudson is considered part of the Twin Cities metro area and receives a lot of visitors in the downtown area due to its plethora of restaurants and shops.

As my car slowly creeped through the heavy traffic, I could already tell that Hudson was a Christmas kind of town with the beautiful Christmas decorations hanging over the main drag as well as the colorful displays in the shop windows.  Once past the main drag, I was able to turn off into the historic district where I found Phipps Inn.

Phipps Inn is an 1884 Queen Anne Victorian mansion that had once been owned by, you guessed it, the Phipps.  They were a wealthy and philanthropic family which, regrettably, has died out though smatterings of their history still exist, both in the form of the inn and in at least one local museum.

I was greeted at the door by Maryellen Cox who gave me a quick, socially distanced check-in and led me to the Peacock Chamber which would serve as my headquarters for a few days.  The inn was lovingly decorated for the holidays and Maryellen told me normally they have even more decorations out, but kept things a little simpler this year due to the pandemic.  Personally, I thought it was just right.

The Peacock Chamber is located on the third floor of the mansion and the floor was once the ballroom before renovations.  The chamber itself is just perfect for a writer.  A half canopy queen sized bed is at the center of the room.  The room contains lush wood paneling, a gas fireplace and a massive two person jacuzzi tub with waterfall faucets.  A small table is located in the corner for breakfast in the morning or, in my case, a place to get some writing done.

After leaving me to my own devices, I did a quick exploration of the house, getting photos of all the Christmas goodness before donning my coat and hat and walking around the neighborhood to get photos of Christmas lights.

After a brisk walk, I decided to get some dinner and ordered some takeout from a popular local bar/restaurant called Paddy Ryan’s and ordered one of their house specialties, Irish Stew.  The stew was right on the money with a lightly spiced broth filled with lamb, bacon, and vegetables.  After dining, it was time to give my Christmas itch a serious scratch so I visited the nearby town of Somerset to take in Sam’s Christmas Village.

Sam’s Christmas Village is located on a 40 acre piece of property by the Apple River in Somerset and boasts a series of displays with a total of over 6 million lights.  Two of the hallmarks of the Village are its 500 foot light tunnel and 50 foot animated Christmas tree.  The property also boasts an onsite restaurant, gift shop and S’mores cabins (cabins that contain fixings and means of making s’mores).  The lights are all outside so social distancing is a snap.  A series of firepits along the path will help ward the chill out of your bones and a mask also makes for a dandy face warmer.  Sometimes Santa Claus can be found wandering the property spreading Christmas cheer.

This place truly awoke the kid in me as I marveled at the intricate light displays.  I honestly could have spent hours there, but, man, it was a frigid night.

I returned to the inn where I reviewed a new album by Omaha musician, Billy McGuigan.  You can read that review here.  At that point, I curled up under the triple sheets of my oh, so soft bed and put out the room lights shortly before my own went out.

The next morning, I rolled out of bed, turned on the fire to warm the room and proceeded to fill my tub.

Now this jacuzzi is a bathing tub, but you have to have the jets turned off when you want to scrub.  The tub has a very interesting effect when the jets are on.  A second waterfall faucet cascades water while the jets are going, but, somehow, doesn’t seem to add any extra water to the tub.  I’m not sure what the trick is, but it’s a neat effect.  After a good long soak, a knock at the door let me know breakfast was ready.

Normally you can have breakfast either in the dining room, your room or the front porch.  For social distancing, breakfast is currently only served in the room.  I found a basket with food and cutlery waiting for me and I enjoyed orange juice, milk, a Pecan French Toast cake or souffle for lack of a better word, raisin scone, sausage, fruit and a couple of chocolate chocolate chip nuggets.

DSC02871

Raisin scone, fruit, OJ, milk, Pecan French Toast Souffle, Sausage, and some dessert is hidden behind the fruit.

With breakfast put away, I took another walk around the neighborhood for some exercise as well as to get photos of houses with Christmas decorations that can only be viewed in daylight.

At noon, I stopped at the Octagon House Museum for a private Christmas tour.  The house had once been home to the Moffatt family and for Christmas the theme is the Christmas of the late 1800s.  The tour guide, Linnae, admitted that they embellish the theme a bit.  The Moffatts were from Scotland and Wales during the Victorian period and Victorian Christmases are very flashy.  However, the Moffatts were devout Baptists and lived very austerely and so would not have had the flash and sizzle of a traditional Victorian Christmas.

DSC02872

Octagon House Museum

It was a pleasant way to see how life was lived in yesteryear.  Photos were not permitted inside the house, but I did buy and photograph some postcards showing the home’s interior so you can get an idea of what the interior looked like.

DSC02882

Upper Left: Living Room Upper Right: Music Room Lower Left: Kitchen Lower Right: Dining Room. The china had been owned by the Phipps family.

When my tour was done, I listened to the Iowa Hawkeyes put a beating on Illinois in football.  Admittedly, it took a couple of quarters for Iowa to kick it into gear, but it’s how you finish that counts.

My stomach started to rumble so I ordered some dinner from the Milwaukee Burger Company and picked up their Jalapeno and Smoked Cheddar Infused Burger with a side of Tailgater’s Chili that I enjoyed in my room.  The burger was just right.  Perfect kick.  Smoky.  And the chili really stuck to your ribs.

I did another walk around the neighborhood and visited the downtown area to get photos of their lights.  I thought about working on this article when I got back and decided I was taking the night off.  The instant I did, my body said, “You got it, boss” and I felt my adrenaline shut off and the toll of a long drive and the running around I’d be doing hit me all at once.  I drew a hot bath and let the jets massage my lower back for about 20 minutes before crawling into bed and reading myself to sleep.

I tell you there’s nothing like a full night of sleep.  I awoke ready to write and breakfast arrived about 9:15am.

Today’s repast included a sticky bun that had an apple cinnamon sauce and sliced pecans (I think), a baked apple with a cherry on top, a tiny square of mint cake, a casserole of eggs, sausage, cheese, potatoes that came with a brown, spicy salsa and my milk and OJ.

DSC02893

Mint cake, milk, OJ, Baked Apple, Breakfast Casserole, salsa, sticky bun and bread.

Another fine meal was tucked away and left me time to finish writing and begin the trip home.  But a stay at Phipps Inn in the quiet town of Hudson can be a restful retreat for you and if you like Christmas there’s always Sam’s Christmas Village and the Twin Cities are just a short drive away.

Until the next time. . .happy travels. . .and happy holidays!

McGuigan Puts it All Together with billymcguiganTOGETHER

When the pandemic brought a halt to his touring, Billy McGuigan had plenty of time to think “a lot about life, career, family, love and most importantly truth”.  These thoughts unleashed a wave of creativity which had him taking a page out of Paul McCartney’s playbook and create an album where he is virtually the sole creative force (writer, performer, instrumentalist and producer) and the end result is billymcguiganTOGETHER.

This album is a gem.  It draws inspiration from so many different sources that I wonder if McGuigan was aware of them all.  But a sampling of the sources include rock, country, the Beatles (as well as Paul and John in their solo years), Ben Folds, Buddy Holly, the Eagles and the Beach Boys just to name a few.  Add to this McGuigan’s own potent ability as a performer, songwriter, singer and storyteller and you have something that I consider to be genius.  And the key that holds it all together is that McGuigan speaks from the heart and that vulnerability is what gives this album its true power.

Each song is elegantly constructed and beautifully layered as McGuigan plays a minimum of 19 different instruments over the course of the album and even learned bass and drums to build his songs.  Listening to this album was like watching a fantastic play.  It’s serious where it should be.  Funny where it needs to be.  Hard hitting where it’s gotta be and just plain fun.  McGuigan’s songs will definitely evoke memories of your own life and help you make a real connection with these numbers.

Truthfully, there isn’t a weak number on the album, but some real standouts include the album’s emotional opener, “After All”, a tribute to McGuigan’s father, Bill; “Baby, Wont You Leave Me” which tells the true story of a man begging his girlfriend to leave because she keeps breaking his heart; the touching “For You, Too” which sounds like and may very well be a loving tribute to McGuigan’s children; the sweet “Little Metal Shed” which is a love song dedicated to McGuigan’s girlfriend; the humorous “This Trailer Park Was My Home” where McGuigan reflects on his own childhood and manages to turn the cliches of country music on their head at the same time; his Buddy Holly tribute “Me and Peggy Sue”; and his “throat scratcher”, “Wait A Bit Longer Now”.

But for me, the real showstopper was “Together”.  This song made me physically shudder and nearly pause it.  Surprising considering its upbeat nature, but it’s a beautiful song of hope and about sticking together after loved ones have passed on and its refrain of “with a hug and some love” caused me to tear up a bit as it sounds exactly like what a dearly departed friend of mine might have said in life.

billymcguiganTOGETHER is not only a great listen and an emotional roller coaster of an album, it is also, and this is not hyperbole, one of the best albums of which I have had the privilege of listening.  You will be doing yourself a true disservice if you don’t give it a chance.

billymcguiganTOGETHER is available now and can be purchased at www.billymcguigan.com.

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ Opening Outside at OCP

Omaha, NE.– Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals will open Friday, August 28 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). The show will be held outdoors in the Storz Parking Lot at OCP. Performances will run Wednesdays through Sundays through September 20. The outdoor venue allows social distancing and other safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bid farewell to summer with one final outdoor extravaganza at OCP! Don’t Stop Me Now: A Celebration of Rock Musicals is a drive-in style concert featuring songs from acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll musicals, including Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rock of Ages, Beautiful, Hair, Dreamgirls and more! Sing and dance along with your favorite musical hits from the your private socially-distanced parking area, or tune in to hear the show from OCP’s radio station inside your car! Featuring Billy McGuigan’s Rave On Productions band and six powerhouse vocalists, Don’t Stop Me Now is the end-of-summer spectacular you won’t want to miss.

To ensure audience safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be a cashless event requiring a reservation. Cars will be parked in a checkerboard pattern for social distancing. Audience members can choose to bring portable chairs and sit outdoors on the driver’s side of the vehicle they came in, but please mingle only with those who came in your vehicle. No concessions will be sold. No smoking or alcoholic beverages will be permitted. Bathrooms in the Playhouse main lobby will be available, with COVID sanitation and social distancing observed. Early arrival is recommended to allow extra time for parking. Parking spaces will be assigned as cars arrive. Please, no lining up to park until 60 minutes before showtime. Tickets are on sale now starting at $35, with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Jonathan Berger

Evelyn Hill

Ejanae Hume

Eric Perlstein

Brittney Thompson

Jesse White

Band

Rick Avard (Keys)

Matthew Mcguigan (Vocals/Keys/Music Director)

Ryan Mcguigan (Vocals/Percussion)

Max Meyer (Lead Guitar)

Darren Pettit (Saxophone)

Kevin Sullivan (Bass)

Larell Ware (Drums)

OCP Reimagines 96th Season

OCP ANNOUNCES REVAMPED 2020/21 SEASON LINEUP, SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse has announced a new, revamped 2020/21 season lineup with special precautions in place to protect audiences, volunteers and staff from COVID-19.

A SEASON REIMAGINED

This year, COVID-19 brought the world to its knees, and the performing arts—including live theatre—were hit hard. From London’s West End to Broadway, New York, to right here in Omaha, stages around the world have gone dark.

At OCP, we have worked tirelessly to invent new ways to keep performing art alive during this crisis. From streaming productions online to moving shows outdoors, we have adapted and innovated to keep art in our community.

While we’ve been imagining new ways to stay connected, we’ve also been reimagining what a safe in-theatre experience could look like in the era of COVID. We believe we’ve created a plan that places the health of our community first while creating a safe environment for live theatre to thrive. It begins with our reimagined 2020/21 season lineup.

OCP’s New 2020/21 Season Lineup

Billy McGuigan‘s Pop Rock Orchestra*

Aug. 5 – 23

Storz Parking Lot at OCP

Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals

Aug. 28 – Sept. 20

Storz Parking Lot at OCP

Grounded

Sept. 25 – Oct. 18

Howard Drew Theatre

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience*

Oct. 2 – Nov. 1

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

I Am My Own Wife

Oct. 30 – Nov. 15

Howard Drew Theatre

A Christmas Carol*

Nov. 13 – Dec. 23

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Title To Be Announced

Nov. 27 – Dec. 23

Howard Drew Theatre

The Last 5 Years

Jan. 15 – Feb. 7

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

The Candy Project Presents: Guttenberg! The Musical!*

Feb. 12 –March 14

Howard Drew Theatre

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

Feb. 26 – March 21

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

In The Heights

April 16 – May 9

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Clybourne Park

May 7 – 30

Howard Drew Theatre

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

May 28 – June 27

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

*Special engagement; Not a regular season production

We reimagined our season lineup.

  • We added concert-style drive-in shows to take advantage of our outdoor space as long as possible.
  • We removed shows with large cast sizes from our fall and winter time slots. In their place, we have added four wonderful productions with two performers or fewer. The new shows are compelling, entertaining and—most importantly—safe. The small cast sizes will allow our actors to safely rehearse and perform, create plenty of room for our backstage crew to social distance and help protect our patrons by reducing the overall number of people present in the theatre.
  • Fan favorite Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience will move to the larger Hawks Mainstage theatre and open in October. The larger stage will allow the band to socially distance and the larger theatre will safely accommodate the show’s many fans.
  • The holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol will live on for 2020 in a unique and imaginative small cast format.
  • Finally, we shuffled four titles from our original lineup to the end of the season. While these shows do feature more cast members, we are hopeful that these productions will be safe to carry out by next Spring. These four shows were selected based on existing ticket sales (via subscriptions), director availability, and royalties logistics.

We reimagined our performance spaces.

  • Patrons attending a show in either theatre will be socially distanced from other guests with all groups at least 6 feet apart.
  • In the Howard Drew theatre, a plexiglass barrier will be installed around the perimeter of the stage to provide separation between guests and performers.
  • Productions will not incorporate any physical audience participation.

We reimagined our safety precautions.

  • All audience, staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Masks will be available free of charge and must be worn properly in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • Audience members will be required to self-screen for a fever and symptoms of illness prior to arriving at OCP. Those with fever or other symptoms may exchange their ticket at no cost.
  • New arrival and dismissal procedures will help encourage social distancing, including staggered vehicle loading/unloading, assigned will call pick up times and row-by-row dismissal after a show.
  • Lobbies, reception areas and lines will be arranged and marked to encourage social distancing.
  • Plexiglass barriers will be installed in the box office windows with cash-free payments encouraged, touchless credit card transactions offered and touch-free ticket pickup available.
  • Common areas and performance halls will be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis with both cleanser and electrostatic technology.
  • All restrooms will be outfitted with touchless fixtures and will be sanitized daily and throughout performances.
  • We will no longer hold post-show meet and greets with the actors in the lobby.
  • Concessions and drinks will not be available and public water fountains will be closed.
  • For a full list of safety precautions, please visit the Omaha Community Playhouse website at omahaplayhouse.com

OCP will continue to evaluate our processes and procedures to ensure we are constantly creating the safest environment possible for our patrons, artists, volunteers and staff. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our website.

The Omaha Community Playhouse has served our community for nearly 100 years. We are confident that with a little (re)imagination, the art will always live on. We hope you enjoy our reimagined 2020/21 season, and we can’t wait to have you back at OCP!

Information for Subscribers:

  • Subscribers may select any regular season production from the new lineup above to replace any canceled productions from their original subscription package.
  • To select a new show for your package, call the OCP Box Office during the Subscriber Presale to reserve tickets to the new show of your choice.
  • New Subscriber Presale dates for all shows will be announced on a rolling basis throughout the season via email and the OCP website.
  • For additional information, please contact the OCP Box Office by phone at (402) 553-0800. For Box Office hours please visit the OCP website at omahaplayhouse.com

The Eve the Music Returned

IMG_0133

In a time when the world has begun to take the tiniest of steps back to normalcy, it’s a relief to know that there are still some constants in the world.  And one of those constants is the awesomeness of a live show with Billy McGuigan and his band.  That awesomeness is available for your enjoyment again as Billy and his band bring you Rave On:  The Music of Buddy Holly in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This time around the show is not about Billy being Buddy or his extemporaneous wit and humor.  This time, it’s all about a band playing non-stop, untarnished, unvarnished, old-fashioned rock and roll with a 50s drive-in flair on an unseasonably perfect night for an outdoor concert.

It wouldn’t be a Billy McGuigan show without some of his classic storytelling, but the tales were kept to a minimum as he and his band were clearly hungry for a live audience and gave us their all in a 90 minute rockfest that featured the hits and obscurities of the late, great Buddy Holly along with a few other surprises as well.

McGuigan was in rare form tonight as he fueled himself on the applause and horn honks of an energetic audience and fired that energy right back at us with takes on “Maybe Baby”, “That’ll Be the Day”, “Handsome Brown Eyed Man”, a rare performance of one of Holly’s earliest recordings, “Midnight Shift”, and a 15 minute medley framed by “Oh, Boy!”.  Occasionally Billy would slow things down a few notches with his mellifluous tenor serenading the crowd with Richie Valens’ “Donna” and Holly’s own legendary soft song “True Love Ways” before ramping it back up a bit with “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” and the Everly Brothers hits, “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Suzie” and closing things out with “Rave On” and an original rocker of his own creation, “Me and Peggy Sue”.

McGuigan was excellently supported by his band as we were treated to numerous saxophone solos from Darren Pettit and nearly as many guitar solos from Max Meyer, a phenom with chops to rival Jimi Hendrix.  Ryan McGuigan rocked out on rhythm guitar and provided a nifty little solo with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” while Matthew McGuigan’s bass playing drove the beat and he got his own little chance to shine with Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”.  Newcomer Larell Ware dazzled on the drums as he supported the night’s numbers with a thunderous backbeat.

If you want to enjoy one of the simple pleasures of life, then you need to get a ticket to see our local master musician as he interprets the classics of a legendary artist as only he can.

Rave On:  The Music of Buddy Holly runs through June 28 in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased online at www.omahaplayhouse.com or by phone at 402-553-0800.  This is a cashless event and reservations are required.  CDC guidelines are being followed and parking spaces will be assigned upon arrival.  Please do not arrive earlier than 90 minutes before showtime.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

DSC02398

Top photo provided by Analisa Swerczek