You are entering a fun dimension of sight and sound. A world where rock tunes are performed like big band numbers and big band numbers are given a rock flair. You are entering the Omaha Community Playhouse to watch Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist.
Yes, indeed, Billy McGuigan and his band have returned to OCP and they’re playing 60s hits (with a pinch of 70s and a smidge of 80s) in ways you’ve never heard them before. “But, Chris,” I hear you say. “Isn’t this just the same show as last year?” And the answer is a most emphatic, “No!” Not only does the show have a new set and lights courtesy of Jim Othuse and Tyler Packett, but they also have a new set list. True, some of the hits from last year return, but there’s also plenty of new material so you can enjoy this show anew.
There’s something for everyone in this production as you’ll hear hits from Frank Sinatra, the Ronettes, Lulu, Billy Joel, Harry Connick, Jr., the Doors, Duke Ellington, and, yes, even the Beatles and Buddy Holly, plus more played as only the maestro of Omaha and his band can play them.
Billy McGuigan once again rules the stage with his killer stage presence and insane musical chops. McGuigan is an artist of rare versatility who can smoothly glide from a Frank Sinatra number to a Doors hit just as easily as he switches from guitar to piano. McGuigan constantly thrilled and energized the audience with varied hits such as smooth standard style songs like Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” and Harry Connick Jr.’s “Come By Me”; hard rockers like “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings and the Guess Who’s “She’s Come Undone”; and soft ballads such as Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” and the Beatles’ “Here, There, and Everywhere”.
Co-starring with Billy is the one and only Tara Vaughan who spent the night tickling the ivories and shining in her own set of hits from powerful female singers. You’ll thrill as Ms Vaughan’s sensuous alto belts out Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking”, slows it down for the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, and invites you to go “Downtown” with Petula Clark.
This show couldn’t be done without the assistance of a stellar band which includes some of the finest musicians and singers in the city. Backing vocals are supplied by Ryan & Matthew McGuigan and Jessica Errett. Strings are provided by Christina Allred on cello and Olga Smola on violin and, prior to tonight, I was unaware at how well strings could be used on rock numbers. Steve Gomez helps to drive the action with his bass while Max Meyer shows some Pete Townshendish ability with his guitar solos. Patrick Brown and Andrew Janak soar on alto and tenor saxophone. Janak also arranged all of the night’s incredible music. Patrick Peters keeps the groove sliding with his trombone. Tomm Roland keeps the beat as only he can on drums. Last, but certainly not least, is local jazz legend, Doyle Tipler, trumpeting with all of his might.
If you haven’t seen a Billy McGuigan show yet, what on earth are you waiting for? This show only has a limited two week run, so get a ticket while a ticket can still be got. I promise you a great time with a show suitable for the young and young at heart. The only way you couldn’t have fun is if you’re comatose and, even then, I bet your pulse would still be beating in time with the music.
Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through August 12. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets cost $42 and can be found at www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com or by calling OCP at 402-553-0800. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.