‘Marjorie Prime’ Opening Soon at BlueBarn Theatre

PrimePress

Ruth Rath and Ben Beck star in BlueBarn Theatre’s production of ‘Marjorie Prime’

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

 Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Marjorie Prime

By Jordan Harrison

March 19th – April 12th, 2020

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm*

Sundays at 2pm 

Memories are not the key to the past, but the future.

About the play:

Marjorie’s daughter and son-in-law have purchased Walter Prime (a holographic projection of her husband as he looked in his 30s) to keep her company.  In the near future, ‘Primes’ are available from the good people at Senior Serenity, the latest devices for helping people with their fading memories and loss of companionship. As the Prime is fed memories and conversation, the shape of their lives are revealed, more and more years are covered and recovered, and the nature of memories, the legacy of the past, and the promise of the future are all called into question.

About the production:

Marjorie Prime features performances by Ruth Rath, Julie Huff, Ablan Roblin, and Ben Beck. Directed by Susan Baer Collins. Assistant Direction by Bob Fishbach.  Set Design by Brendan Greene-Walsh.  Costume Design by Denise Ervin.  Sound Design by Bill Kirby. Lighting Design by Steven Williams.  Properties by Amy Reiner.  Stage Management by Christopher Hernandez.

Tickets:

General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

*ASL interpreted performance Friday, March 27th at 7:30pm

Photo provided by BlueBarn Theatre

Being Alive

“You were only waiting for this moment to arise.”—Paul McCartney

I think this quotation best sums up Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey which is currently playing at the BlueBarn Theatre.

Normally, I open my reviews with a brief synopsis of the play’s story.  This time I’m going to wait until the end as this particular show completely eschews the normal narrative style.  From my experience, Eno seems to have a knack for creating an everyman character to communicate with the audience.  Perhaps this everyman is the audience or at least its conscience.  Ostensibly the play’s unnamed central character is here to say good-bye, but shares a far more powerful message in a story that truly fits BlueBarn’s season-long theme of memory.

Barry Carman offers up a stunning piece of direction in this show.  Every single word.  Every single pause.  Every single look.  Every single breath.  Every single move has purpose.  Seldom have I seen such a meticulous piece of direction or staging.  Carman has also led his two performers to extraordinary performances and I was particularly keen on his “less than more” animation of his actors.  They neither move a lot nor need to.  As I said earlier, when a movement is made, a definite purpose is behind it.

Aaron Zavitz plays the unnamed central character (listed simply as Guy).  Who is Guy?  Unknown.  But tonight he is apparently a talk show host as that’s the vibe he gives out, further bolstered by a hanging “No Applause” sign and a reference to a special guest.  From the get-go, Guy seems to be marking time to an ending and is talking with the audience solely to pass that time.

Zavitz is a marvel in the role.  His rich, mellow baritone filling the theatre as he talks with us about anything and everything, but mostly about life.  Zavitz’s delivery is exceptionally extemporaneous.  He truly sounded like he was making everything up as he went and this is well-suited for his character who seems a trifle disorganized with his out of order note cards and his unseen help who sometimes goof up his audio and visual cues, if not outright pranking him on word jumbles.

Zavitz is quite likable and is, at turns, funny, nervous, serious, happy, melancholic, even slightly desperate as he tries to teach the audience about being alive.  Most impressive is his character’s deterioration over the course of the show.  Guy is sick and weak and gets progressively more so over the course of the show as Zavitz’s chest begins to collapse in on itself, his mobility decreases, and his mental focus falters.

Echelle Childers is equally wonderful as the mysterious helper, Lisa.  There is something otherworldly, dare I say, angelic about this character.  Childers is so gentle and loving as Lisa as she carefully massages and soothes the wearied Guy, offers him hibiscus juice, and tidies him up before wheeling him offstage and she does it all with a beatific smile on her face.  I was moved by her soft-spoken nature which permeated her entire being up to and including a little dance she performs while Guy takes a brief catnap.  Her character seems to hold a vast store of wisdom as she shares a few of her own stories and outlooks with the audience.

Craig Lee’s set adds to the ethereal nature of the show with a seemingly abandoned room save for a few boxes that is dominated by a large screen, massive windows in the rear, and never used door on house left.  Lights and sounds are absolutely critical to this piece and Bill Kirby rises to the occasion with his lights suddenly clicking on and off, soft music, flashy disco lights, and a moment simulating sunrise.  Kirby is also responsible for the projections which ranged from the sweet to the amusing.  Susan Clement-Toberer has costumed the actors well with the ordinary shirt and jeans for Lisa and the bedrobe and rumpled clothes/pajamas for Guy.

So what is the story of Wakey, Wakey?  It’s simply YOUR story.

Wakey, Wakey plays at BlueBarn Theatre through Feb 23.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm except for a 6pm show on Feb 16.  Tickets cost $35 ($30 for seniors) and can be obtained at www.bluebarn.org or by calling 402-345-1576.  The BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

‘Wakey, Wakey’ Over at Blue Barn

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents: 

The Regional Premiere of 

Wakey, Wakey

By Will Eno 

January 30th -February 23rd, 2020

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays: 2/9 & 2/23 at 2pm| 2/16 at 6pm 

Memento Mori.

About the play:

You are invited to a celebration. We will talk about time, gratitude, our childhoods, and the million miracles at work in the world, in every single moment. There will be pictures. There will be music. Gifts. Wonder. Grief. Rebirth. From Will Eno, author of the BLUEBARN’s productions of Thom Pain and Gnit, comes an extraordinary, strange and beautiful experience that wakes up the big questions, and awakens us to one another with sly humor, compassion, and grace.

P.S.  There will be cake.          

About the production:

Wakey,Wakey features performances by Aaron Zavits and Echelle Childers. Directed by Barry Carman. Scenic design by Craig Lee. Properties by Amy Reiner. Sound, lighting, and projection design by Bill Kirby. Costumes by Susan Clement-Toberer. 

Generously sponsored by:

Security National Bank

Warren Distribution

Tickets:

General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

Join ‘A Chorus Line’

BLUEBARN THEATRE announces auditions for 

A Chorus Line    

Sunday, January 5th from 3pm-6pm

& Monday, January 6th from 6-9pm

Auditions will be held at the theatre: 1106 S. 10th St Omaha, NE 

The BLUEBARN will hold auditions for A Chorus Line in two sessions. Participants are asked to choose either the Sunday or Monday session and be available for the entire three-hour block.

Auditions will consist of cold readings, singing and dancing.

Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Formal dance training not specifically required, but confidence in learning and executing a variety of dance styles, along with visible fluidity of movement, is necessary.

Please prepare 16 to 32 bars of music (or about 1 minute of singing) that showcases your vocal and storytelling abilities. Given the deeply personal and biographical content of A Chorus Line, we are specifically looking for physical and emotional connection to your material. Please do not choose a song from A Chorus Line. An accompanist will be provided. Please bring printed sheet music, double-sided, and in a three-ring binder. If your audition cut is two pages, single-sided and side-by-side in a three-ring binder is preferred.

Actors of all ethnicities and gender identities over the age of 16 are encouraged to audition. Please contact Barry, at bcarman@bluebarn.org, to sign up for a session.

A Chorus Line runs May 14th through June 14th, 2020. Rehearsals begin April 13th.

For a casting breakdown please visit us at www.bluebarn.org/auditions.

THE CUT DANCERS (18-40) All Genders & Ethnicities.  Perform entire opening sequence until cut. Dance in “At The Ballet” (looking for 2 women who can dance on point). Some may be asked to understudy. Entire ensemble will be off stage singers throughout the show.

Blue Barn Reinvents a Holiday Classic

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

The Regional Premiere of

A Very Die Hard Christmas

By Jeff Schell and the Habit

November 29th -December 22nd, 2019

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Wednesday 12/11 & 12/18 at 7:30pm

Sundays: 12/1 at 6pm| 12/8 at 2pm & 6pm | 12/22 at 2pm

Come out to the coast. We’ll have a few laughs.

About the play:  Yippee-Ki-Yay! An outrageous take on the Most. Beloved. Christmas Movie. Of. All Time, we cordially invite you to our company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza! All NYPD Blue’s John McClane wants is to come to the coast, get together with his estranged wife, and have some laughs. But when a team of well-choreographed, vaguely European terrorists start taking hostages as part of their nefarious plot to…who cares! John has to cowboy up! Starring the dead guy from The Sixth Sense, the cop outside with Twinkies, big big hair, cocaine, indoor smoking, Professor Snape, and 40 floors of sheer adventure!

About the production: A Very Die Hard Christmas features Hughston Walkinshaw, Katie Becker-Colón, Theresa Sindelar, Josh Peyton, Jonathan Purcell, Diane Watson, Raydell Cordell III, Dave Wingert, Nicole Callahan, Todd Brooks, Kerron Stark, Don Harris, Therese Rennels, Mike Markey, and Wai Yim. Directed by Susan Clement-Toberer. Dramaturgy by Barry Carman. Sound Design by Bill Kirby. Properties by Amy Reiner. Set Design by Bob Donlan. Lighting Design by Josh Mullady. Costume Design by Jenny Pool. Choreography by Melanie Walters. Fight Direction by Ezra Colón

This production is sponsored in part by Omaha Steaks

Tickets: General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

Location:  1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE

Seasons of Returning to My Roots

“When are we going to see you on stage again?”

You’d be surprised at how often I’ve heard that question recently.

“The next time I audition” is what I would like to say, but, as my regular readers have learned, we actors have very little control over when we get our next role.

“When a role I want intersects with a director seeing me in said role,” might be a little closer to the mark, but I still don’t think it’s the right answer.  It’s also a mouthful to say.

I have the answer, but I’ll wait until the end to reveal it.

It’s been a while since I’ve had enough tales built up to merit writing an entry, but this season and the close of last season have provided some pretty interesting fare.

It began late last season with auditions for One Man, Two Guvnors over at the Omaha Community Playhouse and guest directed by Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek.

This is a modern day rewrite of A Servant of Two Masters and tells the story of Francis Henshall, a minder (British slang for bodyguard), lackey, and all around gofer for two criminals and his desperate shenanigans to prevent the two bosses from ever meeting.

There was only one role I really wanted in this show and that was Alan Dangle, a wannabe actor who is constantly on and a pretty poor performer to boot.  With a lot of Omaha’s finest auditioning for this one, I figured there would be a lot of good playing around at this audition.

While that may have been true, it simply wasn’t going to be true for me.  My instincts were on target.  A sad pity that my execution was not.  The vision in my head did not match the interpretation coming out of my mouth.  I had stumbled getting out of the gate and never managed to regain lost ground.

I didn’t even hold a faint glimmer of hope about this one.  I actually had a weird sense of satisfaction being able to look into a mirror and saying, “Hey, buddy.  That one was all on you” after I got the rejection.  After years of being rejected for reasons other than my prowess, it was almost refreshing to know I was the cause of my own downfall.

Then came this season.  My defeat in One Man, Two Guvnors was a return to my roots in the wrong way albeit an oddly satisfying wrong, but now I was getting back to the right way with the most auditions I had done in quite a long time.

I would begin with the OCP’s season premiere of Sweat which would be guest directed by Susie Baer-Collins.

Sweat is inspired by the story of Reading, Pennsylvania.  This steel mill town went from being one of the most prosperous in the country to one of the poorest due to the Great Recession.  The play focuses on the employees of a steel mill and the bar where they enjoy hanging out.  The steel mill employees are lifers looking towards fat pensions at their retirements.  When the recession strikes, the employees go from looking at lucrative pensions to unemployment.  As things go from bad to worse, tensions rise and racism rears its ugly face until the show’s devastating conclusion.

Now this sounded like a great show.  But I was up against stiff circumstances.  There were only roles for 2 Caucasian actors and I fell right in between their ages.  The younger one was completely out of the question.  Even with my unusually youthful features, my hair and hairline were going to put me out of the running.  However, I hoped they might prove helpful in playing the older man who was suggested to be in his fifties, but I was hoping that maybe he could be bought as a man in his mid to late 40s at a push.

That idea was quickly blasted when I read the line that stated he had been on the floor for 28 years before an injury ended his mill career.  I still had fun with the read as it was a different character from my real personality:  rougher and coarser.  I think I even stunned Susie a bit with my take as she looked at me with a surprised look in her eyes as she walked me out of the room and said, “Good job!” with a bit of wonderment in her voice.

To no shock at all, I wasn’t cast.

Next on my list was the Blue Barn Christmas show, A Very Die Hard Christmas which would mark my first audition with the theatre and Susan Clement-Toberer in five years.

Believe it or not, I have never seen Die Hard in its entirety, though I have seen enough of it to know the story.  Not that it mattered because the character I wanted to play was original to the script and that was the Narrator.

Imagine a role where you just rattle off variations of Twas the Night Before Christmas, sing at inappropriate moments, and just react to the lunacy going on around you while being somewhat separate from it.  This would be a role of great fun.

Even better, the Blue Barn was planning something a bit different this time.  Not only did they want you to sign up for an audition time, but they were encouraging actors to bring monologues.  At last!!  The moment for which I had been waiting.

I’ve long kept a secret weapon for just this opportunity.  A monologue from one of my favorite plays that’s guaranteed to make any director who knows me see me in a brand new way.  To make sure the monologue would be in top form, I revealed the weapon to my friend and ace director, Lara Marsh, who spent an afternoon helping me to polish and refine it.  I was even amazed by the new discoveries made during the process.

The day of the audition arrived and I was practically bursting with excitement though I kept a cool exterior.  I arrived in plenty of time for my 3pm audition which allowed me to engage in some small talk with friends and acquaintances and then the auditions started.  Though I had been expecting to read at 3pm, I didn’t actually get to read until 4:10pm.  But the extra time gave me an opportunity to run through my monologue again and center myself.

When I was on deck to audition, I was handed a side for the Narrator by Blue Barn’s dramaturg, Barry Carman.  I was surprised as I thought they wanted monologues.  But I figured I’d be asked about it once I got inside.

I entered the theatre and met a group consisting of Susan, Susie Baer-Collins, Barry, and Hughston Walkinshaw who would be playing the role of Hans Gruber in the play.  I nailed the read to the floor, managing to infuse a bit of my sheepish humor into the character.  Susan said, “That was really awesome, Chris (pause as she thinks for a moment).  I may or may not be having callbacks for this one.  But you know how things run here and you know I know you” before thanking me for coming.  For a brief moment, I thought I should ask if she would like to hear the monologue, but I pushed it aside, deciding that the idea must have been scrapped.  I was happy with my read and thought I had a good chance based on its strength.

In hindsight, I wish I had obeyed my instinct.

That Friday, I had a thoroughly wretched day.  I mean it was foul!  When I got home, I started to open my mailbox and stopped.  I just had this terrible notion that my day was about to end on an awfully sour note.  I told God that I feared my rejection was in there and asked if it were possible to please hold off for one day if I was rejected just so I could end the day somewhat easier in mind.

I opened the mailbox and saw one letter.  I grabbed it and slowly turned it to face me to see the Blue Barn stationery.

I exhaled a mighty sigh.  I really didn’t want to open the envelope, but did in the faint hopes that maybe it would be a personalized rejection to help cushion the blow.  It wasn’t.

“That’s it.  I’m going to bed,” I thought to myself.

I admit it.  This one got to me.  I really wanted to be part of this project and thought I had a good chance of being involved and the rapidity of my defeat got me in the breadbasket.  As I laid down on my bed, I wondered what might have happened had I brought up the monologue.  Getting to perform it may not have altered the result.  Heck, I may not have even been permitted to read it. But, in either case, at least I would have known that I had my biggest and best bite at the apple as dictated by the circumstances.  On the plus side, I do have it in my back pocket for the future.

My next audition (more than likely, my last of the season) was a real return to my roots.  It marked my first audition for the Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company in. . .I couldn’t tell you how long.  It also marked my first audition for Scott Kurz since he originally read me for Dracula all the way back in 2003.

BSB’s holiday show was going to be a night of one acts capped with an original version of The Monsters are Due on Maple Street which was being reimagined by Scott.  I was looking forward to this one as I’m a big fan of the works of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone.

My audition night came and I was up for the game and feeling good.  I shook Scott’s hand and began filling out the audition form.  As I scanned the top, I did a double take.  I looked away and blinked.  Then I looked at the form again.

According to the website the show was supposed to end on December 15, but the form said the last day was going to be Dec 22.  I asked Scott if the dates had been changed.  He said there had been an issue scheduling the show with the venue holding it and it had to be pushed back a week.  Internally, I crumbled.  I had to sheepishly admit that I had to fly out to Phoenix at 8am on Dec 22.  Scott seemed just as bummed as I felt.  I offered to stay as an extra body so Scott could have another reader and he thought that was a good idea.

With no stakes to speak of, my reads lacked the full power of my heart.  Not to say they were bad.  On the contrary, technically I was solid.  There were a few characters that didn’t feel quite right, but I loved my takes on Tommy who I reimagined as an autistic man and as the mysterious boss figure to whom I gave a quiet malevolence and a slight edge of insanity.

Scott had said he’d send e-mails out by the end of the week, but it ended up being two weeks later.  A lot had changed in that interim as Scott had informed us that The Twilight Zone was experiencing another burst in popularity and ten classic episodes were being released to the big screen in November, one of which was “Monsters”.  As such, CBS would not release performance rights.

Scott spent that two weeks searching for a new show and found it, but wanted to ask if actors still wanted to be part of it.  Due to my inescapable conflict, I formally took myself out of the running though I suspect my conflict had outed me anyway.

And so my season has come to an end.  It didn’t quite work out the way I planned, but it did open the doors to pleasurable non-theatre activities that would not have been possible had I been doing one of the Christmas shows.  And, of course, it raises the question:

“When are we going to see you on stage again?”

When the time is right.

World Premiere of ‘Red Summer’ Kicks Off Blue Barn Season


BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

The World Premiere Production of

RED SUMMER

By Beaufield Berry

September 26th – October 21, 2019

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sunday 10/6 & 10/20 at 2:00pm | Sunday 10/13 at 6pm

About the play:  In commemoration of the centenary of the Omaha race riots of 1919, BLUEBARN presents the world premiere of Beaufield Berry’s evocative account of our city’s past centered on the story of William Brown. Accused of a crime he couldn’t physically have committed, the infamous torture and lynching of this 40 yr old factory worker is a stain on America’s heartland. Red Summer presents a compelling portrait of the black migrant experience, grounded by a deeply affecting vision of Will’s life and relationships before he became a tragic headline.

About the production:. Red Summer features Antonio Duke, Xena Broaden, Brendan Brown, Raydell Cordell III, Devel Crisp, Haley Haas, Dara Hogan, Regina Palmer, and Brandi Smith. Directed by Susan Clement-Toberer. Assistant Directed by Barry Carman. Sound and Projection Design by Bill Kirby. Properties by Amy Reiner. Dramaturgy by Denise Chapman. Set Design by Marty Marchitto. Lighting Design by Jamie Roderick. Costume Design by Kendra Newby.

This production is generously sponsored by

Vernie and Carter Jones

Jannette Davis

Tickets:  General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

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

Blue Barn Announces Auditions for Season 31: Memory

BLUEBARN THEATRE is pleased to announce auditions for Season 31: Memory

Auditions for A Very Die Hard Christmas and Marjorie Prime

Sunday, September 8th from 3-6pm & Monday, September 9th from 5:30-8:30pm

Company Members Needed:

The Die Hard company is comprised of fourteen actors, many of whom play multiple roles throughout. All ethnicities, genders, and ages are welcome to audition.  For the Sgt. Al Powell track, we are seeking an African-American (late 20s-40s), for the Joseph Takagi track, we are seeking an Asian-American (30s-40s), all other available roles will be cast without restrictions.  A full casting breakdown is available upon request, but due to the nature of the show is subject to change. The roles of Hans Gruber and John McClane have been cast.

For Marjorie Prime, we are seeking to cast Marjorie (60s-80s), Walter (30s), Tess and John (mid-40s-50s, Marjorie’s daughter and son-in-law). All ethnicities and genders welcome.

Preparation:

Actors are encouraged (but not required) to present a contemporary monologue no longer than 90 seconds. Auditions will also include cold readings from the script, and prepared sides (for Marjorie Prime). Sides will be available 8/21.

A Very Die Hard Christmas runs Nov 29th – Dec 22nd, 2019. Rehearsals begin Oct 22nd.

Marjorie Prime runs March 19th – April 12th, 2020. Rehearsals begin Feb 10th

For more information, to request a script or to sign up for auditions or the workshops below, please contact Barry: bcarman@bluebarn.org. When signing up, please indicate which show(s) you’re auditioning for.   

A Chorus Line Dance Workshops

Saturday, October 19th from 10-12pm & Monday, November 11th from 6-8pm 

These workshops are being offered to any actor-dancer interested in auditioning for our production of A Chorus Line. Participants will learn two combinations in contrasting styles at each session, with different combinations taught at each workshop. Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Participation in these workshops is strongly encouraged, but not required for casting consideration for A Chorus Line.  RSVP to bcarman@bluebarn.org.

A Chorus Line Auditions:

Sunday, January 5th from 3pm-6pm & Monday, Jan 6th from 6-9pm.

Further information on our January auditions will be available on December 4th.

A Chorus Line runs May 14th through June 14th, 2020. Rehearsals begin April 13th.

 

Blue Barn Vows to Make Memories with Season 31

BLUEBARN THEATRE ANNOUNCES

Season 31: Memory

This season BLUEBARN delves into the collective unconscious with five transcendent theatrical experiences, sure to linger long in your memory after you leave the theatre.

What do we choose to remember? What do we allow ourselves to forget?  In finding our individual answers to these questions, we discover the nature of our identities, our views of society, and our responsibilities within it.  We transform memory into history, into adventure, into myth. We create the past with these choices.  We define our present. We shape the future.

RED SUMMER

World Premiere Production

by Beaufield Berry

September 26th – October 20th , 2019 

In commemoration of the centenary of the Omaha race riots of 1919, BLUEBARN presents the world premiere of Beaufield Berry’s evocative account of our city’s past centered on the story of William Brown. Accused of a crime he couldn’t physically have committed, the infamous torture and lynching of this 40 yr old factory worker is a stain on America’s heartland. Red Summer presents an unflinching depiction of a city on the brink of chaos and a compelling portrait of the black migrant experience, each grounded by a deeply affecting vision of Will’s life and relationships before he became a tragic headline.

History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.

 

A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS

by Jeff Schell and the Habit

November 29th  – December 22nd, 2019

Yippee-Ki-Yay, BLUEBARNERS! An outrageous take on the Most. Beloved. Christmas Movie. Of. All Time, we cordially invite you to our company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza! All NYPD Blue’s John McClane wants is to come to the coast, get together with his estranged wife, and have some laughs. But when a team of well-choreographed, vaguely European terrorists start taking hostages as part of their nefarious plot to…who cares 😊 John has to cowboy up! Starring the dead guy from The Sixth Sense, the cop outside with Twinkies, big big hair, cocaine, indoor smoking, Professor Snape, and 40 floors of sheer adventure!

Hilarious, action-packed déjà vu… all over again.

WAKEY, WAKEY
by Will Eno
January 30th – February 23rd, 2020

You are invited to a celebration. We will talk about time, gratitude, our childhoods, and the million miracles at work in the world, in every single moment. There will be pictures. There will be music. Gifts. Wonder. Grief. Rebirth. From Will Eno, author of the BLUEBARN’s productions of Thom Pain and Gnit, comes an extraordinary, strange and beautiful experience that wakes up the big questions, and awakens us to one another with sly humor, compassion, and grace. P.S. There will be cake.          

Memento mori.

MARJORIE PRIME
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
by Jordan Harrison
March 19th – April 12th, 2020

In the near future, ‘Primes’ are available from the good people at Senior Serenity, the latest devices for helping people with their fading memories and loss of companionship. Marjorie’s daughter and son-in-law have purchased Walter Prime (a holographic projection of her husband as he looked in his 30s) to keep her company.  As the Prime is fed memories and conversation, the shape of their lives are revealed, more and more years are covered and recovered, and the nature of memories, the legacy of the past, and the promise of the future are all called into question.

Memories are not the key to the past, but the future.

A CHORUS LINE

Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett

Book by James Kirkwood, Jr. & Nicholas Dante, Music by Martin Hamlisch, Lyrics by Edward Kleban

Winner of 9 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize

May 14th – June 14th, 2020 

A singular sensation.  A cultural touchstone.  An iconic masterpiece.  A Chorus Line has captivated generations of theatre theatregoers with its unforgettable score, astonishing songs, and stunning choreography.  Rediscover the raw emotion, heart and determination of the unsung heroes of American musical theatre, the chorus dancers.  Drawn from real experiences that resonate even more strongly today, share the hopes and dreams, failures and successes of 16 dancers with their lives and careers on the line as they endure a grueling audition process.  Rediscover the power, rediscover the beauty, embrace the spectacular magic of one of the finest musicals ever set to stage.

Experience A Chorus Line again, for the very first time.

Do you remember what you did for love?

SEASON MEMBERSHIPS GO ON SALE TO THE PUBLIC JULY 24

CALL 402.345.1576

OR VISIT WWW.BLUEBARN.ORG

Join us for another season of unforgettable theatre.

A Love Cursed

Out of tragedy is born love.  And out of that love arises another tragedy. . .and a bit of hope.  Come discover the story of the Tin Woodsman of Oz before he became the Tin Woodsman in the Strangemen Theatre Company’s production of The Woodsman by James Ortiz with music by Edward W. Hardy and lyrics by Claire Karpen.  It is currently playing at the Blue Barn Theatre.

The hardest thing about writing an article is coming up with a good conclusion.  This time, it’s a piece of cake.  Go see this show.

OK, now let’s get to that analytical stuff.

I knew I was going to see something different when I saw this show, but what I didn’t know was just how good it was going to be.  Ortiz has written a sensational tale about the pre-metal life of the Tin Woodsman.  It’s sweet.  It’s moving.  It’s even a little spooky at times and you’ll likely shed a tear or two before it’s all through.  For the purists, the transformation to the Tin Woodsman is very faithful to L Frank Baum’s description from the original Oz novels.  For those thinking of bringing kids, it means it’s a little grim, but not overly violent.

Ortiz draws from a wide variety of performance styles such as straight dialogue, pantomime, puppetry, and musical.  Outside of a prologue, a song, and a rare word here and there, this show is done with no dialogue and I think that’s where its real power lies.  The actors have to tell a highly nuanced tale with naught but facial expressions, body language, and little expostulations of sound.  The result is a production that ranks as one of my favorite shows of the season.

James Ortiz and Claire Karpen co-direct this singular tale and their control and execution of the story is like watching a master painter create a masterpiece from scratch.  Finding beats in dialogue is tricky enough, but finding beats without the spoken word is another beast all together and the two directors expertly strike each and every one without effort.  Under their coaching, the performers “tell” this story with crystal clear expressions and body language that let me “read” this story just as easily as I read novels.  Their direction combined with movement direction from William Gallacher creates a story that really invokes all of your senses.  You can almost smell the campfire, hear the pounding of a panicked heart, and feel the texture of a warm hand on a body that no longer has sensation.

The ensemble is a critical part of this production as they literally become the world.  They are the trees of the forest.  Their whistles are the songs of birds.  Their snaps are the pop of a fire.  Their slaps are the blows of an ax.  They also play a variety of supporting parts and I was especially impressed by the work of Barry Carman and Stephanie Jacobson as Pa and Ma Chopper as they tell an excellent story about their courtship and their life together complete with posture changes to signify their aging.  I was also floored by the work of Michael Burns, Caulene Hudson, and Be Louis with their puppetry of the Wicked Witch of the East.  Their skilled manipulations made the Witch seem like an otherworldly force of nature and a truly vile villain.

The beauty of Anna Jordan’s performance as Nimmee made me want to weep.  She has an absolutely phenomenal physicality that makes for great pantomime.  You can feel and see the fear in her tense body whenever the Witch is around.  Her selling of the routine physical abuse dealt to her by the Witch is spot on.  The slow opening of her heart to Nick Chopper is wondrous to behold.  And a bit where she and Nick try to subtly cozy up to each other by a fire is sweet and funny.

Matthew Olsen’s portrayal of Nick Chopper (the flesh and blood version of the Tin Woodsman) is equally powerful.  His love for his family is palpable and it was a joy watching his childish antics as he grew up especially as he learns to fight from his father and properly wield an ax.  His courage is inspiring as he battles a forest monster to protect Nimmee.  And his anguish is haunting as he slowly loses his human nature.

Never before have I seen a show where light was so crucial to its telling and Jamie Roderick’s work is of superior quality.  His lighting is so atmospheric as he takes you to the depths of a pitch black forest with just a wisp of sunlight peeking through to the magical charges of Nick Chopper’s amulet to the dankness of the Witch’s lair.  Jenny Pool’s costumes had a nice old fashioned flair of a long forgotten time.  The set was pretty much bare bones though I thought the tree branches hanging about the theatre and the old fashioned lights set above the stage (and a bit out into the seating area) was a very nice touch.  And the violin score provided by Samantha Perkins was heavenly especially with the haunting song of the Tin Woodsman at the end.

This is storytelling at its finest.  It’s an achingly beautiful and well told love story guaranteed to melt the coldest of hearts.  At the risk of repeating myself, go see this show.

The Woodsman plays at the Blue Barn Theatre through June 16.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6pm.  On June 9, there will be an additional 2pm matinee and Jun 16 will have only a 2pm matinee.  Tickets are $35 ($30 for seniors) and can be obtained at www.bluebarn.org or by calling at 402-345-1576.  The Blue Barn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.