Full Circle: A Tribute to Doug Marr

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Last night, Omaha lost a talented playwright, a genuine wit, and an all around great human being.

I lost a good friend.

When I think of Doug I think of a genuinely good man with a phenomenal sense of humor and a truly giving and supportive heart.  Doug was responsible for giving my theatre career one of its biggest boosts and for keeping it alive when it was on life support.

I first met Doug back in 2003 when I auditioned for the Circle Theatre’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  I had high hopes that I would be able to net the role of Billy Bibbit, but received a surprise when I got a letter notifying me that the whole production was being postponed due to the theatre being unable to fill the key role of Chief Bromden, but Doug hoped to mount the show later that summer.

As summer closed in I asked him if Cuckoo was going to be mounted and he wrote back and said Circle would be doing Our Town and immediately offered me the role of Doc Gibbs.

I was stunned by his generosity as I was relatively an untested talent as I only had 4 small roles under my belt and this would be the first time I had something with a bit of meat.  Though he didn’t direct the production, he was present every day at his trusted post at the light and sound board.  He often regaled the cast with his off the cuff jokes and we would spend quite a bit of time talking about our mutual love for classic rock, Sherlock Holmes, and he would share with me ideas he had for future plays and stories.

I experienced a bit more of his generosity when he handed me a small check at the end of the run.  Doug always believed in paying a tiny stipend to the performers and I’m proud to have had my first paying gig under his watchful eye.

It would be nearly a decade before I crossed paths with Doug again.  At that point, I had been going through a dry spell and then he announced auditions for An Inspector Calls.  After my audition, Doug offered me the choice of either of the two young men.  Now one was a decent, level headed sort close to my real personality and the other was a drunken lout.  I opted for the lout.  Doug agreed to that as he thought that was the better of the two reads.

Doug often said that he wasn’t a director, but I think he underestimated his talents in that realm..  For starters, he was a gifted writer with an instinct for beats so he knew what points in a story needed to be hit to get maximum effect.  More importantly, he had an incredible eye for talent.  Doug intuitively understood a performer’s strengths and weaknesses and not only knew where to slot them, but also trusted their instincts so he’d only have to give slight notes to smooth out the rough edges.

I was always grateful that he let me test my range with Eric Birling and it still ranks as one of my favorite roles.

Shortly after that show, my dry spell became an arid desert.  I had grown so disheartened with the constant rejections that I made the decision to step away from theatre for a while.

Trust Doug to get me back into the swing of things.

Six months into my hiatus, Doug sent word through a mutual friend of ours asking if I would consider doing the Circle’s annual Christmas show.  I was a little hesitant because my confidence had been so battered, but he was a really hard guy to say no to so I agreed.

With his trust and support, I began to remember the things I loved so much about theatre and managed to breathe life into his creation of Gunar, the hippie elf which would become another of my favorite roles.  His kindness gave me the shot in the arm I needed and I would bag my biggest role later that season thanks to him restoring my heart.

Many in our community have shared their stories about Doug.  He was a treasure and he will be missed.  I’ll always remember him for his warmth, his good humor, his gift for wordplay, and his goodness.  Most of all, I’ll remember him for being my friend.

Rest in peace, my friend.

 

“Dracula” is Stalking the Circle Theatre

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Count Dracula (Justin Eller) recruits Renfield (David Sindelar) in his quest for victims

An ancient evil from Transylvania concocts a scheme to travel to London, England in search of victims to satisfy his endless hunger for blood.  His pursuit of a young woman leads to an unlikely banding together of five ordinary people led by a wise, if eccentric, professor.  Their goal?  To erase this evil nobleman from the face of the earth before he can claim further victims.

Bram Stoker’s classic gothic tale, Dracula, comes to vivid life at the Circle Theatre in an original adaptation written by Ryle Smith from Oct 19-Nov 3.  Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm with a special Halloween performance on Oct 31 at 9pm.  Tickets cost $20 ($15 for Seniors/College Students/Military/TAG Members & $12 for high school students).  Tickets can be purchased online at circleom.booktix.com or at the door on performance nights.  The Circle Theatre is located at 4444 Frances St in the Hanscom Park United Methodist Church.

Production:  Dracula

Written By:  Ryle Smith in an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel

Location:  The Circle Theatre (4444 Frances St in Hanscom Park United Methodist Church)

Ticket Prices:  $20 for adults ($15 for Seniors/College Students/Military/TAG Members & $12 for High School Students).  Purchases can be made at circleom.booktix.com or at the door on performance nights.

Directed by:  Angela Dashner

Cast

Isaac Reilly as Jonathan Harker

Stephanie Olson as Mina Murray/Harker

Chris Elston as Dr. Jack Seward

Nate Slater as Lord Godalming, Arthur Holmwood

Hunter Ponce as Quincy Morris

Ron Boschult as Professor Abraham Van Helsing

David Sindelar as R.M. Renfield

Kirsty Eden as Lucy Westenra

Kristine Dunbar as Mrs. Westenra

and

Justin Eller as Count Dracula

Also featuring:  Mylan Coffman, Corie Jacobsen, Emelia Rau, Mary Oliver, Stan Tracey, Patrick Brusnahan, and Brian Bencker

 

Circle Theatre Holding Auditions for ‘Dracula’

Auditions for Dracula will be June 11-12, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The auditions will be held at Hanscom Park United Methodist Church, 4444 Frances Street, Omaha, NE. People who audition will be asked to read from the script. Rehearsals will start in August.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Oct 19- Nov 3, 2018
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and a special performance October 31 at 9:00 p.m.

We are excited to bring this classic novel to the stage. This adaptation, by local playwright Ryle Smith, includes all the principal characters from Stoker’s original story. This play tells the story of Dracula through the eyes of Jonathan Harker as in the novel. Much of our current mythology about vampires comes from this great classic novel.

For more information contact the Circle Theatre at 402-553-4715 or www.circletheatreomaha.org

Upcoming Auditions

CIRCLE THEATRE PRESENTS AUDITIONS FOR
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Circle Theatre will hold auditions for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” running May 4-19.

Auditions will be held March 26th and 27th at 7:00p.m.

Please bring a calendar and a list of ALL conflicts from April to May.
The show opens May 4 and runs through May 19, 2018.
Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 for two weekends.

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script.
The Circle Theatre is committed to diverse, inclusive casting, and auditions are open to all.

Synopsis:
When the merry sprite Puck meddles with a magical love potion, young lovers lost in the woods mysteriously find themselves infatuated with the wrong person in this hilarious, fairytale fantasy that proves the course of true love never did run smooth.

Auditions will be held at Hanscom Park United Methodist Church at 4444 Frances Street.
For more information, please contact Circle Theatre at circle.theatreomaha@gmail.com

OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS
THE 2018-2019 SEASON MUSICAL ADULT AUDITIONS

Saturday, May 12, 11:30 a.m. check in, 12:00 p.m. start
Sunday, May 13, 5:30 p.m. check in, 6:00 p.m. start

Omaha Community Playhouse will hold adult and youth season musical auditions for all five musicals for the 2018-2019 season in May, including auditions for Fun Home, Shrek The Musical, A Christmas Carol, The Bridges of Madison County and Ragtime. Actors interested in these shows should plan to attend. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse, inclusive casting.

What:  2018-2019 Season Musical Adult Auditions
Who: For actors 16 years and older of all genders and ethnicities
Location: Omaha Community Playhouse | 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132
Those auditioning should enter through the main lobby entrance and proceed to the check-in table.

Requirements:
Actors please be prepared with the following:
* Sheet music with 16 bars ready to sing (an accompanist will be provided)
* There will be a dance audition, so actors should be dressed to move (no boots, sandals, flip-flops, etc.)
* You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and schedules available to complete the form.
* A recent photo to attach to your audition form. Please note, the photos do not need to be professional and will not be returned.
* Should you not have a photo, one will be taken at the time of the audition.

Show Dates:
Fun Home
 – August 17 – September 16, 2018, (Howard Drew Theatre)
Shrek The Musical – September 14 – October 14, 2018 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
A Christmas Carol – November 16 – December 23, 2018 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
The Bridges of Madison County – March 1 – 24, 2019 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
Ragtime – May 31 – June 30, 2019 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)

There will be additional auditions held at later dates throughout the season for the following non-musical productions: She Kills Monsters, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Of Mice and Men, One Man, Two Guvnors and Men on Boats, as well as Alternative Programming auditions. Those dates will be announced at a later time.

Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse, inclusive casting.

Contact:
For more information, contact Breanna Carodine, bcarodine@omahaplayhouse.com, at (402) 553-4890, ext. 110.

Circle Theatre Holding Auditions for “Miracle on 34th Street”

Circle Theatre will hold auditions for the second production of its 2017-2018 season, Miracle on 34th Street. The production will run December 8-17, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m and Sundays at 3 p.m. Audtions, rehearsals, and production will be held at Hanscom Park United Methodist Church (4444 Frances St, Omaha, NE). Rehearsals will begin the last week of October. The production will be directed by Circle Theatre Associate Artistic Director, Angela M. Dashner. For more information, please contact Circle Theatre at circle.theatreomaha@gmail.com

Please note that the role of Kris Kringle has been pre-cast.

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

A Well Acted Puzzler

A man mourns the loss of his family and friends.  This is the plot of The Designated Mourner by Wallace Shawn and currently playing at the Circle Theatre.

This play is much, much more than my simple one sentence summary.  This is the most perplexing play I have ever watched.  There is a narrative thread, but due to the disjointed and fragmented nature of Shawn’s writing, it takes the focus of a Sherlock Holmes to locate and grasp it.  The play was about ¾ of the way over before I had enough clues to put things together.

The play takes place in a totalitarian society where being an intellectual is a crime.  The play is presented as a triologue between the characters of Jack, Judy, and Howard as they share their broken and unconnected memories with the audience.  Pay very close attention to what each character says as their stories and thoughts weave in and out from the present and the past, leading the audience on a very convoluted path to the endgame of this story.

Ryle Smith plays the role of Jack and directs the play.  As director, he has chosen to present the play as a reader’s theatre production.  I found this to be a very wise choice as this is a very static play.  It is completely dialogue driven with zero action and presenting it as a narration gives this play the best possible chance for success.  He has also guided himself and his other two thespians to strong performances which is absolutely vital to holding the audience’s interest in this talky production.

As Jack, Smith serves as the chief narrator of the story and is the designated mourner.  Smith does a good job of presenting Jack as a wannabe intellectual.  He is intelligent and has an appreciation for fine literature, but cannot converse about it on the same level as his wife, Judy, and father-in-law, Howard.

Though Jack has the veneer of a laid-back personality, it covers a much darker side.  Jack is a coward, has utter contempt for his father-in-law due to his being highbrow while Jack is lowbrow, cheats on Judy, and runs with his tail tucked between his legs when the government begins to threaten Judy and Howard.  As unlikable as Jack is, Smith’s interpretation does permit an understanding of, if not sympathy for, Jack.  He is somewhat pitiable as he loses his sense of identity for the sake of his survival and there is a gleam of hope for him as he recognizes the poetry of beauty in the simple things of life at the play’s end.

I found the character of Judy to be the most baffling of the play and that is not a negative criticism.  Due to the esoteric nature of Wallace’s writing, I simply had trouble getting a grip on Judy’s function in the story as her stories and memories are the most ethereal of the three characters.  Luckily the acting of Laura Marr makes up for the rather ghostly nature of Judy.

Ms Marr always remained fully engaged in the action and I was enthralled as I watched her reactions to the stories told by Howard and Jack as her expressions told a story all their own.  She was also a master of the beats as she altered tone, expression, and body language with each shift of the story.  Most compelling was her storytelling when Judy was dying of an unknown illness as her body seemed to deteriorate before my eyes to coincide with the sickliness of Judy.

David Sindelar once again proves himself to be one of the city’s underrated talents with a rare, and excellent, dramatic turn as Howard.  As Howard, Sindelar breathes a rather lofty air into his performance.  He is the intellectual’s intellectual.  Howard is a master of prose and wrote several political essays which may play into the woes he eventually suffers during the course of the show.  He truly enjoys a good debate and comes off as a bit of a snob.  This trait was most telling during a conversation with Jack about a mutual friend.

When Jack says he would have done things differently than this friend about a certain event, Sindelar’s Howard persuasively argues that if Jack had been the friend he would have been motivated by the same thoughts and reactions as that of the friend and, therefore, have done exactly the same thing.  Sindelar did this with a wonderful superior attitude that made me wonder if the contempt between Jack and Howard were equal on both sides.  Sindelar could also give lessons on projection and voice control as his powerful speaking voice filled the theatre space.

While the acting was quite strong, I felt that the pace could have been picked up quite a bit.  Ms Marr and Smith also need to project a little bit more into the microphones as they were a little quiet at the start of the show.

It’s hard to write a proper conclusion to this review due to the mysterious nature of the show.  I believe this play will be quite polarizing.  You will either love it or you will hate it.  Buckle yourself in for a long ride as a lot will be thrown at you in a short period of time, but the performing abilities of the trio of actors will go a long way in bolstering the peculiarities of the script.

The Designated Mourner plays for the Circle Theatre through February 27.  Showtimes are 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and this production is playing at the Urban Abbey located at 1026 Jackson St in the Old Market district of Omaha, NE.  For reservations, contact the Circle at 402-553-4715 or via e-mail at dlmarr@cox.net.  Tickets cost $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for students, active military, and T.A.G. members.  This play contains strong language and mature themes and is not suitable for children.