OCP Ends Season with a Little ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

Singin_4

From left to right: Nate Wasson, Tayler Lempke Plank, and J. Isaiah Smith star in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

Omaha, Neb. – Singin’ In The Rain, based on the beloved movie musical, will run June 1 – 24, 2018 at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

The beloved movie musical Singin’ in the Rain comes to life on stage with charm, humor and stormy weather that has made it an enduring classic. This tale of a famous on-screen couple from the silent films who prepare to transition to the age of “talking pictures” combines the best of Hollywood and Broadway with music that will keep you smiling, dances that will keep your toes tapping and special effects that will take your breath away. Songs such as “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Good Mornin’” and of course “Singin’ in the Rain” will whisk you away to a simpler time.

To celebrate Singin’ In The Rain, Omaha Community Playhouse will hold an opening night celebration from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 1 free to that evening’s ticket holders. No reservations necessary. Attendees will enjoy light refreshments and fun activities.

Production:        Singin’ In The Rain

Credits:   Theatre Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green | Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed | By special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc. | Music published by EMI, all rights administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC | Based on the Academy Award-nominated MGM film starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

Director:              Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Nate Wasson* as Don Lockwood

J. Isaiah Smith as Cosmo Brown

Tayler Lempke Plank as Kathy Selden

Cathy Hirsch as Lina Lamont

Andrew Karolski as Young Don

Brohdi McClymont as Young Cosmo

Rob Baker as RF Simpson

Don Harris as Roscoe

Male Ensemble features Boston Reid, Brendan Brown, Jason DeLong, Joseph Mokrycki, Jude Glaser, and Marcus Benzel

Female Ensemble features Nora Shelton, Lillian Cohen, Karin Berg, Brianna Davis, Kara Penniston, Mia Sherlock, Payton Alber, Julia Ervin, Hannah Ramsgard, Becky Trecek, Debbie Trecek Volkens, Mary Trecek, and Carrie Trecek

*Nate Wasson will appear as a guest artist in the role of Don Lockwood. Nate previously toured with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s production of A Christmas Carol in 2015 in the role of Jacob Marley.

Show dates:       June 1 – 24, 2018; Wednesdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Adult single tickets start at $32 for Wednesday performances and start at $42 for Thursday – Sunday performances. Student single tickets start at $20 for Wednesday performances and start at $25 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices.  For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $24 for Wednesday performances and $30 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

Discounts:           Twilight Tickets – A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability.

Wednesday Performances – Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only starting at $24 for adults and $18 for students.

Whatta Deal Wednesday – Discounted tickets for $10 will be available for the first Wednesday performance on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. $10 tickets will be available in person at the box office starting at 4:00 p.m. the day of the show.

Sponsors:  Immanuel Communities (Series Sponsor), Mutual of Omaha (Producing Partner), Giger Foundation (Orchestra Sponsor), NP Dodge Company (Special Effects Sponsor) Iron Works, Inc. (additional support) and WOWT (Media Sponsor)

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre (6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132)

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Not Quite Perfect Yet

On the day of his wedding, Bill wakes up with a monstrous hangover, slightly concussed, and in bed with a woman who isn’t his fiancée.  A series of shenanigans, misunderstandings, and schemes unfold in an attempt to keep his fiancée from learning the truth.  Will there still be a Perfect Wedding by Robin Hawdon and currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre?

Personally I found Hawdon’s script to be a laugh riot.  He has an instinctive understanding of classic farce complete with the impossible situation, desperate attempts to solve said situation, slamming doors, and over the top characters.  Hawdon’s story actually takes things one step further with an ending that wasn’t entirely predictable and had some surprisingly sweet moments as well.

The hand of capable leadership is present in this production with the direction of Marya Lucca-Thyberg.  She definitely understands the art of the character as her actors definitely have distinctive personas.  She also has a good feeling for the more creative side of farce as she conjured up several amusing bits of business.

Thomas Stoysich has a very worthy debut at the Bellevue Little Theatre with his portrayal of Bill.  Stoysich does a pretty good job of making Bill likable despite the fact that he’s not all that likable of a person.  However, I consider that crucial to this character because Bill’s actions are governed by a weight he is carrying on this shoulders.  So he’s not a bad person, just a little soiled.

Stoysich has excellent, crystal clear facial expressions and reactions and manages to tap into the needed broadness for his character.  However, his panickyness and nervousness also seemed to strike the same note and I think there was space to maintain the attitude, but change up the pitch as it were.

Kaitlin Maher gives a spot-on performance as Rachel, Bill’s fiancée.  Ms Maher has a commanding presence and is truly the rock in her relationship with Bill.  Clearly she has to be the more level headed half as Bill is rather flighty.  She’s honest, strong, caring, and obviously deserves a lot better than Bill.

Jessica Mascarello serves as a good counterpoint to Rachel with her essaying of Judy.  Where Rachel is strong and direct, Ms Mascarello’s Judy is weak and sneaky.  Like Bill, she’s more soiled than bad, but she ends up being the other woman with her eyes wide open as opposed to being smashed like Bill.  Ms Mascarello still manages to conjure up a degree of sympathy with her ability to project her disillusionment with love which is what fuels her character.  Ms Mascarello also has a knack for physical comedy as she got to take part in some of the best sight gags.

Farce needs a strong rapid-fire energy and that was missing in the afternoon’s production.  Pacing needed to be much brisker and cue pickups needed to be much sharper.  Accents and acting were also a bit of a mixed bag.

The technical aspects of the production were quite potent.  Taelore Stearns has constructed an excellent old-fashioned inn with doors aplenty for chases and slamming.  Joshua Christie’s sound design was quite clever with a series of Tom Jones’ love songs.  Nancy Buennemeyer’s costuming was well done especially with Rachel’s beautiful wedding gown and the elegant kilts of Bill and his best man, Tom.

This show is assuredly on the right path to being a rock solid laugher.  A little more speed and a little tightening of delivery will permit this cast to maximize everything this entertaining script has to offer.

Perfect Wedding plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through May 20.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and 2pm on Sundays.  Tickets prices are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students with valid ID.  For tickets, contact 402-291-1554 between 10am-4pm, Mon-Fri.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

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.

The Spirits are Restless

In an attempt to learn “the tricks of the trade” for a new book, novelist Charles Condomine takes part in a séance conducted by the eccentric Madame Arcati who inadvertently summons the spirit of Charles’ late wife, Elvira.  The trouble is that Charles has remarried and now he’s literally caught between two worlds as each wife wants him for herself.  This is Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward and currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

I was a little surprised to learn that this play was actually written in the early 1940s because it has the feel of a 1920s play with its drawing room style of writing.  While Coward’s idea is a gem, this play was definitely a play for its time or earlier due to its incredibly talky nature.  Plays of this type require colossal amounts of energy to keep the interest of today’s audiences and credit is due to the cast of BLT’s production for mustering all of the positives possible out of the show.

Todd Uhrmacher provides a solid bit of direction for this show.  He has a good instinct for movement and has his performers continually animate the scenes which helps liven up the massive amount of dialogue supplied by the characters.  He’s also coached his actors well.  Each and all give well defined, focused performances.

Strong supporting performances are provided by Sherry Fletcher as Edith, a maid who has to physically keep herself from rushing throughout the house and who is more than she seems and by Ruth Rath as the daffy Madame Arcati.  Ms Rath has definitely picked up on Madame Arcati’s weirdness and I think she has a bit of room to make her peculiarities even more pronounced.

Gene Hinkle is very, very British as Charles Condomine.  Epitomizing the British ideal of having a stiff, upper lip, Hinkle’s Charles could teach a masterclass in patience and control as he always has a tight grip on his emotions even when his world gets turned upside down by Elvira’s return.  Hinkle cuts a very elegant figure with a strong well modulated voice that makes for an ideal Charles.  But I thought his performance could have been even funnier if he would have lost some of that incredible control when his world began falling to pieces.

Therese Rennels makes for a beautifully understated shrew as Elvira.  Ms Rennels strikes the perfect tone of snide with Elvira’s interactions with Charles and blithely snaps off verbal ripostes in her “conversations” (only Charles can actually see or hear her) with other characters.  Her Elvira is an incredibly selfish individual.  It’s always about her and her wants even when what she wants isn’t really what she wants.  Ms Rennels also has a good sense of pantomime as she rattles off a series of amusing gestures to the characters that can’t see or hear her.

I found Marti Carrington to be the most amusing character of the night with her rendition of Ruth, Charles’ current wife.  Like her husband, Ms Carrington’s Ruth is the very, very proper and stoic British woman, but Ms Carrington brings a vital and needed energy when Ruth begins to collapse in the second act due to Elvira’s machinations and disruptions.  Ms Carrington melts into a hysterical, weeping mess while never letting Ruth’s disintegration go overboard.

Energy is truly what the show needed last night as the sheer bulk of dialogue can be wearying to both cast and audience alike.  A brisker pace and tighter cue pickups would greatly aid in maximizing the show’s comedy.

The technical elements were quite strong.  A Joey Lorincz set is always one of the highlights of a BLT production and this is no exception with the gorgeous sitting room of the Condomine estate with its massive crackling fireplace, wood bookcase, and understated elegance of the furniture.  Todd Uhrmacher’s costumes evoke wealth and class.  I also thought the special effects of spectral paintings and flying knick knacks were exceptional.

This show’s style is going to require a bit of patience on the part of the audience.  The idea is genuinely humorous, the script does have some good zingers and a few twists and surprises, but it takes its time getting there.  But a strong group of performers (with a splash of more energy) will help audiences reach the payoff.

Blithe Spirit continues at Bellevue Little Theatre until Feb 4.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and 2pm on Sundays.  Tickets prices are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students with valid ID.  For tickets, contact 402-291-1554 between 10am-4pm, Mon-Fri.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

Age in the Cage

Ladies and gentlemen!  This is it.  The battle for the heavyweight championship of the room.  In the house right corner, wearing the muted colors, she is known as the Brooding Brawler. . Abby!!!!  Her opponent, fighting out of house left, wearing the light, bright colors, she is called Sinfully Sweet. . .Marilyn!!!  And now. . .LET’S GET READY TO RIPCORD!!!!!!!! at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord tells the story of two senior home roommates who mix about as well as oil and water.  Curmudgeonly Abby is used to having the room to herself and cannot stand her new perky roommate, Marilyn.  When Marilyn claims never to get angry and Abby claims never to get scared, the two ladies make a bet.  If Abby angers Marilyn, then Marilyn will move to a different room.  If Marilyn scares Abby, she gets Abby’s bed by the window.  The result is an escalating war of pranks between the two women as they pull out all the stops to win the bet.

Lindsay-Abaire has written a clever script reminiscent of The Odd Couple with the exception that the two main characters are not friends, giving their interactions a bit more of an edge.  The script moves quite fast and is seasoned with hot zingers, sautéed with some well placed over the top moments, has a dash of drama and sensitivity, but has a peculiar palate cleanser of an ending.

Kimberly Faith Hickman has gathered a gaggle of comedic talent which she leads to solid and uproarious performances.  Ms Hickman has mastery of the beats as she knows when to let her performers go huge, be normal, or pluck the heartstrings.  The staging of the show is quite strong as, even in the slower moments, there is always a bit of movement from the actors to keep the scenes animated.

Three character actors playing multiple roles support the action of the play, but each also has a particular role that allows them their best moment in the spotlight.  Matt Tarr’s towering presence and rich voice serve him best as a zombie butler in a haunted house.  Kaitlyn McClincy serves up some laughs as Marilyn’s somewhat devious daughter who gleefully assists her mother in winning the bet.  Kevin Goshorn shines in the show’s most poignant scene as the estranged, recovering addict son of Abby who visits her for the first time in years.

For a debut performance, Sahil Khullar is quite capable in the role of Scotty, the aide at the senior living center.  Khullar definitely has the personality for the kindly Scotty who is implied to be a struggling actor.  He also has a good instinct for timing, though his gestures need to be a bit more economical and precise.

But this show does indeed rest on the shoulders of its leading ladies.  Rest assured that Charleen Willoughby and Judy Radcliff are more than up to the task as the pair deliver gutbusting performances and have a chemistry and repartee bordering on the symbiotic.

Charleen Willoughby is a bitter delight as Abby.  Ms Willoughby well communicates Abby’s cynicism with a stony, stoic expression and bearing that says, “Just let me read and leave me alone”.  She always has a quiet sense of mourning about her, lamenting the things she either lost or never had.  Despite this downer description, Ms Willoughby does make this stick in the mud quite entertaining as her sense of delivery always makes Abby’s retorts and put-downs funny.  Ms Willoughby also allows Abby’s long buried decent heart peek out from time to time with her love of her plants and the wistfulness of wanting grandchildren.

Judy Radcliff is a darling scream as Marilyn.  Ms Radcliff makes Marilyn so sweet and sunshiney that one could probably spit in her face and she would laugh it off.  Ms Radcliff brings an incredible sense of fun and kindness to the chatty Marilyn who just wants to bring a little brightness to the days of others.  But a bit of orneriness lies beneath the sweetness as Marilyn dreams up the more dangerous pranks played in her war of oneupmanshp with Abby and the fact that she does it with a smile on her face makes it all the funnier.

Paul Pape has designed a fluid, open set bordered by ropes that easily transforms into the bedroom at the senior living facility to an airplane and to the airiness of a haunted house and the outside.  Jim Othuse’s lights are some of the best I’ve seen in a Playhouse show as they really help define the scenes with the eerie greens and reds of the haunted house to the shadows of trees and sunlight outside of Abby’s window.  John Gibilisco delivers on sound once again, especially with an impressive propeller sound effect in the skydiving scene.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes well define the personalities of the leading ladies with Marilyn’s bright, pretty dresses and Abby’s muted, sedate pantsuits.  I also was quite pleased with the original score composed by Timothy Vallier.

There were a few blips in this preview night performance.  Actors broke character on a few occasions with some of the jokes.  There also seemed to be a bit of a dead spot on house left as microphones didn’t seem to work quite as well there as they did on house right.  But these are easily fixable items.

I also thought the leading ladies were a little young to be in a senior living facility, but I also recognize the tough balancing act as I’m not certain older ladies would have been capable of handling the needed physicality for the roles.

This show has all the right ingredients for a most amusing night of theatre.  It’s got laughs.  It’s got heart.  It’s got sensitivity.  Get a ringside seat and watch the comedy brawl to win it all.

Ripcord plays at the Omaha Playhouse from Jan 19-Feb 11.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $36 for adults and $22 for students.  For tickets, contact the Playhouse at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  A little discretion is advised due to some coarse language and inappropriate gestures.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

OCP Begins Second Half of Season with ‘Ripcord’

Omaha, NE–Ripcord, a comedy of one-upmanship as two feisty senior ladies fight for their rightful place, will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse January 19-February 11, 2018 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

Pranks and practical jokes abound when cantankerous Abby and chipper Marilyn are forced to share the nicest room at the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility.  As Abby attempts to get rid of her unwanted new roommate, a series of bets soon escalates into a hilarious game of one-upmanship as the two women try every trick in the book to claim their space in the apartment and their place in the world.  Ripcord is a hilarious tale with a lot of heart.

Disclaimer:  Contains adult language spoken by a cantankerous old lady.

Ripcord is written by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, Rabbit Hole, and who wrote the book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical (nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical).

ProductionRipcord

Credits:  By David Lindsay-Abaire

Director:  Kimberly Faith-Hickman

Cast

Charleen Willoughby as Abby Binder

Judy Radcliff as Marilyn Dunne

Sahil Khullar as Scotty

Kevin Goshorn as Benjamin/Lewis/Clown

Kaitlyn McClincy as Colleen/Woman in White

Matt Tarr as Derek/Zombie Butler/Masked Man

Show Dates:  Jan 19-Feb 11, 2018 (Wed-Sat performances with Sunday matinees)

Tickets:  Available now at the OCP Box Office.  Please call 403-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  Tickets cost $24 (Wed) or $30 (Thurs-Sun) for adults; $16 (Wed) or $18(Thurs-Sun) for students; $20 for adult groups of 12 or more; $14 for student groups of 12 or more.

Sponsored By:  Immanuel Communities (Series Sponsor), Security National Bank, Gale and Judy Wickersham (Producing Partners), and Waitt Outdoor (Media Sponsor).

Location:  6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE

A Season of Deja Vu

Déjà vu:  The sensation that you are doing something that you have done before.

It’s almost eerie how much this season mirrored the last one.  Like last year, it ended quite early and I only was able to audition for a couple of shows.

This season actually began unusually early.  Back in March, to be precise.

I had attended the Omaha Playhouse’s announcement of the 2017-18 season and they announced the season premiere would also be a world premiere as they would kick off with an original play called Eminent Domain written by local actress/playwright, Laura Leininger-Campbell.  They further announced that the auditions for this show would take place the next week as the actors would be helping to refine the show.

I managed to get a PDF of the script from Laura and found it to be a fascinating read.  The play explores themes of family with the framing device of a Nebraska farm family being threatened by an oil company claiming eminent domain to annex part of their property to lay a pipeline.

I was especially drawn to the character of the autistic Evan MacLeod whom I found to be a deep well of character acting.  I spent the next week taking a crash course in autism in order to properly present my take on Evan.

When I went to the auditions next week, I found that Laura’s play had really struck a chord with the community.  It seems as if the entire theatre community had come out to audition.  Not only was I up against some of the brightest names in Omaha theatre, but I was also up against much of the original cast who had been part of the show back when it was a staged reading.

My old shipmate, Frank Insolera, was one of the hopefuls and we started catching up on old times.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Christina Rohling, whom you might remember as the director of Elephant’s Graveyard and A Heavy Rain, heading in our direction.  Frank and I reached a pause in our conversation and both looked her way.

Addressing me, she said, “I just want you to know that you made my job (for Elephant’s Graveyard) very difficult.  It just came down to the 2 different energy levels between you and the guy I chose.”

Once more, I felt that strange mixture of pride and melancholy as I added another story to my ever growing pile of “good” rejections.  It only lasted for a moment as I thanked her for the compliment and then found out I would actually be reading with her when I made my stab at Evan.

Christina also happens to be one of the top talents in Omaha, so I was glad for the opportunity to bounce ideas of the scene as I explained to her my vision of Evan.  She seemed surprised at my attention to detail as she said, “It sounds like you’ve done some serious homework.”

We walked into the conference room on the 2nd floor of the Playhouse under the scrutinizing eyes of director Amy Lane and Laura.  Christina and I sat on the floor and I immediately started becoming Evan.  From my research, I decided that Evan was on the more severe side of the autism spectrum and had developed physicality and vocal patterns to suit that.  I adopted an awkward sitting position as I twisted my legs together and thrust my right hand between them, resting my hand on my left knee.  I slightly tilted my head and avoided any eye contact with Christina.  I also adopted a monotone, sing-song cadence for my speech.

I was actually extremely pleased with my take and felt as if I were hitting the right notes.  It also ended up being my best bite at the apple as my second read was for a different character who didn’t have a lot to do in that side.

Intellectually, I knew that I was up against a formidable challenge, but I still hoped against hope that I mustered up enough magic for a callback.

Alas, that hope was dashed shortly afterwards.

For the first time in a long while, I really felt the bitter disappointment of defeat.  I was surprised, yet not surprised at the same time.  With the extra effort I had put into it and with the full power of my heart behind it, I think it would have been more of a surprise had I not felt stung by the rejection.  And, of course, the lack of a callback made me wonder, “Did my efforts make any sort of an impact?”

Nowadays, I don’t dwell on those moments for long and I was quickly back to my old self.

I would next read for the staged readings of Angels in America and In the Heat of the Night, but there isn’t much of a story there.  Solid reads and no casting.  Que sera, sera.

Then came Ripcord.

I knew that I had to read for this show from the moment I read the synopsis.  The thrust of the story is that Abby and Marilyn share a room at the nursing home.  Abby had had the room to herself for a long while and wasn’t particularly keen on getting a new roommate.  Even worse, Marilyn’s sunshiney nature really grates on Abby’s curmudgeonly personality.  When Marilyn claims never to get angry and Abby claims never to get scared, the two women make a bet.  If Abby can anger Marilyn, Marilyn will get another room so Abby can be on her own again.  But if Marilyn can scare Abby, then Marilyn gets Abby’s bed because she likes it better than hers.  The result is an increasingly dangerous game of one-upsmanship.

There were 3 roles for men which included the nurse, Scotty, and two character actors who would play 3 distinct characters apiece.  I felt a little too old to play Scotty and relished the idea of the two character roles as I would get the rare opportunity to go completely over the top.

This play would mark my second reading for Kimberly Faith Hickman, the new artistic director of the Omaha Playhouse.  The first had been Angels in America.

I was surprised when my first side was for Scotty, but figured it was because not many men showed up to that first day of auditions.  Then I stepped inside the dance hall and it happened.

I felt the magic.

This was my most enjoyable audition in several years.  I didn’t care about getting cast.  I just wanted to go in and have some fun and I did just that.  I understood Scotty from the get-go and felt strong as I read the role.

When I finished the read and went back outside, I was given a side for one of the character actors.  After reading this side, I have come to the conclusion that I must project a natural aura of niceness as my side was for one of the regular roles performed by the character actors.  I actually felt a twinge of disappointment as I had been hoping to sink my teeth into one of the broader sides.

Not that the side I had was dull, but it was the same type of character I often find myself reading for and I just wanted to show that I could do more than essentially play myself.

Imagine my surprise when I was asked to stick around for a third read.  Once more I read as Scotty and varied my performance a bit from the first read.  After this read, I was let go, but there was also only one more group to read after I had finished.

Needless to say, I had quite a bit of hope as it had been ages since I had been at an audition from start to finish.  A few days later, my hope was rewarded when I got the call asking me to come to callbacks where I would be considered for the role of Scotty.  I laughed at the irony as the role I thought I had the least chance for ended up being the only role I would be considered for. . .or so I thought.

At the callbacks, I was given a side for Scotty that would FINALLY allow me a chance to go over the top.  I felt so giddy, I nearly broke into a soft shoe routine.  I had been chomping at the bit for this for eons and I let loose for all I was worth when I read the side.  I won’t spoil the scene, but I will say that I unleashed a scream not unlike the one emitted by Daniel Stern when he was mugged by the pigeons in Home Alone 2.

Immediately after finishing the read, Kimberly said, “I know I said I was only considering you for Scotty, but I want you to read this side for Benjamin.”

I was floored by the side.  It was a tremendously powerful and poignant scene as Benjamin is the estranged son of Abby and this was a complete 180 from the previous side and I looked forward to performing it.

When I went back in, I gave the most honest and heartfelt read I could muster and was really feeling Benjamin’s angst and heartache.  Shortly after this read, I was dismissed.

A few days later, I found an e-mail waiting for me from Kimberly.  The fact of the e-mail told me I did not make it in, but the fact that it was from the director told me that it was also something more.  I opened it up and read the following message:

Hi Chris!

I wanted to personally thank you for attending auditions and callbacks for RIPCORD.  I really enjoyed watching you and your work throughout the process.  This was a very difficult play to cast as so many talented people came to the auditions.  I ended up going with another actor for the roles of Scotty/Benjamin, but I wanted to let you know of that decision from me personally rather than a general notification e-mail.  I also want to encourage you to continue auditioning at OCP.  You have tremendous talent and I look forward to the next opportunity we may have to work together.

I was proud of this message and moved it to my scrapbook.  I had no regrets and had thoroughly enjoyed myself and I had made an impact.  You can’t ask for more than that.

We’ll talk again next season.