It’s been a long time since I’ve pumped out one of these. But the pandemic ground my auditioning to a standstill so I haven’t had material with which to work. But I did have one doozy of a tale at the height of the pandemic. A story of rejuvenation.
This year marks an anniversary for me. Mid-July will mark the twentieth anniversary of my audition for The Elephant Man. For those of you unfamiliar with that saga, click here.
At the end of that tale, I had mentioned my belief that God used the play to pull me out of the depression from which I’d been suffering. Little did I know He’d use it again to galvanize me.
One of the last theatre tales I wrote was to address the question of when would I be on stage again. I answered honestly, but I had real time to further analyze that question during the pandemic with the sudden plethora of time I had on my hands.
When I did Leaving Iowa, I finally believed fully in my acting prowess. Even better, I was now able to audition with a greater sense of freedom since I could enjoy being in the moment instead of worrying about whether or not I’d get cast.
Though I was now enjoying the freedom of the audition, the reality was that my fortunes didn’t change all that much. Granted, I was auditioning much less, but I was back to giving great auditions, but unable to land parts. In fact, I’ve only performed twice in the last 9 years and the gap separating those two performances was 5 ½ years.
I no longer doubted my ability to act, but I did start to doubt my ability to get cast. An x factor over which no performer has control.
I was starting to wonder, in my heart of hearts, whether or not my storytelling days were done and if my future involvement would solely be dedicated to writing. I didn’t have any sadness as I could look back on my body of work with a sense of satisfaction, but I did have a sense of melancholy as I felt I had sped through the five stages of acting.
1. Who’s Chris Elston? 2. Get me Chris Elston. 3. Get me a young Chris Elston. 4. Get me a Chris Elston type. 5. Who’s Chris Elston?
In my case, I felt I had skipped steps two and three. And, yet, I also couldn’t say people were asking “Who’s Chris Elston?” The Corner made me an ever present name in theatre. It’s just that I was now far better known for my writing than I ever was for my acting.
But in recent times I began to hear that question more and more. “When are we going to see you on stage again?”
One night I was pondering that question when I was suddenly struck by a powerful desire to break out my copy of The Elephant Man which I hadn’t looked at since the night of the audition back in 2002.
I scooted my coffee table out of the way. Then, purely for my own enjoyment, I began acting out scenes from the play. When I finished, I sank into my couch with a deep sense of satisfaction.
My time as a storyteller was not quite finished yet. Maybe it was just getting started or restarted as the case may be.
This feeling has only continued to grow as theatre has begun to regain some sense of normalcy. I can feel my creativity surging through my veins again. I genuinely want to be back on stage again.
So I don’t know when I’m going to be back on stage again, but I firmly believe it will be soon because I know this much.
Alice Murphy is the tough as nails, hard nosed editor of a literary magazine who takes an aspiring writer, Billy Cane, under her wing. But. . .if you only knew her story. And know it you shall once you watch Bright Star which is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
This show has had quite the odyssey. It was just getting ready to open at the Playhouse in March 2020 before things took a turn. Finally, it was set to open in January 2022 when the pandemic again caused a delay due to a new surge in infections. But, at long last, it has opened and, believe me, it was well worth the wait. It may be getting a shortened run, but this show deserves to be seen whether you come in person or stream it.
I don’t know what it is about bluegrass musicals, but they really get a hold on me. The scores tend to be fun and emotional and the storytelling seems to be of an unusually high quality and this show is no exception.
While this show is co-written by famed comedian Steve Martin, don’t expect the slapstick comedy that made him famous. Martin and his writing partner, Edie Brickell, churned out a very sophisticated, mature piece of entertainment that will have you laughing, cheering, crying, and maybe even your blood boiling at certain points. In the hands of this talented cast and crew, your appetite for satisfying entertainment will be thoroughly satiated.
If there was any good that came out of such a long delay for the show, it is that it allowed Roxanne Wach the opportunity to make certain she had everything just right for the production. Her directing is splendid. No false note is struck. Her actors know how to emote and perform through the songs instead of just singing them. Her guidance of the actors is dead on target. Every emotional beat is true and every nuance of the story is completely analyzed and excavated.
The ensemble of this show has been one of my favorites to watch. They created an entire world by always being in the moment. Nobody ever stood around. They were always busy with vital pieces of business that just fleshed out the story’s reality so beautifully. And their harmonies? Oh, heavenly!
Some truly wonderful supporting performances come from Mike Markey whose bosslike mayor clearly has ice water in his veins with some of his heinous and monstrous actions to keep a grip on his legacy and power; Kevin Olsen provides some terrific humor as a snotty, struggling writer; Analisa Swerczek is sweet as a bookstore owner whose friendship with Billy Cane blossoms into love; Mackenzie Zielke is stellar as a hard drinking party girl with a lustful eye on Billy.
If I’m sure of one thing about Angela Jenson Frey’s portrayal of Alice Murphy is that it will make her a top contender for this season’s Fonda-McGuire prize. Frey nails the role of Alice in both the present and the past. In the past, her Alice has a bit of an arrogant air about her as she’s fully aware of her intellect and that she’s built for bigger and better than her little town of Zebulon and she joyously engages in verbal jousting with her paramour, Billy Ray Dobbs. But she also has a heart of gold. In the present, she has the toughness needed for an editor and a bit of a shell due to her painful past, but still retains her goodness and decency.
Her angelic alto easily batted all emotional pitches out of the park. Some of my favorite numbers of hers were the heart tugging “I Can’t Wait”; the tragic “Please, Don’t Take Him”; and “So Familiar/At Long Last” which had me shedding real tears by its end.
Jay Srygley is truly a good man as Jimmy Ray Dobbs. He loves his father, but disagrees with his pursuit of power. He is kind and honorable and his love for Alice is palpable. And, man alive, has Srygley got a youthful tenor. He also wields it well, whether it’s the toe tapping “Whoa, Mama”; pointedly arguing with his father in “Firmer Hand/Do Right”; or sadly pining for what might have been in “I Had a Vision”.
Matt Karasek is spot on as Billy Cane. Karasek has the drive of youth with Billy’s determination to make it as a writer and the folksy manners and politeness of a well brought up small town country boy. He also has a fine tenor voice best displayed in “Bright Star” where he dreams about making it big or making you laugh out loud when he drinks for the first time in “Another Round”.
The handling of the score by Jennifer Novak Haar and her band is nothing short of genius. Not only do they play it perfectly, but they infused some real soul into it. You won’t just hear the music. It’s going to reach inside of you and shake your soul. Jim Othuse has designed a, for him, surprisingly bare bones set. Bits of furniture and modest backgrounds slide and drop in to change locales from the magazine office to the simple home of the Canes and the occasional outlines of trees for a romp in the woods. Tim Burkhart & John Gibilisco supply subtle sounds that enhance the story while Julian Adair adds some wonderful choreography. Her dancers are always in step and on beat and two of the best numbers are the hoedown in “Whoa, Mama” and the rambunctious moves in “Another Round”. Lindsay Pape’s costumes always suit the characters and the times from Alice’s sunny yellow dress in her youth to Daddy Cane’s overalls and the three-piece suit indicating the wealth and power of Mayor Dobbs.
The cast seemed to be holding back just a bit, but I think that was due to having waited so long to perform. After the standing ovation they justly earned, I think the floodgates of their energies have been opened and they are really going to start turning up the heat.
I truly can’t say enough good things about this show. It’s beautifully acted and splendidly sung and you will lose yourself in it. Give this cast and crew its due and see it.
Bright Star runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Feb 13. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm (bonus show at 6:30pm on Feb 13) both live and streaming. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 402-553-0800, visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com, or at the box office. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.
Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding auditions for the upcoming production of Murder on the Orient Express on Saturday, July 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Revive! Center Omaha, Sunday, July 11 at 1 p.m. at OCP and Monday, July 12 at 1 p.m. at OCP.
Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, OCP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which all community members feel a sense of belonging, and does not discriminate in casting practices on the basis of an individual’s ethnicity, age, gender, physical and cognitive ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse and inclusive casting.
Production: Murder on the Orient Express
Adapted by: Ken Ludwig
Director: Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek
Show Dates: Sept. 17 – Oct. 10, 2021
Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Performances are Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Actors are called to the theatre one hour before curtain.
Rehearsals: Begin August 1, 2021
Show Synopsis: A thrilling whodunit set aboard the world’s most famous luxury locomotive, Murder on the Orient Express will keep you guessing until the very end. When the Orient Express becomes stranded by a snowstorm, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his private room. With the murderer still on board, a detective must solve the crime before the train reaches its destination.
Roles: Hercule Poirot – Male identifying, all ethnicities: A famous Belgian
Monsieur Bouc – Male identifying, all ethnicities: A Belgian man
Mary Debenham – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A governess
Hector MacQueen – Male identifying, all ethnicities: Rachett’s personal secretary
Michel and Conductor/Marcel – Male identifying, all ethnicities: one actor will play two roles
Princess Dragomiroff – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A Russian dowager
Greta Ohlsson – Female identifying, all ethnicities: Princess Dragomiroff’s traveling companion
Countess Andrenyi – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A countess through marriage
Helen Hubbard – Female indentifying, all ethnicities: an outspoken and flamboyant American from the Midwest
Colonel Arbutnot – Male identifying, all ethnicities: Scotsman
Samuel Rachett – Male identifying, all ethnicities: middle aged American businessman
Auditions: Those who wish to audition may choose one of the following three audition dates:
§ Saturday, July 10, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Revive Center Omaha, 2402 Lizzie Robinson Ave. (24th & Lake), Omaha, NE. 68111
§ Sunday, July 11, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132
§ Monday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132
Callbacks: Monday, July 19, 7:00 p.m.
Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please contact Becky Deiber at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an audition appointment and request audition paperwork and sides.
Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script provided at auditions.
When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building.
Please Bring: All contact information, personal schedules and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form. To expedite the check-in process, please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.
COVID-19 In accordance with the CDC, if an individual is not vaccinated, they must wear a face mask. If
Protocols: an individual is vaccinated, they can decide whether to wear a face mask or not. All performers are required to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon casting.
Contact: For more information, contact Becky Deiber at email@example.com or (402) 553-4890.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I enjoyed my last normal B & B run when I visited Astor House of Green Bay, WI. So it seems apropos that my most normal run since the start of the pandemic would also take place in Wisconsin. My destination for this journey would be Christmas House Bed & Breakfast owned and operated by Pamela Deskins.
The trip couldn’t have started out any better. The weather was absolutely perfect and I managed to dodge the rush hours of both Omaha, NE and Des Moines, IA. I got to enjoy a meal at my favorite hole in the wall, Iowa’s Best Burger Café, listened as the Iowa Hawkeyes delivered an absolute drubbing to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in basketball and arrived early at my first stop, Davenport, IA.
I had booked a junior suite at the Holiday Inn & Suites, but I didn’t know how good of a room it was going to be.
This was a very elegant Holiday Inn. I’d put it at 4 stars. Thanks to digital check-in, I was able to check-in the day before and merely had to pick up my key at the front desk. My room was on the top floor where I had a good view of the city and, while I’m not positive, I think I might have been upgraded to a full suite as I had a spacious living room, bathroom with a double sized shower and a separate bedroom with a king-sized bed.
I had a good rest that night.
I decided to eat in the hotel restaurant, the J Bar, for breakfast. Even had my diet not been limited by Lent, the breakfast buffet still would have been overpriced at $10 as it only consisted of a few items. I had some scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and a granola bar. The server did bring me a wonderful green salsa that added the perfect kick to the eggs and potatoes and the orange juice was mighty smooth.
At 11:15am I checked out, gassed up and continued the jaunt to Racine. My journey took me on the toll road that has taken me to Algonquin, IL on several occasions, but I was surprised to learn that all of the toll booths were closed. To pay, you need to go to the Illinois Tollway website and register your plate. Then the Tollway will eventually charge your credit or debit card.
Around the 2pm hour, I got off the interstate and started passing through small towns. I smiled as the towns seemed a bit more vibrant and enjoyed the vast farmlands and imagined what the leafless trees would look like in full bloom. Around 3:20pm, I saw the mint-colored Christmas House looming in the distance.
If this is your first time visiting my blog, you should know that I am a Christmas nut. It’s my favorite holiday and I feature a Christmas B&B review on my website each year. Thus, Christmas House called out to me with all the subtlety of the ringing of a chow bell.
I was met by Pamela who gave me a tour of the mansion before leading me to the Glam Suite which would be my base of operations.
The Glam Suite offers one plenty of room to stretch out and relax. The room’s mint-colored walls and off-white carpeting promote a calming effect. The room contains a small kitchenette with a fridge that contains complimentary water, a pair of comfortable red leather chairs, a large TV and a comfy king-sized bed with what felt like a memory foam mattress.
Once getting settled in, I started a more detailed exploration of the mansion.
Christmas House had been built in 1893 by Emily Baker, the widow of former Racine mayor Robert H. Baker, and one of the original “Big Four” partners of the J.I. Case Company, nowadays known as Case New Holland. The mansion has been home to some of the most powerful people in Racine’s history and also served as the women’s dorm for the St Luke School of Nursing for 35 years. It gained its name in 1987 when it began hosting the Christmas House for Cancer benefit which it did until 1995.
The house is actually a blend of two styles. It is built in the Colonial Revival Style, but follows the plan of a Queen Anne. It is also mammoth. This is easily one of the three biggest inns I’ve visited, yet it only contains 4 suites which allows for plenty of privacy. A Carriage House is also available for rental for even further seclusion.
And, yes, the theme of Christmas is prevalent in the mansion as the first floor contains Christmas trees, knick-knacks, decorations and a life-sized Santa Claus.
When I finished looking around the mansion, I took a constitutional around the neighborhood and soaked in the view of Lake Michigan. From there I returned to the inn where I relaxed for a bit before picking up some dinner from Red Lobster in nearby Mount Pleasant. I enjoyed some Salmon New Orleans with mashed potatoes and a Caesar Salad. After my meal, I spent a quiet evening watching a little TV and organizing photos.
Breakfast was a grand affair the next morning. An extra leaf was added to the table for social distancing and I met a truly charming couple, the Jacksons, from Bloomington, IL. We had some incredible conversation and I thank them for pointing me towards my next major B & B outing, Black Bear Manor of Ouray, CO, which I hope to do this summer after I’ve had a poke or two of COVID vaccine.
Pamela whipped up a delicious skillet of sunny side up eggs, sausage and hash browns along with cornbread crumble and Kringle, the famed danish pastry of Wisconsin. I also learned that Pamela has almost limitless energy and boundless humor. Pamela is not only extremely knowledgeable about the Racine area, but she is well known for her entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Aside from owning Christmas House, she is also a realtor and “Big Sister” for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
She bought the inn in 2014 after it had been in foreclosure for 7 years and was responsible for over 70% of its restoration into the grand inn it is nowadays. To give you an idea of its disrepair at the time of Pamela’s purchase, the house literally had no roof.
For the first time in nearly a year, I actually managed to enjoy some local activities. I began with a long, leisurely walk through Petrifying Springs Park where the gurgling water of the streams provided some succor to the soul. I also had a phone call with my best friend, Josh, and some childhood memories were triggered as I saw some children enjoying themselves on classic playground equipment of slides, swings and merry-go-rounds.
After my hike, I visited a Kenosha, WI classic: Mars Cheese Castle. Admittedly, I originally thought it was a castle made of cheese. It is actually a store shaped like a castle that sells cheese, meats, clothes and old-fashioned candies and sodas. It even has a deli, restaurant and bar.
From there it was back to Christmas House when I did a little writing and took in an online worship service with Fr. Matt Barone.
When the service was completed, I was faced with a quandary. Did I want to have a very early dinner or wait until my normal dinner hour? Pamela had mentioned a local eatery called Kewpee’s, but it closed at 5pm. I thought about it and realized I wasn’t in the mood for a regular meal that night, so I went with the extra early dinner.
Kewpee’s is actually a Racine stalwart. There actually used to be a chain of them, but now only six are left and the Racine location is the only one in Wisconsin and it’s been operating since 1926.
The restaurant has the look of a fifties diner and is inspired by the famous kewpie dolls and there is a display case full of them inside. Being so close to closing time meant that there weren’t a lot of people inside so social distancing was an easy task. I ordered the double cheeseburger with the works, a side of fries and a Coke.
Not only does the place look like a fifties diner, it also has portion sizes to match with prices not that far behind. I personally appreciated the portion sizes as you get a great meal without feeling overstuffed. These are old fashioned burgers cooked fresh on a flattop grill and the fries are crinkle cut. Kewpee’s is also noted for its homemade root beer which I’ll make a point of sampling at some future date.
With dinner digesting, I returned to Christmas House for more writing, reading, photo organizing and some classic game shows on BUZZR.
Another great night of sleep led into a new day. Breakfast that day consisted of a pecan Kringle, strawberry waffles with whipped cream and cornbread crumble had sausage and egg added to it for quite the tasty melange. I had another satisfying round of conversation with Pamela and the Jacksons where I was introduced to the dancing skills of Pamela’s dog, Dewey.
This trip was just what the doctor called for and if you find yourself in Racine, make plans to stay at Christmas House. It’s truly as festive as the name sounds.
Columbus, GA–Citizens will see an outdoor theatre going up on the corner of Tenth Street and Second Avenue downtown over the next six weeks as the Springer Opera House creates an innovative way to protect their audiences and artists this spring.
“COVID transmission rates are inching downward in Muscogee County but patrons aren’t quite ready to gather indoors yet,” said Springer producing artistic director Paul Pierce. “We anticipate a continued downward trend as the weather warms and the impact of the vaccines takes hold. Meanwhile, this amphitheatre will give patrons a quality theatre experience designed for safety.”
The Springer has repackaged its remaining shows as the “Springer Theatre Festival” and designed a comfortable fresh-air performance space with distanced seating, an outdoor lighting system and advanced video projection equipment, allowing the theatre to produce shows on a broad, thirty-two foot stage right next to the 150 year-old historic theatre.
Pierce explained, “We’ve adjusted the calendar a bit and scheduled seven shows between mid-March and late June. Six of those shows are musicals. Columbus Consolidated Government has been very supportive in helping us work through the permitting and rules to be able to pull this off. I’m very grateful to Mayor Henderson and City staff for all their encouragement.”
The first production in the Springer Theatre Festival will be a remount of Singin’ in the Rain which had to be cancelled when the pandemic hit last spring. That show will kick off the Springer Theatre Festival on March 18.
Theatre lovers will also have the option of seeing shows via web streaming, if they prefer.
Masks will be required to be worn by patrons. Temperature checks and social distancing will also be required.
When COVID put a halt to Paul McCartney’s touring schedule, he retired to his Sussex farm and soon found himself working on a song he had put aside in 1992. Enjoying the end result, he began working on some more numbers and, before he knew it, he had a new album. The final product is McCartney III.
McCartney III marks the third part of a trilogy that began 50 years ago with the release of McCartney in 1970 and was followed by McCartney II in 1980. On these self-titled albums, McCartney is the sole creative force as he wrote and performed all the songs, played all the instruments and produced the albums.
The albums are also unique in that they’re not commercial work. These albums are just Sir Paul playing around, experimenting and writing solely for himself. As such, McCartney III was the first album where my excitement was tempered with a bit of caution.
Of his previous two DIY endeavors, McCartney is an OK album, but definitely feels more like a private work with its little song snippets. But it did produce the instant classic “Maybe I’m Amazed”. McCartney II was a grave disappointment relieved by two great instrumental numbers and the brilliant “One of These Days”.
After listening to the album’s opener, “Long Tailed Winter Bird”, I knew I had nothing to fear as McCartney clearly had another quality work on his hands. The opener begins with McCartney playing a catchy riff on acoustic guitar and the song slowly layers up as more instruments are added until the song becomes a gem of an instrumental.
Each song of the album has that fine layered quality which gives each number a lot of texture and nuance. Even the album’s weakest tune, “Deep Down”, is still an enjoyable listen due to the depth of McCartney’s melodies on this work.
McCartney III is definitely Macca’s most contemplative effort since 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. Many of the songs strike an unusually somber and reflective tone for the usually optimistic and cheerful performer. But these songs also happen to be some of the album’s finest moments.
“Pretty Boys” sounds like a reflection on the darker side of Beatlemania when mega-fame put the Beatles in a box where people could “look, but you better not touch”. “Women and Wives” is a haunting lecture on the trials of love and marriage from the viewpoint of an experienced sage. “Lavatory Lil” is a guilty pleasure song featuring a character who is the second cousin of “Polythene Pam” and “Mean Mr. Mustard”. “Deep, Deep Feeling” is a heavy song about the deep feeling of love wrapped in one of McCartney’s most ethereal melodies since Electric Arguments.
Of course the album still has songs featuring Sir Paul’s classic energy and pep. McCartney reminds us that he still lives life to the fullest with “Seize the Day”. “Find My Way” finds a man still confident of his path while “The Kiss of Venus” is a beautiful love song enhanced by Sir Paul’s raspy falsetto making it sound like a grandfather telling his grandchildren the story of how he met their grandmother. “Slidin” has McCartney revisiting the White Album days with a hard rocker akin to a slightly mellower “Helter Skelter”. And the album is nicely framed with its closer “Winter Bird/When Winter Comes” where the album’s opener segues into a simple song about getting the farm ready for winter.
Even at the age of 78, Paul McCartney still has an impressive set of pipes though the passage of time has thinned them a bit. But it also has the flip side of adding an aura of experience and life lived that add an inexplicable x factor to his songs.
With McCartney III, Macca has reached the full potential of his DIY work and produced a great record that could be a candidate for Album of the Year. More importantly, he’s shared the gift of joy with a world ready for a little positivity and ends 2020 on a very high note indeed.
Omaha, NE.– Grounded will open Friday, Sept. 25 at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The show will be held in the Howard Drew Theatre at OCP. Performances will run Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 18. The Howard Drew Theatre will allow for social distancing and other safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An ace fighter pilot finds herself grounded when an unexpected pregnancy cuts her career in the sky short. Reassigned to military drone operation, the former F-16 pilot patrols Afghanistan by day—from a windowless trailer outside of Las Vegas—and returns to her family at night. But as professional pressure mounts, the lines between the desert where she lives and the desert where she hunts high-profile terrorists begins to blur.
Tickets are on sale now starting at $36, with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased through the OCP Box Office by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.
All audience, staff, and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Masks will be available free of charge and must be worn properly in accordance with CDC guidelines. Patrons attending a show in either theatre will be socially distanced from other guests with all groups at least 6 feet apart. In the Howard Drew theatre, a plexiglass barrier will be installed around the perimeter of the stage to provide separation between guests and performers. Productions will not incorporate any physical audience participation.
Audience members will be required to self-screen for a fever and symptoms of illness prior to arriving at OCP. Those with fever or other symptoms may exchange their ticket at no cost. New arrival and dismissal procedures will help encourage social distancing, including staggered vehicle loading/unloading, assigned will call pick up times and row-by-row dismissal after a show.
Lobbies, reception areas and lines will be arranged and marked to encourage social distancing. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in the box office windows with cash-free payments encouraged, touchless credit card transactions offered and touch-free ticket pickup available. Common areas and performance halls will be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis with both cleanser and electrostatic technology.
All restrooms will be outfitted with touchless fixtures and will be sanitized daily and throughout performances. We will no longer hold post-show meet and greets with the actors in the lobby. Concessions and drinks will not be available and public water fountains will be closed.
Labor Day weekend had arrived and I felt the need to get away to someplace quiet and restful. A look through my trusty spreadsheet and I realized it was the perfect time to visit Atchison and Tuck U Inn at Glick Mansion owned and operated by Chris and Loman Wildy.
I had been meaning to visit Atchison for quite a while, not only because of Glick Mansion, but because the town also contains a community theatre, Theatre Atchison, where I plan to one day review one of their shows. However, with the pandemic currently throwing a wrench into the world of the arts, I decided to at least visit the town and inn. (I would later learn that Theatre Atchison is mounting a 20-21 season.)
It was the type of drive I like the best: no interstate. Nothing but highways and going through a small town or two before I arrived in Atchison.
Atchison is actually notable for a number of items. It has a deep history, once had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country, was the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, and is considered the most haunted town in Kansas. In fact, across the street from Glick Mansion is Sallie House, the most haunted house in Kansas which has been featured on many shows. It is available for self-guided tours and overnights, but one must sign a waiver to enter the house as there is a chance for injury in the abandoned domicile, though one hasn’t happened since the last tenants in 1993.
I entered the town around 4pm and made my way to Glick Mansion which is located in Atchison’s historical district.
When I think of a classic B & B, Glick Mansion is the vision that pops into my mind. This Victorian mansion was built by George Glick in 1873. Glick had been a successful attorney and farmer and was also active in state politics as he was elected to the Kansas legislature in 1862 and served in that capacity in 14 of the next 18 years. He also served one term as governor starting in 1882.
When I arrived at the mansion, I was let in by Chris and led into the entry room/den where I filled out some paperwork and selected a breakfast time in order to be socially distanced from other guests. But when Chris opened the door to the living room, I felt as if I had stepped back in time.
Period correct furniture and property fill the massive living room whose centerpiece includes a baby grand (I think) piano. Chris showed me around the abode and enlightened me on some of the history of the house and town as I gazed on the historical beauty of the inn. Eventually, Chris led me to my room, the First Lady’s Room.
This had been the governor’s bedroom and it is a beaut. From its elegant Victorian furniture to its queen sized canopy bed, this room practically shouts comfort. The bathroom is especially impressive as it was once the sleeping porch of the Glicks. Yes, you read that right. The Glicks believed sleeping outside was healthier. Not only does the bathroom contain a fireplace, but it also holds a jetted tub.
After getting settled, I took a little walk around the town. I could definitely see the extreme wealth for which the town had once been famed as there are a lot of old money houses in the area. As I later learned from Loman (who is a fount of knowledge on Atchison’s history), the town once had 57 millionaires and 11 women who were worth half a million. That latter fact was the most interesting because this was during a period when women were not encouraged to work nor were allowed to inherit, so how did they accrue their wealth? They either had to be working covertly or illicitly.
The truth was that they were doing a bit of both. A restaurant near the riverfront was a brothel back in the day and that is where these women worked. Atchison had been a big port town that often had 3 steamboats in dock to get supplies. So the women would hit up the steamboat personnel when they docked and the money rolled in.
I needed some dinner, so I made my way to Paolucci, a bar/restaurant/deli. I decided to go with their house special, a chicken romano sandwich which was grilled chicken seasoned with Romano cheese and topped with bacon. As I wanted some vegetables, I also had the tossed salad with Paolucci’s homemade ranch dressing.
This meal was a jackpot. The vegetables were fresh and crisp and the homemade dressing was out of this world. The sandwich was perfection on a bun. The chicken was so juicy and the seasoning made each bit a little bite of Heaven. With a satisfying meal tucked in, I returned to Glick where I had a long conversation with Loman before retiring for the evening.
In the morning, I drew a bath and the water gets very hot very fast, so it was a case of actually bringing the water down to my preferred temperature. The jets were just what I needed as I’ve been using a new tabata workout regimen and my lower extremities were aching and the jets massaged the soreness out of them.
I enjoyed breakfast in the sun room where a small dish of honeydew and strawberries awaited me with goblets of orange juice and milk. The main entrée was a sterling plate of Eggs Benedict with a side of seasoned asparagus. It was an incredible meal with presentation that was a work of art.
Afterwards I began my explorations of the town and started with a visit to Benedictine College. This small Catholic university only contains about 2,000 students and has a lot of elegant buildings including St Benedict church. I halted my campus amblings prematurely as I saw a sign saying that through Sept 15 on-campus students were to remain on-campus except for necessities and off-campus students were to remain off-campus to help insulate against COVID, so I thought I should abide by the decree and drove around the campus instead.
From there I wandered about the town. The town is still slowly reopening from COVID so certain venues only have limited availability. This meant I was unable to make visits to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and the Evah Cray Historical House as they are only operating a few days out of the week. However, I will visit these places when I make my inevitable return to the town.
So I spent an afternoon reading Sherlock Holmes, writing, and watching Ratatouille which I selected from the inn’s movie library.
About 6pm, I felt ready for dinner so I went downtown to Maria’s Mexican Restaurant. Again, I found another winner of a meal. I tried the Burrito Fajita and it was delicious especially when enhanced with a side of properly seasoned rice and refried beans mixed with a bit of queso.
With a nice dinner digesting, I returned to Glick Mansion where I watched The Mask of Zorro, took another bath, and read Sherlock Holmes until oblivion claimed me.
I had a feast waiting for me in the sun room the next morning. Chris had prepared a bacon, egg, and cheese quiche along with some kiwi, strawberries, and what looked like a miniature orange with a side of fried potatoes. There was even a bit of dessert with a strawberry turnover.
Thirty minutes later I had another leisurely meal under my belt and I returned to my room to put the finishing touches on this article.
This has been one of the best inns I’ve visited since I founded the Corner and it gets my highest recommendation for a visit. It’s a classic B & B where you’ll be surrounded by vintage comfort, enjoy some fine meals, and have some wonderful hosts in Chris and Loman. You truly will leave this inn as a friend and can enjoy some of this town’s history or even do a little ghost hunting if that’s your forte.
Opera Omaha Announces Audition for Ensemble of Sweeney Todd
Auditions will be held at the BLUEBARN located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE. A pianist will be provided.
Thursday, Oct 1 from 5:30pm-7:30pm
Friday, Oct 2 from 5:30pm-7:30pm
Saturday, Oct 3 from 2pm-4pm
A wide variety of roles will come from the ensemble. Ensemble members must have strong, trained voices, good musicianship, and should be confident movers. There are many important solo lines for ensemble members in the show including one trio for tenors and one quintet for 5 voices.
Our Sweeney Todd ensemble will be working together as a unified and evolving presence to create various stage pictures and emotional landscapes reflecting and amplifying the story.
Must be willing to work in a wide range of movement from pedestrian/gestural to more athletic and precise. No formal dance experience necessary.
Ensemble must also be able to demonstrate a strong concentration, intensity, and the ability to play “characters”.
–Please prepare one song of your choosing that shows off your vocal range. This selection should be in English. Please bring a copy of the sheet music for the accompanist. The panel reserves the right to only hear a portion of your selection.
–In addition to your song, please prepare the excerpt provided by Opera Omaha for your appropriate vocal part.
–Sopranos (G3-D6), NB Soprano 1s MUST have a strong, high voice to C# and D6.
–Baritones (F#2-Db5) NB This can be a high baritone OR a lower tenor.
–All ethnicities are encouraged to audition.
–Ensemble will receive the music in advance along with supplementary study tools. You are expected to have a good working knowledge of the music BEFORE the first music rehearsal. Reading music is required.
–Please dress for movement during the audition.
Please note the following before auditioning.
–The first music rehearsal is March 16, 2021 and the final performance is April 18, 2021.
–Ensemble will not be excused in advance from the final room run on April 6 or any rehearsal thereafter or any performance. Last minute changes will be taken into consideration.
–Late arrivals and early departures from rehearsals must be approved in advance, but are highly discouraged.
–Each conflict will be handled on an individual basis.
–Current COVID-19 safety protocols for performers will be followed and provided to registered auditionees prior to the audition.
To schedule an audition, please contact Stephanie Shattuck at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reserve your audition slot by Friday, September 25.
Omaha, NE.– Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals will open Friday, August 28 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). The show will be held outdoors in the Storz Parking Lot at OCP. Performances will run Wednesdays through Sundays through September 20. The outdoor venue allows social distancing and other safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bid farewell to summer with one final outdoor extravaganza at OCP! Don’t Stop Me Now: A Celebration of Rock Musicals is a drive-in style concert featuring songs from acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll musicals, including Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rock of Ages, Beautiful, Hair, Dreamgirls and more! Sing and dance along with your favorite musical hits from the your private socially-distanced parking area, or tune in to hear the show from OCP’s radio station inside your car! Featuring Billy McGuigan’s Rave On Productions band and six powerhouse vocalists, Don’t Stop Me Now is the end-of-summer spectacular you won’t want to miss.
To ensure audience safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be a cashless event requiring a reservation. Cars will be parked in a checkerboard pattern for social distancing. Audience members can choose to bring portable chairs and sit outdoors on the driver’s side of the vehicle they came in, but please mingle only with those who came in your vehicle. No concessions will be sold. No smoking or alcoholic beverages will be permitted. Bathrooms in the Playhouse main lobby will be available, with COVID sanitation and social distancing observed. Early arrival is recommended to allow extra time for parking. Parking spaces will be assigned as cars arrive. Please, no lining up to park until 60 minutes before showtime. Tickets are on sale now starting at $35, with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.