Singin’ Up a Storm

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

Silent film stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are America’s sweethearts.  Lina is sweet on Don, but he merely tolerates her.  Don falls for a budding young actress named Kathy Selden who has earned the ire of Lina.  Their studio decides to make a talkie which morphs into a musical.  Difficulties arise when Kathy is selected to overdub Lina’s grating voice.  Lina decides to ground Kathy’s career to a halt as a result.  Will her machinations succeed?  Find out in Singin’ in the Rain, currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

If you like musicals with lavish dance numbers and memorable songs then this is the show for you.  Betty Comden and Adolph Green did a superlative job transcribing this classic movie to the stage.  They managed to retain the entirety of the original tale with very few changes and add a bit of that something extra by adding a song and dance number after every section of the story.  Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed have written a nice little score peppered with snappy, loving, and upbeat tunes.

Kimberly Faith Hickman once again infuses a show with some of her inimitable directing magic.  She hits all of the show’s beats.  Her staging is precise.  Her actors spot on.  The singing is on point.  More importantly, she just makes the show fun.

Kudos to a strong supporting cast who add the little touches that breathe vital reality into this world.  Some memorable featured performances include Mary Trecek in a humorous turn as Lina Lamont’s diction coach; Jason DeLong who shows he’s got acting chops to match his talented feet as Don Lockwood’s diction coach; Don Harris as Roscoe Dexter, a director struggling to transition to talkies; and Boston Reid who shines with his golden tenor voice singing “Beautiful Girls”.

Nate Wasson is truly a triple threat as Don Lockwood.  He can sing, dance, and act with an ease and naturalness that seems to be instinctive.  Wasson has a real knack for making you feel right along with Lockwood.  When he’s happy, you’re happy.  When he’s sad, you’re sad.  Wasson gives Lockwood a needed likability and sensitivity and comes across as a regular guy who just happened to make it very, very big.

And Gene Kelly can eat his heart out when it comes to Wasson’s singing and dancing.  Wasson’s fabulous tenor will grace your ears with sweet tunes such as “You Stepped Out of a Dream”, humorous ones like “Moses Supposes” (a personal favorite), and, of course, the iconic title song.  And his feet will keep you clapping as he skillfully taps his way into your heart in “Good Morning” and his solo work in “Singin’ in the Rain” which is rendered more difficult as he dances in an honest to goodness downpour.

Tayler Plank brings a sweetness and confidence to the role of Kathy Selden.  She plays a little coy with Don in the beginning as she poo-poohs film acting and pretends not to really be aware of his fame until they meet again at a party.  Later they truly bond when she becomes a contract player at Monumental Studios.

Ms Plank possesses a glorious soprano and delighted the audience all night with numbers such as “Would You?” and “You are My Lucky Star”.  She also does some impressive hoofing of her own in “Good Morning” and “All I Do is Dream of You”.

J. Isaiah Smith is definitely the man to watch with a mind blowing turn as Cosmo Brown. Smith has unteachable timing as the joke a minute songwriter and his rubbery face is ideal for comic acting with the wide variety of expressions he was able to conjure, each well suited to the moment. Seldom have I seen such an athletic dancer as Smith especially with his jaw dropping solo in “Make ‘Em Laugh” where he leaps all around as well as on and off the stage.

Cathy Hirsch gives an award caliber performance as Lina Lamont.  She nailed her character to the floor with a whiny, vacuous, New York accented voice that will delightfully grate on your ears.  Ms Hirsch is a primo villain as she is vengeful, egotistical, and just plain old nasty.  But I really tip my hat to her on her solo performance in “What’s Wrong with Me?” as she managed to retain that screechy off-key voice while somehow managing to stay on-key at the same time.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra once again fail at failing with yet another brilliantly performed score.  Roxanne Nielsen returns to the Playhouse to add another laurel to her long list of legendary pieces of choreography, especially with the work done by the three leads.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes evoke a sense of 1920s elegance with double breasted suits and gorgeous gowns.  Jim Othuse’s sets will take you from Don’s apartment to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to a certain memorable rainy street.  The OnPxl team of Matt Bross & Chad Eacker provide some impressive special effects especially with a stunning replication of old time silent films and talkies.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco team up to make some impressive sounds especially the foibles of recording sound movies for the first time.

The best way to sum up this show is to borrow from the title song:

 

They’re singin’ in the rain.

Just singin’ in the rain.

What a glorious feelin’.

You’ll be happy again.

Everyone in the place

Have a smile on your face.

As they’re singin’ and dancin’ in the rain.

 

Singin’ in the Rain plays at the Omaha Playhouse through June 24.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $42 for adults and $25 for students.  Wednesday night shows are $32 for adults and $20 for students.  For tickets call 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

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

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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)

OCP Announces 93rd Season

BILLY MCGUIGAN’S ROCK TWIST
Billy McGuigan and the Steve Gomez Band
By Rave On Productions
July 12 – 23, 2017 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

World Premiere

See Billy McGuigan as you’ve never seen him before. Classic rock tunes with a big band twist; big band standards with a rock and roll twist. Backed by a full horn section and an all-star lineup of Omaha’s finest musicians, Billy’s brand new show will have Playhouse audiences rocking like never before. Frank Sinatra? Check. The Beatles? Check. Harry Connick, Jr.? Check. Billy Joel? Check! Fresh re-arrangements of rock and jazz standards performed as only Billy can. It’s rock with a twist. The world premiere is coming to the Omaha Playhouse in July 2017.

EMINENT DOMAIN
By Laura Leininger-Campbell
Directed by Amy Lane
Aug. 25 – Sept. 17, 2017 | Howard Drew (Thurs. – Sun.)

World Premiere
Does oil run thicker than blood? Or will a pipeline splitting the prairie tear a family apart? A 2016 Eugene O’Neil National Playwrights Conference finalist, originally conceived for Shelterbelt Theatre’s Before the Boards series, Eminent Domain tells a relevant story of a Nebraska family farm threatened by the construction of an oil pipeline and the ensuing conflict that emerges within. On the surface, Eminent Domain exposes the hard-fought battle between Nebraska farmers and corporate energy. Dig deeper and the greater struggle is revealed: the fight to preserve our Heartland’s farms and the livelihood of the people who live here. Our most crucial resource is not just the land we are privileged to attend with cracked and calloused hands—it is our kin, our clan and our heritage. Join us for this world premiere of an Omaha playwright’s work. Disclaimer: Contains adult language.

MAMMA MIA!
Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and some songs with Stig Anderson | Book by Catherine Johnson | Based on the songs of ABBA
Directed by Jeff Horger
Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, 2017 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

This smash-hit musical featuring the songs of ABBA is one of the top 10 longest-running Broadway musicals. Mamma Mia! is a delightful tale of love, laughter and friendship. Donna is slowly warming up to the notion of her daughter Sophie’s impending wedding when her life is upended by the unexpected arrival of three former beaus, all possible candidates to walk Sophie down the aisle. With all your favorite ABBA hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance On Me,” “Honey, Honey” and more, find out why Mamma Mia! has become an audience favorite! Disclaimer: Contains spandex, strobe lights and disco dancing.

STUPID F@#%ING BIRD
By Aaron Posner
A sort-of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Suzanne Withem
Oct. 13 – Nov. 12, 2017 | Howard Drew (Thurs. – Sun.)

This “sort-of adaptation” of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov tells a story in which an aspiring young director battles against the art created by his mother’s generation. A young actress competes with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist and everyone discovers just how complicated life, art and success can be. This irreverent, modern and very funny remix of a classic play will incite you to consider how art, love and revolution fuel your own pursuit of happiness.
Disclaimer: Contains adult language and sexuality.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Special Event)
By Charles Dickens | Adapted by Charles Jones | Musical orchestration by John J. Bennett
Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Nov. 17 – Dec. 23, 2017 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. 7:00 p.m., Thurs. – Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.)

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol. Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey filled with lovely costumes, exquisite music, beautifully crafted sets and special effects second to none. Perfect for the whole family!

YESTERDAY AND TODAY – 10th Anniversary (Special Event)
An Interactive Beatles Experience Featuring Billy McGuigan
©2007 By Rave On Productions

Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, 2017 | Howard Drew (Thurs. – Sun. eve)

Billy McGuigan and his brothers are back for the 10th consecutive year at Omaha Community Playhouse! This all-request Beatles tribute show will have you dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song. Share your stories and relive your memories with your favorite Beatles songs. No two shows are the same, and every show is a guaranteed exhilarating time!

RIPCORD
By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Kimberly Faith Hickman
Jan. 19 – Feb. 11, 2018 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

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.

PARADE
Book by Alfred Uhry  |  Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown  |  Co-Conceived and Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
Directed by Jeff Horger
Feb. 9 – March 11, 2018 | Howard Drew (Thurs. – Sun.)

Parade is the Tony Award-winning musical based around the trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish man wrongfully accused of murder in Marietta, Georgia in 1913. Religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tensions are already prevalent in this small Southern town, and when reporters begin to sensationalize the case, the likelihood of a fair trial is put in jeopardy. With a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and music by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, The Bridges Of Madison County), this true story reveals the beauty of the human condition, even when faced with tragedy. Disclaimer: Contains language and situations related to racial tension and mob violence.

Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
Words and Music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul | Book by Timothy Allen McDonald | Based
on the book by Roald Dahl
Directed by Kimberly Faith Hickman
March 2 – March 25, 2018 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

James and the Giant Peach is a brand-new musical guaranteed to mesmerize theatregoers of all ages. A compelling story by beloved author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda) and music composed by the award-winning team of Pasek & Paul (La La Land, A Christmas Story, television’s Smash), a young orphan named James accidentally drops magic crystals by an old peach tree. Strange things start to happen and James soon discovers a world of magic and adventure full of friendly insects and learns that love and family can be found in unexpected places.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Based on the Screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard  |  Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall  |  Music by Paddy Cunneen  |  Based on the Academy Award-winning film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes
Directed by Jeff Horger
April 13 – May 6, 2018 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Tom Stoppard and adapted by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), Shakespeare in Love is a love letter to the stage and a celebration of theatre, music and human connection. While the government threatens to close all theaters, young Will Shakespeare suffers from writer’s block, as his muse Viola disguises herself as a man to pursue her dreams of being an actor. Amidst mistaken identities, ruthless scheming, backstage theatrics and a misbehaving dog, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece.
Disclaimer: Contains scenes of sexuality.

THE MOUNTAINTOP
By Katori Hall
Directed by Denise Chapman
May 4 – May 27, 2018 | Howard Drew (Thurs. – Sun.)

An Olivier Award-winning play of historical fiction, The Mountaintop imagines the final night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After giving his speech, “The Mountaintop,” Dr. King returns to his room at the Lorraine Motel. When a mysterious woman with a secret agenda pays a visit to Dr. King, the resulting confrontation imaginatively explores destiny, legacy and mortality.
Disclaimer: Contains dialogue related to racial tension and adult language.

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
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
Directed by Kimberly Faith Hickman
June 1 – June 24, 2018 | Hawks Mainstage (Weds. – Sun.)

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.