A Season Most Short

I had once planned to call this year’s story series “A Season of Renewal”, but life had other ideas as it’s actually become my shortest season in history.

Picking up from our last tale, Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods continued its critical success into that year’s Playhouse Awards.  All of my actors were nominated for acting prizes which certainly made me proud with my first dip into the directing side of things.  We ended up taking home 4 prizes (Best Featured Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, and Best Cameo by an Actress).

Success followed us to that year’s TAG Awards where Lara Marsh took home the Best Director prize in a three way tie.  I’ve laid claim to the left big toe of the statuette.

Broadway World Awards were next on the list where we ended up taking Best Actor, Director, Supporting Actress & Actor, and Best Set Design (Large Theatre).  I truly was blessed to have been involved with such an astounding production.

But for my own little endeavors as a performer, it was a long wait for my next audition.  In fact, my first audition for the season took place only a month ago.  It had been a year and a half since my last audition, the longest amount of time that had ever passed between attempts.

I auditioned for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Omaha Playhouse under the direction of Jeff Horger.  The film version is one of my favorite westerns and it’s a powerful story of a man standing on principle against the law of the gun.

For those of you familiar with the film, the play is quite a bit different than you may expect.  The play more closely resembles the short story with which the film took quite a few liberties.  Characters have different names.  Some characters in the film aren’t present in the play.  The language is a bit stronger.  Valance is considerably more intelligent.  The play is also quite a bit talkier.

My choices were pretty limited.  Originally I had been interested in the roles of Ransome Foster (played by Jimmy Stewart under the name Ransome Stoddard in the film) and Dutton Peabody, the newspaperman (played by Edmund O’Brien in the film).  There isn’t a Peabody character in the play so that went out.  That left me with either Foster or the Marshal.  Valance didn’t enter my mind as I don’t have the look of a stone cold killer.  Foster was even a long shot as most of the characters in the show were supposed to be in their mid twenties.  While I still look younger than I am in the face, my hairline and hair color more readily reveal the truth that I am about to turn 40 in a few months.

From the start, I felt there was something off about this read.  From a technical standpoint, I was pretty solid.  But the spark of my heart simply wasn’t there.  It just felt like I was going through the motions.  For the first time in years, I walked out of an audition without the glimmer of hope that I had a chance and that ended up being the case.  Given that most of the primary cast is in their mid twenties, I take some solace in the fact that even a top flight audition might not have netted me a role.

I actually had my last audition for the season earlier this week.  I received an invitation from Christina Belford-Rohling to audition for Elephant’s Graveyard, the next reader’s theatre production of the Playhouse’s Alternative Programming series.  The play is based on the true story of the lynching of a circus elephant.

I came to the audition and was pleased to see quite a few faces, many of them new to me.  I’ve noted that the reader’s theatre productions tend to bring out quite a few people since there is a lot more flexibility in the casting.

Aside from the brief synopsis, I knew nothing about the play so I was open to any character.  When I read the character, I felt a pull towards the Ringmaster, Clown, and Preacher.

Let me tell you something.  Monday’s audition was the best type of audition.  I read the monologue for the clown and the beats just fell into place.  I walked into the room and nailed the read.  The spark was there and I was truly enjoying myself.

When I finished, Christina said, “Truly excellent.  I want you to try something for me.”

Then she brought out a music stand and had me place the monologue on it.  She then asked me to actually mime juggling and do the last half of the monologue and really make her feel like I loved that elephant at the end.  I had actually envisioned the juggling when I originally read the monologue so this worked out well.

I started juggling and the physicality of it made my read a little more nonchalant.  And I switched up the juggling as I spoke, moving from two hands to one back to two, tossing it under my leg, and catching it behind my back.  I caught my imaginary balls and delivered the love line which could have been taken a smidge farther.

Christina said, “Really excellent.  I don’t think I need to see anymore if that’s all right with you.”  I had no problems with that and went home, content with a good read.

Let me tell you something.  Monday’s audition was the worst type of audition.  Despite an excellent read, I failed to make the cut.  But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the reward is always in the read.  If you read well, you won.  The casting really doesn’t matter.  It’s just the icing on the cake.

Until the next season.

Advertisements

Blue Barn Holds Auditions for Season Finale, ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert–The Musical’

The BLUEBARN Theatre is pleased to announce open auditions for the regional premiere of Priscilla Queen of the Desert–The Musical.  Auditions will be held on Saturday, January 14 from 11am-3pm.  Callbacks will be held by invitation on Monday, January 16 from 6pm-9pm.  Auditions will be held at the BLUEBARN located at 1106 S 10th St (10th and Pacific).

Performances for Priscilla Queen of the Desert–The Musical run May 18-July 1, 2017 with rehearsals scheduled to begin early April 2017.  Susan Clement-Toberer directs with musical direction by Doran Schmidt and choreography by Nichol Mason Lazenby.  Please contact Randall T. Stevens for more information at rstevens@bluebarn.org.

Needed:  large cast of men and women of all ages and ethnicities.  Also needed is 1 boy age 8-11.  Those auditioning should prepare 32 bars of an up-tempo contemporary song.  An accompanist will be provided.  Please, no acapella or pre-recorded music.

About Priscilla Queen of the Desert–The Musical

Based on the smash hit movie, Priscilla is the heartwarming, uplifting adventure of three friends, Tick, Bernadette, and Adam, a glamorous Sydney-based performing trio who agree to take their show to the middle of the Australian Outback.  They hop aboard a battered old bus, “Priscilla,” searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of.

Featuring a hit parade of dancefloor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” “Finally,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Go West,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “I Love the Nightlife,” this wildly fresh and funny musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS!

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company. Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons.

Barn Players are Ready to Get ‘Big’

Kansas City’s acclaimed youth troupe the Barn Players Jr. are pleased to present Broadway musical hit, Big. Based on the memorable Twentieth Century Fox film written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, this amusing musical has a book by John Weidman, with music by David Shire, and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. The Barn Jr. winter production is directed by community theatre veteran Jason Coats, with musical direction by Todd Gregory-Gibbs.

What magic happens on stage? At a local carnival, awkward young Josh Baskin makes a wish to the mechanical Zoltar fortune teller to become Big. To his amazement, his wish is granted. Before he knows it Josh must do “adult” things, including finding a mentor, getting a job and soon a girlfriend. His rite of passage between boy and man and back includes the discovery that there’s more to being an adult than he bargained for. Lesson? We all must grow up at our own speed.

“Our student actors have done a phenomenal job of bringing this work to life,” says director Jason Coats. “It’s a perfect show for them. It explores what growing up really means. It challenges what they think it may be like to be an adult.”

Featured roles in Big are played by: Wes Battey, Anna Berardo, Maria Berardo, Veronica Dervin, Ashley Elliot-Rowe, Sydney Gilman, Paiten Griffith, Alex Leondedis, Phil Licata, Abigail Nottingham, Paige Padgett, Paul Ruf, Claire Segura, Seneca Sims, Margaret Veghlan, and Sam Wise. Ensemble players include: Lucy Alcock, Stella Hughes, Sophia Logan, Ava Moran, Aurelia Power, Jezri Robertson, Sean Ruddy, and Isabelle Simmonds.

WHAT: Big, a Barn Players Jr. Presentation

WHERE: The Barn Players, 6219 Martway, Mission, KS 66202

WHEN: Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Friday, January 13th through Sunday, January 22nd.

TICKETS: Tickets are $12.00. Buy online at: thebarnplayers.org, via phone at 913.432.9100, or at the box office. Cash / credit cards  are accepted.

The New Year Starts with ‘The Sound of Music’

Omaha, Neb. (December 14, 2016)  The lavish new production of The Sound of Music, directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien will make its Omaha premiere January 24-29 at the Orpheum Theater as part of Omaha Performing Arts’ Broadway Series.  Tickets, starting at $25, are now available at the Ticket Omaha box office located inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street, by calling 402-345-0606 or online at TicketOmaha.com

The Sound of Music features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.  This new production is directed by Jack O’Brien (credits include Hairspray, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Coast of Utopia), choreographed by Danny Mefford (Fun Home, The Bridges of Madison County and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and music supervision by Andy Einhorn (Bullets Over Broadway, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Brief Encounter, The Light in the Piazza).  The design and production team is comprised of Douglas W. Schmidt, set design (Tony Award nominee, 42nd Street, Into the Woods); Jane Greenwood, costume design (2014 recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre), Natasha Katz, lighting design (Five-time Tony Award Winner:  An American in Paris, Once, Aida, The Coast of Utopia, The Glass Menagerie) and Ken Travis, sound design (Aladdin, Newsies, Memphis).  Casting by Telsey + Company/Rachel Hoffman, CSA.

According to director Jack O’Brien, “The Sound of Music has been in our ears for decades, as it deserves to be.  But it might be time to look once more, and more closely, at this remarkable work which, I feel, begins to reveal itself as deeper, richer, and more powerful than ever.  It’s no longer ‘your mother’s’ familiar Sound of Music.  We are tearing off the varnish of the past from one of the great glories of our theatergoing experience and making it fresh!  This is an opportunity to create!”

Producer Beth Williams (Grove Entertainment) said, “It’s a great privilege to bring this beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein musical to theaters across North America.  We hope that people of all ages will continue to fall in love with it for the first time, or all over again, and that it will truly become on e of their ‘favorite things.’  From our distinguished team led by the creative master Jack O’Brien, audiences can expect a truly magnificent production of The Sound of Music.”

In the words of Ted Chapin, President of Rodgers & Hammerstein, “The Sound of Music continues to be the world’s most beloved musical.  When a major national tour was suggested, I not only agreed, but was willing to roll up my sleeves and do whatever i could to fashion a new stage production that would re-engage today’s theatergoing public.  The show was originally created for Broadway, and seeing it on stage only reinforces the power of the story and the score.  And with Jack O’Brien at the directorial helm–well, we simply couldn’t do better.  Landing somewhere between The Coast of Utopia and Hairspray (shows for which Jack won the Tony), his production is smart, focused, and surprising.”

The Sound of Music enjoyed extraordinary success as the first live television production of a musical in over 50 years when The Sound of Music Live! aired on NBC in December 2013; 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the film version, which continues to be the most successful movie musical in history.  The sprited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with such songs as My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Edelweiss, and the title song.

The Sound of Music will play Omaha’s Orpheum Theater at 7:30pm on Jan 24-26, 8pm on Jan 27-28, 2pm on Jan 28, 1:30pm on Jan 29, and 7pm on Jan 29.

For more information, please visit www.ticketomaha.com or www.TheSoundOfMusicOnTour.com, www.facebook.com/TheSoundOfMusic, www.twitter.com/SoundOfMusic, www.instagram.com/SoundOfMusicOnTour

They Give the Gift of Laughter

bb-ultimatechristmasshow_7734

Noah Diaz (above), Jonathan Purcell (left), and Bill Grennan (right) star in The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) at the Blue Barn Theatre.

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Christmas pageant and this is nothing like a good old-fashioned Christmas pageant.  This is The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor and is currently playing at the Blue Barn Theatre.

Once more, the Blue Barn presents a piece of metafiction as Bill Grennan, Noah Diaz, and Jonathan Purcell play embellished versions of themselves trying to salvage the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church after a winter storm prevents all of the show’s acts from appearing.  Martin & Tichenor’s script walks a fine line between inspired genius and haphazard mess.  Martin & Tichenor rely on considerably more improvisation and audience participation than I’ve normally seen in scripts of this type.  In the hands of less capable actors and directors this show could easily fall on its face.  Luckily, this show has the benefit of the strong guiding hand of Randall T. Stevens and his trio of gifted comics to make the most out of this spectacle.

Feigning chaos is difficult.  Mimicking that sense of frustration, desperation, and flat out being lost requires a fine touch and Randall T. Stevens provides that touch with confident, surefire direction.  At no point did I doubt that his actors were not making up stuff off the tops of their heads and his staging is quite crafty as his performers make full use of the theatre as they vainly try to cobble together a watchable show.

Bill Grennan is a raging doofus and a hammy overactor.  Those are indeed compliments.  Grennan presents himself as a somewhat naïve waif who loves everything about Christmas, but is pretty oblivious to the world around him.  Whether he’s singing a racist version of White Christmas which goes over his head because he prefers music to lyrics or letting his cohorts hold an excessively long note because he interrupts a song for a speech, Grennan consistently proves himself to not be the brightest bulb on the tree.

The energy Grennan throws out is unbelievable as he maintains a frenetic pace throughout the show as he races about the theatre and especially when he indulges in scene chewing luxury as King Herod in an English panto about the Nativity.  Grennan also has a great light tenor voice as he leads the audience through a unique version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, a terrific medley of Christmas songs, and a rousing version of Jingle Bells.

Jonathan Purcell plays the stick in the mud of the group.  His exaggerated self is an ultra Christian with a pathological fear of Santa Claus and is quite hypocritical with his constant judging of others, referring to Grennan as a pagan, and growing angry when a holiday greeting other than Merry Christmas is used.

Purcell has comedic timing that simply cannot be taught.  He shines as a very Jewish Mary in the Nativity sequence, is quite a strong percussionist playing bells and xylophone in Jingle Bells, slays in a dual performance with Grennan as the Rat King in a miniature ballet version of The Nutcracker, and does an expert job of seeming like he has several rods shoved up his back at all times.

Noah Diaz brings his own strong comedic chops to bear by interpreting himself as a greedy little slob.  For him, Christmas is all about the getting as he pines for high dollar Christmas gifts, tries to steal gifts from a gift exchange, and cons his two friends out of money by pretending to be collecting for the Salvation Army.  Diaz excels in high energy farce especially in a signature number extolling the virtues of Mrs. Claus as he laments about an overall lack of strong women in Christmas.  Diaz does need to keep his projection up as I lost his lines on a few occasions when he dropped his volume.

I give this show an A+ on the technical side of things.  I absolutely loved Martin Scott Marchitto’s simple set of Christmas tree, gifts, and cutouts of Santa, fireplace, and Nativity.  Carol Wisner’s lighting was festive and always apropos to the moments of the show.  Melissa Penkava Koza’s costumes were perfect and outrageously funny, especially a getup for Grennan when he misinterprets gay apparel complete with Juicy shorts and a, ahem, well placed piece of mistletoe.  Craig Marsh does it again with pitch perfect Christmas sounds that hit the mark for the holiday season.

Some of the improvised jokes fizzled and the audience participation scenes will always hinge on how creative and on the ball that particular crowd is, but this rather zany and irreverent show will provide some deep belly laughs and a truly good time at the Blue Barn this holiday season due to the amazingly talented trio running amok.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) plays at the Blue Barn through December 18.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6pm.  Additional performances will be held on Dec 7 and 14 at 7:30pm and at 2pm on December 4 and 17-18.  Please note that performances on Dec 2-3, 9-11, 16 and the 6pm show on Dec 17 are sold out.  Ticket prices are $30 for adults $25 for students, seniors (65+), T.A.G. members, or groups of 10 or more.  For reservations call 402-345-1576 from 10am-4pm Mon-Fri or visit www.bluebarn.org.  Parental discretion is advised for this production.  The Blue Barn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  During intermission, stop and visit the Giving HeART’s Tree in the Blue Barn lobby.  The Blue Barn is partnering with ENOA (Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging) to bring a Merry Christmas to the elderly in eastern Nebraska.  A $20 donation to ENOA will allow you to select an ornament from the Giving HeART’s Tree and your $20 will be used to buy gift cards for the elderly in eastern Nebraska.  For some, it will be the only gift they receive.  Please be generous this holiday season.

It’s Going to be ‘Beautiful’

BROADWAY’S NEWEST SMASH HIT

BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

TICKETS GO ON SALE DECEMBER 9 FOR OMAHA’S ORPHEUM THEATER PREMIERE APRIL 4-9

OMAHA, Neb. (November 16, 2016) – Producers Paul Blake and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have announced that the Tony® & Grammy® Award-winning Broadway hit Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, will make its Omaha Premiere at the Orpheum Theater, April 4 – 9, 2017 as part of Omaha Performing Arts’ Broadway Series. Tickets for the musical, about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter, go on sale December 9. To purchase tickets, visit TicketOmaha.com, call 402.345.0606 or visit the Ticket Omaha* Box Office inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Ticket prices start at $30.

“Carole King might be a native New Yorker, but her story of struggle and triumph is as universal as they come – and her music is loved the world over,” producer Paul Blake said. “We know that audiences throughout the country will embrace this show just as Broadway and London audiences have.”

Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice.  Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song.

For more information and a video sneak peek, please visit www.BeautifulOnBroadway.com

www.beautifulonbroadway.com

www.twitter.com/beautifulonbway

www.ticketomaha.com

ABOUT OMAHA PERFORMING ARTS

Omaha Performing Arts is dedicated to providing the best Broadway, jazz, blues, dance, comedy, family and popular entertainment to the citizens of Omaha at the Orpheum Theater, Holland Performing Arts Center and beyond. As Nebraska’s largest arts organization, we also provide education opportunities and free community events to expand arts appreciation.  Ticket Omaha is our official ticket provider. We are grateful for support from the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Omaha and Douglas County. We also rely on corporate sponsors, donors and foundations.

ABOUT BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes Broadway.com and is operated by John Gore (Owner & CEO).BAA is the foremost presenter of first-class touring productions in North America, operating in 38 markets. Current and past productions include Beautiful, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Quartet, Hairspray, On Your Feet!, The Producers, and Shuffle Along.  Broadway.com is the premier theater website for news, exclusive content and ticket sales. For more information please visit BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com and Broadway.com

.

It’s Christmas Time at the Blue Barn

bb-ultimatechristmasshow_7734

Noah Diaz (above), Jonathan Purcell (left), and Bill Grennan (right) star in The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) at the Blue Barn Theatre.

Spend the Holidays at the BLUEBARN Theatre With The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

The BLUEBARN Theatre is proud to continue Season 28 with the irreverent, zany comedy, The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged).

BLUEBARN Associate Artistic Director Randall T. Stevens directs with set design by Martin Scott Marchitto, lighting design by Carol Wisner, costume design by Melissa Penkava Koza, sound design by Craig Marsh, and properties design by Amy Reiner.

Shows run Nov 25-Dec 18, 2016.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm; Sun Nov 27, Dec 4, 11, and 18 at 6pm.  Additional performances will be Wed Dec 7 and 14 at 7:30pm, Sun Dec 4 and 18 and Sat Dec 17 at 2pm.

PLEASE NOTE:  The performances for the 6pm show on Dec 11 and the 7:30pm show on Dec 17 are sold out.

Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $25 for students, seniors 65+, TAG Members, and groups of 10 or more.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) is generously sponsored by Omaha Steaks.

The BLUEBARN Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

About The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

Welcome to the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everbody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church, where all faiths are welcome because we’ll believe anything.  But there’s a problem:  none of the acts scheduled to perform have arrived, so three members are pressed into service to perform the entire Variety Show and Christmas Pageant by themselves.  An irreverent yet heartwarming trip through the holidays, The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) is festive and funny as these Three Wise Guys send up and celebrate our favorite holiday traditions.

About the Stars of The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged)

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) boasts the talents of three of Omaha’s funniest comedic actors:  Bill Grennan, Jonathan Purcell, and Noah Diaz.  All BLUEBARN veterans, their collective credits show great range and include such shows as Bad Jews, Gnit, Spring Awakening, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, American Buffalo, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company. Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons.