OCP Holding Auditions for 96th Season

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse will hold auditions for its 2020-21 season musicals July 11-13 for children under age 16 and July 23-26 for adults. Auditions are by appointment only. Special COVID-19 safety precautions will be observed.  Vocal auditions will be on the Playhouse’s Hawks Mainstage. Dance skills will be evaluated at callbacks.

Musicals this season include:

A Christmas Carol, Nov. 20 through Dec. 23, Hawks Mainstage. Directors: Kimberly Faith Hickman, Ablan Roblin

The Scottsboro Boys, Feb. 12 through March 14, 2021, Howard Drew Theatre. Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Kinky Boots, Feb. 26 through March 21, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Ablan Roblin

In the Heights, April 16 through May 9, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Kathy Tyree

Willy Wonka, May 28 through June 27, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Music director is Jim Boggess. Choreographer is Michelle Garrity.

Audition dates and times:

Children (under age 16)

Saturday, July 11, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, July 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Adults (16 or older)

Thursday, July 23, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, July 24, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, July 25, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, July 26, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Specific dates and time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. Auditions will be in groups of no more than 15. Temperatures of auditioners will be taken upon arrival. You may wear a facemask if you prefer. Auditioners will be allowed to sing only 16 bars of a song of their choosing, for which they should bring sheet music. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the south entrance lobby doors.

Those who cannot attend in person may submit a vocal-audition video.

 

The Omaha Community Playhouse has scheduled auditions for three Fall 2020 plays.

Auditions will be by appointment only. Special COVID-19 safety precautions will be observed.

The show titles, run dates and audition schedule:

CLYBOURNE PARK, by Bruce Norris

Show runs Aug. 21-Sept. 20 in the Howard Drew Theatre.

Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Hickman was assistant director of the original Tony Award-winning Broadway production   

Audition dates and times:

Monday, July 6, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Callbacks will be Wednesday, July 8, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, adapted by Ken Ludwig

Show runs Sept. 25-Oct. 18 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

Director: Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek

Audition dates and times:

Sunday, July 12, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Callbacks will be Tuesday, July 14, and Wednesday, July 15, starting at 7 p.m. both evenings.

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR, by John Patrick Shanley

Show runs Oct. 16-Nov. 8 in the Howard Drew Theatre.

Director: Kaitlyn McClincy

Audition dates and times:

Saturday, Aug. 15, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Callbacks will be Saturday, Aug. 22, starting at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 23, starting at 7 p.m.

Specific dates and time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Tryouts will be in groups of no more than 12 per hour. COVID-19 screening questions will be asked of each auditioner upon arrival. You may wear a facemask if you prefer. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the west-entrance stage door.

To make an audition appointment, email Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com.

Omaha Playhouse Announces 96th Season

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) has announced the titles to be produced during their 96th season, which will run from August 2020 through June 2021. Subscriptions for OCP’s 2020/21 season are now available for purchase through the OCP Box Office at 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE 2020/21 SEASON PRODUCTIONS

*Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra

Aug. 7–16, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Steve Gomez | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra is a high-energy concert experience packed with rock ‘n’ roll mega hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Led by international touring artist Billy McGuigan and backed by the 14-piece Pop Rock Orchestra, these all-star musicians serve up fresh, original arrangements covering everything from the Beach Boys to Billy Joel, and everything in between.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Clybourne Park

Aug. 21–Sept. 20, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Bruce Norris

Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning comedy Clybourne Park serves as prequel and sequel to A Raisin in the Sun. A 1950s couple faces sharp backlash from neighbors for selling their home in the all-white Clybourne Park to a black family. Fifty years later, a white couple attempts to purchase the same home in the now predominantly black neighborhood, igniting fears of gentrification.

Disclaimer: Contains adult language and themes of racial tension.

Kinky Boots

Sept. 25–Oct. 25, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Book by Harvey Fierstein | Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper

Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots

Written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth

Flashy, inspiring and downright fun, Kinky Boots is the Tony Award®-winning musical warming hearts around the world. After returning to his hometown to manage his late father’s failing shoe factory, Charlie meets Lola, an outspoken and unapologetic drag queen in need of a sturdy pair of exotic boots. Together, the unlikely pair cobble a heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship.

Orchestra Sponsor: Woodmen Life

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Water by the Spoonful

Oct. 16–Nov. 8, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Quiara Alegría Hudes

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Water by the Spoonful follows Elliott, an Iraq war vet struggling to care for his dying aunt, and Odessa, a recovering drug addict fighting to stay sober with the support of her online companions. When their two worlds unexpectedly collide, everyone’s progress comes crashing down in this thought-provoking and beautifully human tale.

Disclaimer: Contains adult themes and language.

Presenting Sponsor: Conagra Brands Foundation

*A Christmas Carol

Nov. 20–Dec. 23, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Written by Charles Dickens | Adapted by Charles Jones

Musical Orchestration by John J. Bennett

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 to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with stunning Victorian costumes, festive music and crisp, wintry sets, A Christmas Carol is a beautiful reminder that love and generosity are the heart of the Christmas holiday.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Presenting Sponsor: First National Bank

Artistic Team Sponsor: Omaha Steaks

Orchestra Sponsor: KPMG

Bakery Shoppe/Special Effects Sponsor: Rotella’s Bakery

*Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience

Nov. 27–Dec. 31, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Matthew McGuigan | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Cap off 2020 with a shot of Beatlemania! Yesterday and Today is the smash hit, all-request Beatles show controlled by the audience. Share your favorite stories and relive your fondest memories with the songs that defined a generation. With no two shows the same, fans will be dancing in the aisles and singing along to all their favorite hits.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

The Miracle Worker

Jan. 15–Feb. 7, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

By William Gibson

The Miracle Worker is the incredible true story of Helen Keller, deaf and blind since age one, and the extraordinary woman who changed her life. Unable to communicate with their daughter, the Keller family enlists the help of Annie Sullivan, a woman determined to rescue Helen from the dark, tortured silence imprisoning her mind. A story that has inspired audiences for generations.

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

The Scottsboro Boys

Feb. 12–March 14, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

Music and Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book by David Thompson

Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman

The Scottsboro Boys follows the wrongful conviction of nine black teenagers in Scottsboro, Alabama in the 1930s—an infamous case that helped ignite the modern civil rights movement. From the composers of Chicago and Cabaret, this 12-time Tony® Award nominee alternates toe-tapping musical numbers with heart-wrenching ballads to tell a harrowing tale of bravery and strength in the face of great adversity.

Disclaimer: Contains themes and language related to racial tension.

In the Heights

Feb. 26–March 21, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Before there was Hamilton, there was In the Heights. From the revolutionary musical mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this Tony® Award-winning musical recounts three days in the vibrant Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, NYC, where the Spanish-speaking residents chase American dreams. This bubbly fusion of rap, salsa, Latin pop and soul music boasts an infectious enthusiasm from beginning to end.

Presenting Sponsor: Heider Family Foundation

Producing Partner: Physicians Mutual

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

*THE CANDY PROJECT PRESENTS:

Gutenberg!  The Musical!

March 18–21, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By Anthony King and Scott Brown

Starring Steve Krambeck and Dan Chevalier

Join The Candy Project, friends of OCP, for a special presentation of Gutenberg! The Musical! A pair of aspiring playwrights audition their newest work—a big, splashy musical about the inventor of the printing press—for an audience of potential investors. This two-man musical spoof offers an unending supply of enthusiasm and laughs.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

April 16–May 9, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig

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 snow storm, 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.

Producing Partner: UNMC

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Outside Mullingar

May 7–30, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By John Patrick Shanley

This charming romantic comedy follows Anthony and Rosemary, two introverts who grew up on neighboring farms in rural Ireland. Rosemary secretly fell in love with Anthony at age six, but after a bought with heartbreak, Anthony swore off women forever. The now middle-aged pair must overcome their own aloofness—as well as a family property dispute—to find their way to one another.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

May 28–June 27, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Adapted for the Stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald

Based on the Book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Oompa-Loompa-Doom-Pa-Dee-Doo! We’ve got a family favorite for you! Grab your golden ticket as Willy Wonka takes your family on a whimsical tour of the chocolate factory—with Charlie Bucket, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and all of your favorite characters. Featuring songs from the hit film, Willy Wonka will open up a world of pure imagination.

Presenting Sponsor: Mutual of Omaha

Orchestra Sponsor: Kiewit

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

‘Marjorie Prime’ Opening Soon at BlueBarn Theatre

PrimePress

Ruth Rath and Ben Beck star in BlueBarn Theatre’s production of ‘Marjorie Prime’

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

 Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Marjorie Prime

By Jordan Harrison

March 19th – April 12th, 2020

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm*

Sundays at 2pm 

Memories are not the key to the past, but the future.

About the play:

Marjorie’s daughter and son-in-law have purchased Walter Prime (a holographic projection of her husband as he looked in his 30s) to keep her company.  In the near future, ‘Primes’ are available from the good people at Senior Serenity, the latest devices for helping people with their fading memories and loss of companionship. As the Prime is fed memories and conversation, the shape of their lives are revealed, more and more years are covered and recovered, and the nature of memories, the legacy of the past, and the promise of the future are all called into question.

About the production:

Marjorie Prime features performances by Ruth Rath, Julie Huff, Ablan Roblin, and Ben Beck. Directed by Susan Baer Collins. Assistant Direction by Bob Fishbach.  Set Design by Brendan Greene-Walsh.  Costume Design by Denise Ervin.  Sound Design by Bill Kirby. Lighting Design by Steven Williams.  Properties by Amy Reiner.  Stage Management by Christopher Hernandez.

Tickets:

General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

*ASL interpreted performance Friday, March 27th at 7:30pm

Photo provided by BlueBarn Theatre

‘Playboy of the Western World’ On Tap for Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company

Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company Presents:

Playboy of the Western World by J M Synge

Synopsis

In the dead of night in a rural Irish town, a young man turns up claiming to have killed his own father. The locals, more interested in vicariously enjoying his story than in condemning the immorality of his deed transform him into a living legend—something larger than life… until life shows up to settle the score.

Performance Dates

Feb 14-Mar 1.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.

Location

First Central Congregational Church (421 S 36th St in Omaha, NE)

Ticket Prices:  $30 ($25 for Student/Military/65+)

Brigit Saint Brigit’s 27-season long tradition of featuring Irish culture spotlights playwright and director at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, John Millington Synge’s (1871–1909) most celebrated work, Playboy of the Western World. Synge remains one of the most important figures in Irish drama and Playboy of the Western World one of the most important works in the Abbey’s long and storied existence. When first performed in 1907, Playboy caused riots due to the boldness of its storytelling and remains a vibrant, hilarious and poignant tale to this day as is evidenced by its myriad of revivals that have persisted around the world. View this Arts & Culture Link for background on Synge, ‘Playboy’ and much more…

Director:  Cathy Kurz

Cast:  Josh Ryan, Anna Jordan, Matt Cummins, Eric Griffith, David Landis, Eric Grant-Leanna, Eric Salonis, Hannah Clark, Emma Johnson and Daisy Friedman

Maples Repertory Theatre Auditioning for Actors & Hiring Techs for 2020 Season

Maples Repertory Theatre is holding auditions and accepting applications for actors and technicians for the 2020 season!

Audition dates and times:

2020 UPTA; Memphis, TN February 7 – 10.

2020 Open Audition at Royal Theatre; 102 N. Rubey St.; Macon, MO February 15, 2020
Actors: Please bring headshot/resume and a comic monologue and song. (Accompanist Provided)
Technicians: Please bring resume (and portfolio if applicable)

2020 MWTA; St. Louis, MO February 21-23, 2020

2020 Auditions in Kansas City: February 24, 2020 at Quality Hill Playhouse. 1 – 4pm and 530 – 830 pm

For audition appointment email info@maplesrep.com

To submit electronically email todd@maplesrep.com

Note: If there is inclement weather, auditions may be postponed. Please double check by calling the box office or visiting our Facebook page on the day you plan to audition.

Maples Repertory Theatre 2020 Season

You Can’t Take it With You (June 17-July 12)

Greater Tuna (June 26-July 16) (The roles for this show have been cast.)

Phantom of the Country Opera (July 17-Aug 9)

Menopause:  The Musical (Sept 16-Oct 4)

Ripcord (Oct 14-25)

I Love a Piano (Nov 27-Dec 13)

 

Being Alive

“You were only waiting for this moment to arise.”—Paul McCartney

I think this quotation best sums up Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey which is currently playing at the BlueBarn Theatre.

Normally, I open my reviews with a brief synopsis of the play’s story.  This time I’m going to wait until the end as this particular show completely eschews the normal narrative style.  From my experience, Eno seems to have a knack for creating an everyman character to communicate with the audience.  Perhaps this everyman is the audience or at least its conscience.  Ostensibly the play’s unnamed central character is here to say good-bye, but shares a far more powerful message in a story that truly fits BlueBarn’s season-long theme of memory.

Barry Carman offers up a stunning piece of direction in this show.  Every single word.  Every single pause.  Every single look.  Every single breath.  Every single move has purpose.  Seldom have I seen such a meticulous piece of direction or staging.  Carman has also led his two performers to extraordinary performances and I was particularly keen on his “less than more” animation of his actors.  They neither move a lot nor need to.  As I said earlier, when a movement is made, a definite purpose is behind it.

Aaron Zavitz plays the unnamed central character (listed simply as Guy).  Who is Guy?  Unknown.  But tonight he is apparently a talk show host as that’s the vibe he gives out, further bolstered by a hanging “No Applause” sign and a reference to a special guest.  From the get-go, Guy seems to be marking time to an ending and is talking with the audience solely to pass that time.

Zavitz is a marvel in the role.  His rich, mellow baritone filling the theatre as he talks with us about anything and everything, but mostly about life.  Zavitz’s delivery is exceptionally extemporaneous.  He truly sounded like he was making everything up as he went and this is well-suited for his character who seems a trifle disorganized with his out of order note cards and his unseen help who sometimes goof up his audio and visual cues, if not outright pranking him on word jumbles.

Zavitz is quite likable and is, at turns, funny, nervous, serious, happy, melancholic, even slightly desperate as he tries to teach the audience about being alive.  Most impressive is his character’s deterioration over the course of the show.  Guy is sick and weak and gets progressively more so over the course of the show as Zavitz’s chest begins to collapse in on itself, his mobility decreases, and his mental focus falters.

Echelle Childers is equally wonderful as the mysterious helper, Lisa.  There is something otherworldly, dare I say, angelic about this character.  Childers is so gentle and loving as Lisa as she carefully massages and soothes the wearied Guy, offers him hibiscus juice, and tidies him up before wheeling him offstage and she does it all with a beatific smile on her face.  I was moved by her soft-spoken nature which permeated her entire being up to and including a little dance she performs while Guy takes a brief catnap.  Her character seems to hold a vast store of wisdom as she shares a few of her own stories and outlooks with the audience.

Craig Lee’s set adds to the ethereal nature of the show with a seemingly abandoned room save for a few boxes that is dominated by a large screen, massive windows in the rear, and never used door on house left.  Lights and sounds are absolutely critical to this piece and Bill Kirby rises to the occasion with his lights suddenly clicking on and off, soft music, flashy disco lights, and a moment simulating sunrise.  Kirby is also responsible for the projections which ranged from the sweet to the amusing.  Susan Clement-Toberer has costumed the actors well with the ordinary shirt and jeans for Lisa and the bedrobe and rumpled clothes/pajamas for Guy.

So what is the story of Wakey, Wakey?  It’s simply YOUR story.

Wakey, Wakey plays at BlueBarn Theatre through Feb 23.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm except for a 6pm show on Feb 16.  Tickets cost $35 ($30 for seniors) and can be obtained at www.bluebarn.org or by calling 402-345-1576.  The BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

‘Wakey, Wakey’ Over at Blue Barn

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents: 

The Regional Premiere of 

Wakey, Wakey

By Will Eno 

January 30th -February 23rd, 2020

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays: 2/9 & 2/23 at 2pm| 2/16 at 6pm 

Memento Mori.

About the play:

You are invited to a celebration. We will talk about time, gratitude, our childhoods, and the million miracles at work in the world, in every single moment. There will be pictures. There will be music. Gifts. Wonder. Grief. Rebirth. From Will Eno, author of the BLUEBARN’s productions of Thom Pain and Gnit, comes an extraordinary, strange and beautiful experience that wakes up the big questions, and awakens us to one another with sly humor, compassion, and grace.

P.S.  There will be cake.          

About the production:

Wakey,Wakey features performances by Aaron Zavits and Echelle Childers. Directed by Barry Carman. Scenic design by Craig Lee. Properties by Amy Reiner. Sound, lighting, and projection design by Bill Kirby. Costumes by Susan Clement-Toberer. 

Generously sponsored by:

Security National Bank

Warren Distribution

Tickets:

General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

Pardon Me, Boys, is that the Murdering Choo-Choo?

A shady businessman is found murdered in his locked sleeping compartment on the Orient Express.  Will the famed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, be able to solve the mystery with his formidable “little gray cells” or has he finally met a killer too cunning for him?  Find out in Murder On the Orient Express adapted by Ken Ludwig from a novel written by Agatha Christie.  It is currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

It’s awfully hard to write about the plot without being too spoilery so I’ll simply say that Ludwig does an admirable job hitting the essential points of the classic mystery.  With his involvement, I was expecting more of a comedy, but Ludwig plays this script surprisingly straight, though he does leave room open for a bit of over the topness with some of the characters.  The mash-up of comedy and drama weaken the first act slightly, but he sticks the ending on the second act as he seems to have decided to be almost totally dramatic with that act.

Todd Uhrmacher provides a solid piece of direction for the production, handling the dual natures of comedy and drama in the first act quite well and excelling with the nearly purely dramatic second act.  I liked the staging of his show as he placed his actors well in the cramped confines of the train without the actors ever seeming bunched up or blocking each other.  Uhrmacher guided his actors to well-defined performances as each imbued a distinct character.

Some enjoyable performances were supplied by Michael Taylor-Stewart who comes off as somewhat off-kilter and creepy as the secretary of the murder victim and Gene Hinkle as the genial CEO of the company that owns the Orient Express.  But Jeff Garst deserves special notice for an exceptional performance as the conductor, Michel.  He gives Michel a very efficient nature and he nails a brief, heart-wrenching moment at the show’s finale.

Jon Flower is an extremely worthy Hercule Poirot.  He has a firm grip on the sleuth with a flawless Belgian accent, well communicating Poirot’s genius with his deductions, displaying a very gentlemanly and cultured nature, and demonstrating Poirot’s fastidious personality with the care he gives to Poirot’s signature moustache.  Flower also brings a certain weightiness to Poirot who has to wrestle with a choice between his devotion to the law and his dedication to justice which, for the first time in his career, may not be one and the same.

D. Laureen Pickle is utterly obnoxious as Mrs. Hubbard. Almost from the get-go one begins looking for a muzzle to clamp shut the mouth of the man-hungry, stuck-up, grating American snob. Pickle plays this character slightly over the top, but always keeps it in the realm of believability.  She also deftly handles the character’s more dramatic moments when certain secrets begin to come to light.

I don’t think Joey Lorincz could design a bad set even if he was working blindfolded.  He has created one of the most ambitious sets I’ve seen on the Bellevue stage with a three room revolving set that shows an elegant dining room, an office/rear of the train, and the tiny, sleeping compartments one would expect to find on a train.  Lorincz does double duty on lights which were also quite effective, especially the dark blue of the recalling of clues during the denouement.  Todd Urhmacher also pulls double duty with his designing of the costumes which evoke memories of the 1930s with the elegant dresses of the ladies and the snappy suits of the men and the classic conductor’s tunic for Michel.  My program lacked a credit for sound effects, but liked the sounds of the train whistle and the rumble of the wheels on the track.

I thought the pace of the first act could have had a snappier pace and there were a few moments when speaking actors were in darkness.  Volume and projection could have been a bit stronger on the parts of some of the actors and accents were a bit of a mixed bag.

Ultimately, this show is a very pleasant theatre experience with the combination of a faithful telling of a legendary mystery and compelling characters making for a respite from the real world for a few hours.

Murder On the Orient Express plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Feb 2.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sat and 2pm on Sundays.  Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Tickets can be obtained at bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com or calling 402-291-1554 during the hours of 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

The Price of Family

Raisin_9

Upper row from L to R: Faushia R. Weeden, David Terrell Green, and Olivia Howard. Lower row from L to R: Karen S. Fox and Brodhi McClymont

A poor family in Chicago’s South Side gains a windfall of $10,000.  Amidst thoughts of dreams granted and a happier life, the money serves to deepen cracks in an already fractured unit and prove that the love of money is the root of all evil.  But the love of family still has the power to conquer all.  This is A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and it is playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Hansberry’s script has its ups and downs.  It introduces powerful themes of family, racism, poverty, generational changes, personal identity, perseverance, hope, and self-respect, but also has some structural weaknesses.  The first act introduces several storylines for the show, but moves terribly slowly and doesn’t provide adequate build for the stories.  By the second act, the primary story of the money gains center stage, a potentially interesting subplot about a surprise, possibly unwanted, pregnancy is all, but forgotten, and a story about a young woman seeking her own identity gets a bit of short shrift.  On the other hand, the second act does provide some incredibly strong monologues and conversational moments that are a treasure trove for performers.

Tyrone Beasley’s direction is quite effective.  This show is driven solely by dialogue which can become quite dry, if not handled just right.  Beasley handles it well by having his actors make natural movements that animate the, often lengthy, conversations.  He understands the emotional beats and his actors always hit those moments subtly and organically.  He’s coached his actors to performances ranging from solid to deeply adept and I tip my hat to his superior guidance of the debuting Karen S. Fox.  That being said, I also thought the show could have benefited from a brisker pace.

Good supporting performances are given by Faushia R. Weeden who projects a spiritual weariness as Ruth Younger as she goes through the motions of life with a crumbling marriage and a hopeless future until the promise of a new home in a better neighborhood relights her candle.  Brodhi McClymont has a real naturalness for this work and provides some lighthearted moments as Travis Younger.  Christopher Scott provides a suitably subtle, polite, and slimy performance as a racist trying to engineer a buyout of the Younger’s new home in Clybourne Park so “those people” won’t move in.

David Terrell Green gives a gripping performance in his Playhouse debut as Walter Lee Younger.  At his core, Walter Lee is a good man.  He wants nothing more than to provide the best, possible life for his family, but has been so beaten down by life that he copes with his perceived failures with alcohol and sometimes takes reckless gambles in an attempt to provide that better life.  Green is dead on target with Walter Lee’s brokenness, but still shows that inner decency and drive to do better for his family.  He really sizzles in the second act when he makes an awful mistake in attempting to grab the brass ring and shows the depths of his love for his family with a performance demonstrating the utter humiliation he’s willing to undergo to rectify that error.

Karen S. Fox really dove into the deep end as she makes her acting debut with the heavy role of the Younger matriarch, Lena.  For someone who’s never performed before, Fox did an exceptional job.  She portrayed a good, Southern woman with strong faith in God and desperately fighting to hold her family together as it falls apart.  She hits the emotional beats well, reaching just the right level of anger when the bulk of her money is misused and being a bulwark for her son as she understands the impact of the blows life has dealt him.  Fox does need to make some minor fixes in volume, projection, and not upstaging herself.

Steven Williams has designed a dilapidated apartment whose spaces between the boards help to communicate the poverty in which the Youngers live.  Tim Vallier has composed a haunting score for the show which is sure to stir your heart.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes well display the social status of the various characters from the cheaper quality clothes of the Youngers to the more elegant wear of the wealthier Karl Lindner and the more educated Joseph Asagai and George Murchison.

This preview night performance did have some difficulties.  Pacing was quite slow.  Pickups for internal and regular cues needed to be much, much quicker.  Energy was sorely lacking for stretches, but when it was there, the dialogue sparkled and popped.  There was also an x factor missing from the performance.  Actors know that feeling.  It’s that magical something that causes the show to take on the fullness of its own life and it is an intangible.  It’s either there or it isn’t.  When it’s not there, the show feels like a rehearsal.  When it’s there, that’s when the show reaches maximum potential.

At the end, this is a story about family.  Its highs and lows.  Its joys and trials.  Its hopes and dreams.  A night with the Youngers just may give you a new perspective on life.

A Raisin in the Sun plays at the Omaha Playhouse through Feb 9.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $24 ($16 for students) and vary by performance.  Tickets can be obtained at www.omahaplayhouse.com, calling 402-553-0800, or visiting the box office. Due to some adult language, parental discretion is advised.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Launches 2nd Half of OCP Season

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of A Raisin in the Sun will open Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP from Jan. 17 through Feb. 9. Performances will be held Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $24 for adults and $16 for students, with ticket prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, located at 6915 Cass Street, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

SHOW SYNOPSIS

Winner of five Tony Awards®, A Raisin in the Sun confronts life in South Side Chicago through the eyes of the Younger family. After years of battling poverty and racism, the Youngers hope an unexpected insurance check will be their ticket to a better life. With the looming fear that this may be their only chance, the family is torn apart as they struggle to agree on the most effective way to use the money.

Directed By:  Tyrone Beasley

Cast

Brandon Williams as George Murchison

Brodhi McClymont as Travis Younger

Chris Scott as Karl Lindner

Darcell Trotter as Bobo

David Terrell Green as Walter Lee Younger

Donté Lee Plunkett as Joseph Asagai

Faushia Weeden as Ruth Younger

Karen Fox as Lena Younger

Olivia Howard as Beneatha Younger

Richard Borg as Moving Man