“Circle Mirror Transformation” Begins Blue Barn Season

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents
2009 Obie Winner for Best New Play
Circle Mirror Transformation
by Annie Baker
September 27th-October 21st, 2018
Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm
Sunday 10/7 & 10/21 at 2pm | 10/14 at 6:00pm
About the play:
Students in a community-center acting class find their lives transformed, their souls reflected, and the patterns of their lives revealed in this extraordinary celebration of ordinary life. As they discover each other through storytelling and deceptively simple games, hearts are won and lost, destinies shaped, and tiny triumphs and tragedies take on epic proportions.

About the production:
Circle Mirror Transformation is directed by Susan Clement-Toberer, with dramaturgy by Barry Carman, stage management by Meghan Boucher, set design by Marty Marchitto, lighting design by Brendan Greene-Walsh, costume design by Kendra Newby, and sound design by Craig Marsh.
The cast features Susie Baer Collins (Marty), Caroline Friend (Lauren), Nils Haaland (Schultz), Ashley Kobza (Theresa), and Mike Markey (James).
The production is generously sponsored by Sara Foxley.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $35 and available by calling our box office (402) 345-1576. You may also purchase tickets via our website at www.bluebarn.org/tickets/

Engage:
“After Words”
October 4th Post-Show
Following the Thursday, October 4th performance, join us for a talkback with the cast. Our actors will tell tall tales about tale-telling, answer all your questions about the proper way to hula-hoop, and reveal their secret strategies for counting to ten.

“Theatre Works”
October 7th Post-show
Following the Sunday, October 7th performance, the BLUEBARN will spotlight three area organizations and artists who use theatre to actively transform lives. Join us for a panel discussion with Tyrone Beasley, Director of Outbound Programming at the Rose Theatre, Nick Zadina, Training Specialist at Project Harmony, and Carolyn Anderson, Director of WhyArts?.
Engagement events are free and open to the public.

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OCP Welcomes You to a “Fun Home”

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The Three Faces of Alison (From left to right: Analisa Peyton, Sasha Denenberg, and Angie Heim)

 

Omaha, NE–Fun Home–winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize–will be showing at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard Drew Theatre from Aug 17-Sept 16.

Based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, Fun Home is a story of self-discovery and navigating challenging family dynamics.  When Alison’s father dies unexpectedly, she explores her past to tell the story of their tumultuous relationship.  The brilliant storytelling moves between the past and the present, while Alison relives her unique childhood playing in her family’s funeral home and her discovery of her own sexuality.

Fun Home is a refreshingly honest and moving story that takes us on a cathartic journey of seeing our parents through grown-up eyes.

“It really does go over our expectations we sometimes have of our parents and how they can’t be superheroes,” said actress Angie Heim.  Heim’s character, Alison, leads the audience on an emotional journey told through the exchange of memories and present-day introspection.  “She goes through looking at these memories fondly, but also looking at the painful memories as well–and you get to see that through her experience on stage.”

The production is directed by Roxanne Wach, a theatre veteran who has been directing on Omaha stages for nearly fifty years.  Wach says audiences will find personal connections to the universal themes and experiences in the show.  “The story is not just Alison’s journey–it’s a quest we’re all on.”

Fun Home opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse on Aug 17 and runs through Sept 16.  Due to high demand, Wednesday shows have been added to this production.  Tickets are available at www.ticketomaha.com or through the OCP box office by calling 402-553-0800 or visiting 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.  For more information, please visit www.omahaplayhouse.com.

In addition to the production itself, the Omaha Community Playhouse, in conjunction with Orchestra Sponsor, UNMC, have created a number of programming events surrounding the themes of the production such as suicide prevention, topics in LGBTQIA, and a discussion of graphic novels.  Special Events are as follows:

Aug 17-19

–Dundee Book Company will be on site selling the Fun Home graphic novel and other books relating to themes in the show.

–A graphic artist will be set up in the lobby drawing character sketches of attendees.  OCP will post these sketches on the walls of the Howard Drew Theatre as well as on social media.

–UNMC will be distributing information about topics in mental health.

August 19

–“Talk Back” discussion will be held after the performance on the topic of suicide.  Dr. Amanda Randall, Director of the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at UNO, Janae Shillito, Community Relations Director of the Kim Foundation and members of the Fun Home cast will discuss mental health related topics raised in the production.

September 9

–“Talk Back” discussion will be held after the performance on the topic of graphic novels and language.  Frank Bramlett, PhD, Professor in the English Dept at UNO and TESOL Program Director, along with members of the Fun Home cast will discuss the literary world of graphic novels.

September 18

–A Science Cafe will be held at 7pm at The Slowdown to discuss mental health and suicide.  The speaker will be Jonathan Sikorski, PhD, department of Psychology at UNMC.

Production:  Fun Home (Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

Music By:  Jeanine Tesori

Book and Lyrics:  Lisa Kron

Show Dates:  Aug 17-Sept 16 (Wed-Sun in the Howard Drew Theatre)

Director:  Roxanne Wach

Cast

Sasha Denenberg as Small Alison

Analisa Peyton as Medium Alison

Angie Heim as Adult Alison

Michael Trutna as Bruce

Jennifer Gilg as Helen

Julia Ervin as Joan

Tyson Bentley as John

Ryan Laughlin as Christian

Josh Peyton as the Male Ensemble

 

The Night is Coming

Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce

Oct. 4th-31st, 2018

The fifth installment of BLUEBARN’s acclaimed immersive theatre series is located once again at Fontenelle’s Neale Woods Nature Center.

Based on the The Tempest by William Shakespeare, Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce invites the audience to experience the world of the play through any one of fifteen unique perspectives. The events occur in real time, throughout The Neale Woods Nature Center.  There are no set theatre seats. Guests are free to explore.  Comfortable footwear is recommended. Performances include acrobatics, dance, fight choreography, live music and possible 1-on-1 interactions.

ADA-compliant pathways are readily available.

You begin either by venturing ahead into the unknown forest, or by staying in safety with your group.  The encounters you have and decisions you make will determine how you witness the orchestration of what may well be a plot for revenge…

The Story

Prominent local leader Prospero and his child went missing, presumed dead after a terrible accident.  Local legend has it, however, that they have been in hiding, at a mansion in the woods. In the decades since, sightings of sprite-like creatures, large yeti-like beasts and strange lights have been growing.  Now, after a clandestine meeting, those thought responsible for the “accident” have themselves disappeared.

Tickets

Walk the Night runs Thursdays-Sundays @7pm, with a second show on Fridays and Saturdays @9:00pm. This year there will be two special performances October 30 and 31@ 7pm.

You’ll choose from one of four different ways to experience the first half of the show. Come again and choose a different Act 1 ticket for an entirely different show. With four main pathways, simultaneous action taking place throughout the space, and multiple decisions to make as you chart your course through the story…the best way to fully experience Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce is to come more than once.

Single tickets are $25 General/$20 Senior/Student

Unlimited Passes available for $45 General/$40 Senior/Student.

Tickets on sale now! Click here to reserve tickets.

Walk the Night is conceived and directed by Spencer Williams, co-directed by Colleen Hudson-Pace, devised by the ensemble, and features Original music by Andrew Heringer, choreography by Stephanie Huettner, technical design by Homero Vela, costumes by Jenny Pool, and puppet design by Shannon Wade. For more information, visit www.bluebarn.org or www.towalkthenight.com

Dare to Walk the Night

The BLUEBARN Theatre is seeking actors, ensemble and interactive crew for its 5th annual, immersive theatre experienceWalk the Night: Spirits to Enforce, based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Auditions will be held at the BLUEBARN located at 1106 S. 10th St.  (10th & Pacific Streets)

Saturday, August 4th from 11a.m-2p.m.

Sunday, August 5th from 12-2 p.m.

Walk the Night will run October 4th – October 31st, 2018 at Fontenelle Forest’s Neale Woods Center.

Preparatory Meetings Begin in August. Rehearsals begin in September.

The Walk the Night company is open to performers and crew 16 and older.

We prize diverse, counter-intuitive casting, and will adjust roles to suit the ensemble.

Please prepare any combination of the following:

A 90 second monologue of your choice, classic or modern

A 90 second retelling of a unique experience you’ve had, in your own words

A demonstration of a particular skill, hobby, or talent

Audition may include movement and the reading of sides.

Walk the Night is an interactive, continuous 75-90 min event. Those auditioning should have the required stamina and willingness to engage the audience as scene partners. Movement and puppetry experience, dance and music skills, singing ability and other skillsets are most welcome, though not required.

For more information, to request a character breakdown, or to sign up for an audition session, please contact Barry at bcarman@bluebarn.org.

ABOUT Spirits to Enforce

Prospero escaped an attempt on his life–by his own family. He and his child took refuge in an abandoned estate in the woods north of the city, letting the rest of the world think they were dead.  In the years since, Prospero discovered an ancient tome that seems to have granted him arcane abilities. Now, by a twist of fate, Prospero’s usurpers have found their way into his trap.

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.

Circle Theatre Holding Auditions for ‘Dracula’

Auditions for Dracula will be June 11-12, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The auditions will be held at Hanscom Park United Methodist Church, 4444 Frances Street, Omaha, NE. People who audition will be asked to read from the script. Rehearsals will start in August.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Oct 19- Nov 3, 2018
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and a special performance October 31 at 9:00 p.m.

We are excited to bring this classic novel to the stage. This adaptation, by local playwright Ryle Smith, includes all the principal characters from Stoker’s original story. This play tells the story of Dracula through the eyes of Jonathan Harker as in the novel. Much of our current mythology about vampires comes from this great classic novel.

For more information contact the Circle Theatre at 402-553-4715 or www.circletheatreomaha.org

To Live Again

Elliott Liteman is in a state of living death.  Stricken with Lazarus Syndrome (a type of survivor’s guilt which afflicts some people who are resuscitated after clinical death), Elliott doesn’t want to die, but is afraid to live.  During a horrific blizzard, his family comes to visit and he learns the importance of forgiveness and embracing life.   This is Lazarus Syndrome by Bruce Ward and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

First and foremost, let me assure you that this isn’t a doom and gloom story.  True, there are moments of weightiness, but this is an excellent slice of life tale full of humor, hope, and even mystery.  Ward’s script focuses on themes such as family, regret, ennui, aging, self-loathing, forgiveness, mortality, and what it means to be alive.  I found myself spellbound by the tale as Elliott’s internal struggle is outwardly manifested as he spars and engages with his family.

M. Michele Phillips has provided a superlative piece of direction to this story as well as an inspired bit of casting. She understands the path of the story well, skillfully navigating the many turns of the tale and capitalizing on every beat. Ms Phillips guides her actors to rock solid performances and you’ll never doubt for an instant that this group is a family.

Brett Foster gives a powerful and poignant performance as Elliott Liteman.  Living death well describes Foster’s essaying of Elliott as he merely goes through the motions of living.  Foster gives a wonderful weariness to Elliott whose guilt and depression are so great that he’s turned away from almost everything that made him happy and lives a life that’s a mundane routine of taking medicine to combat his HIV and wandering around his apartment in his bathrobe.  You can’t help but root for the guy when he finds small bits of happiness and vitality whether it’s through a sweet early morning conversation with his lover or a vigorous debate with his family.

Foster makes you feel the pain of a man who has lost his sense of self and is just seeking a way to end his cycle of nothingness.

Thomas Lowe plays the small, but crucial role of Stephen Bliss, Elliott’s young lover.  Lowe brings a sweetness and innocence to Stephen who has enough energy to live life for the both of them.  Your heartstrings will be tugged as Stephen’s love for Elliott allows Elliott to reclaim small sparks of himself and Stephen’s honesty and plain-spokenness may be the key to Elliott finally living his own life again.

Matt Allen is awesome as Elliott’s younger brother, Neil.  Invoking the essence of younger brothers everywhere, Allen’s Neil is a bit of a thorn in Elliott’s side as he drips melted snow onto Elliott’s floor and scarfs down Elliott’s food while making wry observations on his unique tastes in edibles.  Allen brings an incredible extemporaneousness to Neil’s dialogue as well as a snarky attitude which he carefully modulates to be a pest to Elliott, but not obnoxious or mean, especially when they start having suffering battles or discussing their somewhat fractious relationship.

Brent Spencer is the ideal Jewish father as Jake.  He believes a good meal can solve all ills and that the three things Jewish people do best are eat, suffer, and fight.  He is also clearly a man of his generation as he was brought up to believe that men didn’t show emotions and foul language is inappropriate in polite conversation.  But he also shows that an old dog can learn new tricks as his own losses have taught him the value of emotions and he tries to instill that lesson into Elliott.

Ben Adams has designed a cozy little apartment that feels like a real home.  Taelore Stearns’ lights pack an emotional punch.  They actually feel just as sad as Elliott.  Fred Goodhew’s sounds buoy the show’s emotional beats.  Leah Skorupa’s costuming is just right with the suits worn by Neil and Jake and the hum-drum look of Elliott with muted t-shirt, boxers, and a somewhat colorful bathrobe to offset the drabness of his other garb.

In the end, this is a story of life overcoming death and that it can still be lived and enjoyed despite great tragedy if one is only willing to take that chance.

Lazarus Syndrome plays at SNAP! Productions through June 24.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  The final show on June 24 will be at 2pm.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students, seniors (55+), TAG members, and military, and for all Thursday shows.   For tickets, call 402-341-2757 or visit www.snapproductions.com.  Due to strong language and mature themes, Lazarus Syndrome is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha, NE.

Running Towards/Away

Tess Maynard and her mother, Laura, are prepared to visit Mastavia (the city that’s also a country) to pick up a package left to them by Tess’ father/Laura’s husband.  Just before they embark on this adventure, Laura dies.  Tess decides to continue the adventure and advertises for a traveling companion who must have the same name as her mother.  Enter the second Laura Maynard:  a mysterious woman with something to hide.  As Tess begins this journey of discovery, Laura begins a journey of escape.  This is The City in the City in the City by Matthew Capodicasa and playing at the Blue Barn Theatre.

I was quite impressed by the construction of Capodicasa’s story.  On the theatrical level, he actually wrote this as a staged reading which leaves theatres with oodles of flexibility when it comes to the technical aspects such as set design, sound, and staging.  The story level is quite intriguing as well and I love that the parallel stories of the two women are told simultaneously, sometimes quite literally as they often speak at the same time.  Capodicasa also has a grand gift for description as he often has his characters describe what they’re doing and seeing which permits the audience to paint pictures with their imaginations.

This particular production allowed Susan Clement-Toberer to step up her directing game to a whole new level.  As I stated earlier, the play was written as a staged reading and had been performed as such at last year’s Great Plains Theatre Conference.  This was its first staging as a full production which gave Ms Clement-Toberer a blank slate to work with and she’s painted a magnificent portrait.  Using the guideposts of Capodicasa’s words, she has created an ethereal dreamscape which still has one foot planted in reality.  The staging is superb and makes use of the entire theatre.  Ms Clement-Toberer has led her two performers to skillful, sterling performances with a brisk pace and cue pickups so tight that a thin piece of paper couldn’t be wedged between.

Kaitlyn McClincy gives an exceptional performance as Tess Maynard.  She’s a woman who has recently been dealt a rough hand by life.  She’s lost her job and her mother.  Now she has a chance to discover the father she’s never known by taking part in this strange adventure.  Ms McClincy brings a hesitant adventurousness to Tess.  This is a woman who has probably never been out of her neighborhood and now plots to travel to the other side of the planet with a stranger.  She’s wonderfully sincere and conjures up needed seriousness when the moments call for it.

Both performers play multiple roles and some of Ms McClincy’s best characters are a guard at the gates of Mastavia who likes to toy with the two Americans and a truly haunting portrayal of the son of Laura Maynard.  So realistic and believable is Ms McClincy’s voice as the child that, if my eyes were closed, I would have sworn it was another person playing the role.

Frankly, I was blown away by the acting powers of Kim Gambino.  Not only does she ably play numerous roles, but she morphed into these characters with a snap of the fingers.  Most impressive was a scene where Tess was interviewing Laura Maynards to be her traveling companion.  With a slight change of posture, voice, and facial expression, Ms Gambino adopted nearly half a dozen distinct characters.  My personal favorite of her alternate characters was a witty waiter at a jazz club who had the audience laughing from the gut with her dead-on delivery.

However, Ms Gambino does shine the most with her take on Laura Maynard.  Laura is a shadowy character running from the one thing she can never outrun:  herself.  Ms Gambino brings a strong confidence to the role as Laura does bravely take on the challenge of traveling with a complete stranger who is ably able to help Tess on her quest.  But she also brings a tragic cowardice to the role as running away from herself means running away from her son.  Their phone conversations are some of the finest moments in the play.

The sound design of William Kirby is probably the best I’ve ever seen.  Kirby’s use of sound of the show makes for a truly immersive experience as voices echo throughout the theatre and a phasing effect really adds to the dreamlike quality of some of the scenes.  Ernie Gubbels’ lights were also of high quality especially with the Blue Room and his use of shadows and lights in the phone conversations.  The set is credited to BLUEBARN and is ideal for imagination as the use of sheets and scaffolding take you from Tess’ apartment to Mastavia to a cemetery.

It’s most assuredly a unique piece of theatre that will suck audience members into the tale.  Even more impressive, the show is still evolving which is the joy of working a new show.  On opening night, a new scene was inserted just prior to opening and I just may catch closing night to see what new surprises and changes are added to the show.

The City in the City in the City plays at Blue Barn until June 17.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Thurs-Sat and 6pm on Sundays with the exception of one 2pm matinee on June 10.  There are no shows on May 20 and 27.  Tickets cost $30 for adults and $25 for seniors (65+), students, and TAG members.  For reservations, call 402-345-1576 or visit www.bluebarn.org.  Due to strong language, this show is not suitable for children.  The Blue Barn is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.