A Most Unwelcome Pest. Err. . .Guest

Willum Cubbert is dealing with quite a bit of frustration in his life.  His creativity is being whittled down to blah by a dull client.  The woman he loves is moving to D.C. to be a weather girl.  On the upside, he’s about to meet the man who saved his life in Vietnam.  But, when he arrives, Willum discovers he’s a creature beyond terror.  He’s. . .He’s. . .The Nerd!!!!  And it’s currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

The plays of Larry Shue are enjoyable in every conceivable aspect (reading, performing, watching, and directing) and The Nerd is one of his finest and best known.  Shue not only had a great gift for wordplay, but he also had a flair for the ridiculous and a penchant for creating a title character who takes absurdity to the zenith.  As such, his farces are a rich source of fodder for directors and performers.

For a play of this type, I can think of no better director than Peter Reynolds who has a positive bent towards handling this kind of material.  Once again, he rises to the occasion with his direction of this piece.  Not only has Reynolds guided his actors to superior performances, but he knows how to get his thespians to mobilize the frenetic words so that they not only sound funny, but believable, no matter how outrageous the situation.  Reynolds also knows how to craft bits so funny with timing so smooth and coordinated that you’ll laugh until your ribs ache.

Splendid supporting performances were supplied by Holden White who’s an obnoxious brat as Thor Waldgrave.  Sandia Ahlers is darling as the meek Celia Waldgrave whose repressed anger manifests in the destruction of breakable objects.  Trevor Belt is the blustering, unimaginative hotel magnate.  Kimberly Braun is a unique blend of supportive friend and proponent of women’s lib as Tansy McGinnis.

Michael Perrie, Jr. darn near steals the show as Axel Hammond.  Perrie is perfect for the role and just glows as the cynical theatre critic.  His witty asides are so extemporaneous that I wondered if some of them were improvised.  Perrie is also a great deal of fun to watch as he always finds bits of business that keep him involved in the scene, but enhance the primary action as opposed to drawing attention away from it.  He’s also great at the absurd parts of farce and his chant at the play’s climax is one of the show’s hallmark moments.

Nick Ferrucci is the consummate everyman as Willum Cubbert.  Cubbert epitomizes most of Shue’s leads:  a nice guy who has difficulty standing up for himself and going for what he wants until an outside force galvanizes him.  Ferrucci is completely believable as the kind-hearted architect, but his life spirals out of control when he finally meets his nerdy pen pal who once saved his life.  Ferrucci skillfully walks that line of a man trying to maintain his gratitude while simultaneously losing his mind.  His meltdowns are hilarious especially when he practices speeches throwing out his pesty acquaintance and has a knack for farcical improv with his machinations to get Steadman out the door.

And the source of all this turmoil is Rick Steadman, brilliantly essayed by Andy Harvey.  Anything you can think of when you hear the word “nerd” is embodied in Harvey’s take.  Steadman has a nasally, adenoidal voice.  His dress sense is godawful.  He’s completely oblivious to social cues.  He has weird hobbies like adapting songs for tambourine.  He’s also good-hearted and well-meaning, but he has the Sadim (read that backwards) touch as everything he touches turns to blech.  Harvey doesn’t chew the scenery.  He devours it and has a grand time doing so and brings you along for the ride.

Dana Weintraub has designed a comfortable apartment for the level-headed Cubbert and the properties of Eliot Curtis give it that homey atmosphere (bonus points for digging up the Fry Guy on the bookcase to give the place that 80s feel).  Jack Smith’s costumes suit the personalities of the various characters from the suits of the urbane Axel and business minded Walgrave to Steadman’s rainbow-colored suspenders and ill-fitting clothes to the smart dresses of Tansy. 

This show is pure escapism.  Grab a ticket and laugh yourself into a happy place. It’ll cure what ails you.

The Nerd plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through July 31.  Showtimes are 7:30pm on July 16, 22, and 30 and 2pm on July 12, 17, 22, 26-27, and 31. Tickets cost $33 for the Main Floor and $26 for the balcony and can be obtained at the Box Office or by visiting www.maplesrep.com or calling 660-385-2924. Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

You’ll ‘Die Hard’ Laughing

A hard-edged NYC police officer flies out to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and family, but gets caught up in a massive robbery attempt and he’s the only hope to stop the thieves.  Hey, this might make for a good movie!  But it’s A Very Die Hard Christmas and it’s currently playing at BlueBarn Theatre.

Jeff Schell and the Habit knew just what notes to strike when they decided to lampoon this classic action flick.  They actually stay true to the story, but completely upend its spirit with a comedic tour de force guaranteed to leave you wheezing for air before the night is through.  The meta aspect of the script is its finest quality as the show is aware it’s a show.  And a show done on the cheap at that as they can’t afford a full contingent of criminals and rely on Nerf ammo and squirt guns to mete out the show’s rampant violence.

Susan Clement dives into the heart of this show with a stylish bit of direction.  The show is immaculately staged as actors flow in and out of scenes as seamlessly as a rolling river.  Clement is able to give each actor a moment to shine and each feels like an individual and not just a piece of the ensemble.  Her coaching is right on the money as each performer gives a well-developed performance.  But keep your eyes on everybody or you might miss some subtle sight gags going on in the background of the crowd scenes.

Each member of the ensemble is a joy to watch and you’ll be treated to some quality work from Jonathan Purcell as Ellis, a coked-up prick who arrogantly thinks he can negotiate his way to safety and has a surprising set of pipes when he sings about how he “doesn’t want to die tonight”.  Roni Shelley-Perez lights it up in overacting, soap operatic glory as McClane’s estranged wife, Holly.  Raydell Cordell III is a scream as a Nakatomi employee who continuously pops up to say, “Oh, snap!” as well as providing a gentle take on Sgt. Al Powell, a police officer who lost some of his heart when he shot a kid.

Katie Becker-Colon might have the best role in the show as the Narrator.  Dolled up like Andy Warhol, Becker-Colon pops up to move the story along with endless variations and styles of Twas the Night Before Christmas while filling in needed gaps for assistance such as playing the piano or serving as a cameraperson for the obsequious reporter hungering for a scoop.  Becker-Colon is also a heck of a hoofer as I was blown away by her crisp dancing in the musical numbers.

Hughston Walkinshaw is magnetic as Hans Gruber, the criminal mastermind.  His performance invokes reminisces of Alan Rickman without aping him.  Walkinshaw is clearly having a ball as he cold-bloodedly squirts people to death, clomps around the stage while monologuing, and occasionally flips characters to Severus Snape for obligatory Harry Potter jokes.

Josh Peyton is a worthy John McClane as he makes the role his own.  He’s a chain-smoking, blue collar cop determined to see justice done regardless of regulations.  Peyton’s physicality is staggering as he deftly moves between building floors to dodge murderous thieves, hangs and shimmies down a bar, and rolls, rolls, rolls his way to justice and cover.  His fistfight with a life sized doll near the end of Act I is easily one of the funniest sight gags I have ever seen on stage.

Melanie Walters’ choreography is a blast to watch.  Robert Donlan’s set provides the feel of a cheaper version of downtown LA with the towering Nakatomi building.  Joshua Mullady’s lights really add some spice to the show with the starlit night sky and the complete drop to darkness before doing a slow light rise for the entrances of the FBI.  Jennifer Pool’s costumes evoke memories of the film from McClane’s dirty T-shirt to the 80s style clothes of the Nakatomi employees. 

It’s fast, furious, and funny and it’s almost sold out.  As of this writing, the only available tickets remaining are for the Dec 8 show at 7:30pm and they’re limited.  So visit www.bluebarn.org or call 402-345-1576 to grab one of the last tickets for this Christmas blockbuster.  Tickets cost $35.

A Very Die Hard Christmas runs through December 19.  Due to profanity, the show is not recommended for young children.  BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

Lofte Community Theatre Announces 2022 Season

Harvey by Mary Chase

Performances: April 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10
Auditions: February 15 & 16 @ 7 PM

This Pulitzer Prize winning play has been adapted many times for film
and television, most notably a 1950 film starring James Stewart.

The Story: Elwood P. Dowd insists on including his friend Harvey in all of his sister Veta’s social gatherings. Trouble is, Harvey is an imaginary six-and a-half-foot-tall rabbit. To avoid future embarrassment for her family, Veta decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium. The search is on for Elwood, who eventually arrives at the sanitarium of his own volition, and it seems that Elwood and his invisible companion have had a strange influence on many people…and you will be one of them. Don’t miss this theatrical classic!

Visiting Mr. Green by Jeff Baron

Performances: May 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15
Auditions: February 22 & 23 @ 7 PM

Mr. Green, an elderly, retired dry cleaner, wanders into New York traffic and is almost hit by a car driven by Ross Gardiner, a 29-year-old corporate executive. The young man is given a community service of helping the recent widower once a week for six months. This is a moving and often funny story about two men who do not want to be in the same room together. As they get to know each other and come to care about each other they open old wounds they’ve been hiding and nursing for years. We suggest PG-13.

Legally Blonde by Heather Hach with Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin

Performances: July 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31
Auditions: May 24, 25 @ 7 PM

This fabulously fun award-winning musical is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer motion picture. Elle Woods appears to have it all. Her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle ingeniously charms her way into the prestigious law school. While there she struggles, but with the support of some new friends she quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world. Exploding with memorable songs and dynamic dances – this musical is so much fun, it should be illegal!

The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman

September 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11
Auditions: July 25 & 26 @ 7PM

In this transcendently powerful adaptation Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl, who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, The Diary of Anne Frank captures the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence—their fear, their hope, their laughter, their grief.

Noises Off! by Michael Frayn

October 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30
Auditions: September 4 & 5 @ 7PM

Called “the funniest farce ever written,” Noises Off presents a manic menagerie of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing’s On. Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez

December 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18
Auditions: October 24 & 25 @ 7PM

Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season!

Fear the Absurdity

Anna Perilo and Ben Beck star in “The Mystery of Irma Vep”

It was a dark and stormy night. . .ah, to hell with it.  It’s The Mystery of Irma Vep and it’s currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This show is truly a spectacle that you have to experience so I won’t blow things with any kind of a plot description.  Charles Ludlam’s script is very meta as the show is aware that it’s a show with the twist that all but two cast members are unable to perform forcing the two available thespians to play every role.  And play them they do.  Way beyond the hilt as they tell the story of the tragic Hillcrest family plagued by memories of a dead spouse, werewolves, mummies, and more.  This is truly a howler of a comedy fit for the Halloween season.

Jim McKain understood that the way to tackle this show was not to take it seriously at all.  Nothing is off limits and the actors are given the leeway to ham things up to the extreme.  Still, you can see McKain’s disciplined hand with the tightly controlled pace and the nuances that make the multiple characters played by the two actors seem like different people.  McKain also takes full advantage of the beats of this farce, milking every drop of comedy from the tropes of huge dramatic pauses, cheesy “duh DUH duh” organ chords, and sound effects that make one feel like you’re watching an old radio show from the 1940s.  He’s also guided his actors to gutbusting performances guaranteed to give audience members a great ab workout as they guffaw through the night.

Ben Beck’s star shines brightly in this show as he’s able to use the full breadth of his character acting prowess.  Whether he’s the wooden legged servant, Nicodemus, making lewd double entendres towards the maid; the buxom Lady Enid Hillcrest trying to keep her husband from pining over his late wife; or the scheming Egyptian guide, Alcazar, looking to snare a few bucks from Lord Edgar Hillcrest, Beck clomps, howls, and frets his way into your funny bone.  Some of his best moments are his improv moments where he seems to break character to make a witty aside or reaction before snapping back to whatever character he is playing.

Anna Perilo will have you gasping for air before the night is through.  Her sense of timing is deadly accurate and she is an acting chameleon.  Her amazing characters include the very Cockney maid, Jane, who has an attitude well above her station and enjoys a good draught of booze and the mysterious lrma Vep.  But her best character is her rendition of Lord Edgar Hillcrest, the very British Egyptologist who’s quick to hunt down the wolf plaguing his sheep with guns a blazing and gamely exploring unopened tombs.  But her histrionics with Hillcrest’s temper tantrums and fear of “the horrors” will leave you wheezing for breath.

I absolutely loved Matthew Hamel’s set which included its own stage with clam footlights and a very British manor with its fireplace with smoldering embers, massive French doors, and fine oak woodwork.  Combined with Andrew Morgan’s properties of books, bric a brac, and portraits, I felt like I was watching something straight off the BBC.  Timothy Vallier has a very fitting horror score for the show that sometimes gives you a wink and a nudge when it segues towards 80s hits.  Chris Wood’s lights embellish the story’s absurdities with dropdowns to blues and reds for scary moments, a cacophony of colors when a mechanism is activated to reveal a sarcophagus, and flashes of lightning.  John Gibilisco’s sounds keep things humming with gunshots, thunder claps, and smashing glass.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes suit the period and the over the top feel with Lord Hillcrest’s tweeds, Lady Enid’s billowing, poofy, pink dress, Alcazar’s fez and robe, and the Grim Reaper outfit adopted by a grim intruder.

It’s the perfect treat for the Halloween season with its spooky theme and hammy antics and you’ll have a ripping good time during a night of humorous horror.

The Mystery of Irma Vep runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Nov 7. Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $36 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Colin Conces

Horror Comedy, ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’, Hits OCP in October

Anna Perilo & Ben Beck star in The Mystery of Irma Vep

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of The Mystery of Irma Vep will open on Friday, October 8th, 2021. The show will run in the Howard Drew Theatre through November 7 with performances Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now starting at $36 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

SYNOPSIS

Vampires, werewolves, mummies and an ancient family curse: Two actors take on all of this and more—via dozens of warp-speed quick changes—in this wildly absurd comedy. A feverish spectacle from beginning to end, delightfully campy and dripping with satire, The Mystery of Irma Vep is a farce to be reckoned with!

Directed by: Jim McKain

Cast: Ben Beck & Anna Perilo

Photo provided by Colin Conces

For Adolts Only

From L to R: Sean Riley and Michael McIntire play the citizens of Tuna, TX in ‘Greater Tuna’

Welcome to Tuna, TX, home of the most eccentric, bizarre, and moronic people you’re likely to find on the planet.  Join them for a day in their lives in Greater Tuna which is currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

This play is the first in a series about the peculiar citizenry of Tuna.  The shows are constructed as a combination of sketch comedy and soap opera.  The characters and situations are over the top and some storylines don’t get wrapped up until future shows.  One thing the shows have in common is that only 2 actors play the town’s citizens making it a showcase for character performers.

Marc Liby provides some skillful direction for this production.  He keeps the pace going at the speed of a bullet train to rev up the comedy’s momentum and knows how to keep the many individual story arcs bright and interesting.  His shaping of the actors’ numerous characters is stellar as each character has his or her own life with a change in costume, voice, and posture.

With only 2 actors to play a town of oddballs, skilled, versatile actors are a must and this show has got them in the form of 2 of MRT’s favorite sons:  Michael McIntire and Sean Riley.

McIntire and Riley’s timing is polished to a fine sheen and I think they set a record with their blitzkrieg costume changes.  Both also brilliantly essay the many lunatics of this town and are guaranteed to have you laughing from the diaphragm by the time the night is through.

Michael McIntire plays most of the town’s intense characters.  Some favorites were his rendition of Bertha Bumiller, a tough as nails morality freak who leads an organization to ban literature such as Romeo & Juliet due to its depiction of teenage sex and Roots because it only presents one side of the story; Elmer Watkins, a conspiracy theory fueled survivalist; and radio host Harold Dean who delights in blaring the town’s issues while dodging a stalker.  But his capstone character was Reverend Spikes who gives a rather energetic and lascivious eulogy which had the audience howling.

Sean Riley plays most of Tuna’s dopes and nerds.  Some of his classic performances include his take on the dorky Petey Fisk, the head of the local SPCA who often smuggles dogs to the Bumillers through their youngest child; the deadpan and potentially deadly Didi Snavely who runs the local weapons shop; his laconic Arles Struvie who hosts the thrice daily news broadcasts and is one of the few townsfolk with a couple of brain cells.  But his most surprising character is Stanley Bumiller, the ne’er do well son of Bertha who takes one of the show’s storylines in a shockingly dark direction with his grudge against a judge who sentenced him to reform school.

Kerri Packard certainly had her work cut out for her with this show, but her costumes suit the personalities of each of the town’s characters with the overalls and flannels of some of the hick characters, the frumpy dresses of the town’s elderly women, the con artist suit of Rev Spikes, and the clothing of Stanley Bumiller which seemed inspired by Mike Myers’ Wayne character from Wayne’s World.  Clayton Dombach keeps his set fairly simple with a large friendly sign welcoming people to Tuna and his backdrop depicting a farm community.  Mike Ekelburg’s sounds boost the comedy especially with the UFO scene which was influenced by Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Shon Causer’s lights always suit the emotional thrusts of the various scenes.

This is pure escapist comedy which will make you forget about life for a while and provide the healing magic of laughter.  Take a night to lose yourself in humor.

Greater Tuna runs at Maples Repertory Theatre through August 1.  The show has 2pm showtimes on June 26, July 2-3, 7, 13, 18, 20-21, 30, and August 1 and 7:30pm showtimes on July 9, 17, 23, 28, and 31. Tickets begin at $26 and can be obtained by calling the box office at 660-385-2924 or visiting www.maplesrep.com.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Photo provided by Maples Repertory Theatre

A Feast of Farce

Collyn and Emerson are ad agents hoping to land an account for a chain of hotels owned by Samuel Briarwood.  To seal the deal Emerson invites Briarwood and his niece to dinner at her home.  However, her husband currently goes through a 9 month gestation and delivery every 24 hours due to a hypnotic suggestion.  To avoid the embarrassing situation, Emerson gets her husband out of the house and hires an actor to play him.  Unfortunately, Emerson’s husband comes home early.  You can find out the rest by watching Temporary Insanity, a world premiere production by Karen Schaeffer and currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.

Schaeffer’s script has considerable promise.  I enjoy the play on the title as it’s a reference to Ted’s daily birthings as well as Emerson’s being a little crazed herself due to her freaking out about the dinner plus the general looniness of the situations that erupt throughout the night.  The farcical second act is everything a great high-energy comedy needs to be with slamming doors, mistaken identities, and new plans spun out on the fly.  But the first act moves a little too slowly and feels more like a traditional comedy as it spends its duration setting everything up to fall apart in the second act.

Jon Flower provides some pretty effective direction with the production.  His actors are always moving and animated so the show is never static.  He developed some great visual gags, though an extended kissing gag will be even funnier once we’re a little further past the pandemic so actors feel safe in actually kissing instead of using body language to simulate the passion.  Flower also guided his actors to solid & strong performances and I was especially impressed with the performances he got out of his two youngest cast members.

Some of the entertaining performances you’ll see during the night come from Michael Taylor-Stewart as Ted whose groans of “pregnancy” liven up the second act.  Sherry Josand Fletcher is also amusing as Emerson’s mother, Marie, who agrees to play the maid for dinner, but proves to be an atrocious actress with her godawful Cockney accent and constant curtseying.  Robert Wagner also provides some chuckles as Ted’s drunken friend who only wants to play with a puppy.

D. Laureen Pickle is a scream as Emerson.  She perfectly captures the frazzled ad agent desperate to land the deal with her cockeyed plans to have an elegant dinner that constantly blow up in her face.  Pickle’s Emerson gleefully guzzles wine from the bottle, cooks so poorly that she can’t even toss salad (or perhaps tosses too well, depending on one’s point of view), and always seems a half step away from dissolving into a giggling hyena ready for a straitjacket.

Heather Wilhelm shows a mastery of straight man comedy as Collyn.  She’s the more level headed of the two ad agents and is clearly the glue holding Emerson together.  She can easily toss off a deadpan zinger and then engage in a bit of soap opera style acting as she concocts a tale with the professional actor hired by Emerson to cover his amorous advances on another character.

Don Harris’ performance as Samuel Briarwood was the fuel that kicked this show into hyperdrive.  As Briarwood, Harris is a blustering, old-school businessman and his flustered and puzzled reactions to the strange situations swirling about him are always a treat to watch.  His romantic tension with Fletcher’s Marie provided some of the funniest moments in the show.

Joey Lorincz creates another classic BLT set with the elegant home of Ted and Emerson complete with the numerous doors needed for a proper farce.  Said set is also impeccably dressed by Jon Flower to give it the feel of a home.  Todd Uhrmacher’s costumes are right on the mark with the uniform of the pizza delivery boy, the evening gown and suit clothing the Briarwoods, and Marie’s karate gi and maid’s uniform just to name a few.

The energy of the show was at an incredibly low ebb for a great deal of the night which made it feel too naturalistic as opposed to the bombastic, over the top feel required for farce.  Once Harris blew onto the stage, the momentum starting kicking up to the proper level.  Cue pickups were also a bit off and tightening them up will help to boost the energy.

In the end, this show does provide an enjoyable evening of insanity.  It almost has the feeling of an extended episode of I Love Lucy with Emerson’s hare-brained schemes and everything getting tied up in a nice little bow as an end.  And who could ask for anything more?

Temporary Insanity runs at Bellevue Little Theatre through June 27. Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $20 ($18 for seniors, $10 for students) and reservations can be made at http://bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com/reservations.html.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

Bellevue Little Theatre Holding Auditions for ‘Temporary Insanity’

Bellevue Little Theatre presents
Temporary Insanity Auditions

Sunday, March 15 @ 7:00 pm
Monday, March 16 @ 7:00 pm

Bellevue Little Theatre will hold auditions for Temporary Insanity at the theatre, 203 W. Mission in Bellevue, at 7 pm on Sunday March 15 and Monday March 16.  This world premiere farce was written by Des Moines Playwright Karen Scheaffer, and the BLT is proud to present it as a close to our 51st season.

Jon Flower will direct the production which will run the week-ends of May 1, 8, and 15. An adult cast of ten, ranging in age from 17–65, is needed for this farce. For additional information please contact the director at jon.david.flower@gmail.com

More information can be found on the BLT web site at www.bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com.

Character breakdown:
* COLLYN (pronounced Colin) 45ish. Female. Married to Mike, Emerson’s business partner and best friend.
* EMERSON 45ish. Female. Married to Ted, Collyn’s business partner and best friend.
* MARIE FORRESTER 65ish. Female. Emerson’s mother.
* ROSE Appears to be about 17. Female. Emerson’s daughter.
* WILL BRANCH 35 – 40. Male. Actor.
* TED 45ish. Male. Married to Emerson. Real Estate Agent. Accidentally hypnotized to experience an entire gestation every 24 hours.
* SAMUEL BRIARWOOD 65ish. Male. Owner of Briarwood Hotels and Collyn and Emerson’s potential client.
* PHILOMENA (PHIL) BRIARWOOD 33ish. Female. Sam’s niece. Sam is training her to take over Briarwood Hotels.
* HEGLUND Appears to be about 17. Male. He is a pizza delivery person and goes to high school with Rose.
* MIKE 45ish. Male. Married to Collyn. CPA.

Synopsis: In this fast-paced farce, Collyn and Emerson run a marketing firm but haven’t landed a major account. A dinner invitation is extended to a potentially lucrative client who’s in town for one night. However, Emerson’s husband, Ted, has been mistakenly hypnotized and now goes through an entire gestation period every 24 hours. To ensure a smooth evening, Collyn’s husband, Mike, takes Ted out for drinks. Emerson sequesters her daughter, Rose, in her room and enlists her mother, Marie, to serve dinner. She hires an actor, Will Branch, to play her husband. Everything goes according to plan until Ted shows up with an intoxicated Mike just before the clients arrive. Will Branch discovers he’s now Collyn’s fake husband, while Rose’s admirer desperately tries to ask her out with a message pizza and the client turns out to be Marie’s old flame. Then Ted goes into labor. Will they still get the account?

PLEASE NOTE:  ‘Bellevue Little Theatre does not discriminate, and auditions are open to all.

Blue Barn Reinvents a Holiday Classic

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

The Regional Premiere of

A Very Die Hard Christmas

By Jeff Schell and the Habit

November 29th -December 22nd, 2019

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Wednesday 12/11 & 12/18 at 7:30pm

Sundays: 12/1 at 6pm| 12/8 at 2pm & 6pm | 12/22 at 2pm

Come out to the coast. We’ll have a few laughs.

About the play:  Yippee-Ki-Yay! An outrageous take on the Most. Beloved. Christmas Movie. Of. All Time, we cordially invite you to our company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza! All NYPD Blue’s John McClane wants is to come to the coast, get together with his estranged wife, and have some laughs. But when a team of well-choreographed, vaguely European terrorists start taking hostages as part of their nefarious plot to…who cares! John has to cowboy up! Starring the dead guy from The Sixth Sense, the cop outside with Twinkies, big big hair, cocaine, indoor smoking, Professor Snape, and 40 floors of sheer adventure!

About the production: A Very Die Hard Christmas features Hughston Walkinshaw, Katie Becker-Colón, Theresa Sindelar, Josh Peyton, Jonathan Purcell, Diane Watson, Raydell Cordell III, Dave Wingert, Nicole Callahan, Todd Brooks, Kerron Stark, Don Harris, Therese Rennels, Mike Markey, and Wai Yim. Directed by Susan Clement-Toberer. Dramaturgy by Barry Carman. Sound Design by Bill Kirby. Properties by Amy Reiner. Set Design by Bob Donlan. Lighting Design by Josh Mullady. Costume Design by Jenny Pool. Choreography by Melanie Walters. Fight Direction by Ezra Colón

This production is sponsored in part by Omaha Steaks

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.

Location:  1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE

The Game is Askew

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called in to investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville and to protect his heir, Henry Baskerville, when he receives an ominous warning to stay away from the moor.  Is there a human hand guiding this evil or is there truth to the curse of the Hound of the Baskervilles?  Find out when you watch Baskerville by Ken Ludwig and currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.

I had been looking forward to this show all season.  Hearing the name “Sherlock Holmes” is like ringing the chow bell as I’ve been an avid reader of these mysteries since childhood.  As a result of this, I admit to being a bit biased when it comes to Holmesian entertainment.  But that bias takes the form of having rigorous standards whenever I watch a Holmesian production or read a Holmesian story.  With that being said, I am pleased to say that Ludwig’s take on this classic tale more than meets my standards.  It’s almost completely faithful to the original story and manages to add its own unique flavor with a high dose of farcical humor well executed by a contingent of comedic clowns.

Suzanne Withem is the ringmaster of this circus and she stages it as a classic Vaudeville production with a bare-bones set.  Her direction is sterling as she never allows the energy to wane and she knows how to mine the funny out of the production with a series of well-timed jokes and fourth wall breaking moments.  Ms Withem leads her actors to strong, brilliant performances with a pell mell telling of this mystery.

I salute the superhuman efforts of the 3 actors of the play (Kevin Goshorn, Sara Scheidies, and Guillermo Joseph Rosas) as they rotate between playing nearly 20 different characters requiring complete shifts in costume, body language, accents, and voice to portray the numerous roles.  Some examples of their stellar work are Goshorn’s highly Texan Henry Baskerville, his obnoxiously crude Inspector Lestrade who constantly hocks loogies and scratches his behind, and a hilarious cameo as a charwoman cleaning 221B Baker St; Ms Scheidies’ overwrought Mrs. Barrymore who overgestures and oddly shuffles her feet, her busybodying Mrs. Hudson, or her energetic Cartwright, one of Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars; Rosas shines as the Baskerville butler, Barrymore who has a permanently stooped posture and a wonky back; the giddy naturalist, Stapleton who has an affinity for butterflies, and a proud Castillian concierge of the Northumberland Hotel.

I’d also like to applaud the work of the roustabouts, Kaitlin Maher and Gillian Pearson, who add their own humorous touches as they bring on props, make sound effects, and sometimes are the props.

Catherine Vazquez’s Dr. Watson is the show’s straight man and narrator.  She does a wonderful job exhibiting Watson’s stalwart loyalty to Holmes, his courage under fire, and his own keen intellect, though his powers of observation and deduction are far less pronounced than those of Holmes.  She does need to project a bit more to overcome BLT’s backbox nature.  Unlike the other characters, Watson needs to be the most grounded, which Ms Vazquez certainly was, but I think she still had some leeway to elevate his energy a bit.

Ben Beck is a pitch perfect Sherlock Holmes.  Not only does he well exude Holmes’ rude, unfriendly nature, but he also well communicates Holmes’ manic energy when the thrill of an investigation is on him.  Beck well handles Holmes’ complex dialogue as he often speaks in almost stream of consciousness cadences as he makes his rapid-fire deductions. And I was particularly impressed with how quickly he was able to transition from being Holmes to being the actor playing Holmes when miscues and other errors sprang up to throw off the Vaudeville troupe.

Brendan Greene-Wash has skillfully designed a cheap looking set of cutout woods and boxes that look like they could be packed up and whisked to the next town on a moment’s notice.  Zachary Kloppenborg’s costumes are spot-on and quite elegant from Holmes’ dressing gown, to Watson’s sharp suits, to the Texan garb of Henry Baskerville, the buttling suit of Barrymore, and the raggedy clothes of the Irregulars.  Joshua Mullady’s lights always enhance any production with the eerie ghostly lights used in the story of the curse of the Baskervilles to the shadowy night scenes in Baskerville Hall.

I thought I saw a few blips such as fading or dropped accents and the mixing of pronouns in regards to Watson, but as the show is presented as a troupe doing a production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, I can’t help but wonder if these “blips” were more subtle jokes to tie into the show’s running gag of little things going wrong here and there.  In any case, Baskerville is an extremely satisfying romp that does justice to a classic Holmes mystery while making bellies jiggle with laughter.

Baskerville plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through May 19.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sat and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Reservations can be made by calling 402-291-1554 or visiting the web page at bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.