Tears of Christmas

It’s the story of one man’s salvation through the saving power of Christmas.  It’s A Christmas Carol and it is playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

OCP’s classic tradition is back on stage for the 47th time and this marks my third year in a row reviewing it and, I believe, my fifth time reviewing a version of this show.  I’m sometimes asked why I would review a show I’ve reviewed before and the answer is simple.

It’s never quite the same show.

Actors change.  Directors change.  Crew members change.  And with every change comes a new bit of insight.  A different way of doing things that makes the show original unto itself.  Even if everything were identical from the previous year, it would still be different because new and fresh inspirations would be infused into the show.  As it happens this show had a number of changes this year beginning with a blend of the new and classic as Susie Baer-Collins returns to direct the holiday tradition along with OCP Artistic Director, Stephen Santa, and Jim McKain who were making their directing debuts with this show.  The end result was the most moving rendition of A Christmas Carol I have witnessed at OCP.

With the fusion of the three directors, you assuredly see elements and moments from past productions of the show, but you also see new and original ones as well.  You also get a crucial new element that I had never seen in any previous production:  somberness.  This show began with a very sad feeling, almost as if Scrooge’s essence was infused into every jot and tittle of this world.  I admit I was hooked and I shed a few tears along the way.  Baer-Collins, Santa, and McKain guided their performers to solid performances and had me believing in Christmas’ power.

I always enjoy watching the ensemble, especially when they’re really into their performances.  As I gazed about and saw the smiling faces and lights in the eyes of the actors, I was well and truly sucked into their world.  Some stellar performances in the supporting cast came from Cullen Wiley as Topper who is truly amusing when he gives clues as he plays Yes and No at Fred’s party.  Jacob Roman brings a real meekness to Bob Cratchit whose strong heart allows him to work with the miserly and unkind Scrooge.  Christina Rohling is a loving mother and the rock supporting her husband as Mrs. Cratchit.

Don Keelan-White unlocked the full potential of Jacob Marley with his attack on the role this season.  There was something truly haunting (no pun intended) in both the supernatural and the emotional senses of the word with his performance.  He seemed otherworldly and very human at the same time.  His regret at his failure to help his fellow man during his lifetime was palpable and sincere and I loved his scaring the bejeepers out of Scrooge as he smacked his chains against the floor and pointedly warned Scrooge about the length and weight of his own invisible chains.

DJ Tyree was the Ghost of Christmas Present I had long envisioned.  Tyree just bled majesty and regality and basked in the essence of this spirit.  He had the jovial nature needed for this generous ghost, but also gave Scrooge a pointed verbal jab or two as he threw Scrooge’s cruel words back in his face when discussing the potential fate of Tiny Tim.

For the 17th and final time, Jerry Longe takes the reins of this show as Ebenezer Scrooge.  Indeed, I think the knowledge that this is his last go around added to some of the somber feeling of the show and certainly lent it an additional power.  Longe’s take on Scrooge this time was an angle I’ve never seen played before in any version and I really loved it.  Longe made Scrooge spiritually dead.  By that I mean, he was utterly emotionless.  Life held no joy for him and his accumulation of wealth was just something he did as it certainly brought him no happiness or comfort.  So convincing was Longe in this spiritual death that it made his Scrooge seem very old and frail.  It also had me riding along on Scrooge’s salvation train in a way I had never experienced it before.  Longe was shedding real tears at some points as Scrooge’s dead heart was slowly resurrected and I was searching for my own tissue right along with him.  His redemption had a purity I had never seen before and left me with a sense of divine satisfaction.

Longe seemed to improv asides a bit more this year, but they were fun and one aside had me doubled over with laughter. You’ll know it when you hear it. Truly, it is a fine finale for this treasure of local theatre.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra perfectly played the Christmas carols and hymns and there was an x factor this year that gave it that extra emotional punch.  Michelle Garrity’s choreography was always charming especially in the party scenes.  Linsday Pape’s costumes transport you to the Victorian era of Charles Dickens.  Jim Othuse’s set helps add to that feeling of a bygone era with the old-fashioned buildings and his lights add emotional depths with stars, the pale green of Jacob Marley, and the near total blackness while Scrooge waits for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco’s sounds always enhance things with the ghostly voice modifications for the spirits, the gentle tolling of a clock tower bell, and the tinkling sound hearkening the appearance of Ghost of Christmas Past.  Andrew Morgan’s properties add so much with the sight of feasts, toys, and Christmas items.  Darrin Golden’s technical direction makes the supernatural realistic and Janet Morr’s artistry enhances the sets.

I think you’re truly in for a Christmas treat this year as this incarnation of A Christmas Carol is going to hit you in a way you’ve never been hit before.  You’ll truly marvel at the power of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Dec 23.  Showtimes are Wednesdays at 7pm, Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 6:30pm.  Tickets start at $40 and may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Omaha Community Playhouse

Final Redemption: Jerry Longe’s Final Run in “A Christmas Carol” Begins on Nov 18

Jerry Longe (L) and Don Keelan-White (R) star in “A Christmas Carol” at Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, NE.–Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol, will open Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre from Nov. 18 through Dec. 23. Performances will be held Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and two performances Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol! Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey 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 of the power of redemption and the generosity that lies at the heart of the Christmas holiday.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $40 for adults and $26 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.

JERRY LONGE’S FINAL YEAR

2022 will mark Jerry Longe’s final year playing Ebenezer Scrooge. He has played the iconic role for 17 seasons. The only other person to play Ebenezer Scrooge on OCP’s Hawks Mainstage is the late Dick Boyd who played the role for 30 years.

Photo provided by Omaha Community Playhouse

It’s Going to Be a Blue Christmas Carol: Jerry Longe Stepping Away From Ebenezer Scrooge After 2022 Run

Omaha, NE.– This year will be Jerry Longe’s final year as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s mainstage production of A Christmas Carol. Longe has played the role of Scrooge for 17 years. He first moved to Omaha in 1980 and toured with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s production of A Christmas Carol playing Marley, Ghost of Christmas Present and Jake.

For Longe, his role in A Christmas Carol has been life changing. He says, “I’ve made lifelong friends through this production, and that has been a tremendous gift to me every single Christmas.”

Over the 47 years that OCP has produced A Christmas Carol, only two people have played the role of Scrooge – Jerry Longe for 17 years and the late Dick Boyd for 30 years. When Boyd stepped away, former artistic director Carl Beck asked Longe to play Scrooge.

“I said sure I’d love to do it, and it’s turned out to be the best Christmas present anybody ever gave me,” says Longe.

Longe started the role in 2006 and said one of the best aspects of playing Scrooge is the ability to hone and refine the character year after year. While it’s a difficult decision to step away, he feels that the role demands more energy than he is able to give it anymore. Longe is also expecting his first granddaughter in the spring of 2023, with whom he’s excited to spend the holidays.

A Christmas Carol isn’t about me. It’s about the show and what it means to the community…I felt it was time to go out on a high note,” says Longe.

Over the years, the holiday show has become so popular, it’s an annual tradition for many area families. OCP representatives say how Longe’s involvement has impacted the organization and community.

“Jerry has brought and continues to bring an enormous amount of invention, humor, pathos, and love to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. His humility and professionalism set a high bar for all of us on both sides of the stage. An extremely talented actor and a wonderful friend, Jerry leaves an indelible mark on our treasured production,” -Susie Baer Collins, former OCP Associate Artistic Director and Director of A Christmas Carol.

“Jerry has poured his heart into this role over the past 17 years, and he will be so greatly missed. He graced the show with immense humor and unmatched energy. He will probably never know how many lives he has impacted with this story of hope and redemption,” -Katie Broman, OCP Executive Director.

“Watching Jerry perform Scrooge is truly a masterclass in artistic excellence and love for theatre and storytelling. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with Jerry during his final year and he will forever leave a brilliant stamp on our production,” -Stephen Santa, OCP Artistic Director and Director of A Christmas Carol.

Longe will be honored on the final performance of A Christmas Carol on Friday, Dec. 23. The directors of A Christmas Carol will cast a new Scrooge in 2023.

It Came Upon a Midnight Drear

Schoolmaster Ichabod Crane arrives in the village of Sleepy Hollow to instruct students and direct the church choir.  While there, he sets his eyes on the fortune of Baltus Van Tassel and his beautiful daughter, Katrina.  In his path lay a formidable rival and the headless ghost of a Hessian soldier.  This is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and it is currently playing at BlueBarn Theatre.

As normalcy continues to return to the world, I’ve found myself returning to a lot of things that I did before the pandemic.  So it seems apropos that I get another chance at reviewing a version of this story.  Washington Irving’s gothic tale is one of my favorite short stories.  Both times I heard about a production of this story I had the same question, “How does one take a 20-30 minute tale and spin it into a full length production?”  The first version I saw went wide of the mark.

Ben Beck and Jill Anderson hit a dead center bullseye.

Beck and Anderson’s version of the classic ghost story is completely faithful to the original even to the point of using Irving’s own lines.  How did they expand it into a full show?  Not by adding unnecessary scenes, but by expanding Irving’s references.  When Ichabod is invited to a fall harvest at the Van Tassel’s, they do a formal invitation scene.  When they say they’re going to tell ghost stories at the party, they tell some ghost stories.  Thus, Beck and Anderson retain the story’s original intention and are able to present its full power to the public, greatly boosted by top of the line direction and acting.

Jill Anderson has taken on a very unique challenge with her direction of this production.  This is not a regular play.  Rather it blends several styles of performing.  There most assuredly is acting, but there is also puppetry, pantomime, and storytelling.  That final point is crucial because there is a difference between acting and storytelling.  Acting is presenting the truth of a character, but storytelling is exactly what it sounds like and provides a certain leeway in being a bit bigger and over the top.  Anderson effortlessly fuses the multiple styles of performing to create a gripping tale, adds some icing with her coaching of the cast, and tops it with the cherry of her staging which uses the whole theatre and I mean the WHOLE theatre.  Watch out when Ichabod starts wandering through the woods.

This show is primarily narration with the actors occasionally becoming characters (with the exception of Ichabod) to help propel the story along.  As such it eschews normal analysis, but the ensemble does excellent work in presenting the story.  Where needed, they give it humor, drama, and even chilling tension.  Each performer gets a chance to shine such as Abz Cameron’s take on the coquettish (I say shallow and manipulative) Katrina Van Tassel.  Raydell Cordell III generates some of the show’s biggest laughs as an uneducated, uncouth farmer plus Crane’s housing host, Hans Van Ripper.  Rodger Gerberding makes for a surprisingly convincing mistress as Van Tassel’s wife.  Roderick Hickman has a voice made for narration.  Theresa Sindelar provides laughs as a bratty student in Ichabod’s class and exudes authority as Baltus Van Tassel. 

Brandon Williams is a standout with his key role of Ichabod’s rival, Brom Bones.  Williams’ powerful baritone perfectly suits the athletic and confident Brom and he gives Brom that important quality of likability.  Sure, he’s a bit of a rowdy, but has “more mischief than ill-will in his composition”.  And I like how his facial expressions and snarling make clear he’d like to drive his fist into Ichabod’s beaked nose, but settles for juvenile pranks and perhaps one not quite so juvenile.

Josh Peyton is perfect as Ichabod Crane.  Peyton gets Ichabod and realizes he’s no hero.  Crane is actually a very unlikable person.  He’s smug.  He’s vain.  He’s superstitious.  He’s a craven coward.  He flaunts his education.  He ingratiates himself to the local women to share gossip and to feed his face (and he’s a gluttonous pig) and, while he may truly be smitten with Katrina, is more attracted to her father’s wealth.  Peyton embodies all of these traits and enhances them with a loose-limbed walk and dilletante voice to emphasize Crane’s reediness.

This particular show relies on its technical aspects more than most shows I’ve seen and their support is solid as an oak.  Olga Smola has composed an original score that can spook you or make you feel like you’re in a frolic and done solely with her fierce violin playing and Julia Williams’ dandy accordion work.  Sarah Rowe has designed a set of cardboard trees and fanciful overhang with a horse’s head and crescent moon suitable for a bit of storytelling and fleshed out by Craig Lee’s artistry and Amy Reiner’s properties.  Bill Kirby’s lights really pump up the story with some of my favorite moments being when Ichabod is riding through the woods alone in the deep, dark night and the final lighting effect of the Headless Horseman’s pursuit of Crane.  Jill Anderson’s knowledge of period accurate costumes is second to none as all of the characters look like they stepped out of the late 1700s with frock coats, three pointed hats, and frilled shirts.

This is a show made for the Halloween season and is a faithful rendition of one of the all-time classic gothic tales in American history.  Sellouts have already begun so grab a ticket before they’re just a wisp of a memory.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow plays at BlueBarn Theatre through Oct 31.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Thurs-Sat and Sundays at 6pm (no show on Oct 9 and 2pm matinee on Oct 23 in lieu of 6pm show).  The show will close on Monday, Oct 31 with a 7:30pm show.  Tickets cost $37 and can be purchased by calling 402-345-1576 or visiting www.bluebarn.org. BlueBarn Theatre is located at 1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE.

A “Choice” Selection Being Served at BlueBarn this Season

BLUEBARN Theatre is proud to announce our 34th Season: CHOICE!

Season 34 Mainstage

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Oct. 6 – Oct. 31, 2022

Washington Irving’s masterpiece comes to spooky life with a top-notch ensemble and sheer theatrical invention. Omaha’s own Ben Beck and Jill Anderson incorporate music, dance, and puppetry into a world premiere adaptation, with scenic design by Sarah Rowe and original music composed by Olga Smola. The Headless Horseman rides again!

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) by Michael Carleton, Jim Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez
Original Music by Will Knapp
November 25 – December 18, 2022

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, this laugh-out-loud comedy offers a hilarious alternative to anthropomorphic Nutcrackers and singing Victorian children.

What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck
Feb 2. – Feb. 26, 2023

Fifteen year old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful, and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives. Hailed as the best play of the year in 2019 by the New York Times and earning two Tony Award nominations, this boundary-breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans.

The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh
Mar. 30 – Apr. 23, 2023

Brought from Guangzhou in 1834 as an “exotic oddity” The Chinese Lady follows the true story of the first woman from China to enter America. Afong Moy is paraded around for the American public to indulge their voyeuristic curiosities by delivering a performance of her “ethnicity”. Over the course of 55 years, Afong Moy begins to challenge her views of herself, her culture in the hands of others, and her disconnect from her homeland while grappling with her search for her own identity in America.
“By the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history. She’s no longer the Chinese lady. She is us.” The New York Times

Dance Nation by Clare Barron
May 25 – June 25, 2023

Somewhere in America, an army of pre-teen competitive dancers’ plots to take over the world. And if their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at the Boogie Crown Grand Prix Finals in Tampa Bay. A 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama, Dance Nation is a stark, unrelenting exploration of female power featuring a multigenerational cast of women portraying our 13-year-old heroines.

Season 34 Happenings

The Big Damn Door Festival
August 25-28 & Sept 1-4, 2022

The BLUEBARN invites you to celebrate THREE ARTIST-DRIVEN approaches to innovation in the creation of new work for the stage. Our Big Damn Doors are not just a primary feature of the architecture of the BLUEBARN, but a metaphor for the festival itself: wide-open doors and unbounded possibilities. BLUEBARN is proud to support emerging artists from the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan area whose work has the power to drive change in our community, and who’ve been most impacted from systemic biases in opportunity. Artists that identify as Global Majority (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LGBTQIA2s+, neurodiverse, and artists with disabilities have been prioritized.

Musing: A Storytelling Series
October 26, 2022 & April 19, 2023

Last season’s live storytelling sensation, Musing, returns to the BLUEBARN stage! Story curator Seth Fox will present Miscellanea Volumes One & Two: Storyteller’s Choice – two one-night-only events that feature compelling true stories exploring a variety of themes, all told by the people who lived them.
To have your story considered for a future Musing event, or for more detailed information about Musing, please contact story curator Seth Fox at musingomaha@gmail.com.

New TruBLU memberships go on sale Monday, 8/15! Renewing TruBLU members, check your email for your renewal link, or call our box office at (402) 345-1576. For more information on Season 34, visit http://bluebarn.org/plays-events!

Christmas Ghost Story Truly Has the Spirit

Greedy miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, learns that his soul is doomed for all time.  His one chance for salvation lies in the visitation of three Christmas spirits.  Will Scrooge find the path to redemption or is he cursed to walk eternity in the chains of his sins?  Find out by watching A Christmas Carol over at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

The late singer, Gene Pitney, once summed up a great performance when he said, “On a given night when everything works.  When the lights are right.  When the sound is right. When you’re up for the game and you’re feeling right.  Some of them are intangibles.  They’re either going to happen or they’re not going to happen.  But on a given night when they do happen, it’s just an amazing feeling.  You just feel the electricity going back and forth.” 

Well, let me tell that all of those factors were in place last night and the result was the best incarnation of OCP’s A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen.  You had an audience hungry to be entertained and a cast ready to feed that hunger and they served up a Christmas feast.

Susie Baer-Collins joins forces with a returning Carl Beck and Ablan Roblin to direct this Yuletide extravaganza and I was hooked from the smooth as silk opening sequence to the final “God bless us, everyone”.  This directing triumvirate has this show down to a science with the coaching of their performers to the staging of the scenes (I could always see the face of each actor in the massive crowd sections) to the nuanced little change-ups they made from years gone by.  Though this show has been running for 46 years, they made it feel like it was brand new and fresh.

As I’ve stated in past reviews, never, ever, underestimate the power of a good ensemble.  When they’re operating on all cylinders, it just adds rocket fuel to the production and they were ready to rock.  Such energy!  And you could feel the joy of the performance radiating out of them.  Some of the many wonderful performances you’ll see from the ensemble came from Anina Frey who had a gleeful energy about her as Scrooge’s younger sister Fan; Seth Maisel brought some stunning pathos to the role of Jake; Jon Hickerson presents a Ghost of Christmas Present who is drunk on the milk of human kindness, but has a very serious and somber farewell when his time is up; Julie Huff makes for an angelic and commanding Ghost of Christmas Past as well as the scheming thief, Myrtle Crow.

Chris Berger outCratchits Bob Cratchit with his take on Scrooge’s put-upon clerk.  Berger has a wonderful everyman quality and portrays Cratchit as a truly good and decent man and his love for his family is genuine and palpable.  Some of my favorite moments were watching Bob’s reactions such as his giggling and snickering “Merry Christmas” after the counting house is invaded by a group of children who tease Scrooge and his playing with his children in the Cratchit home scenes.

Still, the biggest burden of the show rides on the shoulders of Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge.  And I’m amazed that Longe still finds new things to try with the character after playing him for so long.  Longe’s on point delivery is enhanced by his stellar facial expressions.  His pre-salvation Scrooge can wither you with a steely glare as he reduced the cartman to tears and always managed to put the fear of God into Bob Cratchit.  I truly loved how Longe drew out the process of Scrooge’s salvation this year.  You could see the cracks appearing in his icy heart with his wistful glances at his beloved sister in his past, saw him experiencing joy for the first time in years as he tasted the milk of human kindness in his present, watched him repent under the horror of seeing his cold and wasted future, then saw him truly embrace the spirit of Christmas upon his redemption.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra made the Christmas carols feel extra jubilant this year.  Jim Othuse’s sets take you back to Victorian-era London with its old time shops and street lamps, the cold, lonely home of Scrooge with its sterile walls, to the poor, but homey abode of the Cratchits, to the stars of the night sky as Scrooge and Christmas Past fly on his 4 poster bed.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco’s sounds always add that something special from the ringing of the bell to end the work day to the chiming of Scrooge’s clock to the tinkling sounds accompanying the arrival of ghosts.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes will transport you to Dickens’ world with the poor, but functional clothing of the Cratchits to Scrooge’s dark finery, and gorgeous dresses and suits of ladies and gentlemen in celebration scenes.  Michelle Garrity’s choreography is spot on and elegant and her dancers are so graceful. 

It’s an Omaha classic, but you’ll feel like you’re experiencing it for the first time this year.  Come forth and know it better, man.

A Christmas Carol runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse until Dec 23.  Showtimes are Wednesdays at 7pm, Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 6:30pm.  Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased by visiting the Box Office, calling 402-553-0800, or visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

OCP Announces Auditions for ‘Bloodlines: A Nesting Doll’

Omaha Community Playhouse Announces Auditions for:

Bloodlines: A Nesting Doll by Beaufield Berry
A part of OCP’s Alternative Programming Series

Directed by Dara Hogan

Virtual Auditions
Sat., Feb. 20, 1–3 p.m. | Mon., Feb. 22, 6–8 p.m

Auditions will be by appointment only via Zoom in 20 minute increments. Please email Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com to schedule a virtual audition and to receive audition paperwork and sides.

Cast: 2 Black women, one older, one younger. Both characters play multiple characters, animals and ages.

Synopsis: The egg that created you was formed inside your mother, in the womb of your grandmother. The blood that courses in your veins is the result of your predecessors’ unions. The trauma that was forced upon your ancestors becomes the ghost that haunts their grandchildren becomes the illness that walks invisible in your body. The only way through it is to confront it or force it upon the next generation. Your child. Bloodlines: A Nesting Doll is a ghost story about multi-generational trauma, invisible illness, matrilineality and the strength we inherit from the women we come from.

MORE INFO: https://www.omahaplayhouse.com/…/alt-programming…/

‘A Christmas Carol’ Provides Dose of Cheer

Even the pandemic isn’t able to stop A Christmas Carol which is currently available to stream from the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Just when it seemed the pandemic was about to steal Omaha’s annual holiday tradition, Kimberly Faith Hickman was able to give the city one final gift before she steps down as the artistic director of the OCP.  In conjunction with Geoffrey Jones, son of former artistic director Charles Jones, Faith Hickman was able to rewrite the elder Jones’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless Christmas ghost story.  Slimming down the cast from 40 to 8 and filming one performance for streaming, Faith Hickman was able to mount a version of A Christmas Carol that maintains the charm and cheer of OCP’s traditional, full strength version.

The production was directed by both Kimberly Faith Hickman and Ablan Roblin who did an admirable job of staging the production.  The 8 performers are always well placed on stage and the performers are so animated that one almost doesn’t notice the extremely subtle use of social distancing throughout the production.  Faith Hickman and Roblin have also coaxed solid performances out of their cast, though the pace could have used some quickening and the cue pickups could have been snappier at some points.  I also enjoyed the realism both directors applied to the production as they tamped down some of the show’s historically over the top moments.

Slimming the cast placed an extra burden on their shoulders as they had to play many multiple roles in order to properly tell this story and they do so fairly effectively and sometimes quite sublimely.  Some fine moments of the show include Jonathan Berger’s magisterial and effervescent Ghost of Christmas Present; Brandon Fisher’s genuinely good hearted Fred; Serena Johnson’s angelic Ghost of Christmas Past; Megan Kelly’s skittish rendition of Mrs. Dilber; and Brinlee Roeder and Dominic Torres provide some levity as the various children. 

But I’d like to cite Josh Peyton’s acting range for his disparate portrayals of the kindly and put upon Bob Cratchit and his supernatural Jacob Marley.  His Marley was especially impressive as he had an otherworldly quality and his voice was tinged with a menace and authority certain to put the fear of God into Scrooge’s heart.

Even after a decade and a half, Jerry Longe is still able to find ways to make his take on Ebenezer Scrooge fresh and original.  Longe underplayed the tar out of Scrooge and I loved it.  That underplaying made his Scrooge ice, ice cold and clearly a man who needed salvation.  And you could see the iciness of his heart get chipped away bit by bit as he slowly came to understand that he was a real scoundrel.  As much as I enjoyed his performance, there were a few moments when his reactions didn’t quite suit the moment.

Jim Othuse utilized a less is more set for this particular version of A Christmas Carol.  A beautiful backdrop became London at Christmas and just a few set pieces (a bed, a fireplace, a streetlamp) managed to become the various locales of the play.  Lindsay Pape’s Victorian costumes transport the viewer to the proper time and place.  John Gibilisco added some nice effects to the voices of the ghosts to give them that phantasmagorical presence.  Jim Boggess and Anita Clark Jaynes do the work of an entire orchestra in performing the show’s full contingent of Christmas carols.

I salute OCP in managing to preserve its 45 year tradition and bring a little Christmas at a point where we could use a little joy.  Take a moment and enjoy some Christmas cheer with your family and make an evening of A Christmas Carol in the comfort of your home.

A Christmas Carol is available for streaming from the Omaha Community Playhouse at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/43126  until January 3.  Rental prices begin at $40.

Nebraska Theatre Caravan Hiring & Auditioning for 2020 ‘A Christmas Carol’ Tour

Auditions

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan will hold auditions for youth (ages 7 – 18) and adults (ages 19 and older) for the anticipated national touring production of A Christmas Carol.  Auditions will be held Saturday, August 8, 2020 at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass Street. Please enter through the stage door on the west side of the building.  Youth auditions will be at 11am followed by adult auditions at noon.

The audition will include singing and reading from the script, followed by movement.  Applicants should bring a resume and headshot, a 16 bar cutting of a prepared song with sheet music, and be prepared to read from the script.  Applicants should also be prepared to move.  An accompanist will be provided.

Estimated contract dates for A Christmas Carol are early November through December 23, 2020.

Note:  These are touring productions and performances will be conducted across the United States.  Rehearsals will be held 9a.m.– 6p.m in Omaha.  All actors must be available to attend all rehearsals during stated times, as well as all performances.

For additional audition or production information, contact Company Manager Kate Whitecotton at kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

 

Touring Technical Positions

Salaries are paid for the duration of the contract, paid bi-weekly via direct deposit.  Per Diems are paid while on tour via direct deposit.  To apply, please e-mail resumes to Company Manager, Kate Whitecotton @ kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

TOURING ROAD MANAGER
Duties include:
– Manage company and production while on tour.
– Assist with hotel reservations prior to tour.
– Plan trip routing with bus, truck drivers, company manager.
– Manage company funds.
– Serve as liaison to theatre sponsors and hotels.
– Prepare information for company members including a detailed road schedule.
– Assist Stage Manager and Technical Director in maintaining quality of performances.
– Work with Youth Performer Supervisor on
correspondence of school work.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=47743

TOURING STAGE MANAGER
Duties Include:
– Run all rehearsals in Omaha.
– Run/Call the show on the road
– Run cues as needed, pending on crew and houses.
– Assist in loading/unloading truck and set up/strike.
– Manage actors to maintain quality of performance.
– Assist TD in assessing space requirements at each venue and adapt staging and spiking.
– Load ins and outs and maintenance of props.
– Instruct houses on sound and pit set up.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52770

TOURING SOUND TECHNICIAN
Duties Include:
– Assist loading/unloading of truck and set up/strike.
– Provide general assistance in all technical areas.
– Work with venue audio equipment and techs.
– Audio playback and wireless microphone reinforcement during performance.
– Responsible for care and upkeep of all tour sound equipment.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52772

TOURING LIGHTING DIRECTOR
Duties Include:
– Call ahead to venues for lighting specifications.
– Interpret original lighting design and adapt to each performance space.
– Oversee local crew for focus/color of pre-hung lights at each venue.
– Program and operate light board for show.
– Assist TD with other duties as directed.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52771

TOURING LEAD COSTUMER

Duties Include:
– Pulling costumes from existing wardrobe to remount show for tour.
– Assisting design staff with fittings and alterations.
– Loading/unloading of costumes.
– Maintenance, repair and laundry of all costumes and wigs.
– Set up dressing areas, dress show.
– Responsible for dressing and coordinating quick changes.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52773 

TOURING GENERAL TECHNICIANS
Duties Include:
– Assist loading/unloading of truck.
– Act as one of two ‘special effects’ operators moving Scrooge’s bed. Due to bed dimensions, height/weight restrictions may apply.
– Assist in maintaining set.
– Assist crew as needed with setting of stage.
-Assist in running crew as needed.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=48422

TOURING YOUTH PERFORMER SUPERVISOR
Duties Include:
– Oversee the youth performers during all rehearsals, off-hours (while on tour) and performances.
– Enforce all rules as determined by the company and each child’s parents.
– While on tour, work with youth performers on daily study schedules as outlined by their parents and teachers.
– Assist youth performers with lines, blocking, props, backstage movements and quick changes.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52774

Touring Musical Positions

Salaries are paid for the duration of the contract, paid bi-weekly via direct deposit.  Per Diems are paid while on tour via direct deposit.  To apply please e-mail resumes to Company Manager, Kate Whitecotton @ kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

MUSIC DIRECTOR/PIANIST
Duties Include:
– Teach vocals to the cast.
– Accompany rehearsals while in Omaha.
– Maintain musical aspects of production.
– Oversee musicians.
– Daily vocal warm-ups.
– Music notes to company as needed.
– Other related duties as assigned.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52775

CLARINET, FLUTE, BASSOON, FRENCH HORN
Duties Include:
– Maintain integrity of performance.
– Adjust performance as instructed by the Music Director.
– Other related duties as assigned.

OCP Prepares to Ring in the Holidays with ‘A Christmas Carol’

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Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse production of A Christmas Carol will open Friday, November 15, 2019.  The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP from Nov 15 through Dec 23.  Performances will be held Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2pm and 6:30pm, Wednesdays beginning in December at 7pm and Monday, Dec 23 at 7:30pm.  There will be no performance on Thanksgiving Day (Nov 28).

Tickets are on sale now starting at $40 for adults and $26 for students with ticket prices varying by performance.  Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office located at 6915 Cass St, by phone at 402-553-0800 or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com.

Synopsis

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 of the power of redemption and the generosity that lies at the heart of the Christmas holiday.

Directed by:  Kimberly Faith Hickman and Ablan Roblin

Cast

Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge

Steve Krambeck as Bob Cratchit

Brinlee Roeder as Tiny Tim

Joshua “Makana” Yamasaki-Crail as Fred

Lori Lynn Ahrends as Ghost of Christmas Past

Chris Berger as Ghost of Christmas Present

Don Keelan-White as Jacob Marley

Christina Rohling as Mrs. Cratchit

Plus an ensemble featuring Mark Haufle, Carrie Trecek, Rachel Fox, Allison Helligso, Jake Parker, Brandon Fisher, Dale Hartshorn, Almeda Lopez, Roz Parr, Jen Dillon, Enrique Madera, Isabelle Rangel, Elliot Kerkhofs, Will Seim, Jane Rohling, Dominic Torres, Pieper Roeder, Anna Krambeck, Meghan Essner, Amina Teri, Cal Hernandez, Judson Cloudt, Obi Rangel, Benjamin Rohling, Emma Johnson, Ella Walker, Atticus Waler, Riya Kumar, Lily Sanow, and Madison White

Photo courtesy of Robertson Photography