The Barn Players Announces 67th Season

The Barn Players‘ 67th year…in a new venue…

The Black Box Theatre at Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD
February 17 – 20
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Rated: PG-13
Performances: Thursday, Friday, Saturday @7:30pm
Saturday & Sunday @2pm

PUTTING IT TOGETHER
May 12 – 15
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Stephen Sondheim & Julia McKenzie
Rated: PG-13
Performances: Thursday, Friday, Saturday @7:30pm
Saturday & Sunday @2pm
DIRECTED BY ERIC MAGNUS
MUSICAL DIRECTION BY MICHELLE ALLEN McINTIRE

FIRST DATE
August 19 – 28
Music and Lyrics by Michael Weiner & Alan Zachary
Book by Austin Winsberg
Rated: R
Performances: Week 1 / Friday, Saturday, Monday @7:30pm – Sunday @2pm
Week 2 / Thursday, Friday, Saturday @7:30pm – Sunday @2pm

NEXT TO NORMAL
October 21 – 30
Music by Tom Kitt
Lyrics and Book by Brian Yorkey
Rated: PG-13
Performances: Week 1 / Friday, Saturday, Monday @7:30pm – Sunday @2pm
Week 2 / Thursday, Friday, Saturday @7:30pm – Sunday @2pm

2022 6×10 PLAY FESTIVAL
November 18 – 20
Produced by Lynn Reddick
Performances: Friday & Saturday @7:30pm / Sunday @2pm

PLUS…THE BARNEY AWARDS January 22nd
Our volunteer appreciation night returns at The Arts & Heritage Center

DISNEY’S FROZEN, JR.
July 29 – 31
A Barn Junior Camp Production for grades 6-12!
Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
Book by Jennifer Lee
Based on the Disney film written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Rated: G
Camp Dates: July 11 – 15, 18 – 22, 25 – 28
Performances: Friday & Saturday @7:30pm / Sunday @2pm@ Bishop Miege High School

After the Love Has Gone

Bailey Carlson (L) and Thomas Gjere sing a tale of doomed love.

Jamie and Cathy were always on parallel paths.  He was from a traditional Jewish family.  She was a free spirit.  He was a successful writer.  She was a struggling actress.  As his career soared, hers bottomed out.  It was a love doomed to fail.  See their story in The Last Five Years currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Stunning.  Simply stunning.

Every now and again, one comes upon a piece of theatrical kismet.  The story is just right.  You have the right performers.  You have the right director.  The music is just right.  The needed intangibles are in place.  And the end result is something almost transcendent.  The Playhouse’s production of The Last Five Years is one of those shows.

Jason Robert Brown has worked an impressive piece of magic with his story and score.  The framing device of telling the two characters’ stories simultaneously, but oppositely (Jamie’s story is told from beginning to end while Cathy’s story is told from end to beginning) is an inspired touch.  He has also written a moving tale that grabs your soul from the start and doesn’t let up until the final note is sung.  And his score?  Wow!  Nothing but a slate of memorable tunes that are touching, funny and, at times, painful.  Stylistically, the show is similar to an Andrew Lloyd Webber production as very little dialogue is utilized.  The story is operatic and told almost entirely in song.

Susie Baer-Collins returns to the Playhouse to direct and does a superlative job with the production.  Her staging was original and truthful to the story.  Taking advantage of social distancing, Baer-Collins always makes sure there’s a space between the performers, but that’s critical to the story because there is always something keeping Jamie and Cathy apart.  Her coaching of the two thespians is epic as their performances are spot on and nuanced.  No emotional moment is missed or wasted.  No note is off key.  And the show’s emotional trek is precise and gripping.

The theatre could barely contain the energy of Bailey Carlson.  She was a dynamo and had my attention riveted from the moment she uttered the first notes of “Still Hurting”.  Her animation was off the charts and always apropos to the emotional beats of her songs.  Her Cathy begins as an angry woman who refuses to accept any responsibility in the dissolution of her marriage, but as her story winds to the beginning, we get to see that she was once a fun loving, if high spirited gal.  Yet there was always an edge of jealousy to her personality as she wanted her own success and refused to be seen, in her own mind, as lesser than her “genius” husband which explains her obsession with becoming a big star.

Carlson also possesses a knockout alto that captured the subtlest emotion or overwhelmed you with its strength.  If she wasn’t wowing you with her anger and sadness in numbers like “Still Hurting” and “See I’m Smiling”, she was making you laugh with “A Summer in Ohio” or just getting you to remember the bloom of first love with “Goodbye Until Tomorrow”.

I personally considered Thomas Gjere’s performance as Jamie his best to date and I was glad to see him play a bit against type as I’ve normally seen him in more unsympathetic roles.  His take on Jamie is complete and utter perfection.  His childlike glee when his Jamie gains a powerful literary agent is infectious and delightful and his love for Cathy is palpable and real.  Seeing him collapse emotionally as his marriage crumbles melts even the coldest of hearts and it allows the audience to understand, if not necessarily agree with or condone some of his poor personal responses to his failing nuptials.

Gjere has got one, smooth mellow tenor which he harnessed to full potential as he made the audience laugh with “Shiksa Goddess” where he professes his love for Cathy while shocking his mother at the same time.  He also shines in favorite number, “The Schmuel Song”, where he tries to inspire Cathy with a story.  Yet he can also reduce your innards to pulp as he tries to shore up Cathy’s confidence while telling her he won’t fail to make her feel better in “If I Didn’t Believe in You” and will crush you with his tragic “I Could Never Rescue You”.

Jim Othuse supplies some scenic prestidigitation with a simple set of stairs, a boat and a few pieces of furniture that effortlessly slide in and out to set up scenes.  I was bowled over by Janet Morr’s artistry on the seaside set, especially by the rolling waves which was furthered enhanced by the sea sounds supplied by John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart.  Michelle Garrity’s choreography was simple, yet effective and made good use of social distancing.  I loved the emotional coloring of Lindsay Pape’s costumes.  When the characters are at their happiest, their clothes are the brightest.  At their saddest, they wear mournful black.  Jim Boggess and his mighty orchestra nail the score to the floor.

At the beginning, there was an ending.  At the ending, there was a beginning.  But, for me, it was one of the most personally satisfying shows I’ve seen in a spell and you need to get a ticket and experience it for yourselves.

The Last Five Years plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through March 21.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets begin at $25 and may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The show will also be available via streaming starting March 5 via the ShowTix4U platform. Due to adult language, the show is not recommended for children. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

‘The Last Five Years’ Launches 2nd Half of OCP Season

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse kicks off its second half of the 2020/21 Season with The Last Five Years—opening Friday, Feb. 26. The show will be held in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP. Performances will run Wednesdays through Sundays through Sunday, March 23. The Hawks Mainstage Theatre will allow for social distancing and other safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A captivating, intimate musical that retraces the rise and fall of a five-year romantic relationship. The story is presented in chronological order by Jamie, the man, and in reverse by Cathy, the woman, with the two versions of the story meeting only once—at their wedding in the middle. Profoundly emotional with comedic moments sprinkled throughout, The Last Five Years is beautifully heartbreaking.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $25, 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.

COVID-19 INFORMATION

All audience, staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Masks will be available free of charge and must be worn properly in accordance with CDC guidelines. Patrons attending a show in either theatre will be socially distanced from other guests with all groups at least six feet apart. Productions will not incorporate any physical audience participation.

Audience members will be required to self-screen for a fever and symptoms of illness prior to arriving at OCP. Those with fever or other symptoms may exchange their ticket at no cost.

Lobbies, reception areas and lines will be arranged and marked to encourage social distancing. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in the box office windows with cash-free payments encouraged, touchless credit card transactions offered and touch-free ticket pickup available. Common areas and performance halls will be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis with both cleanser and electrostatic technology.

All restrooms will be outfitted with touchless fixtures and will be sanitized daily and throughout performances. We will no longer hold post-show meet and greets with the actors in the lobby. Concessions and drinks will not be available and public water fountains will be closed.

STREAMING INFORMATION

The Last Five Years will be available to rent for at-home viewing beginning Friday, March 5 on the ShowTix4U platform. To view all OCP streaming events on ShowTix4U, visit https://www.showtix4u.com/events/ocp

The Last Five Years
by Jason Robert Brown

Directed By: Susie Baer-Collins

Cast
Thomas Gjere as Jamie
Bailey Carlson as Cathy

OCP Holding Auditions for ‘The Last Five Years’

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse is holding auditions for the upcoming production of The Last Five Years on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 11 a.m. at OCP, located at 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132. Video auditions are being accepted now through Oct. 31. Those who wish to submit a video audition can send their video to Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com

Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, OCP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which all community members feel a sense of belonging, and does not discriminate in casting practices on the basis of an individual’s ethnicity, age, gender, physical and cognitive ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse and inclusive casting.

Production: The Last Five Years

Written and Composed By: Jason Robert Brown

Director: Susan Baer Collins

Show Dates: Jan. 15–Feb. 7, 2021

Show Synopsis: A captivating, intimate musical that retraces the rise and fall of a five-year romantic relationship. The story is presented in chronological order by Jamie, the man, and in reverse by Cathy, the woman, with the two versions of the story meeting only once—at their wedding in the middle. Profoundly emotional with comedic moments sprinkled throughout, The Last Five Years is beautifully heartbreaking.

Roles

Catherine Hiatt; Age 25 to 35; Vocal range top D#5; Vocal range bottom F3; Character arcs from an ambitious, fresh-faced girl in a new relationship to a woman stunned by a betrayal and a divorce that she is only beginning to understand.

Jamie Wellerstein; Gender male; Age 25 to 35; Vocal range top Bb4; Vocal range bottom A2; Character arcs from an ambitious guy on a promising first date with a dazzling career to someone who is blinded by success and ego. He is lovable, yet makes unintentional choices that sabotage his own happiness.

To schedule an audition and to request paperwork, please email Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com.

Vocal auditions will be in the Hitchcock Rehearsal Hall. Those who cannot attend in person may submit a vocal audition video.

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

Please Bring: All contact information, personal schedules and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form. To expedite the check-in process, please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

Contact: For more information, contact Becky Deiber, bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com, at(402) 661-8539.

A Bridge Between Them

Francesca Johnson, an Iowa housewife originally from Italy, looks forward to a few days to herself when her family heads off to the 4H Nationals at the Indiana State Fair.  When her family leaves, a well-traveled National Geographic photographer, Robert Kincaid, arrives to ask for directions to the Roseman Bridge to complete his photo assignment.  Robert has recently visited Italy which sparks a fast friendship between himself and Francesca which evolves into something more and forces the two to make some life altering choices.  This is The Bridges of Madison County by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and based on Robert James Waller’s novel.  It is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

I was quite surprised by this show.  I had been expecting a schmaltzy love story, but what I got was a well framed tale that built slowly, organically, and subtly.  This story is about much, much more than a man and a woman falling in love.  It’s about the circumstances that brought them together, the forces that drive them, and the hard choices they have to make about their respective futures.  I especially liked how natural the affair comes about.  There’s nothing forced about it.  It was just something that happened which leaves it up to the viewer to decide on the morality of what goes down.  The show is aided by Brown’s score, especially as interpreted by Jim Boggess and his splendid orchestra.  The songs are almost internal monologues and span a series of emotions that I have never seen before in a musical.

A story that builds as methodically as this one requires a very gentle touch with the direction and Kimberly Faith Hickman provides that touch and then some.  Ms Hickman strikes each emotional beat dead on the mark.  It’s never too much or too little.  The pacing is phenomenal and keeps the attention of the audience with every gradual revelation of the plot.  She also has a killer set of performers to tell this story, especially in her 4 leads.

That previous sentence may have made you take pause, but there are 4 leads for this production.  Kimberly Faith Hickman made the decision to double cast the two leads and each pairing takes one down a very interesting variant of the story.  In order to give readers a complete vision of this play, I watched the show twice so I could see how each set of leads interpreted the tale.

Mackenzie Dehmer is deadly accurate with her character choices in the role of Francesca.  She seems. . .not happy, but settled in her role as a farm wife.  She loves her children.  She loves her friends.  She even loves her husband, but it isn’t the same love that she once shared with him.  Her body language indicates that there is a void in her life that she doesn’t know how to fill.

Then Robert comes into her life.

Suddenly Ms Dehmer just lights up with passion and life as she now has someone with whom she can truly relate.  As their friendship grows, Ms Dehmer really makes you see the happiness blooming in her soul, yet it is still tinged with a thorn as she is always constantly aware of the potential effect on her family.  Her anguish as she wrestles with the decision to be with Robert or her family is heartbreakingly real and well essayed.

I think Ms Dehmer would have a fine career in opera with her devastating vocal range.  A natural alto who effortlessly hits soprano notes, Ms Dehmer shone musically as she wonders about Robert in “What Do You Call a Man Like That?”, consummates her relationship with him in “Falling Into You”, and sings about her haunting final decision in “Before and After You/One Second and a Million Miles”.

Angela Jenson-Frey gives us a Francesca who is actually quite happy with her life.  Yes, she misses her native country, but is comfortable with her life in Iowa and is mostly satisfied with her choices in life.  When Robert appears in her life, there isn’t that immediate spark of attraction.  It is a friendship that quickly transforms into a passionate love.  Ms Jenson-Frey’s Francesca also seems a bit more assured in her decisions as her final choice seems to come a bit more easily and confidently.

Ms Jenson-Frey also has a beautiful soprano singing voice which she uses to full emotional potential in her numbers whether she’s gladly telling the audience part of her life story in “To Build a Home”, tenderly asking Robert to simply “Look At Me”, or sharing the rest of her life story with Robert in “Almost Real”.

I was crushed by James Verderamo’s take on Robert.  He projects a palpable aura of loneliness.  His Robert is a man who lives apart from the rest of the world.  He’s never in one place very long and has made the decision not to get involved with people because he always has to get to the next assignment.  His chemistry with Mackenzie Dehmer is pitch perfect as each truly seems to fill a missing part of the other.  When he falls for Francesca, you really feel the wonder of a man who is experiencing happiness for, perhaps, the first time in his life.

Verderamo’s tenor is velvet smooth and allowed him to emote his songs to the fullest.  Whether he is “Wondering” about Francesca or describing the life of a photographer in “The World Inside a Frame” or musing about his own mortality in “It All Fades Away”, Verderamo never failed to let the audience see his true thoughts and emotions.

Thomas Gjere’s Robert is far more content in his life.  While he is a bit of a wanderer, he is comfortable with the life he has chosen though he believes he isn’t the greatest company in the world.  What I liked best about this take is that Gjere’s Robert is quite likable and charming, but seems completely unaware of that fact due to his always focusing on the next assignment.  When he falls for Francesca, it seems to truly awaken himself to himself for the first time.

Gjere has a mellow low tenor that you could listen to for hours.  His phrasing is always perfectly precise and he makes you feel his budding happiness in “Temporarily Lost” and the full joy of his personal awakening in “Who We Are and Who We Want to Be”.

While this is primarily a two person show, a supporting cast does periodically appear to show what is going on outside Francesca & Robert’s world and sometimes get involved in it.  Kevin Olsen and Joey Hartshorn provide some levity as an older married couple who are neighbors of the Johnsons.  Ms Hartshorn is especially amusing as the busybody with a heart of gold and has a hilarious solo in “Get Closer”.  Mary Trecek belts out a great hoedown in “State Road 21/The Real World” and Analisa Peyton has a moving solo as Robert’s ex-wife in“Another Life” where she explains why she left him.

Jim Othuse crafts a realistic small town with the farmhouse of the Johnsons and a spot on replica of the Roseman Bridge.  I also liked how he created bars and other homes through the use of windows and bar counters.  Aja Jackson’s lights brilliantly support the story with sunrises, sunsets, and proper mood lighting during the show’s weightier and emotional moments.  Megan Kuehler’s costumes well suit a small town farming community with simple dresses for the adult women and t shirts and jeans for the men and kids.

As I said in the beginning, this is far more than a love story.  This is a story about two people who were missing something vital and found that missing piece in the other.  It is not about their love.  It is about what they will do with that love and it makes for a profound tale indeed.

The Bridges of Madison County continues through March 24.  Tickets start at $24 and vary by performance and seating zone.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets can be obtained at the OCP box office, online at www.omahaplayhouse.com, or calling the OCP box office at 402-553-0800.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

A Tragic ‘Parade’ Performs at OCP

PARADE

Opens February 9, 2018 at the Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, Neb. – Parade, the true story of a Jewish man wrongfully accused of murdering a young girl in a small Southern town, will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse February 9 – March 11, 2018 in the Howard Drew Theatre.

Parade is the Tony Award-winning musical based around the trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish man wrongfully accused of murder in Marietta, Georgia in 1913. Religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tensions are already prevalent in this small Southern town, and when reporters begin to sensationalize the case, the likelihood of a fair trial is put in jeopardy. With a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and music by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, The Bridges Of Madison County), this true story reveals the beauty of the human condition, even when faced with tragedy.

Disclaimer: Contains language and situations related to racial tension and mob violence.

The events surrounding the investigation and the trial of Leo Frank led to the birth of the Jewish civil rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League.  Following the Sunday, February 25 performance, staff members from the Omaha chapter of the Anti-Defamation League will participate in a post-show discussion about the history of the ADL. Open to all attendees of that day’s performance

Production:  Parade

Credits:  Book by Alfred Uhry.  Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown.  Co-conceived and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince.

Director:  Jeff Horger

Cast

Brendan Brown as Riley

Breanna Carodine as Minnie

Brooke Fencl as Essie

Adam Hogston as Brit Craig

Chloe Irwin as Mary Phagan

Megan Kelly as Lucille Frank

Melissa King as Mrs. Phagan

Nelson Lampe as Judge Roan

Grant Mannschreck as Frankie Epps

Michael Markey as Hugh Dorsey

Rebecca Noble as Sally Slaton

Mike Palmreuter as John Slaton

Joshua Lloyd Parker as Ivey

Brian Priesman as Tom Watson

Tony Schneider as Mr. Turner

Christopher Scott as Luther Rosser

Jonathan Smith as Jim Conley

Jill Solano as Lizzie Phagan

Grace Titus as Iola

Scott Van Den Top as Starnes

Catherine Vazquez as Monteen

James Verderamo as Leo Frank

Randy Wallace as Mr. Peavey

L. James Wright as Newt Lee

Show Dates:  Feb 9-Mar 11, 2018; Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets start at $42 for adults and $25 for students. Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students.

DiscountsTwilight Tickets – A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability.

Sponsored by:  Carter and Vernie Jones

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard Drew Theatre (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE  68132)

PART to Present ‘The Last Five Years’

Performing Artists Repertory Theatre presents
The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown

Location:  7400 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68114

Curtain Times: Friday and Saturdays, March 24, 25, 31 and April 1 at 7pm; Sundays, March 26 and April 2 at 2pm.

Ticket Costs: $35 Regular Admission, $30 Seniors, $25 Students and Military

Theatre/Box Office contact info: 402-706-0778

Summary

The Last Five Years tells the powerful story of Cathy and Jamie, two twenty-something New Yorkers who dive headfirst into a marriage fueled by the optimism that comes from finding “the one.” But in a city where professional and personal passions collide and only the strongest relationships survive, Cathy’s journey is told from ending to beginning, and Jamie’s from beginning to end. Funny, honest, and intimate, and with an exuberantly romantic The Last Five Years takes a bold look at one young couple’s hope that love endures the test of time.

Cast: Leanne Hill Carlson and John Jones.

Musical Direction by Doran Schmidt

Directed by Gordon P. Cantiello

Lighting by Sandy Hatcher

Production Stage Manager:  John Flemming

Sound by Doug Huggins

House Manager:  Erron Antisdel.