Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding in-person auditions for Little Shop of Horrors at the Omaha Community Playhouse on December 3 and 4 and Latino Center for the Midlands on December 5. To schedule an audition, please visit the website here.
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: Little Shop of Horrors
Credits: Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman; Music by Alan Menken
Director: Stephen Santa
Choreographer: DJ Tyree
Music Director: Jim Boggess
Show Dates: April 14-May 7, 2023 Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Rehearsals: Begin February 26, 2023
Show Synopsis: Seymour, a nerdy store clerk at Mushnik’s flower shop, is thrust into the spotlight when he happens upon a new breed of carnivorous plant. But his newfound fame comes at a cost when Seymour discovers the sassy seedling has an unquenchable thirst for human blood. Ravenously fun, dripping with camp and nostalgia. Disclaimer: Contains mild adult content and language.
Auditions: Saturday, Dec. 3, 1-4 p.m. (Latino Center for the Midlands, 4937 S. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68107)
Sunday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132)
Monday, Dec. 5, 6-9 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)
Callbacks: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, 6-10 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)
Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please complete the audition form to schedule a time. When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building. Those auditioning should be prepared to spend 60-90 minutes at the audition.
Audition preparation: Two 32 bar songs – Pop, R&B, or Contemporary Musicals. Accompanist will be provided.
A love quadrangle breaks out at Armadillo Acres Trailer Park between a toll collector, his agoraphobic wife, an exotic dancer, and her crazed, fume huffing ex-boyfriend. It may sound like an episode of Jerry Springer, but it’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical and it’s currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.
Betsy Kelso seems to have been heavily influenced by both Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Show. Like Shop, the story is narrated by a trio of women who serve as the Greek chorus and the weird characters definitely hearken back to Rocky. Two big differences are that this show lacks the darkness of the others and the songs of David Nehls are much deeper and add some character depth that the dialogue does not. The end result is a truly fun show.
Deep this show is not, nor is it intended to be. What sells it is that the characters are such, well, characters. It’s an actor’s delight as they can throw caution to the wind, chew the scenery, and blow the lid off as they go over the top.
Brandon McShaffrey understands that and his actors are sterling with their larger than life, stereotyped performances. Any cliché that pops into your mind when you hear “trailer park” is found in this show and then some. McShaffrey gets his actors to lean into it with everything they’ve got and mixes it with their golden voices to serve up a rib-tickling good time. McShaffrey also throws in suitable choreography. Nothing fancy or flashy. Just fun and catchy.
Millicent Hunnicutt, Lisa DeChristofaro, and Alexis Reda kill it as the Greek chorus. Unlike other choruses, each actress has actually molded a well-defined character which adds a vital bit of pep to the production. Hunnicutt is the group’s leader as Betty, the trailer park manager with an Ethel Merman type presence, but a more powerful and developed singing voice. DeChristofaro is hilarious as Linoleum who moons over her death row husband and constantly seeks to prolong his life by keeping the power on to prevent the electric chair from working. Reda is a riot as Pickles, a dumb as a post ditz suffering from a hysterical pregnancy.
All three ladies have beautiful singing voices and maintain perfect harmony and shine in “This Side of the Tracks”, “That’s Why I Love My Man”, and “Storm’s A-Brewin’”.
Noah Berry excels in the role of Duke, the fume huffing, loose cannon ex-boyfriend. Berry knows how to be big and just eats the role with shining teeth. What I like best about Berry’s interpretation is that he makes Duke unpredictable, but not excessively dangerous. Rest assured, he’s got a screw loose, but wouldn’t really hurt another person. Small animals, on the other hand, need to be wary, lest they become the “Road Kill” he seems likely to create when driving and sniffing.
Julia Rocchio brings a new take to the stereotypical “bad girl with a heart of gold” role. Rocchio’s Pippi does not have a heart of gold. To be honest, she’s downright selfish as she gladly fools around with a married man, but she manages to be sympathetic at the same time. Pippi has been wounded a lot in her life and is constantly on the run from her ex so one can understand that she would grab happiness wherever and whenever she could find it. Rocchio does a fantastic job of showing that woundedness in her best number “But He’s Mine”.
Andy Harvey gets the deepest character with Norbert Garstecki. Harvey’s Garstecki seems like a pretty decent and likable guy at the top of the show. He’s deeply in love with his wife and has been trying to help her through her agoraphobia for the entirety of their marriage. He only gives up when an anniversary outing to the Ice Capades fails to entice his wife out of their trailer and it is then that his eye starts to rove. Harvey actually does a good job of making Norbert’s behavior understandable, if not acceptable. Harvey also has an amazing bass voice and gets some of the show’s more emotional numbers including brilliant renditions of “One Step Closer” and “It’s Never Easy”.
Sandia Ahlers is very sweet as Jeannie Garstecki and she makes Jeannie’s struggle with agoraphobia a very real battle. It’s almost as if her phobia is a physical enemy as she painfully (and humorously) works her way down the patio stairs by any means necessary (think ropes and flotation devices) in an attempt to conquer her fears. Ahlers can also belt out a tune like nobody’s business and has mighty turns in “Owner of My Heart” “Panic” and “Flushed Down the Pipes”.
Justin P. Cowan and his band (Chris Fritschie, Kate Hutton, and Nick Ferruci) rock out with the show’s score. Denise Warner’s costumes fit the trashiness of the characters from cheap dresses to jean shorts and T-shirts to tight leather pants and tops to cowboy hats and cut-offs. Dana Weintraub’s set is perfect with the dilapidated trailers of Armadillo Acres and the cheap furniture inside the Garstecki trailer. Dominic DeSalvio’s use of spotlights bring the right focus on characters during musical numbers and the malevolent red and shade used for the nightmare sequence really sells it. Mike Ekelburg’s sounds help to enhance the show from radio static and stations at the top to the gunshot in the final confrontation.
There were some moments when the microphones went soft and I lost pieces of dialogue and songs, but that did little to detract from the entertainment. It’s truly fun theatre and definitely an escape from life for a while. If you want to feel better about yourself, go immerse yourself in the plight of these characters.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical continues at Maples Repertory Theatre through July 10. Showtimes are 2pm on June 28-29, July 3, 8, and 10 and 7:30pm on July 2, 6, and 9. Tickets cost $33 for the Main Floor and $26 for the balcony and can be obtained by visiting www.maplesrep.com or calling 660-385-2924. Parental caution is suggested due to some language and themes. Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.
Look! Up on the stage! It’s a chord! It’s a bard! No, it’s Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals. This joint production between Rave On Productions and the Omaha Community Playhouse is currently playing in the Storz Parking Lot at OCP.
This rollicking revue of rock musicals is a rather ambitious production and hits the right notes (pun intended) for the most part. Rave On and OCP give the audience a potpourri of tunes ranging from hard rockers to soft ballads to some pretty emotional works. I especially enjoyed the fact that not only were classic well-known numbers and shows utilized, but they also selected songs from lesser known productions which really spiced up the evening.
Kimberly Faith Hickman’s direction brought some fun theatricality to the night while Matthew McGuigan’s musical direction was utterly flawless. He and his band were in fine fettle as they played with a rich gusto and energy that gave the songs a familiar feel, but imbued them with a unique vibrancy.
The show is blessed with a talented troupe of troubadours who each get their moments in the sun and occasionally blend in glorious harmony. Some shining moments were Brittney Thompson’s rendition of the power ballad “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls and Ejanae Hume’s killer take on “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent. Eric Perlstein kicked things off with the sonorous “Heaven On Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar, gave us a little Four Seasons with “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), but his shining moment was his interpretation of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from American Idiot with his sensational, soulful emoting. Jonathan Berger’s lower tenor got to glow with Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” and “Tear Me Down” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
But in a group of standout performers, Evelyn Hill and Jesse White really stole the show. Hill is a worthy successor to Brenda Lee’s moniker of Little Miss Dynamite as her talent is explosive. Hill threw herself into her numbers and stunned with performances including a high powered rendition of ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” and her half of “Suddenly, Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors.
White is a performer’s performer with his own animated performances. His tenor is both soaring and searing as he tore through the night outdoing Frankie Valli’s falsetto in “Sherry”, was shyly comforting in his half of “Suddenly, Seymour”, nailed David Bowie’s “Changes” from Lazarus to the floor, and capped the night with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
But the night’s capstone number came from Ryan McGuigan with his tragically haunting version of “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar. Aside from his formidable musical chops, McGuigan brought a little top notch acting as he was shedding real tears by the end of the song and if you can listen to it without your soul stirring, then you probably don’t have one.
But I can’t end this review without mentioning the splendid work of Jim Boggess who hosted the festivities. His wit, warmth, and humor really enhanced the night and his introduction of each number was a real aid for those who may not be familiar with each song and show.
There were some moments of singers not having enough breath for certain notes and numbers that were fine technically, but needed a bit more commitment to bring them to that next level, but these were minor quibbles in a thoroughly entertaining night.
It’s a rocking good time and a pleasant, and socially distant, way to get out and have some fun. Take a break from these strange times and get a ticket to see this one before it’s too late.
Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Sept 20. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7pm and Sundays at 6pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased online at www.omahaplayhouse.com or by phone at 402-553-0800. This is a cashless event and reservations are required. CDC guidelines are being followed and parking spaces will be assigned upon arrival. Please do not arrive earlier than 60 minutes before showtime. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.
Seymour Krelborn has one dream: to get out of Skid Row. One day fate seems to offer him a shot at that dream when he buys a strange, exotic plant which he exhibits in the window of the florist shop where he works. Suddenly Seymour has fame, money, and the girl. And all it took was a little blood. Find out the rest of Seymour’s story in Little Shop of Horrors by Howard Ashman with music and lyrics by Alan Menken. It is currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.
Ashman’s script is a bit of genius. He took a cult horror film and managed to turn it into a hit musical due largely to his tongue in cheek approach to the material and the snappy score of Alan Menken. The tongue in cheek approach was certainly the way to go as it helps disguise the fact that this is a pretty bleak tale. Nearly all of the characters are unlikable and it does not have a happy arc. In spite of that, you can’t help but have a great time due to the comedy and memorable songs.
D Laureen Pickle’s direction is a strong bit of work as she has led her cast to some fine characterizations and knows how to balance the serious moments with the over the top moments.
The cast was quite clearly enjoying themselves which really adds to the fun of the show. Some notable supporting performances were supplied by Carrie Beth Stickrod, Samantha Shatley, and Brenda Smrdel as a trio of chiseling Skid Row do woppers who also serve as the play’s musical narrators; James Verderamo as a sadistic dentist; and Christopher Scott as Mr. Mushnik, the greedy and abrasive owner of the florist shop.
When I envision Seymour Krelborn, Kyle Avery is the image that springs to mind. Avery was a pitch perfect Seymour as his lean and lanky physique were well suited to the nebbish Seymour. Rest assured that Avery’s acting and singing chops were also more than up to the challenge of the role. Adopting an adenoidal, Brooklyn tinged voice, Avery well presented Seymour as a shy, nerdy man who merely wants a few nice things out of life, but whose innocence leave him susceptible to manipulation by others. Avery gives Seymour an inherent decency that makes his struggles with his conscience quite believable when he starts to go down a darker path due to the machinations of his plant, Audrey II.
Avery possesses a strong and sweet tenor voice that he modulates well emotionally with heartbreaking numbers such as “Skid Row” and “Suddenly, Seymour”.
Jen Dillon is delightful as Audrey. Ms Dillon utilizes a breathy, Brooklyn voice to communicate the uneducated nature of Audrey, but, boy, does she have a heart of gold. She is a really nice girl who just happened to be born on the wrong side of the tracks and you really pity her as she seems resigned to being poor and being involved with rotten men. She also has a lovely soprano with which she can either belt out a tune such as her sequences in “Skid Row” or melt your heart like butter in “Somewhere That’s Green”.
Andrew Miner gives an incredibly animated performance as Audrey II. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s all done by the power of his voice as Audrey II is nothing more than a series of puppets (kudos to the puppet designer by the way). Miner gives Audrey II a delicious aura of evil and a malicious mean streak. His powerful upper baritone singing voice also aid in communicating Audrey II’s nastiness with tunes such as “Feed Me (Git It)” and “Suppertime”.
D Laureen Pickle’s set design really looks like a skid row with its dilapidated, abandoned buildings and garbage strewn streets. Lindsey Pape has designed a series of pluperfect costumes from Seymour’s nerdy outfit of baseball cap, sweater, and glasses to the disheveled clothes of the Skid Row inhabitants to the do wop outfits of the Skid Row trio. Chris Ebke and his band provided a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment performing the catchy tunes. I also want to note the puppetry of Brian Henning which made Audrey II seem like a living entity.
Energy seemed to lag a bit in today’s production and projection was all over the map. I also thought there was room to go a bit bigger in some of the show’s more over the top moments. But these are easily remedied items which will make a hot show scalding.
It may not be a happy tale, but, by golly, it’s a fun time. Take a visit to this shop. Just remember, don’t feed the plants.
Little Shop of Horrors plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Oct 1. Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students. For tickets contact the theatre at 402-291-1554 Mon-Sat from 10am to 3pm. Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.