Something’s Rotten, But it Sure Ain’t this Show

Nick Bottom is determined to write a hit play and best his hated rival, William Shakespeare.  Saddled with debt and with a child on the way, Bottom consults a soothsayer to dip into the future and decides to create the world’s first musical and steal Shakespeare’s greatest idea to create his magnum opus, Omlette.  This is Something Rotten! and it is currently playing at Ralston Community Theatre.

Let me get this out of the way first:  not only is this the new best musical I’ve seen mounted on an Omaha stage, it’s now also one of my personal top five shows.  If you love musicals, you’re going to love this show.  If you HATE musicals, you will still love this show because it points out that genre’s inherent absurdities and plays them up to the fullest especially with the musical in the musical.

Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell came up with something truly unique with this show.  It’s historical, anachronistic, parodic, and even brings in some literary theory concerning the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.  Throw in a score by Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick that not only lifts elements from all types of musicals, but includes a showstopping number that includes a mash-up of some of the biggest musicals ever written and you’ve got the elements for a heckuva good time.

Todd Uhrmacher gets this show and his sparkling direction reflects that.  This show goes in a lot of different directions and Uhrmacher knows when to be serious and when to be silly.  His staging is top notch.  The pace is lightning quick.  The characterizations are sublime and the cue pickups were right on the button.

The ensemble did a very good job of breathing life into this world and there were some incredible standouts in the supporting cast.  Chloe Rosman brings the comedy stylings of Kate Micucci along with an angelic soprano in her rendition of Portia.  Jenna McKain is the rock of her family as Bea Bottom and can really belt out a tune, burning brightly with “Right Hand Man”.  But I specifically want to shine a spotlight on Jon Flower who gave his best performance to date with his take on Nostradamus.  Flower was not only hysterical, but I think the operatic world lost a potential star with that magnificent tenor and he just soars in “A Musical”.

David Ebke is pitch perfect as William Shakespeare.  Ebke brings a Johnny Depp/rock star vibe to the role and is arrogant, oozes sex appeal, and wallows in the excesses of celebrity.  Ebke’s Shakespeare admits the work it takes to get famous isn’t as fun as the being famous part and it’s implied he uses a few shortcuts to retain that fame and fortune.  Ebke also possesses a dynamic tenor and made the ladies swoon with “Will Power”. 

The role of Nigel Bottom seems to be tailor made for Kyle Avery.  Avery is utterly natural and perfectly believable as the gentle, soft-spoken poet & writer.  His gentle tenor can either tug your heartstrings or fill you with the warm fuzzies and has two hallmark turns with the romantic “I Love the Way” and the moving “To Thine Own Self Be True”.  However, he does need to be careful not to go overboard with the pitch on his speaking voice in some of his more lamentable moments.

Steve Krambeck adds some serious layers to the role of Nick Bottom.  Bottom is a pretty conflicted guy.  He’s a decent sort, but his jealousy of Shakespeare’s success and his desperation to dig himself out of a financial and creative hole compel him to act recklessly and behave childishly.  Krambeck admirably balances and reflects Bottom’s many sides and adds his own mighty tenor with turns in “Bottom’s Going to Be on Top” and “God, I Hate Shakespeare”.

Chris Ebke and his orchestra show some impressive versatility with their handling of the highly varied score.  Debbie Massy-Schneweis has supplied the best piece of choreography I’ve seen in a local production.  This show has big numbers and Massy-Schneweis rises to the occasion with some of my favorite numbers being “A Musical” and “Make an Omlette”.  The production was fortunate to have the skills of Joey Lorincz as he designed yet another stellar set with the Renaissance building cutouts and utilizing a screen which projected illustrations of London Bridge, streets, and parks to indicate locale changes.  His lights always add something special such as tight spotlights on intimate numbers and his going to town with colors in “A Musical”.  Leah Skorupa-Mezger’s costumes suit the Renaissance period with the poofy pants, the colorful jerkins, the period correct dresses, and an elaborate scene with dancing eggs and omlettes.

Some of the dancing needed to be a bit cleaner and relaxed and a few bits of dialogue weren’t picked up by the mikes, but that did little to stop the avalanche of awesomeness that was this show.

If you’re looking for some fun and are a fan of theatre or even an opponent of musicals, then this is the show to see.  It’s the best thing going this summer.

Something Rotten! plays at the Ralston Performing Arts Center in Ralston High School under the auspices of Ralston Community Theatre through July 24.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sun at 2pm.  Tickets cost $23 and can be purchased at the Box Office, calling 402-898-3545, or visiting www.ralstoncommunitytheatre.org.  Parental discretion is advised for this production.  Ralston Community Theatre is located at 8969 Park Dr in Ralston, NE.

Tender Trash

From L to R: Millicent Hunnicutt, Lisa DeChristofaro, Andy Harvey, Sandia Ahlers, Julia Rocchio, Noah Berry, Alexis Reda star in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical”

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.

Photo by Kelly Lewis

For Love of Ogre

Princess Fiona has been waiting all her life to find the true love who will rescue her from the clutches of an evil dragon and free her from the curse of a wicked witch.  At long last he arrives.  He’s brave.  He’s bold.  He’s. . .rude??  He’s. . .crude???  He’s an ogre!!!  It is Shrek:  The Musical and it will open Friday at the Schneider Performing Arts Center at Maryville High School under the auspices of Maryville Young Players Second Stage.

For full disclosure, I am related to two of the ensemble performers. 

I attended the penultimate rehearsal of this production and found it to be most enjoyable.  The show has a surprising amount of depth as it adds themes of racism and surface judgments to this fairy tale variation.  Mix in a peppy and moving score by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire combined with some talented principal performers and you’ve got the recipe for a fun night of theatre.

Tye Parsons provides an effective piece of direction to the production.  He has some really great staging and well utilizes the rather large stage.  Actors are effectively placed and know how to use the space.  A particularly clever piece of staging occurs during “Morning Person” when the curtain falls to just shy of the stage so a line of actors playing rats follow Fiona’s merry tune.  Parsons has also guided his thespians to solid performances.

Some strong ensemble performances come from Emily Pearce as a screechy Pinocchio complete with a nose that grows with each lie.  McKenna Liles is a hoot with her puppetry and voicing of the Gingerbread Man and shines with a pre-show comedy bit and with Gingy’s interrogation at the hands of Lord Farquaad.  Speaking of Lord Farquaad, Brewer Wheeler shows immense promise as the show’s villain.  He has an excellent singing voice with energy to match.  Now he just needs to fuse that energy to his character work from the start.  Wheeler was doing just that by the end of the show and it really allowed him to revel in Farquaad’s over the top, theatrical nature.

Wyman Wheeler is marvelous in the title role of Shrek.  At one point, Shrek compares ogres to onions as both have layers and he certainly gives a layered performance.  Wheeler gives Shrek a crusty, curmudgeonly edge, but it’s clear this is just a façade that hides Shrek’s loneliness.  Wheeler maintains Shrek’s Scottish accent throughout the night and even maintains it in his singing.  Wheeler also has a beautiful tenor voice and is an expert in the fine art of acting through the songs with some shining moments being Shrek’s musical duel with Fiona in “I Think I Got You Beat” and the more somber and sweet “Who I’d Be” and “When Words Fail”.

Christy Pearce is almost there as Donkey.  Pearce is very entertaining as the non-stop chatterbox and faithful sidekick and has some nimble wordplay with Donkey’s wisecracks.  But it felt like she was holding back just a bit, though there were several moments when she let go and let er rip which was when she was in full Donkey mode and exactly what the character needed to be.

Jacqui Conn’s Fiona is a very different kind of princess.  At first, she seems like the typical damsel in distress, then shows a very crass, blue collar streak as she happily engages in belching and farting contests with Shrek.  Conn also has a delightful soprano which she uses to literally charm a bird to death (the exploding bird is my favorite moment) in “Morning Person” or pluck a heartstring in “I Know it’s Today”.

Regrettably I did not have a program so I can’t properly credit the scenic designer, but I loved the forest screen and the imposing castle.  Nor can I credit the costume designer who did an excellent job duplicating the looks of the famed fairy tale characters along with Donkey’s full body suit complete with hooves, Shrek’s green make-up, antennae, and mammoth gut, and Fiona’s iconic green dress.

Some cue pickups needed to be tighter, but all this show is really lacking is an audience to add that vital piece of performing energy to the cast and then Shrek will really kick into high gear.  Give it a chance and lose yourself in a merry tale.

Shrek:  The Musical runs at the Schneider Performing Arts Center at Maryville High School from June 24-26.  Showtimes are 7pm on Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday.  Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/MYPShrek.  Maryville High School is located at 1503 S Munn Ave in Maryville, MO.

Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre Presents ‘Jersey Boys’

Arrow Rock, MO–With phenomenal music, memorable characters, and great storytelling, Jersey Boys follows the fascinating evolution of four blue-collar kids who became one of the greatest successes in pop-music history. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Jersey Boys takes you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to discover the secret of a 40-year friendship as the foursome work their way from the streets of New Jersey to the heights of stardom. You will be thrilled by electrifying performances of chart-topping hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” and “My Eyes Adored You.”

Tickets range from $20-$46 and can be purchased at www.lyceumtheatre.org or calling the Box Office at 660-837-3311. Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre is located at 114 High Street in Arrow Rock, MO.

Performance Dates
Thursday, 06/23/22 – 7:30 pm
Friday, 06/24/22 – 2:00 pm
Friday, 06/24/22 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, 06/25/22 – 2:00 pm
Saturday, 06/25/22 – 7:30 pm
Sunday, 06/26/22 – 2:00 pm
Wednesday, 06/29/22 – 2:00 pm
Thursday, 06/30/22 – 2:00 pm
Friday, 07/01/22 – 2:00 pm
Friday, 07/01/22 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, 07/02/22 – 2:00 pm
Saturday, 07/02/22 – 7:30 pm
Sunday, 07/03/22 – 2:00 pm

Directed by: Michael Ingersoll

Cast

Courter Simmons as Frankie Valli
Erik Keiser as Bob Gaudio
Jason Michael Evans as Nick Massi
Ryan Williams as Tommy DeVito
Corey Barrow as Barry Belson
Grace Bobber as Mary Delgado
Anthony de Marte as Joey
Lauren Echausse as Lorraine
Christian Fary as Charlie
Steven Gagliano as Joe
Steve Isom as Gyp DeCarlo
Perry Ojeda as Norm Waxman
Joseph Oliveri as Hank
Rebecca Russell as Francine
Jeffrey C. Wolfe as Bob Crewe

‘Kinky Boots’ to Bring Down Curtain on OCP’s Main Stage Season

Roderick Cotton and Billy Ferguson star in ‘Kinky Boots’


Omaha, NE– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of Kinky Boots will open Friday, May 27, 2022. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre through June 26 with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. 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.

Synopsis
Flashy, inspiring and downright fun, Kinky Boots is the heartwarming Broadway musical — and winner of six Tony Awards® — thrilling audiences around the world. Following the death of his father, Charlie Price reluctantly agrees to return to his hometown to take over the family’s failing shoe factory. Inspiration strikes when he meets Lola, an outspoken and unapologetic drag queen in need of a sturdy pair of exotic boots. The unlikely pair cobble a heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship told through dazzling choreography and the intoxicating music of Cyndi Lauper.

Directed by: Stephen Santa

Cast

Billy Ferguson as Charlie Price
Roderick Cotton as Lola/Simon
Megan Kelly as Lauren
Hannah Rembert as Nicola
Jonathan Hickerson as Don
Lauren Johnson as Pat
Sarah Ebke as Trish
Seth Maisel as George
Jack Portis as Young Charlie
Courtney Jackson as Young Lola/Simon

Featuring: Matt Bailey, Brendan Brown, Brock McCullough, Kevin Olsen, Mary Kay Desjardins, Brandon Fisher, Jeff Garst, Noah Jeffrey, Will Kottcamp, Megan Morrissey, Carrie Beth Stickrod, Cullen Wiley

Rave On Productions is Seeking Some Candymen (Candyladies, and Candy Boys & Girls)

Rave On Productions Announces Auditions for:

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

We invite interested teen and adult actors (ages 13+) to submit video auditions for the upcoming family production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka being performed at the Scottish Rite Theater in Omaha, NE. This is a paid performance opportunity.

Auditions are by video submissions only. Actors should prepare and sing 16 bars of a family friendly song.

Rehearsals will be held June 26 – July 21. Weekend rehearsals will be during the day and weekday rehearsals will be held during evenings. There will not be rehearsals scheduled July 1 – 4 due to the July 4th holiday. Rehearsals will be held at the Rave On Productions/McGuigan Arts Academy Studio in Countryside Village in Omaha, NE.

Performance dates and times:
July 22 at 7:30pm
July 23 at 7:30pm
July 24 at 2:00pm
July 29 at 7:30pm
July 30 at 7:30pm
July 31 at 2:00pm

Please send video auditions along with a headshot and resume to info@billymcguigan.com. Please note that actors aged 18 or older are required to pass a background check prior to being cast. Parents and guardians are not permitted in rehearsals or backstage during the show.

Video audition submissions will be accepted through Friday May 13, 2022.

OCP Anounces Auditions for Season 98 Openers

School of Rock

Director: Stephen Santa
Choreographer: Melanie Walters
Music Director: Jim Boggess

Youth Auditions
*10-14 or look within that age range*
June 4th 1:00pm – 4:00pm
June 5th 6:00 – 9:00pm

Adult Auditions 
June 12th 6:00pm – 9:00pm
June 13th 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Adult Callbacks
June 21st 6:00pm – 10:00pm

Audition Preparation

Youth Instrumentalists
Please prepare a 45-second-1 minute rock and roll solo. Be prepared to learn a few notes from the show! A drum kit, keyboard, and amp will be provided. Please bring your own guitar or bass with cables.

Youth Singers
Please prepare 32 bars of a contemporary musical theater song or rock/pop song.
Cold Readings from the script will be provided.

Adult Auditions
Please prepare 32 bars of a contemporary musical theater song or rock/pop song.
Cold Readings from the script will be provided.

Click Here for Character Breakdown

Please complete the audition form and e-mail Dana Smithberg at dsmithberg@omahaplayhouse.com to schedule your audition time.

AUDITION FORM

The Legend of Georgia McBride

Director: Brady Patsy

Auditions
June 5th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
June 6th 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Callbacks
June 8th 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Character Breakdown:

CASEY: Man, 20’s, white. 

A charismatic and good-looking small-town high school football star turned Elvis impersonator, with the biggest of hearts. He loves his wife ferociously; dreams big, if not always practically; but his charm and optimism are infectious. Married to Jo. He becomes Georgia McBride, his new drag queen persona with Elvis/country/rock and roll roots; a force of nature; sexy, flirtatious, athletic, joyous, and fierce. NOTE: The role requires dancing in heels, lip-syncing, and singing. Playing guitar is a plus.

JO: Woman, African American. She is Casey’s wife.

A hardheaded realist who is prone to being fatalistic, insecure about her appearance, but still a striking young woman. Determined, quick-witted, tough without being bitchy. Loves Casey wholeheartedly; she’s his grounding force. Supportive of Casey’s dreams, but aware of their financial hardships, and her newly discovered pregnancy.

MISS TRACY MILLS: Man or non-binary, 40s-59s, any ethnicity.

A well-seasoned and very gifted Drag Queen, Professional, Confident, and very funny, with a heart of gold. Tracy’s bitchiness is of the harmless variety. Intelligent, kind, protective, resourceful, and nurturing. A natural mentor and drag mother to Casey. She combats strife with a razor wit and a steely determination. Equal parts inspiration and desperation. When she’s not embracing her drag persona, she is Bobby, Eddie’s cousin. NOTE: The role requires dancing in heels and lip-syncing.

REXY/JASON: Man or non-binary, 20s-30s, any ethnicity.

Rexy: Fiery, Combative, Emotional, she’s a sharp-tongued drag queen with a dark past and destructive behavior; a trashy girl who fancies herself the most sophisticated lady in the room. A fellow drag performer of Miss Tracy Mills.

Jason: Casey and Jo’s sweet-natured best friend and neighbor. Casey’s high school buddy and now Landlord. A young father, henpecked at home, surprises you with warmth and insight. NOTE: The role requires dancing in heels and lip-syncing.

EDDIE: Man, 50s-60s, any ethnicity.

The no-frills owner of Cleo’s Bar on the beach in Panama City, Florida, and Bobby’s (aka/Miss Tracy) older cousin. Easily flustered, rough around the edges, a walking ulcer, but a huge heart. His curmudgeon exterior shields his open-hearted generosity and empathy. He starts off as the world’s worst emcee but transforms into an amateur showman who secretly loves the spotlight.

Please complete the audition form and e-mail Dana Smithberg at dsmithberg@omahaplayhouse.com to schedule your audition time.

AUDITION FORM

Auditions will be held at Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)

Strength of Soul

Celie lives a tragic life.  She was forced to give up her children.  She was basically sold to a tyrant as a wife.  She believes her sister to be dead and her faith lies in tatters.  But with a new friendship, she slowly begins to regain herself and to live life to the fullest.  Watch her remarkable story in The Color Purple which is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This is unquestionably one of the most challenging shows I’ve ever seen.  Marsha Norman deals with some dark and ugly themes in this script.  Racism, physical and mental abuse, lust, abandonment, and loss of faith are just some of the themes explored and that’s just in the first act.  But themes of love, family, hope, perseverance, and redemption are also visited in the show’s second act.  This gives the show an incredible multifaceted nature.  Throw in a score that spans genres from Gospel to blues to jazz to swing to African along with a cast that was more than up to the challenge and you have one awe inspiring night of theatre.

Kathy Tyree’s direction is truly to be lauded.  Guiding a performer through an emotionally charged scene is always a difficult and nuanced task.  But to guide multiple performers through numerous emotionally charged scenes requires the hand of a master and Tyree has such a hand.  Not only does she lead her performers through the almost uncountable nuances and beat changes of this tale, but she also stages it immaculately using a surprisingly simple Jim Othuse set of steps, slatted beams which depict African tribal masks on the reverse, and a large screen of scribbles that flash colors to suit the emotions of the scenes.

The ensemble does a masterful job of always being in the moment to add the spark of life to group scenes, but you’ll also be treated to some stellar performances from Doriette Jordan who is full of sass and fire as one of the Church Ladies.  Anthony Holmes provides some levity as the sweet, but hapless Harpo.  Brandi Mercedes Smith is awesome as the tough as nails and brutally honest Sofia who gets one of the show’s most tragic scenes due to her refusal to take garbage from anyone.  Brittany Thompson provides some real sweetness and loving support as Celie’s younger sister, Nettie.

TammyRa’s performance as Celie is so heartfelt and moving that it stirs the dead.  I admit I was blown away by the power and nuance of her interpretation and TammyRa’ is going to be swarmed in award nominations and you can take that to the bank. 

TammyRa’ is so meek and pitiable at the show’s start and she makes you feel Celie’s pain and brokenness with each haunted look and reaction.  But her growing happiness when she begins to claim her life makes your heart soar.  And what an angelic alto!  TammyRa’ belts out a tune like few others can and it communicates the subtlest of emotions.  Some of my favorite numbers were her tortured “Dear God”, her magnificent “What About Love?”, and her confident “I’m Here”.

Jus. B is an utterly worthless piece of humanity as Mister.  This is a cruel, cruel man who does not have one redemptive value in him.  He practically salivates over Nettie, but takes Celie as a “wife” just for a free cow and treats her like a virtual slave as he demands she cook, clean, and satisfy his urges.  Jus. B has an incredible gift of acting with his eyes and you can feel the heat of his anger radiating from them while he smokes a pipe with such intensity that I feared he would snap its stem in two.  He is just as potent on the singing side when that powerful baritone hits you with “Mister Song”.

Dara Hogan has the energy of a dozen people and a magnetic presence as Shug Avery.  She’s the bad girl with a heart of gold and has loyalty to spare with her dedication to her friendship with Celie.  Hogan is truly a triple threat who can sing, dance, and act with numbers such as the heavenly “The Color Purple”, the humorous “In Miss Celie’s Pants”, and especially the showstopping “Push Da Button”.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra are superlative as they play the multiple genres of the score.  Jim Othuse’s lights really add to the production with the depressing darks of Act I and the hopeful colors and brightness of Act II.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco’s sounds seamlessly blend in and enhance the production with my favorite being the singing birds at a picnic.  LaTryce Anderson and DJ Tyree provide some smooth choreography with my favorite dancing sequences being “Big Dog” and “Push Da Button”.  Lindsey Pape’s costumes show the passage of time from 1910-1940 with the gingham dress of Celie giving way to the flapper dress of Shug Avery to the bright and colorful pants that Celie creates.  I was also highly impressed with the tribal masks painted by Janet Morr.

This is a show that is going to grip you by the throat in ways you never thought possible as indicated by the running commentary I heard from various audience members in Act II.  Due to its heavy themes and mild language, I’d suggest some parental discretion, but this is an artistic triumph for Kathy Tyree, her cast, and the Omaha Community Playhouse.  Buy a ticket and learn why The Color Purple is the color of passion.

The Color Purple runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through March 27. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 402-553-0800, visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com, or at the box office.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

Bellevue Little Theatre Announces 54th Season

Bellevue Little Theatre Announces Season 54

Footloose: Sept 16- Oct 2, 2022

Footloose celebrates the exhilaration of youth, the wisdom of listening to one another, and the power of forgiveness.

It’s A Wonderful Life: Nov 4-20, 2022

-It’s the gorgeous love story of George and Mary Bailey, a vivid portrait of the Greatest Generation, a descent into the darkest hour of a man trapped by circumstance and a powerful meditation on what makes a meaningful life.

Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web: Jan 13-29, 2023

-A conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie delivers a unique blend of suspense and humor in a intricate plot of murder, police, drug addicts, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.

A Little Night Music: Mar 10-26, 2023

-Stephen Sondheim’s romantic nineteenth-century waltz whisks us away to a weekend in the country.

Girls’ Weekend: May 5-21, 2023

*Our 250th Production!*

-From the writer of our World Premiere: Temporary Insanity. Karen Schaeffer’s Girls’ Weekend is “Marvelous … successfully punchy … be prepared to laugh”

‘The Color Purple’ Set to Grace OCP Stage

TammyRa’ and Brittney Thompson star in ‘The Color Purple’

Omaha, NE– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of The Color Purple will open Friday, March 4, 2022. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre through March 27 with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. 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.

SYNOPSIS

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the Oscar® nominated film by Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple is an intimate coming-of-age story set in rural Georgia and told through a rich helping of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues. As Celie grows from a young teenager into a woman, she must overcome the cruelty and hardships that life has dealt to discover her inner strength through love, forgiveness and family. Driven by powerhouse vocal performances, The Color Purple is the ultimate tale of triumph over suffering and empowerment through adversity.

Directed by: Kathy Tyree

Cast

TammyRa’ as Celie
Brittney Thompson as Nettie
Jus B. as Mister
Anthony Holmes as Harpo
Brandi Smith as Sofia
Dara Hogan as Shug Avery
Trey Butler as Adam
Charity Williams as Olivia
Ashari Johnson as Squeak
Brendan Brown as Grady
Eric Jordan as Ol’ Mister
Also featuring: Kerri Forrester, Serena Johnson, Doriette Jordan, Almeda Lopez, Alicia Amedee

Photo provided by Colin Conces