Creatures of the Night

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Benn Sieff as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter

Newly engaged Brad and Janet have a vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere.  They stop at the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter to seek assistance and find that the good doctor has created a new. . .playmate.  This is The Rocky Horror Show with book, music, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien and is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it is an homage to cheesy sci-fi films of the 1950s, but with a lot of raunchiness thrown in.  There’s risqué behavior, performers in various states of undress, and a bit of fondling.  So for those uncomfortable with that, consider yourselves forewarned.

I was pretty much a newbie to this show.  I kind of, sort of watched most of the film version once upon a time, but wasn’t paying that close of attention to it.  After watching the stage version, I can honestly say this show is one of the best in the history of the Playhouse.  It is a tremendous amount of fun with catchy songs (brilliantly executed by Jennifer Novak Haar and her band), an intentionally hokey story, some spritely and original choreography, and a great opportunity for audience participation as they are encouraged to bring noisemakers, rubber gloves, toast, flashlights, and even dress up in costume.

Kaitlyn McClincy directs her first full production at the Playhouse with this endeavor.  This is not an easy show to direct due to the colossal amounts of energy required and the suggestive behavior actors need to be led through.  As my friend succinctly stated, “If you ain’t committed, you’re screwed”.  I assure you McClincy and her cast are most thoroughly committed and McClincy’s direction is immaculate and dead on target.

The staging is incredible with Matthew Hamel creating an old-fashioned movie theater for this show to take place.  McClincy makes phenomenal use of the small Howard Drew as she utilizes the entire theatre from stage to seating area to balcony for her actors to tell this story.  She hits all of the hot points of the show to milk the funny and even drilled the rare sentimental moments of the show.  McClincy also has boldly and deftly led her cast to sterling performances from top to bottom.

As I previously stated, energy is crucial to this show and the ensemble hits the ground running and never lets up in a supercharged night of singing and dancing.  Some standout performances came from Jason DeLong who gives an innocent performance as Rocky, Frank ‘N’ Furter’s new creation and shows an impressive set of pipes in “The Sword of Damocles”; Erika Hall-Sieff does well as the sultry domestic, Magenta, and also gets to let her own rich alto shine in “Science Fiction”; Olivia Howard has one of the night’s funniest moments as Columbia with a series of gyrations and movements after having her brain zapped by Frank; and Kevin Buswell is eerily mysterious as the enigmatic butler Riff Raff.

Benn Sieff comes out roaring in his Playhouse debut as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter.  Sieff has incredible instincts and nails the oversexed, over the top mad scientist to the floor.  Sieff has wonderful timing, knowing how to precisely punch a funny line and has a flair for physical comedy, best demonstrated by his bedroom romps with Brad and Janet and he does it all while wearing lingerie and fishnets and gliding around the stage in lifts that add a good six inches to his already towering presence.

Sieff also has a smooth baritone with which he nails comedy in the doctor’s introduction number “Sweet Transvestite” or downright sad and melancholy in one of the night’s few serious moments in “I’m Going Home”.

Cale Albracht is delightfully dorky as Brad.  Albracht’s Brad is a real square and he adds a wonderful stilted and stiff delivery to his lines to emulate the poor actors of cheapo sci-fi films.  Albracht is also a nimble dancer and has a great tenor used to superior effect in “Damn it, Janet” and “Once in a While”.

Charlotte Hedican is sweet and a bit repressed as Janet.  Hedican skillfully handles her hokey dialogue with perfectly sincere camp delivery.  She is also on the mark with the flip from the virginal Janet to the shark smelling blood version after being deflowered by Frank and wants more in “Touch A Touch Me”, one of the top numbers of the evening.

Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco supply some fantastic sounds from the zap of laser guns to the sounds of storms and the electronic whine of viewscreens.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes were on target with the tuxedoes of the Transylvanians, the lingerie and fishnets of Frank (and eventually other characters), Rocky’s form fitting golden tights, and the goody-goody look of Janet’s pink dress and Brad’s dark suit.  Courtney Cairncross provides a dazzling bit of choreography especially with the energetic “Time Warp” and the ensemble dancing in “Touch A Touch Me”.

There seemed to be some microphone difficulties at a few points and some of the actors needed to project a bit more strongly.  That being said, I also want to salute the cast for great poise under pressure by not allowing themselves to get thrown off course when a group of theatregoers began to get a bit disruptive halfway through the second act.

It’s cheesy.  It’s hokey.  It’s just plain silly.  But, heavens, this show is fantastic fun and definitely a treat for the Halloween season over at the Playhouse.  Grab your tickets while you can because I foresee many a sellout for this one.

The Rocky Horror Show plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Nov 10.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Special midnight showings will take place on Oct 19, Oct 26, and Nov 2 with no Sunday show on the following day.  Ticket prices start at $42 for adults and $25 for students at can be obtained at the OCP box office, by phone at 402-553-0800, or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com.  Due to mature content, this show is not suitable for children.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography

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OCP Set to Do the Time Warp with ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

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Benn Sieff as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter

Omaha, NE–Cult classic The Rocky Horror Show will make its long-awaited return to the Omaha Community Playhouse when it opens on Friday, Oct 4, 2019.  The show will run in the Howard Drew Theatre from Oct 4-Nov 10.  Special midnight showings will be held on Oct 19, 26, and Nov 2.  No performances will be held on Oct 20, 27, and Nov 3.

After a flat tire renders them helpless in a storm, Brad and his fiancee, Janet, take refuge in the mansion of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, a dangerously eccentric cross-dressing scientist with an insatiable libido.  As the night unfolds, a host of wild characters plunge in and out of rock songs and elaborate dances, stripping the couple of their innocence and leading them to question their traditional stance on sexuality.  This gender-bending musical extravaganza is the most fun you can have in fishnets!  Audience participation and costumes are encouraged.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $42 for adults and $25 for students with prices varying by performance.  Tickets can be purchased at the OCP Box Office, located at 6915 Cass Street, by phone at 402-553-0800 or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com.

Directed by:  Kaitlyn McClincy

Cast

Benn Sieff as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter

Bob Gilmore as Eddie

Cale Albracht as Brad

Charlotte Hedican as Janet

Erika Hall-Sieff as Magenta

Jason Delong as Rocky

Jerry Van Horn as Dr. Scott

Kevin Buswell as Riff Raff

Olivia Howard as Columbia

Rob Baker as Narrator

The Transylvanians will be played by Colin Burk, Connor Meuret, Ejanae Hume, Erin Florea, Evelyn Hill, Jesse White, Jessie Kellerman, Julianna Cooper, Lacey Kiefer, Liliana McMahon, Nathaniel Belshan, Nina Washington, Nora Shelton, Raymond Butler, Riley Perez, and Tonya Stoakes

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography

Charming ‘Catch’ Could Use a Charge

At sixteen, Frank Abagnale, Jr. began the path to becoming one of the greatest con men of all time.  Posing as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, he bilked the country out of nearly $2,000,000.  Finally cornered by the dogged FBI agent determined to capture him, Abagnale decides to tell (and sing) his story in Catch Me If You Can:  The Musical by Terrence McNally with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.  It is currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

McNally’s script is a mixed bag.  It does a fine job of highlighting Abagnale’s life and his most notable impostures and I think sharing this might have been enough as his life had enough drama and natural humor for a great story.  Where the script falters is when it tries to needlessly force humor into the story such as making the FBI agents with the exception of Hanratty seem like inept fools.  Kudos to Matt Karasek, Randy Wallace, and Jackson Hal Cottrell for a superb job of playing the characters as written.

D. Laureen Pickle does an admirable job of directing this piece. The staging is well done, seeming more like a sixties sitcom and full performance space is used in telling this story. She found some great beats to add some heart to this story especially in the conversations between Abagnale and his father and she has guided her actors to solid and moving performances.

The ensemble does fine work supporting this story as they were clearly enjoying themselves and really helped to flesh out crowd scenes and provide some snappy dancing courtesy of inventive choreography provided by Kerri Jo Watts and Eastin Yates.  That being said, I did note a couple of points where the execution of the dancing needed to be a bit cleaner.

Some great supporting performances are provided by Kevin Olsen as Frank Abagnale, Sr. who was a minor league con man that taught Junior everything he needed to know about running a scam.  Olsen’s Abagnale, Sr. is quite pitiable as the purpose for his cons is simply to provide a better life for his family, though he does seem to derive a pleasure out of outsmarting the government.  Heather Wilhem is marvelously entertaining as an Atlanta housewife who is quite taken with the smooth Abagnale, Jr. who wishes to marry her daughter.

Thomas Stoysich gives a rather entertaining performance as Frank Abagnale, Jr.  He is a very likable and charming person and these traits are crucial to being a good con artist.  Stoysich is so darn likable that you don’t want to believe that he’s really a crook.  Stoysich also adds a remarkable emotional depth to the performance as he portrays Abagnale’s con artistry as a compulsion.  He can’t seem to help himself.  Stoysich does good work in showing the three reasons why Abagnale does what he does:  1.  He’s trying to survive.  2.  He hopes to earn enough to reunite his broken family.  3.  It’s fun.

Stoysich also has a very pleasant tenor voice which was well utilized in “Live in Living Color” and his attempt to end Abagnale’s story prematurely in “Goodbye”.

Eric Micks is rock solid as Carl Hanratty, Abagnale’s determined pursuer.  This is a man who is completely dedicated to his job and that came at the cost of his own family.  Micks gives Hanratty intelligence and tenacity, but he also gives him a haunting loneliness.  The job is all he has, even spending the holidays by himself except for an annual phone call from Abagnale with whom he shares a sort of friendship in spite of their adversarial relationship.  Micks also possesses a fine baritone shown when he tries to discover “The Man Inside the Clues” as he investigates the crimes of Abagnale.

Chris Ebke and his orchestra do justice to the score of the show with an energetic performance.  Nancy Buennemeyer’s costumes suit the sixties settings especially with the pilot and flight attendant uniforms of the time as well as the elegant clothes for Abagnale and the rumpled suit for Hanratty.  Joey Lorincz does it again with another stellar set with a stairway lit by runner lights and a pair of revolving doors for speedy entrances and exits while locales are projected behind the stairs.

This show badly needed doses of energy and volume last night.  The volume was especially important with the orchestra situated behind the cast as I lost bits of dialogue at various points.  There also seemed to be something up with the microphones as they didn’t seem to work except for a brief burst towards the end of Act I.  Part of the energy issue came from an audience not giving the cast much to work with.  In a show like this, the cast needs the fuel supplied by a lively crowd to further heighten their own performances.  Cue pickups could also be tightened to help the energy.

When all is said and done Catch Me If You Can is a slightly surreal telling of Abagnale’s story.  It’s got the potential to be a great crowd pleaser thanks to a talented crew and a spritely orchestra and a “Strange But True” story.

Catch Me If You Can:  The Musical plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Sept 29.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Tickets can be obtained at bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com or calling 402-291-1554.  Some discretion is advised due to some strong language and suggestive moments.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

The Sun Will Come Out. . .Sept 13. . . at OCP

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Stella Clark-Kaczmarek as Annie and Toby as Sandy

Omaha, NE–Heartwarming musical Annie will open Friday, Sept 13 at the Omaha Community Playhouse.  The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre from Sept 13 through Oct 13.  Performances will be held Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.

Annie is the beloved tale of a young girl who never gives up hope of one day reuniting with her parents.  After enlisting the help of Depression-era billionaire Oliver Warbucks, Annie finds herself in a tangled web of con artists, kidnappers, and–worst of all–Miss Hananigan!  With a little help from her orphan friends and her dog, Sandy, Annie ultimately finds a place where she belongs in this heartwarming classic.  Featuring timeless songs like “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life”, Annie has been delighting audiences of all ages for decades.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $32 for adults and $20 for students with 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 http://www.omahaplayhouse.com.

Directed by:  Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Stella Clark-Kaczmarek as Annie

Jay Srygley as Daddy Warbucks

Angela Jenson Frey as Grace Ferrell

Allison Wissman as Miss Hannigan

Christopher Violett as Rooster

Cathy Hirsch as Lily

Brinlee Roeder as Molly

Olivia Bryant as Pepper

Cleo Washington as Tessie

Pieper Roeder as Kate

Amina Teri as July

Madalynn Johnson as Duffy

And an ensemble featuring Marcus Benzel, Mark Haufle, Peter Barrett, Jared Dominguez, Sadie Langemo, Mary Trecek, Isabelle Rangel, Serena Johnson, Brittney Thompson, Carrie Trecek, Aidan Schmidtke, Andrew Schnitker, Sheldon Ledbetter, Judson Cloudt, Otto Fox, Meghan Essner, Anina Frey, Annabella Mosher, Lily Sanow, Sophia Srygley, Madison White, Andrew Karolski, Camden Park, Will Seim.

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography

 

Blue Barn Announces Auditions for Season 31: Memory

BLUEBARN THEATRE is pleased to announce auditions for Season 31: Memory

Auditions for A Very Die Hard Christmas and Marjorie Prime

Sunday, September 8th from 3-6pm & Monday, September 9th from 5:30-8:30pm

Company Members Needed:

The Die Hard company is comprised of fourteen actors, many of whom play multiple roles throughout. All ethnicities, genders, and ages are welcome to audition.  For the Sgt. Al Powell track, we are seeking an African-American (late 20s-40s), for the Joseph Takagi track, we are seeking an Asian-American (30s-40s), all other available roles will be cast without restrictions.  A full casting breakdown is available upon request, but due to the nature of the show is subject to change. The roles of Hans Gruber and John McClane have been cast.

For Marjorie Prime, we are seeking to cast Marjorie (60s-80s), Walter (30s), Tess and John (mid-40s-50s, Marjorie’s daughter and son-in-law). All ethnicities and genders welcome.

Preparation:

Actors are encouraged (but not required) to present a contemporary monologue no longer than 90 seconds. Auditions will also include cold readings from the script, and prepared sides (for Marjorie Prime). Sides will be available 8/21.

A Very Die Hard Christmas runs Nov 29th – Dec 22nd, 2019. Rehearsals begin Oct 22nd.

Marjorie Prime runs March 19th – April 12th, 2020. Rehearsals begin Feb 10th

For more information, to request a script or to sign up for auditions or the workshops below, please contact Barry: bcarman@bluebarn.org. When signing up, please indicate which show(s) you’re auditioning for.   

A Chorus Line Dance Workshops

Saturday, October 19th from 10-12pm & Monday, November 11th from 6-8pm 

These workshops are being offered to any actor-dancer interested in auditioning for our production of A Chorus Line. Participants will learn two combinations in contrasting styles at each session, with different combinations taught at each workshop. Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Participation in these workshops is strongly encouraged, but not required for casting consideration for A Chorus Line.  RSVP to bcarman@bluebarn.org.

A Chorus Line Auditions:

Sunday, January 5th from 3pm-6pm & Monday, Jan 6th from 6-9pm.

Further information on our January auditions will be available on December 4th.

A Chorus Line runs May 14th through June 14th, 2020. Rehearsals begin April 13th.

 

The Night the Music Lived

Buddy Holly Story

Michael Perrie, Jr. as Buddy Holly

His career spanned a year and a half, but in that time he revolutionized rock and roll and left an indelible fingerprint that would inspire some of the greatest performers of all time.  His story is the focus of Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story by Alan Janes and currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

Janes’ script falls somewhere between a play and a jukebox musical.  Precious little of Holly’s life is covered in the show.  The play part focuses on certain key points in his life from his struggles as a teenager trying to become a rock star in the country music meccas of Texas and Nashville to his nabbing a recording contract with an open minded producer to his legendary Apollo performance to his whirlwind marriage to his break-up with the Crickets and, finally, to his final concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA.  Needless to say, the jukebox part focuses on Holly’s hits as well as numerous other hits of the day.

Tim Seib masterfully handles the dual direction required of the production.  He musters every ounce of story, nuance, and emotion from the story portion of the production.  In fact, I was incredibly impressed with his work for the romance between Holly and his wife, Maria Elena Santiago, which is the richest part of the story from an acting perspective.  Seib nabs an easy A+ directing the action of the musical part of the show which is good, old fashioned, pulse pounding rock and roll.

Some wonderful featured performances were supplied by Alan Gillespie as Norman Petty, the producer willing to allow Holly the chance to record music his way, but also lives up to his last name by attempting to screw Holly over by keeping the Crickets and taking the band name when Holly decides to change labels; Garrick Vaughan and Nissi Shalome as a pair of Apollo performers who give a rousing rendition of “Shout” and mercilessly heckle Holly and his band before their performance; Mike Brennan is an indefatigable cauldron of energy as J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and excels with his solo in “Chantilly Lace”.

I’d also like to give some special notice to Alix Rhode who gives a subtle and moving performance as Maria Elena Santiago.  She is strong, bold, and so loving and supportive of Buddy and your heart breaks as you know her fears for Holly’s safety are all too true.

This show lives or dies by the performer playing Buddy Holly and Michael Perrie, Jr. admirably carries the load of this show on his shoulders.

Perrie IS Buddy Holly and practically reincarnates him in front of the eyes of the audience.  Not only does Perrie bear a remarkable physical similarity to the late singer, but he also effortlessly emulates his look, assumes his accent and speech cadences, and even gets that unique hiccup in his voice when he sings.

Perrie brings some serious acting chops to the role.  He manages to show Holly’s politeness and decency, but also his toughness as Holly wouldn’t back down from anyone when it came to his music.  He also well plays Holly’s free-spirited nature.  This was a man who always marched to his own beat no matter what anyone thought about his choices.  He also expertly handles the heartache of Buddy’s life, shedding real tears when the Crickets abandon him and, more or less, yank the band name from him.

Musically, Perrie is also outstanding.  He’s a guitar player par excellence and easily handled rock numbers such as “Not Fade Away”, “Oh, Boy!”, and “That’ll Be the Day”, but he was just as nimble and moving on the softer numbers such as “True Love Ways”, “Words of Love”, and “Heartbeat”.

Cullen Law’s musical direction was exceptional as he and his performers made these classic tunes their own.  Jack Smith’s costumes were superb, from the elegant suits for the men to the pretty gowns for the ladies. Ali Strelchun has created a nice three sided set with a massive band area at center stage, a small radio station at house left, and Petty’s tiny recording studio at house right.  Jess Fialko’s lights are spot on with colors and intensity matching the energy and emotions of the songs and an incredibly poignant blackout for The Day the Music Died.

I want to take a moment and applaud all of the actors for showing great poise under pressure as they battled microphone issues throughout the night, but steamrolled right over them.

Some music experts have argued that, had Holly’s life not been cut short, Buddymania may have ruled the world due to the breakthroughs he was making with music.  Though his life was tragically short, he left behind an amazing legacy that is still inspiring musicians today.  And if you want a taste of musical history and a fun filled time, go see this show.

Music Lived

The Day the Music Died (Left to right: Mike Brennan as the Big Bopper, Michael Perrie, Jr. as Buddy Holly, & Chase Tucker as Ritchie Valens)

Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through August 11.  Performances are at 2pm on July 28, 31 and August 2-4, 6, 10, 11 and 7:30pm on July 31, August 2, 4, 7, 9-10.  Tickets start at $24 and can be obtained at www.maplesrep.com or contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Pictures supplied through courtesy of Maples Repertory Theatre

This review is dedicated to the memory of Kay McGuigan.  We miss you, friend!

MRT Will Show You How it’s Gonna Be with ‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story’

Maples Repertory Theatre Presents:

Buddy:  The Buddy Holly Story by Alan James

Synopsis

Follow the incredible journey of Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise to the top of the record charts during the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll in this dynamic tribute musical. You’ll be cheering for more, with such rousing fifties favorites as “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Maybe Baby,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Raining In My Heart,” Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” This joyous celebration of a musical legend has audiences on their feet in every corner of the globe and it will explode on the Royal Stage in a toe-tapping, hand-clapping extravaganza! “Oh Boy!”

Showtimes

  • Fri. July 19 – 7:30
  • Sat. July 20 – 2:00
  • Tues. July 23 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 24 – 2:00
  • Sat. July 27 – 7:30
  • Sun. July 28 – 2:00
  • Wed. July 31 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Fri. Aug. 2 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sat. Aug. 3 – 2:00
  • Sun. Aug. 4 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Tues. Aug. 6 – 2:00
  • Wed. Aug. 7 – 7:30
  • Fri. Aug. 9 – 7:30
  • Sat. Aug. 10 – 2:00, 7:30
  • Sun. Aug. 11 – 2:00

Tickets start at $24 and can be obtained by contacting the Box Office at 660-385-2924 or visiting www.maplesrep.com.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.