OCP Reimagines 96th Season

OCP ANNOUNCES REVAMPED 2020/21 SEASON LINEUP, SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse has announced a new, revamped 2020/21 season lineup with special precautions in place to protect audiences, volunteers and staff from COVID-19.

A SEASON REIMAGINED

This year, COVID-19 brought the world to its knees, and the performing arts—including live theatre—were hit hard. From London’s West End to Broadway, New York, to right here in Omaha, stages around the world have gone dark.

At OCP, we have worked tirelessly to invent new ways to keep performing art alive during this crisis. From streaming productions online to moving shows outdoors, we have adapted and innovated to keep art in our community.

While we’ve been imagining new ways to stay connected, we’ve also been reimagining what a safe in-theatre experience could look like in the era of COVID. We believe we’ve created a plan that places the health of our community first while creating a safe environment for live theatre to thrive. It begins with our reimagined 2020/21 season lineup.

OCP’s New 2020/21 Season Lineup

Billy McGuigan‘s Pop Rock Orchestra*

Aug. 5 – 23

Storz Parking Lot at OCP

Don’t Stop Me Now! A Celebration of Rock Musicals

Aug. 28 – Sept. 20

Storz Parking Lot at OCP

Grounded

Sept. 25 – Oct. 18

Howard Drew Theatre

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience*

Oct. 2 – Nov. 1

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

I Am My Own Wife

Oct. 30 – Nov. 15

Howard Drew Theatre

A Christmas Carol*

Nov. 13 – Dec. 23

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Title To Be Announced

Nov. 27 – Dec. 23

Howard Drew Theatre

The Last 5 Years

Jan. 15 – Feb. 7

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

The Candy Project Presents: Guttenberg! The Musical!*

Feb. 12 –March 14

Howard Drew Theatre

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

Feb. 26 – March 21

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

In The Heights

April 16 – May 9

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Clybourne Park

May 7 – 30

Howard Drew Theatre

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

May 28 – June 27

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

*Special engagement; Not a regular season production

We reimagined our season lineup.

  • We added concert-style drive-in shows to take advantage of our outdoor space as long as possible.
  • We removed shows with large cast sizes from our fall and winter time slots. In their place, we have added four wonderful productions with two performers or fewer. The new shows are compelling, entertaining and—most importantly—safe. The small cast sizes will allow our actors to safely rehearse and perform, create plenty of room for our backstage crew to social distance and help protect our patrons by reducing the overall number of people present in the theatre.
  • Fan favorite Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience will move to the larger Hawks Mainstage theatre and open in October. The larger stage will allow the band to socially distance and the larger theatre will safely accommodate the show’s many fans.
  • The holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol will live on for 2020 in a unique and imaginative small cast format.
  • Finally, we shuffled four titles from our original lineup to the end of the season. While these shows do feature more cast members, we are hopeful that these productions will be safe to carry out by next Spring. These four shows were selected based on existing ticket sales (via subscriptions), director availability, and royalties logistics.

We reimagined our performance spaces.

  • Patrons attending a show in either theatre will be socially distanced from other guests with all groups at least 6 feet apart.
  • In the Howard Drew theatre, a plexiglass barrier will be installed around the perimeter of the stage to provide separation between guests and performers.
  • Productions will not incorporate any physical audience participation.

We reimagined our safety precautions.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • New arrival and dismissal procedures will help encourage social distancing, including staggered vehicle loading/unloading, assigned will call pick up times and row-by-row dismissal after a show.
  • 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.
  • For a full list of safety precautions, please visit the Omaha Community Playhouse website at omahaplayhouse.com

OCP will continue to evaluate our processes and procedures to ensure we are constantly creating the safest environment possible for our patrons, artists, volunteers and staff. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our website.

The Omaha Community Playhouse has served our community for nearly 100 years. We are confident that with a little (re)imagination, the art will always live on. We hope you enjoy our reimagined 2020/21 season, and we can’t wait to have you back at OCP!

Information for Subscribers:

  • Subscribers may select any regular season production from the new lineup above to replace any canceled productions from their original subscription package.
  • To select a new show for your package, call the OCP Box Office during the Subscriber Presale to reserve tickets to the new show of your choice.
  • New Subscriber Presale dates for all shows will be announced on a rolling basis throughout the season via email and the OCP website.
  • For additional information, please contact the OCP Box Office by phone at (402) 553-0800. For Box Office hours please visit the OCP website at omahaplayhouse.com

Omaha Playhouse Announces 96th Season

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) has announced the titles to be produced during their 96th season, which will run from August 2020 through June 2021. Subscriptions for OCP’s 2020/21 season are now available for purchase through the OCP Box Office at 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE 2020/21 SEASON PRODUCTIONS

*Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra

Aug. 7–16, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Steve Gomez | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra is a high-energy concert experience packed with rock ‘n’ roll mega hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Led by international touring artist Billy McGuigan and backed by the 14-piece Pop Rock Orchestra, these all-star musicians serve up fresh, original arrangements covering everything from the Beach Boys to Billy Joel, and everything in between.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Clybourne Park

Aug. 21–Sept. 20, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Bruce Norris

Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning comedy Clybourne Park serves as prequel and sequel to A Raisin in the Sun. A 1950s couple faces sharp backlash from neighbors for selling their home in the all-white Clybourne Park to a black family. Fifty years later, a white couple attempts to purchase the same home in the now predominantly black neighborhood, igniting fears of gentrification.

Disclaimer: Contains adult language and themes of racial tension.

Kinky Boots

Sept. 25–Oct. 25, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Book by Harvey Fierstein | Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper

Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots

Written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth

Flashy, inspiring and downright fun, Kinky Boots is the Tony Award®-winning musical warming hearts around the world. After returning to his hometown to manage his late father’s failing shoe factory, Charlie meets Lola, an outspoken and unapologetic drag queen in need of a sturdy pair of exotic boots. Together, the unlikely pair cobble a heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship.

Orchestra Sponsor: Woodmen Life

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Water by the Spoonful

Oct. 16–Nov. 8, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Quiara Alegría Hudes

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Water by the Spoonful follows Elliott, an Iraq war vet struggling to care for his dying aunt, and Odessa, a recovering drug addict fighting to stay sober with the support of her online companions. When their two worlds unexpectedly collide, everyone’s progress comes crashing down in this thought-provoking and beautifully human tale.

Disclaimer: Contains adult themes and language.

Presenting Sponsor: Conagra Brands Foundation

*A Christmas Carol

Nov. 20–Dec. 23, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Written by Charles Dickens | Adapted by Charles Jones

Musical Orchestration by John J. Bennett

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol! Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with stunning Victorian costumes, festive music and crisp, wintry sets, A Christmas Carol is a beautiful reminder that love and generosity are the heart of the Christmas holiday.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Presenting Sponsor: First National Bank

Artistic Team Sponsor: Omaha Steaks

Orchestra Sponsor: KPMG

Bakery Shoppe/Special Effects Sponsor: Rotella’s Bakery

*Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience

Nov. 27–Dec. 31, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Matthew McGuigan | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Cap off 2020 with a shot of Beatlemania! Yesterday and Today is the smash hit, all-request Beatles show controlled by the audience. Share your favorite stories and relive your fondest memories with the songs that defined a generation. With no two shows the same, fans will be dancing in the aisles and singing along to all their favorite hits.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

The Miracle Worker

Jan. 15–Feb. 7, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

By William Gibson

The Miracle Worker is the incredible true story of Helen Keller, deaf and blind since age one, and the extraordinary woman who changed her life. Unable to communicate with their daughter, the Keller family enlists the help of Annie Sullivan, a woman determined to rescue Helen from the dark, tortured silence imprisoning her mind. A story that has inspired audiences for generations.

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

The Scottsboro Boys

Feb. 12–March 14, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

Music and Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book by David Thompson

Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman

The Scottsboro Boys follows the wrongful conviction of nine black teenagers in Scottsboro, Alabama in the 1930s—an infamous case that helped ignite the modern civil rights movement. From the composers of Chicago and Cabaret, this 12-time Tony® Award nominee alternates toe-tapping musical numbers with heart-wrenching ballads to tell a harrowing tale of bravery and strength in the face of great adversity.

Disclaimer: Contains themes and language related to racial tension.

In the Heights

Feb. 26–March 21, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Before there was Hamilton, there was In the Heights. From the revolutionary musical mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this Tony® Award-winning musical recounts three days in the vibrant Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, NYC, where the Spanish-speaking residents chase American dreams. This bubbly fusion of rap, salsa, Latin pop and soul music boasts an infectious enthusiasm from beginning to end.

Presenting Sponsor: Heider Family Foundation

Producing Partner: Physicians Mutual

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

*THE CANDY PROJECT PRESENTS:

Gutenberg!  The Musical!

March 18–21, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By Anthony King and Scott Brown

Starring Steve Krambeck and Dan Chevalier

Join The Candy Project, friends of OCP, for a special presentation of Gutenberg! The Musical! A pair of aspiring playwrights audition their newest work—a big, splashy musical about the inventor of the printing press—for an audience of potential investors. This two-man musical spoof offers an unending supply of enthusiasm and laughs.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

April 16–May 9, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig

A thrilling whodunit set aboard the world’s most famous luxury locomotive, Murder on the Orient Express will keep you guessing until the very end. When the Orient Express becomes stranded by a snow storm, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his private room. With the murderer still on board, a detective must solve the crime before the train reaches its destination.

Producing Partner: UNMC

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Outside Mullingar

May 7–30, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By John Patrick Shanley

This charming romantic comedy follows Anthony and Rosemary, two introverts who grew up on neighboring farms in rural Ireland. Rosemary secretly fell in love with Anthony at age six, but after a bought with heartbreak, Anthony swore off women forever. The now middle-aged pair must overcome their own aloofness—as well as a family property dispute—to find their way to one another.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

May 28–June 27, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Adapted for the Stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald

Based on the Book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Oompa-Loompa-Doom-Pa-Dee-Doo! We’ve got a family favorite for you! Grab your golden ticket as Willy Wonka takes your family on a whimsical tour of the chocolate factory—with Charlie Bucket, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and all of your favorite characters. Featuring songs from the hit film, Willy Wonka will open up a world of pure imagination.

Presenting Sponsor: Mutual of Omaha

Orchestra Sponsor: Kiewit

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Pardon Me, Boys, is that the Murdering Choo-Choo?

A shady businessman is found murdered in his locked sleeping compartment on the Orient Express.  Will the famed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, be able to solve the mystery with his formidable “little gray cells” or has he finally met a killer too cunning for him?  Find out in Murder On the Orient Express adapted by Ken Ludwig from a novel written by Agatha Christie.  It is currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

It’s awfully hard to write about the plot without being too spoilery so I’ll simply say that Ludwig does an admirable job hitting the essential points of the classic mystery.  With his involvement, I was expecting more of a comedy, but Ludwig plays this script surprisingly straight, though he does leave room open for a bit of over the topness with some of the characters.  The mash-up of comedy and drama weaken the first act slightly, but he sticks the ending on the second act as he seems to have decided to be almost totally dramatic with that act.

Todd Uhrmacher provides a solid piece of direction for the production, handling the dual natures of comedy and drama in the first act quite well and excelling with the nearly purely dramatic second act.  I liked the staging of his show as he placed his actors well in the cramped confines of the train without the actors ever seeming bunched up or blocking each other.  Uhrmacher guided his actors to well-defined performances as each imbued a distinct character.

Some enjoyable performances were supplied by Michael Taylor-Stewart who comes off as somewhat off-kilter and creepy as the secretary of the murder victim and Gene Hinkle as the genial CEO of the company that owns the Orient Express.  But Jeff Garst deserves special notice for an exceptional performance as the conductor, Michel.  He gives Michel a very efficient nature and he nails a brief, heart-wrenching moment at the show’s finale.

Jon Flower is an extremely worthy Hercule Poirot.  He has a firm grip on the sleuth with a flawless Belgian accent, well communicating Poirot’s genius with his deductions, displaying a very gentlemanly and cultured nature, and demonstrating Poirot’s fastidious personality with the care he gives to Poirot’s signature moustache.  Flower also brings a certain weightiness to Poirot who has to wrestle with a choice between his devotion to the law and his dedication to justice which, for the first time in his career, may not be one and the same.

D. Laureen Pickle is utterly obnoxious as Mrs. Hubbard. Almost from the get-go one begins looking for a muzzle to clamp shut the mouth of the man-hungry, stuck-up, grating American snob. Pickle plays this character slightly over the top, but always keeps it in the realm of believability.  She also deftly handles the character’s more dramatic moments when certain secrets begin to come to light.

I don’t think Joey Lorincz could design a bad set even if he was working blindfolded.  He has created one of the most ambitious sets I’ve seen on the Bellevue stage with a three room revolving set that shows an elegant dining room, an office/rear of the train, and the tiny, sleeping compartments one would expect to find on a train.  Lorincz does double duty on lights which were also quite effective, especially the dark blue of the recalling of clues during the denouement.  Todd Urhmacher also pulls double duty with his designing of the costumes which evoke memories of the 1930s with the elegant dresses of the ladies and the snappy suits of the men and the classic conductor’s tunic for Michel.  My program lacked a credit for sound effects, but liked the sounds of the train whistle and the rumble of the wheels on the track.

I thought the pace of the first act could have had a snappier pace and there were a few moments when speaking actors were in darkness.  Volume and projection could have been a bit stronger on the parts of some of the actors and accents were a bit of a mixed bag.

Ultimately, this show is a very pleasant theatre experience with the combination of a faithful telling of a legendary mystery and compelling characters making for a respite from the real world for a few hours.

Murder On the Orient Express plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Feb 2.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sat and 2pm on Sundays.  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 during the hours of 10am-4pm Mon-Sat.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

BLT Wants You to Take Part in a Murder

Bellevue Little Theatre presents
Murder on the Orient Express Auditions

Sunday, November 3 @ 7:00 pm
Monday, November 4 @ 7:00 pm

Location:  Ralston Performing Arts Centre (8989 Park Dr in Ralston, NE)

Interested parties need only attend one day of auditions, so please feel free to select the date that is most convenient for you.  Actors will be asked to read from the script.  No prior work with the text is required.

Rehearsals will begin on November 17
Performance Dates: January 17 – February 2, 2020
Performances are Fri., Sat. evenings at 7:30 and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm.

Cast requirements are:
Number of male characters: 5
Number of female characters: 5

Hercule Poirot
Monsieur Bouc
Mary Debenham
Hector MacQueen
Michel the conductor
Princess Dragomiroff
Greta Ohlsson
Countess Andrenyi
Helen Hubbard
Colonel Arbuthnot
Samuel Ratchett (doubles with the Colonel)
Head Waiter (doubles with Michel)

Synopsis:
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

Director: Todd Uhrmacher

The Game is Askew

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called in to investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville and to protect his heir, Henry Baskerville, when he receives an ominous warning to stay away from the moor.  Is there a human hand guiding this evil or is there truth to the curse of the Hound of the Baskervilles?  Find out when you watch Baskerville by Ken Ludwig and currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.

I had been looking forward to this show all season.  Hearing the name “Sherlock Holmes” is like ringing the chow bell as I’ve been an avid reader of these mysteries since childhood.  As a result of this, I admit to being a bit biased when it comes to Holmesian entertainment.  But that bias takes the form of having rigorous standards whenever I watch a Holmesian production or read a Holmesian story.  With that being said, I am pleased to say that Ludwig’s take on this classic tale more than meets my standards.  It’s almost completely faithful to the original story and manages to add its own unique flavor with a high dose of farcical humor well executed by a contingent of comedic clowns.

Suzanne Withem is the ringmaster of this circus and she stages it as a classic Vaudeville production with a bare-bones set.  Her direction is sterling as she never allows the energy to wane and she knows how to mine the funny out of the production with a series of well-timed jokes and fourth wall breaking moments.  Ms Withem leads her actors to strong, brilliant performances with a pell mell telling of this mystery.

I salute the superhuman efforts of the 3 actors of the play (Kevin Goshorn, Sara Scheidies, and Guillermo Joseph Rosas) as they rotate between playing nearly 20 different characters requiring complete shifts in costume, body language, accents, and voice to portray the numerous roles.  Some examples of their stellar work are Goshorn’s highly Texan Henry Baskerville, his obnoxiously crude Inspector Lestrade who constantly hocks loogies and scratches his behind, and a hilarious cameo as a charwoman cleaning 221B Baker St; Ms Scheidies’ overwrought Mrs. Barrymore who overgestures and oddly shuffles her feet, her busybodying Mrs. Hudson, or her energetic Cartwright, one of Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars; Rosas shines as the Baskerville butler, Barrymore who has a permanently stooped posture and a wonky back; the giddy naturalist, Stapleton who has an affinity for butterflies, and a proud Castillian concierge of the Northumberland Hotel.

I’d also like to applaud the work of the roustabouts, Kaitlin Maher and Gillian Pearson, who add their own humorous touches as they bring on props, make sound effects, and sometimes are the props.

Catherine Vazquez’s Dr. Watson is the show’s straight man and narrator.  She does a wonderful job exhibiting Watson’s stalwart loyalty to Holmes, his courage under fire, and his own keen intellect, though his powers of observation and deduction are far less pronounced than those of Holmes.  She does need to project a bit more to overcome BLT’s backbox nature.  Unlike the other characters, Watson needs to be the most grounded, which Ms Vazquez certainly was, but I think she still had some leeway to elevate his energy a bit.

Ben Beck is a pitch perfect Sherlock Holmes.  Not only does he well exude Holmes’ rude, unfriendly nature, but he also well communicates Holmes’ manic energy when the thrill of an investigation is on him.  Beck well handles Holmes’ complex dialogue as he often speaks in almost stream of consciousness cadences as he makes his rapid-fire deductions. And I was particularly impressed with how quickly he was able to transition from being Holmes to being the actor playing Holmes when miscues and other errors sprang up to throw off the Vaudeville troupe.

Brendan Greene-Wash has skillfully designed a cheap looking set of cutout woods and boxes that look like they could be packed up and whisked to the next town on a moment’s notice.  Zachary Kloppenborg’s costumes are spot-on and quite elegant from Holmes’ dressing gown, to Watson’s sharp suits, to the Texan garb of Henry Baskerville, the buttling suit of Barrymore, and the raggedy clothes of the Irregulars.  Joshua Mullady’s lights always enhance any production with the eerie ghostly lights used in the story of the curse of the Baskervilles to the shadowy night scenes in Baskerville Hall.

I thought I saw a few blips such as fading or dropped accents and the mixing of pronouns in regards to Watson, but as the show is presented as a troupe doing a production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, I can’t help but wonder if these “blips” were more subtle jokes to tie into the show’s running gag of little things going wrong here and there.  In any case, Baskerville is an extremely satisfying romp that does justice to a classic Holmes mystery while making bellies jiggle with laughter.

Baskerville plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through May 19.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sat and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Reservations can be made by calling 402-291-1554 or visiting the web page at bellevuelittletheatre.weebly.com.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

A Most Unique Perspective

A teenager on the autism spectrum decides to investigate the murder of his neighbor’s dog.  His investigation leads to the discovery of an even weightier mystery and his investigation into that case may lead those closest to him to a remarkable discovery about him.  This is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s novel and is playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

To be up front, this is not a play about autism.  This is a play about family, trust, and love whose central character just happens to be on the autism spectrum (likely Asperger’s Syndrome).  I haven’t read the novel though, from the play, I suspect the book is also told from the point of view of the central character, Christopher Boone.  As such, Stephens’ adaptation creates one of the most original plays I have ever seen.  Not only is it a rock solid story, but it also allows the audience to vividly see just how Christopher processes information through writing and truly innovative staging that bring his internal processes to life.

Kimberly Faith Hickman has worked wonders with the show.  Her direction is nimble and nuanced.  Her cast virtually flawless.  But the real key to this show is its staging so the audience is able to see things through Christopher’s eyes.  Rest assured, Ms Hickman hits the bullseye with her staging through the use of silhouetted voices as Christopher recalls memories;  through the cast carrying Christopher around and flipping him over as he imagines himself an astronaut; through the duality of Siobhan reading about Christopher’s experiences while we watch Christopher living the experiences and see exactly how he behaved and reacted.

The supporting cast is exceptional and admirably fills out the people Christopher runs across in his adventures as well as the voices of memory inside his head.  Exemplary performances came from Julie Fitzgerald Ryan as Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher and, arguably, one true friend who encourages his writing and helps him better cope with the rules of society; Daniel Luethke as a pair of kindly policemen who try to help Christopher and a friendly reverend whose faith butts heads with Christopher’s logic and atheism; and Silvia Conley as the motherly Mrs. Alexander who attempts to befriend Christopher and ends up providing crucial clues that lead Christopher to an even deeper mystery than the death of his neighbor’s dog.

The role of Christopher Boone is a meaty, difficult part to play.  Due to its level of challenge, it is often played by young adults pretending to be the 15 year old.  That being said, Kimberly Faith Hickman played a gamble casting the 12 year old Dominic Torres in the role.  That gamble hits the jackpot.

Torres rises to the challenge of this arduous part and nails the characterization to the floor.  The character has similar traits and qualities to Sherlock Holmes to whom the play’s title subtly references.  Like Holmes, Christopher has genius level intellect, a keen eye for detail, and a rude, unfriendly nature.

Torres imbues all of these qualities into his character as well as having a solid grip on the tics and behavior patterns of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome such as his lack of eye contact with people, the blank facial expressions, the awkward poses he assumes with his hands and legs, the monotone quality to his voice, and the inability to articulate frustration.  He possesses an excellent sense of timing and handled the difficult wordplay well.  He just needs to slow down his rate of speech so chunks of dialogue are not lost.

Mike Palmreuter gives a weighty performance as Ed Boone, Christopher’s father.  Palmreuter well communicates the difficulties of a single father raising a son with special needs.  He clearly loves Christopher and has well adapted to his son’s needs such as touching fingers instead of hugs due to Christopher’s dislike of being touched.  But he also displays a lot of doubt as to Christopher’s ability to function in society as he tries to dissuade him from his investigation into the dog’s death and worries when he must leave Christopher alone.  Palmreuter’s slumped posture says more about the weight on his shoulders more than the wonderful dialogue he speaks.

Kerri Forrester provides a good yang to Palmreuter’s yin.  As Christopher’s mother, Judy, Ms Forrester’s body language communicates a longing that Christopher was like other children.  She clearly wants to be able to hug Christopher and hold his hand, but will never experience that joy due to Christopher’s different way of living.  Ms Forrester’s eyes have a deep sadness to them when she realizes that she will never be able to make the emotional breakthroughs that her husband has when it comes to parenting Christopher.

Steven Williams and Chris Wood team up for a deceptively simple looking set that is a boxed grid, but pulses with lights and colors to express scene changes and emotional beats.  Jay Hanson and John Gibilisco join forces for a little music and sound effects from the zapping effects of the flashing lights to the light dings as the background lights assume new Tetris shapes to the crowd noises of subway and railroad stations.  Lindsey Pape’s costumes convey the blue collar nature of the Boone family as well as Christopher’s fixations with the nearly identical clothes he wears and the everyday outfits of the everyday people in the show.

As I said earlier, this is not a story about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome.  It’s a story about family and, truly, about seeing things from a different point of view.  I think the best way to sum up this play is from a Sherlock Holmes quotation, “Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing.  It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing. . .to something entirely different.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Feb 10.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $28.  For tickets, contact the OCP box office at 402-553-0800 or visit www.ticketomaha.com.  Due to adult language, this show is not recommended for children.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Get a Clue

The classic board game comes to life.  Six people at Boddy Manor have motive to kill Mr. Boddy.  One of them did.  Can you figure out who done it before the show ends?  It’s Clue:  The Musical by Peter DePietro with music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, and Vinnie Martucci and lyrics by Tom Chido.  It is currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

Theatre doesn’t always have to be high art and Tony Award winners.  Sometimes a hokey, fun filled good time makes for the best night of theatre and this show is a shining example of that type of show.  DePietro’s script is very intriguing in that the show is actually a game.  Just as in the board game, a killer, weapon, and room are drawn at the top of the show and placed into a confidential envelope.  During the show, Mr. Boddy provides clues to help the audience deduce who done it, with what, and where.  And it does take a bit of careful listening and observational ability to figure it out.  This tactic helps to make for a pretty engaging production and ensures a different denouement almost every time.

With that being said, the focus on the game results in the loss of plot.  There really isn’t much of a story.  Rather there are little vignettes showing a bit about these characters and their connection to Mr. Boddy, an interrogation, the denouement, and then a real ending which feels unnecessarily tacked on.  On the other hand, I appreciate the use of meta as the characters are aware they are part of a board game and have done this on many occasions.  I also liked the rather catchy, occasionally hilarious, musical numbers.

Daena Schweiger’s direction makes full use of the play’s strengths and masks its weaknesses.  She understands the play’s farcical nature resulting in some really great caricatures from her actors.  The play is also well staged with the characters constantly moving about, making full use of the space.  I was especially impressed with a search scene immediately before Boddy’s murder with the actors running hither, thither, and non and was the show’s best moment.

It’s hard to analyze the performances of the actors as they can only be caricatures and the story does not allow them to develop in depth characters.  But there were several performances that did stand out.

Jesse Black plays Mr. Boddy, our host and murder victim.  I thought he came off a little too nice in Act I due to his underplaying of the role.  Boddy is a rather unlikable chap and Black had the room to go big and ram home that unlikability.  However, he has wonderful facial expressions which he used to the fullest in Act II as he is almost like an ever present spirit manipulating events and I rather enjoyed watching his reactions to the events swirling about.  He’s also got a very pleasant tenor voice best utilized in his keynote number “The Game”.

Patrick Wolfe delightfully chews the scenery as Colonel Mustard, an army man limited to administrative duty due to a condition where he sees living people as inanimate objects.  Wolfe has fantastic bluster and bombast as his off kilter Mustard always wants to play war games, even as foreplay.  Wolfe also has a great lower tenor voice as he joyfully declares “Do Unto Your Enemies” and searches for a good weapon in “Everyday Devices”.  Wolfe also has tremendous projection power, easily overcoming the black boxy acoustics of the theatre.

Sarah Ebke clearly is having fun as Mrs. Peacock, the wife of Mr. Boddy.  She is the one true villain of the piece as she is an unconvicted murderer which she gleefully admits to in “Once a Widow” as her alto tells us the story of the deaths of her five previous husbands.  Ms Ebke’s Peacock is a scheming, vile piece of work and one of the best characters of the night.

Carrie Beth Stickrod got the night’s biggest laughs with her rendition of Mrs. White, the put upon housekeeper of Mr. Boddy.  Ms Stickrod is beautifully acerbic as the housekeeper desperately searching for a way to escape the crushing debt she owes her employer.  I also loved her uneducated nature as her constant misspellings made for the best running gag of the show.  She’s also got a powerful soprano which kept the audience in stitches when she lamented “Life is a Bowl of Pits”.

Lindsey Tierney-Jack is all woman and then some in her portrayal of Miss Scarlet.  Ms Tierney-Jack brings a great sultriness to the role.  This is a woman fully aware of her sensuality and knows how to use it to get what she wants.  Ms Tierney-Jack also really emphasizes Scarlet’s performing heart as she breaks into random dance numbers during the chase scene in Act I.

Chris Ebke and his orchestra (Kim Hansen, Kyle Moeller, and Christina Allred) do justice to the musical score as Boddy Manor’s house band.  Gary Bosanek’s costume coordination was spot on with the bright, vibrant colors matching the character’s names.  Joshua Mullady’s lights enhanced each moment.  And Chris Ebke’s set is an awesome reproduction of the board game.

The energy of the cast seemed at a low ebb in tonight’s performance, resulting in a slow pace and loose cue pickups.  With the exception of Mr. Wolfe, the cast also needed to put the same projection of their singing into their dialogue.

Clue:  The Musical is definitely worth a watch, especially with the added thrill of getting to play the game during the show.  You’ll get some catchy music, some scene chewing hilarity, and a fun spectacle.

Clue:  The Musical runs at the Bellevue Little Theatre through April 9.  Performances are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sun at 2pm.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students with proper identification.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

 

BLT Holding Auditions for ‘CLUE: The Musical’

Auditions for Bellevue Little Theatre’s production of CLUE: The Musical will be held on Sunday, January 22 and Monday, January 23 at 7:00 PM at St. Timothy Lutheran Church (510 N 93rd Street – 93rd and Dodge) in Omaha and will consist of a music audition (1 minute of music appropriate to the style of the show – an accompanist will be provided), a dance audition, and cold readings from the script. Please come dressed to move. 4 Men and 4 Women (of various ages) are needed.


PLEASE NOTE THAT AUDITIONS ARE NOT BEING HELD AT THE BELLEVUE LITTLE THEATRE. Callbacks, if needed, are scheduled for Tuesday, January 24th at 7:00 p.m., also at St. Timothy Lutheran Church. A read thru with the cast is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 29th , and rehearsals will begin on Monday, January 23rd (lasting 8 weeks). The show runs from March 24 – April 9, 2017. Please bring a calendar so you can list ALL conflicts from January 15 – April 9, 2017 on your audition form. The show will be directed by Daena Schweiger, with music direction by Chris Ebke and choreography by Kerri Jo Watts. Pam Matney serves as producer. Questions about auditions, the rehearsal process, or the show can be directed to daena.schweiger@gmail.com.

Characters

Mr. Boddy (B Flat 2 to F Sharp 4)

Professor Plum (B Flat 2 to F 4)

Colonel Mustard (B Flat 2 to E Flat 4 (#7))

Mr. Green (G Sharp 2 to F Sharp 4)

Mrs. Peacock (B Flat 3 to D Flat 5)

Miss Scarlet (G Sharp 3 to F 5)

Mrs. White (B Flat 3 to F 5 (#4))

Detective (no set vocal range)

Auditions for “City of Angels” at Omaha Community Playhouse

CITY OF ANGELS
Production Dates: March 4-April 3, 2016
Performs in: Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Director: Jeff Horger
Synopsis: Sexy, sizzling and smart, City of Angels is a film noir-style musical that pays homage to glamorous 1940s Hollywood. Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, this clever show has two plots running simultaneously as a man writes a screen play that mirrors his life. Stunning staging separates the real world and “reel” world. Intrigue, mystery and incredible music make City of Angels a must-see production.

Audition Dates: Monday, December 14 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, December 15 at 7:00 PM

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)

Production Notes: CITY OF ANGELS is two shows in one, with the interweaving of two plots, one dealing with the writing of a screenplay in the legendary Hollywood of the 1940’s; the other, the enactment of that screenplay. The movie scenes appear in shades of black and white, and the real life scenes are in color. Although some actors will play multiple roles in the typical fashion of a large ensemble musical, there are certain pairs of characters that are reflections of each other in the two worlds and the roles were specifically designed to be played by the same performer. This show contains mild language and stylized violence. Although there is no nudity in the show, there are several lustful characters who appear in various states of undress.

Please note:  Although there will be singers in the ensemble, none of these roles require singing and may be played by non-singing actors. However, everyone must sing at the auditions.

Character Descriptions:

The following roles are singing roles:

STINE (Mid 20s to mid 40s) A novelist who is hired to adapt his own book into a screenplay. It pays a lot more, but it might not be worth all his trouble. He is a bad husband who loves his wife.

STONE (Late 20s to mid 40s) The main character in the screenplay. An ex-cop and current private investigator with a rough past and an even rougher present. He attracts trouble…and
a constant barrage of beautiful and dangerous women.

ANGEL CITY FOUR (Ages 18+) The “greek chorus” of the show; a soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone who exist in both worlds and help navigate the audience through the stories. Lots of 4 part harmony. The most difficult singing in the show.

BUDDY FIDDLER/IRWIN S. IRVING (Mid 30s to mid 60s)
– A sleazy and perverted movie producer who you can’t help but almost like. / The sleazy and perverted movie producer Stine creates as a character for his screenplay.

GABBY/BOBBI (Mid 20s to mid 40s) Stine’s wife. She is a supportive spouse whose life would be easier if she didn’t love her husband. She forgives him for cheating more quickly than she
forgives him for sacrificing his artistic integrity. / Stone’s ex-lover. She blames herself for what happened between them. Regardless of who’s to blame, she has been suffering the
consequences ever since.

DONNA/OOLIE (early 20s to late 30s) Buddy’s intelligent but weary assistant. She puts up with Buddy’s antics because it’s a good job, but the less than glamorous side of Hollywood has taken a toll on her. She often finds herself operating in survival mode, making poor choices if they bring her pleasure in the moment. / Stone’s loyal assistant. It’s a thankless job, but until she finds Mr. Right, somebody’s gotta do it.

CARLA/ALAURA (Late 20s to mid 40s) Buddy’s combative and manipulative wife, who didn’t have time for acting classes because they slowed down her rise to Hollywood stardom. / A
femme fatale if ever there was one. She seduces men with just a look, and keeps secrets from everyone.

AVRIL/MALLORY (Late teens to late 20s) A starlet on the rise. She’ll do what and who it takes to make it onto the silver screen. / Alaura’s step-daughter who likes to cause trouble and makes
questionable life choices.

PANCHO/MUNOZ (Late 20s to mid 50s) A Hollywood actor famous for playing Latino roles (not necessarily well) who is good friends with Buddy Fiddler. / L.A. police officer and ex-partner of Stone. He has an axe to grind with Stone and would love nothing more than to see him executed, as long as it’s legal.

JIMMY POWERS (Early 20s to late 50s) Popular singer of the 1940s. He exists in the real world, although he is recording a few hits for the soundtrack of the film. Occasionally sings with the Angel City Four.

The following roles are ensemble roles:

PETER (Late teens to early 30s) Alaura’s step-son. There is something “off” about him.

WERNER/LUTHER (Early 40s to late 60s) An actor and friend of Buddy who will be playing Luther in the movie. / The rich husband of Alaura and father of Mallory and Peter who is confined to an iron lung for life support.

DR. MANDRIL (Early 20s to late 50s) Luther’s personal physician and astrologist.

ADDITIONAL ROLES – thugs, party guests, police officers, office workers, morgue workers, studio workers, sex workers

All members of the ensemble will play multiple roles. There are roles available for actors of any gender and race. There are 2 roles that could be played by either male or female actors ages 13+. All other roles will be played by actors ages 18+.

What to Bring:
• Please come prepared with 16 bars of music prepared to sing. An accompanist will be provided.

• There will be a dance audition, please come dressed ready to move. No boots, sandals, flip-flops, slick shoes, etc.

• You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

• A recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

In Search of the Truth

September 11, 2001 was one of the most horrific days in American history.  But what if there was a deeper, darker truth to what happened on that sad day?  What are the ramifications of knowing the real truth?  This is the thrust of Yankee Tavern by Steve Dietz and currently playing at the Circle Theatre.

I don’t usually go into a play blind.  By that I mean I know the general story before I sit down to watch it.  But the only knowledge I had of Yankee Tavern was that it centered around 9/11 and conspiracy theories.  This play is far more than that.  This play is an exciting mystery thriller with comedic undertones that will keep you on the edge of your seat as it twists and turns with compelling characters and electric dialogue until the final moment.

Ryle Smith’s direction is a superior piece of work as he expertly navigates the ebbs and flows of this story, builds beautiful tension, and sets a firecracker pace.  Smith has also directed fantastic performances from his cast of four with each having a sizzling chemistry with the others, making for a sensational ensemble experience.

Smith also does double duty by playing the role of Adam Graves, an adjunct instructor and political writer who also owns the titular Yankee Tavern.  Smith’s Adam is an incredibly multifaceted character.  He’s a bit of a prankster as he messes with his wife, Janet (played by Rose Glock), by making up fake guests to invite to their upcoming anniversary party.  Smith also bestows a wonderful intelligence and logic on Adam which is best demonstrated in his verbal spars with his late father’s best friend, Ray (played by David Sindelar) as they debate about what really happened on 9/11.

But Adam also carries his share of darkness and secrets as he is unable to accept his father’s suicide and has a connection with a former female boss which may be far more than employer/employee.  Smith handles these heavier moments with equal sureness, especially in a climactic argument with Janet in Act II.

David Sindelar gives an award worthy performance in the role of Ray.  A self-professed “itinerant homesteader”, Ray, at first, seems like he’s going to be the kooky comedy relief as he lives in the abandoned Yankee Hotel, talks with ghosts, and sees conspiracies everywhere.  But once Ray and Adam start arguing over 9/11, that’s when you see this character’s true intellect.

Ray’s arguments are amazingly persuasive because they are grounded in logic and verifiable facts.  You may not necessarily believe them, but it does give you something to think about.  The arguments are helped by Sindelar’s sincere delivery.  Sindelar also gets to show some pathos and depth when he talks about why his wife left him and the events of his best friend’s last day of life which demonstrate why Ray’s world is preferable to real life.

It is an arduous role because Ray likes to talk, dissect, analyze, and expound.  The sheer bulk of the dialogue caused Sindelar to trip on his lines on a couple of occasions, but he didn’t let it slow him down or get him off track.

Rose Glock is, at turns, sweet, harried, and haunted as Janet.  Janet is on the same intellectual plane as Adam and Ray and is able to hold her own in their conspiracy theory debates.  But she also has a peculiar form of survivor’s guilt because she didn’t lose anybody in 9/11 which leads to a relationship with an unseen character that causes Janet to have an intense loathing of secrets.  Ms Glock handles the emotional beats of the character well and really gets to shine in Act II with intense showdowns with Adam and the mysterious Palmer.

Kevin Barratt’s interpretation of Palmer is underplayed mastery.  He rarely speaks in Act I, but has a hypnotic presence.  He sits quietly at the bar with two Rolling Rocks, toasts an unseen companion, and seems to be grappling with a heavy burden.  Barratt has tremendously animated eyes that let you watch his shifting emotions without him uttering a single word.  When he finally does speak, he is so soft spoken and earnest that it’s hard to determine if he’s a crackpot or if he truly does know things that he probably shouldn’t know.

Barratt really ramps things up in act II during a prolonged verbal battle with Janet over Adam and his possible connection to a potential key figure in 9/11.  What I found utterly fascinating about Barratt’s take on Palmer is that he is looking for absolution, not revenge.  He has knowledge that he would rather not have, but must seek the truth out to the end for the sake of his soul.

There are few things I love more than a good mystery and this play gave that to me and then some.  This show is about so much more than whether there was more to 9/11 than met the eye.  It is a show about the secrets we keep from each other and that is something that will strike the heart of anybody who watches this play.

Yankee Tavern has one final performance on October 30 at 8pm.  The Circle Theatre is producing this show at First United Methodist Church at 7020 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.  For reservations, contact the Circle at 402-553-4715 or via e-mail at dlmarr@cox.net.  Tickets cost $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for students, active military, and T.A.G. members.