“She Kills Monsters” Opening at OCP

Omaha, Neb.–She Kills Monsters is opening this week at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The show will run in the Howard Drew Theatre from Friday, October 12 through Sunday, November 4, 2018.

Thrilling audiences with equal parts costume and combat, She Kills Monsters is a coming-of-age dramatic comedy play riddled with 90s pop culture and all things Dungeons & Dragons. Agnes Evans finds a notebook left behind by her deceased younger
sister containing a game scenario for the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. As Agnes delves into the world of D&D, she comes to discover more about the sister she often misunderstood.
Tickets for She Kills Monsters are available at OmahaPlayhouse.com or through the Omaha Community Playhouse box office by calling (402) 553-0800 or visiting 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132. For more information, please visit www.omahaplayhouse.com.

SPECIAL EVENTS
Women’s Stage Combat Workshop
The Omaha Community Playhouse will hold a special Women’s Stage Combat Workshop to celebrate the opening of She Kills Monsters. This women-only workshop will be held on Sunday, October 14 at 12:30 p.m. at the Omaha Community Playhouse and will be taught by Amy Elizabeth Schweid—fight choreographer for She Kills Monsters.

Participants are encouraged to stick around after the workshop for the 2 p.m. matinee performance of She Kills Monsters. Cost for the workshop is $15 and includes a drink ticket. Costumes are encouraged, but not required, for this female empowerment
workshop. Register at https://tinyurl.com/ocpworkshop.

Production: She Kills Monsters
Production Dates: October 12 through November 4 in the Howard Drew Theatre
Show Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2:00 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: Tickets starting at $30 for adults and $18 for students; Prices may vary by performance.  Tickets may be purchased at the Omaha Community Playhouse box office at 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.
Written By: Qui Nguyen
Director: Beth Thompson

Cast

Catie Zaleski – Agnes
Chloe Irwin – Tilly
Kaitlin Maher – Narrator
Thomas Gjere – Miles
Riley Perez – Lilly
Jaiden Lindsey – Kaliope
Brendan Brown – Chuck
Kevin Goshorn – Ocrus
Carrie Beth Stickrod – Vera/Farrah
Ava Burk – Evil Tina
Amanda Overfield – Evil Gabbi
Will Rodgers – Steve
Jake Parker – Monster Ensemble
Ben Battafarano – Monster Ensemble

 

Advertisements

An Unusually Rocking Fairy Tale

Resized_DSC_0858It’s the show that lovingly lambasts fairy tales.  A surly ogre named Shrek reluctantly comes to the aid of the fairy tale characters banished to his swamp by evil Lord Farquaad solely to regain his isolation.  Farquaad’s price for removing the characters from Shrek’s swamp is for Shrek to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon so Farquaad can marry her and become king.  But love may be blooming between the princess and the ogre when they find they have far more in common than they realize.  It’s Shrek the Musical with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori and it currently plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

What I am about to say is a lie.  Something that isn’t true.  Shrek the Musical is the most insipid piece of juvenile garbage ever to disgrace a stage and should be shunned by every man, woman, and child.

Truthfully, this show is an out and out joy.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so energized by a play.  Lindsay-Abaire wrote a script that not only well translates the film to the stage, but one that I also believe surpassed the source material on nearly every level.  He even adds a subtle theme of racism and judging books by their covers that adds a surprising amount of heft to the production.  His lyrics and the rock operaesque score by Ms Tesori will have you laughing and bopping and pining for the next number.

Kimberly Faith Hickman’s direction is simply exquisite.  Not only did she guide the cast to superb performances without a weak link in the lot, but she also brought a phantasmagorical staging to the show.  Yes, that is indeed the right word as there was something otherworldly about the staging.  The entire theatre was used to tell this story and I mean the ENTIRE theatre.  Stage, orchestra pit, aisles, rows, you name it.  It was all fair game to share this tale.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cast as on as this cast was tonight.  Every single member brought their A game to the table and created a production that has instantly vaulted into my top ten list.  Some standouts among the standouts were Kerri Forrester whose presence devoured the theatre and whose mighty voice thrilled the crowd with her take as Dragon in “Forever”; Maddie Smith who delights as Young Fiona as she pines for her Prince Charming in “I Know It’s Today”; and J. Isaiah Smith who gleefully chews the scenery as Lord Farquaad.

Jordan Smith triumphs as Donkey, the wise-cracking sidekick of Shrek.  Smith strikes a perfect balance between being the loyal friend and the hyperactive annoying chatterbox that just might test the patience of saints.  His tenor voice is stupendous and he excelled in numbers such as “Make A Move” and “Don’t Let Me Go”.  He completed his triple threat with his fluid and nimble hoofing which was made all the more impressive as he was doing it with hooves.

Mackenzie Dehmer makes for an absolutely perfect Fiona.  She ain’t your ordinary fairy tale princess.  She’s temperamental.  She’s high-strung.  She’s got a singing voice that can literally make birds explode.  She can be sweet, but also incredibly crude and crass as she happily engages Shrek in belching and farting contests.  Ms Dehmer possesses a deadly alto which can inflect ultra competiveness in “I Think I Got You Beat”, be excessively cheerful and caffeinated in “Morning Person”, or just flat out rock out in “I’m A Believer”.

I’m going to steal a descriptor from a friend and say that Steve Krambeck “ogre”achieves as Shrek.  Krambeck manages to capture the many layers of Shrek from his outer hide of irritability and crabbiness to his inner core of sensitivity and loneliness.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Krambeck’s tenor in finer form than tonight as he managed a combination of hopefulness and sadness in “Who I’d Be” as he confesses to wanting to be a hero, despite being destined to being an ogre and the beautiful “When Words Fail” as he sweetly tries to work out a way to tell Fiona he loves her.  He handled the difficult Scottish accent well, though it did weaken at a few points, especially when he sang.

Lindsay Pape’s costumes set a new bar with spot-on reproductions from the film for Shrek, Fiona, and the other fairy tale denizens and beautifully creative outfits such as Donkey’s furry bodysuit.  Paul Pape’s prosthetic for Shrek was brilliant as it was built around Krambeck’s face and allowed him to emote with both face and eyes.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco crafted some truly unique sounds, especially for the “emissions” battle between Fiona and Shrek.  Melanie Walters supplied some stunning choreography especially with the company numbers of “What’s Up, Duloc?”, “Make A Move”, and “Freak Flag”.  Jim Othuse’s sets will take you from a quiet forest to a lonely tower to a dragon’s lair to the castle of a would-be king.  His lights will give you beautiful sunrises and romantic forest evenings.  Jim Boggess and his orchestra truly score with this score as they not only played it perfectly, but you could hear the fun they were having as well.

If you miss this show, you truly don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s fun.  It’s memorable.  It has something for the whole family with jokes aplenty for the adults and cartoony enough for the kids.   And it even teaches a little something about accepting yourself and the uniqueness of others.

Shrek the Musical performs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Oct 14.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.   Tickets start at $42 and can be purchased at www.ticketomaha.com or at the Omaha Community Playhouse box office.  Contact the box office at 402-553-0800.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

“Shrek: The Musical” Launches OCP’s Mainstage Season

Shrek The Musical Opening This Week at Omaha Community Playhouse
Omaha, NE.–Shrek The Musical is opening this week at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre from Sept. 14 through Oct. 14, 2018.
Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Musical follows everyone’s favorite green ogre as he embarks on a life-changing journey, discovering his place in the world along the way. Full of beloved fairy tale characters and endless humor that will captivate children and adults alike, Shrek The Musical is a must-see show for the whole family.
Written by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline, or Change) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Ripcord, Rabbit Hole) and nominated for eight Tony Awards, Shrek The Musical will inspire audiences to let their freak flags fly!
Shrek The Musical opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse on Friday, Sept. 14 and runs through Oct. 14. Tickets are available at TicketOmaha.com or through the Omaha Community Playhouse box office by calling (402) 553-0800 or visiting 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132. For more information, please visit www.omahaplayhouse.com.

SPECIAL EVENTS
Opening Night Celebration
The Omaha Community Playhouse will hold a special opening night celebration for Shrek The Musical on Friday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. for guests attending the opening night performance. The celebration will feature cookies, “swamp juice” and Shrek-themed activities that promote self-esteem and celebrate individuality.
As part of the “Let Your Freak Flag Fly!” activity, guests will design and decorate their own “freak flags” with words and images that represent their unique qualities that make them individuals. These flags will later become part of the performance, as guests are invited to proudly wave their designs while singing along to the song “Freak Flag” in the second act.

Guests will also be invited to contribute to the “This Is Our Story” wall—named after a song in Shrek The Musical that embraces individuality as a necessary path to social unity. Guests will write down a quality that makes them unique and special and display it on the “This Is Our Story” wall in the Owen Lobby.

Ogre Parties with Special Appearances by Shrek The Musical Characters
The Omaha Community Playhouse will host four special engagement Ogre Parties on Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 prior to the Sunday matinee performances of Shrek The Musical. Ogre parties will be limited to 30 guests, and will include appearances by characters from Shrek The Musical, an ogre-themed snack bar, “swamp juice” and fun, child-friendly activities including jelly bean roulette and “pin the tail on the donkey.”
As part of the “Let Your Freak Flag Fly!” activity, Ogre Party guests will design and decorate their own “freak flags” with words and images that represent their unique qualities that make them individuals. These flags will later become part of the performance, as guests are invited to proudly wave their designs while singing along to the song “Freak Flag” in the second act.

Ogre Parties will run from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. and will be held in the Guiou Boardroom on the second floor of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Tickets for the Ogre Parties are $15 per person and may be purchased through the Omaha Community Playhouse box office. Availability is limited, and only 30 tickets will be issued to each Ogre Party. Tickets to Ogre Parties are separate from tickets to performances of Shrek The Musical, and each must be purchased individually.

Production: Shrek The Musical
Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film
Production Dates: Sept. 14 through Oct. 14, 2018
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Show Times: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2:00 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: Tickets starting at $42; Prices may vary by performance
Tickets available for purchase at the Omaha Community Playhouse box office, 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at ticketomaha.com.

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

Music By: Jeanine Tesori
Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire

Director:  Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Steve Krambeck – Shrek
Mackenzie Dehmer – Fiona
Jordan Smith – Donkey
J. Isaiah Smith – Lord Farquaad
Justin Dehmer – Pinnochio
Kerri Forrester – Dragon / Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Dragon / Mouse
Erin Florea – Gingy / Sugar Plum Fairy / Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Mouse / Rat

Valerie Braun – Queen Lillian / Duloc Performer / Rat / Robin Hood
Stella Clark-Kaczmarek – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Ugly Duckling
Judson Cloudt – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Baby Bear
Jared Dominguez – Happy Person / Guard / Thelonius / Knight / Rat / Bishop
Samantha Gillotte – Happy Person / White Rabbit / Duloc Performer / Rat
Cody Girouex – Happy Person / Mad Hatter / Duloc Performer / Knight / Rat
Andrew Hedin – Little Shrek / Duloc Performer / Cow / Elf
Olivia Howard – Happy Person / Wicked Witch / Duloc Performer / Rat
Ejanae Hume – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Mouse / Rat
Emma Johnson – Happy Person / Teen Fiona / Rat / Choir / Jiminy Cricket
Francesca Kerkhofs – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Rat / Choir / Tinkerbell
Sheldon Ledbetter – Happy Person / Rat / Guard / Knight / Dwarf / Lion
Austin Lempke – Happy Person / Peter Pan / Duloc Performer / Knight / Rat
Brodhi McClymont – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Dish / Choir
Emily Mockrycki – Happy Person / Humpty Dumpty / Duloc Performer / Rat / Surprise Princess
Joseph Mokrycki – King Harold / 3 Pig / Guard / Knight / Pied Piper
Brian Priesman – Papa Ogre / Papa Bear / Guard / Knight / Rat
Tessa Priesman – Happy Person / Duloc Performer / Spoon / Flower Girl
Belle Rangel – Happy Person / Fairy Godmother / Duloc Performer / Rat
Boston Reid – Happy Person / 3 Pig / Duloc Performer / Knight / Rat
Danielle Smith – Mama Ogre / Mama Bear / Duloc Performer / Rat
Maddie Smith – Happy Person / Little Fiona / Velveteen Rabbit (Bunny) / Choir
Matthew Tolliver – Happy Person / Big Bad Wolf / Duloc Performer / Knight / Rat
Scott Van Den Top – Happy Person / 3 Pig / Guard / Knight / Rat
Bella Washington – Happy Person / Tweedle Dee / Duloc Performer / Choir
Cleo Washington – Happy Person / Little Red Riding Hood / Duloc Performer / Choir
Rylie Washington – Happy Person / Tweedle Dum / Duloc Performer / Choir

A Life Captioned

20180801_cc_9921

The Three Faces of Alison (From left to right: Analisa Peyton, Sasha Denenberg, and Angie Heim)

Alison Bechdel is a lesbian cartoonist drawing her life story.  As she draws, she struggles to remember something about her father.  And in her struggle she revisits her relationship with her dad through the course of her life and through the lenses of her adult eyes.  Join her on this journey through the halls of memories at the Omaha Community Playhouse in Fun Home with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori based on Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel.

I salute Ms Bechdel for opening herself to the world with this deeply personal tale.  In conjunction with Kron and Tesori, these three women have managed to create something beautifully original and eminently poignant.  The story does not follow an ordinary narrative track as it weaves back and forth between the present and the past, yet it is remarkably cogent and Ms Tesori’s music makes it blossom with magic.  This story is a true slice of life that is warm and witty and also raw and heartbreaking.

Roxanne Wach brings some true directorial splendor to this piece.  It’s the most unique piece of staging I’ve ever seen in a production and also some of the best as it is so precisely suited to the story.  Characters flit on and off the stage like living thought balloons as Adult Alison keeps a measured distance away from them as they are only her memories.  Her guiding of the piece is magnificent as each of her actors give their all and immerse themselves in their characters, drawing the audience deeper into Alison’s world.

Potent performances come from Julia Ervin who plays Alison’s first love and Jennifer Gilg who plays Alison’s mother, Helen.  Ms Gilg does an extraordinary job playing a woman who seems distant from her family, but is actually broken from carrying the burden of her husband’s secret.  Ms Gilg is especially impressive when she reveals all to Alison in “Days”.  Josh Peyton does admirable work playing the entire male ensemble altering his voice, attitude, and posture to suit each character.  He also has a nice, light tenor voice which shines brightly in “Raincoat of Love”.  Ryan Laughlin and Tyson Bentley provide vital energy as two of the Bechdel children and, along with Sasha Denenberg, brought the house down in the night’s best number “Come to the Fun Home”.

Michael Trutna excels in the role of Bruce, Alison’s father.  Trutna astutely shows the difficulty of being a closeted gay man in the 60s and 70s.  His inability to come to grips with his orientation causes him to adopt some dangerous sexual practices.  Indeed, his lack of control in this aspect of his life compels him to exercise extreme control over other aspects.  His family must always look perfect.  He personally restores his home to meet exacting specifications.  He’s willing to talk about anything and everything as long as it deflects from himself showing how sad and alone he truly is.

Trutna also has a wonderful tenor voice and uses it to fullest effect in “Edges of the World” where he finally takes a hard and honest look at himself.

In the case of Sasha Denenberg, big things really do come in small packages.  The theatre barely contained this little dynamo’s talent and energy and she gives a remarkable performance as Small Alison.  She is ever so much the imaginative child who wants to play airplane with her dad and draw cartoons.  And yet she shows wisdom beyond her years as she knows she’s different from other girls with her desire to wear pants and shirts, let her hair be wild, and her fascination with women shown when she humorously belts out “Ring of Keys” when she sees “a classic butch” for the first time.

Analisa Peyton creates a delightful coming of age character with Medium Alison.  Ms Peyton wonderfully essays Alison as she makes that awkward transition from childhood to adulthood as she enters college.  Along with the struggles of making the grade and making new friends, she believably wrestles with her burgeoning sexuality until she happily comes to terms with it in “Changing My Major”.  Then she just as easily plays the nervousness of sharing this truth with her parents as well as the shock of learning the truth about her father.

Through all of this looms the presence of Adult Alison as played by Angie Heim.  Ms Heim is spellbinding as she narrates the tale, makes wry and honest observations about herself and her family, or simply stays in the background reacting to her memories.  Ms Heim does a sensational job building to Alison’s epiphany about her relationship with her dad and the peace and sorrow that epiphany brings her.  Ms Heim also has a wide vocal range as she seems to be a natural alto who easily jumps to soprano when the need arises.  Her magnificent voice gets the night’s most thought provoking number, “Telephone Wire”.

Jim Othuse has crafted a small, but simple set of the Fun Home’s music room that evokes a real sense of elegance and is further enhanced by Darin Kuehler’s props of piano and antiques.  Othuse’s lights are also very emotional.  They change with the feelings of the characters from happy pink to melancholic blue to depressed black.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes not only capture the appearance of the real Alison Bechdel with Adult Alison’s glasses, shirt, and pants, but also the clothes of yesteryear with the late sixties style clothing of the Bechdel family and the 70s style outfits of “Raincoat of Love”.  Courtney Stein provides some clever choreography especially with “Come to the Fun Home”, a song and dance routine so fun and funny that I may come back again just to watch it.  John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart team up to craft some subtle sounds to drive the tale, especially the sound of night traffic in New York City.  Jennifer Novak Haar and her orchestra bring their A game to the score adding crucial zip and pizzazz.

The Playhouse has kicked their latest season off with a red hot production and it is well worth your while to see it.  You’ll laugh.  You might cry.  But you won’t have a bad time.  Come to the Fun Home.

Fun Home plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Sept 16.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets range from $24-$50 and can be obtained by calling the box office at 402-553-0800 or visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  This show contains strong language and mature themes and is not recommended for children.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

OCP Welcomes You to a “Fun Home”

20180801_cc_9921

The Three Faces of Alison (From left to right: Analisa Peyton, Sasha Denenberg, and Angie Heim)

 

Omaha, NE–Fun Home–winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize–will be showing at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard Drew Theatre from Aug 17-Sept 16.

Based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, Fun Home is a story of self-discovery and navigating challenging family dynamics.  When Alison’s father dies unexpectedly, she explores her past to tell the story of their tumultuous relationship.  The brilliant storytelling moves between the past and the present, while Alison relives her unique childhood playing in her family’s funeral home and her discovery of her own sexuality.

Fun Home is a refreshingly honest and moving story that takes us on a cathartic journey of seeing our parents through grown-up eyes.

“It really does go over our expectations we sometimes have of our parents and how they can’t be superheroes,” said actress Angie Heim.  Heim’s character, Alison, leads the audience on an emotional journey told through the exchange of memories and present-day introspection.  “She goes through looking at these memories fondly, but also looking at the painful memories as well–and you get to see that through her experience on stage.”

The production is directed by Roxanne Wach, a theatre veteran who has been directing on Omaha stages for nearly fifty years.  Wach says audiences will find personal connections to the universal themes and experiences in the show.  “The story is not just Alison’s journey–it’s a quest we’re all on.”

Fun Home opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse on Aug 17 and runs through Sept 16.  Due to high demand, Wednesday shows have been added to this production.  Tickets are available at www.ticketomaha.com or through the OCP box office by calling 402-553-0800 or visiting 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.  For more information, please visit www.omahaplayhouse.com.

In addition to the production itself, the Omaha Community Playhouse, in conjunction with Orchestra Sponsor, UNMC, have created a number of programming events surrounding the themes of the production such as suicide prevention, topics in LGBTQIA, and a discussion of graphic novels.  Special Events are as follows:

Aug 17-19

–Dundee Book Company will be on site selling the Fun Home graphic novel and other books relating to themes in the show.

–A graphic artist will be set up in the lobby drawing character sketches of attendees.  OCP will post these sketches on the walls of the Howard Drew Theatre as well as on social media.

–UNMC will be distributing information about topics in mental health.

August 19

–“Talk Back” discussion will be held after the performance on the topic of suicide.  Dr. Amanda Randall, Director of the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at UNO, Janae Shillito, Community Relations Director of the Kim Foundation and members of the Fun Home cast will discuss mental health related topics raised in the production.

September 9

–“Talk Back” discussion will be held after the performance on the topic of graphic novels and language.  Frank Bramlett, PhD, Professor in the English Dept at UNO and TESOL Program Director, along with members of the Fun Home cast will discuss the literary world of graphic novels.

September 18

–A Science Cafe will be held at 7pm at The Slowdown to discuss mental health and suicide.  The speaker will be Jonathan Sikorski, PhD, department of Psychology at UNMC.

Production:  Fun Home (Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

Music By:  Jeanine Tesori

Book and Lyrics:  Lisa Kron

Show Dates:  Aug 17-Sept 16 (Wed-Sun in the Howard Drew Theatre)

Director:  Roxanne Wach

Cast

Sasha Denenberg as Small Alison

Analisa Peyton as Medium Alison

Angie Heim as Adult Alison

Michael Trutna as Bruce

Jennifer Gilg as Helen

Julia Ervin as Joan

Tyson Bentley as John

Ryan Laughlin as Christian

Josh Peyton as the Male Ensemble

 

Masterful Musicians Make Magnificent Music

005

Billy McGuigan and the Downliners (From left to right: Tara Vaughan, Ryan McGuigan, Matthew McGuigan, Billy McGuigan, Adam Stoltenberg, and Max Meyer)

Take a tour through the history of classic rock and roll as Billy McGuigan and his band play the hits from the 50s through the 70s in Rock Legends.  Last night Billy and his band, the Downliners, played a sold out, tour de force performance at the Davies Amphitheater in Glenwood, IA.

The show was actually billed as Rock Show, but was a variation of McGuigan’s Rock Legends production.  Billy McGuigan once more demonstrated his seemingly limitless musical talent with a pulse pounding, non-stop 90 minute ride that displays an encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock.  Billy and the Downliners played some of the biggest hits of the best known bands of the 50s-70s, but also included several one hit wonders and hits that simply don’t get much airplay nowadays.  Imbued with that inimitable McGuigan energy, one would swear that Billy and the band wrote all of these tunes themselves as the music seems so fresh and extemporaneous.

004

Mark Irvin

The night’s entertainment opened up with Omaha singer/songwriter, Mark Irvin.  Irvin has a voice reminiscent of Bryan Adams and a stage presence similar to Roy Orbison.  It’s just a man, his guitar, and his music.  Irvin is a powerhouse talent whose warm tenor haunted the audience with original numbers such as “I Will Surrender to You”, “I Finally Got it Right”, and “Fly With Me”.  He also did an impressive cover of Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” that had the audience singing right along with him.  If you want to get a taste of Irvin’s talent, his music is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.

Then it was time for the featured act and Billy and company hit the ground running and never let up.

006

Billy McGuigan

Billy McGuigan drove the night with his trademark wit and indefatigable energy.  He and his potent tenor went through an impressive range of high octane songs from “Bye, Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers to “Good Lovin’” by the Rascals to the first rock song, Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock”.  How he does this without wearing out, I’ll never know, but he did give himself a bit of a breather with a small set of slower songs capped with a particularly touching rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” by Gerry and the Pacemakers.

008

Tara Vaughan

It’s as much fun to watch Tara Vaughan perform as it is to listen to her sing.  Performance wise, she reminds me of Bob Marley in the sense that, like him, she is totally immersed in the music.  She doesn’t just play the keyboards with her fingers, she plays with her whole body, heart, and soul.  And that sultry alto had me looking for a cold drink after some of her numbers.  Notable turns from her came with Lulu’s “To Sir, With Love”, a rocking rendition of the Gene Pitney penned Crystals hit, “He’s a Rebel”, and a dazzling take on “A Little Piece of My Heart” that would have made Janis Joplin proud.

011

Ryan & Matthew McGuigan

Ryan & Matthew McGuigan nailed it in their time in the spotlight.  Ryan paid homage to John Lennon and the Beatles with his takes on “I Feel Fine” and the Lennon solo in “This Boy”.  Matthew got a chance to show some impressive versatility as he did The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” before segueing into Elvis soundalike Terry Stafford’s one hit wonder, “Suspicions”.

015

Adam Stoltenberg & Max Meyer

Solid support was provided in the forms of Max Meyer and Adam Stoltenberg.  Meyer provided a series of superb solos on lead guitar while Stoltenberg’s drum work set a crucial backbeat.  Both also got a moment to sing when they each took some verses in The Band’s “The Weight” which was sung by the entire band.

When people hear the name Billy McGuigan, some think Buddy Holly while others may think the Beatles.  When I hear the name, I think he’s one of the best musicians Omaha has ever produced.  Normally, this is the point where I encourage you to get a ticket.  Sadly this was a one night only concert, but fear not.  You have another chance to catch Bily and company in action when Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist opens at the Omaha Playhouse on August 1.  The show runs through August 12 with performances running Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Contact OCP at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com for tickets.

But take my advice, when Rock Legends performs again, don’t miss it.  It’s awesome!

Let’s Rock Twist Again

BillyAug2016-4

Omaha Community Playhouse Summer Show
Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist On Sale Now

Omaha, Neb.— The Omaha Community Playhouse will present Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist August 1 – 12, 2018 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Tickets are on sale now.

Omaha favorite Billy McGuigan brings his big band sound back to OCP after its world premiere here last year. He is joined by the Omaha-based Steve Gomez Band to present rock hits with a big band sound and big band standards with a rock and roll sound. This year’s show has all-new songs.

Billy McGuigan’s big band sound is back! Classic rock tunes with a big band twist; big band standards with a rock and roll twist. Rock Twist features Billy McGuigan with an all‐star lineup of the country’s finest musicians, backed by a 4-piece horn section. With an ever-changing set list, you will hear Frank Sinatra next to The Doors, Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr., The McCoys, The Turtles, Petula Clark, Duke Ellington… all enhanced with fresh rearrangements that will have audiences screaming for more!

Production:      Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist 

Show dates:     August 1 – 12, 2018; Wednesdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m.

Tickets:            At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets start at $42. Tickets are $35 for groups of 12 or more.

Location:          Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE  68132