Let’s Rock Twist Again

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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

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OCP Announces 2018-19 Alternative Programming Season

Omaha, Neb.—The Omaha Community Playhouse is announcing its Alternative Programming series for the 2018-19 season. Alternative Programming includes a series of staged readings, special events and play development collaborations. All events are held at OCP.

The 2018-19 Alternative Programming schedule includes:

EDGES

by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
July 9, 2018
Staged reading of a musical, Howard Drew Theatre
Directed by Kevin Goshorn and Caitlin Mabon, Music directed by Zachary Kloppenborg

This is the first show written by the creative minds behind Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman, and La La Land. It is a song-cycle about adults asking classic coming-of-age questions. The songs cover the universal issues of love, commitment, identity and meaning. The characters deal with confronting emotions, escaping expectations and deciphering complicated relationships.

LASSO OF TRUTH
by Carson Kreitzer
August 27, 2018
Staged reading, Howard Drew Theatre
Directed by Breanna Carodine

William Marston is a truly improbable character in American history – psychologist, author and inventor of both the lie detector and Wonder Woman. He was also a bondage enthusiast, a passion he shared with the two women he lived with in a large blended family: his wife Elizabeth and Olive Richards, his research assistant. This play tells the origin story of Wonder Woman, not only as an amazon princess and warrior, but as a comic book character and our preeminent female superhero.

DISASTER!
by Seth Rudetsky, Jack Plotnick, and Drew Geraci
September 24, 2018
Staged reading of a musical, Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Directed by Mackenzie Dehmer, Music directed by Liz Stinman

Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the ‘70s take center stage in Broadway’s side-splitting homage to classic disaster films. It’s 1979 and New York’s hottest A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. What begins as a night of boogie fever turns to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters. Featuring songs from Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Chicago, Orleans and more, this absurd sendup of ‘70s disaster flicks is as funny as it is ridiculous.

 
FROM THE GROUND UP
Collaboration with Great Plains Theatre Conference
October 15, 2018
Special Event, Howard Drew Theatre
Directed by Kevin Lawler

Come share in the experience of seeing a workshopped performance of a brand new script. An official collaboration with the Great Plains Theatre Conference, From the Ground Up is a workshop that provides a safe and nurturing playground for artists to develop new work for the theatre. The playwright’s material will be shared with an audience while still in the developmental phase then will continue to be developed to be included in the next Great Plains Theatre Conference.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
by George A. Romero and John A. Russo
October 29, 2018
Staged reading of a play, Howard Drew Theatre
Directed by Kaitlyn McClincy

Witness a theatrical adaptation of the classic horror film. Fall out from a satellite probe shot to Venus returns to Earth carrying a mysterious radiation that transforms the unburied dead into flesh-eating zombies. Seven people trapped in an isolated farmhouse, held hostage by the ravenous ghouls, begin to turn on each other as the dead encroach.

BOOK OF WILL
by Lauren Gunderson
February 25, 2019
Staged reading of a play, Howard Drew Theatre
Directed by Marie Amthor Schuett

Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, but without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever! After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the First Folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. They’ll just have to borrow, beg and band together to get it done.

DRAGON
by Jessica Austgen
April 29, 2019
Special Event, Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Director TBD

In this unique comedy, a fledgling drag queen must go through the tests and trials of legendary cosplay divas to find her swagger. An ode to both geek and drag cultures, this refreshingly original piece gives the audience a front row seat to what happens when you combine equal parts fantasy adventure, comic book convention, and drag show.

Alternative Programming events are free and open to the public with an opportunity for donations. No tickets or reservations are necessary. Some events may be intended for mature audiences. For more information on Alternative Programming, visit www.omahaplayhouse.com.

Singin’ Up a Storm

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From left to right: Nate Wasson, Tayler Lempke Plank, and J. Isaiah Smith star in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

Silent film stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are America’s sweethearts.  Lina is sweet on Don, but he merely tolerates her.  Don falls for a budding young actress named Kathy Selden who has earned the ire of Lina.  Their studio decides to make a talkie which morphs into a musical.  Difficulties arise when Kathy is selected to overdub Lina’s grating voice.  Lina decides to ground Kathy’s career to a halt as a result.  Will her machinations succeed?  Find out in Singin’ in the Rain, currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

If you like musicals with lavish dance numbers and memorable songs then this is the show for you.  Betty Comden and Adolph Green did a superlative job transcribing this classic movie to the stage.  They managed to retain the entirety of the original tale with very few changes and add a bit of that something extra by adding a song and dance number after every section of the story.  Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed have written a nice little score peppered with snappy, loving, and upbeat tunes.

Kimberly Faith Hickman once again infuses a show with some of her inimitable directing magic.  She hits all of the show’s beats.  Her staging is precise.  Her actors spot on.  The singing is on point.  More importantly, she just makes the show fun.

Kudos to a strong supporting cast who add the little touches that breathe vital reality into this world.  Some memorable featured performances include Mary Trecek in a humorous turn as Lina Lamont’s diction coach; Jason DeLong who shows he’s got acting chops to match his talented feet as Don Lockwood’s diction coach; Don Harris as Roscoe Dexter, a director struggling to transition to talkies; and Boston Reid who shines with his golden tenor voice singing “Beautiful Girls”.

Nate Wasson is truly a triple threat as Don Lockwood.  He can sing, dance, and act with an ease and naturalness that seems to be instinctive.  Wasson has a real knack for making you feel right along with Lockwood.  When he’s happy, you’re happy.  When he’s sad, you’re sad.  Wasson gives Lockwood a needed likability and sensitivity and comes across as a regular guy who just happened to make it very, very big.

And Gene Kelly can eat his heart out when it comes to Wasson’s singing and dancing.  Wasson’s fabulous tenor will grace your ears with sweet tunes such as “You Stepped Out of a Dream”, humorous ones like “Moses Supposes” (a personal favorite), and, of course, the iconic title song.  And his feet will keep you clapping as he skillfully taps his way into your heart in “Good Morning” and his solo work in “Singin’ in the Rain” which is rendered more difficult as he dances in an honest to goodness downpour.

Tayler Plank brings a sweetness and confidence to the role of Kathy Selden.  She plays a little coy with Don in the beginning as she poo-poohs film acting and pretends not to really be aware of his fame until they meet again at a party.  Later they truly bond when she becomes a contract player at Monumental Studios.

Ms Plank possesses a glorious soprano and delighted the audience all night with numbers such as “Would You?” and “You are My Lucky Star”.  She also does some impressive hoofing of her own in “Good Morning” and “All I Do is Dream of You”.

J. Isaiah Smith is definitely the man to watch with a mind blowing turn as Cosmo Brown. Smith has unteachable timing as the joke a minute songwriter and his rubbery face is ideal for comic acting with the wide variety of expressions he was able to conjure, each well suited to the moment. Seldom have I seen such an athletic dancer as Smith especially with his jaw dropping solo in “Make ‘Em Laugh” where he leaps all around as well as on and off the stage.

Cathy Hirsch gives an award caliber performance as Lina Lamont.  She nailed her character to the floor with a whiny, vacuous, New York accented voice that will delightfully grate on your ears.  Ms Hirsch is a primo villain as she is vengeful, egotistical, and just plain old nasty.  But I really tip my hat to her on her solo performance in “What’s Wrong with Me?” as she managed to retain that screechy off-key voice while somehow managing to stay on-key at the same time.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra once again fail at failing with yet another brilliantly performed score.  Roxanne Nielsen returns to the Playhouse to add another laurel to her long list of legendary pieces of choreography, especially with the work done by the three leads.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes evoke a sense of 1920s elegance with double breasted suits and gorgeous gowns.  Jim Othuse’s sets will take you from Don’s apartment to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to a certain memorable rainy street.  The OnPxl team of Matt Bross & Chad Eacker provide some impressive special effects especially with a stunning replication of old time silent films and talkies.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco team up to make some impressive sounds especially the foibles of recording sound movies for the first time.

The best way to sum up this show is to borrow from the title song:

 

They’re singin’ in the rain.

Just singin’ in the rain.

What a glorious feelin’.

You’ll be happy again.

Everyone in the place

Have a smile on your face.

As they’re singin’ and dancin’ in the rain.

 

Singin’ in the Rain plays at the Omaha Playhouse through June 24.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $42 for adults and $25 for students.  Wednesday night shows are $32 for adults and $20 for students.  For tickets call 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Camille Metoyer Moten to Perform at OCP

Camille songbook

The Camille Metoyer Moten Songbook

June 8 – 10 at Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, Neb.— The Camille Metoyer Moten Songbook, featuring local singer Camille Metoyer Moten, will run June 8 – 10, 2018 at Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard Drew Theatre. Tickets are now on sale through the OCP box office.

Camille Metoyer Moten brings her signature style back to the Omaha Community Playhouse stage this June! The Camille Metoyer Moten Songbook features standards, pop and jazz favorites, as well as a few classic Barbra Streisand tunes. With songs such as “God Bless the Child,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “On a Clear Day,” and backed by a four-piece band, this production is not to be missed.

Production:    The Camille Metoyer Moten Songbook

Show dates:   Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 2:00 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 are $38. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $35.

Location:        Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard Drew Theatre (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132)

OCP Ends Season with a Little ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

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From left to right: Nate Wasson, Tayler Lempke Plank, and J. Isaiah Smith star in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

Omaha, Neb. – Singin’ In The Rain, based on the beloved movie musical, will run June 1 – 24, 2018 at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

The beloved movie musical Singin’ in the Rain comes to life on stage with charm, humor and stormy weather that has made it an enduring classic. This tale of a famous on-screen couple from the silent films who prepare to transition to the age of “talking pictures” combines the best of Hollywood and Broadway with music that will keep you smiling, dances that will keep your toes tapping and special effects that will take your breath away. Songs such as “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Good Mornin’” and of course “Singin’ in the Rain” will whisk you away to a simpler time.

To celebrate Singin’ In The Rain, Omaha Community Playhouse will hold an opening night celebration from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 1 free to that evening’s ticket holders. No reservations necessary. Attendees will enjoy light refreshments and fun activities.

Production:        Singin’ In The Rain

Credits:   Theatre Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green | Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed | By special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc. | Music published by EMI, all rights administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC | Based on the Academy Award-nominated MGM film starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

Director:              Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Nate Wasson* as Don Lockwood

J. Isaiah Smith as Cosmo Brown

Tayler Lempke Plank as Kathy Selden

Cathy Hirsch as Lina Lamont

Andrew Karolski as Young Don

Brohdi McClymont as Young Cosmo

Rob Baker as RF Simpson

Don Harris as Roscoe

Male Ensemble features Boston Reid, Brendan Brown, Jason DeLong, Joseph Mokrycki, Jude Glaser, and Marcus Benzel

Female Ensemble features Nora Shelton, Lillian Cohen, Karin Berg, Brianna Davis, Kara Penniston, Mia Sherlock, Payton Alber, Julia Ervin, Hannah Ramsgard, Becky Trecek, Debbie Trecek Volkens, Mary Trecek, and Carrie Trecek

*Nate Wasson will appear as a guest artist in the role of Don Lockwood. Nate previously toured with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s production of A Christmas Carol in 2015 in the role of Jacob Marley.

Show dates:       June 1 – 24, 2018; Wednesdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Adult single tickets start at $32 for Wednesday performances and start at $42 for Thursday – Sunday performances. Student single tickets start at $20 for Wednesday performances and start at $25 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices.  For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $24 for Wednesday performances and $30 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

Discounts:           Twilight Tickets – A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability.

Wednesday Performances – Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only starting at $24 for adults and $18 for students.

Whatta Deal Wednesday – Discounted tickets for $10 will be available for the first Wednesday performance on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. $10 tickets will be available in person at the box office starting at 4:00 p.m. the day of the show.

Sponsors:  Immanuel Communities (Series Sponsor), Mutual of Omaha (Producing Partner), Giger Foundation (Orchestra Sponsor), NP Dodge Company (Special Effects Sponsor) Iron Works, Inc. (additional support) and WOWT (Media Sponsor)

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

There’s Hope on ‘The Mountaintop’

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Donte Plunkett as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Catie Zaleski as Camae

On the night before his death, a mysterious woman helps Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. face his mortality and the future of his cause.  This is The Mountaintop by Katori Hall and playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Ms Hall has written one of the most uniquely constructed scripts I have seen in quite a spell.  Whether by coincidence or design, the script is actually built as if it is a trek up and down a mountain.  It is a long, sometimes laborious, climb to the summit.  But once the peak is reached, the play really begins to pop and rapidly races down to the finale.  While the first half of the play could be a little dry, the second half provides some compelling viewpoints on racial harmony, faith, mortality, how far we’ve come as a people in overcoming our hatred and biases, and how much further we still have to climb.

Denise Chapman has provided an admirable and nuanced piece of direction to the production.  She has staged the play well, keeping her 2 actors animated with a constant moving about of King’s hotel room.  She also has a good instinct for maximizing the play’s twists and surprises and really makes those moments stand out and sing.  Ms Chapman has also guided her thespians to a pair of solid performances.

Donte Plunkett gives a worthy performance as Martin Luther King, Jr.  His features not only bear a remarkable similarity to the real King, but he also managed to tap into a great deal of his essence.  Plunkett exudes a confidence, authority, and gentleness suiting the great Civil Rights leader.  But he also shows a quiet sense of humor and a tragic vulnerability especially when he has a conversation with God about his mortality.  I was also impressed with how well Plunkett carried off a less than savory aspect of King’s personality, his reported weakness for women, with his charming and eyeballing of Camae.

Catie Zaleski’s take on Camae is a master class in putting on faces.  It’s hard to know what to make of Camae at first.  She seems to be so many things.  She readily flirts with Dr. King.  She curses like a sailor and then apologizes for cursing in front of the famed Baptist minister.  She can be very blue collar and seemingly uneducated in one moment, then start spitting out college level words and improvising a Kingesque speech in the next.  At one moment, she seems fully aligned with King’s mission, then diametrically opposed in the next.

When the truth behind this chameleon like behavior is revealed, Ms Zaleski nails the tragic hopefulness of a character who is looking to expiate her own sins.

I thought the performances could be further enhanced with a brisker pace and a bit more energy to kick off the show.  Volume and diction were also off at a couple of early points in the show.

I was exceptionally impressed with the show’s technical elements.  Jim Othuse has designed a clean and comfortable motel room at the Lorraine Motel.  John Gibilisco’s constant claps of thunder well communicated the oncoming storm in King’s life.  I loved Herman Montero’s use of lighting, especially the starlight at the play’s conclusion.  Amanda Fehlner’s costuming captured the essence of the well-dressed man of God and the blue collar housekeeper.

It takes a little patience to get to the play’s core, but it is worth the wait as it touches on themes of race and equality that are still important today.  We have grown quite a bit as a people, but there is still a lot of growing to do.

The Mountaintop plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through May 27.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $36 for adults and $22 for students.  For tickets, contact the Playhouse at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  Due to strong language and some mature themes, this show is not recommended for children.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Come to “The Mountaintop” at OCP

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Donte Plunkett as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Catie Zaleski as Camae

Omaha, Neb.— The Mountaintop, which is a fictional telling of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,’s final night when he returned to his room at the Lorraine Motel, will run May 4 – 27, 2018 in the Howard Drew Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse.


An Olivier Award-winning play of historical fiction, The Mountaintop imagines the final night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After giving his speech, “The Mountaintop,” Dr. King returns to his room at the Lorraine Motel. When a mysterious woman with a secret agenda pays a visit to Dr. King, the resulting confrontation imaginatively explores destiny, legacy and mortality.
Disclaimer: Contains dialogue related to racial tension and adult language.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. The events in this timely and powerful story take place the night before his death, 50 years ago on April 3, 1968 after Dr. King gave his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

Production:    The Mountaintop

Credits:          By Katori Hall

Director:         Denise Chapman

Cast

Donte Plunkett as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Catie Zaleski as Carnae

Show dates:   May 4 – 27, 2018; Thursdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m.

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets start at $24 for adults and $18 for students. Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $20 for adults and $14 for students.

Sponsors:      Friend of the Playhouse, The Reader (media sponsor)

Location:        Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard Drew Theatre (6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132)