The Dreams of Success

From L to R: Candace Gould, Karissa Denae Johnson, and Zhomontee Watson star in Dreamgirls

Follow the trek of a girls’ soul group as they struggle to make it as professional singers and then cope with the crushing weight of success.  This is Dreamgirls and it is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Hang on to your hats, ladies and gents.  Masterpiece #2 has arrived at the Playhouse with this exhilarating musical that’s a treat for the eyes and the ears.  It’s scary to think how great this show is going to be by the end of its run because this cast came out roaring with a virtually perfect preview night performance that had people swaying to the music and some even singing along to the tunes.

Tom Eyen certainly has a strong knowledge of this era of music with his references to payola and the obstacles facing black musicians trying to cross over to the pop charts in an industry already infamous for its brutal and cutthroat nature.  Eyen has a gift for creating indelible characters and his story is fairly strong.  I did think he gave some characters short shrift and didn’t completely wrap up some of the individual story arcs.  But these minor flaws get lost in the mesmerizing music which perfectly captures the Motown/soul/R & B sound of the 60s and the evolution to the disco craze of the 70s.

 Kathy Tyree guides this production with the hand of a grandmaster.  Every element has its place and all the pieces move like pistons in a well-oiled machine.  Tyree leads all of her thespians to superlative performances, cutting a brisk and efficient pace.  Her knowledge of the beats is spot on and she handles the show’s more emotional moments with grace and aplomb.  I truly enjoyed her inspiration of staging the performance with a literal stage complete with colorful lights and metal supports (skillfully designed by Jim Othuse).

Few things thrill me more than getting to see new faces on stage and this show is packed with OCP debuts who were packed with outstanding talent.  Some fabulous performances were supplied by Anthony Haynes who is dynamite as Marty, the fast-talking, tell it like it is music agent.  Vi Griffin brings a soft-spoken power to C.C,, the gifted songwriter who helps fuel the Dreams’ rise to stardom.  Candace Gould shines as the youngest member of the Dreams, Lorrell, who begins as a somewhat immature teenager, but evolves into a confident adult who finally makes the right choice for herself.

Jus. B continues to solidify my belief that he is one of the hottest talents in Omaha today. His versatility is on full display with yet another powerhouse performance.  This one is particularly impressive as his Curtis is the most down to earth antagonist I’ve ever seen.  Curtis isn’t really a bad person, he just has the fatal flaw of extreme ambition.  He wants success so bad that he can taste it and everything he does is designed to benefit him in that single-minded pursuit.  If others benefit along the way, well, that’s just icing on the cake.  His iron control over the Dreams does yield that success, but at the price of a lot of misery.  B also has a powerful voice just as versatile as his acting which has booming finality in “It’s All Over” or sincere sweetness in “You Are My Dream”.

Jordan Willis certainly did his homework with his sculpting of Jimmy “Thunder” Early.  Willis’ singing and dancing style evoke memories of James Brown and Jackie Wilson.  As good as his voice and moves are, it’s the tragedy he brought to the role that I found most compelling.  Wills’ Early is a soul singer.  That’s what makes him happy.  But his drive for superstardom allows him to be convinced to alter his style into a more approachable balladeer which brings him the success he yearns for at the cost of his happiness, especially when his star begins to dim.  Willis’ voice is perfect for soul music and he brought the audience to their feet with “Fake Your Way to the Top”, but he can also move your soul with the sensitive, “I Meant You No Harm”.

Karissa Denae Johnson has a showstopping theatrical debut as Deena Jones.  She clearly has the gift of performing as her ease on stage and delivery are the equal of actors with many years of experience.  I loved the arc she brought to her character as she wanted to make it as a singer, but as part of a unit.  She reluctantly takes center stage solely to help the group succeed.  Once that’s accomplished, she begins to search for what will make Deena Jones happy.  Johnson has a beautiful silky voice and incredible instincts as her first performance as lead singer in “Dreamgirls” strikes that right note of nerves and shyness, but her confidence grows until she nails the emotional finale in “Hard to Say Goodbye, (My Love)”.

I needed an ice cold drink to cool me down after being lit up by the fire in the voice of Zhomontee Watson.  Watson can belt a song like few can while also acting up a storm as Effie White.  The Dreams were clearly inspired by the Supremes and Effie is assuredly this group’s Diana Ross.  But that story gets inverted as Effie’s better voice is forced to take a back seat to Deena’s better look.  Watson gives Effie a definite ego as she saw herself as the focal point of the group and she ends up tripping herself up as her jealousy (and other factors) tank her career until she learns a little humility to launch a comeback.  Watson’s singing is a hallmark of the production and she had the crowd enraptured with the thunderous Act I finale, “(And I’m Telling You) I’m Not Going”, but my favorite number was her humble and self-revelatory “I Am Changing”.

Justin Payne’s musical direction is auditory nirvana.  Payne’s band skillfully handles the night’s numbers as if they wrote the score themselves and the harmonies of his singers are like eating a decadent dessert.  Lindsay Pape rises to the costuming challenge like never before and has achieved the best costumed production I have ever seen.  My favorite piece of costuming was the evolution of the Dream’s dresses which evolve from attractive, but affordable, orange dresses in their salad days to gorgeous sequined gold outfits at the height of their success.  Ray Mercer’s choreography is flowing and natural.  There’s nothing huge or flashy about it (except for Jimmy’s larger than life dancing) and is exactly what I’d expect from a pop group.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco’s sounds are subtle, but add that vital piece of seasoning to the production.

The Playhouse is certainly on a tear with two straight bangers and I envision this one to be a big awards season darling.  More crucially, I also envision it to be a monster sellout so get those tickets before they vanish.

Dreamgirls plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Mar 26.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $25 and may be purchased at the Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Omaha Community Playhouse

‘Dreamgirls’ Coming Soon to OCP

Omaha, NE.– Dreamgirls opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse on Friday, March 3. A trio of women soul singers catch their big break during an amateur competition. But will their friendship—and their music—survive the rapid rise from obscurity to pop super stardom? With dazzling costumes and powerhouse vocal performances, this Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical is inspired by some of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s—The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and more.

The show will run on the Hawks Mainstage from March 3 through March 26, with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $25, with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Directed by: Kathy Tyree
Musical Direction by: Justin Payne
Choreography by: Ray Mercer

Cast

Anthony Haynes – Marty

Justin Blackson – Curtis Taylor

Karissa Johnson – Deena Jones

Candace Gould – Lorrell Robinson

Zhomontee Watson – Effie White

Corbin Griffin – CC White

Jordan Willis – Jimmy Early

Monica Weber – Michelle Morris

Ensemble features talents of: Alicia Amedee, Michelle Bester, CynFranecia Brooks, Raymond Butler, Denzell Clements, Brannon Evans, Ashari Johnson, Kevin Jones, Alisa Moore, Shirleena Terrell, Nyarok Tot, Justin Tyree, and Nina Washington

On the Poor Side of Town

Billy Ferguson stars as Mark Cohen in “Rent” at the Omaha Community Playhouse

Come experience a year in the lives of the people of a poor neighborhood in NYC.  This is Rent and it is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

I’ll make this short and sweet.  This is the season’s first masterpiece.  Good night, everyone!

Oh, very well.  I’ll share some more.

I actually had never seen this show before tonight and did not know any of its songs, though I did remember this show being extremely hot property back when it debuted in 1996.  Little did I know what I had been missing.

Jonathan Larson wrote an incredible tour de force with compelling stories and amazing songs.  I detected influences from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shakespeare mixed in with Larson’s heart and vision.  His show is also very prescient with its powerful theme of inclusiveness which makes it very much a show that fits in today’s environment.

I’ve occasionally referenced theatrical kismet when a show gets all the right elements in place to create an indelible piece of magic and this show has that from top to bottom.  Superior musical direction.  A perfectly cast ensemble.  Dead on the mark direction.  Flawless technical elements.  Lovely voices and brilliant choreography.  Spot on acting.  There’s even a little audience participation (and I mooed with the best of them).

Stephen Santa is on fire with this show.  Not only is his direction pluperfect, but it’s one of the very best, if not the best, pieces of staging I’ve ever seen.  Santa uses the entire theatre with his actors joining the audience on the risers to make us part of the story.  And “Contact” is, without question, the single most perfectly staged moment I’ve ever witnessed.  Santa also led his actors to superlative performances.  Never did he let them cheat or shortchange an emotional moment and this show has them in droves.

This show has the truest ensemble I’ve ever seen.  By that I mean that each role holds a crucial level of vitality and necessity and everyone gets a moment to shine at some point.  Some stellar performances come from Evelyn Hill who is larger than life as Maureen, a performance artiste trying to fight the good fight against a lot owner attempting to evict the homeless.  Brandi Mercedes Smith is incredibly effective as the no nonsense lawyer, Joanne, who is in a tumultuous relationship with Maureen.  DJ Tyree Is not only eminently likable as Tom Collins, but he has a voice like a warm and comfortable quilt and an unbelievable vocal range from soaring tenor to deep baritone.  I defy you to listen to him sing “I’ll Cover You” and not start crying.

Isa Gott has one killer Playhouse debut as Mimi.  Gott displays some masterful versatility with her depiction of the old before her time teenaged exotic dancer/junkie further bolstered by her sizzling chemistry with Jesse White’s Roger.  In one moment, she’s hungrily eyeballing Roger as she flirts with him while trying to get a candle lit.  In another, she’s emotionally gutted by Roger’s constant distrust and pushing her away.  Her reactions are always natural and right on the money and her jones for heroin when overpowered by stress is palpable.  Gott also has the voice of an angel and just smacks emotional pitches out of the park with the flirty “Light My Candle”, the seductive “Out Tonight”, and the haunting “Without You”.

Over the past few years, Jesse White has made his mark as one of Omaha’s finest musical actors and is in especially fine fettle as Roger.  There’s a real nimbleness to White’s portrayal of the recovering junkie musician as he leaps from emotional beat to emotional beat and those beats swing huge as Roger can go from upbeat to broken on the turn of a dime.  White even had a remarkable way of making his eyes seem hollowed out to show his former dependence on drugs and his sickliness from battling HIV.  White shows Roger’s weariness, his distrust, his reluctance to open up emotionally, and even his hopefulness, especially as he struggles to write one great song before he shuffles off this mortal coil.  White has got a sensational voice as he fights to achieve that “One Song Glory” which he certainly does with a phenomenal take on “Your Eyes”.

Personally, I saw the character of Angel as the lynchpin of this group of friends.  His indefatigable joie de vivre serves as the fuel for everyone’s happiness.  When he hits the scene, the day gets a little brighter and when he’s not around, things go awry.  In Wayne Hudson II’s hands, the role is a piece of acting gold.  Hudson’s Angel just eats life with shining teeth.  He never seems to have a bad day and is always willing to be a supportive rock for those struggling emotionally.  Hudson is incredibly sweet in the role and he and Tyree’s Tom Collins make for an adorable couple.  Hudson has got a nice light tenor which he uses well in “You Okay, Honey?” and the gut wrenching “I’ll Cover You”.

Mark is the closest thing this show has to a central character as he serves as narrator and I got the sense that the show might have been the great documentary he was trying to create.  Billy Ferguson gives a top rate performance as the hopeful documentarian.  Ferguson’s take on Mark is that he’s always searching for something.  He’s searching for that great documentary.  He’s searching for that sense of connection in a community.  Heck, he’s even searching for the rent money.  It’s interesting to watch Mark’s inner turmoil as he battles suppressing his artistic vision to the expediency of money when a tabloid show wants to employ him after his footage of a riot hits the news.  At the same time, he is tormented by watching friendships fray and decay in Act II and fears being the only one of his group left alive as nearly all of his other friends suffer from HIV and AIDS.  Ferguson shows some emotional musical versatility of his own as he commiserates with his ex’s new girlfriend over her selfishness and libido in “Tango Maureen”, snarkily sticks it to a former friend in “La Vie Boheme”, and frets over his future and the potential deaths of his friends in “Halloween”.

Jim Boggess was in especially rare form (and that’s saying something!) with his work on this show.  Not only was his conducting of the orchestra infallible, but his molding of the singers was of tremendous quality with their beautiful harmonies and blended voices.  I’d also like to tip my hat to the band as Colin Duckworth, Mark Haar, and Vince Krysl did yeoman work.  But I especially want to laud Jennifer Novak Haar’s keyboard work as it just transported me to another realm.

Aaron Derell Gregory supplies some phenomenal choreography for the show.  What I liked best about it was its spontaneity.  It never felt staged.  It always seemed so natural as if the characters just felt like dancing for the sheer fun of it.  And “La Vie Boheme” is easily the most infectious piece of choreography I’ve ever seen as I almost succumbed to the temptation to get up and start dancing with the cast. 

Nora Marlow Smith has designed a fantastic set as it looks like a dingy street in NYC with the placement of ladders and lights really feeling like the industrial loft of Mark and Roger.  I especially liked the rotating crosswalk which Santa skillfully used to represent emotional distance between characters in key scenes.  Andrew Morgan’s properties add that sense of poorness with discarded TVs and is enhanced by Janet Morr’s protest graffiti.  Darrin Golden adds some technical wizardry with snowfall, confetti, and balloons.  Josh Wroblewski’s lights add something special especially with the Christmas lights and the street corner light used when the homeless comically deride another Christmas season.  The sounds of Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco suck you in even before the show starts with the horn honks, bustling traffic, and police whistles pulling you into another morning rush hour in NYC.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes well communicate the bohemian lifestyle of the denizens of this neighborhood.  But she also gets to show off some other personalities with the rigid business wear of the TV exec trying to hire Mark and the matronly wear of the mothers of Mark and Roger when they’re leaving voice mails. 

Truly, this was an extremely satisfying night of theatre and one of the top five musicals I’ve had the pleasure of watching.  It’s a nearly perfect story with wonderful characterizations and unforgettable music.  Do yourself a favor and get a ticket yesterday because this one is already selling out.

Rent runs at Omaha Community Playhouse through March 19.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $45 and may be purchased at the Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800, or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. Due to strong language and some mature themes, parental discretion is advised. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo by Colin Conces

The ‘Rent’ is Coming Due at OCP

Billy Ferguson stars as Mark Cohen

Omaha, NE.–Rent opens Friday, February 10, 2023 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). This is the first time that OCP has produced this iconic show.

Production Dates: February 10-March 19, 2023

Show Times: Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Description: The cultural phenomenon that has inspired audiences for a quarter century. A raw and emotional year in the life of a diverse group of friends and struggling artists, chasing their dreams under the shadow of drug addictions and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize, this iconic rock musical has become a cultural touchstone, rite of passage and source of joy and strength for millions.

Disclaimer: Contains adult content and language.

Tickets: Starting at $45. Prices vary by performance. Tickets are available for purchase by phone at (402) 553-0800, online at OmahaPlayhouse.com, or in person at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132

Cast

Mark Cohen–Billy Ferguson

Roger Davis–Jesse White

Tom Collins–DJ Tyree

Benjamin Coffin III–Allen Griffin

Joanne Jefferson–Brandi Smith

Angel Dumott Shunard–Wayne Hudson

Mimi Marquez–Isa Gott

Maureen Johnson–Evelyn Hill

Ensemble #1–Addie Barnhart

Ensemble #2–Xavier Carr

Ensemble #3–Kylah Calloway

Ensemble #4–Joey Galda

Ensemble #5–Aiden Poling

Ensemble #6–Matt Bailey

Ensemble #7–Maddy Stark

Directed by: Stephen Santa
Musical Director: Jim Boggess
Choreographer: Aaron Gregory

Photo by Colin Conces

OCP Looking For Actors to be “In the Heights”

Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding in-person auditions for In the Heights on February 11 and 12. To schedule an audition, please visit the website here.

Director/Choreographer: Rebecca Kritzer

Music Director: Boston Reid

Show Dates: June 2-25, 2023

Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Rehearsal begin April 26, 2023.

Show Synopsis: Before there was Hamilton there was In the Heights.

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

Auditions: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Latino Center for the Midlands in the SOUTH building 4937 S. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68107). This audition is for those interested in principal and ensemble singing roles.

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132). This audition is for those interested in ensemble dance roles. Please still be prepared to sing.

Callbacks: Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, 6-10 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)

Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please complete the audition form to schedule a time. When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building. Those auditioning should be prepared to spend 60-90 minutes at the audition.

Audition preparation: 16-32 bars of pop/rock song, or a song in the style of the show, that showcases your voice. Singing from the show is okay. No legit/standard musical theatre/opera.

Auditioners are welcome and encouraged to also sing in Spanish, but please have another option as well.

Those wishing to be considered for Usnavi or Sonny are welcome to also prep a short rap, but not required.

Roles: Click here for character breakdown.

Contact: For more information, please visit omahaplayhouse.com.

Keep Out!

Anthony Montegut and Kerri Forrester star in “Fences”

Troy Maxson was a talented baseball player who missed out on his chance in the big leagues due to the color barrier being broken after his physical prime.  Bitter and angry, Maxson builds many spiritual fences to maintain some semblance of control over his world while simultaneously keeping his family out.  This is Fences and it is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This is my first time seeing an August Wilson work and now I’d like to see a lot more of them.  Wilson has a tremendous gift for voice and knows how to tap into the thoughts and emotions of an era.  Fences is part of his American Century Cycle where he explores “the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America. . .over the course of the twentieth century”.  This play has a unique storytelling style as the focus is on the days in the life of Troy Maxson.  Each scene serves as a vignette of its own.  Yet it all holds together seamlessly and focuses on a complicated man who overcame a lot of obstacles, but was constantly defeated by the opponent he saw in the mirror each day.

Denise Chapman and TammyRa’ team up to direct this production and provide steady hands to the work.  I was especially impressed with the background work as performers often went into the house and I truly just enjoyed watching the actors through the windows of the house and watching the expressions on their faces telling the stories of their characters.  Pacing was incredibly brisk and each performer had a well-defined character.  Some moments of violence need tidying up and a couple of confrontations have room for more intensity.

There is some truly sublime work in the supporting cast.  Raydell Cordell III shines as Troy’s son, Lyons.  The perpetually short of funds musician has a good heart, though his need for money causes him to make a poor life choice.  Eric J. Jordan, Sr. exemplifies a best friend as Bono.  He truly has Troy’s back, but isn’t afraid to tell him the truth when needed.  L. James Wright gives an award worthy performance as Gabriel.  He is so believable as the childlike brother (due to a brain injury in World War II) and his innocence and enthusiasm pump life and joy into the Maxson family.  Anavie Hope Lyons brings a precociousness to Raynell.

I’ve always been impressed with the work of Brandon Williams, but his performance last night firmly puts him in the upper echelon of Omaha actors.  It took me a moment to recognize him at first as his body language had me utterly convinced he was a teenager in his first appearance as Cory and I was hooked until the end.  Williams is sensational as the young man trying to find his way in the world under the shadow of his dominant father.  Williams has extraordinarily expressive eyes and I enjoyed the stories they told as he dealt with the father he both hated and loved.

Kerri Forrester has one of the warmest speaking voices I have heard and it is extremely well suited to her character of Rose.  Rose is the loving mother and the supportive wife, but is certainly no shrinking violet as she has seen the best and worst of Troy.  She’ll take care of him and nail him with a bon mot when the need arises.  Forrester does an incredible job underplaying the character which adds some fascinating dimensions to her verbal confrontations with Troy as she always makes an emotional choice other than the obvious one.

Anthony Montegut sure found one heavy role for his Playhouse (and possibly acting) debut.  Troy Maxson is an amazing study in duality.  He’s extremely confident, yet unsure of himself as a man.  He loves his family, but does everything in his power to drive them away.  He yearns to be strong, but acts out in ways that show he’s fatally weak.  This is a truly challenging role and Montegut acquits himself very admirably.

Montegut seems at ease on stage and is capable of moments of great intensity.  He’s definitely got the space to play with Maxson’s complexities and I’d like to see his performance at the end of the run to see what blooms.  Montegut does need to watch his articulation and slow down his rate of speech a bit.

Jim Othuse has designed an amazing set for this show.  An economical brick house serves as the abode of the Maxsons surrounded by a realistic looking tree, broken fence, and telephone pole.  Othuse also has some nice lighting effects from a starry night to the sun breaking through the clouds.  Ananias Montague has crafted an excellent score with some amazing emotional punch with the twang of a violin string, a melancholic piano, and an ominous drumbeat.  Andrew Morgan’s properties help the Maxson house feel like a home.  John Gibilisco helps the ambiance with sounds ranging from tweeting birds in the morning to noisy crickets at night.  Tamara Tamu Newson’s costumes reflect the period and the economic status of the play’s characters with simple work clothes and dresses.

At one point, Bono references fences being able to keep people out or keep people in and that describes the life of Troy Maxson.  He builds fences to maintain control over his world, but in the process, he keeps everything and everyone near to him out.

Fences runs at Omaha Community Playhouse through Feb 12. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $25 and may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. Due to strong language and some mature themes, parental discretion is advised. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Photo by Colin Conces

OCP Announces Auditions for ‘Pretty Fire’

Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding in-person auditions for Pretty Fire at the Omaha Community Playhouse on January 22 & 23, 2023. To schedule an audition, click here

Show Dates: April 28-May 21, 2023

Rehearsals: Begin April 2, 2023

Show Synopsis: Charlayne Woodard takes us on an intimate and powerful journey through five autobiographical vignettes, each capturing different moments of her life growing up as a rambunctious, imaginative child in the 50s and 60s. From her loving family home in upstate New York, to her first experience with racism at her grandmother’s house in Georgia, Pretty Fire is a beautiful one-woman celebration of life, love and family, even in the face of adversity.

Disclaimer: Contains adult content and language.

Auditions: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, 6-9 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132)

Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, 6-9 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)

Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please complete the audition form to schedule a time. When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building. Those auditioning should be prepared to spend 60-90 minutes at the audition.

Audition prep: There are two sides for the audition here and here. Please select one to prepare for the audition. They do not need to be memorized.

Roles: Black woman, age 45+. This is a one-woman show told from the perspective of the author who details her life growing up in the 50s and 60s. She embodies multiple characters such as: her mother, father, sister, grandfather, classmates, and many others who were influential to her life.

Contact: For more information, please visit omahaplayhouse.com.

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OCP Preparing to Swing For the ‘Fences’

Anthony Montegut & Kerri Forrester star in “Fences”

Omaha, NE–August Wilson’s Fences opens Friday, January 20, 2023 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). This marks OCP’s first August Wilson production in the theatre’s 98-year history. To celebrate this momentous run, OCP is collaborating with The Union for Contemporary Art, Great Plains Theatre Commons, and Metropolitan Community College on city-wide community events.  

“OCP is honored to execute this powerful weekend in collaboration with three of the most intentional and community-driven arts and education organizations in the city,” said Kathy Tyree, OCP’s director of Inclusion and Community Engagement. “It is our hope that participants will walk away with not only a deeper appreciation and understanding of the work of August Wilson but also feeling informed with new resources and tools to enhance their individual connection to the arts.” 

A former African American League baseball player struggles to co-exist with the racial trauma he still carries from his time in the league. When his frustrations lead to a series of tragic choices, his relationships with his wife and son suffer the consequences. Set in the 1950s, Fences is the sixth installment in The American Century Cycle, a series of ten plays by August Wilson that trace the Black experience through 20th century America. 

Production Dates: January 20-February 12, 2023 

Show Times: Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 

Tickets: Starting at $25. Prices vary by performance. Tickets are available for purchase by phone at (402) 553-0800, online at OmahaPlayhouse.com, or in person at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132 

Directed By: Denise Chapman

Cast
Anthony Montegut as Troy Maxson
Kerri Forrester as Rose
Raydell Cordell III as Lyons
L. James Wright as Gabriel
Brandon Williams as Cory
Eric Jordan, Sr. as Jim Bono
Hope Haddad, Anavie Lyons, and Brooklyn Montegut as Raynell

Photo by Colin Conces

OCP Announces Auditions for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding in-person auditions for Little Shop of Horrors at the Omaha Community Playhouse on December 3 and 4 and Latino Center for the Midlands on December 5. To schedule an audition, please visit the website here.

Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, OCP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which all community members feel a sense of belonging and does not discriminate in casting practices on the basis of an individual’s ethnicity, age, gender, physical and cognitive ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse and inclusive casting.

Production: Little Shop of Horrors

Credits: Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman; Music by Alan Menken

Director: Stephen Santa

Choreographer: DJ Tyree

Music Director: Jim Boggess

Show Dates: April 14-May 7, 2023 Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Rehearsals: Begin February 26, 2023

Show Synopsis: Seymour, a nerdy store clerk at Mushnik’s flower shop, is thrust into the spotlight when he happens upon a new breed of carnivorous plant. But his newfound fame comes at a cost when Seymour discovers the sassy seedling has an unquenchable thirst for human blood. Ravenously fun, dripping with camp and nostalgia. Disclaimer: Contains mild adult content and language.

Auditions: Saturday, Dec. 3, 1-4 p.m. (Latino Center for the Midlands, 4937 S. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68107)

Sunday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132)

Monday, Dec. 5, 6-9 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)

Callbacks: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, 6-10 p.m. (Omaha Community Playhouse)

Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please complete the audition form to schedule a time. When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building. Those auditioning should be prepared to spend 60-90 minutes at the audition.

Audition preparation: Two 32 bar songs – Pop, R&B, or Contemporary Musicals. Accompanist will be provided.

Roles: Click here for character breakdown.

Compensation: Onstage performers 19 and older for this show will be compensated $700 in total.

Contact: For more information, please visit omahaplayhouse.com.