OCP Holding Auditions for 96th Season

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse will hold auditions for its 2020-21 season musicals July 11-13 for children under age 16 and July 23-26 for adults. Auditions are by appointment only. Special COVID-19 safety precautions will be observed.  Vocal auditions will be on the Playhouse’s Hawks Mainstage. Dance skills will be evaluated at callbacks.

Musicals this season include:

A Christmas Carol, Nov. 20 through Dec. 23, Hawks Mainstage. Directors: Kimberly Faith Hickman, Ablan Roblin

The Scottsboro Boys, Feb. 12 through March 14, 2021, Howard Drew Theatre. Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Kinky Boots, Feb. 26 through March 21, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Ablan Roblin

In the Heights, April 16 through May 9, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Kathy Tyree

Willy Wonka, May 28 through June 27, 2021, Hawks Mainstage. Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Music director is Jim Boggess. Choreographer is Michelle Garrity.

Audition dates and times:

Children (under age 16)

Saturday, July 11, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, July 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Adults (16 or older)

Thursday, July 23, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, July 24, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, July 25, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, July 26, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Specific dates and time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. Auditions will be in groups of no more than 15. Temperatures of auditioners will be taken upon arrival. You may wear a facemask if you prefer. Auditioners will be allowed to sing only 16 bars of a song of their choosing, for which they should bring sheet music. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the south entrance lobby doors.

Those who cannot attend in person may submit a vocal-audition video.

 

The Omaha Community Playhouse has scheduled auditions for three Fall 2020 plays.

Auditions will be by appointment only. Special COVID-19 safety precautions will be observed.

The show titles, run dates and audition schedule:

CLYBOURNE PARK, by Bruce Norris

Show runs Aug. 21-Sept. 20 in the Howard Drew Theatre.

Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman

Hickman was assistant director of the original Tony Award-winning Broadway production   

Audition dates and times:

Monday, July 6, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Callbacks will be Wednesday, July 8, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, adapted by Ken Ludwig

Show runs Sept. 25-Oct. 18 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

Director: Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek

Audition dates and times:

Sunday, July 12, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Callbacks will be Tuesday, July 14, and Wednesday, July 15, starting at 7 p.m. both evenings.

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR, by John Patrick Shanley

Show runs Oct. 16-Nov. 8 in the Howard Drew Theatre.

Director: Kaitlyn McClincy

Audition dates and times:

Saturday, Aug. 15, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Callbacks will be Saturday, Aug. 22, starting at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 23, starting at 7 p.m.

Specific dates and time slots will be set in advance for each auditioner. Auditioners must fill out paperwork in advance, not at the audition. They can return completed paperwork by email or bring it with them. Tryouts will be in groups of no more than 12 per hour. COVID-19 screening questions will be asked of each auditioner upon arrival. You may wear a facemask if you prefer. Provided seating will be plastic or metal chairs only, no fabric upholstery. The audition space will be sanitized between groups. When arriving to audition, please enter through the west-entrance stage door.

To make an audition appointment, email Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com.

The Eve the Music Returned

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In a time when the world has begun to take the tiniest of steps back to normalcy, it’s a relief to know that there are still some constants in the world.  And one of those constants is the awesomeness of a live show with Billy McGuigan and his band.  That awesomeness is available for your enjoyment again as Billy and his band bring you Rave On:  The Music of Buddy Holly in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This time around the show is not about Billy being Buddy or his extemporaneous wit and humor.  This time, it’s all about a band playing non-stop, untarnished, unvarnished, old-fashioned rock and roll with a 50s drive-in flair on an unseasonably perfect night for an outdoor concert.

It wouldn’t be a Billy McGuigan show without some of his classic storytelling, but the tales were kept to a minimum as he and his band were clearly hungry for a live audience and gave us their all in a 90 minute rockfest that featured the hits and obscurities of the late, great Buddy Holly along with a few other surprises as well.

McGuigan was in rare form tonight as he fueled himself on the applause and horn honks of an energetic audience and fired that energy right back at us with takes on “Maybe Baby”, “That’ll Be the Day”, “Handsome Brown Eyed Man”, a rare performance of one of Holly’s earliest recordings, “Midnight Shift”, and a 15 minute medley framed by “Oh, Boy!”.  Occasionally Billy would slow things down a few notches with his mellifluous tenor serenading the crowd with Richie Valens’ “Donna” and Holly’s own legendary soft song “True Love Ways” before ramping it back up a bit with “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” and the Everly Brothers hits, “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Suzie” and closing things out with “Rave On” and an original rocker of his own creation, “Me and Peggy Sue”.

McGuigan was excellently supported by his band as we were treated to numerous saxophone solos from Darren Pettit and nearly as many guitar solos from Max Meyer, a phenom with chops to rival Jimi Hendrix.  Ryan McGuigan rocked out on rhythm guitar and provided a nifty little solo with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” while Matthew McGuigan’s bass playing drove the beat and he got his own little chance to shine with Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”.  Newcomer Larell Ware dazzled on the drums as he supported the night’s numbers with a thunderous backbeat.

If you want to enjoy one of the simple pleasures of life, then you need to get a ticket to see our local master musician as he interprets the classics of a legendary artist as only he can.

Rave On:  The Music of Buddy Holly runs through June 28 in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased online at www.omahaplayhouse.com or by phone at 402-553-0800.  This is a cashless event and reservations are required.  CDC guidelines are being followed and parking spaces will be assigned upon arrival.  Please do not arrive earlier than 90 minutes before showtime.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

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Top photo provided by Analisa Swerczek

Drive In to ‘Rave On’

Omaha, NE– Ready for a fresh take on an audience favorite?  Billy McGuigan’s Rave On! The Music of Buddy Holly returns to the Omaha Community Playhouse as an exciting new drive-in concert experience.  Rave On! will open Thursday, June 11, in the Playhouse parking lot, which will take on the atmosphere of a ’50s rock’n’roll drive-in.  The event will be unlike anything audiences have experienced at the Playhouse before:  a high-energy, nonstop outdoor concert that features McGuigan and his band performing Buddy Holly’s most popular songs.  The playlist also includes the hits of fellow rockers like Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and more.  The show runs without intermission.

Rave On! replaces Tara Vaughan’s She Rocks, which had been scheduled to run June 11-28 in the Playhouse’s Howard Drew Theatre.  She Rocks has been canceled. Rave On! will play on all the same dates.

Billy McGuigan has received national attention and critical acclaim for his dynamic take on Buddy Holly hits.  The family friendly show’s roots trace back to when McGuigan was cast in the title role of the Omaha Community Playhouse musical Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story.  The smash hit led to McGuigan’s creation of his own show featuring Buddy Holly’s music.  Rave On! has broken box office records in theatres across North America. McGuigan is also known for the popular touring shows Yesterday and Today and Rock Twist, which have been performed at the Playhouse for many years.

To ensure audience safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be a cashless event requiring a reservation.  Cars will be parked in a checkerboard pattern for social distancing.  Audience members can choose to bring portable chairs and sit outdoors on the driver’s side of the vehicle they came in, but they may mingle only with those who came in their vehicle.  No concessions will be sold.  No smoking or alcoholic beverages will be permitted.  Bathrooms in the Playhouse main lobby will be available, with COVID sanitation and social-distancing observed.  Early arrival is recommended to allow extra time for parking.  Parking spaces will be assigned as cars arrive.  Please, no lining up to park until 90 minutes before showtime.

Tickets, starting at $35 per person, are on sale now and may be purchased by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

OCP Streaming Productions from Local Talent

Omaha, NE.– The Omaha Community Playhouse will offer free online streaming of entertainments by local composers J.Isaiah Smith, starting May 15, and Tim Vallier, starting May 22.

The music events follow popular reception of two videotaped performances from Playhouse archives. The plays by local playwrights bowed online April 17 (Eminent Domain by Laura Leininger Campbell) and April 24 (Recommended Reading for Girls by Ellen Struve).

As with the earlier plays, each music event will have a Friday evening streaming debut. All four events will remain available for streaming for an indefinite period after the initial offerings. They serve to entertain Playhouse patrons at a time when social distancing makes gathering at the theater impossible. Go to omahaplayhouse.com to access links to all four events.

What A Kid Did With A Piano
Streaming Premiere: May 15, 2020 | 7:30 p.m. (available for streaming after)

This 90-minute presentation features the original music of J. Isaiah Smith, with performances by Smith, Mackenzie Zielke, Scott T. Vandentop, Breanna Francesca Carodine, and Jordan Smith. Mark M. Kurtz accompanies on piano and Jordan Smith on drums.

J. Isaiah Smith wrote a musical titled Kings, Queens, and Unruly Peasants, which is featured in the show, along with several stand-alone songs and conceptual shows. He debuted What A Kid Did With A Piano at the Holland Center. In July 2019, Smith remounted a version of the show for one night at the Playhouse.

Smith, a popular performer in Playhouse musicals, appeared as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Lord Farquaad in Shrek and Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in the Rain.

One Way to Mars
Streaming Premiere: May 22, 2020 | 7:30 p.m. (available for streaming after)

One Way to Mars, a 75-minute musical audio drama by Tim and Mallory Vallier, follows Natalie, a neuroscientist and mother. Natalie isinvited to embark on a pioneering one-way trip to Mars. But to take part, she must leave everything on Earth behind.

The cast includes Leanne Hill Carlson as Natalie; Steve Krambeck as her husband, Clark; and Thomas Gjere as James, Natalie’s former colleague (and former lover), who invites her to Mars. Christi Leupold and Dustin Smith play multiple roles. Daena Schweiger directs.

This is the Valliers’ reimagining of the classic Scottish ballad “The Daemon Lover.” Both works share themes of romance, tragedy and adventure.

Tim Vallier wrote the music and designed sound, with book and lyrics by Mallory Vallier. The script will be onscreen as the original music plays, or you can just close your eyes and enjoy listening.

Tim Vallier has composed instrumental music for several recent Playhouse non-musicals, including Native Gardens, A Raisin in the Sun, and Sweat.

Nebraska Theatre Caravan Hiring & Auditioning for 2020 ‘A Christmas Carol’ Tour

Auditions

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan will hold auditions for youth (ages 7 – 18) and adults (ages 19 and older) for the anticipated national touring production of A Christmas Carol.  Auditions will be held Saturday, August 8, 2020 at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass Street. Please enter through the stage door on the west side of the building.  Youth auditions will be at 11am followed by adult auditions at noon.

The audition will include singing and reading from the script, followed by movement.  Applicants should bring a resume and headshot, a 16 bar cutting of a prepared song with sheet music, and be prepared to read from the script.  Applicants should also be prepared to move.  An accompanist will be provided.

Estimated contract dates for A Christmas Carol are early November through December 23, 2020.

Note:  These are touring productions and performances will be conducted across the United States.  Rehearsals will be held 9a.m.– 6p.m in Omaha.  All actors must be available to attend all rehearsals during stated times, as well as all performances.

For additional audition or production information, contact Company Manager Kate Whitecotton at kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

 

Touring Technical Positions

Salaries are paid for the duration of the contract, paid bi-weekly via direct deposit.  Per Diems are paid while on tour via direct deposit.  To apply, please e-mail resumes to Company Manager, Kate Whitecotton @ kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

TOURING ROAD MANAGER
Duties include:
– Manage company and production while on tour.
– Assist with hotel reservations prior to tour.
– Plan trip routing with bus, truck drivers, company manager.
– Manage company funds.
– Serve as liaison to theatre sponsors and hotels.
– Prepare information for company members including a detailed road schedule.
– Assist Stage Manager and Technical Director in maintaining quality of performances.
– Work with Youth Performer Supervisor on
correspondence of school work.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=47743

TOURING STAGE MANAGER
Duties Include:
– Run all rehearsals in Omaha.
– Run/Call the show on the road
– Run cues as needed, pending on crew and houses.
– Assist in loading/unloading truck and set up/strike.
– Manage actors to maintain quality of performance.
– Assist TD in assessing space requirements at each venue and adapt staging and spiking.
– Load ins and outs and maintenance of props.
– Instruct houses on sound and pit set up.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52770

TOURING SOUND TECHNICIAN
Duties Include:
– Assist loading/unloading of truck and set up/strike.
– Provide general assistance in all technical areas.
– Work with venue audio equipment and techs.
– Audio playback and wireless microphone reinforcement during performance.
– Responsible for care and upkeep of all tour sound equipment.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52772

TOURING LIGHTING DIRECTOR
Duties Include:
– Call ahead to venues for lighting specifications.
– Interpret original lighting design and adapt to each performance space.
– Oversee local crew for focus/color of pre-hung lights at each venue.
– Program and operate light board for show.
– Assist TD with other duties as directed.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52771

TOURING LEAD COSTUMER

Duties Include:
– Pulling costumes from existing wardrobe to remount show for tour.
– Assisting design staff with fittings and alterations.
– Loading/unloading of costumes.
– Maintenance, repair and laundry of all costumes and wigs.
– Set up dressing areas, dress show.
– Responsible for dressing and coordinating quick changes.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52773 

TOURING GENERAL TECHNICIANS
Duties Include:
– Assist loading/unloading of truck.
– Act as one of two ‘special effects’ operators moving Scrooge’s bed. Due to bed dimensions, height/weight restrictions may apply.
– Assist in maintaining set.
– Assist crew as needed with setting of stage.
-Assist in running crew as needed.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=48422

TOURING YOUTH PERFORMER SUPERVISOR
Duties Include:
– Oversee the youth performers during all rehearsals, off-hours (while on tour) and performances.
– Enforce all rules as determined by the company and each child’s parents.
– While on tour, work with youth performers on daily study schedules as outlined by their parents and teachers.
– Assist youth performers with lines, blocking, props, backstage movements and quick changes.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52774

Touring Musical Positions

Salaries are paid for the duration of the contract, paid bi-weekly via direct deposit.  Per Diems are paid while on tour via direct deposit.  To apply please e-mail resumes to Company Manager, Kate Whitecotton @ kwhitecotton@omahaplayhouse.com.

MUSIC DIRECTOR/PIANIST
Duties Include:
– Teach vocals to the cast.
– Accompany rehearsals while in Omaha.
– Maintain musical aspects of production.
– Oversee musicians.
– Daily vocal warm-ups.
– Music notes to company as needed.
– Other related duties as assigned.
Learn More: http://offstagejobs.com/jobdetail.php?jobID=52775

CLARINET, FLUTE, BASSOON, FRENCH HORN
Duties Include:
– Maintain integrity of performance.
– Adjust performance as instructed by the Music Director.
– Other related duties as assigned.

Pop Rockin’ Charity

From Billy McGuigan

Hi everyone. Billy McGuigan here. I hope everyone is at home social distancing and doing their part to keep our community safe.

As many of you know, I’ve played in hundreds of venues across the country and around the globe. From world famous opera houses to international cruise liners and everything in between. But no venue is more important to me than the Omaha Community Playhouse. It’s where I got my start as a performer, but more importantly it has been a staple of the Omaha community for almost 100 years. And right now—they need our help.

Like many organizations, OCP is being hit hard by COVID-19. They’ve had to cancel performances, youth outreach programs and more. The Omaha Community Playhouse is too important to our city. We have to help. So here’s my plan…

My newest show, Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra, is set to open at OCP on August 7th. Tickets just went on sale today. Visit bit.ly/OCPBillyPopRock for tickets or call the OCP Box Office at (402) 553-0800.

Once we reach 3,000 tickets sold, I will donate 100% of ticket sales back to the Omaha Community Playhouse to help them rebound from this crisis.

To help us surpass this number, I’m offering:
– Lower ticket prices (now starting at $38)
– Free upgrade to our VIP package for anyone who buys tickets before May 1. VIP package includes: Invitation to VIP pre-show sound check and a photo op on stage with me and the Pop Rock Orchestra
– Exclusive access to a Yesterday and Today presale for everyone who purchases tickets.

Plus you get to see my new show, which is going to be amazing! I really hope you’ll help me support OCP during this tough time. Tickets just went on sale today, March 31. Let’s rally to help our community, and give ourselves something to look forward to once all this social distancing is over!

I can’t wait to see you all there! -Billy McGuigan

P.S. Looking for more ways to help OCP during COVID-19? Visit bit.ly/HelpOCP

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

Something More Than Love

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Girl (Melissa King) encourages Guy (Jay Hanson) to sing in “Once” at Omaha Community Playhouse.

Girl finds Guy singing on the street and is impressed with his talent.  An instant friendship blossoms between them and Girl decides to help Guy record a demo and go to New York to fulfill his potential and possibly to avoid the love that is beginning to bloom between them.  This is Once with book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.  It is based off the film of the same name and is playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This is definitely an original musical.  It’s a shockingly simple tale that does have a bit of a twist on the usual love story.  There’s no sense of history to the two unnamed characters.  It’s as if the play knows it’s a play and the existence of these 2 people is limited solely to the duration of the show.  The music is the real centerpiece of the show as the songs often tell the story and reveal the emotions of the characters in lieu of dialogue which is surprisingly scant.  The music also has a power of its own as it brings the characters in this show closer together and breaks down barriers between them.  I thought not naming the two leads was a clever touch as it can either transmit a universal message or simply allow the audience to place himself or herself in the roles.

Kimberly Faith Hickman’s directing is quite lovely.  There’s a purity to the staging as it takes place in a bare bones stage designed by Jim Othuse.  It’s literally bare, dilapidated walls with a window looking out at a building.  Hickman makes good use of the performance space, well placing the actors so all can be seen even when the focus is on particular characters.  I also liked how she used placement to further the story.  For example, at one point when a wedge is driven between the two leads, they are literally separated as they take positions on opposite sides of the stage with the rest of the cast standing between them.  I also thought she charmed some sweet performances out of her leads and strong supporting performances from the ensemble.

The cast for this show is unique as they are also the orchestra.  This leads to an interesting casting challenge as one needs to find performers who can act, sing and play musical instruments.  That challenge is met fairly well in this production.  Under Jim Boggess’ direction, the orchestra provides a very moving score which is absolutely critical for this show as nearly every song carries a somber, emotional tone that needs to grab the viewer by the throat.  Boggess also has a very fine cameo performance as Eamo who runs the local recording studio.  Other strong supporting performances come from Joey Hartshorn, who has the most drawn out wishing of good luck imaginable in “Baruska’s Story”, and Thomas Gjere as an overly serious bank manager who secretly wishes to be a singer and gets his chance in the terrifically awful “Abandoned in Bandon”.

Melissa King is truly a triple threat in this show.  Her piano playing is heavenly.  Her alto is superb.  Her acting is spot on.  Heck, she even throws in a little impressive hoofing in “Ej Pada Pada”.  King’s performance as the serious Czech (because Czechs are always serious) Girl is simply a triumph and will assuredly make her a contender for some awards.  She’s got a vital spark of humor and playfulness about her as well as a very nurturing nature as she encourages Guy’s music.  This is a character who understands the meaning of sacrifice as she’s willing to give up a blossoming love with Guy to repair her own fractured family unit.  King will also melt the coldest of hearts with her singing, especially with her rendering of “Falling Slowly” and “The Hill”.

Jay Hanson acquits himself rather admirably in the role of Guy.  For a performer with no prior stage credits, Hanson has some excellent instincts.  He reacts very well and knows how to be in the moment.  Musically, he’s unbeatable.  Hanson is a top flight guitar player and singer who effortlessly picks apart the emotional beats of a song.  Whether he’s singing about a failed relationship in “Leave”, providing a bit of humor in “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy” or just dazzling you with “Gold” and “Sleeping”, Hanson provides an Epicurean delight for the ears.

Hanson did need to tighten his cues up and rushed his dialogue on some occasions.  You also felt his grip on the role tightening over the course of the play and he was finding some real gems in the words by the end.

Jim Othuse’s lights were simple, but effective as he used a spotlight to highlight the featured characters of a scene.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes suited the characters from the inexpensive clothing of most of the poorer characters to the snazzy suit of the well to do bank manager.  Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco provide some nice ambient sounds.  My personal favorite was a moment when Guy and Girl are at the docks and you hear the rolling waves and the call of seagulls.

Ultimately this is a story about pure love.  The love that is principle over passion.  The love that is unbreakable and forever.  The love that can say, “I let you go.”

Once plays at Omaha Community Playhouse through March 22.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $24 and can be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at 402-553-0800 or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com.  Due to the use of strong language, parental discretion is advised.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

‘Once’ Set to Open at Omaha Community Playhouse

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Melissa King and Jay Hanson star as Girl and Guy in “Once”

Omaha, Neb.–Once will open Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre from Feb. 28 through March 22. Performances will be held Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $24 for adults and $18 for students, with ticket prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, located at 6915 Cass Street, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

SHOW SYNOPSIS

Winner of eight Tony Awards® and based on the Oscar®-winning film, Once is the achingly beautiful tale of unexpected love between Guy, an Irish musician, and Girl, a Czech immigrant. The uplifting score—featuring the Academy Award®-winning single, “Falling Slowly,”—is performed entirely on stage, with the actors doubling as orchestra musicians. Equal parts touching and inspiring, Once reminds us of music’s unique ability to forge deep, unspoken connections in our lives.

Directed by:  Kimberly Faith Hickman

Cast

Nathaniel Belshan as Emcee

Jonathan Berger as Andrej

Jim Boggess as Eamon

Thomas Gjere as Bank Manager

Jay Hanson as Guy

Joey Hartshorn as Baruska

Ejanae Hume as Reza

Sean Johnson as Billy

Don Keelan-White as D.A.

Melissa King as Girl

Hannah McQuay-Ramsgard as Ex-Girlfriend

Jesse White as Svec

Anina Frey, Holly Hirsch and Brinlee Roeder as Ivonka

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography

 

 

Turf War

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From left to right: Giovanni Quezada, Alyssa Gonzalez, Dennis Collins and Mary Kelly

A property line dispute between an older white couple and a young Hispanic couple gets blown grossly out of proportion.  The feud between the neighbors unleashes a barrage of pent up frustrations, perceptions, and biases in Native Gardens by Karen Zacarias which is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Zacarias has written what I shall dub an intellectual comedy.  It’s not only funny, but it gives the viewer quite a bit of food for thought.  It’s certainly a play for the current political climate and makes reference to walls and illegal immigration.  But it also focuses on negative isms like racism and ageism as well as white privilege, perception and entitlement.  However, it often does this by turning a lot of these negative themes on their heads as it is the Hispanic couple operating from a position of power in this show.

I was especially impressed as to how the two couples are presented as mirror images of each other.  Given the similarities in terms of personality, desires and even who wears the pants in the two units, the couples should get along famously.  However, their world views are what ultimately bring them into conflict.  This makes for a very interesting story as both sides have valid viewpoints for their skirmish.

Ablan Roblin supplies a commendable piece of direction for this comedy.  The staging is admirable and reflects the mirror image of the couples with the rather luxurious home of the Butleys and the somewhat ramshackle house (it was derelict for years) of the Del Valles.  He keeps the pace brisk and animated with his actors constantly moving about which was actually a bit of a feat due to the actors having to be confined to their yards.  He’s coached his thespians to effective and potent performances and knows how to hit the funny even when it touches upon sensitive subject matter.

It was truly a treat to watch the performance of Giovanni Quezada who makes quite the splash with his Playhouse debut.  Quezada is one of the most naturalistic actors I’ve ever seen.  So credible and believable.  And his gestures are fluid and effortless.  He brings a real intelligence to his portrayal of Pablo Del Valle.  He’s young and hungry and determined to be the best lawyer possible.  But his confidence can sometimes border on arrogance and he shows a bit of immaturity by focusing on what’s legal instead of what’s fair.

Mary Kelly’s take on Virginia Butley can best be described as a rock-hard center covered in a sweet candy shell.  She’s kind and neighborly, but not someone you’d want to cross as she’s tough as nails, having been a success as a defense contractor during a time when women in that position were few.  She’s considerably more level headed than her husband and certainly the dominant spouse as she leads the charge against the Del Valles when their garden is threatened.

Dennis Collins is a scream as Frank Butley.  Frank is definitely the most childish of the four adults.  All he cares about is his yard and garden and obsesses about winning a gardening competition and finally besting a perpetual rival.  Collins’ phrasing is so strong and allows him to maximize his punchlines.  His whining and tantrums are truly a joy to watch and his meek delivery of “Why are you yelling at me?” managed to get a loud, hearty guffaw out of a chuckler like me.

Alyssa Isabel Gonzalez is very solid in the role of Tania Del Valle.  Tania is the most mature of the adults as she initially wants to handle the property line dispute diplomatically, but even she has her foibles with her snooty views on native gardens and can be quite immature when she allows her emotions to get the better of her.  Gonzalez’s Tania is also the rock in her relationship as she comes from a poor family which helped her to be strong as she is a step away from earning her PhD and has taught her husband not to run away from a fight. I did think Gonzalez could play with her words a bit more as her delivery seemed a touch too controlled and cadenced at some points.

Jim Othuse’s set was one of my favorites with the elegant home and lovingly maintained yard of the Butleys juxtaposed with the grassless lawn and worn-down house of the Del Valles though they do have a mighty oak tree.  I liked Aja Jackson’s use of shadows and the glow of rear porch lights to emphasize the nighttime scenes.  Jenn Sheshko’s costumes well suit the characters especially with the elegant suits for Pablo and the frumpy polos and shorts for Frank.  John Gibilisco’s sounds enhance the neighborhood whether it be the song of birds or the roar of chainsaws.  Timothy Vallier has composed a nice score for the show and I very much enjoyed the opening theme with its driving bass and backbeat of bongos.

There were some minor blips in the preview night performance with some line bobbles, stepping on cues and lack of projection at some moments.  That being said, with the combination of a well-thought out script and humorous, skilled storytelling from the actors, Native Gardens can teach us all a lesson that a lot of difficulties can be solved when people talk to each other instead of at each other.

Native Gardens plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through March 15.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $36 ($18 for students) and vary by performance. Tickets can be obtained at www.omahaplayhouse.com, calling 402-553-0800, or visiting the box office. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography