Have Yourself a Plaidful Little Christmas

A musical group returns to life. . .again. . . to spread some holiday cheer.  This is Plaid Tidings by Stuart Ross and is currently playing at the PART Theatre.

This show is less musical and more musical revue as the group, Forever Plaid, spend the evening entertaining the audience (sometimes even involving the audience) with a series of Christmas songs, standards, and pop tunes.  The revue is tied together by the story that Forever Plaid was a musical group that died en route to their big break.  They got to come back once to do the show they never got to do and now have mysteriously returned again for a new mission:  spreading the joy of Christmas.

Since this show doesn’t have the traditional narrative track, there isn’t much acting in the sense of storytelling though those playing Forever Plaid are truly characters with delightful idiosyncrasies and quirks.  Smooth, this group is not.  Forever Plaid definitely has a raw talent musically, but they lack polish which leads to much of the show’s humor.  But this show also has some deeply sensitive, bittersweet, and sad moments that will give your heartstrings a little tug.

Gordon Cantiello provides admirable direction with the piece.  He has staged the production almost as a tiny club or lounge performance and well utilizes the theatre space as Forever Plaid engages with the audience and sings throughout the performance area.  He well defines each member of the group as each person has a distinct and unique personality and history.  Cantiello has also created some of the most amusing choreography I have ever seen with some of the dance moves of Forever Plaid.

The key to this show is casting as those playing Forever Plaid need a vibrant chemistry plus be able to powerfully play off each other along with performing well musically.  Well, this cast certainly has that in spades as I genuinely believed this group had been together for years due to how well they bantered with each other.

In a group of sad sacks, Justin Dehmer’s Smudge was definitely the saddest sack of all.  Projecting the image of a high-strung nerd with his taped-up glasses and complaints about his ulcer.  Dehmer has good vocal range and usually sang the deeper parts of the harmony on the night’s many numbers.  Dehmer also has the acting moment of the night as his Smudge shares the tearjerking story of why Christmas was his favorite time of the year.  The centerpiece of his story is his using the emotion of it to turn one of the most jubilant Christmas songs, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, into a moving heartbreaker.

Jon Hickerson’s Frankie struck me as the de facto leader of the group as he was the one pushing the team to keep focus on their mission.  He has an excellent 2nd tenor voice and a good grip on humor as he had the most amusing monologue of the night with his psychological and emotional observations on Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.  Hickerson also led the night’s most entertaining number, “Matilda”.

Roger Bunnell’s Jinx just might have the potential to be the breakout member of Forever Plaid.  Jinx is the shyest member of the group with a propensity for nose bleeds, but once he gets into the music, his is a rare talent.  Bunnell’s singing voice evokes images of Gene Pitney in natural setting and range, Michael Crawford in timbre, and Lou Christie for sheer falsetto power.  Some of his standout moments are his solo scene when he busts out “Besame Mucho” and “Kiss of Fire” and shows some Gene Kellyish dancing skill when he hoofs it up with “Singin’ in the Snow”.

Josh Dewberry’s Sparky is a human joke machine.  Dewberry has a superior sense of comedic timing and knows how to be physical with his comedy, especially with his rendition of “Fever”.  His lovely tenor was also featured well in “We Wish You a Perry Christmas” which was a segue from the story Sparky shared about the night Forever Plaid met Perry Como.  He does need to be careful with his diction on that lengthy story as it got a bit mushy at some points.

Peggy Holloway’s musical direction is top of line and she does excellent song interpretation on the piano and is ably supported by Bud Phillips on bass.  Mary Mullen Ferzely and Rob Lohman did a wonderful job decorating the theatre and making it feel like the perfect setting for a festive holiday show.  Jackson Hatcher’s sound effects were spot on, especially his ominous claps of thunder.  Josh Dewberry pulled double duty with a nifty bit of lighting design.  Lee Meyer and Gentleman’s Choice teamed up to properly costume Forever Plaid with tastefully gaudy plaid tuxedos and Comoish Christmas sweaters.

If you are a fan of standards and pop tunes, you are going to enjoy this show.  And if you’re a fan of Christmas songs (and I know I am) you are REALLY going to enjoy this show.  Spend a bit of the Yuletide season with Forever Plaid.

Plaid Tidings runs at the PART Theatre through Dec 15.  Showtimes are 7pm Thurs-Sat and 2pm Sat-Sun.  Tickets cost $35 ($30 for seniors and $25 for students).  For ticket information, contact 402-706-0778.  PART Theatre is located inside Crossroads Mall at 7400 Dodge St in Omaha, NE.

Join ‘A Chorus Line’

BLUEBARN THEATRE announces auditions for 

A Chorus Line    

Sunday, January 5th from 3pm-6pm

& Monday, January 6th from 6-9pm

Auditions will be held at the theatre: 1106 S. 10th St Omaha, NE 

The BLUEBARN will hold auditions for A Chorus Line in two sessions. Participants are asked to choose either the Sunday or Monday session and be available for the entire three-hour block.

Auditions will consist of cold readings, singing and dancing.

Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Formal dance training not specifically required, but confidence in learning and executing a variety of dance styles, along with visible fluidity of movement, is necessary.

Please prepare 16 to 32 bars of music (or about 1 minute of singing) that showcases your vocal and storytelling abilities. Given the deeply personal and biographical content of A Chorus Line, we are specifically looking for physical and emotional connection to your material. Please do not choose a song from A Chorus Line. An accompanist will be provided. Please bring printed sheet music, double-sided, and in a three-ring binder. If your audition cut is two pages, single-sided and side-by-side in a three-ring binder is preferred.

Actors of all ethnicities and gender identities over the age of 16 are encouraged to audition. Please contact Barry, at bcarman@bluebarn.org, to sign up for a session.

A Chorus Line runs May 14th through June 14th, 2020. Rehearsals begin April 13th.

For a casting breakdown please visit us at www.bluebarn.org/auditions.

THE CUT DANCERS (18-40) All Genders & Ethnicities.  Perform entire opening sequence until cut. Dance in “At The Ballet” (looking for 2 women who can dance on point). Some may be asked to understudy. Entire ensemble will be off stage singers throughout the show.

Yesterday and Today. . .Forever

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It’s that time of year when Omaha’s greatest musical act teams up with history’s greatest band.  Yes, indeed, it’s Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience and it has returned for its twelfth season at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

It’s amazing the massive effects one small change can have on something.  After twelve years, Billy McGuigan had felt the band had become a little too complacent with the show and were only playing their favorite requests and veering away from the original spirit of the production.  Lead guitarist Jay Hanson then hit upon an idea that would completely reinvent the show.

Why didn’t they just pick the songs live on stage and then play them?

As hard as it is to believe, that idea has evolved Omaha’s premier holiday tradition into something even greater.

The McGuigans (Billy, Ryan, and Matthew) and their band were energized in a way I’d never seen before due to the element of danger in walking this musical tightrope. Would they be up to the challenge of playing any Beatles song suggested?

The answer was a most emphatic YES!!!

I had wondered how well this new format would work as there are three kinds of Beatles fans.  You’ll have your casual fan who would know their biggest hits like “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude”; your more knowledgeable fan who will know their more successful works like “Eight Days a Week” and “We Can Work it Out”; and finally the hardcore megafans who have the library imprinted on their minds and want to hear “Dear Prudence” and “I’m Only Sleeping”.

Would there be enough variety to satisfy these three groups?

Again, a most emphatic YES as the night was filled with a plethora of famed hits and a few obscure delights that were picked right on stage or flashed directly onto monitors behind the band.

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Billy McGuigan

Billy McGuigan once again ruled the night with a supercharged performance.  Billy seemed imbued with an almost unearthly energy and that’s saying something for this indefatigable engine of talent.  Billy and his devastating tenor ripped through rockers such as “Roll Over Beethoven” and “The Night Before”, sweetly sang “Let it Be”, and was melancholically vibrant with “Things We Said Today”.

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Ryan McGuigan

Ryan McGuigan got to be the most versatile performer of the night as he and his other worldly raw tenor voice went through a mini-history of the Beatles library as he belted out classics like “Ticket to Ride”, nailed the 50+ year masterpiece that is “A Day in the Life”, and visited the Beatles’ flower power phase with “All You Need is Love”.

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Matthew McGuigan

Matthew McGuigan supported the numbers with his pluperfect bass playing and had his own impressive run when he came out roaring on “Revolution”, dominated the stage with “Hey Bulldog”, and revved up the crowd with a particularly peppy “Paperback Writer”.

The McGuigans were once more aided by their incredibly talented band who each got their moments in the spotlight.  Jay Hanson had the audience riveted with his phenomenal guitar work and was in fine voice on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the obscure gem, “For You Blue”.  Rich Miller was the rock with his flawless rhythm on the drums and on a simple box during a segment where the band performed Beatles songs acoustically.  He also shone in a solo as his strong baritone entertained the crowd with “Yellow Submarine”.  Tara Vaughan masterfully played the keyboards as only she can and dazzled with a musical solo mimicking the piccolo trumpet part in “Penny Lane” and she belted out “Oh Darling!” with an alto that would have had Paul McCartney’s jaw dropping.

I’d also like to salute the guitar genius of Max Meyer as he warmed up the crowd with soft instrumental versions of the Beatles’ songs.  Eleven year old Ciaran McGuigan also showed he will be more than capable of leading the next generation of this show as he showed some potent skill with his own guitar playing on instrumental versions of “Blackbird” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” as well as supporting his dad, Billy, with pitch perfect playing on “Yesterday”.

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The present and future of Yesterday and Today

It was obvious that the crowd hungered for more as they lingered about after an encore hoping that the band would return to grace us with another tune or twenty, but they and you can certainly get another dose of the one of a kind talent of this group as the show will run through New Year’s Eve.  But I’d get tickets mighty quick if I were you as the sellouts have already started.

It’s hard to believe that Yesterday and Today has been going strong for twelve years and continues to strengthen with each passing year.  With the talent of the McGuigans and their all-star band and the blossoming skill of the next generation, we may very well see Yesterday and Today. ..forever.

Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience plays at the Omaha Playhouse through Dec 31.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets begin at $40 and can be obtained at www.omahaplayhouse.com, calling 402-553-0800, or visiting the box office.  On New Year’s Eve, a double performance will be held with shows at 7pm and 10pm.  Tickets for these shows will be $60 for the 7pm show and $80 for the 10pm show.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

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Yesterday and Today. . .Forever

Blue Barn Reinvents a Holiday Classic

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents:

The Regional Premiere of

A Very Die Hard Christmas

By Jeff Schell and the Habit

November 29th -December 22nd, 2019

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm

Wednesday 12/11 & 12/18 at 7:30pm

Sundays: 12/1 at 6pm| 12/8 at 2pm & 6pm | 12/22 at 2pm

Come out to the coast. We’ll have a few laughs.

About the play:  Yippee-Ki-Yay! An outrageous take on the Most. Beloved. Christmas Movie. Of. All Time, we cordially invite you to our company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza! All NYPD Blue’s John McClane wants is to come to the coast, get together with his estranged wife, and have some laughs. But when a team of well-choreographed, vaguely European terrorists start taking hostages as part of their nefarious plot to…who cares! John has to cowboy up! Starring the dead guy from The Sixth Sense, the cop outside with Twinkies, big big hair, cocaine, indoor smoking, Professor Snape, and 40 floors of sheer adventure!

About the production: A Very Die Hard Christmas features Hughston Walkinshaw, Katie Becker-Colón, Theresa Sindelar, Josh Peyton, Jonathan Purcell, Diane Watson, Raydell Cordell III, Dave Wingert, Nicole Callahan, Todd Brooks, Kerron Stark, Don Harris, Therese Rennels, Mike Markey, and Wai Yim. Directed by Susan Clement-Toberer. Dramaturgy by Barry Carman. Sound Design by Bill Kirby. Properties by Amy Reiner. Set Design by Bob Donlan. Lighting Design by Josh Mullady. Costume Design by Jenny Pool. Choreography by Melanie Walters. Fight Direction by Ezra Colón

This production is sponsored in part by Omaha Steaks

Tickets: General Admission ($35) and Senior ($30) tickets are available at bluebarn.org. Educator, Military, and BLUCrew tickets are available through the box office (402) 345-1576.

Location:  1106 S 10th St in Omaha, NE

OCP Prepares to Ring in the Holidays with ‘A Christmas Carol’

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Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse production of A Christmas Carol will open Friday, November 15, 2019.  The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at OCP from Nov 15 through Dec 23.  Performances will be held Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2pm and 6:30pm, Wednesdays beginning in December at 7pm and Monday, Dec 23 at 7:30pm.  There will be no performance on Thanksgiving Day (Nov 28).

Tickets are on sale now starting at $40 for adults and $26 for students with ticket prices varying by performance.  Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office located at 6915 Cass St, by phone at 402-553-0800 or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com.

Synopsis

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 of the power of redemption and the generosity that lies at the heart of the Christmas holiday.

Directed by:  Kimberly Faith Hickman and Ablan Roblin

Cast

Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge

Steve Krambeck as Bob Cratchit

Brinlee Roeder as Tiny Tim

Joshua “Makana” Yamasaki-Crail as Fred

Lori Lynn Ahrends as Ghost of Christmas Past

Chris Berger as Ghost of Christmas Present

Don Keelan-White as Jacob Marley

Christina Rohling as Mrs. Cratchit

Plus an ensemble featuring Mark Haufle, Carrie Trecek, Rachel Fox, Allison Helligso, Jake Parker, Brandon Fisher, Dale Hartshorn, Almeda Lopez, Roz Parr, Jen Dillon, Enrique Madera, Isabelle Rangel, Elliot Kerkhofs, Will Seim, Jane Rohling, Dominic Torres, Pieper Roeder, Anna Krambeck, Meghan Essner, Amina Teri, Cal Hernandez, Judson Cloudt, Obi Rangel, Benjamin Rohling, Emma Johnson, Ella Walker, Atticus Waler, Riya Kumar, Lily Sanow, and Madison White

Photo courtesy of Robertson Photography

It’s Almost Time for Omaha’s Premier Holiday Tradition: Yesterday and Today

“If you’re not having fun, it’s your own fault.”–Billy McGuigan

The holidays will soon be upon us which means it’s nearly time for one of Omaha’s great traditions as Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience is poised to begin its twelfth year at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Spearheaded by the McGuigans (Billy, Ryan, and Matthew) and their all-star band, Yesterday and Today is a joyful, sometimes raucous, romp down memory lane as these multi-talented musicians pay tribute to the Beatles with a series of high energy concerts guaranteed to have you clapping, snapping, sighing, screaming, and singing along before the night is through.

What is this show?

Anything you want it to be.

This is like no concert you’ve ever attended because the set list will be chosen by you from start to finish.  No two shows will ever be the same.

Feel like some classic Beatlemania?  They can do that.  Do you want to hear “Yesterday”?  They can do that, too.  Care to challenge them with an obscure number like “Only a Northern Song”?  Consider that challenge accepted.  They know them all.

Yesterday and Today runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse from Nov 22-Dec 31.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sat and 2pm on Sundays.  Tickets cost $40 and can be obtained at http://www.omahaplayhouse.com or visiting the Box Office located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE or calling 402-553-0800.  On December 31, 2019, join the band as they ring in the New Year with performances at 7pm and 10pm.  Cake and punch are served before each of these two performances with a champagne toast at midnight.  Tickets for the 7pm show are $60 and $80 for the 10pm show.

See it once.  See it twice.  Heck, see the whole run.  You’re in for a “Magical Mystery Tour” because “It’s All Too Much” when the McGuigans and their band hit the stage and blow the roof off.

 

Join the “Native Gardens” Party

Native Gardens
Written by Karen Zacarías

LocationOmaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)

Those auditioning should enter through the west “Stage Door” entrance and proceed to the check-in table downstairs.

Show Dates: Feb. 14 – March 15, 2020 | Howard Drew Theatre

Director: Ablan Roblin

Rehearsals: Begin approximately early January 2020

Description:
When Pablo and Tania purchase a new home in a well-to-do white neighborhood, the couple next door initially offer a friendly welcome. But when a laughable property line disagreement dissolves into an all-out turf war, the dirt begins to fly. Packed with witty quips—and plenty of back-and-forth mudslinging—Native Gardens is a side-splitting reminder that, despite our differences, we all share a much larger common ground.
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Roles available:
Tania Del Valle 25-35
Latina. A pregnant doctoral candidate who is determined, bright, energetic, and naturally optimistic. Wants to coexist with the neighbors but she is fiercely protective of her ideas and values.
Ethnicity: Latino / Hispanic

Pablo Del Valle 25-35
Latino. An ambitious and successful attorney who is smart, argumentative, generally tolerant, and willing to overlook a lot until he is pushed over the edge.
Ethnicity: Latino / Hispanic

Virginia Butley 55-65
Caucasian. The breadwinner. Friendly and civil. Smiles a lot, but her opinions are well ingrained and she will fight ruthlessly to protect her turf.
Ethnicity: Caucasian / European Descent

Frank Butley 55-70
Caucasian. A gentle and sensitive soul from New England who has devoted himself to his pristine English garden in his retirement. Wants to get along with the neighbors but cannot embrace a native garden next door. Becomes indignant easily.
Ethnicity: Caucasian / European Descent
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Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script provided at auditions.

All contact information, personal schedules, and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form should be brought to the theatre.

To expedite the check-in process – please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.