She Rocks! She Rocks, Indeed!!

World, Tara Vaughan has arrived and she is tearing it up at the Omaha Community Playhouse in her new show, Tara Vaughan’s She Rocks.

Produced under the auspices of Rave On Productions, Tara Vaughan’s She Rocks is a killer revue focusing on the legendary female artists and/or songwriters of the 60s-80s with a splash of the 90s and today thrown in for good measure.  In a thrilling night of rock and roll suitable for people of all ages and presenting artists of all eras, you’ll hear numbers from Linda Ronstadt, Heart, The Go-Gos, Fleetwood Mac, Sandie Shaw, Amy Winehouse, Sheryl Crow, and even an original tune written by Ms Vaughan herself.

Long known as a talented singer/songwriter (and the keyboardist & vocalist for the Rave On Productions), Ms Vaughan’s talent explodes in a stunning tour de force performance for this revue.  Tara Vaughan does not play music. . .she exudes it.  It’s as if the notes just come from the very depths of her soul and she then shares it with the audience with every fiber of her being and her incredible alto voice.

Kicking it off with the sweet, but melancholic “When Will I Be Loved?” by Linda Ronstadt, Ms Vaughan proceeded to demonstrate an unmatched versatility with an extremely diverse set that included the Sandie Shaw version of “Always Something There to Remind Me”, Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”, Heart’s “Barracuda”, and Blondie’s “Call Me”.  But she could also slow it down with sensitive and moving songs such as a little Cass Elliot in “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”, and Fifth Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues”.  However, I thought two of her best numbers in a night full of great ones were her take on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” (a personal favorite song of mine) and her own original number written “in a similar vein of “You’re So Vain’”, “Blame it On My Youth”.

In between numbers, Ms Vaughan shared stories with the audience about the creation of the show, memories of her life, and gentle ribbing of her mother with a soft-spoken, almost shy stage presence that hooked the audience in from the first word.

The arrangement of the numbers gave the night’s music a familiar, but fresh feel and Ms Vaughan was epically supported by a powerful band which included Ryan McGuigan on keyboards, percussion, and backing vocals; Matthew McGuigan on bass and backing vocals (and a solo on The Supremes’ “Can’t Hurry Love”); Jess Errett on electric acoustic guitar and backing vocals (plus a solo with The Go-Gos “Head Over Heels”); Max Meyer, who provided some stellar solos on lead guitar, and Adam Stoltenberg on drums.  The night even included a guest appearance from Billy McGuigan who teamed up with Ms Vaughan to belt out Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.

This is just a taste of what those of you lucky enough to have tickets to tonight’s sold out performance have in store for you.  And if you don’t have a ticket, don’t worry.  Tara Vaughan and She Rocks will return to the Omaha Community Playhouse in late June 2019 for a three week engagement.  Tickets go on sale November 20.  I promise you an experience you won’t forget and you will find that Tara Vaughan most.  Definitely.  Rocks!!!

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Macca’s Genius Keeps on Rollin’ in Eclectic “Egypt Station”

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Back in 1989, Paul McCartney’s then manager suggested that he consider calling it a career after the release of Flowers in the Dirt as McCartney had just turned 50, supposedly ancient for a rocker.  Well, it’s 2018.  Sir Paul is 76.  And he’s still just as vital and talented as he was back in 1989.  No, no.  Wait a minute.  As he was back in the heyday of the Beatles.  And that gift for melody and unbridled, indefatigable energy is on proud display in Egypt Station, his 18th solo album (25th post-Beatles album).

Let’s be honest.  McCartney really doesn’t need to do it anymore.  His reputation and legacy are set in diamond.  He certainly doesn’t need the money.  But, like all artists, he still needs to create and he’s as dedicated to his craft now as he was at the beginning.  The result is an album which I personally consider to be one of his absolute best as it combines the intelligence, weightiness, and depth of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and merges it with the classic Macca formula.

Egypt Station is really a musical travelogue as McCartney has written a set of songs that takes us on a trip through his entire career.  You’ll get Beatleslike rockers such as the nice little foot-stomper, “Come On to You” and the frothy, but fun, “Ceasar Rock”.  You’ll even get a throwback to Abbey Road with the suite number of “Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link”.  Journey through the era of Wings with the 70s style “Who Cares” and “Despite Repeated Warnings” which is a Band on the Run for today’s political climate.

Paul even takes a jaunt through some of his less than successful records best exemplified with “Back in Brazil” and “Nothing for Free” where he again dabbles in electronica.  While the former is a meh song, the latter is an excellent electronica rocker to close the album.

However, the best songs are the ones where Paul displays raw vulnerability and intelligence.  “I Don’t Know” is an instant classic and shows McCartney at his rawest and most honest.  “Happy With You” is a sweet love song to his wife, Nancy Shevell and “People Want Peace” is a brilliantly constructed anthem.

True, age shows a bit more in his voice as it cracks and creaks, but I think it actually adds potent character to his songs, especially to the softer, more powerful numbers.  But that unmatchable gift of melody is still untouched and functioning at peak capacity.

Take a ride on Egypt Station.  It’s one of the best works from an artist who’s still churning out pleasurable and exciting music after 55 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Rock Twist and Shout

It’s rock numbers done with a big band flair.  It’s big band numbers done rock style.  It’s Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist and it is rocking out at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

If there is anyone out there who harbors any doubts about the talent of Billy McGuigan, they will surely be dispelled after watching this show.  Putting it simply, this man is a musical and performing savant.  There isn’t a genre of music he can’t play.  He has stage presence for which directors would kill.  He has a charming affability which makes you feel like an old friend spending an evening at his house.

Even I, who has had the pleasure of listening to Billy’s shows pretty regularly over the past 15 years, was completely blown away by this production.  It has something for everyone.  Do you like rock?  Well, you’ll get to hear the Beatles, the Who, the Beach Boys, Elvis, and Billy Joel.  Is adult contemporary/jazz your bag?  You’ll hear some Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr.  And each song has a unique arrangement that will make it seem like you’re hearing it for the first time all over again.

From the opening number of Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant”, Billy had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.  His pure tenor soared throughout the night as he sang renditions of “Yesterday”, “Luck be a Lady”, “God Only Knows”, “Time Won’t Let Me”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Pinball Wizard” and a cover of “Here, There, and Everywhere” supported only by bass and percussion that was so moving that I started to tear up a bit.

Billy was just as adept keeping the audience’s attention between numbers with a low key storytelling style as he shared stories behind the numbers, regaled us with some humorous anecdotes, and told a couple of tender tales about his career and life.

Every good front man needs an excellent band and McGuigan’s band brought it and then some.  Steve Gomez’s bass hummed all night long and his musical direction was so precise and on target.  Andrew Janak stunned on the tenor saxophone and I tip my hat to him for arranging all of these sensational numbers.  Max Meyer’s lead guitar work was the feat of a prodigy.  Tomm Roland’s drum work never missed a beat.  Omaha legend, Doyle Tipler, never fell flat with his trumpeting.  Patrick Brown shined on the alto sax and Patrick Peters’ trombone playing couldn’t have been any tighter.  Tara Vaughan’s piano playing is always a treat for the ears and her rich alto got its own moment to shine with a medley of “Downtown” and “To Sir, With Love”.  Backup vocals were supplied by the multitalented trio of Matthew and Ryan McGuigan and Jessica Errett who dazzled in their own featured songs, “634-5789” and “We’re Going to a Go-Go”.  And I’d like to give special notice to Steve Wheeldon whose lighting was so atmospheric and enhanced every song.

To be frank, when I first heard about Billy’s new show I thought he had taken on a real challenge for himself by putting new twists on old classics.  But he proved why he is Omaha’s premiere entertainer with this brand new show that will undoubtedly be another roaring success.  My only disappointment was that there wasn’t another hour to this show.  Or two.  Perhaps five.  Well, you get the idea.  This show only has a limited run, so get your tickets fast and prepare yourselves for an amazing time.

Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist plays at the Omaha Playhouse from July 12-23.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $40 or $35 for groups of 12 or more.  For tickets, contact the box office at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

OCP Announces Summer Show

Omaha Community Playhouse Announces Summer Show
Girls Like Us: The Music of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell

June 15 – 25, 2017

Omaha, Neb.— The Omaha Community Playhouse will present Girls Like Us: The Music of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell as its summer show June 15 – 25, 2017 in the Howard Drew Theatre. Girls Like Us is inspired by the book of the same name by Sheila Weller and features performers Laura Freeman, Beckie Menzie and Marianne Murphy Orland.  Tickets for Girls Like Us go on sale to the public Tuesday, March 7 at 10 a.m. through the OCP box office.

The trio of performers banded together in 2010 for a humorous look at Broadway and roles they were never destined to play (Miss Cast) and found that not only did their voices blend but so did their senses of humor. Starting with the laughs and the harmonies, the ladies discovered that creating arrangements unique to them was something they all enjoyed. After reading Weller’s book Girls Like Us and discussing how Carly Simon, Carole King and Joni Mitchell had made such a huge impact on them and their artistry, Girls Like Us: The Music of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell was born.

The three women blend their unique performing styles into a delightful evening dedicated to showcasing the music and stories of three singers who dared to break tradition and become what none had been before them – female confessors in song, rock superstars and adventurers of heart and soul. Songs include: “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Natural Woman,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “You’re So Vain” and more.

Production:      Girls Like Us:The Music of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell

Show dates:     June 15 – 25, 2017; Thursday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Tickets:            At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $40. Tickets are $32 for current Omaha Community Playhouse subscribers and for groups of 12 or more.

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

Billy’s Got a Brand New Show!!

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Omaha Community Playhouse Summer Show
Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist On Sale April 14

 

Omaha, Neb.— The Omaha Community Playhouse will present the world premiere of Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist July 12 – 23, 2017 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Tickets for Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist go on sale to the public Friday, April 14 at 10 a.m. through the OCP box office.

Omaha favorite, Billy McGuigan, returns to the Omaha Community Playhouse stage with this new show. He is joined by the Omaha-based Steve Gomez Band to present rock hits with a big band sound and big band standards with a rock and roll sound.

Billy McGuigan as you’ve never seen him before. Classic rock tunes with a big band twist; big band standards with a rock and roll twist. Backed by a full horn section and an all-star lineup of Omaha’s finest musicians, Billy’s brand new show will have Playhouse audiences rocking like never before. Frank Sinatra? Check. The Beatles? Check. Harry Connick, Jr? Check. Billy Joel? Check! Fresh re-arrangements of rock and jazz standards performed as only Billy can. It’s rock with a twist.

Production:      Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist

Show dates:     July 12 – 23, 2017; Wednesdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m.

Tickets:            At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $40. Tickets are $35 for groups of 12 or more.

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

OCP Presents ‘Rock of Ages’

Omaha, Neb. – Rock of Ages, running March 3 – April 2, 2017 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse, is set in L.A.’s infamous Sunset Strip in 1987. It tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in L.A. to chase their dreams of making it big and falling in love. This jukebox musical was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It uses the hits of the 1980s to tell its story, including “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Dead or Alive,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Here I Go Again,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and many more. Rock of Ages takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos and sporting even bigger hair! Contains mischievous behavior, suggestive and adult dialogue and comedic reference to drug usage.

OCP encourages patrons to participate in pre-show activities to enhance the theatre-going experience for patrons. Patrons are encouraged to dress up in their ‘80s best when they attend this production. There will be a photo area in OCP’s Owen Lobby where patrons can take photos with ‘80s props, play a round of PAC-MAN at a display in the lobby and peruse a display case of the most memorable toys from the ‘80s.

OCP is offering a “Ladies of the ‘80s” dance workshop on March 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for $20. Participants will learn a Rock of Ages dance number from director/choreographer Kimberly Faith Hickman. This is a ladies only workshop. Pre-registration is required. More information is available at OmahaPlayhouse.com. Class attendees can purchase a discounted ticket ($30) to the performance by calling Jana at (402) 553-4890, ext. 147.

 

Production:        Rock of Ages

Director:              Kimberly Faith Hickman

Credits:  Book by Christopher D’Arienzo with Arrangements and Orchestrations by Ethan Popp

Cast

Mallory Vallier as Sherrie

David Ebke as Drew

Adam Hogston as Lonny

Nick LeMay as Stacee Jaxx/Father

Paul Hanson as Franz Klinemann

Samantha Quintana as Regina

Bob Gilmore as Dennis Dupree

Sara Mattix as Justice/Mother

Joey Galda as Hertz Klinemann

The ensemble features Marcus Benzel, Carmen Butler, Jana Coburn, Erin Florea, Melissa King, Donte Plunkett, Nora Shelton, and Scott Van Den Top.

Show Dates:       March 3 – April 2, 2017  (Wed-Sat at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2pm)

Tickets: At the OCP Box Office at 69th & Cass, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for students (Thursdays – Sundays) and $32 for adults and $20 for students (Wednesdays). Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $30 for adults and $20 for students (Thursdays – Sundays) and $24 for adults and $16 for students (Wednesdays)

Discounts

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

Wednesday Performances – Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only at $32 for adults and $20 for students.

Whatta Deal Wednesday – Discounted tickets for $10 will be available for the first Wednesday performance on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. $10 tickets will be available in person at the box office starting at 4:00 p.m. the day of the show.

Sponsored by:   Security National Bank, Gale and Judy Wickersham, Woodmen Life, 2016 AAA New York Tour, Bravo! Dance Competitions and KMTV (media sponsor)

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE) on the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre

 

The McGuigans Will be Rocking ‘Eight Days a Week’ at OCP

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The holidays will soon be upon us and the populace will be thinking of turkeys, Christmas trees, and Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience.

The supercharged concert series starring the McGuigan Bros (Billy, Ryan, and Matthew) begins its annual run at the Omaha Community Playhouse on November 25 and tickets are now on sale and selling fast.

If you have never seen Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience, then you truly don’t know what you’ve been missing.  The McGuigans and their band (Tara Vaughan, Jay Hanson, and Rich Miller) present a night of high energy fun and entertainment with the music of the Beatles.  Even better, YOU get to pick the music.

This is no mere tribute band.  The music of the greatest rock group in history is augmented by the unique energy of the McGuigans and makes for an incredible night of good old-fashioned rock and roll.

Rock out to the classics or request an obscure number.  It doesn’t matter because this band knows them all.  But the choices are in YOUR hands.  It’s never the same show twice!

Buy a ticket and discover why the McGuigans and their band have been the city’s best musical act for the past 9 years and show no signs of slowing down.  If you love the Beatles, if you love rock and roll, if you love full blast fun, then go see Omaha’s hit holiday tradition, Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse from Nov 25-Dec 31.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Thursday-Sat and Sundays at 6:30pm.  The Sunday show on November 27 will be a 2pm matinee performance.  Tickets cost $40.  On December 31, a double bill will be played at 7pm and 10pm.  Tickets for the 7pm show will be $50 and $75 for the 10pm show.  For tickets contact the box office at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.ticketomaha.com.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.