Shelterbelt & SNAP! Seeking New Home

SHELTERBELT THEATRE AND SNAP! PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCE CLOSING OF CURRENT LOCATION IN AUGUST
Shelterbelt Theatre and SNAP! Productions are sad to announce that our home of 25 years (18 years for SNAP!) has sold. THE DAIRY MAID-RIGHT by Ellen Struve (July 13-August 5) will be the final production in the 3225 California St. location, ending our tenure in August.
Both theatres are actively looking at options for continuing performances, but no seasons have been announced at this time. The search for a dedicated theatre space to house both theatre companies will continue.
Both theatre companies are hoping a new location will include:
• *5000-10,000 total square feet – which includes a large open space with no poles (approx. 50’ x 30’)
• We’d like to accommodate a stage with flexible seating, a rehearsal space (approx. 25’ x 25’), a lobby/bar/gallery area with ADA restrooms, on-site storage area, a scenic shop, dressing rooms with restroom
• HVAC installed
• ADA compliant bathrooms and entrance
• 12-14’ ceilings
• *Off-street parking
*Square footage and parking are negotiable.
As entirely artist-driven entities, the theatres have survived through the passion and commitment of this community.  A vital part of the theatre ecology, Shelterbelt and SNAP! are often the first non-academic theatre experience for actors, directors, designers, writers and crew members. The opportunity to gain stage experience and develop skills is vital to the health of all Omaha theatres. Experienced, professional theatre artists continue to work at these theatres, as the intimacy of storefront theater inspires risk-taking, creative work.
If you have any leads on locations, please contact Roxanne Wach at executive@shelterbelt.org.

To Live Again

Elliott Liteman is in a state of living death.  Stricken with Lazarus Syndrome (a type of survivor’s guilt which afflicts some people who are resuscitated after clinical death), Elliott doesn’t want to die, but is afraid to live.  During a horrific blizzard, his family comes to visit and he learns the importance of forgiveness and embracing life.   This is Lazarus Syndrome by Bruce Ward and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

First and foremost, let me assure you that this isn’t a doom and gloom story.  True, there are moments of weightiness, but this is an excellent slice of life tale full of humor, hope, and even mystery.  Ward’s script focuses on themes such as family, regret, ennui, aging, self-loathing, forgiveness, mortality, and what it means to be alive.  I found myself spellbound by the tale as Elliott’s internal struggle is outwardly manifested as he spars and engages with his family.

M. Michele Phillips has provided a superlative piece of direction to this story as well as an inspired bit of casting. She understands the path of the story well, skillfully navigating the many turns of the tale and capitalizing on every beat. Ms Phillips guides her actors to rock solid performances and you’ll never doubt for an instant that this group is a family.

Brett Foster gives a powerful and poignant performance as Elliott Liteman.  Living death well describes Foster’s essaying of Elliott as he merely goes through the motions of living.  Foster gives a wonderful weariness to Elliott whose guilt and depression are so great that he’s turned away from almost everything that made him happy and lives a life that’s a mundane routine of taking medicine to combat his HIV and wandering around his apartment in his bathrobe.  You can’t help but root for the guy when he finds small bits of happiness and vitality whether it’s through a sweet early morning conversation with his lover or a vigorous debate with his family.

Foster makes you feel the pain of a man who has lost his sense of self and is just seeking a way to end his cycle of nothingness.

Thomas Lowe plays the small, but crucial role of Stephen Bliss, Elliott’s young lover.  Lowe brings a sweetness and innocence to Stephen who has enough energy to live life for the both of them.  Your heartstrings will be tugged as Stephen’s love for Elliott allows Elliott to reclaim small sparks of himself and Stephen’s honesty and plain-spokenness may be the key to Elliott finally living his own life again.

Matt Allen is awesome as Elliott’s younger brother, Neil.  Invoking the essence of younger brothers everywhere, Allen’s Neil is a bit of a thorn in Elliott’s side as he drips melted snow onto Elliott’s floor and scarfs down Elliott’s food while making wry observations on his unique tastes in edibles.  Allen brings an incredible extemporaneousness to Neil’s dialogue as well as a snarky attitude which he carefully modulates to be a pest to Elliott, but not obnoxious or mean, especially when they start having suffering battles or discussing their somewhat fractious relationship.

Brent Spencer is the ideal Jewish father as Jake.  He believes a good meal can solve all ills and that the three things Jewish people do best are eat, suffer, and fight.  He is also clearly a man of his generation as he was brought up to believe that men didn’t show emotions and foul language is inappropriate in polite conversation.  But he also shows that an old dog can learn new tricks as his own losses have taught him the value of emotions and he tries to instill that lesson into Elliott.

Ben Adams has designed a cozy little apartment that feels like a real home.  Taelore Stearns’ lights pack an emotional punch.  They actually feel just as sad as Elliott.  Fred Goodhew’s sounds buoy the show’s emotional beats.  Leah Skorupa’s costuming is just right with the suits worn by Neil and Jake and the hum-drum look of Elliott with muted t-shirt, boxers, and a somewhat colorful bathrobe to offset the drabness of his other garb.

In the end, this is a story of life overcoming death and that it can still be lived and enjoyed despite great tragedy if one is only willing to take that chance.

Lazarus Syndrome plays at SNAP! Productions through June 24.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  The final show on June 24 will be at 2pm.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students, seniors (55+), TAG members, and military, and for all Thursday shows.   For tickets, call 402-341-2757 or visit www.snapproductions.com.  Due to strong language and mature themes, Lazarus Syndrome is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha, NE.

Get Bent

Max is a liar and con man.  He is also a marked man as Nazi Germany has passed a law outlawing homosexuality and ordering homosexuals rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  Max will do whatever it takes to stay alive and out of the clutches of the Nazis, but one lover will cause Max to hide his true self while another will restore it.  But the cost is terrifyingly high.  Discover the price in Bent by Martin Sherman and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

Sherman has written a neat little script that abounds with hope, tragedy, and even a touch of comedy along with some nice foreshadowing and surprises.  He also focuses on a lesser known bit of knowledge about Nazi Germany in that homosexuals were just as much of a target as the Jewish people with the twist that this group was viewed even less favorably.  Sherman uses an interesting conceit of having his primary characters have no accents despite their being German natives.  This adds an everyman quality to the characters showing that the evil and persecution they faced was a problem for humanity and not just a localized, national issue for Germany.

This play is uniquely suited to Joshua Mullady’s talents as a director as nobody knows how to craft character conversation scenes quite like him.  This is essential for this particular play as it is almost completely dialogue driven requiring a director who knows how to keep the life and energy pumping through the wordplay.  And Mullady does this in spades with his actors delivering extemporaneous dialogue with some of the sharpest cue pickups I have heard.

The entire cast does a fine job in supporting this story as each adds a precious bit of life to the production and all have absolutely perfect projection.  With that being said, I’d also like to salute Don Harris’ standout cameo performance as a bloodthirsty and psychotic Gestapo guard as he will make your blood boil with his cruelty and viciousness.

Ben Beck doesn’t even seem like he’s acting in this play as he is so natural and believable as Max.  He’s actually quite the scoundrel as he supports himself with cocaine dealing and con jobs and routinely lies like a rug.  But he also shows bits of a tender heart as he tries to help and save the two men in his life.  Unfortunately fate seems bound and determined to work against him as his own survival instinct crooks his efforts. This gives Beck the opportunity to beautifully sell two powerfully emotional scenes at the end of each act that are guaranteed to move even the coldest of hearts.

The two men in Max’s life require a bit of yin/yang quality and that quality is well embodied in the casting of Beau Fisher and Eric Grant-Leanna.

Beau Fisher plays Rudy, Max’s lover before his imprisonment by the Nazis.  Rudy’s function is to let Max be the strong protector.  Fisher embodies Rudy with a childlike innocence and trust in Max.  He is perfectly content to enjoy life as a dancer and watering his plants, fully trusting in Max to take care of the important things to ensure their survival.  But this childlike trust eventually destroys Rudy once he becomes the hunted as his happy-go-lucky existence renders him unable to fend for himself.  When he faces the ultimate challenge on his way to Dachau due to his need for glasses, Fisher’s screams and cries will chill you to the bone and his final fate will reduce you to a puddle of tears.

While Rudy allows Max to be the protector, the function of Horst, Max’s lover in Dachau, is to allow Max to be the protected.  Eric Grant-Leanna skillfully embodies this quality as he teaches Max how to survive in their personal piece of hell.  He’s tough.  He’s knowledgeable.  He’s loving.  He also helps Max to remember who he really is through his love which culminates in an incredibly and intense romantic scene made all the more stunning as it is done solely with the power of voice, words, and imagination as neither Max nor Horst ever touch each other.

I can’t say enough good things about the technical elements of this show.  Ben Adams’ set is a phenomenal, dilapidated flat that transforms into the barbed wire surrounded Dachau and in the midst of it all is the ominous pink triangle which marked all homosexuals in the concentration camps.  Zach Kloppenborg’s costumes are well suited to the era especially the costumes of the prisoners and stormtroopers.  As always, Joshua Mullady’s lights imbue the show with a special bit of life and Daena Schweiger’s sound design further bolsters the play, especially the air horns and crackle of the electrified barbed wire.

Though these voices be of the past, their words still ring loud and clear today. Our world is still very much in a war against evil and this play reminds us that we are still in the thick of a fight.  But it also reminds us that that fight can be won when good people bind together and counter it with faith, hope, peace, and love.

Bent plays at SNAP! Productions through Sept 17.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students, seniors (55+), TAG members, and military, and $12 for all Thursday shows.   For tickets, call 402-341-2757 or visit www.snapproductions.com.  Due to strong language and mature themes, Bent is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha, NE.

A Telekinetic, Teenage Tragedy

Carrie White is a special girl.  Sure she’s bullied and ostracized by her classmates, but she is a special girl.  And maybe her mother abuses her psychologically and emotionally, but she really is a special girl.  Do you want to know how special?  Just make her angry.  But I wouldn’t advise it.  For, if you do, you won’t live long enough to regret it.  Find out how special Carrie White is in Carrie:  The Musical adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen from a novel by Stephen King with music composed by Michael Gore and lyrics written by Dean Pitchford and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

I admit to not being much of a fan of Stephen King’s horror works.  I’ve only read one of his books and have seen roughly six of his macabre tales. Now I have watched the film version of Carrie and I consider it to be the deepest of his horror novels.  Let me correct that.  It isn’t a horror novel.  Carrie is a tragedy with some undertones of horror.  It is actually an eye opening look at the evil of bullying.  I also admit that I was glad to review this show because I found it to be one of the top productions of the theatre season.

I congratulate Todd Brooks for a truly impressive piece of stage and music direction.  He treated the subject matter with respect and did fine work leading the score.  I also thought he told the story exceptionally well as he and his troupe of actors led us through the pain of Carrie’s existence, yet managed to drop little nuggets of hope for her before epically yanking the rug out from under her feet.  Brooks also drew very good performances out of his thespians who provided a well acted, well sung tale.

I always appreciate choruses who understand the vital part they play in shows.  Each and every member of this chorus stay involved with every moment of the show, providing fresh and strong characterizations that really livened things up.  This particular chorus also had the best harmonization I have ever heard, best exemplified in “A Night We’ll Never Forget”.

Notable performances were supplied by Josh Polack as Billy Nolan, the dimwitted and mean-spirited boyfriend of Carrie’s nemesis and Mike Burns’ portrayal of Tommy Ross, one of the few decent students at Carrie’s school.  Burns had one of the night’s best numbers as his pleasant tenor touched hearts with “Tommy’s Poem (Dreamer in Disguise)”.

Gigi Hausman really shines in the title role of Carrie White in her SNAP! debut.  Ms Hausman has incredible body language as the put upon Carrie as she closes herself off from the rest of her classmates with her clasped hands, slumped shoulders, and downward gaze.  My heart truly ached from the loneliness and sadness she communicated and she nicely evolves Carrie from mousey to somewhat confident and hopeful when Tommy asks her to the prom and she learns how to control her telekinesis to her final snapping after a cruel prank causes her to unleash the full fury of her power on the school.

Ms Hausman was equally moving on the singing side as her soprano pleaded for God’s help in “Evening Prayers” and was quietly optimistic in “Why Not Me?”

Sara Planck is scary in her role of Margaret White.  And what really sells it is how real and normal she appears.  Ms Planck’s Margaret seems like a regular mom, if a little overprotective, until she starts spouting the drivel that Carrie’s first period was a sign of sin.  Then you realize that she’s a neurotic with a religious mania who crooks scripture to satisfy her warped view of God and locks Carrie in an underground cell to pray for forgiveness due to her own guilt of having conceived of a child outside of wedlock.

Ms Planck’s alto nearly stole the night as she tells Carrie “And Eve Was Weak”, confesses about the night she succumbed to temptation in “I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance”, and goes soprano when she laments “When There’s No One” after she calmly decides to sacrifice Carrie, mistaking her telekinesis for demonic power.

Paloma Power also makes a fine debut with SNAP! as Sue Snell, the play’s narrator.  Ms Power’s Sue bullies Carrie at the start of the show, but genuinely regrets her actions and tries to makes amends through apology and then by getting her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the prom.  Ms Power brings a real goodness and decency to the role and she also understands Carrie better than anyone, sharing how she sees the burning cauldron of pain beneath the quiet shell when she beautifully sings “Once You See”.

I was thoroughly repulsed by Chris Hargensen as played by Laurel Rothamel.  And, yes, that is a very high compliment.  I cannot recall a character that I detested as much as I did Chris.  Ms Rothamel’s interpretation is astonishing.  She is so cruel, so nasty, so slutty, so spoiled, and so vindictive that I found myself wishing someone would slap the taste out of her mouth and I’m a pretty peaceful, easy-going guy.  Even more amazing, she actually made me feel a tiny bit of sympathy for her when she implied that her bullying nature is the by-product of being beaten by her father, a ruthless attorney, in the night’s most fun number, “The World According to Chris”.

Jason DeLong deserves extremely high praise for his choreography which was not only fun and creative, but managed to be flowing and big despite the confines of the small theatre.  Megan Bollanger’s set invoked memories of high school dances from yesteryear.  Leah Skorupa’s costumes were pitch perfect from Carrie’s frumpy outfit to Chris’ vampy clothes to the elegant prom gear.  Joshua Mullady proves that he may be the city’s best lighting designer as his lights once more become extra characters in the show as they enhanced scenes with evil reds, hopeful glows, and soft romance.  Daena Schweiger’s sound and visuals really added that something extra to the show.

There were a few missed notes during some of the songs and some of the cast needed to speak up and project more, but this is a quality production.  The numbers are catchy, the story is surprisingly profound, and the acting is quite powerful.  Get yourself a ticket to see this as, as the cast sings, it’ll be a night you’ll never forget.

Carrie:  The Musical continues at SNAP! Productions through June 25.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  The June 25 show and an additional matinee on June 17 will be at 2pm.  Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, TAG members, Military, and seniors (55+) and all Thursday shows).  For tickets, call 402-341-2757 or visit www.snapproductions.com.  Due to strong language and mature themes, Carrie:  The Musical is not recommended for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha, NE.

SNAP! Productions Holding Auditions for Horror Musical

Carrie the Musical
directed by Todd Brooks

SNAP! Productions
3225 California Street
Omaha, NE 68108

Auditions begin at 6:30pm

 

SNAP! Productions’ Summer show, CARRIE The Musical, will have auditions on March 13th and 14 th. The run of the show will be from June 1 – 25 (Thursday – Sunday only). The rehearsals will start on April 19th. Todd Brooks will Direct and Music Direct with Joshua Mullady (Producing) and Jason DeLong (Choreographer).

Please have a memorized piece of music to sing. An accompanist will be provided, so have sheet music. NO acapella singing. Remember this is a rock score and most females need to be able to belt. Men need to sing something that shows off high notes. There will be dancing for the high school roles, so wear appropriate shoes and clothes. There will also be cold readings from the script.

 

SYNOPSIS

Carrie White is a misfit. At school, she’s an outcast who’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s at the mercy of her loving but cruelly over-protective mother. But Carrie’s just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it…

 

CAST BREAKDOWN
CARRIE WHITE:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

A painfully shy outsider who, in spite of her best efforts to belong, has been the victim of her classmates’ cruel jokes since childhood, as well as her mother’s strict, biblically-ordained control at home. She transforms from ugly duckling into graceful-and then vengeful- swan. Vocally, she must be capable of lyrical sweetness as well as fierce power.

 

MARGARET WHITE:  (Female – Carrie’s Mom – 40’s to 50’s)

A woman of visceral extremes, she balances her fervent religious convictions with equally sincere true-believer spirituality and tender, maternal love for Carrie. Like Carrie, with whom she shares several duets, her voice must range from expressive and melodic to ferocious and frightening.

 

SUE SNELL:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

A straight-A student who’s been popular her entire life, she’s remarkably level headed for her age. Her unthinking participation in a cruel act of bullying causes a crisis of conscience that leads her on a journey to try to right things. Vocally, she has a pop ballad voice that delivers sweet sincerity and strength.

 

TOMMY ROSS:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Popular star athlete, valedictorian, and all around stand-out, he’s the boy that all the girls want to be with, and all the boy want to be. Yet he also has unexpected, quirky sensitivity and is just starting to mine his personal life and feelings – a budding poet. His voice should have an effortless pop quality.

 

CHRIS HARGENSEN:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Rich, spoiled-rotten, and wickedly funny, Chris is a popular beauty whose arrogant self-assurance makes her believe that the rules don’t apply to her. Loaded with sexual dynamite, she has serious daddy and anger-management issues. Her voice is pop-rock percussive and powerful.

 

BILLY NOLAN:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Now in his sixth year in high school, Billy’s a sexy, stupid·like-a-fox bad boy whose wise mouth troublemaking has led him to spend more time in detention than in class. All these qualities make it easy for his girlfriend Chris to manipulate him to do her bidding. His voice is that of a wailing rocker.

 

MISS LYNN GARDNER:  (Female – able to play mid 30’s)

Mid-30s, this girls’ P.E. teacher can be a strict disciplinarian if necessary, but when Carrie arouses her maternal instinct, she surprises herself by also revealing a protective “fairy godmother” side. Her voice is warm and strong, just like the woman.

 

MR. STEPHENS: (Male – able to play mid 30’s)

Late-30s, this well-intentioned English teacher and guidance counselor struggles to help his students realize their potential. A dedicated educator, he’s stretched thin in his duties, woefully underpaid, and a bit overwhelmed as to how to handle the Billy Nolans of the classroom combat zone.

 

NORMA:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Bitchy, gossipy and a shameless suck-up to authority, Norma is second-in-command to Chris’ queen bee.

 

FRIEDA:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Sue’s brainy pal, she’s an easy-going, get-along follower and a tireless extracurricular committee volunteer.

 

HELEN:  (Female – able to look like a senior in high school)

Giggly and easily shocked, her immaturity and need to belong make her the perfect example of the herd mentality.

 

GEORGE:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

Tommy’s jock wingman since childhood, George idolizes him. Perhaps a little too much …

 

STOKES:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

A bit of a nerd, he’s happy to be included as one of Tommy’s posse.

 

FREDDY:  (Male – able to look like a senior in high school)

The wisecracking class clown and official yearbook photographer, be can’t believe any girl would ever give him the time of day.

Any questions, please contact Todd Brooks @ Brooks1965@aol.com. Please put “Carrie The Musical” in the subject line.

Omaha Premiere Closes SNAP! Season

SNAP! Productions is pleased to announce its next offering, the Omaha Premiere of Madeleine George’s comedy Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England which will run from May 26 – June 19, 2016.

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England tells the story about Dean Wreen, who is not having a good week. Her college is in dire financial straits and a plan to close its tiny, all-but-forgotten natural history museum is sending unexpected shock waves across campus and out into the local community. At home, her ex-lover, Greer, is staying with her—sending shock waves of a different sort through her relationship with her current (and much younger) girlfriend, Andromeda. Town-gown relations are in tatters! The local newspaper is erupting in violent protest! Even the awful, historically inaccurate dioramas in the museum have started mouthing off. A screwball sex comedy about the perils of monogamy, certainty, and academic administration. A thoughtful study in love and extinction…

Echelle Childers has taken the helm of this production as director. She has amassed a great cast of actors to bring to life this poignant comedy. Andy Niess (Early Man 1), Becky Noble (Dean Wreen), Colleen O’Doherty (Andromeda), Sara Planck (Greer), Kate Simmons (Early Man 2) and L. James Wright (Caretaker).

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England is fortunate to have assembled the following production staff: Daena Schweiger (Sound/Lights), Michal Simpson (Producer), Brian Callaghan (Stage Manager/Booth Operator) and Joshua Mullady (Set Designer).

A few special notes, our THURSDAY, MAY 26th performance will be a TAG Night Out preview show which will benefit the Theatre Arts Guild Scholarship Fund. The ASL Interpreted Performance will be THURSDAY, JUNE 9th at 8 pm, and is made possible due to generous community support and donations made through the Omaha Gives! Campaign.

Buy tickets now for Madeleine George’s funny comedy Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England which will run from May 26th – June 19th, 2016 at 3225 California Street. Curtain times are 8:00 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 6:00 pm on Sundays. The Sunday, June 19th show will start at 2:00 pm. The theater opens a half hour before curtain time. Reservations must be made on-line at the SNAP! Productions website: http://www.snapproductions.com. Tickets are $15.00 for Adults; $12.00 for Students, TAG and Seniors. We are continuing our “Throwback Thursday” pricing of $10.00 tickets for all Thursday shows.

Implemented at the beginning of 2015, SNAP! Productions will again be doing the NEW FREE STUDENT RUSH TICKET program. This program is made possible by a grant from the Jetton Fund. If you have a valid Student ID, you can get a chance for one of the limited Free Student Rush tickets. Just be at the box office twenty minutes before show time to see if there are any available for that performance. They are based on availability and definitely on a first come/first serve basis.

War for the Heart, War in the Soul

It’s a twist on the love triangle when John takes a break from his boyfriend only to fall for a girl.  Now forced to decide between the two, John finds himself in the middle of a vicious, emotional cockfight between the two loves in his life.  This is Cock by Mike Bartlett and currently playing at SNAP! Productions.

I confess to being a little taken aback when I was asked to review a show with such a title as many connotations of the word flew through my mind.  And, yes, this play does utilize multiple definitions of the play’s title from the innocent to the vulgar.  More importantly, this show is also one of the season’s best.

Mike Bartlett has written a whip smart script with dialogue that surges with intensity and compelling characters.  Bartlett leaps straight into the action with little build, but manages to fill in the gaps as he rapidly moves John between his boyfriend and girlfriend until the inevitable confrontation between his two significant others.

Without question, Joshua Mullady’s direction is the finest I have seen this season.  Mullady displayed an intimate understanding of the script with brilliant staging.  Not only is there not a single static moment in the show, but Mullady uses the play’s words to establish the movements of the characters.  As they grow apart, they physically move further from each other.  As they grow closer, they literally move closer and show intimacy.  Mullady has also perfectly cast this show with 4 actors who have pitch perfect chemistry and give nearly flawless performances.  Mullady also designed the beautifully simplistic lights which pulsed with a life of their own as they shifted with the beats of the show.

Joseph Schoborg’s portrayal of John is as haunting as it is powerful.  Schoborg’s John is a complete train wreck of a human being as he struggles to determine who and what it is he wants.  Schoborg’s body language is deadly accurate.  With his failing relationship with his boyfriend, he is stiff-necked with his shoulders up in his ears.  With his burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend, he is relaxed, loose, and tender.  Schoborg also has an incredibly nuanced voice capable of capturing deep frustration and running the gamut to whispering sadness.  The only tiny issues were that Schoborg spoke too quickly at the top of the show and I lost some of his dialogue, but he brought that under control as the play continued.  He also needed to keep his vocal strength up as it was just a hair below where it needed to be.

I was blown away by Eric Grant-Leanna’s interpretation of the nameless boyfriend.  Grant-Leanna gives what may be his best performance with a character he has developed down to the minutest detail.  As M, Grant-Leanna misses no beat as he bounces from lightly teasing John about his lousy cooking, to intense arguments about John’s cheating with a woman, to delivering nasty verbal jabs to the other woman, to nearly begging John to stay with him.  Grant-Leanna’s always spot-on facial expressions greatly added to his brilliant line readings which he enhanced even further with always appropriate gestures.

I was absolutely gobsmacked with Caitlin Staeball’s work as the unnamed girlfriend.  At the show’s start, she sat with the audience watching and reacting to the byplay between John and M.  Jealousy was quite apparent as she glowered at M.  Ms Staeball beautifully maneuvered through the ebbs and flows of her character’s story arc with clear and clean delivery and sure understanding of where she was heading.  Most telling was a scene where she sleeps with John for the first time.  Using just the power of her voice along with Mullady’s stellar lighting, she paints a vivid picture of what is happening without either performer actually doing anything physically.  Her subtle emotional manipulation of John in the climactic confrontation was also a nice piece of character work.  I look forward to seeing Ms Staeball in other roles after this fantastic Omaha debut.

Brent Spencer is very capable in his role as M’s father.  His British accent needed a bit of work, but his interpretation was quite good.  As F, Spencer is clearly devoted to his son and cares a great deal about John as he is quite hurt that John wants to leave his son for a woman.  Spencer also was responsible for some of the night’s more humorous moments as he jousts with John’s girlfriend.

What I found most interesting about the show was that it was not about whether John was gay, straight, or bisexual.  The show’s true tragedy was that John had lost himself.  He didn’t know what he needed in order to be happy and was fearful to take the risk of finding out for himself.  That is a message that will echo profoundly in every person who watches this wonderful dramedy.

Cock plays at SNAP! Productions through March 27.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm.  Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, T.A.G. members, and the military.  Thursday night shows cost $10.  This show contains adult situations and extremely strong language and is not suitable for children.  SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California St in Omaha, NE.