It’s Beatles Time in the City

Omaha, NE–The holidays are upon us which means it’s time for Omaha’s premier Christmas tradition: Yesterday & Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience. For the better part of two decades, the McGuigan Brothers (Billy, Ryan, & Matthew) and their band have been entertaining crowds with this all request show dedicated to the music of the legendary Beatles.

Now entering its 15th season, Yesterday & Today will be performing at a new venue: The Slowdown located at 729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE. Let the guys tell you a bit about it here.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Yesterday & Today is the concert series designed by the audience each night. Audience members will submit their requests and the McGuigans and their band will play them. It’s just that simple. And don’t worry if you like an obscure number because they know them all and will play them all from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Revolution No. 9”.

Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here. The show runs from Nov 26-Dec 31. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. And for a special event, you can ring in the New Year with the band on New Year’s Eve with performances at 7pm and 10pm.

Unsure of where to sit? No worries. Rave On Productions will host an open house at The Slowdown on Nov 7 from 11am-3pm. Tour the venue. Scope out the best seats. Buy tickets. You can even start submitting requests. Reservations can be made here.

Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth time, ready yourselves for Yesterday & Today. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul! You’ll Really Love ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

Newly engaged Brad and Janet are in for quite a night when they stumble upon the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, a mad scientist with a yen for cross dressing and sexual deviancy.  It’s The Rocky Horror Show and its running at The Slowdown under the auspices of Rave On Productions.

Rave On Productions ends its freshman season of theatrical productions with a show that I currently consider to be the best of the season.  Richard O’Brien’s cult rock musical requires a very special group of performers who have to be completely dedicated to the over the top, raunchy ode to cheesy, schlocky sci-fi and be able to belt out a tune.  This show has that and far, far more.

It brings back some of the cast and crew from the award-winning Omaha Playhouse production of 2019, but blows that run right out of the water (a highly difficult task) with a nuclear powered version done the way it was meant to be with full audience participation with prop bags and a screen to help prompt newbies when to utilize said props and provide the dialogue to answer the performers.

Kaitlyn McClincy returns to direct the production, but has teamed up with Kimberly Faith Hickman and their teamwork creates something truly formidable.  Their staging utilizes the entire space of The Slowdown.  Their coaching pulls some truly phenomenal performances out of their thespians and the background bits they have the actors doing when they’re not the focus of the scene really fleshes out the tale and makes one forget they were working without a set.

Every single actor should be proud of the work they did in this show as there isn’t a flat tire among them.  Props to Eric Perlstein and Britney Thompson for quite literally being the props and set of the show.  Evelyn Hill slays as the snarky Narrator of the story.  Ryan McGuigan absolutely kills it in a cameo as Dr. Scott with that amazing tenor rocking out in “Eddie’s Teddy”.  Billy McGuigan is spot on as Frank ‘N’ Furter’s new playmate, Rocky, whose own dazzling tenor mesmerized the audience with “The Sword of Damocles”.  Erika Hall-Sieff and Kevin Buswell bring real creepiness and an understated malevolence to their roles as Magenta and Riff Raff plus we got to enjoy Hall-Sieff’s rich alto serenade us with “Science Fiction/Double Feature” plus a long coda in “Planet Schmanet Janet” while Buswell’s high tenor brought the audience to their feet to do the “Time Warp” again.  Courtney Cairncross’ energy is unmeasurable with her take on Columbia and truly shines after she gets her brain zapped with a prolonged series of gyrations and snorts.

Benn Sieff returns to his Fonda-McGuire winning role of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and seems to be enjoying himself even more if that was even possible.  His complete dedication to the role makes for a gripping watch and his mammoth presence (physical and energy wise) make certain all eyes are glued to him.  You could feel him feeding off the crowd and fueling his fantastic performance and his ballistic baritone thrilled the audience with “Sweet Transvestite” and “Charles Atlas Song/I Can Make You a Man”.  And he actually almost brought me to tears with his sense of defeat and sadness in “I’m Going Home”.

Jesse White turns in another spectacular performance with his turn as Brad Majors.  White is truly nerdy and a genuine prick (trust me, watch his behavior and attitude towards Janet).  He also has an incredible sense of improv as he was able to work in some musical responses to audience commentary.  But his almost sonic vocals sold me on his work as he belted out “Dammit Janet” and actually made me feel a little sorry for him with his hangdog melancholy in “Once in a While”.

Nina Washington is repression personified with her take on Janet Weiss.  Ostensibly, she starts off as the stereotypical damsel in distress, but she blossoms in an awful hurry after she gets deflowered and develops an instant addiction to sex as she pursues Rocky like a shark in “Toucha Toucha Toucha, Touch Me” and has real wonderment in her alto as she ponders her strange adventures in “Super Heroes”.

Amanda Fehlner’s costumes were absolutely superb especially with the fishnets and lingerie for Frank ‘N’ Furter and others, Magenta’s maid’s outfit, the ill-fitting tuxedo of Riff Raff, and Rocky’s golden shorty shorts.  Kimberly Faith Hickman’s choreography was so much fun especially with “Time Warp” and a rather exuberant dance from Magenta to close out “Planet Schmanet Janet”.  Charlie Ames’ lighting always suited the feel of the scenes with depressing blues of more melancholic numbers and a fiery red for more charged scenes.  Matthew McGuigan does superlative work with his musical direction as he seemed to take influences from different versions of the show and infused it with something from his own soul and he and his band (Ryan McGuigan, Max Meyer, Stan Harper, Jay Hanson, Darren Pettit, and Larell Ware) knocked this score clear out of the ballpark.

You still have three chances to catch this show and I advise you to take advantage while you have the chance for this show is selling out fast.  It’s a megaton of fun.

The Rocky Horror Show runs as the Slowdown through October 31.  Remaining shows are midnight on Oct 30 and 31 and a 7:30pm show on Oct 31.  Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at https://www.theomahaseries.com/rockyhorror.  Due to mature themes and content, this show is not suitable for children.  The Slowdown is located at 729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE.

Photo created by Carly Frolio

Rave On Productions Set to Provide Halloween Fix with ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

Omaha, NE: Just in time for Halloween, Rave On Productions continues its spectacular Omaha Series with Richard O’Brien’s legendary ode to schlocky sci-fi, The Rocky Horror Show.

This musical tells the story of newly engaged Janet and Brad whose car breaks down in the middle of who knows where. Seeking help, they find the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, a delightfully deranged transvestite scientist who has created a new playmate for himself in the form of Rocky. What follows is a wildly raucous night of comedy, double entrendres, and hijinks.

Now you can enjoy The Rocky Horror Show in all of its audience participating glory when it runs at The Slowdown (729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE) for six performances Oct 29-31.

Rave On’s show brings back some of the award winning cast and crew from the 2019 production mounted at the Omaha Community Playhouse including director Kaitlyn McClincy, Erika Hall-Sieff, Kevin Buswell, and Benn Sieff who reprises his Fonda-McGuire award winning role of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter.

Joining them is a cast of some of Omaha’s finest theatrical talent and singers and they can’t wait for you to join in the fun.

Tickets begin at $30 and can be purchased by visiting https://www.theomahaseries.com/rockyhorror. For an additional $10, you’ll be able to purchase a prop bag at the door (no personal props, please) to immerse yourself in this show the way it was meant to be (VIP Balcony tickets will receive a free prop package).

Ready yourselves for a haunting good time and throw yourself into the experience of The Rocky Horror Show.

*Parental discretion highly advised due to mature themes and adult content.

Directed By: Kaitlyn McClincy and Kimberly Faith Hickman
Musical Direction By: Matthew McGuigan

Cast

Benn Sieff as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter
Jesse White as Brad Majors
Nina Washington as Janet Weiss
Kevin Buswell as Riff Raff
Erika Hall-Sieff as Magenta
Courtney Cairncross as Columbia
Evelyn Hill as Narrator
Billy McGuigan as Rocky
Ryan McGuigan as Dr. Scott
Eric Perlstein as Eddie
Brittney Thompson as Transylvanian

The Band

Matthew McGuigan, Stan Harper, Jay Hanson, Max Meyer, Darren Pettit, and Larell Ware

Billy McGuigan Founds McGuigan Arts Academy & Announces Omaha Series

Omaha, NE–Super talent Billy McGuigan, known for bringing Buddy Holly and The Beatles to life on stage, announced the opening of McGuigan Arts Academy, a new twist on performing arts education and venues. The Academy’s mission is devoted to teaching life skills through hands-on studies in music, theatre, film, art and technology. Acknowledging that not every student of the arts wants to be a performer, McGuigan Arts Academy will nurture and showcase Omaha’s talent in every artistic realm. 

“If this year taught us anything, it’s the need to connect and nurture one’s soul,” said founder Billy McGuigan. “Art is essential to that. How we create and present that art can be done in many ways. There is nothing else like this in the Midwest. McGuigan Arts Academy is designed to give anyone – from age 3 to 103 – the opportunity to learn confidence, cooperation and creativity. It’s more than development of talent. It’s development of the human spirit. Believe me, there is nothing more important than being the best person you can be. The arts have taught me that.”

McGuigan Arts Academy classes will be taught by full-time professionals led by Artistic and Education Director Kimberly Faith Hickman. “Kimberly is this mega talent in our midst,” said McGuigan. “A rare Broadway-accredited director, she honed her talent working on numerous Tony Award winning and nominated Broadway shows.”

In addition to the Academy, Rave On Productions will launch The Omaha Series; a season of shows presented in various venues across the Omaha Metro. The 2021 Omaha Series includes Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Waiting Room, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story performed one night each at the Davies Amphitheatre, SumTur Amphitheatre and Soaring Wings Vineyard, The Rocky Horror Show and the McGuigan’s holiday tradition, Yesterday and Today, performed at the Slowdown.

Hickman most recently served as Artistic Director for the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). In her nearly five years there, she directed 19 productions and launched initiatives such as the OCP Directing Fellowship, sensory-friendly productions in collaboration with the Autism Action Partnership, and performances translated into Spanish in real-time. Her latest innovations, including Drive-In and virtual productions, assured that the show would go on.

“The pandemic helped me see endless possibilities for programming experiences – especially when I let myself break free from the traditional norms in theatre,” said Hickman. “Creating a production in a parking lot was really inspiring. We took a bold chance and before long, we had a sell out!”

Hickman and McGuigan agree that it was this collaboration during their days together at the Omaha Community Playhouse and the discovery that they both learned to love theatre via the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia, that drew them together as co-visionaries for McGuigan Arts Academy.

“Our biggest revelation,” said McGuigan, “is that performance is a gift from performer to audience. Where that happens should be less tied to one space and more tied to access and an environment that blends with the creative product.”

“In addition to a myriad of classes,” added Hickman, “we will be casting and rehearsing four productions that will be performed at venues across Omaha including The Waiting Room in Benson, Sumtur Amphitheatre, The Slowdown and more.

McGuigan Arts Academy is located in Countryside Village at 87th and Pacific Streets. Thanks in part to generous sponsors, the Academy will offer class scholarships to those from across the greater Omaha metro who may not have the means to pay for them.

For more information, contact Kate Whitecotton at 402-682-2868 and kate@billymcguigan.com.  For class and Academy schedules and to learn more, see McGuiganArtsAcademy.com. For The Omaha Series visit www.billymcguigan.com/theomahaseries.