Follow the Platte River Bard Podcast

Do you like the arts? Do you like the theatre? Do you like podcasts?

If the answer to any and all of these questions is yes, then follow the Platte River Bard Podcast today. Hosts Chris and Sheri Berger will keep you up date on all the happenings in the theatre and the arts in Nebraska and beyond while having conversations with the artists.

Platte River Bard Podcast is available at and can also be followed on the following social media sites:


Help the Ibsen Costume Gallery

For 40 years, Ibsen Costume Gallery has been providing costumes for Omaha, NE area productions (over 3,000 shows!!).  The COVID-19 pandemic is currently threatening to close up its doors.  If you’re able to help, please click on the below link to their GoFundMe campaign and help keep their doors open.

Fundraiser for Ibsen Costume Gallery

An Open Letter to Omaha

An Open Letter to Omaha

by Daena Schweiger

First, thank you for taking the time to read this. I debated long and hard before doing this. It may not help. It may, in the end, not be a good thing. But it comes from the heart. If I didn’t feel as I did, I would keep my thoughts to myself. And these are MY THOUGHTS. Mine alone. Want to be clear about that.

Okay. Let’s get real.

The reality is SNAP! Productions and The Shelterbelt Theatre need your help if we are to find a home in 2020. If we don’t find a home in 2020, that’s it. No more. We will have given it our best shot for two years. The longer we stay away the harder it is to come back. We had a shot at a space a year ago. A legit shot. And we lost it. Not because of anything we did or did not do. We lost it because the landlord walked away at the 11th hour. Literally.

We have searched high and low for a space that meets updated code requirements that a 25 year grandfathered status no longer affords us. Finding a space that had things that we ABSOLUTELY NEED – ADA bathrooms, HVAC system – at a rent price that was at a level we could afford is a daunting task.

We looked at gutted spaces but other building codes kept us at bay, not to mention a hefty price tag to add those absolute needs that our former space didn’t have, and didn’t require. 2019 was as depressing as 2018 when it came to finding what we needed.

Okay. Let’s get more real. *SPOILER ALERT *

We have a space. Some of you out there know about this. Despite the fact that the boards were sworn to secrecy. So, it’s not truly a spoiler. We have a space. Well, technically it’s not OURS. YET. But we have one. All we need to do is sign a Letter of Intent. It has everything we need – ADA bathrooms, HVAC systems, a PARKING LOT… everything you could want in a theatre… except… well, a theatre space in the space.

And therein lies the rub.


We need to renovate the space to make it a theatre. It’s move in ready. Except we need to make a theatre. And a rehearsal space. And a green-room. And the cost to do those renovations are a lot. How much? High five-figure to low six-figure depending on what we determine are high / low needs vs wants. It’s the difference between a wall separating a rehearsal space and curtains, light trees vs a light grid, wooden platforms or flex seating.

Those numbers are for a move-in ready space that will provide our patrons with a serviceable theatre space with upgraded amenities.

SIGN. THE. LEASE. You say. We do too. But the funding…

Both theatres have skin in the game. But, we need some assurances from our community that you will help with the rest. Yep, we’re working out the details for a capital campaign. We’re doing this the right way.

But, we survived for 25 years through grants, ticket sales and donations. Fundraising will take time for us. And time is something we don’t have.

We can’t sign a letter of intent unless we know how much we can put into renovations. We can’t announce the location because we don’t have a signed letter of intent. We can’t fundraise until we announce a location and sign a Letter of Intent.

You see a pattern here? A chicken-egg scenario.

So, there it is. That’s the scenario both theatres are dealing with as I type this.

Many of you have spoken to members of both theatres lamenting the loss in the community. We feel it too. 8 productions lost. No place for actors, playwrights, directors, designers to cut their teeth. No place to produce new works or produce works that mirror the changing climate in our communities.

We need sustained financial support from you to make this a reality in 2020.

We lost a space a year ago. Please help us to keep from losing what may well be our last shot.

How Can You Help?


Make a 5 year commitment to become a rent sponsor for one of the theatres. 5 years at whatever level you can contribute. Our suggestion is between $500 – $2,000 each year for 5 years. Why a rent sponsor? A Rent sponsor allows us to build our audience without worrying about paying the rent and build a rent account to draw from year 6 on so that we’re always working ahead of the game.


Help us get to the point where we can effectively run a capital campaign. 20 people making a donation pledge of $5,000 or more would help us secure the renovations we need to sign the letter of intent and move us into the space so we may begin producing again. 40 people making a $2,000 pledge or more would help us secure the renovations we need. 60 people… well, you get the idea.


If you belong to a company willing to provide us with a matching gift, please have them contact me.

That’s it. That’s the pitch.

I am passionate (to a fault) about these two spaces. I have been on both boards, cut my teeth doing productions at both theatres, and am feeling all the feels now that they are gone. I felt like I needed to address the elephant in the room after two years.

I have no development background. Don’t claim to. I don’t believe this will hurt our chances. I’m gambling it will help. If nothing else, at least you’ll understand that we’ve actually been trying to do SOMETHING to keep it going.

If you can help, please send me an email at

Let me reiterate – while I once served as a board member for Shelterbelt, and am at present a board member for SNAP! Productions, I am not speaking as a board member. I am speaking as a playwright, an actor, a stage director, a lighting designer, and a box office volunteer. These theatres lasted for 25 years before losing their space through no fault of their own. We need these two theatres to survive. And we need your help, and the help of others you may know, to help get us up and running so we can move forward for the next 25 years.

Thank you.

Sioux Empire Community Theatre Needs Your Help



The Sioux Empire Community Theatre is facing a very real financial struggle.  Ticket sales have not been sufficient to cover the cost of theatrical productions, and costs continue to rise.  We will not be able to take the stage in the Fall without your help.

The Theatre must build stronger relationships with donors, patrons, and volunteers, and increase corporate sponsorships to make it to the stage for Season 16.  Under new leadership, we are rebuilding these bridges and donations are coming in.  Will you join us?

The Theatre Board has put measures in place to restructure our business practices, control costs, and ensure we can rebuild a strong, sustainable community theatre in 2018.  Our goal is to raise $100,000 by April 30.  Please help us spread the word! 


Donations are needed!  Our goal is to raise $100,000 by April 30.  You can donate online through our secure PayPal link, on or at  We have been blessed with volunteers organizing benefits for the theatre and offering to join our new volunteer teams!  To volunteer, email your contact information to


The Sioux Empire Community Theatre relies on Corporate Sponsors to support children’s programs, donor and volunteer communications, and for performance sponsorships.  For information, please contact Kristen Townsend, our Volunteer Interim Executive Director at or 605-254-5274. Thank you for coming alongside us as we rebuild this vital volunteer organization!


Sioux Empire Community Theatre

Orpheum Theatre Center

315 N. Phillips Avenue, P.O. Box 767

Sioux Falls, SD 57101




Kristen Townsend

Volunteer Interim Executive Director


Scenic South Dakota: Sioux Falls & Steever House


Steever House

It was one of those weekends where everything falls into place.  I’m just finishing up a stay at the Steever House in Lennox, SD and my only regret is that I can’t stay for an extra day or two.

But let’s start at the beginning.

It was an absolutely perfect spring day for one of my jaunts.  The sun was bright.  There wasn’t a cloud to be seen.  And the temperature was, mmm, just right.

I hopped into my car and began the drive to the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota where I would be staying at Steever House as well as reviewing Jesus Christ Superstar for the Sioux Empire Community Theatre.

The drive was great and it was nice to enjoy some new scenery as I headed north to South Dakota.  Once I crossed the border into the state, I admit I did a double take when I saw the 80mph speed limit.  Maybe I’ll try the max speed on the empty Sunday roads, but not being used to that type of speed, I kept things to about 75mph.

I arrived in town about 12:30pm.  Regrettably, I was only doing an overnight so I didn’t have the normal time that I usually allow my explorations.  But if I were going to do one thing, it had to be a visit to the town’s namesake falls.  So off I went to Falls City Park.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in a park in my life.  As a testament to the absolutely gorgeous day, families galore were having picnics, exploring the Sioux Falls, riding bikes, and meandering.  Heck, a group was even taking wedding photos there.

The Sioux Falls once powered a hydroelectric plant for the city and you can actually take a self-guided walking tour full of informative tidbits about the falls’ past including the remains of the first hydroelectric plant and mill.

The falls themselves were quite the sight and I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful waterfalls and even saw salmon trying to swim upstream for the first time.  The day was so pleasant that I took a nice shady spot under a tree to catch up on my reading.

About 2:15, I headed over to the small town of Lennox to check into Steever House, owned and operated by John & Sara Steever.  This lovely home is certain to trigger relaxation as it is on a secluded piece of property about ten miles outside of Sioux Falls.

As I pulled into the driveway, I was greeted by John who introduced me to his wife Sara.  He led me to the Dakota Suite, the inn’s newest room and my base of operations for the night.  This is the biggest room I’ve ever had at a B&B and I instantly felt calmer with the room’s soft blue walls and carpeting.  It consisted of a massive bedroom/living room area with a comfortable king sized bed and a couple of plush leather easy chairs set in front a fireplace.  I also had a sitting room and a ginormous bathroom with a whirlpool bathtub.

I had an early dinner reservation so I organized my belongings and drew a bath.  The tub was actually a “smart” tub with a little computer panel to activate the jets and even warm up the water (so I assume as I saw the temperature go up a few degrees during my bath).  I rested my head on the bath pillow and let the jets work their magic.  There was a set of jets shooting water into the small of my back and it felt like a massage therapist knuckling the area.  I could have sat there for an hour or more having the area kneaded.

But since I didn’t have an hour or more, I lingered for as long as I could then got into my suit for dinner and a night of theatre.

I had made dinner reservations at Carnaval Brazilian Grill and, trust me, if you’re in the area, you need to eat here.  Reservations are highly recommended as the place was packed when I got there and it was only 5pm.  Thanks to my reservation, I was immediately led to my table where I ordered a Brazilian cream soda and the famed Rodizio meal.


Carnaval Brazilian Grill

Brazilian steakhouses are fun because it’s almost like a buffet.  Instead of ordering a standard meal, you get to visit a hot and cold salad bar plus waiters will bring skewers of meat to your table so you can have as much or as little as you want.

This was probably the most in depth and impressive salad bar I have seen with gourmet style vegetables such as champagne soaked onions.  I whipped up a little plate of spinach salad topped with onions, fresh jalapenos, bacon bits, and ranch dressing along with a spoonful of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and caviar medley.

I returned to my table to enjoy my salad, then flipped my tower for the meats.  Brazilian steakhouses give you a disc (or a tower in my case) that is green on one side and red on the other.  When you want some meat, you turn it to green so the waiters will stop by with their skewers and flip it to red when you want a break.  Over the next 90 minutes, I had a sampling of top sirloin, lamb, glazed barbecue pork, and a signature beef marinated in Carnival’s homemade marinade.  That last was the tastiest dish.  I also tasted grilled pineapple basted in cinnamon which was amazing.  Coming from me, that’s something as pineapple is one of the few foods that I genuinely dislike.

I realized I had made a wise choice in having an early dinner as I exited.  Where the restaurant had been packed before, it was now overflowing and spilling out the doors.

From there I hopped into my car and made my way to the downtown area of Sioux Falls which is quite reminiscent of the Old Market area of my hometown of Omaha, NE right down to the lack of parking.  I easily found the Sioux Empire Community Theatre and you are permitted to use most of the empty business parking lots in the area which one-ups Omaha since you now have to pay at the Old Market parking meters during the weekend.


Sioux Empire Community Theatre

This was one of the best nights of theatre I have experienced.  The theatre is beautiful and it was a sensational production.  You can read my review here.  I even had the pleasure of meeting the theatre’s artistic director Patrick Pope and the show’s director, Eric Parrish.  Patrick told me I’d be welcome back at the theatre any time so I look forward to reviewing more shows at this little jewel.

Then it was back to Steever House for a little writing and a most restful night’s sleep on my bed’s soft mattress.

I felt fully refreshed when I awoke the next morning and went downstairs to enjoy a tasty meal of fruit, granola and yogurt, ham, Dutch baby, and baked apples.  I also had a pleasant conversation with the Steevers and another couple staying at the inn.


But now it’s back to reality.  But if you’re in the Sioux Falls area, stay a night at Steever House.  It’s comfortable, secluded, quiet, and the hospitality can’t be beat.

Until the next time, happy travels.

Give Kay & Ryan a Helping Hand

Kay & Ryan McGuigan are two of my closest friends.  I met Kay when I did my very first show in theatre and she has been a bedrock of support as I struggled through this business.  Through her I met Ryan whom I bonded with over a love of the Beatles.

This past weekend, Kay was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer and she, Ryan, and their lovely family really need your help.  Both are self-employed and have needed to put work on hold to focus on Kay’s health.  To help with day to day expenses a GoFundMe page has been set up and the link is below.

Please make a donation and then share the post on social media to help these truly wonderful people.

I thank you for your charity.



OCP Auditions for “Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods”

Production Dates: May 6-June 5, 2016
Performs in: Howard Drew Theatre (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)
Director:  Lara Marsh
Synopsis: Gabriel, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, has started a new life in America. While working in Whole Foods, he meets Christine, a middle-aged, single mother. Christine is drawn to the positivity that Gabriel radiates and his unbreakable spirit. On her eye-opening quest to help Gabriel, Christine finds a broken system and many unanswered questions. Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods is an impactful and heartbreaking play that spotlights social responsibility and compassion for humanity.

Audition Dates: Monday, February 22, 2016 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Character Descriptions:
GABRIEL: Male, early to mid 20’s
Sudanese refugee, member of the Dinka of Southern Sudan, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” he attends community college part-time and works full-time at Whole Foods. Need to audition with a Sudanese, or African dialect.

CHRISTINE: Female, mid to late 40’s
Recently divorced, at a turning point.

ALEX: Female, age 16
Christine’s daughter, a sophomore at Pittsburgh Catholic School for Girls.

PANTHER: Male, age 30
Gabriel’s roommate, also a Sudanese refugee. Works various minimum wage jobs although he seems to carry around a lot of cash, and a cell phone that rings continuously. Need to audition with a Sudanese, or African dialect.

MICHAEL DOLAN: Dolan; mid to late 30’s
Stay at home dad, Catholic activist. Works for different local causes. He used to work for Catholic Charities, now looking for a new job.

SEGEL MOHAMMED: Female, late 30’s
Director and Founder of the Pittsburgh Center for Refugee Relief, Somali born, Arab raised, single mother. Need to audition with a Somali, or African dialect.

What to Bring:
• You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

• A recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

• Those auditioning for a play will be asked to read sections from the script.

OCP Auditions for “Calendar Girls”

Production Dates: April 15-May 8, 2016
Performs in: Hawks Mainstage Theatre (Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)
Director: Susie Baer Collins
Synopsis: Sisterhood and side-splitting laughs are at the heart of this bare-all play. After Anne’s loving husband dies of leukemia, she vows to keep his memory alive through a hospital memorial. She and her friends “of a certain age” drop their trousers and discover their courage as they pose for a nude, but tasteful, calendar to raise funds for the memorial. As the women experience newfound stardom from their increasingly popular calendar, their bonds of friendship are tested. Based on a true story turned film, this humorous and heartwarming story will provide a night of entertainment, belly laughs and tears.

Audition Dates: Monday, February 15 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, February 16 at 7:00 PM

Character Descriptions:  TBA

CHRIS Female, 50s

ANNIE Female, 50s

CORA Female, early 40s

JESSIE Female, late 60s/70s

CELIA Female, 35-50

RUTH Female, 40s

MARIE Female, 50s

JOHN Male, 50s. Annie’s husband.

ROD Male, 50s. Chris’s husband.

LAWRENCE Male, late 20s.
*Note: this actor will double as Liam

*Note: this actor will double as Brenda Hulse

ELAINE Female 20s

Information about the Nudity in the Production
• There will be the suggestion of nudity in the production; however, private parts will ALWAYS be covered.

• OCP will create a “safe zone: within the wings of the stage during the final scene in Act I (nude photo session for the W.I. calendar).

• People backstage during the final scene in Act I to include: female stage manager, actresses in scene, female dressers.

• The male actor playing the photographer in the scene will only see what the audience sees.

• Idea of what actresses will wear in the “nude photoshoot” scene:
o Adhesive bra cups without straps (these provide some support and cover the nipple)
o An undergarment on lower half of body that will be determined by what should and shouldn’t be seen in each character’s photo pose, as well as the comfort zone of the actress.

• The Omaha Community Playhouse will always make it a top priority for each actor to feel completely comfortable and safe throughout the rehearsal and performances of this production.

What to Bring:
• You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

• A recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

• Those auditioning for a play will be asked to read sections from the script.

Be Part of “The Feast”

The Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to announce auditions for THE FEAST by Celine Song, directed by Noah Diaz

Production Dates: April 15–May 8, 2016
Performances Thursday–Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 6pm

Auditions: February 9 and February 10 at 6:30pm
Location: Shelterbelt Theatre (3225 California Street)
Be prepared take part in cold readings from the script.

Rehearsals will begin early March.

WENDY – Female. 30s–40s. Married to Francis. The perfect host and perfect wife. A beautiful smile, but maybe she shows too much teeth. She’s unraveling.

SAM – Female. 20s–30s. Married to Rhett. Maybe a little vain, maybe a little selfish, but charming enough for it not to be a problem. Her marriage to Rhett is a mess. She’s not afraid to tell the truth.

RHETT – Male. 30s–40s. Married to Sam. A bit uncouth and gruff. Rhett is always a few drinks ahead of everyone else. He may have been good-looking in his youth, but something went awry since then. He’s probably very, very sad.

XANDER – Male. Late teens–mid 20s. A scientist. Looks like he’s too young to be a scientist. Unnervingly aware of everything around him. Maybe he’s too skinny or too tall for someone his age.

FRANCIS – Male. 30s–40s. Married to Wendy. A surgeon. Selfless. Handsome and in great shape.

When all meat mysteriously turns to rot, ours becomes a world populated with reluctant vegetarians. Four hungry dinner guests impatiently await a latecomer to the table. As the hour grows late and stomachs begin to howl, the traces of civilization turn to decay. Sensual as it is grotesque, foul as it is funny, THE FEAST is a biting satire that serves up a heady repast straight from the kitchens of our darkest desires.

For questions or a copy of the script, please contact Noah Diaz at

Celine Song is a playwright living in Brooklyn, NY. She is a member of Ars Nova’s 2014 Play Group, a 2012 Edward F. Albee Foundation Writing Fellow, a 2014 resident at Yaddo, a 2014 Great Plains Theatre Conference Playlab Playwright, a 2013 Sponsored Artist of Theatre That Transcends, and an IATI Theater’s 2015 Cimientos Playwright. Her plays include THE FEAST, FAMILY, and TOM & ELIZA. MFA: Columbia.

Noah Diaz is an Omaha-based director and actor. Past directing credits include WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT A PRESENTATION… (Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award) with SNAP! Productions, SLABS at the Shelterbelt Theatre and TAKE ME OUT at the Omaha Community Playhouse. He has also assistant-directed PRINCE MAX’S TREWLY AWFUL TRIP TO THE DESOLAT INTERIOR for the Great Plains Theatre Conference, I HATE HAMLET at the Omaha Community Playhouse and the world premiere of PETE THE CAT: THE MUSICAL at the Rose Theater. As an actor, Noah has worked with the Shelterbelt Theatre, SNAP! Productions, Omaha Community Playhouse, Rose Theater, and Brigit Saint Brigit, amongst others. He is the recipient of five Theatre Arts Guild Awards, three Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, the Elaine Jabenis Award, and the Barbara Ford Award. Noah is a Shelterbelt Theatre board member.

Frost/Nixon Opens at Blue Barn on Feb 4

The Blue Barn Theatre Presents:

Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan

Directed by:  Randall Stevens


Paul Boesing as Richard Nixon
Aaron Zavitz as David Frost
Ben Beck as James Reston
Mike Markey as James Brennan
Matthias Jeske as John Birt
Dave Wingert as Bob Zelnick
Brent Spencer as Swifty Lazar
Will Mulller as Manolo Sanchez
Mary Trecek as Caroline Cushing
Dani Smith as Evonne Goolagong

Performance Dates:  Feb 4-28

Showtimes:  Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm.  Sundays at 6pm.  No show on Feb 7.

Location:  1106 S 10 St in Omaha, NE

Ticket Prices:  $30 for adults.  $25 for seniors (65+), TAG members, students, and groups of 10 or more.


Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace over Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughing-stock.

Determined to resurrect his career, Frost risks everything on a series of in-depth interviews in order to extract an apology from Nixon. The cagey Nixon, however, is equally bent on redeeming himself in his nation’s eyes. In the television age, image is king, and both men are desperate to outtalk and upstage each other as the cameras roll. The result is the interview that sealed a president’s legacy.