It Just Wouldn’t be Omaha Without ‘A Christmas Carol’

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41st Annual A Christmas Carol at Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha’s Holiday Tradition Opens November 18, 2016

Omaha, Neb.— A Christmas Carol will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016. This will be the 41st year for this holiday production at OCP.

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 filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets and special effects second to none. Perfect for the whole family!

This year, the production will be led by a team of directors: OCP’s former longtime artistic director Carl Beck, OCP’s former longtime associate artistic director and former interim artistic director Susan Baer Collins, OCP’s artistic director Kimberly Faith Hickman, OCP’s associate artistic director Jeff Horger and guest director Ablan Roblin. Beck and Collins directed A Christmas Carol on the Mainstage for many years and will “pass the baton” to Hickman and Horger as they establish themselves at the artistic helm of OCP.

Production: A Christmas Carol

Credits

Written by Charles Dickens

Adapted by Charles Jones

Musical orchestration by John J. Bennett

Directing Team: Carl Beck (Director), Susan Baer Collins (Director), Kimberly Faith Hickman (Shadow Director), Jeff Horger (Shadow Director), Ablan Roblin (Cratchit Director/Shadow Director)

Music Director: Jim Boggess

Choreographer: Michelle Garrity

Cast

Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge

Chris Berger as Bob Cratchit

William Wisneski as Tiny Tim

Ron Chvala as Jacob Marley, Ball Musician, Man at Cart

Julie Huff as Ghost of Christmas Past, Myrtle Crow

Don Keelan-White as Ghost of Christmas Present, 1st Charity Man, Mr. Fezziwig, Baker

Scott Ven Den Top as Fred

Marcus Benzel as Jake, Man at Cart

Rusheaa Smith-Turner as Nell

Don Harris as 2nd Charity Man, Man at Cart, Toyshop Keeper

Henry Wisneski as Peter Cratchit

Brodhi McClymont as Francis Cratchit

Maddie Smith as Belinda Cratchit

Daniel Davis, Andrew Hedin, and Samuel Ortner as School boys

Keithen Cudly as Ebby

Ella Coombs Walker as Fan

Joseph Mokrycki as Dick Wilkins, Poulterer

Sara Planck as Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber, Baker’s Wife

Ian Hill as Young Scrooge

Emily Smith as Belle Fezziwig

Emily Mokrycki as Mrs. Cratchit

Clara Pohlman as Martha Cratchit

Julia Ervin as Millie

Emma Chvala as Lucy

Geroge “Nick” LeMay as Topper

Judson Cloudt as Boy with Sled

Alexis Reynolds as Little Bo Peep

Gracee Fitch as Little Boy Blue

Kole Rowan as Beggar

Jenna Hager as Chestnut Vendor

Amina Teri as Greenery Vendor

Featuring:  Josie Ausman, Hannah Fay Johnson, Taylor Morrison, Katie Hoskins, Cora Johnson, Abbey Lienemann, Ella Walker, Henry Wisneski

Show dates: Nov. 18-Dec. 23, 2016; Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Thursday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2:00 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. (No performances on Weds., Nov. 23 and Thurs., Nov. 24.)

Tickets: At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Before Dec. 15, tickets are $38 (adults) and $25 (students). Dec. 15-23, tickets are $42 (adults) and $29 (students). For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $32 (adults) and $18 (students) for all dates.

Sponsored by: First National Bank, KPMG (orchestra sponsor), JK Barker Foundation (cast dinner sponsor), Rotella’s Bakery (bakery shoppe sponsor), SilverStone Group (counting house sponsor) and Cox (media sponsor).

Location: Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132

Performance note: A shadow interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Food drive: Audience members are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to OCP to benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland as part of Conagra Brand’s Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.

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“A Christmas Carol” is Sleeker, But Chipped Around the Edges

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Greedy miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, is given one chance to redeem his soul.  Will a visit by the three spirits of Christmas be enough to gain salvation?  This is the story of A Christmas Carol adapted by Charles Jones from the classic novel by Charles Dickens and celebrating its 40th anniversary at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Question:  How do you breathe new life into a 40 year old tradition?

Answer:  You put Hilary Adams at the helm.

Ms Adams’ direction gives A Christmas Carol a new lease on life.  More importantly, her direction went a long way in giving me the A Christmas Carol that I’ve long wanted to see.  Ms Adams accomplished this task by trimming a lot of unnecessary fat from the play, cutting a whiplash pace, and, for the most part, guiding her actors to natural, realistic performances.  I applaud Ms Adams for her staging of the story and she and the stage crew deserve especially high praise for the seamless and effortless scene changes.  The only critiques of her direction are that she needed to rein in some of the more cartoony performances that weakened this incredibly realistic production and to slow down the pace just a little bit.  Some of the actors were talking so fast that diction suffered and some important beats got glossed over.

I was extraordinarily pleased with Jerry Longe’s performance as Scrooge.  This was actually my third go-around in watching this play and the two previous times I thought Scrooge was missing something crucial.  This time I got a pitch-perfect Scrooge.  Longe’s Scrooge is cold-hearted, mean, greedy, selfish, and those are his better points.  This is a man that needs redemption.  I thought Longe was especially effective in making Scrooge’s salvation a drawn out process.  He fights changing tooth and nail and changes just a little with each interaction with the spirits until he finally sees the error of his ways.  That slow process makes the light-hearted, giddy Scrooge utterly believable when he is, at long last, redeemed.

Longe does need to slow down his delivery.  I lost some of his dialogue in Act I because he was speaking so quickly, though his speed was much more controlled in Act II.

David Krenkel was a wonderful surprise as he made his Playhouse debut as Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s long-suffering clerk.  Krenkel was utterly natural as Cratchit.  He imbued a wonderful fatherliness and goodness into his role which had me believing him from start to finish.

I was underwhelmed by Don Keelan-White’s portrayal of Jacob Marley.  Keelan-White’s rushed line delivery resulted in the loss of character and made it feel like he was simply going through the motions.  Marley should exude a sense of otherworldliness and he seemed all too human to me.  Instead of speaking faster, Keelan-White just needs to close up the spaces between his words.  This will allow him to retain nuance without sacrificing pace.

Bridget Robbins strikes all the right notes as the Ghost of Christmas Present.  Ms Robbins found quite a few nice character moments in her role.  I was especially impressed with how her Spirit was concerned about Scrooge’s welfare, yet had no qualms about giving him a metaphorical shot to the mouth by using his own cruel words against him.

I am not quite certain what Michael Farrell was trying to accomplish with his interpretation of the Ghost of Christmas Present.  His phrasing was rather odd which made it difficult for me to understand what he was saying.  Farrell’s vocal quality also made it seem like he was trying to be jolly (which did come through) and magisterial (which did not quite hit the mark).

The ensemble was always engaged in the action, but there were several notable performances in smaller roles.  Don Harris impressed as Jake, especially in a scene where he tries to stand up to the usurious Scrooge before caving into him.  Emily Mokrycki is splendid as Mrs. Cratchit and strikes the perfect balance between love for her family and disdain for Scrooge.  Megan Friend excels with a sweet turn as Belle Fezziwig, the one-time fiancée of Scrooge, and a hilarious turn as the thieving Mrs. Dilber.

Jim Boggess and his orchestra add to the feeling of Christmas with bright and spritely renditions of Christmas carols.  Georgiann Regan’s costumes perfectly fit the Victorian tale.  Jim Othuse’s sets, lighting, and special effects are absolutely marvelous.

I understand that over 70% of the cast was appearing in this play for the first time.  That much new blood combined with opening night jitters may account for some of the bumps I saw tonight with diction, volume, and interpretation, especially in Act I.  The cast seemed to find their groove in Act II which is a good sign that they will reach their full potential for this 40th anniversary run.  All quibbles aside, I still consider this to be the best version of A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen at the Playhouse in the nearly 19 years I’ve lived in Omaha.  Even if you have seen the play before, I promise you surprises that will make it new all over again.

A Christmas Carol plays at the Omaha Playhouse through December 23.  Performances are Wednesdays at 7pm, Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 6:30pm.  There are no performances on Nov 25 or 26, but two additional performances will be held on Dec 22 and 23 at 7:30pm.  Before Dec 15, tickets are $36 for adults and $25 for students.  Tickets for the Dec 15-23 performances are $40 for adults and $29 for students.  For reservations contact the OCP box office at 402-553-0800 or visit www.omahaplayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

OCP Celebrates 40 Years of “A Christmas Carol”

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40th Annual A Christmas Carol

Omaha’s Holiday Tradition Opens Nov. 20, 2015 at the Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, Neb.— A Christmas Carol will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 2015. This year marks the 40th year for the production on the Main Stage of OCP. In celebration of 40 years, the Omaha Community Playhouse will hold a special “alumni reunion” party for all former and current cast and crew members on Thursday, December 17.

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 filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets, and special effects second to none. Perfect for the whole family!

Production: A Christmas Carol

Credits: By Charles Dickens, Adapted by Charles Jones, Musical orchestration by John J. Bennett Director: Hilary Adams Music Director: Jim Boggess Choreographer: Michelle Garrity

Cast:

Jerry Longe–Ebenezer Scrooge

Lauren Anderson–Millie

Marcus Benzel–Young Scrooge

Heidi Carpenter–Mrs. Fezziwig, Baker’s Wife

Michael Farrell–Ghost of Christmas Present, Baker, 1st Charity Man, Ball Musician

Megan Friend–Belle, Mrs. Dilber

Adam Fulbright–Beggar

Adam Hogston–Dead Scrooge, Male Ensemble

Jenna Hager–Chestnut Vendor

Don Harris –Jake

Sean Hill–Topper

Don Keelan-White–Jacob Marley, Ball Musician, Man at Cart

David Krenkel–Bob Cratchit

Gregg Learned–Mr. Fezziwig, Toyshop Keeper, 2nd Charity Man, Man at Cart

Emily Mokrycki–Mrs. Cratchit

Joseph Mokrycki–Poulterer, Dick Wilkins

Sydney Readman–Lucy

Bridget Robbins–Ghost of Christmas Past, Myrtle Crow

Emily Smith–Female Ensemble

James Allen Spain–Organ Grinder

Julia Ervin–Nell

Scott Van Den Top–Fred

Keithen Cudl– School boy, Shepherd, Ensemble

Liliana Cudly–Ensemble, Angel

Daniel Davis–Ensemble, Shepherd

Sasha Belle Denenberg–Ensemble, Angel

Emma Gould–Fan

Jamie Gould–Ensemble, Mary

Evelyn Hill–Martha Cratchit

Cora Rose Johnson–Ensemble, Angel

Ryan Laughlin–School boy, Wise Man, Ensemble

Grayson Longe–School boy, Wise Man, Ensemble

Nikolas Loontjer–Ebby, Wise Man

Taylor Morrison–Francis Cratchit, Angel

Samuel Ortner–Ensemble, Shepherd

Alexis Reynolds–Little Bo Peep, Angel

Natalie Reynolds–Little Boy Blue, Angel

Kole Rowan–Peter Cratchit, Joseph

Maddie Smith–Boy with Sled, Angel

Ava Sturdy–Belinda Cratchit, Angel

Amina Teri–Ensemble, Angel

Henry Wisneski–Greenery Vendor, Innkeeper, Ensemble

William Wisneski–Tim Cratchit, Shepherd

Show dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 2015; Wednesdays, 7 p.m., Thursdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. (No performances on Nov. 25 and 26; added performances on Dec. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.) Tickets: At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at http://www.OmahaPlayhouse.org or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Before Dec. 15, tickets are $36 (adults) and $25 (students). Dec. 15-23, tickets are $40 (adults) and $29 (students). For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $32 (adults) and $18 (students) for all dates.

Location: Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE), Howard and Rhonda Hawks Main Stage Theatre

Performance note: A shadow interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Sponsored by: First National Bank, KPMG (orchestra sponsor), Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (snow and special effects sponsor) and Cox (media sponsor)

Food drive: Audience members are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to OCP to benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland as part of ConAgra Foods’ Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.

Adult Auditions for A Christmas Carol at Omaha Playhouse

Adult Auditions for A Christmas Carol

Omaha Community Playhouse – enter through stage door on west side of building (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)
Adult Auditions: Monday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

Production dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 2015
Rehearsal dates: October-November, 2015

Audition requirements: Those auditioning should bring a piece of music (16 bars) to sing at the audition. A piano accompanist will be available.

Show summary: 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 filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets and special effects second to none.

Contact info: Jeannine Robertson – jrobertson@omahaplayhouse.com, (402) 553-4890, ext. 164

Director: Hilary Adams
Roles: All roles are open except Ebenezer Scrooge

One Delightful Disaster

You’ll shed a tear for Charles Dickens as his beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, is butchered by the inept hands of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic in the comedy The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Presents “A Christmas Carol” written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr.

This splendid play within a play centers on the hapless Farndale Guild Dramatic and their pathetic attempt to mount Dickens’ legendary holiday tale.  Missed cues, rancid acting, egos, ill timed scene changes, wardrobe malfunctions, and wounded performers are just some of things that allow the Farndale Guild Dramatic to reach new highs in lows as it completely redefines the meaning of bad play.

This is the most believable play this writer has seen in years.  It takes a very great actor to come off as a very bad actor and this entire cast superbly pulls it off as they seem like the rankest of rank amateurs and kept the audience howling all night in the process.

Laura Marr portrays Phoebe Reese, the platinum haired president of the guild.  While not explicitly stated, it’s implied that Phoebe “directed” this train wreck as she calls the shots of the show as well as serving as narrator, announcer, and playing multiple characters.  Ms Marr’s comedic timing is spot on as she schmoozes with the audience, enters scenes as the wrong characters, and stops the play for an impromptu monologue about a dress she wanted to wear as the wife of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.  A song and dance number insulting Ebenezer Scrooge is the highlight of Ms Marr’s performance as she awkwardly dances with a sword and continuously hurts herself in the process.

David Sindelar shines as Gordon Pugh, the put upon stage manager of this farce.  Sindelar’s Gordon is utterly hopeless as a stage manager as he brings scenery and props on too soon, too late, or not at all.  As bad as he is a stage manager, he is even worse as an actor as he delivers his lines in a stilted, monotone voice while keeping his arms pasted to his sides.  Sindelar nearly steals the show with a gutbusting rendition of Jacob Marley whose constant shrieking, “Whooo!!!!” frustrates the actress playing Ebenezer Scrooge to no end.

Rose Glock is fabulous as Thelma Longbottom.  Longbottom is a diva of the worst kind.  Not only is she snooty and demanding, but she believes she is an acting goddess when she actually does not even have the chops to outperform a brick wall.  Ms Glock performs a bit of theatre magic with her character’s take on Ebenezer Scrooge.  Her interpretation of Longbottom’s Scrooge does little more than strut around the stage with jutted jaw and bent knees in a performance so ludicrously awful, it’s wonderful.  Ms Glock’s Longbottom reaches the height of arrogance when she spontaneously adapts Macbeth’s “Is this a dagger?” speech for Scrooge’s conciliatory dialogue with the charity collector simply because the vicar thinks she should be performing on the West End stage.

Seldom has this writer seen a performer do more with less than Sherry Fletcher’s portrayal of Mercedes Mildenhall-Smythe.  Mercedes plays multiple characters despite the fact that she is terribly injured.  Wearing a neck brace, eyepatch, and a sling, Ms Fletcher shuffled her way through an amazing performance that somehow managed to be incredibly animated despite little to no body movement.

Lorie Obradovich’s Felicity Jones-Potter vastly outstrips the other characters in terms of acting ability.  Ms Obradovich’s Felicity is the only actor who actually possesses talent as she ably portrays diverse characters such as Fred, Belle, and one of the thieves who loot Scrooge’s home after his death.  However, the stage is the only place where she shows confidence as Felicity is quite mousey away from it.  She is easily dominated by the others as she makes tea for the cast and is compelled to deliver dialogue praising Thelma Longbottom’s beauty.  Yet this mouse manages to somewhat pull the group’s collective fat out of the fire when she improvises a Christmas dance to buy time for a costume change.

This gaggle of comedic geniuses provides a great night of comedy.  You will never have more fun seeing “bad” theatre than this show which is certainly a comedic triumph for the Circle.

The Farndale Avenenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Presents “A Christmas Carol” plays at the Circle Theatre for three more performances on Dec 12 & 19 at 8pm and Dec 20 at 2pm.  An optional dinner is served one hour before curtain.  Tickets for dinner and show are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, and $20 for students and TAG members ($15, $13, and $10 for show only).  For reservations call 402-553-4715 or e-mail dlmarr@cox.net.  The Circle Theatre is located inside of First United Methodist Church at 7020 Cass St in Omaha, NE.