Will You be Part of the Book of Will?

The Omaha Community Playhouse is holding auditions for the upcoming staged reading of Book of Will on Sunday, Jan 20 and Monday, Jan 21 at 7pm at OCP.  The staged reading is part of OCP’s Alternative Programming Series.

Production:  Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson

Show Date:  February 25, 2019

Theatre:  Omaha Community Playhouse (Howard Drew Theatre)

Rehearsals:  To be determined once show is cast.

Description:  Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, but without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever!  After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the First Folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives.  They’ll just have to borrow, beg, and band together to get it done.

Director:  Marie Amthor Schuett

Auditions:  7pm on Jan 20 and 21 at the Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE)

Those auditioning should enter through the west “Stage Door” entrance and proceed to the check-in table.

Roles:  Ed Knight, Isaac Jaggard, Elizabeth Condell, Emilia Bassano, Lanier, Fruit Seller, Marcellus, Alice, Susannah, Shakespeare, Ralph Crane, Barman, Compositor, Francisco, Henry Condell, Richard Burbage, William Jaggard, John Heminges, Rebecca Heminges, Anne Hathaway, Ben Jonson, Barman 2, Dering, Bernardo, Marcu, Boy Hamlet, Crier, Horatio

Notes:  Actors only need to attend of of the audition dates to be considered for a role.  Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script provided at auditions.  If special accommodations are needed, please contact OCP prior to auditions.

Please Bring:  All contact information, personal schedules, and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form.  To expedite the check-in process, please bring physical copy of a headshot or recent photo of yourself.  Please note, photos will not be returned.

Contact:  For more information, contact Breanna Carodine, bcarodine@omahaplyahouse.com, at 402-553-4890, ext. 164.

The Night is Coming

Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce

Oct. 4th-31st, 2018

The fifth installment of BLUEBARN’s acclaimed immersive theatre series is located once again at Fontenelle’s Neale Woods Nature Center.

Based on the The Tempest by William Shakespeare, Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce invites the audience to experience the world of the play through any one of fifteen unique perspectives. The events occur in real time, throughout The Neale Woods Nature Center.  There are no set theatre seats. Guests are free to explore.  Comfortable footwear is recommended. Performances include acrobatics, dance, fight choreography, live music and possible 1-on-1 interactions.

ADA-compliant pathways are readily available.

You begin either by venturing ahead into the unknown forest, or by staying in safety with your group.  The encounters you have and decisions you make will determine how you witness the orchestration of what may well be a plot for revenge…

The Story

Prominent local leader Prospero and his child went missing, presumed dead after a terrible accident.  Local legend has it, however, that they have been in hiding, at a mansion in the woods. In the decades since, sightings of sprite-like creatures, large yeti-like beasts and strange lights have been growing.  Now, after a clandestine meeting, those thought responsible for the “accident” have themselves disappeared.

Tickets

Walk the Night runs Thursdays-Sundays @7pm, with a second show on Fridays and Saturdays @9:00pm. This year there will be two special performances October 30 and 31@ 7pm.

You’ll choose from one of four different ways to experience the first half of the show. Come again and choose a different Act 1 ticket for an entirely different show. With four main pathways, simultaneous action taking place throughout the space, and multiple decisions to make as you chart your course through the story…the best way to fully experience Walk the Night: Spirits to Enforce is to come more than once.

Single tickets are $25 General/$20 Senior/Student

Unlimited Passes available for $45 General/$40 Senior/Student.

Tickets on sale now! Click here to reserve tickets.

Walk the Night is conceived and directed by Spencer Williams, co-directed by Colleen Hudson-Pace, devised by the ensemble, and features Original music by Andrew Heringer, choreography by Stephanie Huettner, technical design by Homero Vela, costumes by Jenny Pool, and puppet design by Shannon Wade. For more information, visit www.bluebarn.org or www.towalkthenight.com

Dare to Walk the Night

The BLUEBARN Theatre is seeking actors, ensemble and interactive crew for its 5th annual, immersive theatre experienceWalk the Night: Spirits to Enforce, based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Auditions will be held at the BLUEBARN located at 1106 S. 10th St.  (10th & Pacific Streets)

Saturday, August 4th from 11a.m-2p.m.

Sunday, August 5th from 12-2 p.m.

Walk the Night will run October 4th – October 31st, 2018 at Fontenelle Forest’s Neale Woods Center.

Preparatory Meetings Begin in August. Rehearsals begin in September.

The Walk the Night company is open to performers and crew 16 and older.

We prize diverse, counter-intuitive casting, and will adjust roles to suit the ensemble.

Please prepare any combination of the following:

A 90 second monologue of your choice, classic or modern

A 90 second retelling of a unique experience you’ve had, in your own words

A demonstration of a particular skill, hobby, or talent

Audition may include movement and the reading of sides.

Walk the Night is an interactive, continuous 75-90 min event. Those auditioning should have the required stamina and willingness to engage the audience as scene partners. Movement and puppetry experience, dance and music skills, singing ability and other skillsets are most welcome, though not required.

For more information, to request a character breakdown, or to sign up for an audition session, please contact Barry at bcarman@bluebarn.org.

ABOUT Spirits to Enforce

Prospero escaped an attempt on his life–by his own family. He and his child took refuge in an abandoned estate in the woods north of the city, letting the rest of the world think they were dead.  In the years since, Prospero discovered an ancient tome that seems to have granted him arcane abilities. Now, by a twist of fate, Prospero’s usurpers have found their way into his trap.

ABOUT THE BLUEBARN THEATRE

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company.  Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons.

The Bard Makes a Regional Premiere at OCP

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

Opens April 13, 2018 at the Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, NE. – Shakespeare in Love, a play based on the Academy Award-winning film, will run April 13 – May 6, 2018 at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Tom Stoppard and adapted by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), Shakespeare in Love is a love letter to the stage and a celebration of theatre, music and human connection. While the government threatens to close all theaters, young Will Shakespeare suffers from writer’s block, as his muse Viola disguises herself as a man to pursue her dreams of being an actor. Amidst mistaken identities, ruthless scheming, backstage theatrics and a misbehaving dog, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece.
Disclaimer: Contains scenes of sexuality.

To celebrate Shakespeare in Love, Omaha Community Playhouse will hold an opening night celebration from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13 free to that evening’s ticket holders. No reservations necessary. Attendees will enjoy a Shakespearean celebration, including snacks, treats, games and appearances by entertainers from the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska. It’s like a mini-faire right in the lobby.

Production:  Shakespeare in Love

Credits:  Based on the Screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard | Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall | Music by Paddy Cunneen | Based on the Academy Award-winning film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes

Director:  Jeff Horger

Cast

Jacob Roman as Will Shakespeare

Alissa Harnish as Viola de Lesseps

Janet Macklin as Queen Elizabeth

Kevin Barratt as Richard Burbage

Bradley Alexander as Wabash

Caitlin Mabon as Sir Robert

Chloe Irwin as John Webster

Christopher Scott as Philip Henslowe

Craig Bond as Ralph

Danielle Smith as Edmund Tilney

Sydney Readman as Lord Wessex

Ron Boschult as Fennyman

Will Rodgers as Sam

Jeremy Earl as Christopher “Kit” Marlowe

Julie Fitzgerald Ryan as Nurse

Michael Leaman as Ned Allen

Ensemble features Jenna Hager, Olivia Howard, Sean Johnson, Samantha Johnson, Alex Nilius, Pamela Scott, Dennis Stessman, and Catherine Vazquez

Apollo the dog as Spot the dog

Show dates: April 13 – May 6, 2018; Wednesdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets:  At the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com or http://www.TicketOmaha.com. Adult single tickets start at $24 for Wednesday performances and start at $32 for Thursday – Sunday performances. Student single tickets start at $18 for Wednesday performances and start at $22 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Call the OCP box office for current prices.  For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $22 for Wednesday performances and $28 for Thursday – Sunday performances.

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 starting at $24 for adults and $18 for students.

Whatta Deal Wednesday – Discounted tickets for $10 will be available for the first Wednesday performance on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. $10 tickets will be available in person at the box office starting at 4:00 p.m. the day of the show.

Sponsors:  Immanuel Communities (Series Sponsor), Conagra Brands Foundation (Producing Partner), Cindy and Scott Heider (Specialty Sponsor) and KETV (Media Sponsor)

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre (6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132)

Upcoming Auditions

CIRCLE THEATRE PRESENTS AUDITIONS FOR
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Circle Theatre will hold auditions for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” running May 4-19.

Auditions will be held March 26th and 27th at 7:00p.m.

Please bring a calendar and a list of ALL conflicts from April to May.
The show opens May 4 and runs through May 19, 2018.
Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 for two weekends.

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script.
The Circle Theatre is committed to diverse, inclusive casting, and auditions are open to all.

Synopsis:
When the merry sprite Puck meddles with a magical love potion, young lovers lost in the woods mysteriously find themselves infatuated with the wrong person in this hilarious, fairytale fantasy that proves the course of true love never did run smooth.

Auditions will be held at Hanscom Park United Methodist Church at 4444 Frances Street.
For more information, please contact Circle Theatre at circle.theatreomaha@gmail.com

OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS
THE 2018-2019 SEASON MUSICAL ADULT AUDITIONS

Saturday, May 12, 11:30 a.m. check in, 12:00 p.m. start
Sunday, May 13, 5:30 p.m. check in, 6:00 p.m. start

Omaha Community Playhouse will hold adult and youth season musical auditions for all five musicals for the 2018-2019 season in May, including auditions for Fun Home, Shrek The Musical, A Christmas Carol, The Bridges of Madison County and Ragtime. Actors interested in these shows should plan to attend. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse, inclusive casting.

What:  2018-2019 Season Musical Adult Auditions
Who: For actors 16 years and older of all genders and ethnicities
Location: Omaha Community Playhouse | 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132
Those auditioning should enter through the main lobby entrance and proceed to the check-in table.

Requirements:
Actors please be prepared with the following:
* Sheet music with 16 bars ready to sing (an accompanist will be provided)
* There will be a dance audition, so actors should be dressed to move (no boots, sandals, flip-flops, etc.)
* You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and schedules available to complete the form.
* A recent photo to attach to your audition form. Please note, the photos do not need to be professional and will not be returned.
* Should you not have a photo, one will be taken at the time of the audition.

Show Dates:
Fun Home
 – August 17 – September 16, 2018, (Howard Drew Theatre)
Shrek The Musical – September 14 – October 14, 2018 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
A Christmas Carol – November 16 – December 23, 2018 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
The Bridges of Madison County – March 1 – 24, 2019 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)
Ragtime – May 31 – June 30, 2019 (Hawks Mainstage Theatre)

There will be additional auditions held at later dates throughout the season for the following non-musical productions: She Kills Monsters, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Of Mice and Men, One Man, Two Guvnors and Men on Boats, as well as Alternative Programming auditions. Those dates will be announced at a later time.

Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse, inclusive casting.

Contact:
For more information, contact Breanna Carodine, bcarodine@omahaplayhouse.com, at (402) 553-4890, ext. 110.

The Night Can be Deadly

BLUEBARN THEATRE’s IMMERSIVE THEATRE SERIES returns with 

Walk the Night: Death Marked Love (based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet)

BLUEBARN‘s Immersive series returns with the ghosts of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, doomed to walk the night until the foul crimes done against them in their days of nature are purged away.

It begins with an invitation.  After buying your ticket, you are emailed a link with driving instructions and a downloadable audio invitation–a radio play to accompany you on your drive to Fontenelle’s Neale Woods, 1/2 north of Omaha.  The mysterious on the other end tells you: You will be attending an event at the summer home of his former enemy, a manor turned into a memorial after tragic events some 100 years ago.  When there, you will make a choice–or perhaps the choice will make you.  It will be the first among many; a choice as instinctive as one between Red and Blue, that will serve as your guide to witness grieving parents retrace the mournful last steps of their children.

Walk the Night founder Spencer Williams adapts & directs with assistance from Walk the Night company members Caulene Hudson and Aaron Ellis; choreography by Stephanie Huettner (TBD Dance Collective), costumes by Jenny Pool, lights by Josh Mullady, site design by Jesse Groff, production management by Homero Vela; original soundtrack by Andrew Heringer, Philip Kolbo, and Joe Mendick (performed live by Kolbo, Mendick and ensemble members); location partner Fontenelle Forest.

Performance dates:

October 5 – 28, 2017 

Shows run Thursday-Sunday at 7 pm; Double shows on Fridays & Saturdays

$25 for adults/$45 for unlimited access (Discounts for students, TRUBLU members & groups of 5 or more)

Location: Neale Woods Nature Center, 14323 Edith Marie Avenue in Omaha, ½ mile north of Hummel Park.

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company.  Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and patrons

To provoke thought, emotion, action, and change through daring and innovative theatre

‘Ladies’ Leave ‘Em Laughing in the Aisles

Meet Leo Cark and Jack Gable.  They are 2 struggling Shakespearian actors of dubious talent and meager means.  When they stumble onto a chance to steal 2/3 of a multimillion dollar fortune by posing as the long lost relatives of a dying woman, they throw caution to the wind and put their acting skills to the test.  And it is a mighty difficult test as the missing relatives happen to be women.  This is Leading Ladies by Ken Ludwig and currently playing at Maples Repertory Theatre.

A big part of the magic of theatre is that if you change a few elements of a production it becomes brand new all over again.  Just a few months ago I reviewed this show for the Omaha Community Playhouse.  With that performance still fresh in my memory, I got to see an exciting, rib tickling new take on it due to a simple change of director and cast and crew.  This is why one can see the same show over and over and over again and it is still something unique and original.

Brandon McShaffrey truly knows what makes for good farce.  His direction of tonight’s show was genius as he not only knew where and when to add the ludicrous elements, but he also managed to add a sizable amount of realism to the production.  His actors were honest to goodness people as opposed to caricature and he led the lot of them to sterling performances that left the audience rolling in the aisles.

This show is truly an ensemble piece with every actor getting a chance to shine.  Madeline Thomas is simply cute as a button and deliriously ditzy as Audrey.  She may not be too bright, but she’s building her brain one complex word at a time.  Todd Davison and Sean Powell make for a great father/son act as the talentless physician, Doc Myers, and his nerdy, willowy son, Butch.  Andy Brown provides some laughs as Rev. Duncan Wooley, the cheapskate, milquetoast fiancée of the play’s leading lady.  But watch out for Jonna Wiseman as barbed tongued Aunt Florence as she steals every scene she’s in with her acidic antics.

With the supporting cast providing such a strong foundation, it would be nearly impossible for this show to fail and it gets a further boost from its three leads, Michael McIntire, Sean Riley, and Kara Overlien, who admirably carry the bulk of the show on their formidably talented shoulders.

I was extraordinarily impressed with Kara Overlien’s portrayal of Meg.  Ms Overlien is just so. . .genuine as the young heiress.  She plays Meg as a decent woman with a strong streak of integrity as she plans to marry Rev. Wooley for taking care of her after the death of her parents.  But she also gets a lot of joy out of life.  She has passion for the theatre and has a surprising amount of potential as a performer.  She loves music and is a skilled dancer.  In fact, her solo dance number to a radio song is one of the best moments of the night.  Ms Overlien also has incredible facial animation as her reactions to the events swirling about her were always extemporaneous and spot-on.

Sean Riley does so much with so little in his interpretation of Jack Gable.  A slight grin here and a little gesture there had the crowd eating out of Riley’s hand.  Riley’s Gable may be the less talented member of the acting duo, but he might be the mentally swifter of the two.  Riley comes up with absurd sign language as the deaf and dumb “Stephanie” and also knows how to sneak hugs out of Audrey.  He’s also got a bit of the devil in him as he makes Leo’s wooing of Meg more difficult with his insinuations about why we never seem to see Leo and “Maxine” together as well as messing with Leo during their performance at the Moose Lodge.  Riley clearly had a ball with the role and it showed with a stellar performance.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a skilled blending of over the topness and realism as the one provided by Michael McIntire’s rendition of Leo Clark.  McIntire’s Clark is truly a good actor, but can’t seem to catch a break.  When he hatches the plan of stealing the fortune he throws, and I mean THROWS, himself in the role of “Maxine”.  McIntire is larger than life as Clark playing Maxine and he dazzlingly moves between the over the top “Maxine” to the natural Leo without missing a beat.  His howlingly funny reactions and expression asides to the audience only further fueled his dynamic performance.

Outstanding technical elements further helped create the world of this show including Charles Johnson’s set which creates the illusion of a well to do home without being ostentatious.  Jack Smith’s costumes were snappy and elegant from the suits and tuxes for the men and the gowns and dresses for the ladies and the “leading ladies”.

Tighter cue pickups and a faster pace would have further bolstered tonight’s production, but it is still one terrific night of comedy.  The best stamp of approval I can give is that this show caused me to laugh myself into a coughing fit at several points and I saw many members of the audience doubled over in hysterics at numerous moments.  But, hey, don’t take our words for it.  Buy a ticket and experience the mirth for yourself.

Leading Ladies plays at Maples Repertory Theatre through July 22.  Showtimes are 7:30pm on July 1, 5, 15, and the 21 and at 2pm on June 24, 28, July 2, 7, 16, 18, 21-22.  Tickets cost $29 for the Main Floor and $22 for the balcony.  For tickets contact the box office at 660-385-2924 or visit the website at www.maplesrep.com.  Maples Repertory Theatre is located at 102 N Rubey St in Macon, MO.

Lead On, “Ladies”

Two broke, out of work Shakespearian actors hatch a plan to steal an inheritance from a wealthy old maid by pretending to be her long lost nieces.  Wrenches start to get thrown into the plan when the two cross dressing con artists fall in love with a pair of women and word comes that the real nieces are on their way.  This is Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Ludwig is a masterful writer who knows all the ins and outs of good farce.  You’ve got the slamming doors, the over the top characters, the mistaken identities, and the ludicrous scenarios.  But Ludwig also adds a story that has got quite a bit of heart and includes a couple of surprising plot twists before the tale ends.  His terrific script is supported, nay, enhanced by a sterling cast that runs like a well oiled machine and obtains the maximum amount of yuks possible.

Jeff Horger paints a beautifully funny picture with his direction.  He clearly has an excellent grasp on farce with his use of broad, comedic strokes on the canvas.  Horger’s staging is top notch with his actors constantly moving about the performance space and his sight gags are completely organic and always apropos to the situation.  He’s also led his actors to strong, humorous performances and they made nary a misstep throughout the production.  Horger’s use of a melodramatic score composed and arranged by Vince Krysl is a positively inspired touch.

The supporting cast provides an excellent foundation for the comedy as each has developed a unique, zany character with his or her own particular quirks that brought vivid life to this world.  This includes Catherine Vazquez as a not overly bright waitress who builds a more complex vocabulary one word at a time, Sue Mouttet as the acid tongued matriarch with a heart of gold, and especially Don Harris and Christopher Scott who provided me with some deep belly laughs as the inept and lusty Doc Myers and his dopey son, Butch.

Will Muller stuns with his portrayal of Rev. Duncan Wooley.  With his unyielding posture, monotone voice, and limited, robotic movements, Muller has crafted one of the funniest characters I’ve seen in quite some time.  Muller’s Wooley may be a man of God, but he isn’t very likable as he is a stick in the mud’s stick in the mud who never wants to have any fun, plans a dull, businesslike wedding, and schemes to do God’s work using his fiancée’s wealth.  Muller is at his comedic best when his buttons get pushed to the point where his emotions finally explode out of him.

Victoria Luther is absolutely darling with her interpretation of Meg Snider, Wooley’s fiancée and heiress to a large fortune.  In many ways, Ms Luther is the glue of this cast as her character fuses the play’s unreality to its reality.  She is the most natural character in the show and brings a bright vibrancy with her character’s love of theatre and life.  Ms Luther shows impressive versatility as she easily switches from believable, grounded moments to over the top reactions when the need arises.

As important as the other characters are, the heaviest burden of this show lies on the shoulders of its “leading ladies” and the burden is well and ably carried by Kevin Goshorn and Michael Judah making their Playhouse debuts.

Michael Judah arguably does the most heavy lifting with his rendition of Leo Clark.  Clark is not only a sucky, over the top actor, but he is always on and has a mouth with an inexhaustible energy source.  Judah’s energy is unbelievably phenomenal as he rises to the challenge of this role with a feat of skillful overacting that would make John Carradine proud.  How he maintains that energy without collapsing is beyond me as he easily transitions from the theatrical Clark to the equally over the top “Maxine”.  Yet the over the topness of the character still seems completely natural.  It’s as if Clark doesn’t know how to just be himself until he falls in love with Meg and FINALLY drops his defenses and is able to engage in some lovely softer moments with her.

Kevin Goshorn’s Jack Gable is a worthy sidekick to Leo Clark.  Goshorn marvelously plays the loyal friend who gets caught up in Clark’s machinations.  Forced to impersonate Stephanie, the deaf and dumb niece, Goshorn has stupendous facial expressions and body language as he invents his own sign language to communicate with others and is especially amusing when he uses that sign language to tell “Maxine” he’d like to throttle “her”.  But he’s no shrinking violet.  As decent a person as Gable is, he isn’t above worming hugs out of the lady he likes or standing up to Clark by manipulating him to become “Maxine” just to screw with him.  Goshorn also gets the play’s funniest moment when he tries to bait Wooley into seducing him in order to help Clark get Meg.

The Snider estate, designed by Steve Wheeldon, is absolutely gorgeous with its soft blue walls and fancy double doors.  John Gibilisco’s sounds almost become extra characters with Clark’s idea moments and Meg’s entrance theme.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes are extremely elegant, especially the gowns worn by Ms Luther, Judah, and Goshorn.  Darin Kuehler’s properties, especially the furniture, really liven up the stage.

This is the type of show that’s sure to take you out of yourself for a little while.  It’s not only laugh out loud funny, but it’s also got just the right touch of warmth and heart.

Leading Ladies runs at the Playhouse through May 7.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students Thurs-Sun.  Wednesday show tickets are $28 for adults and $18 for students.  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.

Much Ado About Something

Will Benedick and Beatrice admit their love for each other?  Are Hero and Claudio doomed to be forever separated?  Will Don Jon’s machinations succeed?  Will Dogberry make an ounce of sense at some point?  Is this a soap opera?  No.  It’s Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare and currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

There’s always something a little comforting about the Bard’s comedies as they follow the same formula.  You have two main characters sniping at each other before confessing their mutual love, a case of mistaken identity, a slapstick comedy relief character, shenanigans aplenty, and everything gets tied up at the end.  The only item that really differentiates this play from Shakespeare’s other comedies (and plays, for that matter) is that this is the only play Shakespeare wrote in prose instead of verse.

Suzanne Withem did an exceptional job directing this production.  She coaxed the best performances possible out of her cast, delved into every beat for maximum impact, excellently staged the production, threw in just the right amount of slapstick, and even arranged for a couple of nice dance numbers.  Her updating of the tale to a western was also an ingenious touch which worked amazingly well.

The supporting cast did fine work staying within the moments of the show.  Their reactions and expressions showed that they were always listening and greatly aided in fleshing out the show.  With that being said, projection was a problem and the cast needs to be certain to belt out their lines to overcome the theatre’s black boxish acoustics.

Standout performances were given by Mary Trecek as Leonata, the matriarch of her family; Craig Bond as the drunken, weaselly Borachio; and Ted Lane and William Rodgers as Dogberry, the clueless constable and his infinitely more intelligent sidekick, Verges.

Beau Fisher was so much fun to watch as Benedick.  With effortless ease, he captured the intellect and snootishness of Benedick and he handled the nimble wordplay with dazzling grace.  Fisher has tremendous gifts as a performer as his gestures beautifully animated his interpretation and precisely punctuated his words.  He also makes for an excellent physical comic best demonstrated when he eavesdrops on a conversation about Beatrice’s love for him.

Emma Rasmassen was equally wonderful as Beatrice and her chemistry with Fisher was spot on.  She made for a terrific tomboy and brought Beatrice’s sparkling wit to delightful life.  Ms Rasmussen also has impressive gifts with physical comedy with her own eavesdropping on a conversation about Benedick’s love for her.

There are few actors in this city who can match Jeremy Earl’s experience with Shakespeare.  Earl handles Shakespearian dialogue better than some people speak their native language and this play is no exception with his performance as Don Pedro, the powerful ranch owner.  Earl’s mighty baritone and presence lend an air of authority and respect to Don Pedro and leaves nobody wondering that he is a leader among men.

Joshua Parker does a lot of good with his portrayal of Claudio.  I loved the sappy lovesickness he gave to the character as there was no doubt that he was in love with Hero.  He also handled some of the heavier moments of show well as I did not doubt his anger and sadness when he thought Hero was cheating on him.  However he also needed to slow his delivery down and space out his words a bit more as his diction was a bit sloppy.

One of the most surprising performances came from Jon Roberson who played Don Jon, Don Pedro’s Machiavellian half-brother.  Roberson is rapidly building a reputation as a master of underplaying as he’s created a villain reminiscent of Donald Pleasance with his soft-spoken nastiness and callousness.

On a technical level, I consider this to be one of the best shows mounted by the BLT.  Tom Miller’s set design was simple, but effective with his little ranch house.  Zach Kloppenborg’s costume design was right on the money with the western style dresses and cowboy duds (especially the ones worn by Beatrice).  Joey Lorincz’s lights beautifully showed the transitions from day to night.  And the program lacked a credit for sound design, but it was well suited to every moment of the show.

I found this to be one of the best productions mounted on the BLT stage and its perfect blend of strong direction, strong acting, and accurate technical elements could put it into the running for a number of prizes come awards season.  At the very least, it certainly deserves a strong run.

Much Ado About Nothing plays at the Bellevue Little Theatre through Feb 19.  Performances are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.  For reservations call 402-291-1554 Mon-Sat between 10am-4:30pm.  The Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

BLT Brings a Bit of the Bard to Life with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 W. Mission Ave., in Bellevue, will present William Shakespeare’s comedy  Much Ado About Nothing  for three weekends, beginning Friday Feb. 3 and closing Sunday Feb. 19.  The production begins at 7:30 PM Friday and Saturday evenings and 2 PM on Sunday.

Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 402-291-1554 Monday through Saturday between 10 am and 4:30 PM.  Tickets are $18.00 for adults, $16.00 seniors, and $10 for students.

Suzanne Withem is directing this production with Mary Trecek serving as producer. Stage manager is Adia Matousek; set designer is Thomas Miller, assisted by Wesley A. Houston; lighting designer is Joey Lorincz; props designer is Robin Helwig; costume designer is Zach Kloppenborg.

Cast
Beatrice: Emma Rasmussen
Benedick: Beau James Fisher
Claudio: Joshua  Lloyd Parker
Hero: Elise O’Neil
Don Pedro: Jeremy Earl
Don John: Jon Roberson
Leonata: Mary Trecek
Antonia: Ember Krumwied
Borachio: Craig Bond
Margaret: Allison Buell
Ursula: Rebecca Shinkle
Dogberry: Ted J. Lane
Verges: William Rogers
Sister Francis: Bridget Mueting

Much Ado About Nothing is a well-known classic Shakespearean comedy, but Withem has moved the setting to the small, but thriving, frontier town of Messina in 1890. The women of Messina are no strangers to hardship and loss but are resilient and capable. The loss of men folk has left the management of the family business to the women—who find excitement and romance with the arrival of Don Pedro and a crew of handsome cowboys to their small town.

Excitement, romance and conflict provide the backbone of the story with deception leading to tragedy but also to love. As with all of Shakespeare’s comedies, there is a happy ending, but not before tricks are played during the night and guns are drawn at high noon—but in the end it is all much ado about nothing.  The production provides the audience with an unusual twist on a Shakespeare classic.