Go Beyond the Show: The Whipping Man

Go Beyond the Show with a panel discussion on the major themes and issues covered in The Whipping Man.

Sunday, Nov. 2
Immediately following the 2 p.m. performance
Panel: Alan Potash, Anti-Defamation League, Susan Wallis, Anti-Defamation League, Peggy Jones, UNO Black Studies Department and Jade Rogers, Metropolitan Community College faculty. 
The discussion is free with the purchase of a ticket.

"The Whipping Man" actors dig deep for character inspiration

Even with a small cast, The Whipping Man is sure to leave a big impact. A powerful story is told by three men as they take the stage and take us back to a Jewish home in Richmond, VA right after the Civil War has ended. A Confederate officer comes home from war to find his family gone and his house in ruins. Only two of his former slaves remain in the house and the three wait together for the return of their families. As they wait, they interpret their Jewish faiths during the difficult times of war and slavery, and their personal stories and secrets begin to unravel.

Carl Brooks as Simon
A lot of personal reflection was involved in preparing for these roles and the actors dug deep to find their characters within themselves. For Carl Brooks, who plays Simon, one of the former slaves, portraying the Judaism aspect of his character was the hardest. “It was difficult coming to grips that this man was raised Jewish,” said Carl. “I have to accept and apply Judaism into a slavery environment and find that within myself.”

For the other actors, Andy Prescott and Luther R. Simon, finding the darker sides of themselves and portraying such raw emotion was the most difficult part of portraying their characters. “There is a lot of dark energy here; racism is heavy,” said Luther. “You really have to get intact and portray the sides people pretend to hide about themselves.”

Luther Simon as John
It was the intensity of the story and the darkness of the characters that intrigued both Andy and Luther. “I was drawn to my character because of his menacing undertone,” said Luther. “I’ve never played a dark character; this guy is raw, edgy and mysterious, and it’s my first time playing that role.” This was also a new type of role for Andy. “I want to make [acting] a career, and I’m just starting out. I want to branch out from my usual goofy protagonist that I play and this part is very different from that.”

In order to develop their characters, the cast have been looking into history and into their own pasts. “This character is interesting; he’s an alcoholic and has a lot of baggage. I’ve been trying to think of times in my life where I can relate,” said Luther. “There is a lot of reflection as well as knowing the history; I’ve been going to the library.” Carl has been using similar antics. “Life experiences have helped me a lot and I have always been curious and interested about the Civil War,” he said.
Andrew Prescott as Caleb

For Andy, there was a more physical aspect to his role preparation. “There has been a lot of physicality and warming up. There are a lot of scenes where I am laying down but still have to project energy,” he said. “I’ve also been listening to dialect tapes in my car and finding beats and emotions that come through the play.”

Between having a smaller cast and having such new characters to play, the three actors led by Director Stephen Nachamie, have been working hard to bring all the power the story holds to the stage. “It’s an intense play,” said Andy. “You have to be ready to give it all you’ve got.”

See The Whipping Man at the Omaha Community Playhouse Oct. 17-Nov.16, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students. For groups of 12 or more, tickets for adults are $24 and tickets for students are $16. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, click here or visit the Box Office located in the southeast corner of the Omaha Community Playhouse at 6915 Cass St. Go Beyond the show with a post-show panel discussion on Sunday, Nov. 2 immediately following the performance.

Story by Madison Denkinger

Catching up with Beatrice Stockwell and her role as the Chaperone

Beatrice Stockwell is sure to be a hit in The Drowsy Chaperone; she was made for it! We loved getting to talk to her about her past and this show; she is so much fun!

Give some background/ tell us about yourself.
Oh! What a question! What I could tell you would fill a book. Maybe it will someday - Memoirs of a Drowsy Diva! Well, I grew up in Brixton - that's south of London - and I was a firecracker. I knew from the instant I saw the Palace Theatre that I HAD to be there, up on that stage. The stage is my home, darling. I've worked with Jerome Kern and Georgie Cohan and I once fed Flo Zigfeld dinner on an air-o-plane, can you imagine? I sing, I act and I LOVE life. That's it - me in a nutshell.

How did you get into acting?
Well I was one of "the twelve Bath Buns" when I was 10, that was my first professional show - 'the Beauty of Bath' - ha. I learned everything about being a star from Mme. Ellaline Terriss - I never met another woman who could be so happy and so miserable at the same time. Mother took me to the auditions but she never thought it would go anywhere. I showed her! 

Why did you audition for this show?
Oh, darling, I didn't audition. I did do a bit of reading for Julie Gable of course, but they knew I was the Chaperone the minute they made up the title!

What drew you to your character of The Drowsy Chaperone?
Well this show is just a peach. It's juicy and full of sugar and the Chaperone, bless her heart, gets quite a bite now doesn't she? Of course I get to work with dear Roman again, and that's fine. 

How did you prepare for this part?
Well I'll tell you. That woman, the Chaperone, has everything she wants - except love. I just had to indulge myself and trust my instincts - and then remember my third husband. It was a trial - but life is all about trials, isn't it?

How would you and your character get along?
Oh famously, I expect. She and I would belong to the same Club and take in the races together. I would probably lose to her at cards. 

What do you hope the audience gets from your character?
Fun! She is just the bees knees and she doesn't mean any harm. She causes trouble, yes, but never really on purpose. She wants things to come out right in the end. Really she just wants everyone to have a grand time.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? Is one supposed to have free time? I do play cards, I suppose, with the girls at Nanci's - but really most of my time is spent working shows, auditioning, and traveling back and forth from London. It's a good life, darling, and I LOVE living it!

Answers by Megan McGuire as Beatrice Stockwell as the Chaperone

Article by Madison Denkinger

Jack Adler's new role as Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone

We can not wait to see Jack Adler as Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone! Despite his busy schedule with rehearsals and performances, we were able to catch up with him and talk about his upcoming role.

How did you get into acting?
I started in Vaudeville working with the likes of Eddie Foy and The Seven Little Foys, Sophie Tucker, Ed Wynn, Al Jolson, W. C. Fields, Mae West, Buster Keaton, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Edgar Bergen, Fanny Brice, Burns and Allen and Eddie Cantor!  As Vaudeville began to decline, I began pursuing work with my wife Sadie in the theatre.

Why did you audition for this show?
A guy has got to eat; have you seen me? It takes a lot of food to keep up this appearance!

What drew you to your character of Feldzieg?
It was the perfect venue to allow me to work with my wife, Sadie Adler, who plays Kitty.

How did you prepare for this part?
Are you kidding?!  I’ve been in the business since I was in knee pants!  I had a plethora of producers from over the years to draw upon for this character.

How would you and your character get along?
I can only play what I know. I’ve got to deal with Sadie; he’s got to deal with Kitty. I’m sure we’d be kindred spirits!

What do you hope the audience gets from your character?
I hope it’s an escape and that I provide a few laughs, but truth be told, Sadie gets all the funny bits.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time. I’m too busy explaining all the jokes to Sadie!

Answers by Joe Dignoti who plays Jack Adler who plays Feldzeig
Article by Madison Denkinger

Audiences LOVE "The Drowsy Chaperone"

The Drowsy Chaperone burst onto Broadway in 2006 and earned 13 Tony Award nominations, winning five Awards including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The show’s narrator, a musical theatre enthusiast, invites us into his home to share with us his favorite musical comedy from the 1920s. As he turns on his record player, the musical comes to life and his home transforms into the show’s set.

Omahans who saw the show on Broadway instantly fell in love with this show-within-a-show. They called it a clever, original and hilarious musical that brings the roaring 20s to life on the stage.

So what makes The Drowsy Chaperone stand out from other offerings on Broadway?

Megan McGuire as the Chaperone, Dave Wingert as Man in Chair, Paul Hanson as George, Molly McGuire as Janet, Joseph O'Connor as Robert
With the Great White Way full of movie and book adaptations, jukebox musicals and revivals, a brand new script with an original concept is refreshing. And ask anyone familiar with the show and one resounding adjective is CLEVER.

Jim McKain
“I saw it on Broadway and fell in love with its cleverness and LOVED that it wasn't based on any prior material like so many shows these days.

Joey Galda
“It's incredibly original, and yet each of the performers is a slight wink to someone real from the 20s and 30s.”

Praise of the script is abundant for this show, so it is no surprise that The Drowsy Chaperone won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical – an award that focuses on the storyline of a musical.

Emily Andres
Stage manager
“It was simply a funny, smart song and dance show. It really celebrates the tradition of musical comedy - with all its absurdity - which I think sometimes gets lost in the extreme commercialization of Broadway. (Also it's short. I LOVE shows under 2 hours.)

Paul Hanson
Actor – George in The Drowsy Chaperone
“I’ve seen it six times! It's rolling in your seat hilarious! So smartly written, catchy tunes.”

Paul Hanson as George and Joseph O'Connor as Robert Martin
Those who have seen The Drowsy Chaperone just flat out love it.

Jodi Vaccaro
“I saw it twice on Broadway and fell in love. It is an ode to all things wonderful about old-fashioned musicals, with funny, heart-warming, modern narration. You can't help leave the theatre happier than you were when you came in!”

Cecilia Poon
Theatre technician
“I love everything that involves a show within a show, especially when it features my favorite era. It's brilliant.”

Joey Galda
“I love it because it is a show for people who love to go to the theatre without being too into itself. Also, I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear the finale. If you aren't moved by the amazing ending, you just aren't human! Twists and turns! Endless hilarity!”
Molly McGuire as Janet Van de Graaf

The Drowsy Chaperone, the clever musical-within-a-musical, is the perfect evening of theatre for those who love to be entertained! Tickets are on sale now. Single tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for students. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students. For tickets, visit the Box Office, call (402) 553-0800 or click here. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, tickets to that night’s performance will be available for $10 at the Box Office starting at 4 p.m. with cash or check only.

Little Women cast list

Little Women, the musical
Hawks Mainstage Theatre
Jan. 23-Feb. 22, 2014
Tickets on sale Dec. 9, 2014.

Cast list
Laurie - Tim Abou-Nasr
Professor Bhaer - Chad Bradford
Aunt March - Deborah Curtis
Meg March - Leanne Hill Carlson
Mr. Laurence - Bill Hutson
Jo March - Sims Lamason
Marmee - Camille Metoyer Moten
Amy March - Jen Morris
Mr. Brooke - Will Pope
Beth March - Carly Schneider

The Reality/Theatricality of Enron

“We’re going to put it all together and sell it to you as the truth.” The opening line and company attitude of Enron makes everyone take a look at how truly north the company's moral compass pointed–with some satirical laughs along the way. Scandal, lies and corruption are a few of the plot twisting details of the play Enron, which opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse Aug. 15.

When Enron executives were caught in their intricate scandal, the world was shocked. Officials and figure heads had to step down, the company filed for bankruptcy (the largest company to have ever filed at the time) and pivotal leaders were sentenced to time in prison. Consequently, standards and laws for accountants and businesses as a whole became a necessary precaution. The impact was huge.

Enron was one of the world’s energy giants that was based right here in Omaha in its early days (formerly Northern Natural Gas then InterNorth). The company misrepresented financial reports, paid off government officials and encouraged employees to invest their retirement funds in unstable stocks. Thus leading to the collapse of the energy giant and devastating many employees’ financial situations. Connie Lee (character: Claudia Roe) shares, “...If you lived in this area – you were sure to know people who were financially devastated by it. It appears that Jeffrey Skilling is eligible for release in 2017. I’m sure there are many people who would love to contribute to that parole hearing!”

In the play, the stage is transformed into the fast-paced business world giving us an insider view of the scandal sparing no blame along the way. Fulfilling the deceitful roles, here are a few words from the cast about the show.
Standing L-R: Matthew Pyle as Jeffrey Skilling, Lamar Brown as Raptor, Connie Lee as Claudia Roe, Chris Shonka as Andy Fastow; Front row L-R: Jon Roberson as Raptor, Paul Schneider as Ken Lay, Steve Hartman as Raptor
Where did you draw your inspiration for the role?
Matthew (character: Jeffrey Skilling) –“Jeff is an uber-smart, overbearing, self-righteous, (and yet charismatic), take-no-prisoners ‘SOB.’” Matthew jokes, “He is, essentially, who we all (at least secretly) wish we could be in real life.”

Chris Shonka (character: Andy Fastow) –“Deep down, the man I’m playing was a reprehensible human being, at least during this time in his life. Andy Fastow’s crimes at Enron defied the fundamental principles of finance and just being a decent person, but he glued a web of money to his arms and tried to fly. Someone has to be on his side for this show to work, and it is this basic human love of rolling the dice that lets me see the world from his point of view.”  

What's your favorite part about this piece?
Connie (character: Claudia Roe) – “I love the way this play jumps from real and dramatic scenes to the absurd. Reality/Theatricality. It’s so much fun to work on a production that includes both extremes.”  

What do you find the most challenging about this production?
Paul Schneider (character: Ken Lay) –“Trying to capture the nuances of Ken Lay's voice – the tone, the pace, the hint of a southern accent – have been most interesting and challenging.”

 Connie Lee (character: Claudia Roe) --“My character, Claudia, is the only one of the 4 main characters who is fictional rather than a real person. But she is closely drawn from a real person in the Enron saga: Rebecca Mark. Claudia, like Rebecca, was one of the very few powerful women in the macho-male dominated corporate culture. She is flashy, aggressive and a hoot to play! We can draw from what we know of Rebecca for Claudia’s character, but we’re not boxed in by that. We’re free to create the Claudia that works best for this production.”

Chris (character: Andy Fastow) –“If you want a cohesive, engaging narrative, you can’t be pulled into a vortex of abstraction. What I love about this production is how everyone is invested, finding something entirely human in even the most absurd corners of the play. I don’t know that I’ve seen this many people be so freely inventive, yet disciplined in their commitment to the moment to moment action of the play. The challenge? Keeping up with them.”  

What do you remember from the scandal? How did it affect you?
Paul (character: Ken Lay) – “I am an active investor, and I am extremely saddened by the fact that absolutely nothing in the financial world has improved since the demise of Enron. In fact, all the predatory practices are very much worse than they were when Enron failed. Far worse collapses have already occurred and are likely to continue to occur.”

Chris (character: Andy Fastow) – “Skilling told me to sell my options a year before all hell broke loose. He didn’t even know me, just butt dialed and I answered. Is that a conflict of interest for me? Probably. The Enron scandal didn’t affect me personally but the subsequent ones have obviously impacted everyone’s lives (Why, why did I buy my house in 2007?). Has meaningful regulation been passed by our representatives in government? Will it ever?”

 Enron runs Aug. 15-Sept. 14, Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, or visit the Box Office located in the southeast corner of the Omaha Community Playhouse at 6915 Cass St. or click here.

Story by Kelsey Nutt