The Legacy of John Wayne
By Jaydn Harding, OCP Marketing Intern
The name John Wayne is well known and brings a certain image to most people’s mind. The name Marion Robert Morrison, however, is not as recognizable. That was John Wayne’s birth name.
Whether you are a fan of John Wayne and the Western movie genre, or perhaps you have never even seen a John Wayne film, his name is familiar. From some of his first films, such as Words as Music when he was credited as Duke Morrison, to some of his more popular films like The Searchers, Stagecoach and The High and Mighty, Wayne captivated audiences both young and old. As The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has made its way to the Omaha Community Playhouse stage, we mostly know this story from the 1962 John Wayne film version.  So what exactly makes John Wayne so alluring, even to this day?
John was born in Winterset, Iowa and eventually went on to play football for the University of Southern California. When he first visited a movie set, the director couldn’t believe his eyes. A 6’4”, taller-than-life cowboy was standing in front of him. He began his film career with small background roles but John eventually made his way to the center of the screen, acting in roles that brought out character traits such as bravery, sacrifice and self-reliance.
Fans of his films wanted to be like Wayne, a true “man’s man.” When you dive into John Wayne’s personal life however, you begin to see the turmoil and struggles he went through when the cameras stopped rolling. Growing up with a mother who mistreated him, John struggled with self-confidence and often had difficulty experiencing love. With three failed marriages, emotional troubles and failed business ventures, John’s life away from the screen was very different than his on-screen personas. His courageous acts on screen and his famous one-liners made John Wayne an idol to many. People felt they could relate to him, regardless of their own situations in life.
In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Wayne played a troubled cowboy who competed with a lawyer for the love of Miss Hallie Jackson. This character fit the tough-as-nails cowboy image that comes to mind when thinking of John Wayne.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse now through March 12th, 2017 in the Howard Drew Theater. Although the play is based on the 1962 film version, there are several differences in the plots. These changes are guaranteed to keep audiences in suspense throughout the show, even the diehard John Wayne fans. If you are a fan of the movie version, you won’t be disappointed in the play.

Cast and Crew of Rock of Ages


Sherrie - Mallory Vallier
Drew - David Ebke
Lonny - Adam Hogston
Stacee Jaxx/Father - Nick LeMay
Franz Klinemann - Paul Hanson
Regina - Samantha Quintana
Dennis Dupree - Bob Gilmore
Justice/Mother - Sara Mattix
Hertz Klinemann - Joey Galda
Ensemble - Marcus Benzel, Carmen Butler, Jana Coburn, Erin Florea, Melissa King, Donte Plunkett, Nora Shelton and Scott Van Den Top


Kimberly Faith Hickman – Director
Jeanne Shelton – Stage Manager
Jim Othuse – Scenic Designer
Chris Wood – Lighting Designer
Georgiann Regan – Costume Designer
Tim Burkhart – Sound Designer
Jim Boggess – Music Director
Kimberly Faith Hickman – Choreographer
Jens Rasmussen – Fight Director
Darin Kuehler - Properties
Greg Scheer – Production Coordinator

Cast of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance


Dennis Stessman - Ransome Foster
Sydney Readman - Hallie Jackson
Isaac Reilly - Bert Barricune
Chad Cunningham - Jim Mosten
Christopher Scott - Marshal Johnson
Brennan Thomas - Liberty Valance
Chris Berger - Narrator
Aubrey Fleming - Ensemble
Gary Williams - Ensemble 


Jeff Horger – Director
Gabi Rima – Stage Manager
Jim Othuse  – Scenic and Lighting Designer
Amanda Fehlner – Costume Designer
John Gibilisco – Sound Designer
Christina Rohling – Fight Director
Vince Krysl – Music Composer/Arranger
Darin Kuehler - Properties
Greg Scheer – Production Coordinator 

Cast of Around the World in 80 Days


Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek - Phileas Fogg
Ablan Roblin - Jean Passepartout
Ben Beck - Actor 1
Monty Eich - Actor 2
Teri Fender - Aouda


Carl Beck - Director
Liz Kendall Weisser - Stage Manager
Bryan McAdams - Scenic Designer
Jim Othuse - Lighting Designer
Georgiann Regan - Costume Designer
John Gibilisco - Sound Designer
Susie Baer Collins - Dialect Coach
Jens Rasmussen - Fight Director
Vince Krysl - Music Composer/Arranger
Darin Kuehler - Properties
Greg Scheer - Production Coordinator

An Actor's Perspective

By Marcus Benzel, volunteer actor

Christmas time.  It’s a time of celebration, a time of laughter, and a time to give back to your community.  So how does a social media recruiter like myself give back to his community during the holidays?  I do so by acting!

I know, I know; acting isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about volunteering, however, there is a 41-year tradition in Omaha of families from all over bringing their loved ones to the Omaha Community Playhouse to get that sense of Christmas spirit, and it can’t happen without lots of volunteers.

Over the years, there have been different casts and different directors but one thing that hasn’t changed at all is the hard work and dedication that everyone onstage and behind the scenes puts into the show.

You know, I should clear that up a bit more, because when I say “hard work and dedication”, I feel that that doesn’t do justice to what goes into putting on a show for the community. For most of us, this whole process starts way back in August for auditions, and from there we begin the rehearsal process.  We are talking about six days a week from 6:30-9:30 P.M. (heck sometimes even 10 P.M.!) where actors are learning music, blocking (stage directions), choreography or even how to use a proper British dialect.

Finally, after all those long hours of rehearsal, we have one final week to put on the finishing touches: trying on costumes and wigs, working with set pieces and props, practicing on the stage with the lighting and sound as well as discovering last minute connections with our characters to make them feel special to us.  In the theatre world, this is what we call “tech week”, and once that’s all said and done we put on six shows a week (two on Sundays) for five weeks in a row.

That’s a lot of time and energy that a cast of 35 puts in.  Like I talked about earlier, we do this to give back and to share our passion for theatre.  A lot of us like myself have jobs during the day, and some of our younger cast members come straight from cramming their brains all day at school and school-related activities.

To give you an idea of what a show day looks like for a volunteer actor, I wake up at 5 A.M. every day to do some dishes and pack my meals that I prepped on Sunday. I’m usually at work from 7:30 A.M.-5 P.M., and from there I go straight to the gym to make sure I get my workout of cardio kickboxing or resistance training in.  Around 6:30, I run like crazy to make sure I get over to the Omaha Community Playhouse so I’m able to make it to vocal warm-ups and grab a quick bite to eat before the show.  After I scarf down my delicious chicken, green beans, and potatoes (a meal that I’m known to eat every night), I gear up for the show by getting into costume and getting into place for opening curtain.

After the 2 and a half hour performance, I take some time to thank the community for coming and supporting the Playhouse (which is something I love because you can see them getting into the Christmas spirit right in front of your face). I tend to get home around 10:30 P.M. every night, take a quick shower, and finally hope to be asleep by midnight.  Then the next day I wake up and do it all over again!

This is just one story of one busy person who does this show, but everyone has their own story about how busy they are and still find time to show up and perform.  Even though my life gets very hectic and I may be losing out on lots and lots of this thing called sleep, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We do this for the community, because for a lot of people out there, this is something special that has become a family tradition.

I honestly didn’t fully understand the impact that A Christmas Carol has on the community until I was halfway through my first run of the show last year. To me, it was just another show I was doing because I love being on stage and performing for others, but after talking to generations of families who told me how important it was for them to come here (because they don’t feel like it’s truly Christmas until they have seen us jump around the stage doing the polka for the 200th time) I realized how many people this show has impacted.

Our community made me see that performing this show isn’t about the performance, but instead taking every chance we have to share the Christmas spirit with others. Now it’s your turn! Share in the comments below what A Christmas Carol has meant to you.

The Cast and Crew of A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

November 18 - December 23, 2016

Hawks Mainstage Theatre


Fred - Scott Van Den Top
Jake - Marcus Benzel
Nell - Rusheaa Smith-Turner
Ebenezer Scrooge - Jerry Longe
Bob Cratchit - Chris Berger
1st Charity Man - Don Keelan-White
2nd Charity Man - Mike Palmreuter
Peter Cratchit - Henry Wisneski
Francis Cratchit - Brodhi McClymont
Belinda Cratchit - Maddie Smith
Tim Cratchit - William Wisneski
Jacob Marley - Ron Chvala
Ghost of Christmas Past - Julie Huff
School boy - Daniel Davis                
School boy - Andrew Hedin
School boy - Samuel Ortner
Ebby - Keithen Cudly
Fan - Ella Walker
Dick Wilkins - Joseph Mokrycki
Mr. Fezziwig - Don Keelan-White
Mrs. Fezziwig - Sara Planck     
The Ball Musicians - Ron Chvala, Mike Palmreuter
Young Scrooge - Ian Hill            
Belle Fezziwig - Emily Smith
Ghost of Christmas Present - Mike Palmreuter
Mrs. Cratchit - Emily Mokrycki
Martha Cratchit - Clara Pohlman
Millie - Julia Ervin
Lucy - Emma Chvala  
Topper - George “Nick” LaMay
Myrtle Crow - Julie Huff
Mrs. Dilber - Sara Planck
Men at Cart - Marcus BenzelDon Keelan-White, Ron Chvala
Boy with Sled - Judson Cloudt
Female Ensemble - Hannah Fay Johnson
Male Ensemble - Justin Eller

Specialty Players

Little Bo Peep - Alexis Reynolds
Little Boy Blue - Gracee Fitch
Beggar - Kole Rowan
Chestnut Vendor - Jenna Hager
Poulterer - Joseph Mokrycki
Greenery Vendor - Amina Teri
Baker’s Wife - Sara Planck                 
Baker - Don Keelan-White
Toyshop Keeper - Mike Palmreuter


Kimberly Faith Hickman – Artistic Director
Susie Baer Collins – Director
Carl Beck – Director
Ablan Roblin - Director
Jeff Horger - Director
Jeanne Shelton – Stage Manager
Jim Othuse - Scenic and Lighting Designer
Georgiann Regan – Costume Designer
Tim Burkhart – Sound Designer
John Gibilisco – Resident Sound Designer/Production Electrician
Jim Boggess – Music Director
Kate Schrader – Music Rehearsal Assistant
Michelle Garrity – Dance Choreographer
Christopher Sanders – Shadowing Choreographer 
Darin Kuehler – Properties
Greg Scheer – Production Coordinator


The Cast and Crew of Sister Act

'Sister Act'

September 16 - October 16, 2016

Hawks Mainstage Theatre


Kim Alger - Sister Mary Theresa
Judy Anderson - Mother Superior
Lauren Anderson - Ensemble
Marguerite Bennett - Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours
Brendan Brown - Ernie
Rachel Busse - Tina
Marcel Daly - Eddie
Justin Eller - Joey
Jennifer Ettinger - Ensemble
Adam Fulbright - Pablo
Janet Goodman - Ensemble
Lauren Johnson - Michelle
Jessie Kellerman - Ensemble
Melissa King - Sister Mary Robert
Caitlin Mabon - Ensemble
Sara Mattix - Sister Mary Patrick
Megan Morrissey - Ensemble
Brian Priesman - Curtis
Cork Ramer - Monsignor O’Hara
Sally Neumann Scamfer - Sister Mary Lazarus
Alia Sedlacek - Ensemble
Jonathan Smith - TJ
Zhomontee Watson - Deloris Van Cartier


Kimberly Faith Hickman - Director
Steve Priesman - Stage Manager
Jim Boggess - Music Director
Melanie Walters - Choreographer
Jens Rasmussen - Fight Director
Joey Galda - Assistant Director
Jim Othuse - Scenic and Lighting Designer