Sisters take the stage as dancing dolls



Sisters Natalie and Alexis Reynolds will be taking the stage together as Little Bo Peep and Little Boy Blue in this season’s A Christmas Carol. Although neither of them has been on the Omaha Community Playhouse stage before, they are no strangers to being in the spotlight.

Natalie, 11 and Alexis, 10 were both enrolled in dance by their parents at young ages. They attend Cherrie Anderson School of Music and Dance in Millard where they are competitive dancers. They participate in six competitions a year, including nationals, and each dedicate 11 hours a week to practices.

With roles in A Christmas Carol (both girls are also in the children’s ensemble) the girls are even busier than usual. Once performances start, they will be dedicating 30 hours a week to the show and their dance practices.

Not only is this the girls’ first time being in the show, this will be their first time seeing the show as well. The suggestion to try out for it came from their mother Tammy. “Last year I saw an hour special on how A Christmas Carol came together and found it interesting,” she said. “I thought it was something the girls would be good at, so I asked if they would be interested and they were.”


The sisters are excited to be part of the show and when asked what they were most excited for they both exclaimed “dancing dolls!”

“It’s our solo,” said Natalie. “All eyes will be on us.”

It is also a chance for the girls to work together. They will be able to help each other out and can practice together on the dance floor that they have at home. “It was nice that we both got a part and it wasn’t one part that we had to fight over,” said Natalie.

After landing their roles in A Christmas Carol, both girls are interested in pursuing more opportunities through OCP; Natalie mentioned that she is thinking about doing some Broadway shows. For the time being, they are excited for the upcoming show..

See A Christmas Carol at the Omaha Community Playhouse Nov. 21-Dec. 23, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $36 for adults and $25 for students before Dec. 15 and $40 for adults and $29 for students Dec. 15 – 23. For groups of 12 or more, tickets for adults are $32 and tickets for students are $18. 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. 

Story by Madison Denkinger

McGuigan holiday traditions



The McGuigan brothers have been performing Yesterdayand Today, a tribute to The Beatles, at the Omaha Community Playhouse for seven years now; it has become a staple during the OCP holiday season. Although performing in their hometown is a big part of their own holidays, it is not the only tradition they take part in.


What are some of your holiday season traditions? What is your favorite?
  • Matthew: Every year we put up a Beatles-themed Christmas tree. It's always fun getting a new ornament to hang on the tree. 
  • Ryan: Putting up the Christmas decorations. I think even as an adult, you feel like a kid. 
  • Billy: For me, December and the holidays mean the Omaha Community Playhouse. For over 10 years, I’ve spent every December in the Howard Drew Theatre getting to perform in shows that I love, while spending time with audiences that come back year after year. My favorite part is meeting the audience members after the show. It’s like an annual high school and family reunion all in one!
What do you look forward to during the holiday season?
  • Matthew: Spending quality with my wife, Christine, and son, Lennon. After touring all year, it's always nice to be home in December. 
  • Ryan: I look forward to the full month of Yesterday and Today at OCP. It's nice to be working from home during the holiday season. 
  • Billy: I love the holiday season energy that seems to be in the air. People hustling in the mall, families making holiday meal plans in the grocery store and bells ringing in the cool air. There’s just something about it that is unique to this time of year.
Are there any traditions that you have continued from your childhood?
  • Matthew: We always open presents on Christmas Eve. It's always hard to not give each other gifts before Christmas. 
  • Ryan: The Carpenters Christmas, a McGuigan staple. Almost as much as The Beatles 
  • Billy: The Christmas Mouse story! This is a story that our dad and his brothers used to tell us every year! It’s really just an odd story about a mouse that sees Santa and becomes his helper…my brothers and I told that story to my kids when they were little. You gotta love a passed-down family tradition!
Are there any traditions from your past that you miss?
  • Matthew: Probably just the excitement of being a kid, anticipating what gifts you will receive. I will say it's more fun being a parent around the holidays and seeing the joy on my son's face when he sees all the gifts he's about to receive. 
  • Ryan: I miss the times of sitting around the Christmas tree with all the lights in the house off except for the tree and all of us sitting there listening  to
    The Carpenters Christmas and being in awe of the illumination. It's probably the only time the McGuigan household was ever calm or placid. 
  • Billy: Growing up, our Christmases were always spent in Florida with our grandparents. This not only meant great weather for the holidays, but it always meant huge family gatherings. About 25 to 30 of us would cram into a living room and an older family member would act as obnoxious Santa Claus and yell everybody’s name while we would all laugh and tell stories. Such a fantastic time!

Make Yesterday and Today part of your holiday tradition, Dec 5-31 at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 6:30 p.m. with a performance at 2 p.m. on Dec. 14. Tickets are $38 for single tickets and $32 for groups. There will also be a 7 p.m. performance and a 10 p.m. performance on Dec. 31. Cake and punch will be served on New Year’s Eve with a champagne toast at midnight; tickets will be $50 for the 7 p.m. show and $75 for the 10 p.m. show. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 552-0800, click here or visit the Box Office located in the southeast corner of the Omaha at 6915 Cass St.

Story by Madison Denkinger

"A Christmas Carol" kids transition from First Stage to the Mainstage



Kids come to the Omaha Community Playhouse First Stage Theatre Academy to learn all aspects of theatre. We are excited to have two First Stage students returning to OCP to apply what they learned in this season’s A Christmas Carol!  

Every summer OCP takes 30-40 kids into its First Stage two-week intensive. During the two weeks, students work with directors, musicians and choreographers; take classes in playwriting, scene study, improv and more; and produce and perform an original play.

The program creates “a safe space for self exploration as students” and allows them to experience all areas of theatre according to OCP Education Director Denise Chapman. “It is designed to push students into leadership roles and is a way for them to use theatre and the arts to explore life.”

The program does not push its students into OCP auditions, but there always seems to be a few that have a real passion for theatre and seek out the opportunities. This year, those students are Henry Wisneski and Ahmad Ealy.

Ahmad Ealy, second from left, with other First Stage scholarship recipients
Ahmad was first inspired by the theatre environment when his mother began working at OCP. In 2012, he saw A Christmas Carol for the first time and thought it was something he might like to pursue one day. “I got the vibe that I wanted to try out for it but I never knew when auditions were,” said Ahmad.

Ahmad, a freshman at Westside High School, auditioned this fall and now has four roles in the production including Greenery Vendor, Marley Minion, Shepherd and children’s ensemble. “First Stage helped me in a great way,” he said. “I learned to be a better actor, singer and how to interact with people on stage.” Henry, an eighth-grader at Lewis and Clark Middle School, will be playing Young Ebby, a Marley Minion and Wise Man.

Henry Wisneski performing in OCP's First Stage Theatre Academy
“There is always a sense of pride when you see students from your program hit the Mainstage,” said Denise. “You helped plant the seed that helped them along their journey.” 

We are excited to see Ahmad and Henry show off their passion and hard work in what is sure to be a wonderful show. “[A Christmas Carol] was spectacular back in 2012, but this seems like it is going to be a really good season,” said Ahmad.

See A Christmas Carol at the Omaha Community Playhouse Nov. 21-Dec. 23, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $36 for adults and $25 for students before Dec. 15 and $40 for adults and $29 for students Dec. 15 – 23. For groups of 12 or more, tickets for adults are $32 and tickets for students are $18. 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. 

Article by Madison Denkinger

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