The Cast and Crew of Sister Act

'Sister Act'

September 16 - October 16, 2016

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Cast

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

Production

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
  

 

The Cast and Crew of Murder Ballad

'Murder Ballad'

October 14 - November 20, 2016

Howard Drew Theatre

Cast

Mackenzie Dehmer - Narrator                                              
Leanne Hill Carlson - Sara                                                     
John E. Jones - Michael                                                
Thomas Gjere - Tom                                                     

Production

Jeff Horger – Director

Mary Dew – Stage Manager    

Jim Othuse  – Scenic Designer

Chris Wood – Lighting Designer

Amanda Fehlner – Costume Designer

Tim Burkhart – Sound Designer

John Gibilisco – Resident Sound Designer/Production Electrician

Darin Kuehler - Properties


Greg Scheer – Production Coordinator 

Guest Blog: Daena Schweiger on The Producers

Rhetoric does not get you anywhere, because Hitler and Mussolini are just as good at rhetoric. But if you can bring these people down with comedy, they stand no chance – Mel Brooks

I remember the first time I saw (and fell in love with) the original movie The Producers starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. It was a Saturday afternoon. It was shown on regular television as filler until some sports programming began later that day.  I was surprised it was being shown. I knew the plot: two men scheming to bilk elderly, amorous women out of their money by producing a certified flop (a feel good musical titled “Springtime for Hitler” **) guaranteed to close the first week.  It sounded hilarious. It also didn’t sound like something that would appear on regular television, even if it was a Saturday afternoon. It didn’t matter. They ran it, I watched it, and hummed the music to “Springtime for Hitler” the entire next week.  It quickly became one of my favorite Mel Brooks films. Young Frankenstein is still number 1.

**Fun Fact:  I know one of the uncredited dancers in the “Springtime for Hitler” musical number in the movie (I worked with her when she did guest directing stints for Opera Omaha in the mid-nineties).

Years later the second incarnation of The Producers, in musical form, took Broadway by storm and was a smashing success for stars Nathan Lane (Max) and Matthew Broderick (Leo). The third incarnation of The Producers came a few years after the Broadway run. The wildly successful musical took it’s talents to the big screen, and took Mr. Lane and Mr. Broderick with it for the ride.  I did not see this movie, and that’s okay.  Full disclosure – I’m not a fan of movies turning into musicals and then being filmed as a movie musical. As if the original, non-singing movie, doesn’t exist!  (My friend who attended the OCP preview night with me said she was not impressed with the Lane / Broderick movie, but had seen the Broadway tour when it came to Omaha a few years back and was eager to see how OCP tackled some scenes).

The musical, I am happy to report, is every bit as funny as the original movie, and in some places, is even more funny than the original film. The invited audience on Thursday reacted as I did – doubled over with laughter from the moment the curtain rose.  The humor of Mel Brooks, I think, is timeless – the jokes don’t feel dated to me even if some of the setups are familiar. 

Of course, it helps to have a solid understanding of comedy, and more importantly, comedic timing.  Jeff Horger (stage director) has assembled an outstanding cast that is more than up to the challenge.  Leading the way are two Playhouse veterans and audience favorites – Jim McKain as Max Bialystock and Steve Krambeck as Leo Bloom.  They are surrounded by a supporting cast that shines as brightly as the aforementioned leads.  Mike Palmreuter, as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, and Zach Kloppenborg, as Carmen Guia, are worth the price of admission. Also worth the price of admission?  The dancing pigeons. Yes, you read that right. Dancing pigeons.  I haven’t laughed as hard as I did during the song “Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop” in a long time.  A big shout out to Darin Kuehler for that bit of props magic. 

Speaking of the artistic team – once again Jim Othuse has provided a sensible, practical set that takes us from Max’s run down, seedy office to outside the Shubert theatre, a rehearsal hall, and a prison. Scene changes were flawless and fast.  Melanie Walters provided outstanding choreography, in particular the Act I finale and, of course, “Springtime for Hitler” in Act II.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes were imaginative and fun. And Jim Boggess and his talented musicians in the pit kept nice tempos and pacing throughout.


As an audience member you would be hard pressed to find a flaw in the production. There was no weak link in the cast, crew, or artistic staff.  One of the most highly anticipated musicals in Omaha in years will not disappoint you. They say laughter is the best medicine, and as Mel himself stated, “If you bring these people down with comedy they stand no chance.” None of us stood a chance on preview night. We were all felled by laughter.  In fact, it left us breathless. And humming its signature song.


Daena Schweiger is a local director and playwright. She also serves as a board member for SNAP! Productions.

Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods

 

An Opinion of Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods

By Camille Metoyer Moten and Lanette Metoyer Moore

One of the most important aspects to theater, in our opinion, is not just entertainment, but enlightenment as well.  When a play or musical can not only transport you from your world but also educate, something special has been accomplished.

From the moment the lights cast a soft glow on the character Gabriel in Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, we were all in.  The softly spoken, smiling young man slicing papaya (with a machete) intrigued us as he began to make parallels between the fruit and the sun and his philosophy of hope.  Yet his underlying umbrage cast its shadow as the scene ended and the play began its course.

Lara Marsh’s exceptional direction gave us a strong story that raised many questions relevant to who we are and where we are in America.  This story of a young Sudanese refugee, Gabriel, gently unfolds and gives us much to think about.  Gabriel had escaped from the violence and war in his home country at the age of six.  Separated from his family and with hardships unimaginable for us, he eventually finds his way to Pittsburgh where he works joyfully in a Whole Foods store. 

Christine, a newly divorced mother with a difficult teenage daughter, comes to befriend Gabriel and like many of us…has a desire to help him.  This play makes us ask ourselves so many questions.  What is charity anyway?  When you help someone how far do you go?  Do you help until the help is no longer needed?  Or until you no longer have time for that?  Is help “throwing money” at a project?  Or is it understanding, for example, that anyone undergoing this type of horrific experience as a child will need so much more for a long time?

Where does the resentment in our country come from regarding refugees, this country that was formed from refugees?  For some African Americans it has to do with help for Africans but little help for the ones that help to build this country and still wallow in poverty and discrimination.  Or it could be the fear of jobs and a piece of the American Pie getting smaller for those of privilege?  These are the questions we must answer.

The beautifully designed set mirrors everything from a store to a home to an office and to a desert.  Is that carpet?  Is that sand?  Once again OCP has conceived a creative yet practical use of this space.

Justice Jamal Jones is perfect as the young Gabriel, his smile is fetching and his fear and anger are credibly portrayed.  You truly feel for this character.  We are anxious to see him in more productions. Christine, played by Julie Fitzgerald Ryan, does an excellent job of playing the divorced mother that raises these questions through the course of the play.  Her take on Christine is strong.  Victoria Luther is very good at being a confused, bratty, self-absorbed teenager that learns life lessons very well.  Anthony Holmes as Gabriel’s Sudanese friend shows us a powerful performance as a strong, somewhat disturbed, passionate man.  RusheaĆ” Smith-Turner gives us a bright spot in a play that is wracked with true emotion.  Her portrayal of an all knowing, manipulative yet in-your-face social worker is very convincing.  Mark Kocsis, as Michael Dolan, also gave us an honest performance as a frustrated social worker that sees the futility of continuing this work.

We highly recommend Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods to those who love a thought provoking presentation and live to challenge themselves.


City of Angels



City of Angels: A Sexy, Film Noir-Style Story
When Hollywood calls to offer New York novelist Stine the opportunity to adapt his books into a film for the big screen, he packs up and moves to the home of sunsets, palm trees and stars. The story switches between the world of Hollywood and Stine’s in-progress script. While Stine’s movie plays out in black and white, Stine finds the enticements of Los Angeles—women, nightlife and the artistic negotiations to his script—a little much. City of Angels is a combination of classic film noir, drama and comedy all rolled into one musical experience.

City Shadows and Cigarettes
City of Angels embraces the popular style of film noir in the story that Stine writes, but what exactly is film noir? French for “film of the night” or “dark film,” the cinematic term is used to identify stylish Hollywood crime dramas, a main aspect found in City of Angels. These films usually focus on cynical attitudes, the shadows of urban city life, sexual motivations and, last but not least, smoking cigarettes. Other popular themes found in film noir can include:
          •Neon signs
          •Scenes appear dark, as if lit for night, with many dark shadows
          •Rain-soaked streets
          •Trench coats, fedoras, and a classy style
  
Two Worlds in one Story
Not only does City of Angels create a classic film noir style set in the late 1940s, it also focuses on two different worlds: Stine’s reality behind the typewriter and his creation shown in black and white. Two stories play out on the stage, one fiction and one real, while the whole story is enhanced with glamourous 1940s jazz music that perfectly fits the overall ambiance of the show. Its gritty, sometimes cynical characters and the thin line between fiction and reality are combined with moments of comedy that really make City of Angels a unique performance.

City of Angels is on the Hawks Mainstage at the Omaha Community Playhouse March 4 – April 3, 2016. Single tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for students. For tickets, visit the OCP Box Office at 69th and Cass Street, call 402-553-0800 or click here.

Article by: TJ Moore (OCP Marketing Intern)

Caroline, or Change

http://www.omahaplayhouse.com/tickets/view/caroline-or-change/


CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Rolling with Change


Caroline Thibodeaux is an African American maid for a white Jewish family, the Gellmans, spending her days in their basement doing the laundry for a small sum of $30 a week. The Gellmans' son, Noah, has a strong bond with Caroline who consoles him in the death of his mother.

Noah's new stepmother Rose, unable to give Caroline a raise, decides to teach Noah a lesson in the value of money. Noah has a habit of leaving change his pants pocket. Rose tells Noah and Caroline that Caroline should keep the money that Noah leaves in his pockets. Caroline is not fond of the idea but lacks money for her own children.


The lesson goes amiss when the ownership of a $20 bill is contested after it is found in the laundry, and Caroline's relationship with eight-year-old Noah is irreversibly shattered.


Change is not only prevalent in the form of money in Caroline’s life but in the sweep of historical change worldwide. Not only is the play set on November 23rd 1963, the day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but also many other historic events take place around this era in the middle of the civil rights movement.


• 1960, New Orleans, Louisiana
The federal government enforces school integration, and a majority of white students boycott the rest of the term.


• 1961, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
 Police disperse 1,500 civil rights protestors with attack dogs and tear gas.


• 1963, Washington, DC
Over 250,000 people join together at the Lincoln Memorial, making the March on Washington the largest protest in U.S. history. Martin Luther King, Jr. announces, “I Have a Dream.”


• 1963, United States
According to the Justice Department, in the 10 weeks before King's "I Have a Dream" speech, there were 758 demonstrations in 186 cities resulting in 14,733 arrests.


• 1963 is considered the defining year in the civil rights movement.

• March 17, 1965 Selma-Montgomery Alabama
Some 2,000 people, including both black and Jewish protesters, set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard that President Johnson had ordered. After walking nearly 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they arrived in Montgomery on March 25, where nearly 50,000 civil rights supporters were waiting.

Caroline, or Change depicts the gripping feel of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a maid attempting to deal with the events unfolding around her, both in her personal life as well as in the world around her. 


Article by: TJ Moore (OCP Marketing Intern)


Tim's Story

Tim Schmad's Story

Wins, Losses and What He Wore


“Being a devoted Nebraska Cornhusker football fan, I, like many others, have enjoyed the five national championship teams. After the Huskers’ first championship in 1970, I purchased a “National Championship” T-Shirt. I was wearing it in 1971 when we won the title again. Then, the Huskers had a drought and did not capture a third title until 1994. Again, my trusty T-shirt from 1971 came out of the drawer to assist the team on to victory—finally—over Miami.

But, the 1995 championship was special. We absolutely clobbered Florida, 62–24. I can still see Tommie Frazier running over defender after defender (seven in all) to score on a 75-yard run. I thought I had seen it all. So, my friends and I thought that we would pay homage to this great season. My 1971 T-Shirt came off and was thrown into the fireplace! I still have the ashes in a jar on my office shelf.

Nebraska went on to win another championship in the 1998 Orange Bowl against Tennessee and Peyton Manning. We clobbered them! I believe the jar of ashes that we displayed by the TV had a lot to do with that victory.

You ask why the ashes have not had any magic in recent years? Well, I don’t know. But, Love, Loss and What I Wore sure brought back these memories.”