From Curtain to Closet: OCP Garage Sale!

The Omaha Community Playhouse costume shop is running out of room! It's time to hunt through the treasure-trove!

The Omaha Community Playhouse is holding a garage sale during June to sell vintage clothing, furs, hats, accessories, fabric and miscellaneous items. See what treasures you can find!

The Garage Sale will be held at 2679 Farnam Street (not at the Omaha Community Playhouse) on the following dates:

Wednesday, June 22, 9 a.m.- Noon
Thursday, June 23, 9 a.m.-Noon
Friday, June 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday, June 25, 9 a.m.-Noon

Questions? Contact the Omaha Community Playhouse at (402) 553-4890.

Beck looks Back...Billy McGuigan's start as Buddy Holly

Carl Beck, artistic director at the Omaha Community Playhouse, remembers Billy McGuigan from a time when McGuigan was in high school, auditioning for a part in a musical at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The audition was so memorable, that even though McGuigan was not cast, Beck said to himself, “don’t forget this kid." Beck promptly wrote down McGuigan's name and stuck it in a drawer. During a passing conversation years later, Beck discovered that McGuigan had quit acting to focus on starting a band. When OCP was slated to put on a production of the jukebox musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story in 2002, director Carl Beck remembered a young man with the charisma and singing talent the character of Buddy Holly demands. He thought, “We have got to check this guy out.”

Before long, Beck found McGuigan and brought him in for a meeting, explaining the role and asking for an audition. McGuigan's band was playing a show at Dubs Pub (currently The Waiting Room Lounge) located at 6212 Maple Street in Benson, and Beck offered to use the performance as an audition. Beck knew before the set list was done that this was the man to play Buddy Holly.

Intensive training sessions began the summer before production, where Billy and the cast making up the band used their free time to come into OCP and practice in the basement, working to recreate the sound of Buddy Holly’s music. McGuigan was a perfect example of a triple threat performer, with the ability to act, sing and dance, and evolved musically throughout the entire period of production.

During one of the first performances of Buddy, a tornado warning interrupted the show and herded the audience members, reviewers and cast downstairs to the Omaha Community Playhouse’s basement. To keep the audience engaged and entertained, the cast struck up some tunes and continued the Buddy Holly show music downstairs. Beck reflected that when the warning was over, everyone went right back upstairs to “continue the party.”

McGuigan has grown tremendously since first being cast as Buddy Holly, including developing the tribute shows Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience, Yesterday and Today, an interactive concert experience that pays tribute to The Beatles and Rock Legends.

For a look at Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience, check out this promotional video!

Don’t miss Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience in the Howard Drew Theatre, June 10-26, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $38, all seats reserved. For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $32.

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

Article by Deborah Trecek

All pictures courtesy of the Omaha Community Playhouse: 2002 production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Bang! Bang! Bucks!

Are you looking for a way to illuminate your Fourth of July holiday? Support the Omaha Community Playhouse by purchasing fireworks!

The city of Omaha is allowing the sales of fireworks for the first time within city limits with sales benefitting a sponsoring nonprofit organization.

Crazy Cracker Fireworks stand at 840 Saddle Creek Rd. (located in the No Frills Supermarket parking lot) will benefit the OCP. A portion of proceeds goes directly to the Omaha Community Playhouse!

Stock up on your favorite fireworks and support the Omaha Community Playhouse at the 840 Saddle Creek Rd. location!

Sales begin on June 25, 2011, and last until July 4, 2011.

OCP Education Department

Readers of this blog hopefully know by now that the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) offers a wide variety of educational opportunities throughout the year through its extensive class program, but did you know OCP provides quality educational opportunities outside of the usual class offerings?

Interact is the name for all of educational theatrical opportunities OCP offers to schools, community groups and various organizations throughout the year. Some examples of recent Interact programming are:

• High School Theatre Arts Residencies – a three-day workshop series which brings the theme of an OCP production to life in high school classes such as sociology, psychology, history, English and geography
• Afterschool workshops in acting, improv or dance for various elementary and middle school afterschool programs
• Free backstage tours for more than 500 students from various schools or community groups year round
• Acting, improv or dance workshops at OCP for more than 20 different schools or community groups
• Dance workshops for the Catholic Homeschool Association.
• Shakespeare auditioning technique workshop for Skutt Catholic High School
• Technical theatre demonstrations for 7th grade students from Russell Middle School

Funding for the high school residencies and afterschool workshops is generously provided by Wells Fargo Bank Nebraska, Lincoln Financial Group, UMB Bank and the Nebraska Arts Council. Without their support, OCP would not have the means to provide these schools with such quality programming.

Do you know a school or group interested in working with the Omaha Community Playhouse? Contact the Director of Education at (402) 553-4890, ext. 131 to discuss programming opportunities. Programming can be scheduled based on any budget and timeline.

Opportunities for YOU to join ACT II

Just like we cannot spell community or playhouse without “u,” the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) could not operate without YOU! It takes hundreds of volunteers to ensure OCP’s success.

If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with the Omaha Community Playhouse and acting is not the route you want to take, we hope you will consider joining ACT II. This important group of volunteers helps further the mission of the Playhouse by assisting with fundraising and friendraising events throughout the season.

In 2011-2012, ACT II will host several unique events to benefit OCP. The group holds several luncheons each season, which offer a glimpse behind the scenes of upcoming productions. These are wonderful opportunities to hear the directors, meet the actors and see the sets before the shows open. In November, ACT II will be hosting a Holiday Tea Lecture/Luncheon event, which will bring in an expert on Charles Dickens to share insights into A Christmas Carol and other Dickens’ works. The ACT Out! Children’s Workshops in February will introduce young people to the stage. These were very popular last year and we anticipate an even larger enrollment this year. And of course, there is always the ACT II signature event, Destination: World’s Fare, the benefit that raises funds for OCP which will be in March.

All these activities require volunteer help and are fun and fulfilling. For more information about how you can join ACT II and participate in these events in our 2011-12 season, contact the development coordinator at (402) 553-4890, ext. 145.

Guys and Dolls features a team of musical rebels

Do not be alarmed patrons, but for your information, the next Omaha Community Playhouse musical to open contains music by a man who never studied music formally.

Before you begin giving away your ticket subscriptions, take note that although Frank Loesser, musical composer of Guys and Dolls, refused to take official music lessons during his younger years, he still managed to write a score that Jim Boggess, music director of Guys and Dolls, calls, “close to perfect.”

“Loesser was a musical comedy genius,” Boggess said. “There isn’t an unnecessary word or song in the show. That’s why it’s so good. It tells the truth about these people. Good theatre and good songs tell the truth.”

As a child, Loesser grew up in a musical environment. His father was a German-born classical piano teacher and his older brother was a renowned concert pianist, musicologist and music critic. Loesser, on the other hand, was the rebel in the family.

He had no interest in studying classical music but rather was drawn to pop styles, much to his father’s dismay. He taught himself to play the harmonica in his early years and later the piano, and he started his career writing lyrics for both film and the stage. Eventually trying his hand at composing music, he opened his first smash hit on Broadway in 1948 called Where’s Charley? and followed that show with Guys and Dolls in 1950, which earned a Tony Award for Best Musical.

Boggess notes that although Loesser attempted to avoid classical idioms, hints of classical style are still detected in his works.

“It is interesting that in Guys and Dolls, and most particularly, in his musical, Most Happy Fella, he many times uses the recitative/aria form that is most closely identified with opera,” Boggess said.

A few OCP Guys and Dolls cast members have admitted they, like Loesser, have been musical rebels at some point in their lives, even though classical styles unavoidably have influenced them.

Angela Jenson Frey, who is playing Sarah Brown, noted that during her college years at Nebraska Wesleyan University, she did not want to follow the musical paths of the rest in her department. She considered herself to be the girl with the “crazy, wacky musical theatre background.”

“When I was there, Wesleyan was known as being very classical/opera-oriented, and the music and theatre departments did not mix,” Frey said. “Here, everyone was singing these art songs and opera arias in their lessons, and all I wanted to do was sing some show tunes! Wesleyan is much different now, of course . . .”

Jonathan Hickerson, who plays Nathan Detroit, also admitted that like Loesser during his early years, he was not keen about formal music lessons.

“I actually started taking piano lessons when I was eleven, but I only managed to make it through about three years of formal training,” Hickerson said. “Even though I stopped taking piano lessons, I never stopped playing or singing. I pretty much taught myself to play piano after that point.”

Hickerson believes his greatest similarity with Loesser is that their appreciation for music is evident in their work, despite their dislike for traditional music studies.

“I may not play the notes in the same way that someone with formal training would, but I have been able to accompany singers, write songs and create other compositions over the years,” he said. “[Loesser’s and my] love of music and our individual perspectives tend to come through regardless of our dedication to, or experience with the classical forms.”

Frey and Hickerson both agree Guys and Dolls is a unique piece of musical theatre. They believe it contains all of the elements necessary to be considered one of the greatest masterworks of musical theatre.

“What makes a great musical stand the test of time after so many years is a marriage of wonderful, memorable music and a great script,” Frey said.

Frey believes the stories of Damon Runyon, which Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows used for the book of Guys and Dolls blend beautifully with Loesser’s score, and Hickerson added that the big, bold characters connect the widely appreciated themes of love and the games we play on the path to it.

“THAT is what makes a masterpiece of musical theatre — the whole package,” Frey said.

Don’t miss Guys and Dolls in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre, May 27-June 26, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for students. For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $29 and student tickets are $18. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, visit the Box Office or click here.

Article by Maria Becvar

You'll Love These Odds!

Alright guys and dolls! We have a sure bet for you that pays 3:1. Buy three full-price tickets and get a fourth one free for opening weekend of Guys and Dolls (May 27-29). Mention the discount in person at the Box Office or via phone at (402) 553-0800 to purchase tickets. Tickets are subject to availability and not valid for previously purchased tickets.

Guys and Dolls is playing in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre May 27-June 26, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Regular priced tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for students. For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $29 and student tickets are $18. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 553-0800 or visit the Box Office.

Bring Your Mama to the Drama!

Give your mother the perfect Mother's Day gift: an afternoon at the theatre! Now you can celebrate Mother's Day without breaking the bank. On Sunday, May 8, 2011, enjoy either Steel Magnolias or Tuesdays with Morrie for only $20 per ticket! Mention the Mother's Day discount in person at the Box Office or via phone at (402) 553-0800 to purchase tickets. Tickets are subject to availability and not valid for previously purchased tickets.
Steel Magnolias is playing in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre through May 8, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tuesdays with Morrie is playing in the Howard Drew Theatre through May 29, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Regular priced tickets are $35 for adults and $21 for students. For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $23 and student tickets are $15. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (402) 553-0800 or visit the Box Office.

21 & Over Presents Pulitzer Prize and Tony Winner AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

21st Century Plays for a 21st Century Audience

21 & Over, the Omaha Community Playhouse's newest alternative program, is pleased to present the reading of 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award Winner for Best Play August: Osage County.

Monday, June 20
7:30 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse
Howard and Rhonda Hawks MainstageTheatre
Free and open to the public, with an opportunity for donations. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
One of the most bracing and critically acclaimed plays in recent Broadway history, August: Osage County is a portrait of the dysfunctional American family at its finest—and absolute worst. When the patriarch of the Weston clan disappears one hot summer night, the family reunites at the Oklahoma homestead, where long-held secrets are unflinchingly and uproariously revealed. August: Osage County is the winner of both the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony award for drama.

The 21 & Over productions are intended for a mature audience and discretion is advised. For more information on 21 & Over and other OCP alternative programs, contact Amy Lane, Resident Director, at or (402) 553-4890, ext. 164.

May Metro Arts Pass Deal

Enjoy the arts with a Metro Arts Pass! If you are a season subscriber to the Omaha Community Playhouse, in the month of May, you can receive $4.50 tickets and 20% off concessions at Film Streams.

The Metro Arts Pass is sponsored by The Reader and features various nonprofit arts organizations around Omaha. In order to be a Metro Arts Pass member, you only must be a member or subscriber to one of the participating organizations. Every month, OCP members can enjoy a discount at a different featured Omaha arts organization.

Other participating organizations include:
Omaha Children's Museum
Omaha Performing Arts
Bemis Center
Durham Museum
Opera Omaha
El Museo Latino
The Rose
Film Streams
Nebraska Shakespeare
Joslyn Art Museum
Fontenelle Nature Association

For more information about the Metro Arts Pass, contact the Director of Sales at or (402) 553-4890, ext. 147.