From staged reading to full production: The story of boom.

Every production at the Omaha Community Playhouse has its beginning where the cast comes together for their first read through, the design team creates the set and the director establishes the blocking of the show. OCP’s boom is unique in that it already has a head start on the process. Boom kicked off OCP’s 21 & Over series in 2010 with a staged reading featuring most of the same actors that will appear in the full production.

Director Amy Lane is the 21 & Over visionary and coordinator and has been involved with boom since its initial staged reading. When asked why boom was chosen for the 21 &Over series, Amy said, “boom was the most produced comedy in the United States for the 2010/2011 season. I thought it would be great to kick off 21 & Over with a great comedy that hadn’t been produced in Nebraska.”

She said, “The 21 & Over series is a way to reach out to new audiences and to experiment with new works. The idea of alternative programming OCP was developed as a way to try new things, to engage in a national dialogue with the newest and edgiest works in American theatre and to expose our audiences to the future of theatre. The Playhouse is a leader in the cultural force of Nebraska. 21 & Over allows us to push the envelope.”

The transformation from a staged reading to a full production is an unusual process that allows greater character development and a better understanding of the script. Amy explains, “It's unusual to start a rehearsal process with a cast who are so familiar with the play and the roles. Instead of starting from scratch, as is the case with most plays, we are able from the first rehearsal to draw from a pretty deep understanding of the script. Instead of a blank page, we are starting with a well-defined sketch and go from there to fill in the details.”

She adds, “Directing a reading has its own unique challenges especially in terms of space. For the readings, we perform on the sets of the current Howard Drew productions. For boom, it was on the set of A Thousand Clowns. The challenge is to make one play make sense in a space that was designed for an entirely different story.  For the full production, of course, the set will be designed specifically to meet the needs of boom. One of my favorite parts of directing has always been the collaboration with designers in creating the world of the play. This was no exception; all of the designers embraced this quirky little world and have designed some great stuff.”

Boom is the second show in the Howard Drew theatre this season and is part of OCP’s new “Find Your Stage” concept featuring contemporary and edgy shows. When asked why boom was a good fit for the Howard Drew series, Amy explained, “Our new concept for the Howard Drew Theatre embraces the idea of theatrical adventures, contemporary scripts and edgy work. Boom is a perfect fit. It is written by an amazing up-and-coming playwright, Peter Nachtrieb, and is one of the best comedies of the past five years. It's a quirky little story of love, hope and the end of the world.”

Boom is a hopeful story about a graduate student taking on the preservation of the human race through a personal ad as the end of the world approaches. Disaster strikes, food is running out, the lab-turned-shelter is beyond repair and the fish are acting strange. Will he and his "date" survive? This hilarious romantic comedy turned sci-fi fantasy is contemporary theatre at its best.

See this show come to life. Boom runs October 19-November 18 in the Howard Drew Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults and $21 for student tickets. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students. For tickets or for more information, visit the OCP Box Office, call (402) 553-0800 or click here.

 Story by Ryan Murray

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