21 & Over presents 'Tigers Be Still'

Omaha Community Playhouse's 21 & Over program presents Tigers Be Still.

Monday, February 17, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Omaha Community Playhouse
Free and open to the public, with an opportunity for donations. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

Tigers Be Still, by Kim Rosenstock
Poor Sherry Wickman has tried to do everything right: she's gotten a master's degree in Art Therapy; she's put out countless resumes; she's tried to be independent. Unemployed and overwhelmed, she returns to her childhood home when a job fails to materialize. Joined by a mother who refuses to leave her room and a sister who refuses to get off the couch, Sherry's life has certainly hit an all-time low. Now, if only the high school principal would put down his rifle long enough to hire her, her sister would return the Chihuahua she's dognapped and someone would catch the tiger that's escaped from the zoo, things would be perfect. A delightful comedy about misadventures in pursuit of happiness.
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 alane@omahaplayhouse.com or (402) 553-4890, ext. 164.

21 & Over is sponsored by Omaha Steaks and media sponsored by Omahype.

An Unexceptionally while Uncommonly Normal Family

Normal is a word that is hard to explain because every person has a different perspective on what normal is to them. Average, conforming, standard and usual are just some words that describe the word normal. In the production, Next to Normal, a family tries to be or maintain just that.
Next to Normal is a 2010 Pulitzer Prize Drama winner that tells an engaging story of a family dealing with the tragedies and realities of modern society through a dramatic rock musical production full of emotional ballads.
Next to Normal unfolds with an average looking suburban family that consists of a wife, husband and their two adolescent children. Quickly, the audience learns that everything is not so normal.

Sam Swerczek as Gabe, Jeffrey Pierce as Dan, Angela Jenson-Frey as Diana, Thomas Gjere as Henry, Grace Bydalek as Natalie, Joe Dignoti as Dr. Madden

 The characters all give important contributing factors that help interweave the message together. Here are some of the actors from the production giving a little insight to their character.
Angela Jenson-Frey plays Diana, the overly-medicated mother who suffers from bipolar disorder. “I have some personal experience with the disease, as someone very close to me has been diagnosed with it. Watching and seeing the entire cyclical evolution of it manifest right before my eyes has been eye-opening to me in terms of being able to relate to the character. That's what drew me to this show in the first place,” said Angela. 
Jeffrey Pierce and Angela Jenson-Frey as Dan and Diana
Angela feels this show can relate to many people. “For anyone who has struggled with a mental illness of any kind, or has a loved one, who does, I think this show helps us to know that we are not alone in the struggle,” said Angela. “But at the same time, it is empowering in that it shows great independence in making one's own decisions about what's best for them.”
This show relates to everyone in terms of struggling to be normal or what normal means to them. “This production holds a little mirror up to everyone's lives, whether they struggle with a mental disorder or not, that proves that none of us are perfect and none of us are normal,” said Angela. “Who gets to define what is normal, anyway?  We all have pain, we suffer losses but we love and we get through it. Live with what's real. And I think that's something everyone can relate to.”
Thomas Gjere and Grace Bydalek as Henry and Natalie
            Grace Bydalek, who plays Natalie, can relate to her character as well. Grace plays the teenage daughter who feels overshadowed with her mother and brother’s love for each other and she strives to reach perfection and live up to the standards her brother has set.
 “The stress to be perfect is not uncommon for girls of my age; there seems to be a constant fear of mediocrity and of not reaching your full potential,” said Grace. “There are also very few people that Natalie relates to, and when she runs across them, they become very important in her life. Natalie is also stressed about the college process, which I can definitely relate to!”
“We can also all relate, in one way or another, to the issues between mother and daughter, father and son,” said Grace. “For being a musical, it is a raw snapshot of a dysfunctional family struggling with abnormal circumstances.” 
Sam Swerczek and Angela Jenson-Frey as Gabe and Diana
Sam Swerczek is playing Gabe, the son of Diane and brother to Natalie.  He is an enigmatic character who may come off a bit arrogant or needy at times, but there just might be a reason for that,” said Sam.
“I think this musical will strike a chord with many of the people who come to see it,” said Sam. “It is a bit intense and brooding at times, but there is a beautiful message about accepting what is and learning to deal with it. I think audiences will dig it!”
This thought-provoking musical production beautifully interweaves the story together through diverse characters and marvelous music.
Don’t miss this dramatic play, Next to Normal, Feb. 7-March 16 in the Howard Drew Theatre at the Omaha Community Playhouse.  Tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for students. For groups of 12 or more, adult tickets are $29 and student tickets are $18. For more information please call (402) 553-0080, or visit the Box Office or click here.
              This production contains strong language and adult situations intended for mature audiences.

Story by Yoyo Ma

Go Beyond the Show - Having Our Say

Women of Accomplishment Art Exhibit
Curated through Great Plains Black History Museum
Exhibit dates: Jan. 17-Feb. 9 at the Omaha Community Playhouse

Artist Terry Diel has captured images of historical African-American women in No. 2 pencil. Women of Accomplishment are notable African-American women from the past who have had a definite influence on everything from the entertainment industry to the civil rights movement. Women on display will include Hattie McDaniel, Bessie Coleman, Daisy Bates and others. The historical relevance is included with each image on display. Diel has been an art teacher and a professional artist for over 45 years, and has exhibited throughout the Midwest.

Pre-show Conversations
Friday, Jan. 31 & Feb. 8, 6:45 p.m.
Enjoy a conversation about the exhibit prior to Having Our Say on Jan. 31 and Feb. 8. The conversation is free and open to those attending the play that evening.

Post-show discussion with Spencer Davis
Feb. 2, 2014, after the 2 p.m. matinee of Having Our Say

Join Dr. Spencer Davis, professor of history at Peru State College, for a workshop and discussion of the historic context of Having Our Say and Harlem during the Delany sisters’ era. A question and answer format makes for an interactive experience for the audience member.

Spencer Davis has taught at Peru State College since 1983 and holds a B.A. from Brown University, M.A. from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ph. D from University of Toronto. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and belongs to professional organizations, including the Abraham Lincoln Association, Organization of American Historians and Midwest Political Science Association. He is a member of Humanities Nebraska Speakers Bureau presenting programs on African-American History and Abraham Lincoln. He is a member of the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees and a Durham Museum consultant and speaker. 

He has contributed entries for Encyclopedia U.S.A. and Encyclopedia of Slavery, reviews in “Nebraska History” and articles to Proceedings of Dakota Conference on Early British Literature and Proceedings of the European Studies Conference.  He has published articles on James Weldon Johnson and Ma Rainey.

Dr. Davis has been married to Mrs. Vivian Davis since May, 1996.

Talk Back

Jan. 31, 2014, after the show
Join the actresses and crew for a post-show talk back for a behind-the-scenes discussion of challenges, techniques and ideas of creating Having Our Say.