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

Catching up with Beatrice Stockwell and her role as the Chaperone

Beatrice Stockwell is sure to be a hit in The Drowsy Chaperone; she was made for it! We loved getting to talk to her about her past and this show; she is so much fun!

Give some background/ tell us about yourself.
Oh! What a question! What I could tell you would fill a book. Maybe it will someday - Memoirs of a Drowsy Diva! Well, I grew up in Brixton - that's south of London - and I was a firecracker. I knew from the instant I saw the Palace Theatre that I HAD to be there, up on that stage. The stage is my home, darling. I've worked with Jerome Kern and Georgie Cohan and I once fed Flo Zigfeld dinner on an air-o-plane, can you imagine? I sing, I act and I LOVE life. That's it - me in a nutshell.

How did you get into acting?
Well I was one of "the twelve Bath Buns" when I was 10, that was my first professional show - 'the Beauty of Bath' - ha. I learned everything about being a star from Mme. Ellaline Terriss - I never met another woman who could be so happy and so miserable at the same time. Mother took me to the auditions but she never thought it would go anywhere. I showed her! 

Why did you audition for this show?
Oh, darling, I didn't audition. I did do a bit of reading for Julie Gable of course, but they knew I was the Chaperone the minute they made up the title!

What drew you to your character of The Drowsy Chaperone?
Well this show is just a peach. It's juicy and full of sugar and the Chaperone, bless her heart, gets quite a bite now doesn't she? Of course I get to work with dear Roman again, and that's fine. 

How did you prepare for this part?
Well I'll tell you. That woman, the Chaperone, has everything she wants - except love. I just had to indulge myself and trust my instincts - and then remember my third husband. It was a trial - but life is all about trials, isn't it?

How would you and your character get along?
Oh famously, I expect. She and I would belong to the same Club and take in the races together. I would probably lose to her at cards. 

What do you hope the audience gets from your character?
Fun! She is just the bees knees and she doesn't mean any harm. She causes trouble, yes, but never really on purpose. She wants things to come out right in the end. Really she just wants everyone to have a grand time.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? Is one supposed to have free time? I do play cards, I suppose, with the girls at Nanci's - but really most of my time is spent working shows, auditioning, and traveling back and forth from London. It's a good life, darling, and I LOVE living it!

Answers by Megan McGuire as Beatrice Stockwell as the Chaperone

Article by Madison Denkinger

Jack Adler's new role as Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone

We can not wait to see Jack Adler as Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone! Despite his busy schedule with rehearsals and performances, we were able to catch up with him and talk about his upcoming role.

How did you get into acting?
I started in Vaudeville working with the likes of Eddie Foy and The Seven Little Foys, Sophie Tucker, Ed Wynn, Al Jolson, W. C. Fields, Mae West, Buster Keaton, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Edgar Bergen, Fanny Brice, Burns and Allen and Eddie Cantor!  As Vaudeville began to decline, I began pursuing work with my wife Sadie in the theatre.

Why did you audition for this show?
A guy has got to eat; have you seen me? It takes a lot of food to keep up this appearance!

What drew you to your character of Feldzieg?
It was the perfect venue to allow me to work with my wife, Sadie Adler, who plays Kitty.

How did you prepare for this part?
Are you kidding?!  I’ve been in the business since I was in knee pants!  I had a plethora of producers from over the years to draw upon for this character.

How would you and your character get along?
I can only play what I know. I’ve got to deal with Sadie; he’s got to deal with Kitty. I’m sure we’d be kindred spirits!

What do you hope the audience gets from your character?
I hope it’s an escape and that I provide a few laughs, but truth be told, Sadie gets all the funny bits.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time. I’m too busy explaining all the jokes to Sadie!

Answers by Joe Dignoti who plays Jack Adler who plays Feldzeig
Article by Madison Denkinger