An Insider’s View: Continuing at the OCP

Last Thursday, I assisted with a special performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The Peter Kiewit Foundation bought the entire house and gave the tickets to organizations like Girls, Inc. and Boys and Girls Club. The foundation also supplied cookies, juice and art supplies to the children.

It was an amazing experience to interact with the children. Every child was so excited to be there and see the colorful performance. Every time the lights went out in the theater, children would get scared and scream. I wasn’t able to see it, but I heard that the children were thrilled to meet the cast as well.

Last Thursday, I also was able to see the preview performance of Almost, Maine. I absolutely loved it! The humor is contemporary and easy to relate to. I think everyone should see the performance. It runs until November 22.

This week has been dedicated to archiving the photos for Quilters and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was difficult to tag everyone from Joseph in the photos because of the elaborate costumes, but with the help of Karli Newman, I did it! Next will be pictures of Almost, Maine.

I am looking forward to our future projects and I will keep updating with my progress here at the OCP!

An Insider's View: First Assignments

Another great week at the Omaha Community Playhouse! They are keeping me busy with a wide variety of tasks.

I went behind the scenes of Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to record some video of the cast and crew. Everyone was very nice and inquisitive about my project, especially the children’s chorus! They are like magnets to the camera.

Last week was the Buy the Big O! Show at the Qwest Center. I helped with the OCP booth alongside Karli Newman. I was excited to talk to others about our season and get people interested in our shows.

During the past couple of weeks, I have also helped on projects for Betsye Paragas, including updating reviewer lists. I also sat in on an advertising meeting with Betsye, Amanda Hoklin and advertisers from The Reader. I enjoyed the experience because it gave me real world taste of how business works.

I sat in with Amanda last week while she was creating a poster for Almost, Maine. She is such a talented designer! She taught me a lot in the short time I was shadowing her. I am looking forward to seeing what she can teach me in the future.

I am thrilled to be interning with such great people. I hear all these horror stories from fellow classmates about places they have interned at. I am happy to tell them my internship is the best I could hope for! I will keep updating with my experiences and feelings. Below is my video. I hope you enjoy!

Jackie Skarda

An Insider's View: Meet our Intern

My name is Jackie Skarda and I am interning at the Omaha Community Playhouse. I am a communications major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I love arts organizations and what they do for the community, so I am very excited about this opportunity.

I have already met most of the people in the office and the production crews. I can already tell that everyone loves what they do. Everyone is so talented and enthusiastic. They made me feel right at home! Even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the adopted fish backstage, seemed energetic!

This is my second day of the internship and I already have some great ideas! My main project that I am working on is a “behind the scenes” video for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I really want patrons of the Omaha Community Playhouse to see how the cast and crew prepare for each performance and what goes on backstage. I am hoping to conduct some interviews to include in the video.
I am working with Karli Newman, Betsye Paragas, and Amanda Hoklin on various projects throughout the office as well. I will also be shadowing different people to get a sense of what they do on a daily basis.

In the near future, I want to create video segments that include spotlights of people that work here at the Omaha Community Playhouse. There are a lot of interesting and artistic people here that I think patrons should know more about.

I am looking forward to spending these next few months with the Omaha Community Playhouse. I know I will have a great time and gain a lot of valuable experience. I will keep you updated with my projects and ideas!

Jackie Skarda

The Playhouse Apprentice

Jamie and John were interviewed about their experience with the Theatre Tech Apprenticeship Program (TTAP). Jamie is a senior apprentice in the area of a general technician, and John is a first year apprentice just beginning his experience. Both are Metro Community College freshmen enrolled in the TTAP Playhouse program.

Tell me what your typical day is here at the Playhouse.

Jamie: I usually come in about 2 PM, and find Don and figure out what is going on today. (what are we working on, ed). Typically, I will be assigned my own project, or be assigned to work with one of the craftsmen. Sometimes I will get a set of drawings, and Don will go over them with me in detail and see if I understand what he is asking me to do. Then he will typically say: “Go do what you can!” He spends a lot of time making sure I understand what I need to do.

How is this different than your high school setting?

It is more professional. It is a work environment—you are expected to do things right, and if you make mistakes you are sure to spend some time figuring out why it is not right so you do not make the same mistake twice, and so you can do it by yourself alone later. This is a collaborative work environment just like high school, but at a much higher level.

John: I get here about 2:30 and find Darrin or Don, and find out what to do today. Ethan or Ryan may help me with a project. They will explain in detail how to do a project, and will check back frequently to see if we are doing it the correct way. We did something the other day and Darrin came back and told us to do it again, but he lets us know it is ok that we have to re-do it, because we learn from this.

How is this different than high school? In our high school the parents built the set, so for us building was not an important part of the process. I went to Lincoln for school one year, and there they always bought a lot of extra materials because they expect you to screw up. Here you might, but that is not the expectation. In an educational setting you might have 400 people see your show, but here there are 600 per night. Your work takes on a different level of expectation, because it is important to a lot more people. This is not produced as educational theatre, so it has to work.

Jamie: In high school, each show was a different beast, and so we had to do a lot of experimenting to figure out the best way of doing things for that set—there was a lot of trial and error. Here you have people who know the best way to do it, so you can get down to work and do it the best way immediately, as we have people with lots of experience to help us determine a best practice.

Jamie, how do you work in the shop? You are somewhere between a craftsman and the new junior apprentice, as you know more than the junior, but not as much as the journeyman or master craftsman, right?

Yes, I am like the middle person. I learn a lot about working with others. Sometimes I focus on learning from the craftsmen for myself, and then other times I focus on teaching the new apprentices and then be sure they know why we are doing something a certain way. Sometimes it is frustrating because I don’t know the answers they look for either. Then, we all learn together.

John: It is kind of like the senior apprentices can translate into our language what the craftsmen are telling us. Senior apprentices keep a watchful eye on us, as they know where they messed up last year, and want to keep us from having the same problem. They are like mother birds making sure we don’t get into deep “do do”.

Jamie: This is the best learning experience I have ever had. It is hands on, and then you learn about yourself. I am finding out how I learn easiest and best learning that about myself is pretty amazing. It is a fantastic learning experience. I come to learn a trade, and I also learn about myself. Who would believe that?

John: This is a great program structure. You get an assignment, then people check back with you frequently to see what you did. This is great for someone who has ADD like me, as I could be off in some other tangent, but I get brought right back and corrected if I make a mistake. It is great that we have 5 full time people checking in with us all the time. This is different than a university situation where you have one or two faculty working with you. You don’t get that level of correction and help. Here you have lots of supervision, and they know what they are doing.

Jamie: They teach you the skills, and then prepare us for the real work world. I make great connections with people in the business, and it sets you up for the real world when you get out of here. I know it has helped me figure my future out.

John: It sets you up for the real world because it IS the real world. This is a commercial theatre that has to make things work, so the real world is here!

And it is fun.

Almost, Maine Opens October 23

Almost, Maine is written by John Cariani

Born and raised in Presque Isle, Maine, John Cariani is both a playwright and an actor. His major career break came in 2004 when Cariani, the playwright, watched Almost, Maine premier in Portland, Maine, and Cariani, the actor, earned a Tony nomination for his role as Motel in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. In January 2006 Almost, Maine moved to New York and off-Broadway where it was hailed as “Love in the Time of Frostbite” by the New York Sun.

Almost, Maine is a fictional place that very possibly could exist. This unique play takes place at 9pm on a Friday night in the middle of the deepest part of a northern Maine winter. Not your typical script, Almost, Maine consists of nine stories that introduce you to characters played by 6 different actors. The script lets the characters shine and gives you plenty to think about in the way of unexpected poetic situations and romance. This play will capture your emotions and surprise you.

“it’s the first play in a long time that I instantly wanted to see again. Almost, Maine is almost perfect.” –Electric City (Scranton)

Cast is: Ben Beck, Shannon Jaxies, Christina Rohling, Scott Working, Erika Zadina and Nick Zadina. Directed by Amy Lane. Stage managed by Kim Langer.

Tickets go on sale to Season Subscribers on Tuesday, October 6, and to the general public on Tuesday, October 13. Single tickets are $32 for adults and $21 for students. Groups of 15 or more receive a discount. Contact the Director of Sales at for more information.