Survive Summer with OCP

It’s the middle of June. Your “slightly” overdramatic eight year-old son is requesting your presence at yet another presentation of his one-man show, complete with special effects by your two year-old daughter, her bowl of spaghetti and your dining room wall. You think to yourself, “This kid needs something to do,” as you scrub away the remnants of last night’s marinara sauce.

Never fear. The Omaha Community Playhouse features a wide array of summer camp opportunities for youth ages 4-18 with focuses on acting, dance, improv and technical theatre. We are here to help.

Drama Day Camps
June 6–10, June 13–17 or June 20–24; Ages 4–13
These camps are a fun way to help children learn to use imagination, create a character and work with classmates to tell a story. The students will share their experience with an invited audience on the final day.

First Stage Summer Theatre Academy
July 5–15 or July 19–29; Ages 12–18
Students interested in musical theatre will work with professional directors, music directors and choreographers during this very popular summer camp. They will spend their days at the Playhouse working on an original musical written especially for this camp, and perform it at the end of camp in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre for a large audience of friends and family.

First Stage: Tech Theatre Edition
June 27–July 8; Ages 14–18
Students will choose one of four backstage areas: costumes, props, set design/construction or sound/lighting. They will work alongside the Playhouse technical staff to create costumes, props and sets and design the sound/lighting for the 2011 First Stage Summer Theatre Academy production.

Intro to Improv Comedy
June 27–July 1; Ages 7–13
Students will learn how to develop scenes and create characters within seconds using the basic tools of improv: focus, teamwork and miming. There will be a final showcase on the last day of camp.

Musical Theatre Dance
June 6–June 10; Ages 7–18
During this week long “strictly dance” performance camp, students will learn two musical theatre dance pieces and perform them at the end of the week in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre.

If any of these camps sound like the perfect outlet for your budding star, visit the Playhouse Education page by clicking here, or call the Director of Education at (402) 553-4890, ext. 131.

With our help, you can survive Summer Vacation 2011. Your dining room walls will thank you.

Destinations Delight Patrons

Almost 300 people attended ACT II’s Destination: World's Fare Benefit on Saturday, April 9 to support the Omaha Community Playhouse. Guests enjoyed “traveling” to four exciting destinations within the Playhouse, each with its own d├ęcor, specialty cuisine and entertainment. This year’s destinations included: Las Vegas with Black Jack, roulette and craps, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens with carnival games, India where guests could get a henna tattoo and Austria where desserts were served with a side of Opera! Attendees also enjoyed “shopping for souvenirs” at the silent auction and a raffle. The event was organized by the Playhouse’s support group, ACT II and chaired by ACT II President Lisa Hagstrom and Lisa Jones. The event raised $36,000 to support the high-quality entertainment and educational opportunities provided by the Omaha Community Playhouse. Food was provided by Hap Abraham Catering with the Patron (High Roller) Party by Flemings. Sponsors of the event included: KGOR, Paragon Printing, Inc., Carter and Vernie Jones, Gale and Judy Wickersham, Dr. and Mrs. Rudy Kotula, SilverStone Group, Kiewit Building Group, Lutz Financial, KPMG and Dave & Candi Kirkwood, Omaha World-Herald, First National Bank, First Westroads Bank and Quality Brands of Omaha. Additional ACT II Travel Coordinators included: Jan Boyer, Pat Durrie, Meghan Gibbons, Tami Giitter, Vernie Jones, Suzanne Kotula, Beth Kramer, Susan Lively, Jenn Locke, Sheila McNeill, Jackie Quigley, Tricia Schmidt, Dorene Sherman, Jennifer Taylor, Sherry Taxman, Courtney Vacanti-Birnstihl and Deana Walocha.

OCP Apprentices Get Cirqued

The OCP apprentices got to take a backstage look at Cirque du Soleil's Dralion at the Mid America Center earlier this week.

The Cirque du Soleil professionals then came to OCP on Thursday for a question and answer session with the staff and apprentices. Just a few of the perks of being and OCP apprentice!

Life’s Greatest Lessons…in Reality and on Stage

Some of life’s greatest lessons arrive in the most unusual forms, occasionally even on stage. In the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of Tuesdays with Morrie, what once was a relationship between student and teacher becomes a life-changing friendship as the dying professor imparts profound wisdom on his former student.

Chris Shonka, an Omaha native, plays the role of Mitch Albom, a successful sports journalist and Morrie’s former student. Though he has lived in New York, Boulder and Houston, Shonka has returned to Omaha theatre, and he is no stranger to the discipline. Shonka has acted in various roles since high school, including the 1993 OCP show A Few Good Men. He has also received an M.F.A. in acting and a Ph.D. in theatre history. One of Chris’s most recent accomplishments was co-directing a production of The Good Doctor at Creighton University with two guest alumni directors and Bill Hutson, the actor who plays Morrie Schwartz. In the show, Morrie is Mitch’s former sociology professor affected by ALS (also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

In fact, not only do the actors share a stage during the play, but they also share a special bond, similar to that of Mitch and Morrie. As an undergraduate student at Creighton, Shonka was mentored by Hutson, a professor and active member of the theatre department. Shonka majored in theatre at Creighton, starring in several productions and working closely with Hutson. When asked about his relationship with Hutson, Shonka described him as a “terrific” teacher and mentor, one who created “a culture and work ethic related to the arts that naturally extended to everyday life.”

A life-long actor, Hutson first graced the OCP stage in Richard III in 1974 and Shakespeare in Hollywood in 2008. When he is not at OCP, Hutson performs in and directs other shows, travels, reads and inspires students like Shonka through his teaching. When asked about the source(s) of his inspiration, he credits professors both at the University of North Texas and Michigan State but, “In Omaha, I’ll always think of Nancy Duncan as one of the most inspirational people/directors I’ve known. She was my first director at the Playhouse.” These two are inseparable, it seems…from student and teacher to co-directors and cast mates. “I have had a terrific time in rehearsals watching him create this character…”, remarks Shonka.

Come cherish the inspiring story of Tuesdays with Morrie in the Howard Drew Theatre, April 29–May 29, Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 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, visit the Box Office or click here.

Article by Kristin Winfrey