Fall has arrived which means another jam-packed theatre season is upon us. This upcoming year, theatres from all around the Omaha area will showcase a varied mix of old and new productions as well as the emergence of several types of alternative programming, giving audience members the opportunity to experience a different kind of theatre.
Let’s do the rundown!
Omaha Community Playhouse
OCP’s 91st season is off and running with the continuing production of Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck inside the Howard Drew Theatre. You can read an interview with Associate Artistic Director Jeff Horger about the stamp collecting con game in last month's issue. The Howard Drew season will continue on October 16th with the premiere of Beertown by dog & pony dc. Part civic ceremony, part theatrical pageant, the show explores the dynamic between individuals and their community. Look for interesting audience interaction for this show. Next is the Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori musical Caroline, or Change about an African-American maid in civil rights era Louisiana opening February 12th. Lastly, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, the Tammy Ryan play featured in OCP’s 21 & Over readings months back, will get a full production opening May 6th. Lara Marsh will direct the story of Gabriel, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, working at Whole Foods and interacting with middle-aged, single mother Christine.
The Hawks Mainstage of OCP will start things off September 18th with the classic musical Man of La Mancha. Hilary Adams directs the five-time Tony Award winner that tells the story of Miguel Cervantes and his tale of Don Quixote. In January, Amy Lane will direct Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. The play details the stories of several women recounting major moments in their lives with the common thread of the all-important outfits they wore for each occasion. The 40s film-noir style musical City of Angels will open on March 4th. Originally premiering on Broadway in 1989, the show has a dual storyline about a man writing a screenplay that mirrors his own life. Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls will get the Playhouse treatment on April 15th. The story about ‘women of a certain age” baring it all for a good cause was shown at SNAP Productions last year, but as we’ve seen in the past with shows like Next to Normal, each theatre has a knack for providing different, yet true to heart interpretations.
As always, November will bring around the holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol and Billy McGuigan will bring both his Beatles-inspired Yesterday and Today and Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience to the Playhouse stages this season. The theatre’s Alternative Programming will include staged readings of shows old and new, as well as the continuation of the ‘From the Ground Up; series and the special event The Patchwork Play Project. More info can be found at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com.
Blue Barn Theatre
Blue Barn gets set to open its 27th season (the first one inside its brand new space on 10th and Pacific) on September 24th with Jordan Harrison’s The Grown Up. Featured at the Humana Festival last season, Susan Clement-Toberer directs a show that follows a ten-year-old boy jumping through doors and time trying to think back to a life he might have missed.
This year’s holiday show will be the return of Little Nelly’s Naughty Noel by local playwrights Tim Siragusa and Jill Anderson. The audience favorite is described by the theatre as “Willa Cather on crack” and “The Gift of the Magi on the rack!”.
On February 4th, the Blue Barn will open Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, the detailed story about the cagey, embattled former President and a low brow interviewer trying to resurrect his career. The play looks to deliver an experience wholly unique to the film version released in 2008.
Another Humana Festival pick, The Christians by Lucas Hnath opens March 24th. The show tells the story of a Megachurch pastor who delivers a stirring and controversial sermon to his congregation, putting his fellow priests, patrons, and family members in conflicted places. It’s ‘a big-little play about faith in America and the trouble with changing your mind’.
Finishing out the Blue Barn’s first five-show season, Randall Stevens will direct Heathers: The Musical opening May 19th. Adapted from the 1988 cult film, the musical is a dark comedy about a young woman trying to break into the most powerful clique in school and the dangerous new kid who wants to take them out.
The Blue Barn’s special event series “Out of the Blue” will see the return of Walk the Night on October 21st. The Shakespearean ghost story will tackle a new look to King Lear this year inside the 150-year-old mansion on 39th and Cuming street. Also coming is the new ‘Porchyard Reading Series’, a collection of staged readings showcasing new works and new voices in theatre. The four shows featured are Well by Lisa Kron, Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo, and Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn. More info for all of the productions can be found at www.BlueBarn.org.
Cody Daigle’s In the Bones is up and running at the shared space theatre on 33rd and California St. The story of individuals grieving over the loss of a family member who committed suicide after returning from Afghanistan runs through September 13th and you can find an interview with cast member Eric Grant-Leanna online.
On November 12th, SNAP will open Mama’s Girls by Marilynn Barner Anselmi. Directed by Michael Simpson, the new play revolves around a family coming to grips with the life changing decisions of a transgender family member.
The irreverent dark comedy from Britain, C*ck by Mike Bartlett will open on March 3rd. The play focuses around John, a man who accidentally falls in love with a woman after breaking up with his boyfriend of several years. To help him make a decision between the two, he decides to have dinner with both parties at once, leading to hilarious revelations on who John really is.
Finishing out the season is the new play Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George opening May 26th. The show revolves around Dean Wreen as she deals with her cash-strapped college, the closing natural history museum, and her past relationships. The theatre describes the show as ‘a screwball sex comedy about the perils of monogamy, certainty, and academic administration’.
More info can be found at www.SnapProductions.com.
The Shelterbelt’s new season of local and original works will kick off on October 2nd with The Singularity by Crystal Jackson. Directed by Beth Thompson, the dystopian dark comedy revolves around dark matter, pregnancy, and metaphysics.
Ellen Struve will showcase her latest work in Untitled Series #7: A Comedy. This play talks about art, failure, divorce, more failing, dating, and the internet in a romantic comedy involving a ‘Rube Goldberg’ machine of events’.
On April 15th, Noah Diaz will direct Celine Song’s work entitled The Feast. The show is set in a world where all meat goes bad and the world is suddenly filled with reluctant vegetarians. As stomachs start to growl, the pillars of society start to fall.
The Shelterbelt season will wrap up on July 8th with the event Shattering the Glass: A Celebration of Omaha Women in Theatre. The show will be a collaborative project featuring female playwrights, directors, and protagonists.
Also continuing will be the ‘Before the Boards’ program where local playwrights get a chance to hear their works before a live audience that provides feedback to the writer as the show develops into a more complete work.
For more information on the programs at Shelterbelt, visit www.Shelterbelt.org.
The Rose Theater
Omaha’s family theater has a season filled with big-name shows and newer stylized pieces. The opening production is the musical Pete the Cat premiering September 11th. The show revolves around a laid back cat on his first day of school.
Other notable productions for the year include Sherlock Holmes & the First Baker Street Irregular on November 6th, the fresh off of Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher on December 4th, the TheatreworksUSA production of The Lightning Thief on January 22nd, Honk! The Musical on March 25th, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid on June 3rd among others. The Rose will also be continuing its Teens N’ Theater program throughout the year.
For more information on all of the offerings at The Rose, visit www.rosetheater.org.
Other Notable Productions
There’s many more productions happening throughout the metropolitan area, more than we can fit onto this page. But other productions of note include:
Apollon Theatre - Symphony of Horror: A Silent Film Experience (October 9th-24th).
Bellevue Little Theatre - Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (September 11th-27th) & To Kill a Mockingbird (November 6th-22nd).
Chanticleer Theatre - Children of a Lesser God (January 8th-17th, 2016) & Sweeney Todd (March 11th-20th).
Circle Theatre - Yankee Tavern (October 16th-31st) & Long Day’s Journey Into Night (July 2016)
Creighton University - Sunday in the Park with George (October 30th-November 8th)
Nebraska Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew & Macbeth (June/July 2016)
UNO Theatre - Dracula (September 30th-October 7th) & Cloud 9 (February 24th-March 5th, 2016.
Also keep an eye out for future productions from Brigit St. Brigit Theatre, Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre, Ralston Community Theatre, and Iowa Western Community College.