“We are the World, we are the Herald, we are the ones who put the paper in your driveway,” sang the ensemble at the Omaha Press Club show last Saturday. For the record, it was arguably the best of those shows which are much better live than on Cox cable.
If you read about it Sunday in the title paper, dubbed “Warren’s Herald” for the scholarship fund-raiser, you learned only that the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Buffett himself, sang, “I’m only a paper boy,” to the tune of “Paper Moon,” and that his now famous secretary Debbie Bosanek delivered a top-five list of items she’d buy if she gets a lower tax bracket—like a new ribbon for her Smith-Corona.
For theater-goers, the highlight was the appearance of the legendary Frank DeGeorge, looking fit and in fine voice, singing, “It Had to Be You,” in a version that confined the man from Brooklyn to repeating the title line over and over with that vintage DeGeorge sound best-remembered for his “Mr. Cellophane.”
I heard him at Friday’s dress rehearsal with director Keith Allerton subbing for Buffett. But what, you’ll eventually ask, made this show better than your average annual send-up of the year’s news?
For starters, John Prescott’s writing kept it wrapped tighter around the title theme, Buffett’s $200 million purchase of the daily. The show opens with a spoofing video of publisher Terry Kroger and colleagues looking for a “white knight” (that song came later), a challenge that required his assistant, Connie Lee, to help him figure out which end was up.
They recruit the “funny drunk” (Kurt Keeler) from last year’s show to produce a telethon with a bank of phones that are not exactly ringing off the hook. Keeler dialogues with emcee Gary Sadlemyer of KFAB who, as always, provides laughs both with Keeler and his smooth monologue.
Closing the Council Bluffs dog track lets Gary mention a problem of what to do with the greyhounds, then ask the audience, “How did you like your entrée?” Talking about the cost of ridding the university of bed bugs, he says it was chump change compared to the cost of getting rid of Doc Sadler, Bill Callahan and an athletic director. “How hot was it in March?” The zoo’s penguins moved into the beer cooler at Dinkers.
But the songs centered on the newspaper, from “There’s no business like news business” to others already noted, and winds up the telethon when Buffett calls in his multi-million pledge. Kudos to the likes of vocalists Glenn Prettyman, Michael Scott, Michael Lyon and Travis Walker, among others.
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.