So why am I touting a staged reading of End Days on a weekend when Jersey Boys just opened at the Orpheum and Babes in Toyland is underway at Chanticleer in Council Bluffs, not to mention that Chicago and Children of Eden add to the musical menagerie next weekend at the Omaha Community Playhouse and Bellevue Little Theatre?

            For starters, you can read more about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons elsewhere in this issue, and we’ll feature the Playhouse musical next week. But there’s also the fact that last season made me a fan of the staged readings at the Playhouse, thanks to director Amy Lane and their 21 & Over series. And it’s timely on the 10th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.

            On the surface, one might argue that End Days has the most in common with the Genesis musical, which could be called “Beginning Days.” But it’s more a tragi-comedy which inspired one reviewer to ask, “Who knew the Rapture could be so funny?”

            The play by Deborah Zoe Laufer, performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, at the Playhouse, deals with the Stein family devastated by the terrorist slaughter. The father (played by Dave Wingert) survived being in one of the World Trade Center buildings, but hasn’t changed out of his pajamas since.

            The rest of the cast, all with University of Nebraska at Omaha connections, includes Sharon Sobel as the mother and Amy Schweid as daughter Rachel, whose boyfriend played by Noah Diaz is an Elvis impersonator. Steve Krambeck doubles as Stephen Hawking and Jesus.

            The mother has turned from her Jewish faith to find Jesus and she is determined to save the family from being “left behind,” given their conviction that the end time is near.

            Because the Playhouse staff is busy in tech week, preparing for the Thursday preview and Friday opening of Chicago, and because director Lane wanted to do more staging than usual, UNO artists are also aiding with lighting, sound and costumes.

            And it’s free, though donations are accepted to help pay royalties and other costs.

                                                            —Warren Francke

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.


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