Excitement abounds as Omaha theaters prepare to launch into another season of productions all across the artistic spectrum. Let’s do the rundown.
Omaha Community Playhouse
With artistic leadership now firmly in the hands of Kimberly Faith Hickman, OCP starts its latest season in the Howard Drew Theatre with To Kill a Mockingbird by Christopher Sergel. Based on the famed novel by Harper Lee and directed by Ablan Roblin, the playhouse said the time was right to revisit the classic work.
Also on the docket in the Howard Drew will be the indie rock musical Murder Ballad opening October 14, a thriller that revolves around a love triangle gone wrong. After that, the Playhouse digs into its Western sensibilities with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, based on the short story by Dorothy M. Johnson and made popular by the 1962 film of the same name. The Drew Season finishes out with the Tracy Letts play Superior Donuts. Set in Chicago, the show deals with the relationship between a Polish pastry shop owner and his young balck employee.
The Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage series starts things off with recent Broadway musical Sister Act, based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie of the same name. Soon after, the Playhouse institution that is A Christmas Carol returns with Jerry Longue in the lead role for yet another year. In January, the adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days takes the stage, using only five actors to tell the whole tale. March brings about another Broadway musical, the 1980s jukebox musical Rock of Ages, featuring songs like “Sister Christian,” “Dead or Alive” and “Here I Go Again.” The Ken Ludwig comedy Leading Ladies opens April 14 telling the tale of a pair of down and out actors who try to con an old lady out of her fortune by portraying her neices. The mainstage season finishes with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on May 26.
When asked about the new season, Hickman said, “We truly have something for everyone this season at Omaha Community Playhouse: plays, musicals, comedies, dramas, classics and contemporary work, as well as productions for the entire family to attend. It’s going to be a fun, entertaining and thought-provoking year of great storytelling at OCP.”
Blue Barn Theatre
“What do you think defines you? What will you do when your identity is challenged, changed or ignored?”
That’s what Artistic Director Susan Clement-Toberer asks audiences when they attend season number 28 at the Blue Barn Theatre. The identity-themed season starts September 22 with The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Written by Bertolt Brecht in 1941, it was a satirical allegory to the rise of Adolf Hitler with more than a few relevant teachings for today.
The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor takes over the holiday spot starting November 25. The show welcomes audiences to “the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church, where all faiths are welcome because we’ll believe anything.”
Taylor Mac’s play Hir opens February 2. The show revolves around a young veteran returning home to find his family in disarray after his mother renounces the patriarchy, his sibling comes out as transgender and his ailing father needs aid in his time of decline.
Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson opens March 23. The new play follows the life of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, the late 19th and early 20th century astronomer who worked at the Harvard Observatory as she traverses a world not used to a strong woman in the world of science.
The season closes with the May 19th Opening of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert — The Musical by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott. Based on the 1994 film, the show follows two drag queens and a transgender woman as they hop on a bus named Priscilla to take their show across the Australian outback.
Walk the Night returns for a third rendition on September 28 with Spencer Williams directing a unique immersive adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream mixed with Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon.
The new season at Omaha’s theater dedicated to local and original works has Artistic Director Beth Thompson excited.
“Our 24th season will be the first in quite a while that is 100% local and will showcase some of the Omaha area’s brightest playwrights,” she said. “Coupled with another star studded Before the Boards season we are excited to continue fostering the amazing local talent that Omaha has to offer!”
The season starts October 7 with Revelation by Samuel Brett Williams. The show is a post-apocalyptic venture about faith, love and the American landscape of the end days.
Noah Diaz’s play The Motherhood Almanac opens January 27, touching several situations revolving around what it means, what it costs and what one gains in being a mother.
The new musical Catherland by Becky Boesen and David von Kampen opens April 21. It tells the story of Susan, an emerging writer in the land of Willa Cather; Red Cloud, NE.
The season wraps up on July 14 with Marie Amthor Schuett’s Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others, a play about a fabulous composer with writer’s block and his handsome neighbor.
SNAP brings together a collection of shows ranging from the newest hit comedies to famed but endearing Broadway flops.
The Quality of Life, Jane Andersen’s play about two different couples dealing with loss the only ways they know how.
Robert Askins’ comedy Hand to God open November 18, telling the story of a confused Christian teenager ‘whose life is taken over by a foul-mouthed Satanic sock puppet.’
Opening March 10 is Detroit 67, by Dominique Morisseau, which follows a pair of siblings during the race riots of 1967 set to the Motown music of the era.
The season closes out on June 2 with Carrie: the Musical by Michael Gore, Dean Pitchford and Lawrence D. Cohen. Based on the novel by Stephen King, 17-year-old Carrie White unleashes her terrible powers against her terrible classmates.
The Rose Theater
With more than 11 productions on the docket for The Rose, Artistic Drector Matt Gutschick said, “We are extremely proud to expand upon our initiatives to reach pre-teens with programming like Huck Finn and The Jungle Book, which brings the remarkable director John Hardy (Nebraska Shakespeare’s Othello and Rose Theater’s Jackie & Me) back to Omaha. Prancer is a world premiere, featuring War Horse-style puppetry and a script by the accomplished screenwriter of the movies Jumanji and Harriet The Spy. Prancer promises to upend holiday show expectations with its breathtaking stagecraft and heartfelt story. Meanwhile, we are thrilled to be expanding our Every Single Child Program this year to include preschools for the first time. Mouse on the Move invites early learners to travel to outer space and Thumbelina will make them feel as small as the main character. Shrek rounds out the season in a hilarious musical adaptation by Tony Award Winner Jeanine Tesori and Pulitzer Prize Winner David Lindsay-Abaire.”
Ballet Nebraska packed plenty into three shows for its seventh season.
Swan Lake opens October 22 at the Orpheum Theater. The company said the show ‘is a benchmark for companies dedicated to classical excellence.’
The annual tradition of The Nutcracker opens November 20, playing at both Iowa Western Community College and the Orpheum Theater.
The season closes out with their award-winning Momentum series. This year’s mixed-repertory program will showcase a number of different styles from all over the dance spectrum.