Omaha Theatre Fall Preview


            Fall has arrived which means another season of Omaha theatre is in full swing. The next few months promise to offer a variety of productions from several area theatres.

            The Omaha Community Playhouse kicked off its season in the Howard Drew Theatre with the spectacle-laden Enron by Lucy Prebble, closing September 14th. The play chronicling the early 21st century energy giant’s collapse features everything from complex financial theory to lightsaber battles.

            Next up in the Howard Drew is The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. The show follows a former Confederate soldier of Jewish descent returning to his family’s abandoned homestead. After finding two of his family’s former slaves caring for the property, the three have a Seder where secrets and ghosts from the past come to light. The Whipping Man opens October 17th.

            The Playhouse’s new Artistic Director, Hilary Adams, will make her directorial debut on the Hawks Mainstage with the musical The Drowsy Chaperone by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin, and Don McKellar. The five-time Tony Award-winner features Dave Wingert as the show’s narrator, who plays a record of his favorite 1920s musical. As the record starts, the musical comes to life inside his house. The Drowsy Chaperone will run from September 12th – October 12th.

            The Playhouse’s 21 & Over alternative programming will kick off on September 22nd with the staged reading of Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan. Soon after, the theatre’s new ‘From the Ground Up’ series with Great Plains Theatre Conference will showcase Ellen Struve’s new work-in-progress Prince Max’s Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior on October 20th. Each show will be in the Howard Drew Theatre.

            As always, November 21st will mark another year of the Omaha tradition that is A Christmas Carol, featuring Jerry Longe as Ebeneezer Scrooge. The Nebraska Theatre Caravan will once again be coordinating two national tours of the show in conjunction with the Mainstage performances.

            Speaking of Jerry Longe, he is currently at work rehearsing with Jon Purcell and Thomas Becker on The BLUEBARN Theatre’s opening show, American Buffalo by David Mamet. One of the first shows ever performed by the theatre in 1989, the play follows a trio of characters as they skeem, argue, and dwell in a world of their own hollow pipe dreams.

            This year the BLUEBARN will also feature the remount of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!) by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez and are sponsoring an alternative program directed by Spencer Williams that reimagines Hamlet inside a 100-year-old midtown Omaha residence entitled Walk the Night. (Full disclosure: I am performing in each of those two productions.)

            SNAP Productions is finishing up its first show of the season, We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 by Jackie Sibblies Drury. The darkly comedic story of Millennial race relations will close September 14th.

Once finished, Daena Schweiger will direct the new Christopher Durang play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The comedy loosely based on the themes of Anton Chekhov will run from November 13th – December 7th.

The Shelterbelt Theatre is keeping busy after closing its production of Abby in the Summer by Nebraska-native A.P. Andrews and showcasing the sixth iteration of the Instant Theatre Bootcamp.

Next is Sara Farrington’s play Mickey & Sage directed by Ben Beck. Formerly featured at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Mickey & Sage will have two adult actors playing children as they spend their time in Sage’s backyard. During their play dates, the two explore and ponder life’s complexities as only children can.

Shelterbelt will also feature a special one-night performance of The Year I was Gifted by Monica Bauer. After the show, Bauer will be giving a workshop on writing the one person show. The two hour workshop will cover everything from writing styles and conventions to production strategies.

On the university front, UNO Theatre will kick off its season on October 1st with Henrik Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler. Directed by Dr. Doug Patterson, the 110-year-old play has regained momentum in recent years with numerous remounts and adaptations across the country.

In November, the university will feature its first UNO Theatre Festival. The program invited alumni and professionals to work with students on new theatrical endeavors. The festival will have spoken word and slam poetry, movement pieces derived from Commedia Dell’Arte, staged musical reviews, and a play by contemporary playwright Heather Raffo.

Creighton University Theatre will begin its season in October with the student-directed show Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Lauren Gunderson. The comedy about domestic violence was one of the most successful productions of the 21 & Over series in recent years.

In November, Creighton will produce the musical The Spitfire Grill by James Valcq and Fred Alley. Set in a small Wisconsin town, the show tells the story of a woman starting anew after being released from prison.

The Rose Theater has a fall jam-packed with shows. Audiences can see their current production The Very Hungry Caterpillar running through September 21st before making way for the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat in October. Also running will be the dramatic adventure A Wrinkle in Time in November before hosting the new musical A Christmas Story for the holiday season.

Bellevue Little Theater is getting ready to open the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Oklahoma! on September 12th before turning to The Dixie Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten on November 7th.

While the majority of Broadway tours don’t come through Omaha until the new year, Omaha Performing Arts will be featuring The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes at the Orpheum Theatre on November 13th.

Aspiring playwrights have until October 15th to submit their work to the Great Plains Theatre Conference. After the deadline, plays will be read in a blind-reading process to determine which shows are selected for workshops at the summer intensive.


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