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Rock of Ages, running March 3 - April 2, 2017 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse, is set in L.A.'s infamous Sunset Strip in 1987. It tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in L.A. to chase their dreams of making it big and falling in love. This jukebox musical was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It uses the hits of the 1980s to tell its story, including "Sister Christian," "We're Not Gonna Take It," "Dead or Alive," "I Want to Know What Love Is," "Here I Go Again," "Don't Stop Believing" and many more. Rock of Ages takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos and sporting even bigger hair! Contains mischievous behavior, suggestive and adult dialogue and comedic reference to drug usage. Read More »
Who knew that such an intimate space could be so suitable for a Western, a genre that usually employs rolling hills for horses and long, dusty streets for gunfights.

The folks who run the Omaha Community Playhouse, notably director Jeff Horger, must have had their suspicions, because they decided to stage “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in the small Howard Drew Theatre, placing the audience near the action on three sides of the set. Many people were close enough to look characters square in the eyes.

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence  is a film title you might recognize. Some sort of legend, goin’ back a passel of years to 1962. The stage version, now unfolding at The Playhouse, has elements different from the movie; Britain’s Jethro Compton has given Dorothy M. Johnson’s 1953 story a few new spins. Most noticeably with a racist sub-plot.That is one of several ways which make clear that this play often takes itself seriously. 

The cast and director Jeff Horger convincingly make it vital and fascinating, rarely veering into exaggeration. A Western seems unlikely as a live experience except maybe for re-enactment shoot-outs in tourist towns. Gunplay is not the focus here; it only occurs once, on stage.  A more grim act of violence is defused by having it off stage, a dark disturbing event.

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The Omaha Community Playhouse brought a piece of the Wild West back to town with its latest production “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” directed by Jeff Horger.

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” is performed by nine cast members. Its production is an official event the Nebraska 150 Celebration, which is a year-long celebration of Nebraska’s 150th year of statehood.

Narrator Chris Berger, whose main purpose throughout the show is to ensure smooth transitions between scenes, opens the show by reading Bible verses while a funeral procession files on stage. A coffin containing the body of cowboy Bert Barricune, played by Isaac Reilly, is placed on the saloon tables while a small group of mourners gather to pay their respects.

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When he was a kid, Isaac Reilly watched a lot of John Wayne movies with his dad.

That launched a lifelong love of the Western genre for the 27-year-old Omaha actor.

He loves the films of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, and the books of Louis L’Amour and Larry McMurtry, among others.

“I always wanted to be a cowboy,” he said.

Reilly is getting his chance, at least on stage. He plays Bert Barricune in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which opens Friday in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Howard Drew Theatre.

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Guns. An American way of life. And death. The ubiquitous weapons which made the West wild.

A young New Yorker, Ransome Foster, seeking a better existence, finds that threatened on such lawless plains. This stranger in town becomes a target in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence  at Omaha Community Playhouse in a play by British theatre director Jethro Compton. Compton’s script of three years ago set sights on the themes of good versus evil, revenge and justice, adapting a story by Dorothy M. Johnson, the basis for the John Wayne-starring 1962 movie.

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The Omaha Community Playhouse is holding its fundraiser, Bubbly with Barbra: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand, on Friday, March 31, 6-9 p.m. The event, featuring local singer and actress Camille Metoyer Moten and Friends singing the songs of Barbra Streisand, will benefit the productions and programming of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Honorary chairs are Bruce and Gerry Lauritzen.

Tickets are $125 per person, which includes a cocktail hors d'oeuvres reception, performance, a coffee and dessert bar and $80 tax deductible contribution.

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Nebraska became a state March 1, 1867, and plans are well underway for kickoff ceremonies and festivities at the State Capitol on Statehood Day.

The Omaha Community Playhouse gets into the act with stage performances of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’’ from Feb. 10 to March 12. Read More »
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, running at the Omaha Community Playhouse February 10 - March 12, 2017 in the Howard Drew Theatre, is a classic western story of good versus bad and the law versus the gun.

Made popular by the 1962 film version starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is set in 1890 in the Wild West and tells the tale of a young scholar from New York City who travels west in search of a new life, but arrives badly beaten in the town of Twotrees. After being rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home. A local girl gives him purpose, but a fierce outlaw wants him dead. He must make a choice: to turn and run or to stand for what he believes; to live or to fight; whether or not to become the man who shot Liberty Valance.
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Votes are cast; polls are closed; and results have been tabulated! This was our biggest year yet! After a record number of voters in more than 75 regions worldwide, BroadwayWorld is very excited to announce the 2016 Omaha winners! Thanks to all who voted, and huge congratulations to all the winners!

Check back in October 2017 when the public nomination period will once again open for the 2017 BroadwayWorld Regional Awards.

And the winners are....

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 The staccato chirping of crickets ranks right up there with that of a needle being ripped across an LP when it comes to clichéd sound effects used to denote an emphatic FAIL. But to John Gibilisco, a cacophony of crickets is never a cliché … it’s an art form.

“When Ablan [Roblin] directed To Kill a Mockingbird earlier this year,” the Omaha Community Playhouse sound designer said, he had a specific soundscape in mind. We went with a symphony of sounds in all of the outdoor scenes — crickets, swamp frogs, tree frogs, cicadas.

“I wanted the audience to be right there in the action,” Gibilisco added, “so we installed tiny speakers under every fourth seat — we’d never done that before — so you got everything that you would hear if you were right there on the porch with Atticus and Scout. But I didn't want the audience to be overtly aware of sound. I didn't want them to be consciously thinking, ‘Wow, those crickets are awesome.’ I only succeeded in distracting you if that would have happened. I failed if you left here thinking about crickets."

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From now on, people taking classes at the Omaha Community Playhouse will be enrolled in a program that honors a great American thespian.

They will be studying at the Henry Fonda Theater Academy, recently named after a man whom critics have called one of the best actors of all time.

Fonda, who grew up in Omaha, got his start at the Playhouse and supported it throughout his life with money and time. He went on to star in numerous movies, but the stage always was his first love, his widow, Shirlee, said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

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“Beauty and the Beast” will be the summer musical at the Omaha Community Playhouse next year.

The show, which premiered on Broadway in 1994, will be the first Disney musical at the theater, said interim artistic director Susan Baer Collins. Based on the animated 1991 film, it’s also the first Disney movie to be made into a musical.

For contractual reasons, Playhouse officials couldn’t announce the title when they revealed the rest of the season lineup several months ago.

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A classic story that’s become more timely in recent days will launch the 2016-2017 season at the Omaha Community Playhouse. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” based on the novel by the late Harper Lee, will run from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18 on the theater’s intimate Howard Drew stage. Read More »