“Murder Ballad” Kills It-A Review

dsc_3926The musical, Murder Ballad, running through November 20, 2016 in the  Howard Drew Theatre at the  Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) tells a tale of an affair gone bad. Unlike most love triangle stories, the adulterer here is a young mother and wife named Sara. Played by award-winning actress Leanne Hill Carlson, Sara escapes the doldrums of everyday married life and reconnects with former boyfriend Tom, played by Thomas Gjere. Their acrobatic use of bar counters and pool tables lends a creative steaminess to the love affair. Sara’s devoted husband, Michael, played by John E. Jones, loves her, despite her flaws and her obvious distaste of the drudgery of life- “Who will I be from 9-3?”

The story is narrated by the incredibly talented and humorous Mackenzie Dehmer who captivates the audience with her voice as well as her movements throughout the bar. The four-piece orchestra, seen on set, accentuates the drama but sometimes overpowers the voices.

A special highlight of this production is the functioning bar. An hour before start, guests are welcome to go on stage to order a drink, sit on a bar stool, play pool at the table, drop a quarter in the pinball machine or sit back and watch TV above the bar. Guests may even sit on the 12 bar seats at no additional cost during the performance.

Guest Reaction

Lyn and Natalie before showtime.
Lyn and Natalie before showtime.

Lyn Leach did. The stage is comfortable to him as an avid theater patron and actor. He’s starred in 8 productions and is the past president of the Lincoln Community Playhouse. He and his wife, Natalie, are OCP season subscribers who see about 50 shows a year, including recently seeing “Hamilton” in New York City.

Lyn admits, before attending the play, he knew nothing more about it than it was a musical, set in a bar and involved a murder. He enjoyed the wonderful voices most. “The purity of the harmonies and the notes they hit were impressive.”

“It was a fantastic show.  I loved the character development. I believed and understood each of them. And, I really liked the way the narrator worked the room and some of the comical places she ended up, which added life to her.”

Murder Ballad does contain situations of infidelity, adult language and mild violence. Lyn believes it’s especially appealing for a young, progressive audience. “I really love that OCP is making every effort to broaden its patron base by including more edgy and progressive plays. Their interesting and entertaining productions are at a level of quality far above the typical community theatre.”

Lyn sums up Murder Ballad this way. “It’s a musical that will take you on a journey of deception, sensuality, love, heartbreak, and above all, passion. It is one of the best overall productions in years at the Omaha Community Playhouse. As an audience member, you will feel like you are directly involved in the story. The music is phenomenal, the voices supreme, and the acting is outstanding. Get a ticket and experience the exhilarating journey yourself.”

Get a Ticket

Do this by calling the OCP Box Office at (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for students. Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $30 for adults and $20 for students.

A limited number of Twilight Tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. These are subject to availability.

Sponsored by:  Le Voltaire Restaurant/Le Petit Paris, The Berry & Rye, David and Anne Rismiller, Whitmore Charitable Trust and CW15 (media sponsor)

Location:  Howard Drew Theatre | Omaha Community Playhouse 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132

 

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Free Tickets-Omaha Community Playhouse

ocph-tickets-october
Tickets representative, not actual.

Win 2 Tickets to Murder Ballard at Omaha Community Playhouse

“Like” Linda Leier Thomason @haulingrocks on Facebook  & Comment: What’s Your favorite play or musical of all times.

Winner announced October 23, 2016.

Play runs October 14–November20, 2016

Howard Drew Theatre @ Omaha Community Playhouse

6915 Cass Street Omaha, NE 68132

Conceived by and with Book and Lyrics by Julia Jordan
Music and Lyrics by Juliana Nash

Murder Ballad is an intimate, sung-through indie-rock musical that tells the dramatic tale of a love triangle gone wrong. At the center of it all is Sara, a young mother and wife who seems to have it all but longs for her dangerous past and begins a love affair with her old boyfriend. As events unfold, the audience is along for the ride with every twist of the story. Murder Ballad is a steamy and fun thriller with a razor’s edge.

A special highlight of this production is the functioning bar in the Howard Drew Theatre. The house will open an hour before the performance (6:30 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show and 1:00 p.m. for a 2:00 p.m. show), and patrons are welcome to go on stage to order a drink, sit on a barstool, play pool at the pool table, drop a quarter in the pinball machine or sit back and watch the television above the bar. In addition to the usual theatrical seating, there are both floor seats and bar seats available for purchase, for those who would like to watch the story unfold from a slightly different angle. There is no additional charge for these 12 seats and patrons may choose those seats at time of the ticket purchase.

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 Cast

Mackenzie Dehmer – Narrator

Leanne Hill Carlson – Sara

John E. Jones – Michael

Thomas Gjere – Tom

The Omaha Community Playhouse is supported in part by the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Established in 1924, the Omaha Community Playhouse is the largest community theatre in the United States based on memberships sold and facility size, among other factors. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All  Rights Reserved.

“Sister Act” Review-Omaha Playhouse

Spirited, Joyous, Soulful

dbbThe people have spoken. They wildly endorse the cast and production of Sister Act.  The play runs September 16-October 16, 2016 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). This Broadway smash musical comedy, based on the 1992 blockbuster movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, held the near capacity  crowd’s attention for 2+ hours Preview Night, September 15, 2016. The toe-tapping music, finely tuned choreography, well-timed set changes and captivating story line not only entertained but also demanded audience participation throughout.

From the moment Zhomontee Watson, starring as Deloris Van Cartier, a witness to a murder who’s placed in a convent for her own safety, hits the stage, her dominating presence is felt in words and song. She whips the nuns into master singers good enough to entertain the Pope. And, she leaves the audience standing and cheering at the play’s end as if the Nebraska Huskers finally  scored in the last few seconds of the fourth quarter to win a football game.

But Watson wasn’t alone in her stage dominance. The entire cast, orchestra and supporting crew were brilliant. Standout performers were “Sweaty Eddie” played by Marcel Daly, Mother Superior played by Judy Anderson and Sister Mary Robert played by Melissa King. The scene where Eddie imagines a life other than a police officer was dazzlingly performed and showcased the depth of his vocal and dance talent. Anderson was a convincing Mother Superior, especially relatable to Catholics. Her voice, oh, her voice-a gift from God. Her well-timed and delivered lines were believable and often left the audience in laughter. Playing Sister Mary Robert, King left no doubt that she’d find her way in life, having met and been influenced by streetwise Deloris. Her voice was pitch perfect. Her innocence and vulnerability obvious.

During Intermission guests were overheard talking about the humor, energy and spirit in the Theatre. Some commented about Monsignor’s (Cork Ramer) deep voice and the swagger and dance moves of the mobster actors.

VanessaVanessa Moore, a Methodist Health System Emergency Room Technician, who’s acted in plays and seen many OCP productions, proclaimed “Watson’s amazing. I love that she’s a local actress.” Even though she’s seen the movie before, Moore was anticipating Act II. “I’m curious to see how it’s all going to be “pulled together.”

 

20160915_204249Kiewit manager, Paul Fortier, shared Moore’s anticipation. “I’m wondering if Deloris will get kicked out of the convent.” Adding, “This is really good, and funny. Also, the singing is outstanding for a first performance.”

 

 

 

mercy-hs-studentMercy High School freshman, Madeline Riesberg, agreed. “The music is really good.” Some parts she didn’t understand, probably due to age. Certain words made her feel a tad uncomfortable. However, “This play makes me want to go to others. I’ll definitely talk about this at school tomorrow.”

 

 

 

It’s clear. This production will entertain diverse audiences throughout its run. Will you be lucky enough to secure a ticket to see it?

If so, look for the blue shoes. Marvel at the flawless set changes. Listen for the Johnny Carson reference. Don’t try any of the pick-up lines in public. You want to be able to go back to the Omaha Community Playhouse and see future productions.

Tickets available by calling 402.553.0800 or online at Omaha PlayHouse.

Comment below. Have you seen the play? Share your review.

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©Copyright. September 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

5 Ways Kearney, NE Stole My Heart

I strolled downtown Kearney, Nebraska’s Central Avenue (The Bricks) under the moonlight of a chilly November Friday night feeling like I just happened upon a movie set. It was stunningly still and camera-ready perfect. Nearly all the angle parking spaces were full. Soft rock music streamed from mounted street corner speakers and store front windows were impressively designed-a lost art, but not here. friday night kearney collagePassersby hurried along as crisp leaves swirled over the clean sidewalks illuminated by business signs. The brick roadway made me momentarily listen for sounds of an approaching horse-drawn carriage from foregone days. I’d been told any community west of Omaha was like the “Old West.” Was it? Arriving still savoring the flavors and aromas of dinner at top-rated locally owned family Thai restaurantSuwanneeacross from the picturesque campus of the University of Nebraska-Kearney, I wasn’t expecting to be so captivated by this community of 30,000. But with each block walked, I began thinking, I could see myself stopping, playing and staying here. www.visitkearney.org The housing alone, many with wrap-around front porches, made me homesick for the decades I lived between Georgia and South Carolina-the only thing missing was the moss draping off the expansive front yard maple trees fully swathed in golden-colored leaves.kearney house
Kearney isn’t the “Old West.” Rather it’s a progressive, growing community with offerings to satisfy all. More publicly known as the “Sandhill Crane Capital of the World,” its soul is so much larger and deeper, though that title, in itself, is quite honorable and everyone, once in their lifetime, should experience the migration of the sandhill cranes

5 Reasons I Lost My Heart to Kearney, NE

  1. Hospitality. Without exception, all employees were genuinely hospitable-welcoming me like a member of their extended family; a rare find in today’s service economy. From Brent at the front desk of the newly renovated Best Western Suites and Hotel to handlebar-moustached waiter, Austin, at Suwannee to Bryce, House Manager at The historic World Theatre, to Marilyn Hadley, assisting at the register during the Kaleidoscope of Art-a Benefit Gift Boutique for the Museum of Nebraska Art to Amy at Skeeter Barnes restauranteach was an outstanding ambassador for Kearney, Nebraska. I left desiring to know their life stories, as they lifted my experience at their respective establishments.
  2. Well-Blended. It’s true, having a college in a town adds a certain flavor to the community. But rarely have I seen college, the arts, business, parks and recreation; and new development blended theatre collageso well. After strolling downtown Kearney and enjoying a cocktail at Cunningham’s Journal, I watched 12 short films as part of the Local Filmmakers Showcase presented by Filmstreams in the 1927 historic Masonic Temple Building now housing The World Theatre. The surroundings alone awakened my senses and flashed me back to days in Charleston, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia enjoying similar outings. But, I was in Kearney, Nebraska. Having one’s expectations exceeded never tires.
  3. Education. Kearney has to be one of the best communities around for educating unsuspecting visitors. The college is obvious, but spend a couple of hours inside the uniquely engineered structure, The Archway, crossing over 308 feet and 30 feet above busy Interstate 80 and leave as a well-schooled student on the history of western edu collageexpansion in the United States. Exhibits are viewed with volume controlled headsets and include narrations on trailways, railways and highways. One can even glance at the fast-moving I-80 traffic below the archway. Nearby is the Nebraska Fire Fighter’s Museum & Education Center. Filled with firefighting heritage and history and ever-changing exhibits, this museum also honors all EMS and fire providers and memorializes those who made the ultimate sacrifice in a quiet, well-appointed location behind the museum. The value a community places on education is often seen in its library. On an early Saturday afternoon, the Kearney Library was filled with citizens of all ages: reading, working on computers or being assisted by friendly, capable librarians. Well done, Kearney. Well done.
  4. Appealing Green Spaces. Kearney boasts four beautiful golf courses and 14 parks. A drive around the city reveals meticulously well-maintained green spaces being enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.park collage Yanney Park is a first-class donor driven park in southwest Kearney near the Kearney Regional Medical Center. With the mission of “developing the finest family park between Omaha and Denver,” Yanney Heritage Park includes a Tower, labyrinth, a splash and playground, a Garden, an Amphitheater, a Bridge, a Senior Activity Center and so much more. For a community of this size, Yanney Park is a major “Wow” factor-one to be greatly applauded.
  5. Hub and Spoke. Within a short drive of Kearney, one can easily visit fort collageother attractions and return to the hub city of Kearney for the night. Case in point: Fort Kearney State Historical Park & Fort Kearney State Recreational Area are six miles southeast of Kearney on Highway 50A.The Rowe Sanctuary & The Iain Nicolson Audubon Center is also nearby. All worth visits.

Like most cities, Kearney has plenty of excellent lodging, restaurants and shopping-much of it near I-80. It takes a bit of work to discover the soul of a community and lose your heart to it. I did in Kearney, Nebraska and I suspect you will as well on your next visit.

Stop. Play. Stay. ™ www.visitkearney.org

You will not be disappointed.

©Copyright. November 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Done in cooperation with Kearney Visitors Bureau.

Nominate your community for a visit and review by contacting me.

Have you visited Kearney, NE? What sites were your favorite? Share. Comment.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.