Tag Archives: Lied Center for Performing Arts

2018 January/February Explore!

December 27, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

Nebraska

Winter Fun Exhibit Weekends in January at Arbor Lodge Mansion, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City. Explore special displays filled with antique ice skates, sleds, snow shoes, and more. Learn the history of these favorite winter pastimes and playthings. 402-873-7222.
arbordayfarm.org

Ice Climbing January and February at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Valentine. Climbers with a sense of adventure can try their hand at ice climbing on the cliffs of the Niobrara River. 402-376-3789.
fws.gov

Erths Dinosaur Zoo Live

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live Jan. 8 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12th and R streets, Lincoln. Time travel to prehistoric Australia and see dinosaurs and other creatures brought to life in theatrical performance. The realistic dinosaur puppets were designed with help from professional paleontologists. 402-472-4747.
liedcenter.org

Indoor Air Show Jan. 13 at SAC Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Model pilots will demonstrate loops, flips, and barrel rolls in the museum’s climate-controlled Durham Restoration Hangar. There will be a “learn to fly” safety demonstration and educational booths. 402-944-3100
sacmuseum.org

The Carl Acuff Jr. Show Jan. 21 at Geneva City Auditorium, 162 N. 9th St. Geneva. Variety show performer Carl Acuff Jr. will perform songs from a wide range of genres from country to Motown. 402-759-4910.
visitnebraska.com/events

Pub Night Jan. 26 at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Highway 34, Grand Island. At this casino-themed night, guests can participate in classic games and sip popular old-style drinks. Attendees must be age 21 and over. 308-385-5316.
stuhrmuseum.org

Nebraska Blues Festival

Fifth Annual Winter Blues Festival Jan. 27 at Stagecoach Mall Antiques and Tasting Room, 508 E. St., Fairbury. Nebraska blues artists will perform live music. Guests are welcome to enjoy craft beers from the Kansas City Territory Brewing Co. and food from Totally Smoked BBQ. 402-587-2521.
fairbury.com

Harlem Globetrotters Feb. 2 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. These athletes perform unbelievable tricks with basketballs. 402-904-4444.
pinnaclebankarena.com

A Conversation with Misty Copeland Feb. 13 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12th and R streets, Lincoln. Copeland became the first African-American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. She is an artist, author, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. 402-476-2211.
liedcenter.org

Second Annual Nebraska Bigfoot Festival and Conference Feb. 12-18 in Hastings. This fun, educational event includes lots of information about Sasquatch and the research into this elusive creature here in the Midwest. 402-461-2324.
nebraskabigfoot.com

Avenged Sevenfold Feb. 8 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. Avenged Sevenfold is stopping in Lincoln as part of their North American tour. Breaking Benjamin and Bullet for My Valentine will open the concert. 402-904-4444.
pinnaclebankarena.com

Kegs, Corks, and Crafts Feb. 17 in Arnold, citywide. Guests can sit back and enjoy Nebraska-made wines and craft beers. They can explore different booths with food vendors, featuring local and popular foods. 308-848-2211.
arnoldne.org

The Sound of Music Jan. 12-14 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12th and R streets, Lincoln. See Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic play brought to life in this production. 402-472-4747.
liedcenter.org

Firebird Feb. 16 and 17 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12th and R streets, Lincoln. Watch the American Ballet Theater perform with the St. Louis Symphony in their production of Igor Stravinsky’s classic. 402-472-4747.
liedcenter.org

Snarky Puppy Feb. 23 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12 and R streets, Lincoln. Once one of the jazz world’s best kept secrets, Snarky Puppy recently exploded on the music scene. Members of the Grammy-winning group have worked with Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, D’Angelo, and Kendrick Lamar. 402-472-4747.
liedcenter.org

Marvelous Maples Feb. 24 at Arbor Day Tree Farm, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City. Explore maple trees and discover how maple syrup is made. Taste sap right from the tree, along with various types of maple syrup. The event includes a campfire and fun tree craft. 402-873-8717.
arbordayfarm.org

Prairie Princess Party Feb. 24 at College Park, across from the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Highway 34, Grand Island. Princesses of all ages are welcome at Stuhr Museum’s Peter Pan and pirate-themed Prairie Princess Party. Princesses can get their faces painted, make crafts, have tea, play games, and hang out with other princesses. 308-385-5316.
stuhrmuseum.org

Iowa

Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo Jan. 12-13 Wells Fargo Arena, 233 Center St., Des Moines. As the rodeo gates swing open, guests will see classic rodeo events with an even tougher twist. The rodeo will showcase classic events like bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and much more. Emerging country artist Carly Pearce will perform songs from her debut album. 515-564-8300.
iowaeventscenter.com

Mr. Popper’s Penguins Jan. 13 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. Go on an adventure with Mr. Popper and his family of penguins in this hysterical reenactment of this popular children’s book. 515-246-2300.
desmoinesperformingarts.org

17th Annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival Jan. 19-20 in downtown Cherokee. This weekend of music includes pub crawls on Friday and Saturday nights, a jam session on Saturday afternoon, and a big band dance on Saturday night. A music clinic is offered for high school students on Friday. 712-225-6414.
cherokeejazzbluesfestival.com

34th Annual Eagle Days Jan. 20-21 at River City Mall, 300 Main St., Keokuk. Keokuk has one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles along the Mississippi, and the town shows its fondness for them during this annual event, featuring environmental exhibits, woodcarvers’ exhibits and demonstrations, live bird shows, and children’s activities. 319-524-5599.
keokukiowatourism.org

38th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games Jan. 25-28 at Lake Okoboji. Iowa’s fictional university comes together for a spectacular weekend of sporting events to shake off cabin fever. Popular annual events include broomball, snowball softball, flag football, and a polar plunge. The adult fun continues with spiked hot chocolate bars and pub crawls. 712-332-2107.
uofowintergames.com

The Wizard of Oz Jan. 26 at Orpheum Theatre, 528 S. Pierce St., Sioux City. This timeless Broadway production will stay true to the 1939 film while adding a few exciting twists. 712-244-5000.
orpheumlive.com

STOMP Jan. 26-28 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. This award-winning, eight-member percussion group performs an exciting show with unconventional instruments. 515-246-2300.
desmoinesperformingarts.org

RAGBRAI Route Party

Iowa Bike Expo and RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party Jan. 27 at Iowa Events Center, 833 Fifth Ave., Des Moines. At this event, guests will be able to shop for gear, bikes, and more from equipment exhibitors from around the country. The big event, however, is the party, which will feature a silent auction, music, a free beverage (while supplies last), and the live announcement of the overnight towns on the 2018 RAGBRAI route. 515-284-8341.
ragbrai.com

Winterfest Jan. 27 at the Amana Colonies, I-80 off exit no. 225. The Amana Colonies create old-fashioned winter fun with their annual cold-weather festival. Events include a winter wreath toss, best beard competition, the Great Amana Ham-Put, a log-sawing competition, and more. 319-622-7622.
festivalsinamana.com

Masterworks 4 Feb. 10 and 11 Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. World-renowned conductor Christopher Seaman will lead the Des Moines Symphony in concert. The performance will feature Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, Elgar’s In the South, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, and Tchaikovsky’s “Pas de Deux” from The Nutcracker. 515-280-4000.
dmsymphony.org

Rent Feb. 11 at Orpheum Theatre, 528 S. Pierce St., Sioux City. This classic rock-opera production follows seven artists who face opposition as they try to follow their dreams. 712-244-5000.
orpheumlive.com

11th Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

11th Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival Feb. 17 at Iowa Events Center, 730 Third St., Des Moines. The event will be split into four levels. The first two levels offer family-friendly activities: bacon-inspired lectures, demonstrations, and tastings of 25 different bacon flavors. Levels three and four will have activities for ages 21 and older with DJs, dancers, craft cocktails, and more. 515-564-8000.
iowaeventscenter.com

Daniel O’Donnell: Back Home Again Tour Feb. 25 at Orpheum Theatre, 528 S. Pierce St., Sioux City. Daniel O’Donnell is one of Ireland’s most famous artists. His partnership with PBS in 2002 helped further his career. The concert will feature some of O’Donnell’s favorite musical styles from Irish country to rock and gospel. 712-244-5000.
orpheumlive.com

Missouri

Through the Eyes of Picasso Through April 8 at Nelson-Aktins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is the only United States arts venue to show this exhibit. Pablo Picasso was an avid collector of non-Western art; his collection was a constant source of exploration and inspiration. The exhibition will feature 170 works, including more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso alongside more than 20 works of African and Oceanic art that were part of his personal collection. 816-751-1278.
nelson-atkins.org

Joel + Victoria: A Night of Hope Jan. 5 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Joel and Victoria Osteen, pastors of the largest church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, are coming to Kansas City to hold “A Night of Hope.” 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Lana Del Rey Jan. 9 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Del Rey is in Kansas City to promote her new album, Lust For Life, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Expect to hear several hits, including the album’s title song and “Love.” 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

National Geographic Live!

National Geographic Live—Brian Skerry: Ocean Wild Jan. 9 Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. View seasoned photographer Brian Skerry’s photos detailing the deepest and undiscovered parts of the ocean. 816-994-7200.
kauffmancenter.org

Kansas City Symphony: Mozart Plus Sibelius’ Fifth Jan. 12-14 at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Hear one of Mozart’s most powerful symphonies performed by the Kansas City Symphony. 816-471-0400.
kcsymphony.org

Criss Angel Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged Jan. 16 at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City. This show brings Angel’s famous sleight-of-hand street magic, mentalism, and even some of his most iconic illusions to life—all performed in an intimate, raw setting. 816-471-9703.
arvestbanktheatre.com

Jerry Seinfeld Jan. 19 at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City. Entertainment icon Jerry Seinfeld comes to Arvest Bank Theatre for one night only—but two performances. Catch the performer whose popular show Seinfeld was named “Best Sitcom Ever” by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair. 816-471-9703.
arvestbanktheatre.com

The Best of Rodgers and Hammerstein Jan 19-21 Helzberg Hall at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Come hear popular songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein brought to life by New York Pops music director Steven Reineke and the Kansas City Symphony and chorus. 816-471-0400.
kcsymphony.org

2018 Royals Fanfest Jan. 26-27 at Kansas City Convention Center, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City. Baseball season is coming. This event will feature autograph sessions with current and former Royals, interactive games for fans of all ages, main stage programming, and more. 816-513-5000.
mlb.com/royals

Dance Theatre of Harlem Feb. 9 at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. The Dance Theater of Harlem brings the artistic spirit of Harlem to life. 816-415-5025.
hjseries.org

PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Kansas City Invitational Feb.10-11 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. The PBR returns for the 15th consecutive year with the top-ranked bull riders and fiercest bulls. The 2018 season also celebrates 25 years of the PBR. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Event details subject to change. Contact the event organizers for more information.

This article appears as part of the calendar of events in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2017 May/June Explore

May 1, 2017 by and

Nebraska

Buddy Guy. May 4 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time Grammy Award winner Buddy Guy will showcase his highly acclaimed guitar talent and vocals. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$55. 402-472-4747
liedcenter.org

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. May 12 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Country music’s famous married couple are touring the U.S. together for the first time in a decade on their “Soul2Soul World Tour 2017.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $86.50-$217. 402-904-4444
pinnaclebankarena.com

Migratory Bird Day. May 13 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Learn about the impressive journey some birds take through migration each year. This event will feature crafts and games. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

Motherless Daughters Retreat. May 13 at Red Road Herbs Retreat & Learning Center, Stanton. This retreat is to support and encourage women of all ages who have lost their mothers. Women will share memories through storytelling, photos, poetry, and prose. 1-5 p.m. Registration: $40. 402-640-0744
redroadherbs.com

Free Park Day. May 20 at all Nebraska state parks and recreation areas. Free entry and fishing in all Nebraska state parks, state recreation areas, and state historical parks. Individual parks and recreation areas will hold special events. Regular park hours apply. 402-471-0641
outdoornebraska.gov

Def Leppard, Poison, and Tesla. May 24 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln. Hard rock fans will enjoy this show, which promotes Def Leppard’s new album, And There Will Be a Next Time. Poison fans will see all four members of the original band reunited for the first time in more than five years. 7 p.m. Tickets: $29-$122. 402-904-4444
pinnaclebankarena.com

Move—Beyond. May 24 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln. Dancing with the Stars performers Julianne and Derek Hough will bring fans on a journey of dance and music, taking inspiration from the four elements—earth, wind, fire, and water—as an exploration of the human relationship with nature. 7 p.m. Tickets: $59-$649. 402-472-4747
liedcenter.org

60th Annual Spring Flea Market. May 27-28 in Brownville. This village-wide flea market is full of antiques, art, collectibles, plants, food vendors, and community fun. Expect to find lots of treasures, from 19th-century books to 1960s car parts. 402-825-6841
brownville-ne.com

Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament. June 3-4 at West Wind Fold Course and Bayside Golf Course, Ogallala. The 13th annual Ogallala Invitational Drover Golf Tournament has an entry fee of $125 per person for two days of golf, golf carts, range balls, and two meals. 9 a.m. 308-284-4487
visitogallala.com

Archie’s Late Night Party. June 8 at The University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln. This all ages event invites families to stay up late at Morrill Hall. Guests will learn about natural history and science through hands-on activities. 6-10 p.m. 402-472-2642
museum.unl.edu

Get Outdoors Day. June 10 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. In celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, Arbor Day Farm will hold numerous outdoor events including a scavenger hunt, agility activities, and crafts. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

The Swedish Festival. June 16-18 in Stromsburg. The annual festival, in the “Swede Capital of Nebraska,” will include Swedish food, costumes, dancing, free entertainment, sports tournaments, a carnival, parade, car show, and more. 1-8 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 402-764-5265
theswedishfestival.com

International Mud Day. June 24 at Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City. Arbor Day Farm celebrates International Mud Day with educational opportunities and a chance for kids to make mud paintings and sculptures. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: $8 adults, $6 children (3-12), free to children 2 and under. 402-873-8717
arbordayfarm.org

Iowa

Maifest. May 6-7 in the Amana Colonies. Witness dancing around the Maypole and lots of music while dining on, or sampling, German food and wine in this quaint series of villages. See free demonstrations at the furniture shop, woolen mill, and other areas. Admission: free.
festivalsinamana.com

Tulip Festival. May 18-20 in downtown Orange City. Thousands of tulips will be in bloom during this festival. This ethnic festival features music and dancing by children and adults in authentic costumes, two daily parades, a nightly musical theater, a carnival midway, Dutch delicacies and other food, and an art fair. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Admission: free. 712-707-4510
octulipfestival.com

Red Hot Chili Peppers. May 23 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winning group are touring to promote their most recent album, The Getaway. Irontom and Jack Irons will perform as special guests. 8 p.m. Tickets: $50-$100. 515-564-8000
iowaeventscenter.com

Steel Magnolias. June 2-18 at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Des Moines. This story is about six unlikely friends in the South who entertain with lighthearted conversations until tragedy strikes and brings them face-to-face with their mortality. Tickets: $25-$36. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 515-277-6261
dmplayhouse.com

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. June 5 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, the band is touring in addition to releasing two companion vinyl box sets featuring their entire studio album collection. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $39.50-$129.50. 515-564-8000
iowaeventscenter.com

35th Annual Antique Show. June 16-18 throughout the city of Walnut. Stroll along the 17 blocks of dealers outside, through two indoor halls, the Catholic Church yard, and the many shops downtown. Bring a hauling vehicle and plan to stay for the weekend—this event brings more than 300 dealers and approximately 30,000 attendees. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 712-784-3443
walnutiowa.org

Wurst Festival. June 17 in the Amana Colonies. Celebrate one of Germany’s favorite foods. Sample more than 40 different sausages, drink cold beverages, play yard games, and listen to live music. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free.
festivalsinamana.com

Des Moines Arts Festival. June 23-25 at Western Gateway Park, Des Moines. The festival features visual, performing, and interactive arts, along with music and film, from both professional artists and emerging local artists. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 515-286-4950
desmoinesartsfestival.org

Trek Fest XXXIII. June 23-24 in downtown Riverside. Klingons driving tractors? Riverside’s annual tribute to its most famous citizen, the future Capt. James T. Kirk, includes a parade, costume contest, dog show, and bingo. This year’s theme is “30 Years of Next Generation.” 3 p.m.-midnight Friday; 7 a.m.-midnight Saturday. Admission: free. 319-631-9181
trekfest.org

The Big Parade and Mardi Gras Festivale 2017. June 29 in downtown Sioux City. Those who didn’t make it to “N’awlins” on the Tuesday before Lent started can experience a similar festival in June with a big parade down Fourth Street. Following the parade will be an authentic Cajun dinner, Zydeco music, fireworks, and a display of handmade Mardi Gras costumes direct from Louisiana. 6-10 p.m. Admission: free, but tickets must be purchased for the food. 712-279-4800
visitsiouxcity.org

Missouri

BBQ Cookoff and 93rd Annual Apple Blossom Parade. May 5-7 at Civic Center Park, St. Joseph. Come to St. Joseph’s annual rite of spring. This citywide event includes a grand parade, a contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, live music, and other activities. A people’s choice tasting and contest is a highlight of Friday evening. Admission: free, but tickets must be bought for the food. 816-271-4393
appleblossomparade.com

Garth Brooks. May 6 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. One of country music’s most beloved stars is coming back to Kansas City. Brooks released his latest single, “Ask Me How I Know,” at the SXSW Festival in Austin, a month after selling his 5 millionth ticket on this tour. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $75 and up. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

Weston Wine Festival. May 13 in downtown Weston. Live music and wine tasting is the focus of this festival, situated in a historic small town. Taste wines from eight different wineries from around the area. Noon-7 p.m. Tickets $25. 816-640-2909
westonmo.com

Chainsmokers. May 17 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Grammy-nominated artist/producer duo Drew Taggart and Alex Pall are most known for their song “#Selfie,” which went viral in 2015. The group has announced that their debut album will launch later this year. 7 p.m. Tickets: $41-$75.50. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

KC Jazz Festival. May 25-28 at 18th and Vine District, Kansas City. This festival, held in Charlie Parker’s birth town, is a multi-day showcase of national and local artists highlighting Kansas City’s role in the development of mid-20th century jazz. Headliners include Brandy, John Scofield, Regina Carter, and the Hot Sardines. Times vary by location. Tickets: $15-$125 for a single-day pass, $150-$350 for a four-day pass. 816-474-8463
kcjazzfest.com

Festa Italiana. June 2-4 at Zona Rosa, Kansas City. This annual festival celebrates Italian-American culture through an assortment of Italian food favorites, an Italian car show, food eating contests, vendors, and more. 5-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 816-587-8180
zonarosa.com

Future. June 7 at Sprint Center, Kansas City. Future achieved three back-to-back No. 1 albums in 2015. His songs “Low Life” (featuring The Weeknd), and “Where Ya At” (featuring Drake), both went double-platinum. 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$97.50. 816-949-7100
sprintcenter.com

Polish Pottery Festival 2017. June 10 in downtown Weston. Celebrate all things Polish and Eastern European with food, music, dance, pottery, artisans, and cultural booths. The public library will read Polish children’s stories at selected times, and photos can be taken in the Polish Pottery Road Trip car. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: free. 816-640-2909
westonmo.com

Fiesta Kansas City. June 16-18 at Crown Center Square, Kansas City. or the 16th year, this Latino-style celebration presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City will provide a fun-filled weekend for guests. Festivities will include many vendors, entertainment, food, beverages, and more. 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission: free. 816-476-6767
fiestakansascity.com

Big Slick. June 23 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City. Kansas City-raised celebrities Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and David Koechner will take the field in a charity softball game before the Royals play the Toronto Blue Jays. A fireworks show follows the games. 5 p.m. Tickets: $25-$40. 816-921-8000
kansascity.royals.mlb.com


This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com


Event times and details may change

Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

One of Ours

February 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“There aren’t a lot of people in Nebraska writing new musicals,” says Roxanne Wach, executive director of Shelterbelt Theatre.

The Omaha theater company is in the middle of its 24th season of producing original work by Midlands theater artists, and Wach reads around 200 original plays a year. But when she discovered the musical Catherland, it stood out from the pack.

A collaboration between Lincoln-based theater artist Becky Boesen and musician-composer David von Kampen, Catherland will open at the Shelterbelt April 21. It’s the latest incarnation of the project after a staged reading was produced at the Red Cloud Opera House in 2015, followed by a workshop at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln.

“I championed the piece because I thought it had such potential. I liked the music to begin with, and that’s a huge hurdle with musicals. I liked a lot of the script and where it’s going,” Wach says. “David has really captured something in the music, and Becky is really talented with her lyrics, and it’s a pretty engaging score.”

It’s hard to imagine a story more quintessentially Nebraskan than Catherland, which is set in Red Cloud, the central Nebraska hometown of writer Willa Cather. The musical focuses on a present-day couple, Jeffrey and Susan, who move from Chicago to Red Cloud. Susan has some reservations about leaving Chicago; but early in their marriage, the couple agreed that once she finished her first novel they would slow down, move to Jeffrey’s hometown of Red Cloud, and possibly start a family.

Boesen explains that when people are experiencing culture shock they go through a honeymoon phase. Jeffrey and Susan are in that phase when “someone crashes into the barn outside and their life starts to unravel as a result, and there’s an immediate life or death problem that has to be solved,” Boesen says. “Willa Cather shows up, too. Susan, the novelist, is not a Willa Cather fan, and that’s a problem.”

That would be the ghost of Willa Cather. Boesen says that a lot of her own writing tends to include ghosts, though the ghosts are not always literal.

“I mean like a missing piece of your heart. Anything that’s missing to a protagonist,” she says. “But in this [show], there are legit ghosts, which is pretty fun.”

Von Kampen agrees, “And I don’t really like ghost stories. I don’t seek out movies or books that are like that, but from a creative standpoint, it feels really good.”

Boesen was born in southern Missouri and von Kampen is originally from Michigan, but they both moved to Nebraska as children. They’ve lived other places thanks to their careers, but are now settled in Lincoln raising their respective families. Boesen and von Kampen are full-time artists and arts educators who met briefly in 2013 while working on another project.
Boesen’s company, BLIXT, is an arts management and consulting firm that produces projects for the Lied Center, Lincoln Arts Council, and other entities. Von Kampen is a musician and composer who also teaches at Concordia University in Seward as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Roughly a year after their initial meeting, Boesen talked von Kampen into working as the musical director on a staged reading she was directing.

Von Kampen says, “I remember when (Becky) called, and I was thinking, ‘How can I get out of this?’”

She talked him into working with her, and it went well.

“David said, ‘Hey, don’t you write stuff? We should get together and talk about writing sometime.’ And I said, ‘cool let’s get together,’” Boesen explains.

They discovered their work “sort of sounded alike” and began to share ideas. Boesen had been thinking about her experience as a teaching artist in Red Cloud. Her play, What the Wind Taught Me, ran at the Red Cloud Opera House while on tour, and she says she fell in love with the town.

“You’re driving in Nebraska and all of a sudden you feel like you’re on Mars, because the prairie is like an ocean out there,” says Boesen, who started thinking about Cather and “what it must have been like to live in Red Cloud, Nebraska, in the late 1800s.”

The Nebraska prairie might be considered a character on its own in some of Cather’s work. That striking landscape also has inspired the creative team behind Catherland.

“It’s an exploration of sense of place, what it means to be home, what does it mean to make a commitment, and how does that change over the course of time, and the messy nature of long-term love,” Boesen says.

“I really think they’ve captured something. I’m so excited to be working on it. I just can’t wait for people to see it,” Wach says, impressed with Boesen’s willingness to revise her script. “To have somebody who’s that fearless in the process is a real asset to Shelterbelt in really giving new works their highest potential.”

Wach points out that supporting and nurturing new work by local artists is essential to the vitality of the Omaha theater scene.

“There are very few theaters our size who do new work in a city of our size.” Wach says, “We have a very vibrant theater community, and having new works helps feed it.”

Boesen says she and von Kampen feel lucky to have such a joyful creative process, “We just like making stuff, and we make stuff well together, and we have a lot of fun doing it.”

Visit shelterbelt.org for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.