Tag Archives: theatre

So Far to Go

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

At a mere 22 years old, he’s already one of Omaha’s most accomplished theatre talents, but Noah Diaz doesn’t have his sights set on a bigger stage.

“Broadway or something else would be cool,” Diaz says, “but it’s been important to me over the years to try to keep my head down and focused on what I’m doing now.

“If I don’t do that, I won’t be focused on the right things.”

With the fast start he’s had in his young life, no one would blame Diaz for looking beyond Omaha for his future.

After getting started in theatre as a fourth-grader in a Council Bluffs school production, Diaz has acted in more than 90 shows in the Omaha area and has also tried his hand at directing and writing—his personal favorite.

“I don’t think I was ever meant to be in theatre,” Diaz says. “I think I was meant to be a writer.”

Diaz’s prolific acting vitae, and anyone who has seen him on a local stage, might beg
to differ.

While filling up a trophy case with Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards and Theatre Arts Guild nods, Diaz has turned such notable performances as The Cat in the Hat at the Rose Theater, the Scarecrow in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Wizard of Oz, and a high-school misfit in SNAP’s production of Speech and Debate into a career fit for someone much farther along in life.

Even as a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Diaz has kept up a blistering pace—acting in five to eight shows every year. Some local aficionados see him as “the next big thing” in Omaha theater.

“Acting is fun and challenging, but I think the thing I like most about the theater is the self-discovery,” says Diaz, who is on track to graduate from UNO in 2017 with a degree in special education and communication disorders. “Every production, I learn new things about myself—how my mind works and how I think.”

Diaz has done plenty of thinking about combining his passion for theater with his desire to serve the deaf community. He is focusing on American Sign Language at UNO and someday wants to work as an interpreter.

He performed in Chicago in a special adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo’s family is deaf and Diaz’s character interprets for the audience. In one of his most challenging roles, Tribes at the Omaha Playhouse, Diaz portrayed a deaf person, but not without struggling over whether to even take the part.

“Eighty percent of the audience the first night was deaf, and I about had an aneurysm I was so nervous,” he says. “But it was very well received, and a deaf friend of mine said afterwards he was glad someone with a heart for the deaf community did the part.”

Diaz isn’t slowing down any time soon. He completed a run in Beertown at the Omaha Playhouse in November. A play he wrote, The Motherhood Almanac, recently was staged as a workshop reading at The Shelterbelt Theatre, where Diaz serves on the board. And he will be directing The Feast at the Sheltebelt, which opens April 15.

“I feel as if I have so far to go—not in terms of success, but in terms of finding out who I am supposed to be,” he says. “So I want to keep pushing myself and bringing more to the work.”


Kirstin Kluver

August 4, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

One of the Old Market’s most familiar faces is now about to become…well, less familiar.
Kirstin Kluver, who played the bouncily vivacious, “roll in ze hay” Inga in the just-closed Omaha Community Playhouse production of Young Frankenstein, is packing her bags for the brighter lights of Los Angeles.

“I’m learning that I can’t stay in one place if I want to survive as an actress,” says the talent who currently has an agent in both Omaha and Kansas City and has worked extensively throughout the Midwest. “You have to hustle in this business—and I really like that part of my life.”

Kluver is more than just a familiar face of the footlights where she has been, for much of the past decade, something of the reigning, vamp-a-liscious “it girl” of the local stage. She’s also a regular on the cobblestones of Howard Street, where she has operated a massage practice out of the Om Center. The striking beauty known by her trademark, red-redder-reddest hair and crystalline blue eyes, has also worked in short films, television and print.

Still can’t place her? Think back to that memorable Nebraska Lottery TV spot set in a convenience store where Kluver’s razor-sharp bangs where so prominently featured.

“I want to take my career to the next level,” says the longtime crowd favorite who hit the trifecta by sweeping the local acting awards—Theatre Arts Guild Awards, Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, Omaha Community Playhouse Awards—for her work as the ditzy Adelaide in the 2011 Omaha Community Playhouse production of Guys and Dolls. Kluver’s other notable roles have included Roxie in Chicago (2012 Omaha Community Playhouse Mary Peckham Award), Louise in Gypsy (2009 Omaha Community Playhouse Barbara Ford Award), and Angel in Angels in America; Part II (2008 Theatre Arts Guild Award).

“It’s so very flattering when someone stops me on the street and says ‘I saw you in this or that role years ago and your performance still resonates with me,’” she says in describing her favorite type of compliment.

“The idea that I can be a professional actress and make it in Omaha, Nebraska is great,but now it’s time to take the opportunities and experiences that the city has given me and see how that translates in the bigger market of L.A. again.”


Kluver tested the waters in Hollywood after graduating from Creighton University with a degree in acting, but returned in 2007.

“Omaha has a wonderful creative community and the collaborations I’ve done here are amazing. This city is a great incubator for talent. I’m not sure I’ll ever let go of my massage career because that is also very important to me,” she continues, “but now it’s time to reverse roles a little bit. It’s time to be an actor who also happens to be a massage therapist, instead of the other way around.”

Follow the actress at kirstinkluver.wordpress.com.

The Benson Theatre

May 4, 2014 by
Photography by Keith Binder

It’s frigid and windy as Amy Ryan works the lock of the Benson Theatre’s glass doors. The theater, which has been closed for decades, sits in the heart of Benson’s Maple Street corridor, and when it’s cold, the old lock sticks. Ryan thrusts the doors open finally, and we step inside. The space is vast and empty—our voices bounce along open-faced brick walls and bare steel trusses—and we can still see our breath. “I’m going to take you down below,” Ryan says, as she leads me past the main stage and down a dark staircase. We step gingerly on the old wooden slats, and the air turns humid and musty.

“It’s kind of built like the hull of a ship,” Ryan says, pointing to a small stage buried 16 feet below the main floor. Splashes of teal, burgundy, and gold paint are still visible on the old proscenium arch: remnants of the building’s original days as a vaudeville playhouse.

“Vaudeville, in French, means ‘voice of the city,’” Ryan says. Vaudeville often served as a platform for civic conversation—and that’s one reason Ryan says she feels so drawn to the building. When it went up for sale a couple years ago, she jumped at the chance to buy it—not only to restore it to its grand beginnings but to build a community anchor.

“One thing I’ve learned from 19 years of hustling pizza,” says Ryan, who owns the Pizza Shoppe next door, “is that when you have a physical space, you can help anyone.” Ryan currently supports a growing number of artists in Benson’s now-bustling entertainment district through her adjoining P.S. Collective—a venue for poets and musicians. “You have all these artists who are incredible—the genius of the people in this town in music, in writing, in film and theater,” she says. “But they work three jobs. They’re waiting tables, and they’re struggling.”

Ryan says she wants to provide performance and artistic space in the Benson Theatre—by hosting such a sky’s-the-limit slate of events as opera, chamber and symphonic music, theater productions, independent films, spoken word, and performance art.


But like its vaudeville roots, the mission of the new Benson Theatre will be more than a vehicle for the arts. Ryan, who was a social worker before she inherited the Pizza Shoppe, plans to host educational workshops for artists, entrepreneurs and Benson’s underserved—seniors, people with special needs and the impoverished. The connection: self-sustainability. “We live within social systems that don’t work for people,” Ryan says. “We can change those by just practicing something differently. To me, it’s teaching people how to generate their own revenue because really—all of us just want to be self-sustaining in life.”

The workshops will focus on financial lessons—from basic job interviewing to writing business proposals. “As writers, as artists, as social workers and caregivers of others, we can learn how to be successful in those things that we do,” Ryan says.

Artists for Inclusion

February 24, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Iggy Sumnik is a noted artist. Bryan Allison is a young man with intellectual disabilities. Their worlds may seem galaxies apart, but the two have more in common than one might suspect. Both share a love of art, and both would appear to live by the same simple philosophy.

“I like to approach each new day as if I were going for a walk,” says Sumnik, a ceramic artist who worked for three years as a studio assistant under the internationally acclaimed Jun Kaneko. “I sense that Bryan and I might be a little alike in that regard. We keep our eyes and ears open during our walk through the day, and maybe we stumble onto something that is a little bit different. Maybe we even learn something new. I expect to learn something from Bryan today. I hope he feels the same way.”

Sumnik was introduced to Allison through a collaboration between local nonprofit organizations WhyArts and VODEC. WhyArts works to ensure that visual and performing arts experiences are open to people of all ages and abilities throughout the metro area. VODEC (see the related story on page 117) provides vocational, residential, and day services for persons with intellectual disabilities in Nebraska and Iowa.

Sumnik unpacks the tools of his profession—a massive block of malleable “potential” and a jumble of clay-working implements—as he explains to Allison and nine of his VODEC friends what would unfold over the next hour or so.

20131213_bs_8014“I didn’t come in with any particular project in mind for you,” he explains. “I’m just here to be an extra set of hands, so I want to see your creativity today—your ideas, not mine.”“Our ideas,” the perpetually smiling Allison replies. “I’m going to make an island. Hawaii. I’m going to be an artist!”

From senior centers and middle schools to the Completely KIDS campus and vocational facilities like VODEC, WhyArts offers a broad slate of programs backed by a small army of talented artists from the arenas of the visual arts, theater, dance, music, poetry, storytelling, and beyond.

The roster of WhyArts artists reads something like a Who’s Who of the creative community. Jill Anderson is the popular chanteuse, recording artist, and Actors’ Equity performer. Roxanne Nielsen makes magic as a frequent choreographer of Omaha Community Playhouse productions. Ballet legend Robin Welch was featured in the last issue of Omaha Magazine. Add spoken word impresario Felicia Webster and Circle Theater co-founder Doug Marr, to name but a few, and it’s a line-up that represents the very best—and most caring—of a city’s imagination pool. “These are more than just talented professionals with long resumes who happen to do workshops,” says WhyArts director Carolyn Anderson. “They are advocates of the arts, but they are also passionate advocates for inclusion.”

Originally known as Very Special Arts Nebraska when the group formed in 1990, the WhyArts model is one that recognizes the simplest of ideas—that creative expression is a foundational attribute of the human condition.

“The underserved populations we reach generally do not have access to the arts,” Anderson continues, “but creativity is innate in us all, regardless of age or ability. What we do is to help people discover that creativity. We don’t try to ‘teach’ art. We experience it right along with them—and on their terms, just like you see Iggy doing here today. Everything we do is carefully tailored to the needs and abilities of the people we serve, but we do it in a way that respects the individual and encourages the artistic expression that is waiting to be released in each and every one of us.”

It’s a formula that also works well for organizations like VODEC.

“The WhyArts mission of inclusion mirrors our own in a perfect way,” says Daryn Richardson, VODEC’s services development   director. “Both of our organizations build bridges to the community with as many organizations and with as many people as we can. That’s the goal of every program we develop.”

Making art in a group, Sumnik adds, is a two-way street. “I try to be nothing more than an enabler for their imaginations,” he says, “but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found inspiration for my own work through people like Bryan.”

Sumnik’s artists have now completed a menagerie of clay creations that will be fired by WhyArts before being returned to their makers. Allison’s fanciful island paradise features a larger-than-life giraffe towering over a lava-spewing volcano.

“We’re getting ready to photograph my art for a magazine!” says Allison, now the center of attention throughout VODEC’s humming-with-activity work floor. “I’m going to be an artist!”

“Going to be?” Sumnik replies. “You’re already there, my man. You’re already there.”


Kathy Tyree Channeling Her Inner Diva

February 14, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The term “diva” has taken a bit of a hit in recent years, suggesting to some a haughty I-want-it-all-and-want-it-now scene chewer who treats other humans like varmints.

For most, though, the word remains untarnished. The diva is still the shining star, the bigger-than-life glory who commands a room while displaying elegance and charity beyond the bright lights.

Kathy Tyree is most certainly the latter type of diva.

So, too, was Ella Fitzgerald, the legendary jazz diva who Tyree will shape-shift into for Ella, which opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse on February 28.

“Ella Fitzgerald was every bit the good diva, a marvelous performer,” Tyree says during an interview at a mid-town coffee shop. “My job is to channel my inner diva. But I think I’ve earned my diva stripes. It’s an immense challenge, but I feel I’m up to the challenge.”

“She brought the house down in Hairspray. She’s going to bring the house down again.”
— Susie Collins

Tyree has more than earned those stripes in 30-some years of powerhouse singing throughout the region. She is arguably Omaha’s premier cabaret singer. Among numerous other roles, she played Aretha Franklin in Beehive, widely considered the longest-running show in the city’s history.

That show’s director, Gordon Cantiello, says he’s confident that Tyree is “by all means a big-time diva in the good way.

“The other girls in Beehive had to work hard to keep up with her,” Cantiello says. “She commands a room. She’s 110 percent all the time. She’s a director’s dream.”

Susie Collins, who will be directing Ella, agrees and adds that Tyree “has a very special, powerful way of expressing herself through her music.”

“It actually goes deeper than the biographies that have been written about her. There are just some topics you didn’t talk about back then that are discussed more openly now.”
—Kathy Tyree

And yes, she said, Tyree can command a room like a true diva. She did just that in a Playhouse production last summer. “She brought the house down in Hairspray,” Collins continues. “She’s going to bring the house down again.”

Ella is a new challenge for Tyree in that, for one, “there are an immense number of lines to learn.” The one-woman musical is “a very honest and open look at her life.” The musical goes far beyond the music.

Set in Nice, France, in 1966, Fitzgerald’s manager suggests she engage in more banter with her audience—a fashion for singers at the time. Her conversations on and off the stage through the musical increasingly delve into deeply personal topics, including the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands 
of her stepfather.

“In shows like this you can get a script that’s kind of glued in there—that’s very forced,” Collins explains. “You have a very skilled playwright here [Jeffrey Hatcher]. The script is just excellent.”

“It actually goes deeper than the biographies that have been written about her,” Tyree says. “There are just some topics you didn’t talk about back then that are discussed more openly now.”


At the show’s heart, though, is the music and the larger-than-life voice and presence of the diva.

“The diva develops her own style out of her own personality,” Tyree says. “Ella Fitzgerald was uniquely Ella. A diva is the only person who sounds the way they do. You know immediately who is singing when you hear the voice.”

Tyree has built her own personal style from many influences. In some cases, she’s standing on some unlikely shoulders.

You might guess she was first inspired by the towering voices and personalities of Diana Ross and Lena Horne. Aretha Franklin, sure. Cher, who Tyree loves for her versatility. Luther Vandross. So smooth.

But Mick Jagger? Really?

“He’s always going—so passionate,” she says. “I love what he does with a song.”

And Rod Stewart?

“I love performers who are sincere and real,” she says. “That passion is authentic.”

Ella Fitzgerald, she says, was one of those sincere, genuine, authentic, and passionate singers who brought her best each night to her performance and her audience.

That’s what Tyree wants for every second she spends on stage as Ella Fitzgerald.

“I’d like to think I have my own style, so it’s interesting to work to channel Ella Fitzgerald—try to take on her unique style,” Tyree says. “What’s not at all different is that burning desire to give the audience everything you have. Ultimately, a diva wants to give the audience something to remember. So we’re going to work to give the audience something to remember.”

Forever in Black

January 4, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Whether it’s your first time inside the glittering Orpheum Theater or your fiftieth visit to the sleek Holland Performing Arts Center, attending a live performance is an exciting event. The lobby fills with eager patrons and the buzz of conversation as a floor captain directs a couple to the gift shop while their tutu-clad daughter hops up and down with anticipation. A man in elegant evening wear checks out a hearing device from a volunteer while a couple in cowboy boots hover at their assigned door, which is—finally!—opened by a smiling usher. Each of these patrons has been made to feel welcome by an official Ambassador for Omaha Performing Arts [OPA].

For its March 2013 return run of The Lion King’s 32 sold-out performances, 383 Ambassadors volunteered a total of 6,804 hours. This past August, Disney Theatrical Productions presented a rare award, a handcrafted lioness mask honoring the outstanding achievement of The Lion King’s success in Omaha. Ambassadors were a central element in the success of that and any run at either the Orpheum or the Holland.

One of the black-clad volunteers, Sue Mouttet, was recognized for working 94 events during the 2012-13 season. Think of the math on that. That’s the equivalent of Mouttet spending one out of every four days of the year dressed in one of her black Ambassador’s outfits.

Sue Mouttet in the calm before the storm at the Orpheum Theater

Sue Mouttet in the calm before the storm at the Orpheum Theater

“I became an Ambassador in 2005, the year the Holland opened,” says Mouttet. “I enjoy every assignment I get because I love the public contact.” Many people think of Ambassadors simply as ushers, but their duties are as varied as Omaha Performing Arts’ line-up of performances. One of the jobs of female Ambassadors is directing intermission traffic through the rest rooms during lobby-packed intermissions. “It may sound funny, but it can make a big difference in one’s [a patron’s] experience,” Mouttet says. [Editor’s Tip: For much shorter restroom lines at the Orpheum, take the short flight of stairs down from the lobby and use the lower-level facilities.]

Mouttet has a special understanding of theater—she is an actor who’s played several area stages. This background helps her better explain the nuances of the evening to ticketholders. Why can’t we be seated early? The doors must wait while cast and crew make their last-minute checks so you will enjoy a killer, perfectly staged performance.

Joni Fuchs, OPA’s Front of House Manager, oversees 450 volunteer Ambassadors. She was hired for the position two years ago but had been an Ambassador since 2006. Like many in her small army of volunteers, she came at the suggestion of friends and joined a mixed group of people who share a love for performing arts and helping others. Many are retired, but others come from jobs in business, education, and trade. The minimum age is 18; the oldest Ambassador is 90. And each one is greatly appreciated. “They provide an invaluable service to Omaha,” says Fuchs. “They are the face of Omaha Performing Arts.”

Ambassadors like Mouttet take their responsibilities and commitments seriously, but they also enjoy such perks as seeing OPA’s array of outstanding Broadway, music, and dance performances at two stellar venues. Ambassadors may watch performances during periods when they’re not otherwise needed, and they also earn points that they can exchange for free tickets.

“No matter what we do,” Mouttet says of her varied and many duties, “we serve one patron at a time and we go, go, go!”

Calendar of Events: January/February 2014

December 18, 2013 by


From the Collection: Jun Kaneko’s Special Project – Fremont Dangos
Through January 10 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St.
This exhibit brings together for the first time a set of six 11-foot ceramic pieces created by Jun Kaneko known as “Dangos.” The exhibit will also include documentation of the art-making process including sketches, photographs, and video. M-F/9am-5pm; Sat/1-5pm. Free. 402-341-3800 – thekaneko.org

Celebrate Black History on Stamps
January 1- March 1 at Boys Town, 137th & W. Dodge Rd.
View stamps of famous Black Americans on display at the Leon Myers Stamp Center, located in the Boys Town Visitor Center. M-F/8am-5pm; Sat/9am-4pm; Sun/11am-4pm. Free. 402-498-1141 – boystown.org

Lossy Group Exhibition
Through April 1 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St.
Curator Stephani Syjuco brings together six former Bemis Center Artists-in-Residence. Their sculptural and image-based surrogates call into question the notion of ‘presence’ and use their unfaithfulness as a way to reorganize meaning and symbolism in the world around them. Tu-Sat/11am-5pm. Free. 402-341-7130 – bemiscenter.org

American Muralist Louis Grell
January 20 – February 20 at Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge St.
Explore the works of Louis Grell, a 20th century painter and muralist born in Council Bluffs in this first retrospective exhibition.  M-Th/10am-3pm. Free. 402-554-2796 – unomaha.edu

Bill Hoover and Jerome Dubas, Mixed Media & Ceramics Exhibition
January 27-March 7 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnam St.
Bill Hoover has been making art and music in Omaha for over 25 years, beginning by exhibiting his oil-based drawings at Lisa’s Radial Café. He has had over 14 solo shows and exhibitions around the country. Jerome Dubas is a faculty member of the arts department at Grand Island Senior High and teaches a ceramics course at Hastings College. His early ceramic inspiration came from his family’s farm near the hills of Fullerton. M-F/8am-5pm. Free. 402-595-2122 – nebraskaartscouncil.org

Poseidon and the Sea
February 8-March 11 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
The realms of Poseidon encompassed virtually every aspect of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, from mythology and religious cult to daily activities.  This exhibition explores each of these three domains through more than 100 pieces of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art produced over more than a millennium. Tu,W,F, Sat/10am-4pm; Th/10am-8pm; Sun/12-4 pm.  $10 general public adults, free for Joslyn members, ages 17 & under, and college students with ID. 402-340-3300 – joslyn.org

 Polar Obsession with Photographer Paul Nicklen
February 18 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Paul Nicklen’s award-winning photography takes audiences on a visual journey through the vast polar regions of our planet and gives them a glimpse of the animals that call it home.  7:30pm. $20-$40. 402-345-0202 – omahaperformingarts.org


Life is Cool with the Brigadiers, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
January 3 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Life is Cool is a local band that piles on the theatrics for a fun-filled dance party.  A seven-person band that mixes funk, pop rock, and a fog machine, their live shows give audiences something to celebrate. $7. 9 pm. 402-345-7569 – theslowdown.com

Out of Control: Madness, Passion and Obession
January 12 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. Conductor Ernest Richardson leads the Omaha symphony through a vivid portrayal of psychological thrills, burning desire, and destructive jealousy against the beautiful backdrop of the Joslyn Art Museum. 2 pm. $33. 402-340-3300 – joslyn.org

ELVIS Lives – The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event
January 11 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
This multimedia musical journey across Elvis’ life features finalists from Elvis Presley Enterprises’ annual worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, as well as iconic imagery from the Graceland archives. 8 pm. $35-$80. 402-345-0606 – ticketomaha.com

George Strait with Eric Church
January 17 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
George Strait’s “Cowboy Rides Away Tour” will be his last. Known as “The King of Country,” Strait has had 60 No.1 hits, more than any other artist.  Joining Strait is Eric Church, who is hot off of two No. 1 singles—“Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen.” 7:30 pm. $75.50-$96.50 plus fees. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

Behind the Mask: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber
February 1 – 2 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Enjoy music from some of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biggest hits, including Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Cats.  Sat/8pm; Sun/2pm. $19-$83. 402-345-0202 – omahaperformingarts.org $25-70. ticketomaha.com

The Expendables
February 3 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Originally from California, the Expendables have been making waves since 1997 with their West Coast style, blending reggae, punk rock, and more. 7 pm. $15. 402-884-5353 – waitingroomlounge.com

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
February 7 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Called the forefather of “acid jazz,” Dr. Lonnie Smith’s music draws inspiration from a little bit of everything—funk, jazz, hip-hop, and dance music—with a sound that will keep audiences wanting more. 8 pm. $30. 402-345-0606 – ticketomaha.com

Evening at the Oscars
February 8 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Stroll the red carpet to hear iconic music from Academy Award®-winning films, including Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, and Titanic. 8 pm. $25-70. 402-345-0202. ticketomaha.com

Justin Timberlake
February 10 at the CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.
One of this generation’s most-celebrated entertainers, Justin Timberlake, is dominating the global charts with the release of his acclaimed new album, The 20/20 Experience. Timberlake will bring his electrifying live show to fans with a worldwide tour that will span the globe from North America, Europe, Australia, and South America. This is the Grammy® and Emmy® award-winning artist’s first headlining tour in six years. Tickets from $47 to $177 1-800-745-3000 centurylinkcenteromaha.com

Count Basie Orchestra
February 14 at Holland Performing Arts Center,1200 Douglas St.
The Count Basie Orchestra and New York Voices reunite nearly 20 years after their Grammy® Award-winning collaboration to once again combine the best of big band sounds and vocal jazz. 
8 pm. $65-$25. 402-345-0606 – ticketomaha.com

Winter Dreams
February 16 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 324 S. Jackson St., Papillion
Orchestra Omaha presents the winners of their annual Young Artists Competition. 3 pm. Free. 402-681-4791 – orchestraomaha.org

Mardi Gras Cabaret
February 27 at Glo Lounge, 3201 Farnam St.
The Joey Gilizia Trio will present some of the upbeat and celebratory Latin sounds inspired by Carnival in Rio.  Presented by St. Cecelia Cathedral.  Includes dinner and a cash bar. 6:30 pm. $50. 402-558-3100 ext. 3007 – cathedralartsproject.org


Mozart’s Missing Memory
January 19 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
A part of the Omaha Symphony’s Family Series, this show gives kids a fun introduction to a classical music genius. Featuring a mix of humor and music, this show promises laughs for all ages. 2 pm. $12. 402-345-0202 – ticketomaha.com

Festival of the Americas – Programs 1 and 2
January 24 – 25 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Thomas Wilkins (conductor), Alyson Cambridge (soprano), and Oren Fader (guitar) explore the diversity of the Americas with two programs evoking the colorful landscapes and vibrant cultures of the New World. The January 24th concert consists of the first program, while the January 25th concert features the second program. F-Sat/8pm. $27-$80 plus fees. 402-345-0606 – omahasymphony.org

Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band
January 26 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q. St., Ralston
Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band is a live-action music series that teaches preschoolers about music appreciation and how to express their feelings through movement, song, and music. 5 pm. $39.50-$159.50 plus taxes & fees. 800-440-3741 – homepridetix.com

Sid the Science Kid Live!
January 30 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
Based on the Emmy®-nominated PBS Kids television show, Sid the Science Kid, this live show takes kids on an interactive journey to explore the world alongside their favorite characters.  Arrive an hour early for a Kids Zone featuring coloring, face painting, balloon artists, and more.7 pm. $25. 402-345-0606 – ticketomaha.com

The Grocer’s Goblin and the Little Mermaid
January 31 – February 16 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
Two classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales come to life in this inventive world premiere, combining original puppetry and projections to explore intertwined tales of loving, longing, and growing up. Best for ages 5-11. F/7pm, Sat/2pm & 5pm; Sun/2pm. $18 non-members, free members. 402-345-4849 – rosetheater.org

Things That Go!
Through April 14 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
Explore all the things that make the world go round in the upcoming special exhibit, Things That Go! In this exhibit, kids will move full speed into the idea of “GO” in everything from vehicles, water, energy, and more. Sun/1-5pm; Tu-F/10am-4pm; Sat/9am-5pm. Free members & under 24 months. $2 in admission to regular admission price adults, seniors, and children. 402-342-6164 – ocm.org


Monster Jam
January 3- 5 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way
This “smashing” event features 10,000 pounds of monster trucks battling it out in both racing and an audience-scored “freestyle” competition. F/7:30 pm; Sat/2 & 7:30pm; Sun/2pm. $37 adults, $24 ages 2-12, free 2 & under. 712-323-0537 – midamericacenter.com

Cathedral Flower Festival
January 25-26 at St. Cecilia Cathedral, 701 N. 40th St.
This year’s 29th annual Cathedral Flower Festival is inspired by South Pacific, and will bring some tropical beauty to Omaha during the cold winter.

Bill O’Reilly:  No Spin Zone
January 31 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., Ralston
A provocative face for over 30 years, Fox News commentator and journalist Bill O’Reilly brings his “no-spin” approach to the most current events and issues in our world. 8 pm. $79-$250 plus taxes and fees. 402-934-6291 
– homepridetix.com

Nebraska Buck ‘N Bird Classic
January 31 – February 2 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
You can find all kinds of outdoor recreation under one roof at the Buck ’N Bird Classic, a three-day expo on all things outdoors. Includes a rock climbing wall, seminars on hunting and fishing, and more. F/3-9pm; Sat/9am-7pm; Sun/10am-4pm. $10 adults, $5 ages 7-12, free ages 7 & under. 402-707-4885 – nebraskabigbuckclassic.com

48th Annual Omaha Home and Garden Show
February 6 – 9 at Century Link Center, 455 N. 10th St.
Spring comes early with Omaha’s largest showcase of landscaping, home, gardens, and outdoor living.  Th/5-9pm; F/11am-9pm; Sat/11 am-8pm; Sun/11am-5pm. $8 adults, $4 ages 5-12, free ages 5 & under. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

Lauritzen Gardens Valentine’s Day Dinner
February 14 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
Have a “green” Valentine’s day this year among the beautiful flowers and plants of the Lauritzen Gardens. Guests will receive a three-course meal and a glass of wine. Seating available from 6 pm-9pm. $50 per person. 402-346-4002 – lauritzengardens.org

Swing Under the Wings
February 14 at Strategic Air & Space Museum, 28210 W. Park Hwy.
The Strategic Air & Space Museum presents their 2014 Hangar Dance, this year with a 1940s theme.  Come dressed in your best vintage clothing and costumes to relive memories of a bygone era. 
7 pm. See website for ticket information.  
402-944-3100 – sacmuseum.org


The Church Basement Ladies in A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement
January 17 at Iowa Western Community College, 2700 College Road, Council Bluffs
The Church Basement Ladies are back in the fourth and latest installment in this popular series of musical comedies. The year is 1960, a reformation is underway, and once again the Church Basement Ladies are required to face change head-on. 2 pm & 8 pm. $35 adults, $31 seniors and students. 712-388-7140 – artscenter.iwcc.edu

Having Our Say-The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years
January 17 – February 9 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
Meet sisters Sadie and Bessie Delaney in this biographical, two-person play. At ages 101 and 103, these resilient African-American sisters have lived through the historic Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws, and women’s suffrage. W-Sat/7:30pm; Sun/2pm. $35 Adults, $21 Students. 402-553-0800 
– omahaplayhouse.com

 Martha Graham Dance Company
January 26 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The Martha Graham Dance Company celebrates the vision of its namesake by performing her 1944 work Appalachian Spring. 
7pm. $20-$50. 402-335-0606 – ticketomaha.com

Dvorák’s Rusklka – The Met: Live in HD
February 6 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
The great Renée Fleming returns to one of her signature roles, singing the enchanting “Song to the Moon” in Dvorák’s soulful fairy-tale opera. This live telecast also includes a prelude talk from Opera Omaha.  11:55 am. $20 Opera Omaha and Film Streams members, $24 general admission, $10 students with valid school ID.  402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Next to Normal
February 7- March 16 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner, Next to Normal is a deeply moving rock musical and raw account of a family dealing with mental illness, tragedy, and the realities of modern society. Disclaimer: contains strong language and adult situations and is intended for mature audiences. Th-Sat/7:30 pm; Sun/2pm. $35 adults, $21 students. 402-553-0800 
– omahaplayhouse.com

February 8 at Ballet Nebraska’s Encore Performance Space, 2819 S. 125th Ave. Part of Ballet Nebraska’s “Encore Series,” this fresh mix of partnered dance works includes a discussion with artists and refreshments. 7:30 pm. $25. 402-541-6946 – balletnebraska.org

Opera Omaha’s Agrippina
February 14 and February 16 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
Delve into the sordid private lives of some of history’s most notorious figures. Agrippina is the ambitious and seductive wife of Emperor Claudius, who through shocking and often darkly comic machinations places her volatile teenage son, Nero, on the throne. Jeweled with Handel’s glorious melodies, Agrippina is the composer at his most theatrically visceral and musically stunning. Tickets from $19 to $99 402-345-0606 –operaomaha.com

 Million Dollar Quartet
February 18 – February 23 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
This Tony Award®-wining Broadway musical draws inspiration from the electrifying true story of the recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. Tu-Th/7:30 pm; F/8pm; Sat/2pm & 8pm; Sun/1:30 pm & 7pm. $95-$30. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.com

February 20 – March 15 at Blue Barn Theatre. 614 S. 11th St.
Loosely based on Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, this American version focuses on self-involved Peter Gnit, who kidnaps a young women on her wedding day, falls in love with someone else, and embarks on a global journey. $25 adults, $20 students. Th-Sat/7:30pm; Sun/6pm; no show Feb. 23rd and Mar. 16th. 402-345-1576 – bluebarn.org

Death by Design
February 26-March 1 & March 6-8 at Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge St.
What happens when you mix the brilliant wit of Noel Coward with the intricate plotting of Agatha Christie? You have a delightful and mysterious mash-up of two of the greatest English writers of all time in this zany and macabre murder mystery. 7:30 pm. $15 general adult tickers, $10 UNO faculty and staff, senior citizens, and military. $5 students with ID and TAG member card. 402-554-7529 – unotheatre.com

February 28 – March 30 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
Ella is the powerhouse story and musical revue of iconic jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. As this legend prepares for her most challenging performance, she recalls her life’s tribulations and how she found solace in music. W-Sat/7:30 pm; Sat/2pm. Ticket Prices TBA. 402-553-0800 – omahaplayhouse.com

Jackie & Me
February 28 – March 16 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
With the help of a vintage baseball card and a little bit of magic, average boy Joey Stoshack travels back to 1947 and meets Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major leagues. Best for ages 6-13. F/7pm; Sat/2 & 5 pm; Sun/2pm. $18 non-members, free members. 402-345-4849 
– rosetheater.org


Calendar of Events: November/December 2013

October 24, 2013 by


Featured Artists Akers, Fetters, and Gaines
Through November 24 at Artists Cooperative Gallery Ltd, 405 S. 11th St.
New works by mixed media artist Sean Akers, painter Joan Fetter, and weaver Agneta Gaines. Tu-Th/11am-5pm; F-Sat/11am-10pm; Sun/12-6pm. Free admission. 402-342-9617 – 

Through January 5 at Strategic Air & Space Museum, 28210 W. Park Hwy.
Exhibit showing the real math behind what kids love most—video games, sports, fashion, music, robotics, and more. Daily/10am-5pm. $12 adults, $11 seniors & military, $6 ages 4-12. 402-944-3100 – sasmuseum.com

Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear
Through January 5 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Test yourself against four common fears. Observe how fear changes and learn simple ways to combat stress. Tu/10am-8pm; W-Sat/10am-5pm; Sun/1-5pm. $9 adults, $7 seniors (62+), $6 ages 3-12, free for members and children 2 & under. 402-444-5071 – durhammuseum.org

Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection
Through January 5 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
A selection of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from a historic gift pledged to the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2010 by Emily Fisher Landau. Her collection features some of the most influential artists of the 20th century, including Andy Warhol, Glenn Ligon, Sherrie Levine, Agnes Martin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, John Baldessari, Kiki Smith, and Ed Ruscha. Tu-W/10am-4pm; Th/10am-8pm; F-Sat/10am-4pm; Sun/12-4pm. Free admission. 402-342-3300 – joslyn.org

American Royalty: The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Scholarship and Coronation Ball
November 2 – January 19 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Over 200 years after declaring independence from the British monarchy, Americans continue to be entranced by royalty, and this exhibit aims to examine this fascination by looking at the fictional coronation of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben through a historical lens. Tu/10am-8pm; W-Sat/10am-5pm; Sun/1-5pm. $9 adults, $7 seniors 62+, $6 ages 3-12, free for members and children 2 & under. 402-444-5071 – durhammuseum.org

First Thursday Art Talk
November 7 & December 5 at Bemis Center of Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St.
Current artists-in-residence give presentations or performances of their work and discuss their creative processes. Always insightful, these discussions provide a rare opportunity to meet artists and learn first-hand about their inspirations, approaches and techniques. 7pm. Free admission. 402-341-7130 – bemiscenter.org

Travel Journaling & Sketching with Nancy Lepo
November 9 at Omaha Creative Institute, 1516 Cuming St.
Learn how to document your trips via journal with this workshop, which focuses on the ins and outs of travel sketching—quickly capturing scenes and jotting down the ‘feel’ of a place, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist. 10am-12pm. $35. 785-218-3061 – omahacreativeinstitute.org

Closing Reception: Nate Burbeck & Joel Starkey
November 14 at UNO Art Gallery, Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge St.
Through panoramic paintings of landscapes depicting isolated moments of the surreal, Burbeck challenges his audience to question reality within the context of contemporary culture. He is accompanied by fellow Minnesotan and contemporary artist Starkey. 4:30-6:30pm. Free admission. 402-554-2796 – unoartgallery.org

Open Studios
November 16 at Bemis Center of Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St.
Open Studios represents a chance for the public to come meet artists-in-residence and experience the Bemis Center’s core mission firsthand. The artists will be available to show you their studio, talk about their process, and give you a look at what they’ve been working on. This event is free and open to the public. 1-4pm. Free admission. 402-341-7130 – bemiscenter.org


Cold War Kids
November 4 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Los Angeles indie rock band Cold War Kids return to Slowdown in support of their new album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9. $17 day of, $15 in advance. 402-345-7569 – theslowdown.com

Cameron Carpenter
November 7 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
The first organist to be nominated for a Grammy Award® for a solo album, Cameron Carpenter acts more like a rockstar than a traditional organist, creating live performances with the glitz and glamour not typically associated with organ music. 7:30pm. Tickets from $25-70. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.com

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
November 13 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs
This orchestra’s performance is unlike anything other holiday show out there, combining classical, orchestral, symphonic and progressive music into hard rock and heavy metal, complete with a light show and other special effects. 7:30pm. Tickets from $33-60.50. 712-323-0536 – midamericacenter.com

Brad Paisley: “Beat This Summer Tour”
November 14 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Country superstar Brad Paisley returns again to Omaha, armed with new hits, serious guitar chops, and a down-home sound to keep country fans happy. Opening is Danielle Bradbury, winner of this season of The Voice. 7pm. $30.50-63. 402-341-1500 – centurylinkcenteromaha.com

A Night in Treme
November 14 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Capitalizing on the popularity of the HBO series Treme, New Orleans group Soul Rebels will be joined by “The King of Nouveau Swing” Donald Harrison, Jr., trumpeter James Andrews, and others as they bring a little bit of Bourbon Street to the Holland Center. 7:30pm. Tickets from $30-70. 402-731-3140 – omahaperformingarts.org

Hunter Hayes
November 16 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
Grammy®-nominated artist, Hunter Hayes is a multi-talented performer, musician, producer, and writer, who won New Artist of the Year at the 2012 Country Music Association Awards. 7:30pm. $32.50-184.50. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.com

Handel’s Messiah
November 24 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
The Holland Center’s 45th annual ensemble presentation of Handel’s Messiah is a feast for classical music lovers, featuring a 150-voice chorus, soloists, and orchestra. ASL interpretation and audio descriptions are available for those who are deaf or blind. Free admission. 402-312-8210 – voicesofomaha.org

Toby Mac
November 22 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs
Toby Mac, an American Music Award winner for Favorite Christian Artist, comes to Council Bluffs for his Hits Deep Tour, featuring Mandisa Colton Dixon, Brandon Heath, Chris August, Jamie Grace, and Capital Kings. 7pm. Tickets from $25-35. 712-323-0536 – caesers.com/casinos/mid-america-center

Brahms’ Requiem
November 22-23 at Omaha Symphony, 1200 Douglas St.
Omaha Symphonic Chorus, Creighton University Chamber Choir, and University of 
Nebraska-Omaha Concert Choir and Chamber Choirs perform Brahms’ first great symphonic work under the direction of Thomas Wilkins, a transcendent monument to the darkness of grief and light of hope. F-Sat/8pm. $27-80. 402-345-0606 –  omahasymphony.org

The Sounds of Christmas starring Elisabeth von Trapp with the Carolian Brass
November 29 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Elisabeth Von Trapp, granddaughter of the famous Maria & Baron Von Trapp, along with the Carolian Brass will perform some celebratory holiday songs, including a medley from The Sound of Music. 8pm. Tickets from $20-65. 402-345-0202 – omahaperformingarts.org

Creighton’s Classical Christmas
December 3 at Creighton University Lied Education Center for the Arts, 2500 California Plz.
This performance by the Creighton Chamber Choir and University Chorus features a newer holiday tradition for audience-goers, showcasing the work of Benjamin Britten, in honor of the upcoming centennial of his birth. 7:30pm. Free admission. 402-280-2509 – creighton.edu

Christmas at the Cathedral
December 6-8 at St. Cecilia Cathedral, 701 N 40th St.
This 18th annual event, presented by the Omaha Symphonic Chorus offers both inspiring classics and beloved traditional carols. F/8pm; Sun/2pm. $30 preferred seating, $18 general seating. 402-398-1766 – omahasymphonicchorus.org

An Evening with the Priests
December 7 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Three Roman Catholic priests from Northern Ireland come together to blend sacred music and traditional Irish music in this performance by this pop stars-meet-holy men group. 8pm. Tickets from $20-55. 402-345-0202 –

Wynonna & The Big Noise
December 15 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St, Ralston
Five time Grammy®-winning country star Wynonna Judd will perform “A Simpler Christmas,” mixing classic Christmas favorites with her own holiday songs and backed by her band The Big Noise. 7pm. Tickets from $39-99. 800-440-3741 – ralstonarena.com


Christmas Stamps
November 1 – December 31 at Boys Town, 137th & W. Dodge Rd.
View Christmas-themed stamps and covers from around the world on display at the Leon Myers Stamp Center, located in the Boys Town Visitors Center. M-F/8am-5pm; Sat/9am-4pm; Sun/11am-4pm. Free admission. 402-498-1141 – boystown.org

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom 
with Peter Gros
November 8 at Holland Preforming Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street.
As a host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Peter Gros has captivated audiences, introducing them to exotic animals and breathtaking wildlife. Now, he shares his experiences with Omaha through video clips, bloopers, and travel tales. F/8pm; Tickets from $15-35. 402-345-0606 — omahapreformingarts.com

Big Nate
November 8-24 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
Lincoln Peirce’s book series, Big Nate, comes to life onstage, as Nate Wright, the kid with the highest detention record at P.S. 38, fights to win the Battle of the Bands and the girl of his dreams. F/7pm; Sat/2&5pm; Sun/2pm. $18 general admission, or free for members. 402-345-4849 – rosetheater.org

Disney Live! Three Classic Fairytales
November 23 at Omaha Civic Auditorium, 1804 Capitol Ave.
Disney staple characters Mickey, Minnie, and Donald are at the heart of this family-friendly performance, featuring three classic fairytales that are woven together to create a heart-warming story that has no shortage of Disney magic. 1pm & 4pm. Tickets from $16.50-47. 402-341-1500 – omahacivic.com

Tree Lighting & Santa’s Arrival at Shadow Lake
November 27 at Shadow Lake Towne Center, 7775 Olson Dr.
Celebrate by welcoming Santa, helping him light the tree, and enjoying a fireworks display. Free admission. 402-537-0046 – 

Santa’s Magic
November 29 – December 22 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
This interactive holiday show begins with the entrance of the Snow Queen to lead children in song and ends with Saint Nicholas coming down the chimney to greet each kid himself in this unforgettable holiday experience. Tu-F/10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, & 2:30pm; Sat-Sun/3:30pm. $1 in addition to general admission. 402-342-6164 – ocm.org

Christmas at Boys Town: Tree Lighting
December 1 at Boys Town, 137th & W Dodge Rd.
Visitors can experience a true family-friendly holiday tradition at Boys Town to kick off the Christmas season, complete with lights, carols, and Santa Claus riding in on a fire truck. 7:45pm. Free admission. 402-498-1141 – boystown.org

Holiday Happenings
December 7-21 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
Even the animals are getting into the holiday spirit at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, as special holiday characters will be diving into the shark tank in the Scott Aquarium. Sat/10:45am. Free with regular paid zoo admission. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com

Supper with Santa
December 19-22 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 St. 10th St.
Come join Mr. and Mrs. Claus without having to trek all the way to the North Pole. There will be supper, crafts, pictures with Santa, and more. Daily/6-8pm. $20 non-members, $15 members, free for children 2 & under. 402-738-2038 – omahazoo.com

Penguins and Pancakes
December 27-29 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
Enjoy pancakes, crafts, and animal visits from the African penguins. Daily/8:30-10 am. Free with regular paid zoo admission. 402-738-2038 – omahazoo.com

First Night of Play
December 31 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
This New Year’s celebration is perfect for the whole family, and leaves time for parents to celebrate afterwards too. Enjoy face painting, balloon artists, a dance party, food, goodie bags, and more. 6-8:30pm. $14 non-members, $10 members. 402-342-6164 – ocm.org

Noon Year’s Eve
December 31 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
An earlier New Year’s Eve celebration that everyone can stay up for, Noon Year’s Eve is complete with activities for the whole family, a beach ball drop, and celebrations with your favorite zoo animals. 10am-1pm. Free with regular paid zoo admission. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com


Raise the Roof Gala
November 1 at Creighton University, Harper Center, 2500 California Plz.
Habitat for Humanity’s annual gala chaired by Jessica Duce. 402-884-5957 – habitatomaha.org

Angels Among Us Fall Gala
November 1 at Embassy Suites Old Market, 555 S. 10th St.
Enjoy cocktails, a silent auction, dinner, and music by Chris Saub at Angels Among Us’ annual Fall Gala. $100 per person, $1,000 per table. 402-885-4840 – myangelsamongus.org

TeamMates Tailgate
November 1 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Tom Osborne, Larry the Cable Guy, and Warren Buffett sit down with a special guest at TeamMates Mentoring Program’s annual tailgate event. 6pm. 402-598-3163 – teammates.org

Wicker & Wine Basket Auction
November 7 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs
Lutheran Family Services hosts a fundraising event for the Pottawattamie County Center for Healthy Families. 5:30pm. 402-978-5646 – lfsneb.org

Purses for Paws
November 8 at Regency Court, 120 Regency Pkwy.
Shop for purses, enjoy silent auctions and raffles, and more at Nebraska Humane Society’s Purses for Paws event. 5:30pm. 402-444-7800 ext. 260 – 

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Gala
November 9 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
The theme for this year’s Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Gala is “Believe in Happy Endings.” 6pm. 402-955-6851 – 

Salute to Families – Iowa
November 14 at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs
Heartland Family Service honors four southwest Iowa families. 6pm. 402-552-7426 – heartlandfamilyservice.org

Merrymakers Annual Roast
November 14 at Embassy Suites La Vista, 12520 Westport Pkwy.
Help Merrymakers continue to provide entertainment for seniors by supporting their annual event. This year, Merrymakers will roast Father Tom Fangman. 6pm. Tickets are $200.  402-697-0205.— merrymakers.org

Salute to Families – Nebraska
November 21 at Happy Hollow Club, 1701 S. 105th St.
Heartland Family Service honors four Nebraska families. 6pm. 402-552-7426 – 

Night of a Thousand Stars
December 1 at Magnolia Hotel, 1615 Howard St.
Join Honorary Chairs Dianne and Allan Lozier as Nebraska AIDS Project celebrates its 20th Annual Night of a Thousand Stars. Online ticket sales end Nov. 30th. 9pm. $60 general, $175 VIP, $475 platinum package. 402-552-9260 – nap.org


Anime NebrasKon 3-Day Anime & Pop Culture Convention
November 1-3 at Ramada Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 3321 S. 72nd St.
Over 200 scheduled activities are featured this year at Nebraska’s premier Japanese animation and pop-culture convention, including Taiko drumming, a costume contest, martial arts demonstrations, gaming areas, and much more. Doors open 2pm on Friday and close 3pm on Sunday. 402-658-6960 – animenebraskon.com

Autumn Festival, An Arts & Crafts Affair
November 7-10 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St.
This four-day fair, rated one of the top 100 shows according to Sunshine Artist Magazine, will feature hundreds of handicraft works from artists around the country and includes stage entertainment and hourly gift-certificate drawings. Th-F/11am-9pm; Sat/9am-7pm; Sun/10am-5pm. $8 adults, $7 seniors, free for children 10 & under. 402-331-2889 – hpifestivals.com

Veteran’s Recognition Day
November 11 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.
Free admission for active or retired veterans and their immediate families. 10am-4pm. 402-733-8401 – omahazoo.com

Lewis and Clark Dog Show
November 16-17 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Furry friends abound at this show featuring participants from the Afghan Hound Club of Omaha, Borzoi Club of Greater Omaha, and Omaha-Council Bluffs Cocker Spaniel Club. There will be events for owners, dog-lovers, and pets alike, including a costume contest and fun match. 402-341-1500 – 

Holiday Lights Festival
November 21 – December 31 at Gene Leahy Mall, 14th & Farnam sts.
Join the Omaha community at the Thanksgiving Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 21, which kicks off the six-week Holiday Lights Festival events. Then, ring in the New year with a fireworks display concluding the festival on Dec. 31. 402-345-5401 – holidaylightsfestival.org

Miracle on Farnam
Novermber 23 – January 1 at Midtown Crossing, 31st-33rd at Farnam & Dodge sts.
A season-long celebration of creativity, good cheer, and authentic holiday pleasures. Free admission. 402- 351-9546 – miracleonfarnam.com

Holiday Poinsettia Show
November 29 – January 5 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
This spectacular exhibit features a 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree, ornate holiday trees, antique sleighs, and a 300-foot long track that includes several passenger and model freight trains swerving through displays of miniature Omaha landmarks. Daily/9am-5pm. $7 adults, $3 ages 6-12, free for members and children 5 & under. 402-346-4002 – lauritzengardens.org

Bellevue World Fest
November 30 at Lied Activity Center, 2700 Arboretum Dr.
This festival features a special Medieval/Renaissance where visitors can learn about, weaving, woodworking, metal working, and jewelry making along with other holiday entertainment from around the world. 12-4 pm. Free admission. 402-517-1446 – bellevueworldfest.com

Christmas at Boys Town: Historic Creche Display
December 1 – January 11 at Boys Town, 137th & W Dodge Rd.
This historic display features three nativity scenes, including the main crèche, created by a Holocaust survivor, which adorns the historic Music Hall near the main entrance. Other nativities are at Dowd Memorial Catholic Chapel and by the Village Christmas tree. Daily/8am-5pm. Free admission. 402-498-1141 – boystown.org

The Madrigal Christmasse Feaste
December 3 at Regency Marriott Ballroom, 10220 Regency Cir.
Step back in time with this Renaissance-style holiday celebration hosted by the Lord and Lady of the Manor, complete with a multi-course feast, and a special appearance by the court jester. 6pm. $52 individual, $48 groups of 10 or more. 402-556-1400 – ibsencostumes.com

Irish Christmas at Father Flanagan’s Historic Home
December 9-16 at Boys Town, 137th & W Dodge Rd.
The Christmas spirit lives on at the former residence of Father Edward J. Flanagan with traditional Irish Christmas décor including Christmas quilts, antique toys, and ornaments from the 1920s to the 1940s. Daily/10am-4pm. Free admission. 402-498-1141 – boystown.org


The Ugly Sweater Run
December 15 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.
Now grandma’s reindeer sweater can be used for more than just the annual office Christmas party in this fun 5K race that’s anything but pretty. Participants are also asked to bring one new toy to donate to Toys for Tots. Tickets from $34-50. 402-341-1500 – theuglysweaterrun.com


Brian Regan
November 7 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Comedian Brian Regan has distinguished himself as one of the premier comedians in the country, visiting more than 80 cities each year with material that relates to a wide audience. 7:30pm. Tickets start at $38.75. 402-345-0606 – 

Theresa Caputo
November 13 at Orpheum Theater, 409 N. 16th St.
Theresa Caputo, psychic medium and star of the hit TLC show Long Island Medium, will give interactive readings to audience members throughout the show and will also share personal stories about her life and her unique gifts. 7:30pm. Tickets from $39.75-69.75. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.org

Larry the Cable Guy
November 15 at Orpheum Theater, 409 N. 16th St.
Born in Pawnee City, Neb., Larry the Cable Guy observes and celebrates the workingman and the redneck lifestyle. 7pm & 9:30pm. Tickets start at $35. 402-345-0606 – omahaperformingarts.org

The Met: Live in HD – Puccini’s Tosca
November 9 & 13 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
Puccini’s timeless verismo score is well served by an exceptional cast, led by Patricia Racette in the title role of the jealous diva, opposite Roberto Alagna as her lover, Cavaradossi. George Gagnidze is the villainous Scarpia. Nov. 9/11:55am; Nov. 13/6pm. $24 general admission. 402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Dickens Returns
November 15-16 at Field Club of Omaha & General Crook House, 3615 Woolworth Avenue. and 5730 N. 30th Street.
Come join Mr. Dickens—Gerald Dickens, that is—in his energetic readings of some of Charles Dickens’ classic novels. F/2&6pm; 402-555-9990 —  douglascountyhistory.org

Elf the Musical
November 19-24 at Orpheum Theater, 409 N. 16th St.
Follow the hilarious tale of Buddy the Elf as he ventures to New York City to meet his birth father and help him discover the true meaning of Christmas. Tu-Th/7:30pm; F/8pm; Sat/2&8pm; Sun/1:30&7pm. Tickets from $30-75. 402-345-0606 – 

The Nutcracker
November 20-23 at Creighton University Lied Education Center for the Arts, 2500 California Plz.
Enjoy this holiday classic ballet performed by the Creighton Dance Company and Department of Fine and Performing Arts. W-F/7:30pm; Sat/2pm. $18 general admission. 402-280-1448 – creighton.edu

November 22 – December 15 at SNAP! Productions, 3225 California St.
The story of a deaf boy who comes from a Jewish family and is raised without the knowledge of sign language until he meets Sylvia, a hearing woman born to deaf parents who is now slowly going deaf herself. Th-Sun/8pm. $12-15 on Friday and Saturday shows, $10 on Thursday shows. 402-341-2757 – snapproductions.com

A Christmas Carol
November 22 – December 22 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge goes on a life-changing journey through his past, present, and future. W-Sat/7:30pm; Sun/2pm. $35 adults, $24 students. 402-553-0800–omahaplayhouse.com

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol
November 29 – December 22 at Blue Barn Theatre, 614 S. 11th St.
This twist on Dicken’s original story picks up with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley, who must redeem Scrooge in order to discover his own heart. F-Sat/7:30 pm; Sun 6pm; No show December 5. $25 adults, $20 students and seniors 65+. 402-345-1576 – bluebarn.org

December 6-29 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam Street.
This musical version of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel transports audience members to the enchanted world of Narnia without having to go through a magical wardrobe themselves. Narnia has a run-time of two hours with an intermission and is recommended for children ages 6-13. Sat-Sun/2pm; Dec.26/7pm. $25 main floor, $20 balcony. Members save $7 per ticket. 402-345-4849 — rosetheater.org

Yesterday and Today
December 6-29 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
This all-request Beatles tribute show gives audience members a chance to share stories and relieve memories with their favorite Beatles songs. Tickets are $38. Th-Sat/7:30pm: Sun/2pm. 402-553-800 – omahaplayhouse.com

The Met: Live in HD – Verdi’s Falstaff
December 14 & 18 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
Verdi’s masterpiece returns to The Met for the first time since 2005, in a production by Robert Carson featuring Ambrogio Maestri singing the title role of the brilliant and blustery Sir John Falstaff. Dec.14/11:55am; Dec.18/6pm. $20 Film Stream members and Opera Omaha subscribers. $24 general admission. 402-933-0259 – filmstreams.org

Dance, Girl, Dance!

September 30, 2013 by
Photography by Ballet Nebraska

Judy Leppek’s performance was this reviewer’s favorite in Ballet Nebraska’s recent production of Snow White at The Rose Theater. Luppek’s regal bearing, perpetually pursed lips, and impossibly long neck made quite an impression. She performed miracles with an arched, cuts-like-a-knife eyebrow in bringing great drama to her character, the deliciously diabolical evil queen.

Which is all well and good, except for the puzzling fact that Leppek—the critic’s fave, mind you—was performing in a non-dancing role. It’s a point that, sadly, doesn’t bode well for a ballet review, where the focus is meant to be…well, ballet.

Sure, Ballet Nebraska founder and artistic director Erika Overturff was terrific in tulle during a memorable solo as the Queen of the Nymphs. And the oft-paired and always resplendent duo of Natasha Grimm-Gregory (the beguiling Snow White) and Sasha York (the charming Prince) provided a couple of magical moments. The problem was that they just weren’t allowed enough dance sequences for them to dish up more than a meager ration of those magical moments.

The second act of Snow White best illustrates this dilemma. Between a septet of darling dwarves and Snow White doing almost everything but dancing, it seemed an eternity before this ballet was allowed to be a ballet.

Guest choreographer Winthrop Corey, artistic director of the Mobile Ballet Company and a summer faculty member for both Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre, now has the dubious distinction of being behind my two least favorite Ballet Nebraska works; this one and 2011’s Dracula, which exhibited similar symptoms hinting at a diagnosis of Dance Deprivation Disorder.

Now entering its fourth season, the once fledgling ballet company—the state’s only professional troupe—should be at a certain stage in its maturation. It is to be expected that the early years of any such performance company would be typified by efforts that are building blocks for the future. It should come as no surprise that a company’s initial works could be rather bare-bones-ish. After all, and just as with any launch of a new performance company, Ballet Nebraska started with little more than an artistic vision. Just imagine the tireless organizing, networking, and fundraising that had to unfold before a single dancer could even dream of donning a tutu.

But imagineering has an expiration date. Now is a time when the company should be expected to shine in a fully developed artistic mission, and an ambitious one at that. Snow White didn’t cut any corners when it came to beautiful costumes and sets, but this reviewer felt it did so with dance, the very core of what they do.

Which is all a cryin’ shame. The company has a magnificently talented cadre of artists, but the curiously choreographed Snow White didn’t give audiences much of an opportunity to appreciate their talents.

There’s a classic ballet/burlesque film from the golden age of Hollywood that pits Maureen O’Hara (ballet) against Lucille Ball (burlesque). My wish for Ballet Nebraska is for them to heed the advice from the movie’s title and just Dance, Girl, Dance!

David Williams, the recently named managing editor of Omaha Publications, has written hundreds of performing arts reviews for a number of area publications and formerly served on the board of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.


September 26, 2013 by
Photography by Omaha Community Playhouse

Just as in a certain M. Night Shyamalan “I see dead people” film, the color red is used almost as code in the Omaha Community Playhouse blockbuster production of the much-anticipated Les Misérables.

Early scenes are an ocean of jute-hued tatters in the musical based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel—the one about the most famous loaf of bread in all of literature—before a riotous red-redder-reddest bloom of rebellion explodes amid flaming vermillion muzzle flashes against the backdrop of a crimson flag soaked in the blood of martyrs as the curtain comes crashing down on the first act.

It’s enough to leave you breathless, but you won’t have to wait for the penultimate scene before intermission to be awestruck. Timothy Shew has played the can’t-catch-a-break ex-con lead as Jean Valjean 1,600 times, most of them on Broadway, and he knows every nuance of his character. Shew soars in such memorable numbers as “Bring Him Home,” “What Have I Done?”, and “Who Am I?”

Savvy theatregoers may have wondered if casting the seasoned veteran against mere community theatre mortals may have set up a catch-22 situation, where the contrast between talents was simply too great. Hold on a sec. Guilty of employing a non sequitur just now. After all, savvy Omaha theatregoers will not be the least surprised to learn that an Omaha Community Playhouse ensemble can hold their own and so much more on this, the city’s greatest of stages.

To punctuate the point of “top-to-bottom” professionalism, let’s start at…well, not exactly the bottom but a smallish role.

If stealing scenes were a felony, Megan McGuire would be doing a life stretch in Sing Sing Prison. She plays the bosomy, bawdy innkeeper’s wife. When paired against her polar opposite, the reedy and angular—and (sigh) seldom seen—Cork Ramer, their hilariously show-stopping antics of avarice and skullduggery become worth the price of a ticket alone.

Speaking of show-stoppers in this epic that spans three decades of early 19th century Paris, word on the street is that—just as this reviewer found on opening night—one of the loudest ovations in a show chock full of them is directed at Abigael Stewart, whose jilted character, Eponine, resolves herself to a life of being “On My Own.”

Stewart, when joined by Jennifer Tritz’s piercing soprano (the charming adult Cosette) and Joseph O’Connor’s lush tenor (the dashing guerrilla warrior, Marius) you’re in for a romantic, melt-in-your-seat moment, even as you come to realize that “A Heart Full of Love” carries a dread sense of foreboding for one member of this most lilting of romantic triangles.

Other favorites include Joseph Dignoti as Inspector Javert, the tenacious cop with a stomach-rumbling baritone, who obsesses about the aforementioned loaf of bread before making the most dramatic of exits (gravity, the river Seine).

This monumental effort is sure to be remembered as the most fitting of swan songs for outgoing Omaha Community Playhouse legends, associate artistic director Susan Baer Collins, who directs Les Miz, and artistic director Carl Beck, who this time works as assistant director. But it doesn’t mean that this production is not without a couple of curiosities. The turntable installed for this show works to great éclat in many scenes, especially the famous barricade battle. Am I alone in thinking that, in others, it seems to perhaps try a bit too hard in the sense of “We’ve built this darn thing, now how the heck can we use it?”

My biggest pet peeve (my, reviewers can be picky!) centers on that iconic red flag. Perhaps I had set my expectations too high in hoping that the banner would be fashioned from acres of fabric, and that it would consume the entire fiery stage when unfurled, but the scale of the one waved here is just a bit…underwhelming.

No, I didn’t just use the word “underwhelming” in a review of such a wondrous achievement as the Omaha Community Playhouse production of Les Miz, did I? Nothing, even the grating idiosyncrasies of a finicky critic can detract from the magnificence that is Les Misérables.

Les Misérables runs through Oct. 27 at the Omaha Community Playhouse. For tickets and additional information, visit omahaplayhouse.com or call 402-553-0800.

David Williams, the recently named managing editor of Omaha Publications, has written hundreds of performing arts reviews for a number of area publications and formerly served on the board of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.