Cold Cream: 4 quick reviews

My Occasion of Sin is the answer to two questions: What's the title of the play that opened at the Shelterbelt Theater? And can comments on four performances squeeze into one column? Look for more below on the play of that name, but my occasion of sin begins here with quick peeks at theater-going that began last Wednesday with Twelfth Night at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Enough was written in advance about the distinctive use of miles of mutable fabric from China, so I'll just praise two performances from an all-around appealing cast: Amy Schweid commanded the spotlight as Maria, the rambunctious servant to Olivia. She's always a joy to watch, but it was especially fun to see her elevate a role that seemed less entertaining in past viewings. And the talented Erica DeBoer was remarkably convincing in one of those gender-switching roles (Viola disguised as Cesario) so common to Shakespearean comedy. The next night brought another oft-seen play, Steel Magnolias at the Omaha Community Playhouse, and another surprise favorite. From the film and earlier stage versions, M'lynn, Ouiser or Clairee tended to be delightful and those roles were well-done here. But my heart went to Jennifer McGill as Annelle, who starts klutzy and repressed, then blossoms while nurtured by Truvy and the other Southern ladies who hang out at the hair salon. After it rained all day Friday, we skipped theater to say farewell to the UNO wrestling team and the most successful coach in the state's history, Mike Denney. I'm not measuring that by his many national titles, but by young lives encouraged, including more than 60 who became wrestling coaches. It was dramatic enough to see dozens of strong men paying tribute to the mentor who prays for them daily. Then Saturday was the single chance to see the smoothest cabaret performance imaginable as Becky Noble and husband Keith Allerton treated a near-capacity crowd at the Omaha Press Club to songs starting with "It Might as Well Be Spring" and ending with "Send in the Clowns" and "Lets Fall in Love." On Sunday, we saw the play called My Occasion of Sin build to a powerful climax with the shooting of black teen-ager Vivian Strong (a poignant performance by Jocelyn Eusery) and the resulting riots. Her portrayal was well matched by Bailey Newman as a white Catholic teen-ager from South Omaha who trades her accordion and polka for drum lessons and jazz. Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

posted at 04:25 pm
on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

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