Goings on at the Playhouse, ‘Magical Thinking’ at the Circle

* From Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizzlies to Care Bears, from the infamous Pedobear to Smokey the Bear, all will be bared at The Encyclopedia Show, 7:30 p.m. Monday Feb. 28 at the Omaha Community Playhouse. It’s the latest innovative offering of the “21 and Over” series organized by resident director Amy Lane. Katie F-S and Andrew Ek co-host invited artists who’ll present verbal (and/or musical) encyclopedia entries on their assigned topics. For example, Ek will offer Bears in Children’s Literature, F-S will do Pedobear and Smokey will come from the recently famous All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. Nine more presenters include slam poets, storytellers and the Aetherplough pair, Susan Suprenant and Thom Sibbit on gummi bears. Admission to the Howard Drew Theatre is free with opportunity for donations. *You can read more about the Playhouse musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Sally Deskins on the website, but it raises a question that also pops up almost annually: Why is a show so much more entertaining in the Drew than the touring company was in the Orpheum? Obviously, it’s more intimate than the big downtown auditorium so you’re much closer to the cast. In this case, add two other factors: the masterful school gymnasium setting by Jim Othuse is a more palpable presence when you look down on the hardwood and the free throw lane from above. And director Carl Beck artfully adapts this sort of comedy to well-chosen talent. He’s done it before and will do it again, enabling an experienced non-professional cast to outshine the visiting pros. It might also help that we’re seeing familiar favorites like Dan Chevalier, Bailey Carlson, Tim Abou-Nasr and Theresa Sindelar, plus such promising newcomers as Eric Micks. Whatever the causes, the effect is an infinitely more appealing version than the enjoyable one at the Orpheum. *It was an emotionally charged evening watching a powerful performance by Barb Ross in the Circle Theatre’s A Year of Magical Thinking by (and about) Joan Didion. As a life-long writer, and one who experienced the sudden loss of a beloved spouse, I would have identified with her story under any circumstances. But we had just learned a few hours before the performance that our granddaughter Kaela, a college freshman in New York, had received a preliminary diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Barb as Joan spoke of her experiences and said, “It will happen to you,” we empathized, especially when she talked of caring for an ailing daughter. Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to {encode="coldcream@thereader.com" title="coldcream@thereader.com"}.

posted at 11:58 am
on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

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