Becky’s Car Play Gift to Benita

The back-story on Becky’s New Car which kicks off the Omaha Community Playhouse season this weekend has a warm fuzzy feel to it. And the couple that caused its genesis will fly in from Seattle to see what playwright Stephen Dietz wrought on their behalf.

            The comedy came into being when Charlie Staadecker wanted a unique 60th birthday gift for his wife Benita, so he commissioned Dietz to write a play. Despite the shared initial letter, Becky is not Benita, who doesn’t share Becky’s need for not just a new car but a new husband and a new life.

            Kim Jubenville brings her well-honed comedic talent to the title role, with Mark Thornburg, the Playhouse Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, as her husband, and recent Theatre Arts Guild honoree Bill Grennan as their son. Sarah Liken, Sonia Keffer, Mike Markey and Matthew Pyle round out the experienced cast directed by Amy Lane.

            Thanks to the Great Plains Theater Conference and its honored playwrights, metro theater-goers have become more familiar with the productivity of writers like Dietz, who aren’t big names on Broadway, but through commissions and works staged in regional theaters create a large body of work.

            His 30 original plays and 10 others adapted from such books as Dracula and Sherlock Holmes racked up enough productions to make him tied for eighth most-produced playwright in 2010. You might have heard of the two he tied with: Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee.

            Becky’s New Car follows its Thursday preview performance with a run from Aug. 19-Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, in the smaller Howard Drew Theatre. Tickets are $35, $21 for students with lower prices for groups of 15 or more. Call 402.553.0800 or visit omahaplayhouse.org.

* * * *

I usually can’t resist quibbling about the Theatre Arts Guild award winners, but it’s hard to argue with most of the voters’ choices, especially since I’d picked many of them as my favorites earlier in this column.

            But there’s the usual disappointment that Brigit Saint Brigit doesn’t share in the honors for its excellent production of Distant Music. And I didn’t predict that the Candy Project would clean up with its summer musical, {title of show}, which makes me search for that bracket on the keyboard.

            I saw enough excerpts of the musical to appreciate its appeal, and it doesn’t hurt that it has an inside-the-biz topic that goes well with the TAG voters.

                                                                        --Warren Francke

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com. 

 

 

posted at 07:07 pm
on Saturday, August 13th, 2011

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