Big News: Osage County and Retiring Directors

Add Beehive Return to August Excitement

August promised to be all about the most acclaimed drama of the decade, August: Osage County. I made plans months ago to return from the cool heights (8,400 feet) of our summer getaway to see the hottest season-opening play in memory.

The excitement was shared by actors. They swarmed auditions last year when the Tracy Letts play that won both Tony and Pulitzer prizes was presented as a staged reading for the Omaha Community Playhouse 21 & Over series.

That performance was moved into the big Hawks auditorium at the OCP to house the crowd that came to see the dysfunctional Weston family in action. And now the full treatment arrives with a cast that director Amy Lane calls her “dream team.”

How many times do you get to see Susan Baer Collins and Bill Hutson on the same stage in powerful roles? And sharing the spotlight with such talents as Moira Mangiameli, Jim McKain, Erika Hall, Laura Leininger, Randy Vest, Kim Jubenville and Rob Baker?

I expect it to be the first time I’ve experienced a three-hour play and wanted more…like reading a great novel and hating to see it end and leave the fascinating family behind.

Obviously the cream of Omaha’s acting corps craved the opportunity, and the director says, given “a phenomenal script, I totally get why so many actors would want to be involved.”

Still, it turns out in mid-month, that August offers more than heat and this Playhouse opening. Along came Gordon Cantiello, back in town with his 20th anniversary production of the hugely popular Beehive, the musical revue that ran 10 months the first time around and returned again in 1996.

That cast returns in a show that runs through this weekend at the Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. in Benson. Sue Gillespie Booton, Ginny Sheehan Hermann, Kathy Tyree and Tiffany White Welchen—the four original cast members—are joined by Jean Peterson and Donna Ball who appeared in the revival.

Backed by Cantiello’s band, they’ll bring back Janis Joplin, Petula Clark, Aretha Franklin and the rest one more time. Call 402.706.0778 and hope a few seats remain.

All of which would be overshadowed by the news that artistic director Carl Beck and associate director Susie Baer Collins are retiring from the Playhouse. But the fact that they’ll be on hand for two more seasons through 2014 makes it more like the Jay Leno distant date for stepping down from the Tonight Show.

A lot can happen in two full seasons, but at least it provides a long farewell to a couple who made historic contributions to the nation’s greatest community theater.

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

posted at 05:47 pm
on Sunday, August 12th, 2012

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