Cold Cream: Shelterbelt keeps it local, original

* The Shelterbelt Theatre is most fully on mission when it presents original plays by Omahans, and that what it's doing the next few weekends. Only one qualifier was required in the press release headline, calling them "native" Omaha playwrights. That's because Monica Bauer, who wrote My Occasion of Sin, which opens Friday near 32nd and California, works as a writing fellow at Quinnipiac University back east. But she was born here and her play is set during this city's racial turbulence in 1969. It focuses on a South Omaha accordion player and music store owner (Jonathan Wilhoft) and a North Omaha jazz drummer (D. Kevin Williams), who dreams of restoring the Dreamland Ballroom to its former jazz glory. An accordion student (teenager Bailey Newman) discovers jazz to the dismay of her teacher and his wife (Janet Macklin), and a 14-year-old from the projects (Jocelyn Eusery) "tries to find her own voice as her world spins out of control." Bauer was inspired by the relationship between North O percussionist Luigi Waites and South O accordionist Johnny Swoboda. If that's not local enough, vintage images of Omaha and Omaha families appear as the action is accompanied by jazz, polka and 1960s pop music. Like any number of plays, it finds its way here thanks to its discovery by director Roxanne Wach at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. My Occasion of Sin runs through May 8, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 6 p.m. Starting April 22, it will be followed on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. by another original jazz-focused play, Nobody Gets Paid by Ellen Struve. Directed by Scott Working, it mixes live jazz with the humor of jazz life. The cast includes Carl Brooks, often seen at the John Beasley Theater, and Scott Glasser from the University of Nebraska at Omaha drama faculty among others. It only costs an extra $5 if you paid $15 or $10, depending on which night you attend the earlier play. Talkbacks on April 22 and 23 will include playwright Bauer and Rudy Smith, who covered the 1969 riots as a photographer. * When The Second City troupe performs at the Holland Center, 8 p.m. Friday, April 15, we're promised "no institution escapes" their "satirical eye — from the blowhards of the Beltway to the Hollywood elite." But, given the Fair and Unbalanced title of the show, one can hope they devote special attention to the bloviators on Fox News. Tickets start at $19. Call 402.345.0606 or visit ticketomaha.com. Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

posted at 10:11 pm
on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

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