Sunday, March 11, 2018

Urinetown: The Musical

Who would go see a musical about urine?    I did.
Added to that, I would enjoy seeing it again.
The story begins in a dirty, grimy city where people are in line waiting for their turn to use the public bathroom.  Unfortunately, the first person in line doesn't have enough money to pay.  So he is not allowed inside.  Law enforcement takes him away to the mystical Urinetown where people are sent for not obeying the rules.  Simply put, you have to pay to pee.
The music is enthralling.  The tunes combines gospel, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and just fun songs masterfully sung, danced and played.   Urinetown is a delightfully funny show with a dark, uneasy feeling, not just legs being crossed, of what could happen in the near future where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
On the side of the rich are Hope Cladwell (Madison Hoge) and her father, Caldwell B. Cladwell (Ryan Eberhart). Caldwell owns the facilities and Hope has just graduated from school and is being hired into the family business to take over.   Assisting Mr. Cladwell are the policemen Officer Lockstock (Jon Flower) and Officer Barrel (Marcus Benzel) as well as Penelope Pennywise (Carrie Beth Stickrod) and Bobby Strong (David Ebke).  Who really understands the loyalties of the employees?
As the other cast members Brenda Smrdel, Erich Swartz, Luke Glaser, Bob Gilmore, Sara Finley-Willis, Kaitlin Carlson, Cathy Bass, Chris Witt, and Alice Swartz, all were fantastic.   I loved every character, especially Cathy Bass as Josephine Strong.
The music is great, especially under the direction of Jerry Brabec with his ensemble consisting of Stanton Harper, Noel Johnson, Michael Frederickson, and Jon Myre.
Those on stage know well that they cannot be successful without the support of those people not seen whether making the sets, creating the costumes, selling the tickets, arranging for the rights, plus more than can be listed, these people are each responsible for the success of the production.  These people include Gary Blankenship as director, Jerry Brabec as musical director, Kim Alger working as stage manager with Johnnie Richards as her assistant, Jason DeLong is the phenomenal choreographer, Ibsen Costume being responsible for the clothing, Darrin Golden for the lighting design and Maddy Adkins on the light board with JaimeKatzenstein and Sean Kelley running the spot lights, Dave Podendorf planning the sign design with Jaycee Wetenkamp being the sound board operator, Joey Lorincz is responsible for the scenic design with the set construction being completed by Joey Lorincz, Mike Jones, and Bob Putman, Rhonda Hall is handles the props design and the theater manager, Bob Putman.
Also, all the volunteers who usher, work the box office, and supply the food for the opening, each one deserves a special appreciation.
The timing of the show is about sixty-five minutes for the first act with the usual intermission and concluding the second act in approximately forty minutes.
This show continues through this weekend on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
The price of the tickets is $20 for adults; $16 for seniors over the age of sixty; and $10 for students.   The musical is expected to have an adult audience as children would probably not understand the innuendos throughout the show.
The Chanticleer Community Theater is located at 830 Franklin Ave.   Tickets can be reserved  by calling the box office at 712-323-9955.
Urinetown: The Musical is an example of the best of this talented community.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Roommates can be a problem.   All you have to do is ask any husband, wife, sister, brother or college student with a roommate for affirmation.   Matching similar need and wants into longtime friendships can be tricky. Between shared responsibilities, schedules, cleanliness and unquestionably different personalities, people just don’t always get along.
Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the script for The Omaha Playhouse’s newest production, Ripcord discovers this special relationship to be true.
For Abby Bender (Carleen Willoughby), this is true.  Abby is purposefully despicable to her roommates in an effort for them to want to move out of “her” shared room.  Unfortunately, Bristol Place Senior Living Facility does not always have the space for single rooms.  Abby enjoys her books, her plants, and her phenomenal view of the park below with her bed beside her large window.  She much prefers the solitude of her books, caring for her plants, and her view for observing nature and people.  Who needs a roommate?    She has all she needs and prides herself in never being scared of anything or anybody.
Marilyn Dunne (Judy Radcliffe) is Abby’s newest roommate.   Marilyn is the opposite of Abby in almost every way.   She is cheerful, outgoing, enjoys walks, and the outdoors with constant involvement and interactions with every living creature.   She is the optimist who is never, ever angry.
Opposites can attract but this one seems doomed for disaster as roommates.
Immediately, the two discover conflict.
After a few days, the two recognize that something has to change.   Their solution is a bet.
Marilyn, the newcomer, in the room with Abby if she succeeds in scaring her in some way.   Added to that, her bed will replace Abby’s as the one by the window so she can view the invigorating day as she awakens.
All Abby has to do is to make Marilyn angry.   Just one outburst of anger and Marilyn agrees to move out, leaving the room to Abby.
Ripcord continues with pranks and spite with Marilyn and Abby attempting to outdo each other in order to win the bet.   While the antics are hilarious, they are also a little sad that anyone would actually consider doing these things to another human.
Both actresses, Carleen Willoughby and Judy Radcliffe are masterful in Ripcord.  The first time Judy and her family arrive on stage, it is easy for the audience to connect with her.  Carleen has the difficult role of the antagonist while expertly portraying her crankiness.  What I find most appealing is how these two grow their characters in an extremely short period of time.
The supporting cast if fantastic.  Sahil Khullar as Scotty, the nursing home employee, is believable in his attempts to have the bet stopped while looking out for the interests of Abby and Marilyn.  Colleen (Kaiatlyn McClincy) also portrays the Woman in White along with her onstage husband (Matt Tarr) who is also the Zombie Butler and the Masked Men are great in their roles as Marilyn’s daughter and son-in-law assisting in the scheme to scare Abby.
Kevin Goshorn is terrific as Benjamin, Lewis and the clown.  He makes the play poignant with his role.
The sets are simple, purposefully and functional.  Everything moves through a rope system which is fascinating to observe as it always remains on stage.
The behind-the-scenes staff are marvelous with Kimberly Faith Hickman directs with Gabi Rima as stage manager, Amanda Fehler as costume designer, John Gibilisco as resident sound designer, Darin Kuehler in charge of properties, Jim Othuse as lighting designer, Paul Pape in change of being the scenic designer, and Tim Vallier as the wonderfully unique and fitting music composer and arranger.
The first act is fifty-five minutes and the second is fifty following a fifteen minute intermission.
The play itself is delightful while the pranks escalate to being over-the-top, the mixture of comedy and humanity are memorable.
Ideally, the play is aimed at those approaching the age of being a senior citizen or those who already are seniors, as well as their families.  This production is not appropriate for children.
Ripcord continues through February 11th with shows at 7:30 pm on Wednesdays through Saturdays and at 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon.
Prices are $30 for adults and $18 for students.   On Wednesdays, the price for the shows are $24 for adults and $16 for students.  Ticket prices can change based on dates, seat locations, groups, and demands.
To purchase tickets, call 402-553-0800, through the website at   You can also visit the theater box office at The Omaha Playhouse, located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha.
For a play that combines comedy with human emotions, see Ripcord.

Love Letters

Is it possible to fall in love with another person in childhood and maintain that love without marrying through a lifetime?
Melissa Gardener comes from an extremely wealthy family.  They can afford whatever they dream.  Money is never a problem creating a very spoiled and pampered child in Melissa.  The world revolves around her.
Andrew Ladd III also comes from a rich family, just not near as rich as Melissa’s.  He lives a lifestyle of those privileged even graduating from Yale Law School.
Wouldn’t the two be the perfect couple?
Love Letters is the story of their relationship.   Yes, there are just two actors on the stage reading their lifelong letters.   What is unique about this is that while the readings continue, there is acting enhancing their feelings, their love, their frustrations, especially with each other and their ordinary lives, and their expectations from their longtime friendship.
On opening night, Melissa as portrayed by Denise Putman was brilliant.  She flaunts her stuffiness and ability not to compromise, since money controls those around her.  While wealthy, also demonstrated is her desire for authentic friendship and love.  That is the one thing money cannot buy.
Tim Daugherty is phenomenal as Andy, Andrew Ladd III comes from a family who knows love even without so much wealth.   He easily relates to the audience his patience, as well as impatience with Melissa’s controlling ways while extending his friendship and love to her throughout the years.  His performance on opening night was masterful.
The production crew for this event includes the director Tyler Orvis, the stage manager Jennifer Orvis, the lighting design manager Darrin Golden, and the manager of the theater Bob Putman.
The timing of the show is forty-five minutes for the first act with the usual fifteen minute intermission and concluding the second act in thirty-five minutes.
This show continues through this weekend on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. with Denise Putman and Tim Daugherty, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. with Terry DeBenedictis and Tim Daugherty and Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. with Julie Livingston and Ron Hines.  
The price of the tickets is $20 for adults; $16 for seniors over the age of sixty; and $10 for students.   However, this is not a children’s show and would only be enjoyed by mature students.  
The Chanticleer Community Theater is located at 830 Franklin Ave.   Tickets can be reserved  by calling the box office at 712-323-9955.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Church music

Preludes, offertories, postludes seem to some people basic background music that we hear in stores and many public places.   Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it’s not that way for me.   I’m one of those rare people who begin to hum or sing along, yes, even in public.  
My husband sometimes found it embarrassing to have his wife publicly, sing along to the background music.  Yes, I was the one singing at the restaurant or Walgreens.   It caused us to only shop in places together without music piped in or him calling ahead and asking for the music to be turned down so low that it could not easily be heard around other people’s noise.
Yet in his embarrassment, he told me he was jealous of my being able to find music where it is usually hidden.
So, why listen to preludes, offertories, and postludes?
A prelude is to begin the worship service is a time to privately converse with God.   This can be in private meditative silence, prayer, thankfulness, praise, or whatever speaks to you through your relationship with God.  
For me, the offertory is a gift.  This gift is usually some melodic tune that I believe opens up hearts to the Holy Spirit through the gift of music.   That is why people don’t talk during that time and I just don’t stop whenever the ushers are finished collecting the monetary gifts.
The postlude is usually in praise.   The congregation does not have to leave, but can reflect on the service, their blessing, the message without words into their lives.   Many times people in our church choose to continue to sit to listen.  For me, that is a peaceful summary of the service through music.
To write this has been difficult for me.  I frequently write for book reviews and events, where the focus is on something outside of myself.
This is inside myself.
Sometimes when I play a familiar tune with words, many people know, I find myself overtaken with a strange feeling.  It feels as if I am the instrument, not the piano or organ I am playing at the time.   There is a feeling inside that seems to swell and take over the actual playing.  At the time, I am singing in my head, the words of the song, oftentimes repeating the same significant words over and over even though the hymn is not written that way.
My husband once commented that I actually look different when that happens.  It feels like something much stronger and passionate is expressing itself and strictly using me to communicate.
No, it is not possession. It can’t be because the peace immediately afterwards doesn’t feel worldly.
At those times, I feel as if the Holy Spirit is communicating through me to others in a language that cannot be described in words.
My husband also observed the other worshippers and also commented afterwards that something happened.  He just didn’t know what to call it.
This is a time of one-ness.   Soul talking to soul.   What is it saying?
It seems to be tunneling a message deep inside to others who listen.
God moves in mysterious ways.   Listen.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Understanding the Patterns of Your Life

Understanding the Patterns of Your Life: Take Charge of Your Destiny!
George Pan Kouloukis
Red Feather
Hong Kong
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5320-8
$ 17.99
192 pages

Do the events in your daily life follow patterns?  It is usually easy to find math patterns. What about nature?  Is there a pattern in examining pine cone?   The mathematician Fibonacci certainly saw that pattern.  Are there other patterns?
Are there good years and bad ones or is that just a balance of life?   Obviously, not every second of each day is good or bad, but what about the overall year?  Of course, every day is not typically all good or bad.
Think about the major shifts you have experienced.  Examine your health issues, your money situations, your career ups and downs, and your love life.   Do any patterns appear?
When you analyze your results in chronological order, surprisingly you are likely to see a pattern.  Could this help each of us begin to predict our own futures?  Would it help each of us with our family, relationships, career, or life issues in general?
George Kouloukis analyzed the lives of twenty-two well-known people who lived in the last five-hundred years, a few still living today.  He quickly found the not many ordinary peoples chronicle and publish their lives.   Due to this, he chose famous people in various parts of the world with different careers who experience their own good and bad years.
He studied the lives of  Ludwig van Beethoven, Giusepppe Verdi, Pablo Picasso, Mikhail Gorbachev, The Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Christopher Columbus, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Nelson Mandela, Maria Callas, Sarah Bernhardt, Napoleon’s wife - Josephine, King Henry VIII, Jimmy Carter, and John Glenn.
Surprisingly, the author, George Kouloukis discovered a pattern in their lives, a sixteen-seventeen year cycle.
The short biographies of these famous people help every reader to properly assess the good and bad seasons for each individual.  Naturally, not everything is good in the good season and bad in the bad, but the major overall events are the focus.  The author examined the health, wealth, their positions or careers and love.
Kouloukis researched other findings of patterns identified by other researchers.  The Universe by Time-Life Books explained how the magnetic poles of the sun alternate every eleven years.  Strangely, this pattern seemed to have little to no relevance to human behavior.  Another consideration was The Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel J. Levison explained the four seasons of every life with each lasting round twenty to twenty-two years.  Again, George Kouloukis found no normal correlation with his life or those he studied.
These resources appealed to Kouloukis but seemed slightly flawed.
Lacking few biographies of ordinary people or regular people, he began to study these famous people throughout the world, varying the time periods, the gender, the situations, and delving into their personal lives focusing on their wealth, health, love, and successful or failed careers.
He discovered the patterns through these people and allows you to examine your own life to discover the season you are now experiencing so that the author’s realizations can assist you with your life in the future.
Reading the book, Understanding the Patterns of Your Life allows you to learn to examine your own life to allow you to make choices for yourself. George Pan Kouloukis has opened his wisdom to read your own personal crystal ball.