Friday, August 8, 2014

Feature Friday: A Farewell to '14

It is almost impossible to believe that just ten weeks ago, we were preparing to begin the 2014 Nebraska Repertory Theatre season. Ten weeks! In the words of General Manager Julie Hagemeier, "We went from April to August just like that!" But, you know what they say: time flies when you're having fun. And when you're creating wonderful art.

Today's blog marks the end of the 2014 NRT Social Media season. Coincidentally, today's is also the 100th blog post of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre on Blogger. In the past two seasons, we have posted one hundred fabulous pieces highlighting the many different performances, events, programs, and deals that have passed through the Temple doors and lived on the Howell and Studio stages. With every sentence typed, photo pasted, and blog posted, we have established more personal relationships with our readers and our audiences. For that, we thank you.

On social media, there is a very popular trend known as "100 Happy Days." In this challenge, social media users are challenged to post one thing that makes them happy for one hundred days straight. It is something that is sweeping Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making the internet a happier place to be. Although the Nebraska Rep doesn't have 100 Happy Days to share, we would like to take a moment to reflect and countdown our favorite kinds of "100 Happy Blogs"we have had in the past couple of years:

5. Countdowns
If you have been a follower of "Behind the Curtain" for two years or even just two days, you've probably noticed that we have a thing for countdowns. Whether we are counting reasons why audience members should see a show, things we have enjoyed throughout the summer, or lessons we have learned, we love counting the ways.

4. Company Members
Every season, we are proud to welcome company members new and old onto the blog. With headshots and bios abounding, we always make it a priority to make sure that our audiences get to know who is marketing the show, who is creating the show, and who is performing the show. Whether it is through Emma's "Get to Know the Cast" blogs or following them through our daily shenanigans, it is important to us that you know who the Nebraska Repertory Theatre is.

3. "Did you know?" Background Stories
At the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, it is important for our audience members to not only enjoy the productions, but also to understand every drop that is put into it. That is why we love writing blogs discussing behind-the-scenes work, writer and play histories, and themes that come into play within the show (tea-time etiquette for Mrs. Mannerly, anyone?). When an audience member sits down to see a show or takes a seat at their computer, we want them to enjoy and learn more about the theatre we create.

2. Interviews
The blog and newsletter alike seek out unique perspectives from our actors, designers, and managers. Our blog contributors take the time to sit down with company members and ask them questions that give audience members a personal point of view within the different creative processes that go on at the Nebraska Rep. Through interviews, you get to know the people of the NRT as well as learn and appreciate what they do a little more.

1. NRT Special Events
Theatre people love being social, and they love events that help them be so. Many of our blog posts have either promoted or reflected on the many promotional and social events that we attend or host throughout the summer: Jazz in June, Community Garden Concert Series, Fine Arts Fridays, and opening nights! The management team enjoys planning, promoting, attending, and hosting these events, and it is our pleasure to share them with you!

The writers and contributors to "Behind the Curtain" thank you for supporting 100 successful blog posts, whatever type they be, and we look forward to sharing many more with you! As the 2014 season comes to a close, we would like to thank you for reading, supporting, and enjoying the work and art that we have created for you this summer. As NRT winds down and we move forward into the academic year, we hope that your support and enthusiasm continues for all that the Johnny Carson Academic Theatre Season has to offer. Who knows which students you'll see on the Rep stage in Summer 2015!

The Nebraska Repertory Theatre appreciates all of the love and support it receives from its patrons, especially throughout our 2014 summer season. Thank you for the memories and the page views! 
See you next summer!

Desiree Bartels, Blog Editor

Thursday, August 7, 2014

NRT Excitement with Emma: The Reviews Are In!

With closing weekend upon us, you have only two more chances to see Unnecessary Farce and only one more chance to see either Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike or Circle Mirror Transformation. You won't want to miss this season. Check out what our audience members have had to say about the shows!

"Last night, I laughed so hard, I couldn't catch my breath during the hilarious comedy UNNECESSARY FARCE!!! You have three more chances to see the "Three Cops. Four Crooks. Eight Doors" at the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. It has such a great cast with talented friends: Joshua Waterstone, Katherine Nora Leroy, Lucy Myrtue, David Landis, Jamie Ulmer, Carolyn Popp, and an extra loud applause to Ian Borden (husband of Sarah Imes Borden)." - Karen Friedmund Wills on Unnecessary Farce
"I felt like I was in the classroom. The way the stage was set really brought me into it and the actors kept me engaged throughout; Great show!" - DeWayne Taylor on Circle Mirror Transformation
"I thought the play was very entertaining and well cast! At the same time, it was very touching and thought provoking." - Vicki Bartels on Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
"This is, by far, the best ensemble cast I have seen at the Nebraska Rep in years." - Bobby Bonaventura on Unnecessary Farce
"It was all so natural! I had to ask Virginia if the show was scripted because the dialogue was so real and the actors delivered it so well." - Dr. Jane Hanson on Circle Mirror Transformation

And here are the links to our reviews in the Lincoln Journal Star!

Be sure to catch these shows once more this weekend before they're gone for good! Call the Lied Center Ticket Office for tickets at 402.472.4747.

Thursday, Aug. 7 -- Unnecessary Farce 7:30pm
Friday, Aug. 8 -- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike 7:30pm
Saturday, Aug. 9 -- Circle Mirror Transformation 7:30pm
Sunday, Aug. 10 -- Unnecessary Farce 2:00pm

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Humpday With Howard: Lessons Learned

As our season this summer comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some of the biggest things I've learned from working for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre:
Holding a chicken at
Community Crops Garden Gala!

1. Lincoln in the summer is wonderful.
As an out-of-state student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I usually go home for summer vacation. This year was the first time I stayed in Lincoln, and it was marvelous. From Jazz in June to the Lincoln Community Crops Garden Gala to the Nebraska Rep's season, there's always something fun going on.

2. There's always room for another cupcake.
Our intermission cupcakes, courtesy of Le Cupcake, were a big hit this summer, but one should always find a home for them. While I always shared with cast and crew, one of the leftovers always managed to find a home in my own stomach.

Music from County Road and some woodwork from
Capital City Carvers during a Fine Arts Fridays performance.
3. More art is always better.
Our Fine Arts Fridays were among my favorite evenings to house manage. Nothing tops wandering around the lobby with guitar music drifting through the air and fine art hanging on the walls or wood sculptures displayed for all to see—all right before the thrill of theatre!
Behind the scenes of our
TV Commercial shoot!

4. Working in the theatre business is awesome.

I've always loved theatre, but having the opportunity to work with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, with a professional theatre company, has made me realize just how much I love the profession I'll be entering next May after graduation. It's scary, but it'll be more than worth it.

Management Team (plus Rachel and Sara)
at the Company Party.
5. Excellent coworkers make for an excellent time.
I have had the opportunity to work side by side with talented, intelligent, and driven students and professionals all working toward the same goal. It was difficult at times, but the atmosphere of the Rep kept us all in good spirits, and as a result, we were able to create some marvelous theatre.

Many thanks to all who I've worked with this summer: ;patrons, blog readers, and company members. Special shout-out goes to Virginia Smith and Julie Hagemeier in particular for allowing me to explore the management and newsletter editing sides of myself. It's been a wonderful season!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stephanie's Weekly Spotlight: My Summer with The Rep

It is truly incredible how fast time can pass when you are having fun. I feel as though it was just last Monday that I arrived at Temple for our first weekly management team meeting. In reality, it has been 10 weeks since that initial gathering. This week is a very bittersweet one, as we are in the final stretch of our season. This coming Wednesday, I leave for my first real vacation of the summer, but before that happens, I will have cleaned out my desk and house managed my final show for the 2014 season. Before we move forward into the final days of summer, I look back at what the season has given me. Here are my top five favorite experiences from my first year with Nebraska Rep.

5. Jazz in June
Every Tuesday in June, members of our management team took turns working at the NRT table at Lincoln's Jazz in June festival. It hardly ever felt like work, though! We were being paid to do what we love, while enjoying the beautiful (for the most part) weather, delicious food, and the vibrant sounds of jazz. It doesn't get much better than that!

4. The Company Party
From the planning to the actual party, everything about this event was a blast. You can't go wrong with a tropical barbeque theme and custom flavored ice cream from Ivanna Cone! A huge thanks to our Executive Director Paul Steger, and his wife Sara for hosting the party at their beautiful home.

Grill Master, Brad Buffum

3. Office time shenanigans
Our management team is made up of successful, dedicated, and organized people. We love what we do, and we do it well. But when you put four undergrads and a graduate in one office for extended periods of time, crazy things are bound to happen.

Bryan Howard wins for Most Photogenic. 

Desiree's attempt at being the "little n" for an "n-r-t" group photo
2. Meeting the Guest Artists
Working with new actors, actresses, and technicians was like a breath of fresh air. I have been involved in school and community theatre programs in Lincoln from age 13, so I've been around the same group of students and adults for nearly my entire theatre career. While we've grown and learned together, nothing beats working with a fresh group of strangers. I've listened to countless stories about their theatrical experiences in every city from New York to Los Angeles, to even Beatrice, Nebraska. I am thankful for the valuable advice each of them has given me, and for the time I was able to spend with them as friends.
"Barrymore's is closed?! On to the next!" Post-Circle Mirror opening, a night out with the company.

1. Opening Nights
Opening nights are what you live for as a company member. The set is complete, the cast is ready, and the management team is…cooking? Yes, for the post-show reception of course! Nothing beats the atmosphere of these celebratory gatherings. Food and drinks and delightful conversation. The lobby is abuzz with chatter about the show. The company members are content, yet proud. And finally, we breathe easy and relax, because we opened another successful show.

Our first and second opening nights.

It's been a pretty wonderful ride, and I couldn't have asked for a better first-year experience at the Nebraska Rep. Thanks for the memories!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Virginia's Point of View: One Last Look

Only one more week left of the 2014 season. I can't believe it's gone so fast! But you know, that's part of working in theatre. We focus energy on ephemera. We create things that are only meant to live a short time. That reading of Other Desert Cities last week is a great example. We worked for 8 hours on it and then shared it with you. Now it is all gone, never to be concocted in quite the same way again. Because this is our world, theatre people are all pretty good at giving the past a great big sloppy kiss and rushing off into the future!

So, see me rushing.  I'm teaching two directing classes next semester. One with a brand new grad class who'll be with me for three years. The other with twelve undergraduates, many of them directing for the very first time. They will be directing short scenes from a play I love, Mary's Wedding. I always like to work with a beginning directing class on a favorite play. They give me so many ideas! But, if I don't get those syllabi done this week, I'll have to work on them in my precious ten days of vacation! That would make me very teary eyed!

We just recently chose a new Artistic Director for Theatrix, the student-run theatre company. I hope to spend some time with him before the week is out, to prep him for the fun he has in store. My next project for the university will be directing Thornton Wilder's Skin of our Teeth, which will open next winter. Each of the 3 acts in the play finds the human race in another disaster, from which we recover by the "skin of our teeth." What could be timelier? I've begun working on it already. I think about it on my dog walks and have started to write little notes in to myself whenever I have a pen in my hand.

Speaking of beginnings, tomorrow Susan Levine Ourada's new dance company, SloDance will give its debut performance P(l)aying Due(t)s on the Howell stage at 7:30. We're so honored to have her choose us for this event.

Speaking of endings, I will also see each of our plays one more time this week. It is ephemera, but it will live vividly in my memory and certain moments will keep touching me as long as I live. And that is also what theatre is.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feature Friday: Serving our Lifelong Learners

It is no secret that the Nebraska Repertory Theatre has many partners and special programs. Whether they are business, entertainment, or education driven, we value them all and appreciate their dedication and willingness to work with the Nebraska Rep and what we do.

One such organization that is very near and dear to our hearts is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). On their page on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website, OLLI perfectly describes their purpose and mission:
"The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (OLLI at UNL) provides stimulating, congenial, and varied opportunities designed specifically for lifelong learners 50 years and older. In OLLI, you'll meet interesting people, enjoy stimulating courses, mingle at special events, join in travel and field trips, and enjoy member-only discounts. ("
For many years, OLLI and the Nebraska Repertory Theatre have worked hand-in-hand to bring backstage opportunities and perspectives to Lifelong Learners. Throughout the summer, three special talkbacks (and occasional tours) are offered to OLLI members, with each discussion centralizing around one of our three shows. Just this last Wednesday, we hosted our final talkback discussing the ins and outs of the many doors, costumes, and tricks of Unnecessary Farce. Tomorrow evening, the Nebraska Repertory Theatre and OLLI will be hosting a special evening of "Dinner and a Show" to registered OLLI members. They will receive a special dinner and pre-show social hour, followed by an evening of hilariously entertaining theatre provided by the cast of Unnecessary Farce.

Although our season is coming to an end and all of our OLLI discussions are over, we look forward to next summer where we continue working with our Lifelong Learners. The Nebraska Rep thanks OLLI for all of their support of our work, the Lincoln Arts scene, and great theatre!

For more information on OLLI at UNL, click here!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

NRT Excitement with Emma: Destinations Presents SLOdance

One of two Destinations performances has come and gone. Destinations, for those of you who don't know, is a series of two productions included in NRT's summer season--each of which are "one night only" performances. This year our Destinations series consisted of a staged reading of the acclaimed play Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz and was directed by Joshua Waterstone. The reading occurred this past Tuesday. But, if you missed that one, don't fret! You can catch the final performance of the Destinations series, SLOdance. Here's some information about the company and what to expect from the production from Artistic Director, Susan Levine Ourada:

"SLOdance is a dance company centered in Lincoln, Nebraska and is dedicated to 
making and presenting high quality, diverse and contemporary Modern Dance. 
Artistic Director and founder Susan Levine Ourada began thinking about forming 
a troupe when she moved in Lincoln to become the Head of Dance at the University 
of Nebraska–Lincoln. She saw a need for professional caliber dance for both the 
accomplished dancers residing in the local area, as well as a path for talented dance 
graduates from her program to help them in growing their careers. In addition, she and the 
other dancers involved in the company are committed to reaching out to share their 
work and vision around Nebraska and beyond.

Susan Levine Ourada
Artistic Director of SLOdance

SLOdance will have their “official” premiere, produced by the Nebraska Repertory 

Theater as a Destinations performance on August 5th, 2014 at 7:30pm in the Howell Theater. 

This concert will feature 7 short dances, including two works for the company 

that were created by prestigious New York City based artists Alexandra Beller 
and Jenna Riegel, and several pieces by Levine Ourada including a duet made with 
with Paul Besaw, her longtime dance collaborator. The group has already had 
several opportunities to perform their work in advance of this concert including 
performances at Sheldon Art Gallery, at NET television studios and at the Festival 
of Pelican Migration in Alma, NE with the Nebraska Chamber Players. In July, 
Susan and Paul will be performing at several curated shows in Burlington, Vermont 
and environs, including the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.

SLOdancers for the Destinations concert are Ekida Laurie whose career has spanned 
three continents and who is a deliciously beautiful dancer, Noelle Bohaty, who 
began her career in Lincoln, has performed around the US and is currently a 
Teaching Fellow in the prestigious Ohio State University MFA program, Melissa 
Templeton, Dance Historian and part of the faculty at UNL, and Siera Greiner, 
Hannah Husman, Beth Jensen, Marisol Herling and Vivian Kim, all graduates of UNL’s 
Dance Program. Composer Garrett Hope has composed original music for two of the 
dances that will be shown."

Vivian Kim
Featured Dancer in SLOdance
Noelle Bohaty
Featured Dancer in SLOdance

Marisol Herling
Featured Dancer in SLOdance
Destinations presents: SLOdance
Tuesday, August 5th
Howell Theatre

Tickets are $7 at the door, but are free to Season Pass Holders. Coffee & Tea will be provided by The Coffee House. Remember, this is a one night only performance!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stephanie's Weekly Spotlight: On the Set of Circle Mirror Transformation

You still have four more chances to see Circle Mirror Transformation before we close our season on August 10th! If the charmingly humorous plot and appearances by guest artists aren't enough to convince you, perhaps the unique set design is.

Circle Mirror is performed in our studio theater, with a thrust seating arrangement. Such an intimate playing space can be both a blessing and a curse to directors and designers. How do you convey all that you want to with limited room?

"When set designer, Michaela Stein, and I first met in April, we decided that Circle Mirror Transformation takes place in a space designed and loved by Marty," says Director Virginia Smith of her collaboration with Stein. "Marty is the main teacher at the art center and she is committed to awakening the creative spirit of each person who enters her space. Because most of her students are children, we wanted to fill the space with art projects and supplies, bold colors, and an invitation to play. We wanted to make a safe space for these individuals to see themselves more clearly."

Circle Mirror stage
Special touches help to engage the audience, such as this community center bulletin board in the entrance way to the theater.

Fellow Assistant General Manager, Bryan Howard, and I channeled our inner child when we explored the set last week. 

You can join in on the fun here at Nebraska Rep by getting your tickets to one of these final Circle Mirror Transformation performances: 
July 30, 31 at 7:30pm
August 9 at 7:30pm
August 3 at 2:00pm

We'll see you there!

Virginia's Point of View: Welcomed Guests

Our Chicago company arrived on Friday morning and stayed until dinner time on Sunday. They came to see "the shows!" What dears! They bought two season tickets and gobbled up the season in one gulp; exactly as I had always hoped out-of-town folks would do.

They saw Circle Mirror Transformation on Friday night and were energized by the way Lauren (Kirstie Smith) blossomed from a closed teenager to an open and aware young adult. They loved the way the characters were revealed bit by bit. They were fascinated by Theresa (Melissa Lewis) and had numerous insights and questions that occupied more than one round of drinks at the Marz Bar.

On Saturday they visited Lincoln. She took a class at Lincoln Yoga and Doug took them to Pepe's for lunch. I was in a four hour rehearsal for Other Desert Cities. They saw Unnecessary Farce on Saturday night and came out of the show a little amazed by richness of the plot twists and funny bits. We sat at home and talked into the night.

Sunday we all slept in a little, but made it to the Old Cheney Market by 10 AM. What a great market! Had Kat's Beaver Tails and Veggie Quiche. Curtain at 2 PM for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I went to see Mom, and Doug sat on the porch swing and dreamed. They were blown away by the show. We're all about the age of Vanya and acknowledge our love-hate relationship with modern technology and what all that entails. It's the fact of growing old and obsolete that really gets us though. He hugged me a long time. She said she had a lot of processing to do. Tears in all of our eyes. They were both moved by the play and encouraged by it. Time to grieve and time to look ahead. It's the transition where many of us find ourselves.

She sold a lucrative business recently and he retired as a psychologist several years ago. Two weeks ago they bought a home in Black Mountain, North Carolina and are wrapping up three decades in Chicago. Talk about transition. They came to see the shows because they are old friends who know how to honor transition. They came to see the last work I did as Artistic Director this decade and say, as each of the shows really does this season, "I see you." So many of you are saying the same things. Thanks, dear friends!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Feature Friday: Opening Night Fever Pt. 3

And with that, our entire season is open! On Wednesday night, the lobby became a crime scene for our opening night reception. The menu was composed of Eric's Cheesy Mozzarella Bites, Agent Frank's Mini Franks, Karen's "It's Getting Hot" Wings, Agent Dwyer's Donut Holes, and Mrs. Meekly's Sweet & Nutty Brownies. We certainly had fun with this one. Check out the pictures from opening night, and make sure you've got your tickets reserved for Unnecessary Farce--it's a riot!

Billie Dwyer's Donut Holes
Karen's "It's Getting Hot" Wings

We have so enjoyed having you at our opening night receptions this season. Thank you for attending. But, just because we've run out of receptions doesn't mean you've run out of chances to see our shows! There are still THREE show-packed weekends ahead. Do you have your tickets?