June 21, 2016

The Apollon Art Space In Omaha

Omaha’s vibrant performing arts scene has just about every kind of theater I could hope for: We’ve got the classics, the traditional musicals, contemporary theater, improv, and interactive dinner theater.

It’s the last one I’m going to write about. Well. Not really. Come to think of it, it’s a bit improv, and definitely contemporary, and there was some song and dance…

Apollon Art Space logo

The Apollon Art Space is a little bit of everything, but most of all, it’s collaborative.

I was invited to attend a performance of the theater’s latest show, “A Very Important Date: The Untold Story of the White Rabbit.” I was encouraged to bring the kids along. I’m so glad I did.

 

Dweedle Dee and Dweedle Dum were Mooch's clear favorites from the performance we attended at The Apollon in Omaha.

Dweedle Dee and Dweedle Dum were Mooch’s clear favorites from the performance we attended at The Apollon in Omaha.

They’ve become No. 1 fans of the place!

What to expect

The Apollon Art Space is more than theater, and it’s not quite like anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s space for arts (I hope you deduced that from the name).

It’s based on three elements: “The performer, the witness, and the shared experience between them.”

Here’s where it gets fun for kids.

Their shows are interactive. You may influence the outcome of the show. You may be in the show.

Farley chatting with the hare before the show began. Or had it already begun when we arrived?

Farley chatting with the hare before the show began. Or had it already begun when we arrived?

This shared experience is everything for kids. And adults. For those of us not brave enough to step foot on a stage, it’s exciting to interact with the actors at The Apollon.

Our show was general admission, and rather than rows of seats, we sat at tables. You’ll meet some new people when you attend a show. Your experience becomes theirs.

My children’s enthusiastic reaction to a character or recoil from an oddly colored food was shared with the whole table. I’m fairly sure they found my kids entertaining.

The look says it all: This is not cake but a chicken salad sandwich?! The Apollon likes to play with food during a show.

The look says it all: “This is not cake but a chicken salad sandwich?? Why, Mommy, why?” The Apollon likes to play with food during a show.

I hope.

Not all shows are suitable for all ages, so before buying a ticket for your whole crew, double check. This Alice show, though, is great for kids. My kids are 4 and 6 and enjoyed every minute of it (except for the sandwiches that looked like cakes and were not at all like cake).

My daughter has been pretending to be Dweedle Dee for four days now. So I guess you could say she liked it.

The food

Meals are themed off the performance. They’re included with your ticket.

Since the show we attended was a riff off Alice and Wonderland, our food was wonderfully bizarre.

Vertical salad with bright blue ranch dressing kicked off our "Alice in Wonderland" fanciful themed dinner.

Vertical salad with bright blue ranch dressing kicked off our “Alice in Wonderland” fanciful themed dinner.

We had four courses for our meal, ending with a birthday cake. It was a birthday party, after all.

Drinks were extra. I had to order one of the specialty cocktails, just because.

You try going to a dinner show alone with your kids. You'd order a Mad Hatter, too.

You try going to a dinner show alone with your kids. You’d order a Mad Hatter, too.

The prices were pretty reasonable – $3 for a glass of wine? Bottoms up!

The space

The Apollon is along a charming stretch of Vinton Street in downtown Omaha.  The space itself is small and not set up like a typical theater. It’s a space for many uses.

A lot of the art on the walls not only served as a set for the show – it doubled as a gallery space. We, the audience, were asked to create some art for the wall during the show. However, working artists also have some work on the walls that could be purchased.

Besides interactive theater, the space hosts improv shows, Drink and Draw nights, and there’s a little art supply store. We bought some coloring books after the show from the store, and the kids were happy to use them to collect autographs from the cast. They also host free art classes occasionally, which you can keep tabs on here.

What’s coming up

Very Important Date Apollon

“A Very Important Date: The Untold Story of the White Rabbit” – Runs through July 2.

Big Canvas Improv at The Apollon – July 15, 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

 

If you go

The Apollon

Where: 1801 Vinton St.

Parking: Park on the street, and if you can’t find a spot, there’s overflow parking at the Supermercado Nuestra Familia, 1826 Vinton St.

Website 

March 8, 2016

Review: ‘City of Angels’ At Omaha Community Playhouse

Last Friday was one of those rare date nights at the theater. Mr. Wonderful and I attended the opening night of “City of Angels” at the Omaha Community Playhouse – thanks for the complimentary tickets, OCP! I thought the look of the show in the promotional photos was pretty cool and I wanted to see if that could be carried over onto the stage (spoiler alert: It can).

What to expect

It’s a show-within-a-show with a mystery unfolding in the movie that a screenwriter is trying to write. Well, he’s an author trying to adapt his book to a movie and failing. It’s not hard to follow along since the characters in the movie have that 1940s Hollywood glam look going.

This is a full-length musical, so you’ll see quite a bit of song and dance, as well as the asides you’d expect from a film noir with a seen-everything detective. This pretty clever show has a good way of switching from “Reel World” with the detective Stone, and the “Real World” with the author/wannabe screenwriter, Stine. My favorite parts are when Stine rewrites a scene in the middle of the scene.

And as for managing to capture the film noir look, I think OCP succeeded. The costumes and lighting really helped complete the look.

Lines between the "Reel World" and "Real World" blur in Omaha Community Playhouse's "City of Angels." Pictured, from left, are Jodi Vaccaro, Isaac Reilly and Shomari Huggins, with John Jones at seated at the desk. Photo by Colin Conces.

Lines between the “Reel World” and “Real World” blur in Omaha Community Playhouse’s “City of Angels.” Pictured, from left, are Jodi Vaccaro, Isaac Reilly and Shomari Huggins, with John Jones at seated at the desk. Photo by Colin Conces.

As for performances, the scene-stealer was Steve Krambeck as the movie exec, Buddy Fiddler. Oh he was funny! You wanted to see more of the crass guy. Samantha Quintana as Donna in the “Real World” and Oolie in the “Reel World” was a remarkable singer, as was Aubrey Fleming, who played Avril Raines in the “Real World” and the missing rich kid, Mallory Kingsley, in the “Reel World.”

Overall, the cast was pretty strong and did a fine job roping you in with the unraveling mystery.

And a note for “The Big Lebowski” fans, a few things will feel a bit familiar. I found it amusing, the similarities, so I hope you do too.

 

Isaac Reilly, left, is Stone, the rough detective from the book "City of Angels," written by author, Stine, played by John Jones. It makes sense if you see the show. Photo by Colin Conces

Isaac Reilly, left, is Stone, the rough detective from the book “City of Angels,” written by author, Stine, played by John Jones. It makes sense if you see the show. Photo by Colin Conces

Timing a potty break

Well, I answer this question for kids shows, so why not grown-up shows? It’s long, the first half is more than 90 minutes, so go before the show begins, or be prepared for a line at intermission.

 

Is it kid-friendly?

Nope. There are some suggested scenes and a few blush-inducing lines.

 

Will an adult like this?

Yes. Though, if you’re not a fan of musicals, you probably won’t like this even if it’s more jazz music than jazz hands.

 

What was it about again?

“City of Angels” is a musical set in 1940s Hollywood and tells two stories simultaneously; the story of Stine, the screenwriter who is creating a screenplay for a movie titled “City of Angels,” and the story of the movie, which involves private detectives, murders, love triangles and intrigue. The musical won several awards including the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score in 1990.

 

If you go

Photo by Colin Conces

Photo by Colin Conces

“City of Angels”

When: Through April 3; performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. There will be NO performance on Sunday, March 27, 2016, due to the Easter holiday.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Tickets: Tickets are $40 or $25 for students. Buy them at the OCP box office or online here.

Tip: A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability. Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only at $30 for adults and $20 for students, with Wednesday group tickets at $24 for adults and $16 for students.

February 1, 2014

My Daughter’s First Show At The Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum Theater’s splendor never gets old for me. I go there often for my job, and each time I walk in, I feel inspired. Awed. How cool is it that I work here (OK, I really work at the Holland Center, but some nights, it’s my job to be at the Orpheum).

Seeing the building through a child’s eyes, though, is an even more impressive experience.

On Thursday, Mr. Wonderful and I took the kids to see “Sid the Science Kid Live!” presented by Omaha Performing Arts at the Orpheum.  It was Mooch’s first time at the theater. I think she liked it.

My 2-year-old's first show at Omaha's Orpheum Theater.

My 2-year-old’s first show at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater.

We arrived about a half-hour before the show so we could take part in the activities in the KIDS ZONE. Alas, 900 other people thought the same thing.

So, we colored a little and then waited in line for balloon animals.

Mooch can't resist a chance to color. Luckily, no wait here.

Mooch can’t resist a chance to color. Luckily, no wait here.

Then it was show time.

Farley was transfixed the entire time. The songs, the colors, the characters, even the way they talked, everything about “Sid” spoke to him. Mooch sat for most of it, but she’s still young enough to be interested in the treats we ate than the story. Mr. Wonderful zoned out while the kid seated behind him repeatedly waved his light up toy in his face.

At intermission, we explored the theater. Up and down the grand stairs we went, Mooch having to do it herself, carrying her half-deflated balloon dog with her.

Mr. Wonderful, the kids and the lone surviving balloon animal.

Mr. Wonderful, the kids and the lone surviving balloon animal.

The second half of the show rolled along quickly, but not quick enough for little Mooch. Mr. Wonderful left early with her to get the car while Farley and I watched and danced to the end of the show.

“Sid the Science Kid Live!” entertained the preschool to grade school crowd; not really the adults. That’s pretty much what I expected. As parents, it was enough to see our kids’ excited reactions to it all – and I’ll admit, it was a relief to make it through without any meltdowns.

March 28, 2013

3 Ways To Score Cheap Tickets to Shows

Updated: July 9, 2018

In my former life, I was a theater and movie critic for a newspaper. I got to go to shows for free, bringing giddy nieces, tipsy friends and Mr. Wonderful to many a good show. Alas, my freeloading days are over. What’s a girl to do?

You figure out where the discounts are and you hunt them down. Challenge accepted, right?

Farley's first Broadway tour show was "Shrek." I recommend not timing your kid's first musical to coincide with the week you begin potty training.

Farley’s first Broadway tour show was “Shrek.”
I recommend not timing your kid’s first musical to coincide with the week you begin potty training.

Assuming you aren’t looking to buy a season ticket anywhere, here are some tips to help you afford your entertainment habit:

Follow them on social media

Organizations like Omaha Performing Arts (disclosure: I worked for this organization, but they are not endorsing or sponsoring this blog), Omaha Community Playhouse, Film Streams and The Rose are all active on different platforms. Find the place that offers shows that interest you and follow them on Facebook, Twitter or if they have a blog, follow that. If they offer discounts, especially last-minute ones, you can be sure they offer them to their fans first. You’ll even find giveaways on these platforms.

Giddy niece on her way to The Rose.

Giddy niece on her way to a show at The Rose.

 

Know the discount days

Omaha Community Playhouse offers $10 tickets on the first Wednesday night of a performance, $7 tickets for students on weekends and half-off tickets if purchased the day of the performance. Visit here to get all the details. The Rose offers discount tickets if purchased at Hy-Vee; they’re good for up to $5 off each ticket.

And, Omaha Performing Arts often offers $5 off discounts and other promos on certain shows, so be on the lookout for those. They’ll probably let you know via email.

NET Supporter

If you donate $80 or more to Nebraska Public Television, you receive the NET MemberCard that gets you tons of discounts throughout Nebraska. While many of them are 2-for-1 discounts to museums and restaurants, you will find some great deals for performances.

Metro Arts & Culture Pass

Editor’s update: This program no longer exists, unfortunately.

Check here  before buying a ticket ever again (or better yet, check here). Each month, two organizations offer a discount or freebie. If you are a season subscriber or member to any of the participating organizations, you can enjoy those benefits! It’s not a physical pass, if you’re wondering.

Do you know of any discounts? Share your tips in a comment, please!