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First musical in a year hits the stage at Omaha Community Playhouse

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 9:56 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all kinds of things, including the performing arts. The Omaha Community Playhouse was able to host some socially-distanced concerts and small, one-person shows in 2020, but Friday night, the curtains open on what will be the first musical theater production in nearly a year.

“The Last Five Years” is an emotional, comedic, and romantic story about the rise and fall of a 5-year relationship. It’s presented in chronological order by the male lead, and in reverse by the female lead.

“The last five years is maybe the most COVID friendly musical you can imagine,” said Susan Baer Collins, the interim artistic director. “Because of the nature of the play, the two actors are never together, they individually tell their stories.”

The show was supposed to open in mid-January, but COVID cases were high so it was postponed. The group came back together about a month ago and got to work.

“We started seriously in a rehearsal hall, masks, sanitizer, cleaning wipes, you know it was an unusual format. But it’s still theater,” said Collins. “The general feeling is excitement, anticipation and it’s such a strong desire to share. These guys that have been performing on our stage are ready for an audience and we all feel that here. Everybody sort of entered the building with a great sense of expectation and jubilance of being here once again and hearing live music on the stage, it’s thrilling, we’re really glad to be here.”

Katie Broman is the executive director of Omaha Community Playhouse.

She says the performing arts play a big role in a community, and it’s something that’s been greatly missed.

“It shows us humanity, joy, sorrow, empathy, and theater takes it to the next level because you’re experiencing that with others in the community. At the Playhouse it’s so wonderful because we produce theater with the community, for the community so you’re seeing your neighbor up on stage, your coworker, your sister, your brother,” said Broman. “We just need to heal as a community and experience the joy of theater again.”

“There’s something about all of us being together in the moment, in the theater, watching the same story, reacting to the same events on the stage and when we all laugh together or are moved by something, there’s a catharsis that happens for us that we’ve missed, all of us have missed,” said Collins.

The Community Playhouse is still rebounding from a tough year, too. From April to December of 2019, 60,000 people saw shows at the Playhouse. In that same time frame in 2020, that number dropped to just 10,000.

Katie Broman says the Playhouse got PPP loans and some additional community support, but they saw about a $1,000,000 difference in revenue between 2019 and 2020.

As musical theater returns to the stage this weekend, the audience capacity is limited to 20% to allow for social distancing, customers and staff are required to wear masks, and there is increased cleaning in the building.

Tickets for The Last Five Years are on sale now. You can get them at the Box Office inside the Omaha Community Playhouse, online, or by calling 402-553-0800.

For those who are not comfortable watching in-person, the Playhouse has a streaming option as well beginning March 5 on the ShowTix4U platform.

Shows will run Feb. 26 through March 23:

- 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays

-2:00 p.m. Sundays

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