Benson Theatre grand opening just a week away

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 12:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It started as the Benalto Theatre in 1923, then became a fitness facility, even a furniture store, but when you walk through doors next Thursday, week - you’ll be in the brand new Benson Theater.”

The debut show 20th Century Blues is about a group of four women who met in jail during a protest.

They meet once a year for a ritual photo shoot, chronicling their changing selves as they navigate love, careers, children, and the complications of history. But when these private photographs threaten to go public, relationships are tested, forcing the women to confront who they are and how they’ll deal with whatever lies ahead.

Audiences can expect diverse performances like that, which tackle issues like ageism, sexism, racism; even battling dementia.

“We are focused on not only doing theater but shows that address specific community and social concerns,” said Michael Simpson, the Programming and Artistic Director.

Art as therapy will be a huge focus.

It’s one of the reasons the theater has more than 115 community partners who will participate in talkbacks after each show.

They help the audience and the actors alike navigate tough conversations and share information about what kind of services, classes, outreach, etc. personnel are available to help someone who might be struggling with a particular concern brought up in a show.

The Director of Operations, Eschelle Childers says having homegrown artists, who are now paid professionals in a field that was once mostly volunteer, is another major boost for the city.

“They are amazing. We have so much talent. It just makes you feel like we are taking really good steps forward and being able to support our local folks so they are able to stay here and create art so we aren’t losing them to the big cities,” Childers said.

Right now the finishing touches are being added and to the multi-use building that was carefully crafted to be more like a community center.

It’s equipped with surround sound, a movie projector, and seating for nearly 200 people, catering for large groups like company training or even school trips.

Performances are just the tip of the iceberg.

We’re really trying to be ready for anybody and everything. We’ll do education during the day and cultural events during the evening,”

Tickets are currently on sale for the first show on Thursday, October 28th. You can click here for more information.

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