KINKY BOOTS & A Fabulous Stage Party


The Presenters supported educational and community engagement programming while kicking up their heels before KINKY BOOTS opened.

The Presenters kicked off the season right on the stage of the Orpheum Theater during at Stage Party, a friendraiser on the Orpheum Theater stage on August 21. This season’s Stage Party celebrated the first show in the 15/16 Broadway Series, KINKY BOOTS, and featured fabulous cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and entertained inspired by the production. The event raised $36,000 for Omaha Performing Arts’ Education and Community Engagement programs.

The next show in our 15/16 Broadway Series, DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE, runs November 17-22 at the Orpheum Theater.


A Celebration To Remember


We celebrated our 10th anniversary in October in a huge way – with stars like the Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth and indie superstar Conor Oberst.

Kicking the festivities off on October 16, the Celebrate 10 Concert starring Kristin Chenoweth was a night to remember. In addition the “Wickedly” talented Chenoweth, the event included performances by BANDALOOP, Daniel Bernard Roumain and local ensembles such as the Omaha Symphony, Ballet Nebraska, Opera Omaha and Salem Baptist Church. The Nebraska High School Theatre Awards Ensemble also dazzled the audience, and performed a song with Chenoweth.

The fun continued the next day, with the all-day free event Holland Stages Festival. Some of the festival highlights included performances by the area’s most talented musicians and performers on stages curated by community partners like Hear Nebraska and Blues Society of Omaha, as well as several touring artists such as trumpeter Delfeayo Marsalis and the aerial dance troupe BANDALOOP.

Watch this video about to learn more about the last 10 years and what’s to come:

2015-2016 Nebraska High School Theatre Awards Program Begins


Omaha Performing Arts’ 2015-2016 Nebraska High School Theatre Awards program is in its third year and it’s bigger than ever!

Omaha Performing Arts expanded the program to serve as many as 50 high schools located within 150 miles of the Holland Performing Arts Center. To reach even more students, a series of in-school workshops with Broadway actor Kevyn Morrow were held earlier this fall in high schools across the state, including Norfolk, Columbus, Central Cities and other Greater Nebraska communities.

“The Nebraska High School Theatre Awards has become one of Omaha Performing Arts largest and fastest growing musical theatre education programs,” says Omaha Performing Arts Education Manager, Kathleen Lawler Hustead. “We look forward to expanding the program to serve high schools throughout Nebraska in the next few years.”

Culminating in an annual Tony Awards®-inspired showcase, the Nebraska High School Theatre Awards offers participating high schools feedback on their musical theatre productions from a qualified team of adjudicators, master classes led by Broadway teaching artists, tickets to Broadway touring shows when available, distance learning opportunities, performance and audition experiences, awards and more.

To participate, schools should register online by November 24, 2015. Visit to register for the program or to learn more. Join the Nebraska High School Theatre Awards community – like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at @NebraskaHSTA. Contact with questions.

The Nebraska High School Theatre Awards is sponsored by the William and Harriet Otis Fund, Wells Fargo, the Midlands Community Foundation, the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Shine The Light On Hunger This Holiday Season

Shine the light logo

The annual food drive to support the Food Bank for the Heartland has begun – and you can help spread the joy this holiday season!

Omaha Performing Arts, Omaha Symphony, Omaha Community Playhouse, Opera Omaha and Joslyn Art Museum take part in this annual event featuring a food drive at four venues: The Orpheum Theater, Holland Performing Arts Center, Omaha Community Playhouse and Joslyn Art Museum. Bring canned food and other non-perishable items when you attend a performance at the Orpheum or Holland Center through December 31, 2015. All donations collected will support the Food Bank for the Heartland.

ConAgra Foods partners with performing arts organizations to present Shine the Light on Hunger program each year. Last year, the performing arts organizations collected approximately 5,500 pounds of food, which resulted in 4,600 meals.

Musical Explorers Announced

Musical Explorers

Little ones love music, too! Omaha Performing Arts recently announced a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute to start a new music education program for the youngest of music lovers – Musical Explorers.

Musical Explorers is a semester-long, curriculum-based program for children in kindergarten through second grade that features three local musical ensembles, each representing a different musical style and cultural community. The 2015-2016 Musical Explorers program in Omaha will feature West African music with Charles Ahovissi and African Culture Connection; Mexican music with Marcos Mora; and Jewish folk music with Cantor Wendy Shermet.

Produced in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, our program is only one of four performing arts centers around the country invited to adapt Musical Explorers for use in their own communities. Omaha Performing Arts will pilot Musical Explorers with select Omaha Public Schools for the 2016 semester.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this Carnegie Hall program,” said Kendra Whitlock Ingram, Vice President of Programming and Education at Omaha Performing Arts. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to different musical styles as well as the rich cultural heritage of our city.” Contact with questions. Musical Explorers is sponsored by Bank of the West, the Richard Brooke Foundation, the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

How MAMMA MIA! came to be a record-breaking musical

We thought we’d let MAMMA MIA!’s creator, Judy Craymer, share in her own words how this magnificent record-breaking musical first triumphed in London and then conquered the world…


The cast of MAMMA MIA!

The cast of MAMMA MIA!

“As Creative Producer of MAMMA MIA!, my job started long before any script had been written. The story begins more than 25 years ago when I first met Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the songwriting geniuses behind ABBA. I was working for Sir Tim Rice at the time, who was collaborating with Benny and Björn on his musical Chess, and I was immediately smitten – after all, these were the men who had written ‘Dancing Queen’, one of the greatest pop songs of all time – but it was another of their songs, ‘The Winner Takes It All’, that first suggested to me the potential of an original musical using Benny and Björn’s classic compositions. The lyrics revealed a roller coaster story of love and loss that struck me as extraordinarily theatrical, but how was I to bring this to life?

“First I had to approach Benny and Björn, who were understandably a little unsure of my intentions. I explained that the project I had in mind would focus on a new and exciting story; it wouldn’t be a tribute show, or the ‘ABBA Story’, but a truly original ‘book’ musical. They weren’t 100% convinced at the time, but they didn’t absolutely close the door so I took hope.

“So I sat on the floor of my apartment listening to ABBA late into the night. I may have driven my neighbors to despair but as time passed I became more and more certain of my idea. In 1995 my tenacity finally paid off. Björn said, “If you can find the right writer and story, well… let’s see what happens”…

“A year later I was on location with a film I was producing when the director mentioned Catherine Johnson. I was aware of her work as a playwright and, even better, I knew her agent. We met in January 1997 and soon I was confidently telling Björn that we had found our writer and that my co-producer Richard East and I had commissioned her to write the story.

“My brief to Catherine was that no lyrics could change, the story should be a contemporary, ironic, romantic comedy and that if she listened carefully to ABBA’s songs, she’d notice how they fell into two different generations: the slightly younger, playful songs like ‘Honey, Honey’ and ‘Dancing Queen’, and the more mature, emotional songs such as ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’…and so the idea of a cross-generational love story was devised.

“By the end of that year Catherine had finished the first draft of MAMMA MIA!’s script and I persuaded Phyllida Lloyd to come on board as our director. Her background was serious, legit theatre and opera and her secret weapon was her ‘Dry Martini wit’. We discovered we all shared the same birth-year and soon firmly bonded.

“It was unusual, if not unheard of, for three women to be the collaborative creative force behind what was to become such a commercial success. From a personal point of view, I think it readdressed the balance and had a great nurturing effect on the production. We were all happy to jump in and make the tea. Appropriately, MAMMA MIA! features three strong women in the story. Their characters are completely different – slightly bossy, a bit chaotic, extremely practical, and very high maintenance! We have a lot of laughs about who is who in real life, and, as time goes by, it’s a little worrying that we have become even more like those characters on stage.



“Suddenly it was time to give up my day job as a television and film producer and prepare for the white-knuckle ride of making the dream a reality: money to raise, a theatre to find, artwork to create, ticket agents to seduce, deadlines to meet. It was the summer of 1998 and we had to open by April 7th 1999 or we’d lose Phyllida, who’d been booked years in advance to direct an opera at The Coliseum in London. The suggested opening dates were April 6th or April 9th. April 6th happened to be the anniversary, to the day, of ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’ 25 years before. It seemed a good omen.

“Although Björn was enthusiastic and shared the vision for the musical, Benny was a little more cautious and at any time both could have put an end to the whole project. It was a tense time, as their emotional backing as well as their creative input was very important to me. If they were going to trust me with their fabulous songs I didn’t want to let them down. Benny and I agreed that on our First Night one of us would be able to tell the other “I told you so”.

“By now we had a date for opening but we had no theatre. We’d been looking at smaller venues when suddenly the rather large and prestigious Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End became available, the very same theatre at which Chess had opened ten years earlier – another omen perhaps? But its sheer size meant that the scale of the production had to expand dramatically too, with cast, crew, set and budget all having to be reworked. A lot of fingers were crossed for the big night.

Mamma MiaFox Theater

“And so… April 6th 1999, a night I will never forget – the World Premiere of MAMMA MIA! The audience were charmed and one British critic wrote, “MAMMA MIA! could put Prozac out of business.”

“Benny heartily accepted his defeat: with the entire theatre dancing in the aisles, he turned to me and said, “You can say it now.” I flashed back, “I told you so!” We still joke about it.”

Since then:

MAMMA MIA! has been seen by over 54 million people worldwide in over 39 productions in 14 different languages.

MAMMA MIA! has grossed over $2 billion at the Box Office.

MAMMA MIA! has premiered in more than 400 major cities worldwide – faster than any other musical in history.

MAMMA MIA! is currently in its 16th year since the first production opened in London’s West End on April 6, 1999, and is now playing at the Novello Theatre.

MAMMA MIA! is the eighth-longest running show in Broadway history and is now playing at the Broadhurst Theatre.


Want to go?


April 24-26, 2015 with performances Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

Omaha’s Orpheum Theater

Get tickets!


Rockette Blogger Recap

It’s Opening Night: We couldn’t be more excited to kick-off the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes here in Omaha! Making their Omaha debut at the Orpheum Theater, 18 Rockettes will be performing 34, 90 minute, shows throughout their 18 day run.

Earlier this fall, a group of Omaha bloggers were chosen for an exclusive meet & greet/Q&A with two visiting Rockettes. Over the past few months, these bloggers have been introducing you to the Rockettes in new ways through a variety of topics from fashion and family to history and travel! In celebration of Opening Night, we are revisiting these fabulous, Rockette-inspired, posts!

Blogger 1 – Sara Sabaliauskas
Rockette Glitz & Glam
Blogger 2 – Dana Zucker
Life On The Road As A Rockette
Rockettes Meet & Greet 011

Blogger 3 – Erin Fairchild
Food & Fitness With The Rockettesrockette workout
Blogger 4 – Mardra Sikora
Beyond Skin Deep – Rockette Beauty

Blogger 5 – Ashley Rich
Behind The Rockette’s Signature Look

Blogger 6 – Lisa Collins
Family Support Encourages Rockettes
Blogger 7 – Kim Reiner
The History of the Rockettes1971
Blogger 8 – Heather Longnecker
A New York Christmas Comes To Omaha
Blogger 9 – Michelle Bazis
Where to find the Rockettes in Omaha
tree lighting

What’s Next?
Heroes’ Night – November 18th
Omaha Performing Arts & The Rockettes salute our military
with a dedicated performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be at the Orpheum Theater November 13-30th, 2014. Tickets are on sale now at

For more information about performances coming to the Orpheum Theater or Holland Center, follow Omaha Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

3 Things – Rockettes in Omaha

Written by: Michelle Bazis
Twitter: @OPerformingarts
Instagram: @omaha_performing_arts

It’s finally here! The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes, opens next Thursday at the beautiful Orpheum Theater! Making their Omaha debut, the Rockettes have a lot in store for this holiday-spirited community. So, mark your calendars! Here are 3 things you need to know about the upcoming “Spectacular”.

1. Tree of Lights Kick Off

November 7th at 6:00PM
American National Bank – 90th & Dodge
NYAC compressed


2. Opening Night – Santa’s BIG Arrival

November 13th at 6:30PM
Orpheum Theater – 16th & Harney
R93-2 Retouched

3. Salvation Army Bell Ringing

November 19th from Noon – 1:00PM
Hy-Vee – 132nd & Dodge

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be at the Orpheum Theater November 13-30th, 2014. Tickets are on sale now at

For more information about performances coming to the Orpheum Theater or Holland Center, follow Omaha Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

A New York Christmas is Coming to Omaha

Heather is the blogger behind The Home Alien Blog where she documents her journey through life as a wife and mother.  Heather is a stay-at-home Mom to three (almost four!) children and currently lives in West Omaha.  In her spare time she enjoys baking treats with her kiddos, crafting, taking naps and reading.

Instagram: @hlongnecker

A New York Christmas is Coming to Omaha

Stepping onto the bustling streets of New York City is a rush of excitement.  And, no season in New York City is more exciting than Christmas. There are bells ringing, horns blaring and brilliant holiday decorations everywhere you look. My family would make the short trip from New Jersey to New York each and every Christmas season. There was Rockefeller Center with its iconic ice sheet and glittering Christmas Tree to see. Then, a trip to Macy’s was in order, to take in its dazzling window displays and decorations. Next, we would hop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, lighting candles and staring up into the breathtaking heights of the ceiling until we got dizzy.  But, the main purpose of our trip was always to see The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  There isn’t another stage production that captures the magic of New York City at Christmas quite like The Christmas Spectacular.

blogJust a couple of crazy siblings enjoying Rockefeller Center! (Heather, Jenn and Ryan circa 2000)

It was my family’s tradition to make our yearly pilgrimage on Christmas Eve.  I believe traditions hold such an important place in our hearts because of the feelings they stir up.  For me, nothing captures the magical feelings of Christmas quite like this show. From the opening chords of the overture to the final moments of the Nativity Scene, I was always mesmerized.   I am beyond thrilled at the chance to share this tradition with my own children when Omaha Performing Arts presents The Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes at the Orpheum Theater in November.  I know it will be the perfect way to begin our Christmas season and yours too!

Heather’s Don’t Miss Moments:

  • The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.  This beloved number has been captivating audiences since its conception in 1933.  You won’t want to miss The Rockettes taking their famous tumble across the stage.
  • The Ragdolls. Reinvented for the 2014 Season, this classic number will be sure to captivate your little ones with a playful dose of magic by giving them a sneak peek into Santa’s Workshop.
  • The Santa Number. Nothing captures the magic of Christmas more than Santa himself explaining how he manages to deliver all those presents, all over the world.  Be prepared to be amazed as the magic of Christmas, literally, multiplies before your eyes.
  • New York at Christmas. This number perfectly depicts the glitz and glamor of the holiday season by taking you to some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks.

rockettesMiss Hannah meeting The Rockettes! Christmas here we come!

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be at the Orpheum Theater November 13-30th, 2014. Tickets are on sale now at

For more information about performances coming to the Orpheum Theater or Holland Center, follow Omaha Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The History of the Rockettes

Written by Kim Reiner

Kim is the PR coordinator for Omaha Performing Arts, while in her spare time she writes at Oh My! Omaha, a blog for Omaha parents looking for fun things to do with and without their kids. She’s married with two energetic kids.

The History of the Rockettes

For more than 85 years, The Rockettes have been known for their unrivaled precision and athleticism. In anticipation of the Nov. 13-30 run of RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Starring THE ROCKETTES, I gathered 10 interesting historical moments for you:

Russell Markert trained a group of 16 girls to make their show biz debut in St Louis as the “Missouri Rockets.” The group was inspired by the John Tiller girls featured in The Ziegfield Follies. Quickly gaining popularity, the troupe went to New York City to perform at the ROXY, where they were called the Roxyettes.

On December 27, at the opening of Radio City Music Hall, the “Roxyettes” shared the stage with the Flying Wallendas, Ray Bolger and Martha Graham. A year later, the first Christmas Spectacular was staged featuring the newly named Rockettes and a movie. The show included “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity,” two numbers that are still performed at every performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – with the same costume designs.

43 Wooden Soldier

A small group of Rockettes flew to Europe to perform for U.S. troops. In addition to traveling with the USO in the 1940s, the Rockettes co-hosted a War Bond Rally with Eleanor Roosevelt at Madison Square Garden.

The Rockettes performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time.

The Radio City tradition of offering a stage show featuring the Rockettes and a feature movie ended. Beginning in 1979, only the Christmas Spectacular and a Spring Spectacular featuring an Easter Pageant were performed.


The Rockettes appeared in the movie Annie, playing their Depression-era sisters.

The Rockettes starred in the Super Bowl Halftime Show, a spectacle seen by more than 1 billion people.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular went on the road bringing the New York holiday tradition to cities across North America.\

Radio City expanded the tour to 31 cities, marking the largest Christmas Spectacular tour in the history of the show. The Rockettes introduce a children’s pop-up book, featuring six iconic scenes from the Christmas Spectacular, plus a bonus 32-page hard cover story book.

The legendary Rockettes are honored in their 85th celebration of coming to New York City and making Radio City Music Hall their permanent residency.

85 years

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be at the Orpheum Theater November 13-30th, 2014. Tickets are on sale now at

For more information about performances coming to the Orpheum Theater or Holland Center, follow Omaha Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.