The last two summers, Omaha South High and local actors, directors, designers and theater technicians have collaborated on musicals.
The initial one was “In the Heights,” an urban story by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is better known for his blockbuster “Hamilton.” In 2018, they staged “Once on This Island” by Lynn Ahrens, the story of a peasant girl who is finding her place in the world.
Both productions drew crowds and critical praise.
They’re doing it again this summer. “West Side Story,” a classic musical based on a timeless tragedy by William Shakespeare, premieres Friday at the school.
Leonard Bernstein wrote the music, Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics and Arthur Laurents wrote the book for the musical, which relocates “Romeo and Juliet” to the streets of New York City and updates the language and situations. Rival street gangs provide the conflict instead of feuding families.
The musical premiered on Broadway in 1957 and has never lost its relevance. It has been performed around the world since that time. It also was made into a 1961 movie that won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture. Steven Spielberg will direct a remake of the film, which begins production later this year.
Students in the cast are from several Omaha-area schools, including South, Burke, Gretna, Westside, Papillion-La Vista South and Bellevue East. The cast also includes students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.
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"Aladdin" grabs you from the moment the curtain rises on a stage filled with brilliant color. This show requires performers to be expert vocalists, athletic dancers and comic actors, and, for the most part, this touring cast is up to the challenge. Read more
"Return to Niobrara," deals with issues that unfortunately are as pertinent today as they were when Chief Standing Bear sued General George Crook in the 1870s: human rights, racism and stereotypes, among others. It's undoubtedly one of the best shows of the past year. Read more
Despite a lack of scenery and trims to the script, this production of "South Pacific" had a lot of heart and energy. Read more
What a story "I and You" is, complete with an ending that stunned everyone in the premiere-night audience. And what a group of actors, directors, designers and technicians the theater has chosen to tell it. Read more
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is a raw, honest play, performed by actors who understand that. If you're used to rainbows and bluebirds, it will rattle you. But nonetheless, it is a worthwhile production. Read more
"Of Mice and Men" is a faithful version of John Steinbeck's legendary novella, with a fine cast of actors, fabulous music evocative of the period and a theater space ideal for the 11-member cast. Read more
"The Doll-Maker’s Gift" looks at the impact of pogroms on Russian Jews in the early 1900s. But it has more to say about kindness and hope, helping adults and children alike believe that the world may just hold more good people than bad. Read more
There isn’t a dud in the cast of "On Your Feet." The touring musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan has lots of energy, a bit of heart and enormous appeal. Read more
The story behind "The Bridges of Madison County" isn't any more compelling than it ever was. But the Playhouse show, with its first-rate vocal work, acting and production values, is undeniably stunning. Read more
"Come From Away" is a warm and witty look at the generosity of a Canadian town to stranded jet passengers during 9/11, and inspires one to be a more generous, caring person. Read more
"One Man, Two Guvnors" was ably directed, features a supporting cast every bit as special as the lead actor and captures the best of British comedy in a side-splitting production. Read more
"Dragons Love Tacos" is aimed squarely at kids. It has an uncomplicated and somewhat repetitive kooky story that doesn’t move too fast. Though I found my mind wandering at times, I derived my joy from seeing the kids' reactions. Read more
"Men on Boats" tells a historical story in an innovative way, and the direction and acting are superb. But figuring out the underlying message was a bit challenging. Read more
"The Woodsman" is everything theater can be. It doesn't need elaborate or expensive embellishments or more than an hour and change to tell a warm, fully realized and absolutely irresistible story. Read more
"Miss Saigon" has some absolutely breathtaking music, and cast members of the touring Broadway show have some absolutely breathtaking voices. The show's subject matter is still relevant today, and it doesn't pull any punches. Read more
"Ragtime" offers a portrait of immigration that contradicts some of the narratives today. It's been my experience in this job that the Playhouse always saves its season-best for last. That's true again this year. Read more