Dear friends of Omaha Performing Arts,
School is back in session, and at the Holland Center and Orpheum Theater there is a lot of energy as students step off buses and into our buildings for workshops with Broadway artists, dance classes with touring companies and performances by leading musicians.
Last year, we reached more than 50,000 students and adults through our Education and Community Engagement programs held in our venues, across the community and in classrooms around the state. And we’re continuing to grow!
More than 3,300 K-2 students from Omaha and Council Bluffs will participate in Musical Explorers. They will learn about three music styles in their classrooms: West African, Mexican and folk. Our Disney Musicals in Schools program expands to five more public elementary schools, now providing teachers in seven school districts with the resources needed to produce a Disney KIDS musical in grades 3-6. Our Nebraska High School Theater Academy will grow to include 10 middle schools. Starting with just 22 schools, it will now serve 8,000 students from 80 schools across Nebraska.
To raise funds for these programs, The Presenters, our volunteer guild, hosted the biennial Broadway Ball this month to ensure they continue to reach wider and more diverse audiences. We were honored to welcome star of stage and screen Brian d’Arcy James as our featured performer. He performed with an ensemble of Nebraska High School Theater Academy alumni and led a workshop early in the day, teaching more than 130 students about audition techniques. The fundraiser was an incredible success with more than 325 people attending to support these important programs and celebrate our 2018/2019 Broadway Series. You read about the highlights on our blog. We are deeply grateful to the event chairs Cindy and Scott Heider for their leadership of this event – our most successful ever!
Our 2018/2019 Season also begins this month. We kick off with Bill Murray, who many of us know from the comedic characters he’s played in movies. We’ll have the chance to see another side of him when he joins cellist Jan Vogler in New Worlds. Their unique performance celebrates classic artforms such as music, literature and poetry. Black Violin returns to Omaha on October 4. Duo Kev Marcus and Wil B played to sold-out audiences in 2014 and 2016 – so we know we’re in for a real treat!
Finally, our Broadway Season starts with a laugh when THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG comes to the Orpheum Theater. Arrive early for this one! The shenanigans begin even before the curtain opens. This comedy was a hit in London and New York City – I can’t think of a more fun-filled way to start the Broadway Series.
We hope to welcome you to our venues this season for an extraordinary experience!
Joan H. Squires
President, Omaha Performing Arts