Page 1

find your fun!

Music, Broadway, family shows & more

Photo: Saint

Terence Blanchard “Absence”

Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Ensemble

SEPT 30, 2022 | Holland Center

Ain’t Too Proud OCT 18–23, 2022 | Orpheum Theater

OCT 14, 2022 | Holland Music Club

The War and Treaty

The Princess Bride:

An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes DEC 9, 2022 | Holland Center

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis FEB 1, 2023 | Holland Center

© CR News && Observer

OCT 30, 2022 | Holland Center

Ballet Hispánico: Doña Perón

Dragons and Mythical Beasts

FEB 4, 2023 | Orpheum Theater

FEB 5, 2023 | Orpheum Theater

T. Rex Rises with paleontologist Lindsay Zanno


MAR 28, 2023 | Holland Center

Disney’s Frozen

Chucho Valdés Quartet

Madagascar the Musical

APR 19–30, 2023 | Orpheum Theater

APR 20, 2023 | Holland Center

JUN 17, 2023 | Orpheum Theater

Explore the whole lineup at 2




t a b l e

o f

c o n t e n t s


JOBS: Six Years Ago, Nebraska Mapped Out the Future of Its Economy. How Did We Do?


(DIS)InvestED: Fighting Poverty and Increasing Positive Childhood Outcomes


ARTS: ‘Fall’ Back into Visual Arts with a Harvest of Offerings


ARTS: From ‘School of Rock’ to Christmas Stories: Fall Theater Lineup Offers Something for All


ARTS: Big Fall Music Lineup Keeps Omaha Anything but “Boring”

publisher/editor........... John Heaston graphic designers........... Ken Guthrie Albory Seijas news..........................Robyn Murray copy chief.............. Michael Newgren lead reporter............... Chris Bowling associate publisher.... Karlha Velásquez report for america corps member..........Bridget Fogarty creative services director....................... Lynn Sanchez editorial & membership associate.........................Arjav Rawal



ARTS: Malcolm X Gets StarStudded, Operatic Homecoming


HOODOO: Fall Goes Blue: MustSee Shows in September


PICKS: Cool Things To Do in September


Dish: As Fresh as You Can Get: Omaha’s Best Locally Sourced Spots


FILM: Fall Movie Preview: 15 Must-See Movies to Round Out Your Year


CUTTING ROOM: Fangs to Youtube, Old Vampire Hunt Gets New Life

arts/visual.................... Mike Krainak dish................................ Sara Locke film.................................Ryan Syrek hoodoo................. B.J. Huchtemann over the edge..............Tim McMahan theater.................... Beaufield Berry





MUSIC: Omaha Girls Rock: Musicians with Ambition



COMICS: Jeff Koterba, Jen Sorensen & Garry Trudeau

o n li n e


OVER THE EDGE: The Area’s Most Important Local Music Festival Is Also the Smallest


NEWS: Douglas County Health Equity Team

September 2022

CULTURE: New Downtown Mall Sculptures

FILM: ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Is Messy Mayhem

Proud to be Carbon Neutral



Amaris Stebbing follow on instagram @marby._

Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups struts her stuff during a performance of the Outlandia Music Festival at Falconwood Park in Bellevue on Aug. 13. Monninger handles bass and vocals for the alternative rock band based out of Los Angeles.

September 2022




Back to the Future

Six Years Ago, Nebraska Mapped Out the Future of Its Economy. How Did We Do? by Arjav Rawal


n 2016, Nebraska commissioned a D.C.-based firm to provide a roadmap for the state’s economic development. The report, called “Nebraska’s Next Economy,” consisted of recommendations meant to solve Nebraska’s economic challenges. It identified four interrelated goals to strive for, with a set of policy recommendations for how to achieve them: high-wage jobs, technology-intensive investment, innovation and high-quality communities. It’s been six years since the report was released. We may find it easy to forget just how much our country has changed since then. At the time, our economy was still recovering from the Great Recession. Donald Trump had yet to take office as president. The only public health crisis on people’s minds was Chipotle’s E.coli outbreak. Given how much has changed, The Reader decided to revisit the report and take a look at what is being done in Nebraska and the Omaha area to meet these goals.

High-Wage Jobs The Report: “The straightforward implication is that Nebraska’s economic development future cannot be based


ing to a 2022 NTC report. The increase in tech jobs isn’t limited to just startups — Mutual of Omaha, an institution in the local economy and Fortune 500 giant, told the Omaha World-Herald it has added 300 tech jobs since 2019 and has more than 1,300 employees in the tech sector. The NTC report says Omaha’s average tech salaries were slightly above $80,000 in 2021.

Innovation on growth that generates jobs of any kind, but rather growth that emphasizes high-quality jobs.” The Solutions: In 2014, voters approved Initiative 425, which increased the statewide minimum wage from $7.25 per hour (where it sits federally) to $8 per hour in 2015 and $9 per hour in 2016. Data supplied by Dr. Chris Decker, an economist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, shows that the move contributed to a 5.5% increase in real wages for the Omaha metro area in 2015. Wages remained stagnant largely until 2020, when real wage growth shot up to 7.1%. High-wage jobs, specifically the H3 (high wage, high skill, high demand) positions called for in the report, grew slowly. Between 2010 and 2018, the number of

September 2022

H3 jobs making up Nebraska’s total employment increased by 36,306, which is a 1.2% gain.

TechnologyIntensive Investment The Report: “Technology intensive and capital intensive investments may not always have a direct impact on jobs, but they are associated with higher wages, and make an important long-term contribution to overall growth.” The Solutions: The Nebraska Tech Collaborative was formed with an ambitious goal in 2019: add 300 tech companies and 10,000 tech jobs by 2025. The state has added 147 tech companies, about halfway to its goal, but only created about 1,450 tech jobs, accord-

The Report: “A turn towards quality also requires a turn towards innovation-based economic development, in which Nebraska’s economy fosters startups and rapidly growing small- and medium-sized businesses.” The Solutions: Anecdotally, startup incubators are becoming more common in the private sector. Elevator, a co-warehousing facility for e-commerce startups, raised $600,000 this year to open a space at 14th and Jones. It’s like WeWork, but for businesses that sell physical goods and need storage for packing. There will be a team of onsite mentors to help guide and scale businesses. There’s also NMotion, a startup accelerator that’s pledged to invest $3.7 million into 24 Nebraska startups over the next two years.

O M A H A On the public side, the Nebraska Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which began development in 2013, has established more than 58 public-private partnerships and generated more than $300 million in economic development, according to its 2021 annual report.

High-Quality Communities The Report: “If you keep or attract the right talent, established businesses and outsiders will invest more, and new businesses will be launched. Both Omaha and Lincoln have high quality of life … but there is always more to do and policies aligned around building community assets are critical for the long-run.”


The Solutions: Building a high-quality community is, arguably, the most polarizing debate in Omaha politics right now. Mayor Jean Stothert’s plans to revitalize downtown Omaha involve tearing down the W. Dale Clark Library, replacing it with a new headquarters for Mutual of Omaha, and developing a streetcar system that will run for three miles along Farnam and Harney streets. With the Clark library going away, plans are underway to build a new flagship branch at 72nd and Dodge. There’s also the newly redeveloped Gene Leahy Mall, which Stothert calls a destination for citizens and visitors alike. Much has been made of studies suggesting economic development will skyrocket with these changes. Only time will tell whether or not that’s true.

Now Hiring OMAHA MUSIC EXPERT NEEDED From profiling new bands to spotting trends, The Reader’s Backbeat columnist is an authoritative voice in Omaha’s local music scene. You’ll write two monthly stories that spotlight local artists, new releases and the best shows, bringing their stories to life with an authentic, unique voice. Visit for a full job description and application info.

ProKarma, Inc. (dba Concentrix Catalyst)

Software Development Engineer in Test #: 969669 ProKarma, Inc. (dba Concentrix Catalyst) has mult. openings for Software Development Engineer in Test in Omaha, NE; travel and/or reloc to various unanticipated locations throughout the U.S. is required. Telecommuting may be permitted. Develop and write computer programs to store, locate, and retrieve specific documents, data, and information.Req. a Bachelor’s degree in Comp Sci, Engg (any), or related tech/ analytical field, flus five (5) yrs exp in IT/ Comp-related position. OR Associate’s degree plus six (6) yrs exp. To apply, email Resumes to with Job Ref# 969669 in subject line.

Let’s Get Started

Start With Trust®


September 2022


( D I S ) I N V E S T E D

This Is Your

Brain on Poverty How does poverty affect children’s brain development? And what happens when low-income mothers get more money? Baby’s First Years, a nationwide study based partially in Omaha, is trying to find out by Leah Cates This story is part of (DIS)Invested — a LONG-TERM Reader investigation into Omaha’s inequities.

to run into the traffic if she runs outside? Is she gonna get picked up by somebody?’”

hen Tiffany Back’s oldest daughter, Catina, was in kindergarten, the single mom only saw her when she sent her to school in the morning –– the rest of the time, Back said, she was working two jobs, desperate to make ends meet for Catina and her then 1-year-old sister, Miracle.

Back –– who said she was a rebellious child growing up in a single-parent household where her mom worked three jobs and was on government assistance –– said Catina’s behavior has improved since she was diagnosed with and treated for ADHD and anxiety. And even though Back is now working three jobs, her schedule allows her to spend more time with Catina, who today is in fourth grade.


Around that time, Back said, Catina’s behavior became “a disaster.” “I would get calls at work, [the babysitter telling me], ‘She ran outside and is refusing to come back in,’” said Back, who recalls her daughter yelling, “I want [mom]!” over the phone. Back said she wondered, “Is she going


But emerging studies suggest kids like Catina who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience delays in brain growth and development that hamper academic achievement and executive functioning, such as focusing on


tasks and controlling impulses. And according to a 2016 Duke University article, the brains of kids growing up in poverty are similar to those of kids who have been physically abused. Preschool-age U.S. children living in poverty are likely to have cognitive scores on average 60% lower than kids in the highest socioeconomic group, even though at birth their brains work similarly. These differences translate into material life outcomes. People who grow up in poverty in the U.S. are five times more likely to drop out of high school; they are less likely to earn college degrees and more likely to be poor when they grow up. (These stats are reported by the National Center for Children in Poverty, U.S. Department of Education and Illinois State University.)

But even though researchers continue to cite them as relevant, these statistics are dated as far back as 2002. And as any statistician will note, correlation does not imply causation –– the relationship between income and outcomes for kids doesn't necessarily mean poverty causes kids’ brains to develop in a certain way. That lack of causal evidence leaves room for people to point at the family structure or culture of families experiencing poverty –– not necessarily family income –– as reasons kids’ brains develop differently, according to University of California, Irvine, education professor Greg Duncan. “The question of whether income was the active ingredient behind this link between poverty and worse child outcomes [is] a very contentious point in the pol-

( D I S ) I N V E S T E D icy debate,” Duncan said. “[This has gone on for decades because] unless you have a random assignment experiment … where you isolated the effect of income, you really [can’t] be sure.”

cal stuff about the mom,” Duncan said. “If you've got a squeaky clean random-assignment experiment that shows impacts on kids, is that going to have any bearing on the debates?” Here’s how Baby’s First Years works: Between May 2018 and June 2019, 1,000 low-income moms were recruited from four U.S. cities –– New York City, greater New Orleans, the Twin Cities and the Omaha metro area –– when they gave birth. They receive a monthly, unconditional cash gift of either $333/ month ($3,996/year) or $20/month ($240 each year) to spend on anything, and their child’s development is tracked for the first four years of their life.

This uncertainty led Duncan, alongside six professors from universities across the U.S., to conduct Baby’s First Years, which describes itself as the first causal study to explore connections between poverty reduction and the cognitive, emotional and brain development of infants and toddlers. The study also looks at how mothers respond to unconditional cash gifts.

Preliminary results of Baby’s First Years suggest that when low-income moms receive unconditional cash The study, which reTiffany Back and her daughters Miracle searchers started discussbenefits on a predictable, (6, left) and Catina (9, right) stand ing in 2011, according to monthly basis, their babies’ outside the Nebraska Capitol, where Duncan, won’t wrap up brain activity may be posisenators voted to prevent moms tively impacted. They also until August 2023, said participating in Baby’s First Years from reveal that, even though getting kicked off public benefits. PHOTO: Kimberly Noble, a Columbia University professor and mothers can spend the Amaris Stebbing one of the study’s primary money on anything, they “Debates over whether [to im- researchers. (They’re currently colmentally designate it for their child. If the findings continue to plement policies] giving money lecting fourth-year data and, Nobear out, there’s a chance they to low-income families [focus not ble said, trying to extend the recould affect public policy, includ- on whether] it's good for the kids, search beyond age 4. And Duncan ing expanding cash assistance pro- but whether the mom’s going to said the monthly gifts continue work less [or] spend the money until four months after their kids’ grams, down the road. on drugs. It's all this stereotypi-

Greg Duncan is an education professor at the University of California, Irvine. Photo: University of California, Irvine

Sarah Halpern-Meekin is a University of WisconsinMadison professor. Photo: University of WisconsinMadison

Kimberly Noble is a professor at Columbia University. Photo: Pooja Desai

sixth birthdays.) But, according to preliminary results, babies in the $333/month group showed more high-frequency brain activity than their $20/month-group counterparts, especially in the frontal and central parts of the brain. In layman’s terms, that means improved language development, intellect and social-emotional skills, such as managing emotions and building relationships. And early results from the qualitative part of the study suggest mothers feel confident in their ability to put the money to good use –– usually by spending it on their kids. Katie Weitz, executive director of the philanthropic Weitz Family Foundation, helped bring Baby’s First Years to Omaha. She recalls visiting the state Capitol to speak with state senators who weren’t sure about supporting Baby’s First Years –– they had to pass legislation so moms in the study wouldn’t get kicked off public benefits, such as Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), which gives cash assistance to low-income families with kids, if the money they got from Baby’s First Years made their income exceed the cut-off. The vote passed almost unanimously –– uncharacteristic of a Legislature that, according to state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, doesn’t have the votes to increase the income eligibility require-

Katie Weitz is executive director of the philanthropic Weitz Family Foundation. PHOTO: M. Julie PHOTO



( D I S ) I N V E S T E D ments for ADC. “I think [politicians are] used to advocates who know what the answer is … but we had a question we genuinely didn't know the answer to,” said Duncan, who noted Omaha ticked all the boxes of an ideal study site, including a cost of living that differed from other sites and contributed to the diversity of the study, plus a willing philanthropic community. Weitz hopes to connect study participants’ kids with a statewide system (called NSWERS) that analyzes data to inform policy decisions in Nebraska education, and determine whether, decades from now, there are differences in high-school graduation rates, college persistence and workforce choices between kids from families who received more versus less cash assistance. But regardless of how the results bear out, she said, she believes the project serves families.

[and] what joy they get from parenting.” What mothers say in interviews also pushes back against stereotypes about women’s re-

So how are mothers in the study spending their $333 or $20/ month? For one thing, they’re mentally earmarking the cash as being for their kids, according to Sarah Halpern-Meekin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who’s in charge of the study’s qualitative component. Halpern-Meekin said interviews with moms in the study reveal they generally spend the money on kids’ toys and books, as well as household items, such as cleaning supplies, which are part and parcel of raising children in a safe

“Moms are not going around trying to get lots of input on how to spend this money every month. They know what their children's wants and needs are,” said Halpern-Meekin, recalling a mother who felt power to decide how to use the money as opposed to her partner deciding. “[These women] are actively making decisions around money all the time.”

“Any money I get [is] always for the kids … My brain functions that way. I don't buy stuff for myself.”

If Back got an extra $333/month, she said she’d purchase bracelet-making kits for Catina, who loves crafts, and put her in gymnastics class. Catina’s been asking, “Can I do gymnastics?” for two years, Back said, but she can’t afford it, nor can she afford dance lessons for Miracle, who, like her mother, has neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that makes tumors form on nerve tissue and can cause learning impairment, hearing and vision loss, cardiovascular problems and severe pain.

A single mom like her mother and sister, Tiffany Back used to only see her girls before they went to school in the morning because she was working to make ends meet. Photo: Amaris Stebbing

“Money … is going directly into the pockets of the low-income moms,” Weitz said. “Even if we learn nothing new [the money] is helping … vulnerable families today.”


environment. That flies in the face of stereotypes about people in poverty buying substances, such as cigarettes and alcohol, when they get cash benefits. Preliminary

results show that when mothers do spend money on and/or use “vice” products, it’s consistent among the $333/month and $20/month groups, suggesting more income doesn’t necessarily mean more “vice” spending or substance use. Under 0.3% of transactions made by the moms with Baby’s First Years money happened in liquor stores, as of January 2020. “[These stereotype] ‘other’ families who have limited resources,” Halpern-Meekin said. “There are different amounts of resources people have, but [parents’] love, attention and care exist up and down the income spectrum … [What comes] out so strongly in these interviews is how fiercely moms love their children


“Any money I get [is] always for the kids … My brain functions If Back got extra income, she’d enroll that way. I don't Miracle (6, left) in dance class and buy stuff for myCatina (9, right) in gymnastics, which self,” Back said. “My kids ... need she's been wanting for years. Photo: clothes, backAmaris Stebbing packs, school supplies … [And I’d] feel more accomplished [if I could lationships with money — for example, that they lack confidence get them into extracurriculars].” in dealing with it and need help managing budgets.

Besides tax refunds, including the child tax credit, Halpern-Meekin said, ADC is the closest

( D I S ) I N V E S T E D equivalent to the no-strings-attached cash gifts mothers get in Baby’s First Years, since recipients can spend ADC income on rent, utilities, food, clothing and more –– they aren’t confined to spending the money on just one thing as with, for example, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which can only be spent on food.

And, as The Reader reported, ADC, unlike Baby’s First Years money, is not unconditional. As of July 2021, a single parent must meet 30-hours-per-week work require-

ADC in the past. “So it was pointless.” Should the results continue to bear out that more money leads to improved brain development, researchers say they can’t predict whether that will impact policy.

“That's for policymakers to decide, whether children's brain development is an area in which they want to invest.”

But as The Reader reported in its July 2022 deep dive into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, the federal grant that funds ADC), Nebraska has the fourth-highest denial rate for direct cash assistance in the country, with 90% of ADC applicants turned away –– even though the state has stockpiled more than $108 million in TANF (nationwide, states were sitting on a whopping $5.2 billion of TANF as of December 2021).

ments to earn just $408 per month for a two-person family, which translates to about $3.13 an hour — well below Nebraska’s $9 per hour minimum wage. “It was a job itself, but you [weren’t] getting much money for it,” recalled Back, who’s been on

“Child brain development is one thing we could value and pursue in policy but our study [cannot] say, ‘It is the thing you should value,’” Halpern-Meekin said. “That's for policymakers to decide, whether children's brain development is an area in which they want to invest.”

Weitz said she'd like to keep state senators and the governor apprised of the ongoing Baby's First Years work, in the hopes they’ll understand the importance of public benefit programs, should there be conclusive evidence at the study's end. At the time of

this writing, state Sen. Cavanaugh said she’s searching for ways to use TANF money as productively as possible, given inflation. At a national level, Halpern-Meekin pointed to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of mayors pushing for a federal guaranteed income, which, she said, is leading small-scale cash-transfer experiments in cities across the U.S. Mothers in the study, Halpern-Meekin said, aren’t scrutinizing their kids’ brain development. Instead, moms like Back are delighted to watch their kids change and gain new skills, as children do, regardless of where they are developmentally. And they’d like their kids’ futures to be unencumbered by poverty. “I want [my daughters] to … do whatever [their] hearts desire and makes [them] happy,” Back said, “[and] follow whatever dream they want.”

EARN COLLEGE CREDITS IN HIGH SCHOOL TUITION FREE. Jumpstart your college degree while in high school with MCC dual-credit programs designed to fit each student’s needs.

It’s Your Time to Path Forward

Get early college experience and college credit while in high school

Five different pathways available to all Nebraska high school students

Available year-round or during regular school semesters

Online, at MCC campuses or at select high schools

FALL CLASSES BEGIN SEPT. 6. To get started, visit or call 531-MCC-2400. Metropolitan Community College affirms a policy of equal education, employment opportunities and nondiscrimination in providing services to the public. To read our full policy statement, visit






Full Capacity

Visual Arts Venues ‘Fall’ Back in Action With a Harvest of Offerings by Janet Farber


he coming, mercifully cooler months bring with them a full schedule of must-sees in Metro museums and galleries. With something to intrigue everyone, these autumn offerings are filled with solo shows by artists new and familiar as well as a number of thoughtprovoking group endeavors. The Kaneko contributed to Omaha’s splashy summer reopening of the Gene Leahy Mall by partnering with the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority and the International Sculpture Center to facilitate the long-term loan of five major sculptures. To that end, the venue will be hosting solo shows in coming years, highlighting each artist’s work, beginning with Richard Hunt, considered the most influential living African American sculptor. “MONUMENTAL” will underscore the ways Hunt explores the narrative of African culture — its historical origins and glob-

From Creighton: Jeff Hanson, “Picnic in Hyannis Port,” 2018, acrylic on canvas al movement — through largescale, abstract public artworks. Additionally, work by Chicago artist Faheem Majeed and Omaha artists Sarah Rowe and Charles Kay Jr. will be included. (Opening Soirée, Oct. 7; exhibited through Feb. 5.)

From UNO: Anita Fields, “To Be Heard,” clay, gold glaze and gold leaf


September 2022

As does Kaneko, the Bemis Center looks forward to its annual fall fundraiser, the Benefit Art Auction. Beginning Oct. 1, art is available to view online, with the exhibition open to the public starting Oct. 15 and

culminating in the auction on Oct. 28. From Dec. 8-April 16, visitors will see two shows, the solo “Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand,” interweaving textiles with her ceramic and painting practice, and the group effort “Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream,” examining America’s obsession with wealth and the ways its lavish display shapes class, race, and gender. Two venues will be recognizing the late Omaha



P R E V I E W colored pencil drawing. Creighton’s Medical Humanities program continues to partner with area galleries, this time with the Lied Gallery at Creighton to exhibit “Jeff Hanson: Changing the World Through Art” (Sept. 6-Oct. 7). The late Kansas native Hanson was a visually impaired teen when he began creating bright, heavily textured paintings whose sales he turned into an inspiring model for philanthropy. Students in the program will create their own designs inspired by Hanson’s work to accompany the show. “Katie B. Temple: Building A Home” (Oct. 21-Nov. 20) presents new work by the Omaha painter known best for infusing images of domestic architecture

From Project: Hannah Demma, "A Tune Without the Words," 2022, mixed media installation artist Wanda Ewing. The Union for Contemporary Art, whose gallery space is dedicated in her honor, will be hosting “Growing up Black, Growing up Wanda” from Oct. 15-Dec. 17, including many early pieces in which her interest in giving voice to African American women began taking on the biting, comical and often autobiographical edge associated with her mature work. Then from Oct.14-Nov. 26, the Roberta and Bob Rogers Gallery will exhibit “Wanda Ewing + 4,” with Ewing’s prints alongside those of Wangechi Mutu, Allison Saar, Sandra Vasquez de la Horra and an area artist to be named soon. Printmaking is also a fall feature at El Museo Latino, with a show of “José Guadalupe Posada Prints” (Sept. 15-Feb. 18) and “Guatemala Painting and Prints” (Sept. 10-December). Nineteenth-century Mexican artist Posada is revered for his delightful and skewering political prints, and for his iconic calavera (skeleton) images for the Day of the Dead that remain recogniz-

able to all today. Gallery 1516 goes all-in on large group shows this season. First up is the “UNO School of the Arts Faculty & Staff Exhibition” (Sept. 16-Oct. 15), a new biennial showcase in partnership with the UNO Art Gallery. Then in November, 1516 kicks off a new mediumcentric subset within its biennial format, this one featuring photography and open to artists from Nebraska and its six contiguous states. Jurors will be April and Diego Uchitel. Nebraska Arts Council’s Fred Simon Gallery, at the foot of the newly designed Gene Leahy Mall, will showcase the work of Atiim Jones (Sept.16-Nov. 9). Jones’ particular brand of street photography has been focused on the Old Market and has become a larger documentary project on this busy urban crossroads. Gabriella Quiroz is next up (Nov. 18-Jan. 11), with a show featuring her photorealistic dive into nature’s bounty through painting and

From Kaneko: Richard Hunt, “Planar and Tubular,” stainless steel. PHOTO by Janet Farber September 2022



From MaMO gallery: Jose Trujillo, “Untitled” with a sense of memory and animation. At UNO’s Art Gallery, “Resilience” is the rubric bringing together artists Anita Fields, Lydia Cheshewalla, Reyna Hernandez and Sarah Rowe (Oct.10-Nov. 10). Representing the diversity of contemporary Indigenous cultures, they explore themes of nature, transformation and resilience. In Elkhorn, Metro Community College’s campus gallery introduces the art of Wayne State University professor Margi Weir.

A R T S “Bearing Witness” (Sept. 14Oct. 12) features pictographic paintings and large-scale vinyl installations responding to political, social and environment al situations. On the opposite end of the Metro, look for patternist Patty Talbert and friends to help fill the fourth-floor gallery of the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center in Council Bluffs, with an opening TBD in October.

Project Project has a busy schedule this fall, beginning with Vinton Street regular Shawn Teseo Ballarin (opening Sept. 9), followed by “Stephen & the Gang,” a sensory group show (opens Oct. 14) featuring Stephen Kavanaugh’s work alongside individuals with disabilities through his involvement with the nonprofit AngelWorks. Hannah Demma’s naturalist installations with their colorful party-store aesthetic will enliven November (opening on the 11th), followed by the bio-centric paintings and

From Bemis: Elisabeth Kley, “Minutes of Sand,” 2021, installation at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, 2021. PHOTO by Carlos Avendaño


September 2022


From RBRG: Wanda Ewing, “Bougie – May,” 2006, reductive linocut with an acetate overlay and vinyl lettering drawings of Amanda Durig and Patricia Davis (opens Dec. 9). Elsewhere on Vinton, Generator Space will pair Pamela Conyers-Hinson and Ilaamen Pelshaw in “The Beauty of Color” (Sept. 9-Oct. 14) and give over the space to Sarah Rowe in November and December.

contemporary Native American artists follows in October, and Jenny Marie’s surrealist portraiture is up in November. MaMO Gallery will host the work of recent artists-in-residence Travis Apel, (Sener) Jose Trujillo and (Sedra) Daniel Castaneda (Oct. 21-Nov. 11).

Benson First Friday’s large umbrella now includes three of its own visual arts venues, with shows opening the first Friday of each month. At Petshop, guest curator Whitney Stevens will pair with a public art installation for the September feature, followed by Shawnequa Linder’s paintings in October and interdisciplinary sculptor Morgan Fields in November. At BFF Gallery, “Futures,” open to visual and performance artists 18 and under, is the September showcase; the Unceded Art Collective of

Finally, don’t forget to check out the busy schedule at Hot Shops highlighting the work of several of its studio artists. The latest installment of “Expressions in Fiber Art” runs from Sept. 2-25, followed by the “Hopeful Impressions” Midwest Lampworker’s Guild show, Sept. 30-Oct. 29. James Freeman will curate “Heaven, Hell and Everything In-Between,” opening Nov. 5, which promises to be richly eclectic and eccentric.

Book Size: Large Square 12x12

Wanda D. Ewing in the

Wanda D. Ewing Gallery oct 15-dec 17 This fall, the work of pivotal Omaha artist Wanda Ewing (1970-2013) appears for the first time in the gallery named in her honor at The Union for Contemporary Art. See additional work by Wanda Ewing this fall at Gallery 1516 ( and the Roberta & Bob Rogers Gallery (

This is the first printable page in your book and will print on the right side.

These instructions should not appear in your exported pdf. Please be sure to complete your Pages design prior to creating your Cover template. The Page Count must be exact when creating your Cover template.. You’ll need to upload a PDF for the pages and at least one cover type. Remember, all books must be an even number of pages. The first page will be on the right side as you open the cover and the last page will be on the left side as you close the book. Hardcover books include an end sheet on both the front and back of the inside pages for binding purposes. Please note, all critical text and art should appear within this gray area. Any content outside this area may be unevenly trimmed or hidden by the gutter when the book is bound. If you would like your artwork to extend to the very edge of your finished book then pull your artwork edge to the red bleed line.

Be sure to review your exported PDF in an outside program (like Adobe Reader) to ensure it appears correctly and without these instructions. Further info can be found at:

2423 N. 24 Street | U-CA.ORG

51S T AN N U A L

Sat/Sept 10th • 10- 6 Sun/Sept 11th • 10- 5

108th & W Center Rd,Omaha,NE This Event is FREE! A SPECIAL THANKS TO



September 2022




From ‘School of Rock’ to Christmas Stories

Fall Theater Lineup Offers Something for Everyone by Matt Casas


ot quite a movie and not a book, theater starts and ends on the stage.

Each live performance is unique and mortal, even if the story is the same and timeless (to say nothing about the art of writing an original screenplay) –– the writers, producers, designers and performers make each show an unrepeatable event. But audiences do not passively ingest a play, musical, opera or set. We experience it. Omaha theaters have a fantastic coming fall season. Let your imagination take the stage. Read on for a list of the best performances scheduled through the end of 2022.

September 16 – October 16

School Of Rock Omaha Community Playhouse Wednesdays-Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. $25-$47

Based on the Paramount movie by Mike White, the play by Julian Fellowes, lyrics by Glenn Slate, and new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “School of Rock” will satisfy fans of the classic-rock canon and the hit 2003 film starring Jack Black, including its original, beloved songs. The story interjects a hopeful, humorous, and musical tone


into a stuffy school setting in which untapped kids meet an unlikely substitute teacher: A down-on-hisluck, ex-rock frontman posing for the gig to make rent.

October 6 – 31

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow BlueBarn Theatre Thursdays-Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. General admission: $37 | Military personnel, educators, and health care workers: $32 | Free for members This world-premiere adaptation of Washington Irving’s famous story about a headless horseman will invite audiences for an incredible journey through songs, dances, and puppets. It’s also sure to get you in the holiday spirit for Halloween. Ben Beck and Jill Anderson, both from Omaha, wrote the screenplay, and the play features a set design by Sarah Rowe and original musical compositions by Olga Smola.

Centered on the work of Rose Playwright-in-Residence Brian Guehring, “Popularity Coach” gives audiences a fresh look into the depths of personal authenticity vs. conformity by examining the world of early school years. In his story, children named Cooper and Mia hire, you guessed it, a popularity coach to solve their youngster problems after parents and teachers shrug them off with unrelatable wise sayings like “Popularity doesn’t matter.” Together, they learn how to navigate outsider status.

October 7

ChavoRucos Orpheum Theater 9 p.m. show $45-$89

October 7 – 23

Popularity Coach The Rose Theater Fridays: 7 p.m. | Saturdays: 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. General admission: $25 | Free for members

September 2022

This Spanish-speaking performance of two comedy titans brings a nice change of pace to the Orpheum Theater. Adrian Uribe and Adal Ramones will stop in Omaha to perform together for the first time as part of their “ChavoRucos”

tour, which roughly translates to “old guys.” You can order tickets in Spanish by emailing, and an agent will contact you via phone or email within a few business days.

October 7 – November 6

The Cake Omaha Community Playhouse Thursdays-Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. $36

This hilarious and touching new play hails from the mind of mega talent Bekah Brunstetter, who wrote the hit television program “This Is Us.” It features direction by Kim Clark-Kaczmarek. The story follows a baker from North Carolina who gets confronted with her prejudices after taking on the task of baking a wedding cake for two engaged women partners. Its tone fuses comedic timing with warmth, and the performance will contain language intended for mature audiences and some nudity.

November 4 and 6

X: The Life & Times Of Malcolm X Orpheum Theater Friday: 7:30 p.m. | Sunday: 2 p.m.

FALL ARTS PREVIEW tary personnel, educators, and healthcare workers: $32 | Free for members

Tickets prices to be announced Opera Omaha presents an exciting experience that fuses history with theatrical presentation as well as classical and jazz music genres to tell the uplifting and tragic story of Malcolm X, whose legacy as a civil rights icon remains uniquely tied to his birthplace, this city. It features original compositions by Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Anthony Davis in cooperation with Thulani Davis. The opera premiered in New York in 1986. (See Leo Biga's feature article on page 22)

November 25 – December 18

Cinderella The Rose Theater Fridays: 7 p.m. | Saturdays-Sundays: 2 p.m. $27-$32

This re-telling of the classic “Cinderella” story for audiences of all ages takes a fantastic approach to a few familiar themes grounded in family disillusionment and sparkly, snowy landscapes. Through a special arrangement with R & H Theatricals, this adaptation features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics and the book by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, and orchestrations by Danny Troob with musical adaptation and arrangements by David Chase.

November 25 – December 18

Every Christmas Story Ever Told BlueBarn Theatre Thursdays-Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. General admission: $37 | Mili-

To switch up your winter-themed enter tainment this season, the unconventional alternative approach to the lore of holiday tales in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” offers a hilarious, entertaining, and pop culture-inspired take on every Christmas story, just as the title suggests. It features a screenplay by Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, and original music by Will Knapp.

November 25 – December 23

Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold

Omaha Community Playhouse Thursdays-Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. | Sundays: 2 p.m. $25-$40

“Sister’s Christmas Catechism,” something like CSI-meets-Bethlehem, sets the stage for a new hilarious and mystery-infused holiday classic centered on a nun investigating the disappearance of the biblical Magi’s gold. The show brings a new spin on the nativity story, a living nativity that involves the audience as much as the choir and featured performers. This musical play comes from the creator of “Late Nite Catechism,” with additional credits from Maripat Donovan, Marc Silvia, and Jane Morris.

Choose Live Theatre


402-345-1576 1106 S. 10th St, Omaha NE

September 2022




The Halls Will Be Alive With Music



often hear people talk about how boring Omaha is, about how all the great artists never come here and how there isn’t much to do around the city. To which I am constantly dumbfounded. Not only is Omaha a bustling hub for some of the most impressive independent musicians and upcoming artists, it also is constantly being visited by powerful performers who might blow the artists you’re waiting for out of the water. I want to help you, your friends, anyone in your life who’s waiting for Omaha to suddenly become a hotbed for the most popular musicians out right now. Guess what? Ya don’t need ’em! The hotbed is cooking, and your pal Fernando is here to give you a guide of some of the wonderful shows coming to our boring, little city. As the summer ends and fall and winter start to settle in, some of you might be looking for the comforts of a cozy concert to warm and

inspire your cold bones. I’m telling you to look no further. The end of the year has a myriad of incredible jazz and classical concerts on tap.

JAZZ • LOVAM Jazz Festival • Saturday, Sept. 3 • Turner Park 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. • Free Let’s start with something that appeals to everyone. Jazz! Well … jazz itself might not be for everyone, but “free” and “outdoors” tend to be things people love. Especially when it comes to concerts. Even if you aren’t the biggest jazz enthusiast, it would be worth it for you to make your way to Turner Park at the beginning of September. Kicking us off we have the LOVAM Jazz Festival. LOVAM gives us internationally (yeah, read it again — INTERNATIONALLY) known legend Peter White. His skills on the

acoustic guitar are nearly unrivaled on the jazz scene, and maybe even other genres if we’re being honest. He is THAT good. White, this master of the contemporary jazz scene, is best known for combining pop and even classical guitar into his music.

• Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: Life in the Past Lane Tour

He creates his own brand of jazz that is recognizable and prolific enough to bridge the gap between genres you know and a new one you might learn to love.

Let’s say that, maybe, LOVAM isn’t quite enough for you. You’re potentially enticed but not entirely sold because you’re just not a jazz fan … but you want to give it a try. You just need something that feels a little more familiar. That is where Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: Life in the Past Lane Tour will hook you. One of the coolest things about the band is its YouTube channel with more than five million subscribers. Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is a beautiful, exciting, masterfully crafted mix of modern hits and the familiar music styles from back in the day.

Alongside the legend comes another superstar on the scene, the No. 1 flute player on the Billboard charts, Ragan Whiteside. If you thought Lizzo was good, just wait until you hear Whiteside. The reasons she has climbed the Billboard charts become wildly apparent once you hear her play. Not only is she dynamic and explosive, but her style of playing is more face-melting than if Jethro Tull and Chuck Mangione formed a supergroup. Whiteside’s mastery of the flute makes her not only a thrill to watch, but also helps you understand why rats were so drawn to the Pied Piper. Her rhythm is in time and the energy is through the roof. You’ll probably wind up dancing before her set is up, and you might even follow her out of the city with a small group of entranced jazz fanatics. If you love supporting local musicians, here are two more reasons why you should check out the LOVAM Jazz Fest in September. Acclaimed local artists Chad Stoner and Ed Archibald grace the stage with White and Whiteside.

Postmodern Jukebox will do its thing at the Holland Performing Arts Center on Oct. 16.


September 2022

Be there or be somewhere significantly less awesome.

• Sunday, Oct. 16 • Holland Performing Arts Center/7:30 p.m. • $39.50

Postmodern Jukebox is an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping fusion of classic jazz sounds from previous eras and some of the best modern hits from the ’80s to today. Have you ever wondered what Radiohead’s “Creep” might sound like if it were written during the prohibition era and performed in a smoky Chicago speakeasy? Listen no further, Scott Bradlee has you covered. Maybe you need a more modern example. Are you a Billie Eilish fan? The Weeknd? Lorde, Meghan Trainor, Lady Gaga? Maybe these are a little too modern. How about Guns N’ Roses, Toto, No Doubt, Journey, Abba? Postmodern Jukebox takes these artists and so many more, breaks down the songs, builds them again, breathes new life into them by injecting styles from older eras into

momentum Featuring Brilliant works by acclaimed choreographers: • World Premiere by Ray Mercer • Frank Chaves’ “Eva” • Erika Overturff’s ”The Diner” • Classic “Don Quixote” pas de deux

October 15 & 16 Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center Premier Benefactors:

Season Sponsor:

Major Support:

Fred and Eve Simon Charitable


September 2022




the heart of the songs and raises a Frankenstein’s monster of musical experiences just for you.

• “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”

nominated for a Tony in 2020 for his Broadway show “A Slave Play.”

Even if you don’t like covers, this is a talented group of musical artists coming together to turn classic hits AND modern classics into something new. And sung by some of the strongest, most passionate voices in the business. Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox doesn’t just breathe new life into old-school styles and hits from bygone eras, it crafts new experiences from songs that already sit in our hearts as classics.

• The Orpheum Theater • Friday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m. / Sunday, Nov. 6, 2 p.m.

Produced in partnership with the Detroit Opera, The Metropolitan Opera in New York, Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Seattle Opera, “X” will play in Omaha before heading to the Met in 2023. Opera Omaha always seems to be at the forefront of change and excitement in the opera world.

Each modern song will evoke the spirit of old jazz styles, boozy lounge-singer hits, and moments of old-school swing music magic. A true marriage of modern classics expressed in classic style. This is a show you will not want to miss.

CLASSICAL • Bruce Hornsby with the Omaha Symphony • Friday, Oct. 14 • Holland Performing

• Ticket prices to be announced

Arts Center/7:30 • $20-$89 OK, so maybe jazz isn’t your thing, you consider yourself a bit above modern songs and older classics. You prefer something with a bit more sophistication and a bit less improvisation. How about a three-time Grammy winner who has worked with such artists as Spike Lee, The Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan and Don Henley? Another powerhouse musical talent, this time joining the Omaha Symphony and Conductor Rob Moose. Join Bruce Hornsby as he and Moose lead the Omaha Symphony in some of his newest works, and a few of his timeless classics.

The final event on our list, though not the final event in the city, is a show I wasn’t sure whether to place in the classical or the jazz section. It’s an American opera sure to turn heads and maybe even change minds. “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” written by cousins Anthony and Thulani Davis, is told through a series of vignettes leading us through Malcolm’s boyhood to his assassination in 1965. (See Leo Biga’s feature story on Page 22) Anthony Davis wrote this opera about the Omaha icon with the intention of infusing jazz with a more contemporary score. “X” is not just special because of the score or the subject matter, it’s the people involved in making this project soar. Robert O’Hara is attached as director. O’Hara was

So anytime your friends say there is never anything to do in Omaha, drag them to some of these events. Art in Omaha is thriving. All it needs is for you to find it, and to cherish it so it can grow into a culture so strong, no one will say Omaha is boring again. Fernando A. Montejano is an ardent lover of the arts and hosts the Classical Saturday show on KVNO. He is a spoken-word performer, a Holland Community Opera Fellow with Opera Omaha and a former teaching artist for The Nebraska Writers Collective.

Together again! BACK-TO-SCHOOL EVENT

50% OFF





Back Sundays IN PERSON @ 10:50 am ONLINE via Facebook

SCHEDULE YOUR EYE EXAM TODAY MALBAR.COM | 877-457-6485 *Offer eligible for children 18 years old and younger. Requires purchase of a complete prescription pair, including frame and lenses. **Requires purchase of a complete prescription pair, including frame and lenses. Does not include sunglass frames, Barton Perreira, Cartier, Chanel, Cutler and Gross, Dior, Gucci, Maui Jim, Michael Kors, Nifties, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Ray-Ban, Robert Marc, Silhouette, Tiffany & Co., Tom Ford, Woow, accessories, contact lenses, or medical procedures. Cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions, or insurance plans. Not valid on previous orders. Other restrictions may apply. See practice for full details. Offer ends 09/04/2022. 22AEG-322313


September 2022

We WILL NOT be resuming other activities. Masks & social distancing will be required. 7020 Cass Street 402.556.6262




The Operatic Story of Malcolm X

Orpheum Theater Prepares for ‘The Life and Times’ of Omaha Icon by Leo Adam Biga


of Malcolm X in such ingenious ways.”

lain Black liberation and civil rights activist Malcolm X may finally get his due in his hometown thanks to an opera about him going up Nov. 4 and 6 at the Orpheum Theater.

Composer Davis, a renowned jazz pianist, discovered he and Malcolm X shared jazz influences, which are expressed in the opera. Known for interpreting political subjects, Davis earned the Pulitzer Prize for the 2018 opera “The Central Park Five” about an infamous miscarriage of justice.

When Opera Omaha learned two-plus years ago that Detroit Opera planned a revival of the Anthony Davis (composer) and Thulani Davis (librettist) work, “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” it asked to participate. “Detroit welcomed us as a co-producer, which means opera companies pool resources to build something bigger than either could do by itself,” said Opera Omaha General Director Roger Weitz.

Davis has a history with Opera Omaha. It commissioned his “Wakonda’s Dream” about another iconic Nebraska figure, Standing Bear. It made its 2007 world premiere in Omaha.

Scene from Detroit production of “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”. PHOTO: Micah Shumake/Detroit Opera

“X” made a splash with its 1986 New York world premiere, getting occasional remountings elsewhere, but Weitz said “generally speaking it hasn’t had a major national push.” “Several prominent opera leaders made notice of that and felt this was an excellent time for this excellent piece to be back in the national spotlight,” Weitz said. “Three more major opera companies – the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Seattle Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago – joined this coproduction consortium. “I think all of that points to the worthiness and timeliness of the piece. It’s been gone for far too long,” he said, adding that it’s return feels right in this Black Lives Matter and inclusivity reck-

oning. The new production, directed by Tony Award nominee Robert O’Hara (“Slave Play”) and conducted by American contemporary music leader Gil Rose, premiered May 22 in Detroit. Omaha’s the second stop on a 20222023 tour. Weitz believes it’s only appropriate this work about Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in Omaha in 1925, be produced on his home turf. “There’s a lot of American operas about important historical, political figures, so absolutely there should be a Malcolm X opera and it absolutely should be performed here,” he said. “It’s absolutely a dream project for us to be able to share a wonderful piece of art about one of Omaha’s most fa-

mous citizens right here in this community and do so with the best and brightest collaborators. The creative team is absolutely on the pulse of culture and storytelling in this country.” Weitz attended the opening with leaders of Omaha’s Malcolm X Memorial Foundation (MXMF) as guests of Detroit Opera. MXMF features a visitors center and grounds on the birth site of its namesake. It will present cultural-educational programs in conjunction with “X,” the details of which are still forthcoming. The Detroit experience confirmed for Weitz the work’s importance. “I’m very excited about the direction and the music,” he said. “I love the way Anthony Davis pulls in different music idioms spanning the lifetime

His brother Christopher Davis, a novelist and playwright, wrote the story for “X.”

Cousin Thulani Davis wrote the libretto. She’s a noted playwright, dramaturg, journalist, novelist and screenwriter. She and Anthony collaborated on the 1997 opera “Amistad.” The director, O’Hara, is also an award-winning playwright (“Insurrection: Holding History,” “Antebellum,” “BootyCandy,” “Barbecue”). Weitz commends the production’s “wonderful cast,” which will be largely the same as it was in Detroit. A notable exception is baritone Adam Richardson, who will sing the part of Malcolm X in Omaha. “He’s a tremendous talent,” Weitz said. “X” is finding new life in a woke climate embracing Black stories by Black creatives on Broadway and in Holly-

September 2022





Scene from Detroit production of “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”. PHOTO: Micah Shumake/Detroit Opera

Malcolm X Memorial Foundation President Leo Louis II and Executive Director JoAnna LeFlore-Ejike at the world premiere of the new production of "X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X" at Detroit Opera. PHOTO: Malcolm X Memorial Foundation wood. This trend extends to Omaha’s arts-culture scene, in which Black content and artists are gaining unprecedented traction. Paralleling this are efforts to finally have Malcolm X elected to the Nebraska Hall of Fame. A campaign led by MXMF has made the case for decades. Andrea Joy Pearson, Opera Omaha’s director of belonging and inclusion, advocated for his election before a recent Hall of Fame Commission hearing. “I feel very impacted by the life Malcolm X lived and the legacy

Andrea Joy Pearson, Opera Omaha director of belonging and inclusion


he left behind,” she said. “When I think of his life I think of three things being very prominent: Self-love, self-determination and empowerment.” She believes that with the opera coming here on the eve of the Hall of Fame selecting finalists, the stars are aligned to bring Malcolm X the recognition missing in his hometown.

“It feels really big,” she said. For Pearson, the opera well captures X’s evolutionary and inspirational journey. “It’s a beautiful work. It speaks to American history,” she said. “I think it can bring about a greater level of awareness of what Malcolm X’s life was really about. You see a legacy of someone who started from nothing, transformed to meet the needs of the moment, then changed into someone who was not only able to captivate au-

Adam Richardson sings the role of Malcolm X in the Omaha production

September 2022

diences but to inspire people to a point that they created change in their own lives, spaces and communities.”

At the Detroit Opera world premiere of "X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X." On the left, MXMF's JoAnna LeFloreEjike; in the middle, "X" composer Anthony Davis, above, MXMF's Leo Louis II; on the right, "X" story writer Christopher Davis; bottom right, "X" librettist Thulani Davis. PHOTO: Malcolm X Memorial Foundation

The opera’s creators took pains portraying the leader in his full humanity, warts and all, “rather than as some mythological figure,” said O’Hara. He believes X’s own “evolution” from street hustler and convict to charismatic activist capable of galvanizing audiences offers a powerful message about personal transformation. “X” is seen by its producing team as a gateway for generating greater understanding of its protagonist’s teachings.

Instead of a straight-line bio, the story is told in vignettes that abstract and telescope his life to create “an X experience,” said O’Hara.

Anthony Davis is the composer of “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”

Malcolm X’s ideologies permeate the work. While some can be challenging, Weitz said, “the opera does a wonderful job of getting to Malcolm X’s central message around human rights for all people. It’s a very uplifting, inclusive message.” The music, words, staging inexorably pull this tragic hero to meet an inevitable end. The opera’s considered prescient for showing how much of what Malcolm X championed is still struggling to be realized today and how his teachings remain a

Robert O’Hara is the director of “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”

F A L L relevant guide for change. Pearson’s proud Opera Omaha is bringing his philosophy and this work to a national audience. “We’re giving new voice, new life, new vibrancy to this story, to this life that was lived,” she said. “We’re celebrating it.” Staging it in Omaha, she said, means Malcolm X is getting a posthumous homecoming. “It’s special that we’re doing it in Malcolm X’s birthplace,” Pearson said. “Nowhere else has that connection.” From the perspective of MXMF Executive Director JoAnna LeFlore-Ejike, the opera is “really a good opportunity for people to learn about Malcolm X. “We really want to engage different audiences – the creative community, youths, Black folks, history buffs. We’re looking forward to bringing those groups together through programs,” she said. “I’m really excited about that.” LeFlore-Ejike sees the opera as a conduit to connect everyone from die-hard aficionados and devotees to novices to whomever else steps through the door. “Everybody in between is the flavor Malcolm would have preferred to reach because they are the ones who are often ignored and who relate to Malcolm the most. Healthy alignments is just what we at the Malcolm X center want to be a part of,” she said. MXMF and Opera Omaha expect to connect to new audiences. “I do hope this is an opportunity for both organizations to introduce each other’s audiences to each other

A R T S and raise awareness and appreciation for Malcolm X’s legacy,” Weitz said. Malcolm X’s Black liberation theologies are central in the opera and clearly resonate with this new era of Black enfranchisement. “It brings up a lot of things to the current conversation around social justice,” LeFlore-Ejike said, “but there’s also a nod to Afrofuturism. “Nothing is dramatized to the point of disbelief or concern,” she said. “Everything is thoughtful in its presentation, even down to the wardrobe depicting the clothes of the time. My favorite part is the incorporation of dancers throughout who represent a collective spirit of the times.” “X” also offers an opportunity to help dismantle opera’s elitist white European strictures and to elevate new voices, faces and stories, Pearson said. “That’s what I want opera to be about.










I want opera to speak to the lives of people today, to the history of American culture. I want people to see themselves, their family, their culture represented and speaking to them in a new way. “


“X,” she said, provides a mirror for Black audiences “to feel more seen, more heard, more recognized, more valued.”




Though it has a tragic end, Pearson and LeFlore-Ejike say viewers are left with a feeling of possibility, not limitation, resilience, not defeat for not only the future of the Black Experience but the broader human experience. Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 and 2 p.m. on Nov. 6. Tickets are $19-$99. Visit for more information.





Thulani Davis is the librettist of “X: The Life and Times of Malcom X”

Roger Weitz, Opera Omaha general director




PHOTOs: Courtesy Opera Omaha

September 2022


W PICKS W “Commit This to Memory” features the gold-selling single “Everything Is Alright.” The last time the quintet played in Omaha was at Slowdown in 2016 for a farewell tour. The band will be returning to the venue on Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m. for $35 in advance or $40 the day of the performance. Tickets are available at

September 9 & 17-18

Youth Talent Shows Mobile Stage Gene Leahy Mall, Gifford Park, Bryant Center

Omaha Mobile Stage is conducting a city-wide talent show for

— Efren Cortez

September 9

The Woman Who Ran Benson Theatre September 2 - 25

Expressions in Fiber Art VII

This is a loaded calendar, with a fashion show on Sept. 16, several workshops for kids and adults, including lectures and tours, and all revolving around the main exhibit. For more information, go to

children ages 3 to 18. There will be three opportunities: Sept. 9 at Gene Leahy Mall from 6 - 9 p.m., Sept. 17 at Gifford Park from 4 - 7 p.m. and Sept. 18 at Bryant Center from 4 - 7 p.m.

— Kent Behrens

Hot Shops Art Center

September 7

Motion City Soundtrack

All performing art forms are eligible for the competition with contestants limited to four minutes for their showcase. Scoring will be based on talent, originality and showmanship.


The talent shows are free. Register at talent.

Reserve some time Friday, Sept. 2, from 6-8 p.m. for the opening date of “Expressions in Fiber Art VII.” The gallery show features no less than 30 artists, displaying the wide range of possibilities within the world of fabric art. This is the seventh iteration of this fascinating event and marks a return to the show’s original venue, the Hot Shops Art Center.


Minneapolis emo and pop punk band Motion City Soundtrack is touring their 2005 sophomore album “Commit This to Memory” in honor of its 17th anniversary. The tour was planned in 2020 for the album’s 15th anniversary but was delayed due to the pandemic.

September 2022

To get in touch with the political undercurrent in Omaha, look at the women running for office in the new documentary “The Woman Who Ran” at Benson Theatre on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.

September 9, 16, 23

The film highlights a first for the city: Women of every political party running for every City Council seat and mayor. The documentary takes an intimate look behind the scenes.

Gifford Park

After the hour-long feature, stick around for a Q&A session with the candidates, producers, and the nonprofit Women Who Run. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $17. — Matt Casas

— Efren Cortez

Neighborhood Market Leave with one-of-a-kind crafts, eats, and energy at the Neighborhood Market in Gifford Park every Friday from 5-8 p.m. through Sept. 23 Perfect if you love farmers markets but don’t care for those toasty mornings, here is an evening market in Midtown full of goodies, recurring but not for long. If you

W PICKS W Admission is free. Plus, the first 300 first responders and health care professionals get a free meal voucher limited to this one-dayonly event. — Matt Casas

September 14-15

support your community, your community supports back. Handcrafted artistic treasures, delightfully fresh and tasty eats, live and local music, and neighborly conversation await.

Sunny Day Real Estate & Descendents The Admiral

Theatre in Lincoln. Opening on Sept. 15 are H2O and Surfbort. Tickets for both all-ages shows are available at with the first night being $32 in advance and $35 the day of the show, and the second being $35 in advance and $40 the day of. Balcony seating is also available for $75. Doors for both shows will open at 7 p.m. The shows start at 8. — Efren Cortez

For more information, go to or email — Kent Behrens

September 15 – November 9


Photographs by Atiim Jones NAC/Fred Simon Gallery

September 14 – October 12

Bearing Witness

And if you want to perform or become a vendor or for more information, email gpnmarket@

Metro CC Gallery

— Matt Casas

September 10

One Community Cultural Festival

A dozen years ago, Atiim Jones began taking pictures of random people in the Old Market. After about only a year, his “after work” hobby became a major documentary project called “Crossroads.”

Stinson Park

If you feel worldly, the second annual all-ages One Community Cultural Festival takes place on Sept. 10 in Stinson Park from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s a full day in which diversity is front and center, championed as a vital communal life force. Come for delicious eats, dazzling performing arts, and unique handmade crafts. The global focus makes for an enlightening, high-energy, and family friendly festival.

Mid-September will see legendary acts back-to-back at The Admiral when Seattle’s Sunny Day Real Estate and Manhattan Beach’s Descendents show up. Sunny Day Real Estate’s reunion tour on Sept. 14 will be the group’s first activity since 2014 and the first live performance since 2010. The band’s 1994 debut album, “Diary,” is often listed as the greatest emo album. Opening is The Appleseed Cast from Lawrence. Descendents are among the oldest active punk bands and are known for their rapid-fire sets filled with short songs. This will be their first time in Nebraska since 2019, when they played at The Bourbon

Metro Community College Gallery will host “Bearing Witness,” an exhibition by nationally acclaimed artist Margie Weir, from Sept. 14 through Oct. 12. Plan on attending the closing reception and a gallery talk on Oct. 12, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Weir’s paintings and large-scale, vinyl installations are informed by socio-economic, political, and environmental themes and can draw imagery from a broad range of sources; from, for example, ancient Egyptian and Greek iconography to modern, digitally inspired symbolism. Weir is an associate professor of art at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her award-winning work has shown extensively across the U.S.

Fred Simon Gallery and the Nebraska Arts Council invite you to the opening reception of “Crossroads: Photographs by Atiim Jones” on Thursday, Sept. 15. Jones, a recent NAC grant recipient, actively pursues his penchant for photographing strangers, in a style often referred to as “street photography.” A self-taught photographer, Jones has been photographing since he was a teen. His work has received national attention through several popular media outlets, such as Huffington Post, NBC’s “Today Show” and MSN. — Kent Behrens

September 16 – October 16

School of Rock

Omaha Community Playhouse Hawks Mainstage

September 2022


W PICKS W Henry Belden of New York, opening Sept. 23 from 6-9 p.m. Belden’s work ranges from shallow relief and collage to sculpture, drawing and photography.

Based on Mike White’s 2003 film starring Jack Black, a musical production of “School of Rock” will have a month-long gig at the Omaha Community Playhouse starting on Sept. 16 and ending on Oct. 16.s “School of Rock” follows a wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a private school, teaching his students the history of rock music and forming a rock collective together. The production will be held at the Hawks Mainstage at 2 p.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Tickets can be purchased at the Omaha Community Playhouse box office or at Prices vary between $25 and $47.

This two-story gallery has turned over its entirety to Belden’s work; in part, featuring pieces from his on-going series, “Ransom Notes to the Dead,” a graphically provocative collection of reworked gravestone rubbings. As described by gallery Director Kyle Laidig, “forming taunts and untimely grave-side monologues.” In contrast are several low-relief works, shallow assemblages and complex collages. For more information, go to — Kent Behrens

September 24

Layton Flatt and Levi Light Backline

September 24

Boomstock Stinson Park


Tickets are available at for $27 in advance and $30 the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m. with music starting at 8. — Efren Cortez

September 30

Boomer Radio will host its first Boomstock in Stinson Park on Sept. 24 from 5-10 p.m. with Pet Rock and opener Touch of Grey.

The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong Millard South High School

Pet Rock, a nationally known act specializing in looking the part and covering Seventies hits, will perform on the Pacific Life stage from 7-10 p.m. Touch of Grey is a Grateful Dead tribute band and will set a groovy precedent for the preceding rock group. Tickets are $9.45, but you can score VIP access and a few drink tickets for $75.

— Efren Cortez

Expect good food and drinks, solid sounds, and good vibes.

September 23

— Matt Casas

If It Die

Baader-Meinhof Gallery

An epic night of laughs approaches. The national touring comedy twosome Layton Flatt and Levi Light will visit the premiere Backline venue on Sept. 24 at 10 p.m. with special guests Dustin Sims, The Copenhagen Bandit, Kevin Farley, and fresh-faced Jackass star Poopies.

September 25

Dinosaur Jr.

Baader-Meinhof, an artist-run gallery southeast of the Old Market, presents “If It Die,” a multi-media solo exhibit of current work by

Tickets are $10, with doors at 9:45 p.m. Please know you must arrive at least five minutes before the start time and be at least 18 to get in. There is no drink minimum on the table.

September 2022

— Matt Casas

The Nebraska premiere of “The

The Waiting Room Lounge One-Act Play That Goes Wrong” takes place at Millard South High School on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.

It hits the stage by arrangement with Dramatists Play Service under license from Mischief Worldwide Ltd. and is open to the public via a 700-seat auditorium.

Flatt and Light co-host a semi-tour-related YouTube podcast called “Road Trip Thoughts.”


Dinosaur Jr.’s most recent album, “Sweep It Into Space,” was released a year late on April 23, 2021, due to the pandemic. The album earned an 80/100 on Metacritic and a 7.3 on Pitchfork.

Originally planned to play last year, Dinosaur Jr. will perform at The Waiting Room Lounge on Sept. 25. The rock trio was one of the most influential alternative rock bands during the 1990s due to its lo-fi recordings and implementation of noise rock.

The story, by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, is a comedic take on a 1920s murder mystery and theater itself. Tickets are available 30 minutes before showtime at $10 for adults and $7 for students online at You can also call 402-715-8261. — Matt Casas

September 2022



Farm-to-Fork Spots in Omaha by Sara Locke


hile almost every industry in existence is struggling under the strain of a broken supply chain, skyrocketing fuel costs, and an ever more delicate climate, many restaurant owners are looking close to home for a solution. In Nebraska, we have the advantage of being surrounded by fertile land, talented growers, and sustainable sources for just about everything a restaurant needs to run right. Check out The Reader’s top ten locally sourced spots to finish your summer season.

Au Courant

Thursday - Sunday 5 p.m. - Close 6064 Maple St. Reservations strongly suggested 402-505-9917 Meaning “In the Know,” Au Courant is an apt name for a restaurant that has stayed ahead of the curve not only in terms of local sourcing, but in avant-garde plating and the cutting-edge application of cooking techniques. The edgy European-inspired dishes on Au Courant’s menu focus on the seasonal ingredients they source from nearby growers and producers.

Benson Brewery

Tuesdays - Saturdays 11 a.m. - Close Sunday Noon-Close 6059 Maple St. 402-934-8668 Locally sourced doesn’t necessarily mean a plate of vegetables. Benson Brewery utilizes local berries, grains, flowers, and honeys to


create its unique, small-batch beer. This casual pub sticks with local producers wherever possible, and proudly partners with FarmTable Delivery, Truebridge Foods, Olafsson Specialty Foods, Jon’s Naturals, Plum Creek Farms, WW Homestead Dairy, In Season, Benson Bounty, and Le Quartier Bakery & Café.

Block 16

Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. 1611 Farnam St. 402-342-1220 The 100-year-old Urban family farm is the main source of Block 16’s locally grown goods and ingredients. The Urbans run Block 16 like a family kitchen, utilizing only the freshest in ethically and humanely sourced preservative-free foods. While the methods are traditional, the menu is modern, with fun and unexpected twists to your favorite American fare.


Monday - Closed Tuesday - Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Dante creates an old-world experience with flavors that change with the seasons. The pizzeria partners with more than two dozen local farms to create a seasonal and sustainable menu, with produce and proteins grown and raised locally. While pizza is always a good idea, this savory slice is taking a

September 2022

Dante does an excellent job with a hyper seasonal menu of locally sourced ingredients. bite out of emissions and making pizza a little more wholesome.


Open daily 5 p.m. - Close 1108 Howard St. 402-260-8686 How local can one restaurant get? Gather grows its own garden, and tours are given daily to the vertical farm growing on-site. The indoor grow room produces plenty of inspiring ingredients to keep this modern-eclectic American establishment on the culinary cutting edge.

Kitchen Table

Hours vary, check the website before you head out 1415 Farnam St. 402-933-2810 Plum Creek Farms, Iowana Farm, Farm Table Delivery, and Jon’s Naturals are all proud partners of the meals at Kitchen Table. The team at the Table doesn’t gatekeep these locally grown goods, and it offers a variety in the shopette. Take home seasonal snacks, baked goods, and

Thoroughly Modern Love: The plant-based dishes at Omaha’s favorite vegan spot are as ethically and sustainably sourced as they are stunning and sumptuous. staples like pickles, nut butters, and jam.

Modern Love

Monday-Friday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 3157 Farnam St. 402-614-6481 Vegan comfort food should be more than enough to feel good about dining at Modern Love, but for the intensely driven team that creates and serves the unique and delicious dishes, good enough has never been good enough. That’s why this ethical establishment also uses sustainable practices when sourcing the produce that will become the inventive items on your favorite plant-based plates.

D I S H Saddle Creek Breakfast Club Tuesday through Sunday 7 a.m.-2 p.m. 1540 N. Saddle Creek 402-932-5970

The most important meal of the day just got a lot more wholesome. SCBC has earned a name for its creative and delicious seasonal breakfast and lunch menus. Sourced locally whenever possible, each dish is as fresh as its approach to modern dining. Finally a reason to get out of bed early on the weekend!

Sage Student Bistro

Hours change quarterly, check website for details 5730 N. 30th St. 531-622-2328 Curious what the future chefs of Omaha are cooking up in class? Head to Sage Student Bistro, product of Metropolitan Commu-

nity College of Culinary Arts and Management. The students learn the ins, outs, and upside downs of running a successful restaurant by … running a successful restaurant. Sage serves student-prepared dishes that are sure to have you excited about the future of Omaha’s culinary culture. Metro’s culinary program utilizes an on-site garden project to grow and gather ingredients to use in its homework, and your fine dining experience.


Thanks Omaha for voting us

BesT BrewpuB, AgAin Proud pioneers of the fermenter-to-table movement.

Wednesday to Saturday 11 a.m. - Close Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 3814 Farnam St. 402-650-5204 The Blackstone gastropub Stirnella may have other-worldly dishes, but the ingredients grow a lot closer to home. Chef Matt Moser’s inspired take on the evolution of both culture and cuisine can be found in the reverence he shows his locally sourced ingredients.

It would be wrong to say the freshest beer is automatically the best beer. But the best beer almost always tastes its best when it is, in marketing speak, at the peak of freshness. And it’s hard to get any fresher than beer brewed thirty feet away from your table. And it’s doubly hard to get any better than when that table is here at Upstream. But we suspect you already knew that.

Celebrating Over 30 Years Of Making Ice Cream Th e Old Fashioned Way

Two Omaha Locations:

Old Market

Downtown • 1120 Jackston 402.341.5827


6023 Maple 402.551.4420

Home of America’s Most Premium Ice Cream Ted & Wally’s Ultra-Premium 20% Butterfat Made from Scratch with Rock Salt & Ice September 2022



Soul Connections

High-powered Soul, Blues and Roots Music Plus New Collaborations and New Music From Old Favorites Are on Tap for September by B.J. Huchtemann


here are plenty of great club shows filling the early fall schedule, starting with the Blues Society of Omaha weekly shows that rotate among several venues this month. Thursday, Sept. 1, 6-9 p.m., Omaha’s own Nate Bray & The Soul Supremes perform at The Strut. Thursday, Sept. 8, 6-9 p.m., it’s the Brotherhood Tour featuring Kevin Burt and Ken Valdez at Rathskeller Bier Haus. Iowa’s Burt is the 2018 International Blues Challenge (IBC) winner in the solo/duo category whose spellbinding performance swept the audience up and earned a standing ovation along with the IBC award that included the Cigar Box Guitar Award and the Lee Oskar Harmonica Player Award. A sensation in his own right, Burt teams with blues-rocker Ken Valdez, who was raised in New Mexico before relocating to Minneapolis. Valdez has most recently opened for ZZ Top and played with Billy Gibbons. Friends for over a decade, Burt and Valdez have joined forces for this tour. The BSO joins The B. Bar for a special show Friday, Sept 9, 5:30 p.m., with Hurricane Ruth featuring Eddie Turner. Hurricane Ruth grew up in her father’s tavern and often sat with him while he played drums during jam sessions. She grew up surrounded by musicians from many roots genres and has built a career with vocals that draw comparisons to Big Mama Thornton, Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. Willie Dixon gave her the nickname because “no one believed that such a large sound could come out of such a small woman,” according to her press materials. Thursday, Sept. 15, 6-9 p.m., the blues returns to Rathskeller Bier Haus for Orphan Jon & the Abandoned. The dynamic singersongwriter has become a favorite


on Friday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m.; Philly’s Sports Bar & Grill on Friday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.; and ACX Cinema Backlot Pizza, 6200 S. 205th Plaza, Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m.

Hot Notes William Elliott Whitmore plays Reverb Lounge on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 8 p.m., with his original, hard-driving folk-roots sounds that are rooted in the Iowa farm country. Local Honeys open.

Chicago’s eclectic combo The Claudettes release their latest recording of “sultry, cinematic noir-pop” with a show at Sunday Roadhouse at Reverb Lounge at 5 p.m. Sept. 18. Photo CREDIT: courtesy of local blues fans. He returns in support of his new CD release, “Over the Pain,” produced by blues guitarist Alistair Greene. Thursday, Sept. 22, 6-9 p.m., the music moves to Philly Sports Bar & Grill, 8116 S. 84th St., La Vista. The Avey Grouws Band, a Quad Cities group receiving recent national recognition, takes the stage. Featuring vocalist Jeni Grouws and guitarist Chris Avey, the band was nominated for four awards in the 2021 Independent Blues Awards, including Best New Artist, Best New Artist Album. Lincoln’s popular rockabilly quartet The Mezcal Brothers are set to take the stage Friday, Sept. 23, 5:30 p.m. at The B. Bar. Keep up with the BSO’s latest events at bluessocietyofomaha and find show listings and a curated calendar of area blues events at

Zoo Bar Blues Lincoln’s Zoo Bar is ramping up its schedule. For the latest listings and pop-up shows follow facebook.

September 2022

com/zoobarblues or check out Highlights include roots-rocker Sarah Borges on Monday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Borges’ high-energy, rock-fueled shows have long been favorites of local audiences. Expect more highoctane fun, because Borges’ band “now includes famed guitarist/ producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and Bottle Rockets’ bassist Keith Voegele. “Cosmic country” artist Daniel Donato is set for Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6 p.m. Dale Watson & His Lone Stars are back Thursday, Sept. 15, 6 p.m.

Blue House’s New CD Omaha’s own Blue House with the Rent-to-Own Horns have been making original, horn-driven blues music for decades. They’ve just released their latest recording, “Can’t Sit Still - Live at Rainbow Studios.” Check out their new music video on their Facebook page and visit bluehouseblues. com for details, including their September show dates: Zone 6 at Sonny’s in Aksarben Village

The Sunday Roadhouse concert series hosts Chicago’s The Claudettes on Sept. 18, 5 p.m., at Reverb Lounge. With a sound described as “sultry, cinematic noir-pop,” their newest record “The Claudettes Go Out!” is set for an Oct. 14 release on Forty Below Records. The band has just been invited back for a second appearance on NPR’s “Mountain Stage” radio show Oct. 2. See

Early Warnings Acclaimed Austin-based bluesman Gary Clark Jr. plugs in at The Admiral (formerly Sokol Hall) on Sunday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m. Details at Two of roots music’s most celebrated singer-songwriterperformers, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett, each with a celebrated song catalog, bring their fall duo tour to Lincoln’s Rococo Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar presents the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6 p.m. The souljazz trio was seen opening for Jack White this summer. And make a note now: The powerhouse blues of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band gigs at Reverb on Thursday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m.

September 2022



Autumn Can Get Some:

Fall Movie Preview 15 Must-See Movies to Round Out Your Year by Ryan Syrek


easonal movie previews are fun because they remind us of when we used to have “seasons” and not just changes in the style and form of climate concerns. We’re nearing the end of “everything is on fire” months and approaching the two weeks of relative calm before triple-digit, below-zero air burns our faces. Why, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Because our attention spans can’t handle an ongoing pandemic, studios have decided to forge ahead with a robust release schedule this year. I haven’t found the right review in which to insert this, so this seems like a fine time to mention I still always wear a mask in theaters. I will for as long as is necessary. I’ve had only one person be a jerk about it, but that person also laughed a lot at “Black Phone.” Here are the 15 films that will get me to mask up until 2022 goes gentle in that aggressively shitty night.

The Woman King (Sept. 16) Who on this Earth is not going to see a movie with Viola Davis as the leader of a real-life, all-female warrior unit from the African kingdom of Dahomey? It looks like the only good parts of “Wonder Woman” but also features (this needs to be italicized) Viola Davis as a warrior (end italicize). Italics very much for emphasis there, y’all.

Don’t Worry Darling (Sept. 23) Nothing about director Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart” suggested her next film would be a halluci-


natory thriller set in the 1950s. Then again, few things do. Putting Florence Pugh’s name on a movie poster activates my blood oath to support it, and that’s before throwing Chris Pine in as a nefarious schemer. I’m also told this one has hairy style or something…

Bros (Sept. 30) Billy Eichner is bringing the world the raunchy, gay rom-com that may finally cause the Ron DeSantises of the world to spontaneously combust. If it is simply half as funny and sincerely sweet as it looks, that would be enough. But if hate-filled politicians around the world pop into plumes of bigoted ash, it should be bumped to the top spot of that American Film Institute list.

Smile (Sept. 30) You see a weird, smiling person and then die within a week or something? Look, I’ve got a thing for rule-based horror B-movies. Think “The Ring,” “The Grudge,” or even “Nightmare on Elm Street,” in which the supernatural nonsense is bound by some hyper-specific set of guidelines, and survival means figuring out a loophole. I now see that I am describing riddles or board games … It’s like that, but a movie!

Halloween Ends (Oct. 14) Speaking of risky horror movie picks, this is a gamble after “Halloween Kills” was such a turd. Normally, I’m a huge fan of repetitive chanting and disappointment, as I’m a Chicago Bears and Cubs fan.

September 2022

Namor? Say no more! The year’s remaining movies feature superhero goodness and mortal human badness IMAGE: A still from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from Marvel Here’s hoping the final part of this trilogy is more like the first and less centered on a group of townspeople hurling slogans at a slasher.

Decision to Leave (Oct. 14) Park Chan-wook makes a movie, I see that movie. It’s similar to the Florence Pugh rule, but there’s a lot less risk of an accidental Timothée Chalamet. Park’s latest is another Hitchcockian jam about a detective getting entangled with a suspect who maybe killed her husband. I don’t know the full story, but I’m inclined to say “Good for her” and 100% ready to cram this flick in my eye holes.

Black Adam (Oct. 21) This looks horrible. And rumor has it that test scores rated this as

poorly as the canceled “Batgirl” film. But this one has the Rock and the other one had a lady hero and was helmed by a pair of Muslim directors. Weird how one will open in a bajillion theaters and the other is now an IRS con job. Anyway, the trailers look bland and inert, but I’ve gotta see it if only to make sure the DC fans who threaten me online don’t get bored!

The Banshees of Inisherin (Oct. 21) This reunion of the gang from “In Bruges” that features another take on a weird friendship dramedy is low-key my most anticipated flick remaining this year. Adding Barry Keoghan to a movie that has nothing to do with comic books is a bold move. Can this recapture the Brugesy magic? If it gets even close, it’ll make my top 10.

F I L M Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Nov. 11) Whether or not you agree with the way Marvel is handling the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman, you gotta admit that trailer was one of the single best ever made. Who knows if this franchise can function without the beating heart at its center. But I believe in director Ryan Coogler, who has yet to make a single misstep. And again, did y’all see that trailer? We’re all gonna cry so much.

The Menu (Nov. 18) We simply do not get enough “black comedy horror” films, maybe because it feels like we live in one? Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult play a couple who eat at a restaurant run by Ralph Fiennes. I wonder what the terror-filled twist is? Gluten. The twist is that all the food just has so much gluten. All the gluten from the gluten-free foods has been made into monstrous dishes made exclusively of gluten. The horror…

She Said (Nov 18) Whether or not we’re ready for a movie about the Harvey Weinstein atrocities, it’s already almost here. Featuring the insanely talented Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan, and Andre Braugher, this film theoretically could give us an “All the President’s Men” and not a “Bombshell.” It helps that this one is actually written and directed by women. I swear, though: If they give a bunch of Academy Awards to this movie after everyone in the Academy looked the other way during the actual Harvey Weinstein debacle, that’s just a level of dissociation that should be physically unattainable.

Women Talking (Dec. 2) I love that writer/director Sarah Polley’s latest is named something that sounds like a horror movie to more than half of our elected officials. With a knockout cast that includes Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, and Frances McDormand, this Mennonite monster story is

the real-life account of women systemically being drugged and raped. Will it be a hard watch? Sure. Will Polley and company deliver something remarkable? I am as sure of that as I am that ads will not run on Fox News.

CUTTING ROOM by Ryan Syrek

Avatar: The Way of Water (Dec. 16) You remember “Avatar,” right? That’s the White savior cartoon movie with stretched-out Smurfs who have sex with horses through hair. I may have some of that wrong … I do find it hilarious that this is considered “live action,” but if we were in the business of telling James Cameron what to do, Kathryn Bigelow probably would have had her Oscar earlier. This is another one I’m less excited about and more contractually obligated to attend and discuss. Here’s to making it the new top-grossing movie of all time for no reason!

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (Dec. 21) It really feels like the studio should have had to pick between this and “Black Adam” coming out within a few months of each other. That’s just too many lightning bolts on chests for one season. The first “Shazam!” was tolerable, making it a watershed moment for the DC universe. This looks less so, but I am holding out hope for the ability to give another lukewarm thumbs up. Hooray?

Babylon (Dec. 25) After “La Land” had its Best Picture Oscar yoinked back in what remains the best Academy Award moment in history, director Damien Chazelle clearly plotted his revenge. “Babylon” looks like the most self-congratulatory Hollywood movie of all time, as it is set at the transition from the silent films to talkies and features Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and a sprawling cast of big names … including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers? A three-plus-hourlong celebration of cinema history is practically daring the Academy to deny Chazelle again. Please do it exactly like last time.

We’re officially long enough post-“Twilight” to embrace vampire-centric content again. This is especially true of Omaha-based vampire cinema. Like produce, all vampirism should be locally sourced. IMAGE: COURTESY OF Sean Rourke. Sean Rourke is a film editor who  has worked on stuff you love, including various Marvel movies and

TV shows. Still, his heart belongs to a nice set of fangs ... “Omaha isn’t exactly known for its vampires,” Rourke explained. “I figured it was time to change that.” As someone who may or may not have but definitely did do vampire role playing in high school, I salute this noble quest. In his spare time, the Rourke runs a YouTube channel ( that “celebrates the vampire genre.” Celebrate sounds glittery, but no word on whether he’s the one who applied glitter to Robert Pattinson’s torso. He recently dropped “Black Ambient: Journal of a Vampire Hunter” online ( hqVjWVCZZQk) more than 25 years after it was shot around the Big O. “We shot all over Omaha,” said Rourke, “from the Old Market to Gene Leahy Park, to Olde Mill, to West O, and then the big final confrontation takes place in the old Astro movie theater.” It’s a faux documentary that is perhaps the only Bram Stoker-inspired flick to ever shoot in the alley behind a Spaghetti Works. It’s also a lot of fun and the kind of passion project that wasn’t available to nerds like Rourke and I when we were growing up. “There was no YouTube back in 1996. But there is now, so I’ve remastered the whole thing and released it online for its worldwide premiere!” Few things warm my heart like someone already doing cool things in movies saying, “Hold up, I need to drop my 26-year-old passion project wherein Omahans murder a Dracula.” Give it a spin and smile. Gotta love a month when I can start a column with back-to-back plugs for local filmmaking! Omahow about that?! Too much? It felt like too much. Anyway, good news: Film Streams ( is still run-

ning two of the films from its 13th annual Local Filmmakers Showcase at the Dundee Theater. From Sept. 23-29, you can see Peter O’Brien’s “Drawn Together,” which is the tale of a young boy’s adventures with a pup. From Oct. 14-20, you can spin “Pre-Existing” from Kevin Isaacson. It follows a husband’s quest to buy a life insurance policy for his wife. “Chapters” by Pinaki Modal was the third film in the series. It ran the last week of August and followed a retiree preparing to move back to India. They may not feature climactic, Spaghetti Works-set vampiric battles, but each sounds like its own fresh slice of local yum. I’m only doing this because it’s too thematically great not to mention: Alamo Drafthouse La Vista is doing a brunch screening on Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11 … of the final two “Twilight” movies. See? I got to bookend with vampire stuff! They call that a “Lestat Sandwich.” Absolutely no reason has been given as to why Alamo was like “Yes, 21 years after 9/11, we must celebrate our continued freedom by drinking bloody Marys while watching a fake baby so legendarily terrifying, stories are still told about it 10 years later.” I know there’s never a bad reason to get together for brunch and watch “Twilight” movies. We all do it. I am just thankful they did it this weekend so I had a second slice of bread for this Lestat Sandwich.!

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to film@ Check out Ryan on KVNO 90.7 on Wednesdays and follow him on Twitter @thereaderfilm.

September 2022



Found Him

AnswerS in next month’s issue or online at

— getting good at hide and seek — by Matt Jones



1. Addams of “The Addams Family”, as abbreviated




35. Rawls or Reed




36. Get rid of cryptocurrency

5. “Star Wars” role played by a new actor in 2018





15. Locale depicted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling


20. 1987 hit by Was (Not Was) with a “Flintstonesque” video [OK, there he is!] 23. “That was some time ___ ...” 24. Peak occurrence


29. 31.





31 35







42. Pricy bagel topping 37




34. “Cool,” but not as cool?

38. “Ye ___ Curiosity Shoppe”


44. How one might know a longtime friend

38 42

50 57

45. Liberty org. 46. Chat app that builds communities called “servers”


49 54



48 53


37. Quick photo developing time, once










24 29


47. Mandarin hybrid used in Asian cuisine



51. Photographer Diane 62



52. Trick move 53. Bill from the govt.










55. Earthenware cooking pots 56. Elicit by reasoning 58. Excited, with “up” 60. Great Lake or Canal

40. Tip of a boot 41. Type of booth

59. It may extend a lease or passport [That’s it? He’s not even trying!]

43. ABC hidden-camera show that was 65. Pore Strips brand once a segment on Piglet parent 66. ___ Jr. (Pixar’s lamp “Primetime” [Took “Young Sheldon” mascot) me a while, but found character Rosenbloom him!] 67. Work the land Judge’s highest score 48. Heap 68. No further than on “Dancing With the 49. Actor Simu Stars” 69. Laptop company 50. “Toy Story” character Town where Evel 70. Bygone U.S. gas Knievel attempted to station that’s still in 51. Nautical position jump across the Snake Canada River Canyon in 1974 54. Long, thin musical [Tough to spot, but 71. Girder composition instrument right there!] 72. Email button 57. Most-nominated Move around, as a female artist at the 73. Squares on calendars mannequin 2018 Grammys

25. Information start? 26.




16. Name that usually comes up in interviews with “SNL” alumni

19. “___ Vista Social Club” (1999 documentary)



14. First name in country music

18. Feline ___ (natural cat litter brand)



9. Duck that gets you down

17. “Yes, we’re ___”




11. Night vision?

61. “Oregon Trail” team

12. Jadedness

62. “Frozen” queen

1. “Upstart ___” (sitcom 13. Emulates a startled based on the life of steed Shakespeare) 21. Weekend-lover’s 2. Air filter acronym letters 3. Cain’s brother 4. Decaf brand 5. High-end cosmetics chain 6. Garfield’s foil 7. Provides, as aid 8. ___ a million 9. Nudged in the side 10. Promissory notes

22. “Chicken Little” turndown 26. NASCAR additive 27. “Whoa, hold it! That hurts!” 28. Yearn (for) 30. Sax classification 32. Gp. planning to add Sweden and Finland

63. All up in others’ business 64. “Terrible” stage © 2022 Matt Jones

AnsweR to last month’s “Almost Paradise” V A L O A G I L C E L E G S P F A L I E G U N N A N D E S K I R N O A R G S O N G I C E E A C M E N O O K











C O M I C S Garry Trudeau

JeffREY Koterba

Jen Sorensen






Setting the Stage

The Area’s Most Important Local Music Festival Is Also the Smallest STORY AND PHOTOS by Tim McMahan


o recap the 2022 music festival season:

The Maha Festival was a relative success, surpassing last year’s COVID-19-limited, single-day attendance of 6,400 with a remarkable two-day haul of 11,500 attendees (4,100 on Friday, 7,400 on Saturday, according to the good people who run the festival). The weather was grand, the music rocked, a good time was had by all.

crowd attended Saturday — not bad for a first-time effort. The weather was grand, the music rocked, a good time was had by all.

A number of local musicians have mentioned the situation to me. In this post-COVID music world, touring rock shows not only start earlier — around 8 p.m. vs. 9 or 10 p.m. — they’re also ending earlier. The lineups are being limited to just two bands. And in many (most) cases, the opening act is traveling with the headliner. I’m told this is not just an Omaha thing.

But at the same time as Outlandia, there was Petfest — a one-day festival Aug. 13 held in the parking lot behind the Petshop The Outlandia Festival, from evart gallery in Benson. erything I’ve heard, was a relative While Maha and Outsuccess. I didn’t attend and there landia boasted thouAdd to that the loss are no official attendance numbers Cat Piss is all about Omaha’s post-punk life. of what was arguably the sands of attendees, (that I’ve seen), though I’ve been Petfest pulled in only best venue for local intold around 4,000 were on hand tore into a set of the funnest, a few hundred, but in many ways die rock shows — O’Leaver’s Pub Friday night and a similar-sized tightest power pop you’re this tiny local music festival was — and you’ve got a problem on going to hear this side of more important than the two comyour hands. (Yes, O’Leaver’s is still The Faint. peting giants. open, and it serves one helluva cheeseburger, but it’s cut its live As the photos attest, I was at  Garage-rock maestro David rock shows to one per month.) Nance and band rocked Petfest, and the highlights were a new, funky, thick-beat many: Benson club The Sydney, sound that retained every booked by Zach Schmeider (the  Hip-hop raconteur Marcey bit of the glorious psychsame dude who booked Petfest), Yates kicked it with his clevrock riffage that has made is trying to fill the void. But I’m er flow. Telling the story of him a household name with not the only one who has noticed life in Nebraska rapped over the Jack White crowd. things just ain’t the same for local deep, funky beats, Yates is bands as they were before the pan No Wave post-punk goth an Omaha treasure. demic. rockers No Thanks proved  Rock ‘n’ roll survivor Darren again why they could have In the early 2000s, Omaha beKeen, aka Problems, unbutbeen, should have been, came internationally recognized toned his shirt and unfurled Nebraska’s next big thing, as an indie-music mecca, thanks in his nervous, frenetic, crackpowered by force-of-nature large part to the success of its local beat-fueled spoken-word frontman Castro Turf, aka indie bands that have gone on to spiels about why he loves Brendan Leahy, whose spazNo Thanks are No Wave become indie-music icons. dogs (among other things). rock preening conjured post-punk goth rockers. If the Maha Festival showcascomparisons to The Cramps’  Y o u n g es the newest national indie acts Lux Interior. up-and-coming and Outlandia celebrates past napower trio Cat And that’s just the tip of the tional indie legends, Petfest is the Piss, whose name spear. (If you missed it, most of the ultimate Omaha showcase of the says it all, brought acts are playing Lincoln Calling at best musical talent this state has the ‘90s-era goldthe end of September.) to offer. From that perspective, it’s en age of Omaha What those bands, along with also the most important festival we post-punk back have, because it directs a spotlight the rest of the Petfest performers, to life for a new on our local heroes, who these have in common is that they’re all generation. from right here — they’re all local days are having a hard time finding places to shine..  The madacts — and are among the most talcap rock-team ented bands Nebraska has to offer. Over The Edge is a monthly column from the future, And these days, it’s becoming hard- by Reader senior contributing writer Thirst Things er and harder to find a local stage Tim McMahan focused on culture, soFirst, dressed in for them to play on despite the ver- ciety, music, the media and the arts. (sort of) matchitable explosion of new venues be- Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@ Darren Keen, aka Problems, creates ing track suits, ing built or restored across the city. spoken-word spiels.


September 2022

FOOD TRUCK WORLD TOUR Sunday, September 25 Aksarben Village Learn more at

Paul & Annette Smith

Mike & Susan Lebens

Empowering immigrants to live with confidence and free from fear. September 2022