» Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller is a great ambassador for Omaha, especially during his group’s national musical tours each Christmas season.
“There is no place quite like it here,” he told the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. “I have traveled all over the place, and I love it here.”
The article said: “Omaha isn’t often mistaken for hip hot spots like Seattle, San Francisco or Austin, Texas. But the largest city in Nebraska has some cultural heroes, and they’re not in a rush to leave the city anchored in America’s Corn Belt.”
The writer mentioned investor Warren Buffett and “indie rock icon Conor Oberst and his uber-cool label Saddle Creek Records.”
Mannheim Steamroller rolls into its hometown for shows at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater on Dec. 23.
Besides the Omaha-based Mannheim tour spanning 28 years, the Omaha Community Playhouse for decades has sent out national tours of its musical version of “A Christmas Carol.” That is through the playhouse’s professional arm, the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.
» “Billy Elliot the Musical,” at the Orpheum through Sunday, travels with a trio of Billys who play the prized role after intensive training at “Billy Camp.”
It’s a demanding role for guys ages 12 to 14 — acting, singing, dancing, flying on a cable — and too much for one kid to perform each day, no matter how talented. A spokeswoman said one takes the stage, one stands by in case of illness or injury and one gets the night off.
“It’s happened in the past,” she said, “that a Billy got sick and walked offstage, and the standby walked on at a moment’s notice.”
With music by Elton John, the Tony Award-winning show is the story of a British coal miner’s son who wants to be a ballet dancer, though his father wanted him to be a boxer. Tanner Pflueger of Norfolk, Neb., played the role of Billy in London and on Broadway.
Because the Cornhuskers are playing in the Big Ten championship game tonight, the show is offering a “Saturday football special” for today’s 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances. A limited number of tickets are 40 percent off if you call 402-345-0606 and use the promo code “GOBILLY.”
» About 150 people gathered in Omaha to mourn skateboarder Reginald “Reggie” Destin, 42, killed by an alleged drunken driver in Chicago.
Destin, a 1988 Burke High School graduate, had lived in Chicago most of his adult life but kept his friends in Omaha and visited regularly. He began skateboarding as an Omaha middle-schooler and turned it into a way of life — owning a skateboard shop in Chicago and then traveling as a representative of skate companies.
“He was so successful,” said Chris Mackiewicz of Omaha, who attended the memorial last Saturday at the Brothers Lounge, 3812 Farnam St., as well as Destin’s funeral at a packed church on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. “To have your favorite hobby also become your occupation and make a living at it is beyond wonderful.”
Besides being an expert skateboarder with a signature “wall ride,” gliding horizontally along a vertical wall, he was known for his smile and easygoing personality.
“He was a wonderful person,” Mackiewicz said. “Everyone said that he had a way of bringing people together.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that he had left a bar with friends about 2 a.m. on Oct. 19 and was skateboarding to his car when a vehicle struck him. Prosecutors said the driver, who was arrested, had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal driving limit; he carried no insurance and had a previous DUI conviction.
Destin, who was single, was of Haitian descent, wore dreadlocks and referred to himself as an “elder skatesman.”
Mourners in Omaha, Mackiewicz said, donated about $3,000 in his name to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
» Every writer tries to avoid embarrassing typos, but they occasionally happen — sometimes causing smiles.
On Black Friday last week, Omaha attorney Roger Holthaus bought an antenna and converter for his TV. From page 21 of the instruction manual: “An estimated 28 million people, or approximately 10 percent of the population of the U.S., are dead or hard of hearing.”
On some words, computerized spell check won’t help.
» Cali Page of Child Saving Institute will celebrate her 12th anniversary with the agency on 12-12-12.
Sandy Heather of CSI said Cali, 40, is married, with five children and a grandchild, and has been “a bright star” as a development assistant. She also collects gifts for children in the agency’s Substitute Santa program.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1132, firstname.lastname@example.org