What: Brigit St. Brigit Theatre stage drama.
Where: First Central Congregational Church, 421 S. 36th St.
When: Tonight through Nov. 17. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Added 2 p.m. Sunday matinees Nov. 3 and 17 only.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 senior citizens, military and students.
Information: 402-502-4910 or bsbtheatre.com.
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Joseph Miloni recently marked the 40th anniversary of his first role in Omaha community theater: Joseph Surface in Sheridan's “The School for Scandal” at the old Rudyard Norton Theatre at 10th and Jackson Streets.
He's appeared in dozens of shows since and designed costumes for dozens more at the Omaha Community Playhouse from 1985-2003. But caring for his aging mother, who recently moved to St. Joseph Villa, had kept Miloni away from theater since 2008.
Now he's back as Dr. Sloper, the socially prominent and protective father of a plain and shy daughter in the Brigit St. Brigit Theatre's production of “The Heiress.” The show, set in 1850 New York City, opens tonight at First Central Congregational Church, 36th and Harney Streets.
Miloni is remembered for such roles as Squire Weston in “Tom Jones” in 1986, Honoré in “Gigi” in 1989 and George in “La Cage aux Folles” in 1997, all at the Omaha Community Playhouse. He's also done a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and was Captain Hook in “Peter Pan” at the Emmy Gifford Children's Theater in 1984.
He designed costumes for “The Heiress” at the Playhouse in March 1998.
“I wished I could do the role then,” Miloni said last week. “It suits my personality. But I couldn't do that and the costumes at the same time. Now, after not being in a show for a while, I'm enjoying it all. It's a challenge.”
The play is based on the 1880 novel “Washington Square” by Henry James. A 1949 movie version, which won four Oscars, starred Olivia de Havilland as the heiress, Montgomery Clift as the suitor and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper.
Director Cathy Kurz said it's easy to play Dr. Sloper as a cape-twirling villain and the heiress' suitor, Maurice, as a sleazy, one-dimensional opportunist. Similarly, the heiress can be depicted as a sweet little victim who suddenly sees the light and becomes a villain.
“It has more depth than that,” Kurz said of the 1947 play. “You have to fight against stereotype. They're all really multifaceted, and you want to bring that out without having them bounce from one attitude to another.”
Kurz chose to perform the play in the original sanctuary of First Central Congregational Church, now called Memorial Hall, because its gothic feel, high ceilings, arches, dark-stained wood and mullioned windows suggest the upper-crust world of Dr. Sloper. It was built from 1917 to 1920.
“It feels like we're being taken back in time,” she said.