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Arts events: An old-fashioned radio show, online Joslyn classes and a watercolor trip

Arts events: An old-fashioned radio show, online Joslyn classes and a watercolor trip

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Things are opening up in the Omaha area, but many of us still need or want to stay close to home for a while. Here are some arts events that could be a welcome distraction.

Brigit St. Brigit Theatre Co. is adapting its reading series, Get Lit!, to the coronavirus era.

The staff created the series to offer audiences something to ponder when the theater wasn’t producing shows. Over several years, it featured readings of book passages, short stories, poetry and plays at The Bookworm.

Now it will return as an old-fashioned weekly radio broadcast, performed live with actors, sound effects, music and singers. In keeping with the theater’s mission, all actors and technical staff will be paid, providing help to artists during a difficult time.

The first offering will be Scott Kurz’s stage adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in June. It will be divided into three episodes over three weeks. Times and location of the broadcasts will be announced soon.

Looking for art education? Joslyn has online short courses

Joslyn Art Museum is offering online short courses over the next few weeks.

“Reaction and Resistance in Postwar Art” will meet Tuesday and June 2 and 9. Instructor Karin Campbell, the museum’s Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, will discuss issues such as the backlash over abstract impressionism and its impact on art in the mid-20th century, and recent issues such as racism, gender disparity and politics in art.

“Native American Modernism” is scheduled for June 16, 23 and 30. Instructor Annika Johnson, associate curator of Native American art, will examine how Native American art of the early and mid-20th century can enhance an understanding of American modernism.

Classes are limited to 20 people, and you must register in advance at the museum website. The cost is $42.50 for Joslyn members and $50 for nonmembers. Each session runs from 5 to 6 p.m.

Audio musical about romance, Mars is streaming at Playhouse

Omahan Tim Vallier wrote “One Way to Mars,” a musical that’s like a radio show, as his dissertation for a doctorate in composition.

It’s a modern retelling of “The Daemon Lover,” an old Scottish ballad about a couple who make a marriage pact that takes a twist.

The piece had its streaming premiere Friday on the Omaha Community Playhouse website as part of its “Dinner and Some Musical Theatre at Home” series.

Vallier’s wife, Mallory, wrote the book and the lyrics for the 75-minute musical.

It’s the story of Natalie, a neuroscientist, wife and mother, who is invited by her former lover to join him on a trip to Mars. They would be the first two humans to visit the planet. There’s no coming back, so she would have to leave her family behind.

The Valliers started on it while living in New York, where Tim was studying for his Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“We figured out the main beats of the story and figured out the songs over several years until we thought we had a good chunk of material,” he said.

They moved back to Omaha, and, about a year ago, he got people together to perform it for the recording that was required for his dissertation.

He defended the dissertation successfully last fall.

When he approached Playhouse Artistic Director Kimberly Faith Hickman about streaming it online this spring, she was enthusiastic. It fits perfectly with other online offerings being rolled out while the theater is closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vallier has written music for several Playhouse productions, including “Sweat,” “Native Gardens” and “A Raisin in the Sun.”

He also has worked on Playhouse show visuals for musician Billy McGuigan, and he created the background for the lines and lyrics that are projected as “One Way to Mars” streams.

The music for his show is a marriage of several genres.

“It’s a mix between classical, electronic music and modern musical theater,” he said.

The cast includes Leanne Hill Carlson, Steve Krambeck, Tom Gjere, Christi Leupold and Dustin Smith. Daena Schweiger directs.

If you’re up for a trip, visit a watercolor exhibit in northern Iowa

The 153rd annual traveling exhibition of the American Watercolor Society was supposed to premiere in New York City.

Coronavirus took care of that.

Now its first public viewing will be in Le Mars, a northern Iowa town about two hours from Omaha that’s known as the home of Blue Bunny ice cream.

The American Watercolor Society is considered to be one of the most prestigious art organizations in the world. Members have included Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and Charles Birchfield.

The free exhibit, from June 12 through July 31 at the Le Mars Art Center, will feature about 40 paintings selected from more than 1,000 submissions. Participants compete for about $45,000 in prizes.

You can find exhibit hours, guidance on safety precautions and other information on the center’s website. Private viewing appointments are available.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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