SNAP! Productions continues its twenty-fifth anniversary celebration this March with a revival performance of “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.”
“Elegies” was originally a hit for SNAP! in 1999. The show is a celebration of lives lost to AIDS told in free-verse monologues with a blues, jazz and rock score. Inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, “Elegies” is a series of monologues from the point of view of about two dozen individuals who died as a result of contracting AIDS from a wide variety of sources. It is interspersed with songs that represent the feelings of friends and family members dealing with the loss. The music is by Janet Hood. Lyrics and additional text are by Bill Russell, who is best known for writing the lyrics and book for the Tony nominated musical “Side Show.”
SNAP! Productions was initially formed in 1993 as a support group for the Nebraska AIDS Project (or “NAP”). “SNAP” is an acronym for “Support Nebraska AIDS Project.” Once NAP became firmly established SNAP!’s mission evolved into presenting cutting edge theatre promoting AIDS awareness and diversity tolerance.
The original production of “Elegies” was at the old Dundee Dinner Theatre, prior to joining the Shelterbelt Theatre at their current location. Only one of the actors from the original cast is in the revival: Tom Lowe. Artistic Director Michal Simpson says SNAP! chose the show for its silver anniversary season because it is such an integral part of the theater’s original mission. “At the time we were supporting NAP (Nebraska Aids Project). HIV was just becoming a known thing and we were trying to educate about it.”
Simpson’s thinking has evolved during rehearsals. “Going into this, I thought ‘Elegies’ would be a historical piece, a piece about our origins. But despite all our loss and grief, there are still so many connected to this. It is still affecting people and taking lives today. For me this show is as moving and relevant as it ever was.”
“Elegies” is directed by Michal Simpson and Echelle Childers, with music direction by Kate Schrader. Schrader was active in Omaha theater for years until moving to California over twenty years ago. She recently moved back to Omaha and is excited to be back on stage. An exceptional cast includes Mary Kelly, Connie Lee, Don Harris, Scott and Connie Fowler, Sara Planck, Jon Roberson, Fred Goodhew and Nichole Hawkins who are performing monologues. This is a diverse cast which has brought many newcomers to the theatre. Jennifer Gilg, Emily Jane Moore, Joey Galda and Jerry Van Horn make up the quartet that sings throughout the show. Ben Adams is designing and building the set with Josh Mullady doing lighting design. Brian Callaghan will be running the lights in the booth and JoAnn Goodhew is Stage Manager.
On a personal note, I do not think the origin story of SNAP! Productions can be told without mentioning two giants of local theater; Scott Jackman and Billy Bohannon. Both were lost to us far too young, and both will be in my thoughts when I attend “Elegies.”
SNAP! Productions production of “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens” will run from March 9 through March 31. Curtain is 8 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Curtain on Sunday nights is 6 pm (there is no show on Easter Sunday, April 1). Talk backs are scheduled for the second and third Sunday performances. There will be a TAG Night Out on Wednesday, March 7. The house opens thirty minutes before curtain. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students, seniors and TAG members. Throwback Thursday shows are only $20 for everyone. Tickets are available for purchase online at: http://www.snapproductions.com/box-office/. Questions? Contact the theater by e-mailing them at email@example.com, or by calling the box office at (402) 341-2725. SNAP! Productions is located at 3225 California Street in Omaha.