Candy Project offers sweet idea in sour times | Omaha World-Herald

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The spirit of “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” is not dead.

In the face of economic recession, as established stage venues tighten their belts, four optimistic young actors are starting a new theater company.

The Candy Project will specialize in little-known musicals that star twenty somethings like its founders: Cathy Hirsch, Andy King, Amanda Miller and Dan Chevalier.

All are known to area community-theater fans. Chevalier, Hirsch and King appeared in “Into the Woods” at Bellevue Little Theatre in September. Hirsch and Miller did Broad-Street’s “Great American Trailer Park Musical” last July. Hirsch and King were in “A Christmas Carol” at the Omaha Community Playhouse last month.

Hirsch and King hatched the idea over coffees In October. Directors and producers had recently asked each what sort of musicals they’d like to see done.

“We found that both of us had self-edited our responses,” Hirsch said. “We were thinking to ourselves, ‘Well, I really want to do this show, but they’ll never actually do that here.’ ”

From there, she said, it was a short leap to asking, “Why can’t we put on these shows?”

They approached Miller and Chevalier And found enthusiastic partners.

The next hurdle was finding resources. “We want to start with a simple show, with not much set, that can be done anywhere,” King said. “That show, hopefully, will fund the next one.”

What will fund the first show – they hope – is a cabaret Sunday at 7 p.m. at the P.S. Collective, 6056 Maple St . The four will perform tunes from some of the musicals they hope to stage: “The Black Suits,” “Homemade Fusion,” “Ordinary Days,” “The Wild Party” and “I Love You Because.” Other selections will come from more widely known titles: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Assassins,” “The Last Five Years,” “tick . . . tick . . . BOOM!” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”

Tickets, $l5, can be reserved at 502-7832.

The four hope to stage their first full musical by late summer at the P.S. Collective. Located in Benson’s Pizza Shoppe, the P.S. Collective has become a staging area for a variety of art forms, including cabarets and theater. It is the adopted home of SkullDuggery Productions, for example.

Friends and family are helping the young performers, loaning sound equipment, building the set, providing publicity photos.

“This is a first step, a learning experience,” King said. “We’re just ready for whatever.”

As for the economic bogeyman, Hirsch offered a comeback:

“These times are when the most innovative stuff comes out.”

-Bob Fischbach

The Candy Project |Omaha City Weekly | January 15, 2009

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Some of Omaha ’s best young talents have come together to form The Candy Project, the area’s newest theater company.

“The idea behind The Candy Project is to deliver underdone, unpublished or never-seen-in-Omaha musical theatre pieces,” explained co-founder Cathy Hirsch. “A lot of the shows we are interested in were seen Off-Broadway and are just generally not staged very often, but we think are great pieces.”

Hirsch, along with Amanda Miller, Dan Chevalier and Andy King, are the instigators of what promises to be sassy, high-energy musical theater. Both Hirsch and Chevalier are nominated for Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards; she for Broadstreet’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and he for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s “Shakespeare in Hollywood .” King was seen most recently as Prince Charming in “Into the Woods” at the Bellevue Little Theatre and Miller, featured on these pages just two issues ago, is the creative force behind “Fat Girlfriend,” the musical set to premiere at the Shelterbelt this spring.

The Candy Project’s first fully produced effort is slated for this summer, but “The Candy Project – Guilty Pleasures: The Cabaret?” will deliver a taste of things to come. The cabaret, which runs one night only at the PS Collective on Sunday January 25th at 7:00 pm, features music from such works as “Title of Show,” “tick…tick…BOOM!” and “Homemade Fusion.”

Forming a company means a heavy immersion in disciplines that are largely unfamiliar to the 20-something cadre of self-proclaimed “theater geeks.”

“It’s one thing to just show up for rehearsals when you’re a face in a show,” said Chevalier, the popular comedic actor who is relatively new to musical theater. “It’s another thing altogether to be responsible for all the behind-the-scenes, top-to-bottom stuff that has to come together to make a company work.”

Thoughts of staging, sets, costumes, lighting and choreography may weigh heavily on their minds of late, but this vibrant group of some of the most sought after faces of the local stage never loses track of the fun they are having.

Perhaps Hirsch sums it up best. “I leave every rehearsal with my sides aching from laughing so hard.”

-David Williams

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Established in 2008, The Candy Project has specialized in bringing little-known works of musical theatre to Omaha. They are perhaps best known for their production of “[title of show]” for which they were awarded Outstanding Musical Production of the year (among other awards) by the Theatre Arts Guild of Omaha. Other past performances include “Disenchanted”, “Gutenberg! The Musical!”, “I Love You Because”, “ROOMS: A Rock Romance” and “Homemade Fusion”. They are the recipients of multiple awards and nominations from the Theatre Arts Guild of Omaha and the Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards.