“True Colors” shows true Omaha, Broadway talent


July 15th, 2011

Omaha, NE – All this week at the Holland Performing Arts Center, local talent teamed up with Broadway stars to bring an Omaha audience the best of Broadway for one night only.

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This week, the Holland Performing Arts Center was turned into a type of Broadway school. Its curriculum is a week-long, intensive training session with teachers straight off Broadway. The final test is a Saturday performance of some of Broadway’s greatest songs as part of True Colors: the 2011 Broadway Dreams Tour.

Young performers practicing "True Colors" at the Holland Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“These kids in Omaha they really know who they are. I can’t quite explain it,” said Director, Richard Jay-Alexander.

Jay-Alexander is a Broadway veteran from New York. He’s worked with the best of best, like Bette Midler and Ricky Martin, and worked on essential Broadway plays such as Les Miserables, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.

“New York people are still shy to perform, and these kids are going from one class to another belting and I’m like, ‘Oh my lord!’,” said Jay-Alexander.

Listen now to “Requiem”

“We strive to keep it as positive, as fun and just creative and safe as possible. Because not every learning environment in the arts is that way,” said Tyler Hanes, a Broadway professional working with the performers of True Colors.

Chelsey Hill, Veronica Benton, Alec Brown, and Joey Galda practicing "Requiem". (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“But, with the artists here and with what we bring to the table, and if nothing else, we want them to walk away feeling great about themselves,” Hanes said, “and feeling like they have learned something new, and can take what we’ve taught to let them move them forward in their own journey.”

Listen now to Tyler Hanes and Sarah Pfiefer perform “Tonight”

Walking along the hallway, I saw four young girls practice a dance routine in a rehearsal room in front of a large mirrored wall. One dancer worried about her ability to put together dancing, singing, and performing.

Soon after, Hanes stepped in the room and spoke with them, assuring them they were, in fact, not only dancers, but singers. With new confidence and Hanes by their side, they practiced their rendition of “Dancing Man.”

Broadway performer Tyler Hanes rehearses with young dancers. (Photo by Lindsey Peterson)

“I’ve just learned to push myself I never thought I could do,” said dancer Caylie O’Meara. “I didn’t think I was a singer before I got here, but this week, already it’s the fourth day, and I’ve learn to do different things like sing and act.”

O’Meara’s enthusiasm for the True Colors program was echoed by the other three girls.

“There’s so much of it, so much of it…the variety of talent that’s here and the undiscovered talent,” said Hanes.

“I live in LA, but you go to places like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and you expect the talent to be mind-blowing, I’ve never been to Nebraska before, and the talent that’s here is above and beyond what I’ve ever worked with before.”

Director Richard Jay-Alexander said Saturday’s audience will not be disappointed. The show, he said, is as authentic to Broadway as possible, all the way down to lighting.

“The stakes are much higher,” said Jay-Alexander. “It’s going to be really top notch, a night of show stoppers of the highest caliber and I think the audience is going to be a little stunned. I’m a little stunned!”

True Colors runs Saturday night only at 7:30 in the Kiewit Concert Hall the Holland Performing Arts Center and will feature songs from Broadway staples such as Hairspray, A Westside Story, Les Miserables, and Legally Blonde.

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