In its eighty fifth season, the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) continues to offer an outstanding array of plays, musicals, and unique adult and child educational programming towards achieving its mission of enriching the Omaha community through great theatre.
The Omaha Community Playhouse features two state-of-the-art performance spaces. The Howard Drew Theatre is a “black box” theatre. Depending on the production’s specific scenic/stage requirements, the flexible risers allow for audiences of between 200 and 230. The intimate surroundings are ideal for more progressive, avant garde scripts.
The newly renovated 601-seat Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre is a proscenium theatre featuring comfortable, stadium style seating, advanced visual technology and a new and much improved sound system – a perfect environment to present its larger productions.
John Gibilisco, Master Electrician and Resident Sound Designer believes strongly that his role towards delivering on the OCP’s mission of enrichment is to ensure that all theatre patrons experience a rich, fully immersive sound production. What began as a volunteer opportunity in the late 1970s grew into a passion for creating powerful sound effects and sound systems for all patrons. A generous donation by longtime Playhouse supporters Howard and Rhonda Hawks allowed Gibilisco to realize a ten year vision of updating the Mainstage theatre’s sound system.
Part of Gibilisco’s belief of delivering powerful sound effects and sound is ensuring that even those patrons that may have difficulty hearing or seeing the production are still able to enjoy a fully immersive experience. Gibilsco worked with Tim Burkhart, Midwest Sound & Lighting, Inc. to install a Listen Technologies Stationary Infrared Assistive Listening system as part of the renovation for its patrons. “The Stationary Infrared system was selected because there is no need for worrying about frequency interference and can also be used to provide audio description to patrons who have a visual impairment,” noted John Gibilsco. In the past the OCP had used a local radio celebrity to handle audio description but plans now include training some of the volunteer actors to provide the audio description.
“The Listen system works really well for us because we can offer services for both our patrons needing assistive listening as well as those who need audio description,” says John Gibilsco. “We can have the volunteer providing a description of the performance anywhere, and the audio description can be along with the patrons who need assistive listening. It’s really versatile and very useful.”