“Grounded” is the first play inside at the Omaha Community Playhouse since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the theater community.
The show is in the smaller Howard Drew Theatre and the theater’s space is structured to ensure social distancing. Seats are placed by twos and there is plenty of spacing between the paired seats. The stage space consists of a plexiglass rectangle about 20-feet by 12-feet.
The actress who stars in the production opens a door then shuts it when she enters the space. There is a single silver chair in the corner of the secure rectangle. She also had a small bottle of water in the corner. She moves the silver chair to various locations in her space.
The audience is informed by a recording that the show is one act with no intermission. The star of the one-woman show is Leanne Hill Carlson. I have seen her act many times. Her character is simply called “The Pilot.” That is the only name. She is wearing an Air Force blue flight suit.
Carlson is fantastic in her role as the fighter pilot who is grounded because she is pregnant. She is stationed in Las Vegas where she is flying drones over the Middle East. She is killing people at a great distance.
The director for “Grounded” is Kimberly Faith Hickman. Though there is only one actor in the show, many people were involved in the production. John Gibilisco is the sound designer for the production. This is not a musical but there is good music composed by Jay Hanson. Jim Othuse designed the unique safety set for the production. Lindsay Pape is the costume designer, and the always important stage manager is Steve Priesman.
“Grounded” was written by George Brant and premiered in 2013-2014. The play won several awards. The Pilot talks about her husband Eric, who you never see. “Most guys run when they find out I am an F16 pilot, a real rockstar,” The Pilot says, “but not Eric.”
She laments being put behind a desk. She is a pilot and very proud of it. There is much adult language in this show that deals with many emotions of The Pilot. You won’t see a better performance by an actress this season.
“Grounded” runs Thursday through Sundays at the Howard Drew Theatre at the Omaha Community Playhouse at 6915 Cass St. in Omaha. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturdays. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. ticket prices start at $36 and will vary by performance. You must wear a mask and stay socially distanced in the theatre.
For tickets, call the box office at 402-553-0800 or go online to omahaplayhouse.com. The show runs through Oct. 18.