Benson Theatre adapts “The Shining” for major stage production


Not many world premieres occur in Omaha, and even less happen in a small independent theater. However, the Benson Theatre is bucking the trend by premiering “The Shining” as the theater’s first major production. This innovative and bold work was created with Stephen King and his agents, to remain faithful to the original book.

“It is very different from the film version – although Kubrick’s film is widely considered one of the best horror movies ever made, it veered way off course from the source material,” said Jason Levering, director and script writer along with fellow writer Aaron Sailors.

King and his agents have worked with Levering throughout the process to write, direct and put on the already cast show. “The Shining” has also garnered a large amount of community support, which has helped save the Benson Theatre. The historic theater will benefit from all profits from the show.

The classic horror tale, first released in 1977, centers around the Torrance family and their stay at the Overlook hotel, based on King’s stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo. Originally King thought of “The Shining” as a tragedy play in five acts, but it instead turned into a five-part novel. The story follows the downward spiral of the Torrance family from a supernatural force, full of drama, memorable scenes and shocking violence.

The film adaption of “The Shining” has provided some of most striking images of the 20th century from Jack Nicholson’s manically smiling through of hacked door, to the obsessed “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

The production has a variety of help in advising the direction with Tom Elkins, director of the film “The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia”, and Kevin Lawler, producing artistic director of the Great Plains Theatre Conference and co-founder of the Blue Barn Theatre. Lighting design is being developed by Tommy Wilson, Charlie Wagner, and the rest of the team at JSAV. The set is being designed by  Kit Gough, who most recently designed “Seussical The Musical” at the Rose Theatre. Providing the artwork for “The Shining’s” marketing is artist Jeremy Caniglia, who has worked on book covers by authors such as William Peter Blatty (40th anniversary edition of “The Exorcist”), Douglas Clegg, Peter Straub, Max L Brooks, Anne Rice and of course, Stephen King.

This production will help revive the Benson Theatre, a nonprofit that fosters local artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and underserved populations around Benson. The theater and owners plan to have it serve as a shared community space for business education and artistic performance. The location in downtown Benson has the potential to bring thousands of new visitors to the Benson business district for over 500 events annually.

Keep an eye on future editions of the Gateway for sneak peeks into the production and rehearsals.