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Community Players holding show to recognize artistic director

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Jamie Ulmer

Jamie Ulmer, Community Players managing artistic director, sits on stage at the theater in downtown Beatrice. An upcoming show, “The Last 25 Years,” will recognize Ulmer starting at Community Players 25 years ago.

Community Players will take a stroll down memory lane this weekend with a one-night-only show reflecting on 25 years of performances.

The Saturday concert event, “The Last 25 Years” is in recognition of managing artistic director Jamie Ulmer working at the theater for 25 years, and will feature one song from each season he’s been with Community Players, performed by the original artist from the shows Ulmer put on.

“It’s a celebration of the last 25 years of me being here at Community Players,” Ulmer said. “But beyond that it’s a celebration of really all the work that has gone into the last 25 years for the organization and all of the growth that we’ve experienced and just all of the dedication that hundreds of people have given over the years to really see this place grow and thrive.”

Performers are coming from Beatrice and Lincoln as well as some returning from outstate Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.

Ulmer graduated college from Doane University and worked in Lamar, Colo. for the area newspaper. He then came to Beatrice in 1997 where he took two jobs, one at the Daily Sun and the other at Community Players.

“I actually interviewed for both jobs on the same day and was able to work out an arrangement that enabled me to work for both places,” he recalled. “That arrangement worked for two years until we were able to increase the salary here. When the theater had grown its finances a little bit I was able to no longer have to work somewhere else and was able to really dedicate myself to the full position.”

Since starting his role, the regular season has grown from three shows to six mainstage shows and three youth shows. There are currently three full-time and one part-time staff member in addition to other paid contract employees, and annual attendance at Players’ events is over 8,000.

Ulmer oversees day-to-day operations at the theater and is responsible for the overall artistic vision and guidance of programming for the theater. He has directed over 100 productions at the theater and has appeared on-stage in numerous productions as well.

Ulmer said the biggest change in his 25 years at Community Players was in technology.

“Not a single piece of electronic equipment in this room was here 25 years ago; a lot of it wasn’t even invented yet, specifically our lighting technology,” he said. “We have these moving lights that at the time cost $50,000-$100,000 each, now you can pick them up for $2,000. From a production side, that’s been one of the biggest changes.

“The audience expectations of shows has also risen. With the accessibility of being able to see touring Broadway shows and being able to watch shows at home online, the audience's expectation of what a show should do from a visual standpoint and technical things has just grown so much.”

Ulmer declined to pinpoint a single show from the last 25 years to declare his favorite, but said he has fond memories of them all.

“There have been so many shows over the years that stand out for various factors, either overcoming technical hurdles or really seeing performers grow during the process,” he said. “There’s all kinds of things that make shows stand out, not just because it was my favorite script. Every show has something about it that makes it memorable.”

Jean Spilker, one of the volunteers organizing the event, said it’s exciting to see so many past performers returning to the stage in Beatrice.

“It will be thrilling to experience them all together on one stage,” she said. “It is such an appropriate way to honor and thank Jamie for his years in our community and for the impact he has had, not only on the theater, but on the city of Beatrice, Southeast Nebraska, and the arts in general.”

Tickets are $25-$50 and can be purchased online at, at the box office at 412 Ella St., or by calling 402-228-1801.

The box office is open weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performances. Reservations can also be made by calling (402) 228-1801 or online at


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