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‘Heaven Come Home’ To Be Performed On UNO Campus  

“Heaven Come Home,” a new musical in development, will be presented as an in-person staged reading on Saturday, January 15 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Weber Fine Arts Building, located on the University of Nebraska Omaha campus. This reading is a collaboration between UNO Theatre and Megan Ann Rasmussen Productions


“Heaven Come Home” features a wide array of musical styles such as Broadway, pop, R&B, soul and rap. When grief turns their lives upside down, three families meet at a grief recovery session facilitated by an angelic messenger with an agenda of her own. Upon their return home, will their wish of having just “One More Day”  with their loved ones help them find peace amidst their hurt?  Grief is real but so is the power of love and second chances.


“Heaven Come Home” was created by Omaha natives; with book by Dani Cleveland, music & lyrics by Justin Payne, additional lyrics and “One More Day” by Julie Baker. Cleveland is a singer, songwriter and actor who recently appeared in “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus” at the Rose Theater. Payne has sung in venues from Italy to China. Cleveland and Payne are also collaborating on “Little Brown Boy,” a new musical about gentrification. 


When Cleveland and Payne first conceived “Heaven Come Home” in December 2019, neither writer was prepared to create a show that spoke with a community experiencing loss firsthand—especially amidst a global pandemic. Payne was able to see how this musical’s theme of grief can resonate, especially during trying times. “The more we worked on it, I realized that grief is one of those universal threads that bind us all together…We can all relate in some way. “


Cleveland discusses the many times she attended grief recovery meetings during the show’s writing process. “The theme of ‘One More Day’ kept occurring, even from people we didn’t know personally…” That theme, about spending “One More Day” with a departed friend or relative, became an anchor for the show’s narrative, and would even become the show’s anthem. 


UNO Instructor of Musical Theatre Hal France heard the musical and contacted Payne. “ I recognized the potential of this show and its talented creative team and saw a great opportunity for our students to be part of its development.” 


This reading will be directed by Denise Chapman with music direction by France, both of whom serve on UNO faculty. The 2 p.m. reading will feature a cast of professional actors from the Omaha area, including Leanne Carlson, Matt Bailey, Nik Whitcomb, Zhomontee Watson, Isabel Gott, Daron Tyree, Camille Metoyer Moten and Doriette Jordan. The 5 p.m. reading will feature students from UNO Theatre, including Kylah Calloway, Allen Griffin, Asa Sinachack, Cricket Holder, Isabell Gott, John Lim, Yasmine Elrefaie and Alexis McDade. 


Admission is free to both readings, which includes a pre-show reception with coffee and refreshments. Masks are required for all audience members. All UNO COVID-19 guidelines will be followed for this event.  For more information, please visit

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Omaha Star

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