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Omaha Magazine

Illuminating Young Minds

Dec 10, 2014 08:00AM ● By David Williams
In my last column I wrote about the poor choice I made for my grandsons’ very first movie theater experience. Easton (5) and Barrett (3) were, it turns out, too young for the seemingly innocuous How to Train Your Dragon 2, it of the PG rating and all. I just plain blew that one.

But I like to think I’m now well on my way to redemption. Hold on. That’s taking too much credit, which should all go to—as is so often the case—my wife, Julie. It was her idea that has given me a shot at rehabilitating my tarnished reputation as a grandpa. And it’s a plan that revolves around a season subscription to The Rose.

A former life had me acting as a performing arts reviewer and I’ve sat in the dark scribbling notes hundreds of times over the last decade. Theater, opera, dance…you name it. But there was a part of me that flinched at the idea of more-more-more theater packed into my already impossible schedule.

Then again, I’ve always dreamed of the days to come when I would be able to introduce my grandkids to the arts. I pictured them joining me as we marveled at works from the likes of Shakespeare and Verdi. And I envisioned them one day learning from their grandpa the proper, cocked-eyebrow way to scrunch up their faces as we puzzled our way through such meatier, noggin’-scratchin’ fare as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Endgame.

Our most recent visit to the candy box that is The Rose had the boys mesmerized by their wonderful production of The Cat in the Hat. Before that we were awestruck by the vibrant, technicolor puppetry of another children’s classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Rose may be theater for young people, but the productions are top-notch at the venerated Omaha institution that is also known for its national touring troupe. Where else can you see an award-winning actor like Noah Diaz donning the iconic striped hat of Dr. Seuss’ whiskered wonder? Diaz is the kind of guy who knocked ‘em dead in an F-Troupe Collaborative staging of Edward Albee’s absurdist The Zoo Story a couple years ago, and now the young talent is “walking the boards” of The Rose, all of which speaks to the magnetic draw of one of the city’s most talented team of artists and staff—regardless of audience age.

Now we’re looking forward to the remainder of the season and such delights as The Brave Little Tailor and Bugsy Malone, Jr.

I like to think that Easton and Barrett will grow up at The Rose, whose programming and productions will take them all the way through to their college years.

The company’s Broken Mirror series will introduce them to complex issues that affect real girls in today’s real world. And the efforts of the Pride Players, which has received honors from such groups as The National Education Association and the American Alliance for Theater and Education, promise that they will be exposed to positive messages of inclusion that will foster respect and love for their friends who will one day come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Forget about my selfish desire for redemption. The Rose has programming and productions that will play an important role in the formative years of my grandkids and beyond.

And I’m glad that Julie and I will be there to share the experience when young minds are illuminated every time the lights dim at The Rose.


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