This piece is the first in a series showcasing Rose students past and present.
When you bring your child to The Rose, you never know where the experience will lead. They may sing their way to a role on Broadway, publish a Tony Award-winning play, or use their theater skills to help others find a better life. Or maybe the skills they learn in the theater will lead them to a role as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
An arts education teaches kids to use their imagination to innovate and problem-solve in ways that transcend the stage and lead to a successful life. Here’s proof.
The following blog post is written by Nik Whitcomb. Nik is no stranger to The Rose stage (he’s appeared in a number of Rose shows throughout the years, including Honk!, Pete the Cat, A Child’s Garden of Verses and more). Today he is finding success in his professional theater career and has appeared on stage in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and more. But before he was a theater professional, he was a Rose kid. Here is his story.
The Rose is the most important institution of my entire life. I literally grew up in the building and think about my experiences there fondly every single day.
When I was in first grade there was a kid in my class named Tyler Hogan (also a Rose kid) that gave the BEST book reports. One day he brought brochures into class from the Rose and everything clicked; if I took classes at the Rose I would also give amazing book reports. I rushed home to my mom, begged to be in a class, and the rest is history. It soon became second nature for me to be in the building. I didn’t think twice about what I was doing after school. The Rose was the only, and best, option.
I was a very shy child when I first began taking classes at the Rose, but I always had an extremely active imagination. As an only child I was constantly having to entertain myself and I didn’t mind that at all. I would line up all of my action figures and spend hours acting out different scenes. All of this activity ceased in front of others. I would get very nervous and become almost mute. Being in a place where we were encouraged to play make believe changed all of this for me. It showed me that there were kids like me that liked to make up stories and also adults that weren’t afraid to look silly in front of others. The Rose provided me with a safe space to be myself and this was crucial for me as I went on to higher levels of education.
The Rose provided me with a safe space to be myself and this was crucial for me as I went on to higher levels of education.
I honestly didn’t know that being an actor was a thing you could actually do with your life. I mean I knew that people did it, but in my mind it was a select group of special people that were chosen at birth. Even after spending almost everyday inside of a theater taking classes and doing shows I still never thought that I could actually make theater a career. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I had to decide what I was doing with my life that I chose to major in theatre and vowed to only work in theatre as long as I could actually survive. During my collegiate career, it became apparent to me that I loved so many other facets of theatre besides acting so I did my best to learn about as many sides of it as I could. The many opportunities that I was able to have at the Rose molded me into a well-rounded artist and I would not be who I am today without the support that the staff has consistently showered me with over the years.
The life skills that come from being in the arts are almost more valuable than the art itself.
The life skills that come from being in the arts are almost more valuable than the art itself. The Rose taught me to be dependable and most of all kind to others. I also learned to ask for what I need on my life journey from The Rose which is a skill that was made very prevalent when I was able to create a position for myself as the artistic fellow in the 2015-2016 season. Through my theatrical training I have learned to stand my ground and speak with confidence. This skill is the only thing sustaining me on my new journey outside of Omaha as a freelancing artist. I am currently living in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN) and have already had a lot of success in my short time because of my training and the dedication to the craft that the Rose instilled in me.
Another incredible thing that I learned during my time at the Rose is the power that theater has to change lives. I was lucky enough to be in productions of Young, Gifted, and Black and Pride Players which showed me that theater is so much more than just fun. Theatre is a place that allows people of all backgrounds, races, sexes, orientations, or whatever else to tell their story and celebrate with those like and different from them. I also got to touch many lives through the education department at the Rose and work with young people to help them find and use their voices in a constructive way. We live in a crazy world, now more than ever, but my time at the Rose showed me that I have the power to make a difference in the lives of many and that is what I hope to do from now until the end of my time.
To those that are just beginning your journey at the Rose, keep going. Push for what you want and don’t give up on yourself. Be kind to those around you, build strong connections, and cherish as much of this time as you can. To those on the fence about becoming a Rose kid, what’s your hold up?! Be proud of who you are and go to the Rose to shout it from the rooftops! You never know where it may take you.
Be proud of who you are and go to the Rose to shout it from the rooftops! You never know where it may take you.