CFHS student stars as lead in two shows

Cedar Falls High School is filled with many talented actors who take several hours out of their days throughout many months to put on great performances for anyone willing to watch. The CFHS drama department has a reputation for its great performances and stupendous actors, and one actor in the drama department, junior John Nicol, has brought his talent and his love of theater and acting not only to the high school, but also to the Black Hawk Children’s Theater (BHCT).

Junior John Nicol plays Hamlet in the upcoming spring play. Photo by Jackie Norman.

Junior John Nicol plays Hamlet in the upcoming spring play. Photo by Jackie Norman.

Nicol is currently attending rehearsals for two plays at once: the CFHS drama department’s production of “The Hamlet Thrill-ma-geddon,” directed by Michelle Rathe, and BHCT’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” directed by Daniel and Rosemary Gast and directed and choreographed by Anita Ross. He plays Hamlet in the CFHS production, and Charlie Brown in the BHCT production, both being lead roles.

Securing the role of Charlie Brown at BHCT was fairly simple for Nicol. The audition process required three separate auditions: one for dancing, one for singing and one for acting.

The dancing audition involved learning a simple dance in a group, and then performing it to the choreographer. For the singing portion, the actors had to sing excerpts from the show that were announced and prepared before the audition. Finally, the acting audition involved acting out small scenes from the show with others at the audition, trying out different characters so the directors could figure out who would best fit each role.

“I felt really good about my audition, so I felt like I was definitely a strong competitor. However, I saw a lot of talent at the audition and wasn’t sure whether I would get it or not until the director called me and asked me to play the part,” Nicol said.

Having two lead roles at once, Nicol said time management is the most difficult part of theater for him. CFHS play rehearsals are every school day from 3:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays), and BHCT rehearsals are almost every day from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In addition, once tech and costumes are added to the show and performance dates draw near, BHCT will practice every night. Nicol said, “I literally go straight from one rehearsal to the next. Juggling both shows, homework and a social life is really difficult, but I’m trying to make it work out the best I can.”

Playing the role of Charlie Brown is somewhat of a special experience for Nicol, as his father played the same character in the same play 35 years ago. It gives Nicol a strong connection to his father and the role. However, Nicol said, “The most challenging thing with this character is making sure I seem young enough, while still maintaining my dancing, acting and singing abilities.”

Nicol particularly enjoys “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” because he believes that the cast is “amazing,” creating a happy atmosphere and putting together a strong show. He also likes the show because it creates an enjoyable world, and although Charlie “doesn’t seem to get much of the good in it,” he stays hopeful through it all. “It really shows how hope shines through, despite all the bad things that might happen,” Nicol said.

Public performances for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” are Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., March 1 at 2 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m. The show will be performed at the Hope Martin Theater in the Waterloo Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10.

“The thing I want to tell potential audience members is to come see it, because it’s going to be amazing. The thing I would want to tell people who are [already] going to come see it for sure is have fun,” Nicol said.

Nicol has participated in theater since he was eight years old, creating a total of eight years performing. He loves theater so much that he plans to make it his career in the future, his ideal job being performing in a musical on Broadway. Nicol said, “What I really love about acting and theater is that it gives me an opportunity to not have to worry about anything going on in my life and completely indulge myself in the production. It’s sort of an escape from reality, you might say.”


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