Everyone has felt the joy of watching theater. The stage lights come up and a character emerges to begin a story. The music moves the soul and the characters take the audience on a journey. While Marian has its own phenomenal theater program, junior Emma Johnson has taken her theater skills into the world of local community theaters.
Her journey in performing arts began when she was young. “I started doing performing arts when I was about 3 years old; I started with ballet. I began doing the Nutcracker in kindergarten, and I did Nutcracker almost every year until I was in fifth grade,” Johnson said. The Nutcracker is a ballet production performed during the winter season. Johnson performed the roles of caterpillar, toy soldier, toy block and a lamb understudy throughout the years.
Going from ballet to theater was a simple feat for Johnson. “When I was in fifth grade, one of my friends approached me at my brother’s hockey game and said ‘Hey, you know what’s happening tomorrow? An audition for the “Wizard of Oz” at the Playhouse. You know what you should do? You should audition,’” Johnson said. She ended up auditioning and singing “Happy Birthday” for the directors of the show. She was cast as a munchkin, thus her theater experience began.
In high school alone, Johnson has logged more than 1,300 hours in community theater. In her whole life, she has been cast in more than 40 shows. Currently, Johnson is rehearsing for the show “Bold Girls” at Brigit St. Brigit Theater Company. It is a play set in 1990 West Belfast about three “war widows.” Catch the show from Feb. 15 to March 3 with tickets priced at $25 on every day but Thursday., when tickets are $10.
With all her experience, Johnson was elected to the Theater Arts Guild Board of Directors, a board that helps communicate between theaters in Omaha. “I help develop their website, and I help announce different shows. We put together different events that celebrate community theater arts,” Johnson said. She is the only teen board member to have ever been elected.
The honor of joining the Theater Art Guild is also accompanied with many awards. The most recent was for her role of Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” at the Lofte Community Playhouse in Manley, NE, approximately 40 miles south of Omaha. She was awarded the Best Young Actor/Actress in a Play in the Omaha area by Broadway World on Jan. 10.
Johnson has dedicated her life to the stage, but she never loses sight of why she loves it. Her favorite part of acting is “being able to express [herself] because sometimes it’s difficult to find those words spontaneously in daily life, but when you find a character who can express that for you, you can put your heart and soul into it,” Johnson said. Acting is not just a hobby, but a part of Johnson’s character. She does not need stage lights to remind her of the joy of acting.
Outside of acting, Johnson keeps herself busy with an internship at Gallup, Girls who Code classes, Mystery Code Society, piano lessons, dance lessons and Memories for Kids — an organization that helps kids who have have parents with stage IV cancer make lasting memories.
On top of her acting, Johnson stays involved inside the Marian community. She is involved in FBLA, Robotics Club, French Club, Faith In Action Team, Big Sisters, Recruitment team and Varsity Speech to name a few. On top of all of that, she is also a class officer and mathlete. “I love FBLA because it gives me a chance to develop the knowledge I need to be a successful entrepreneur,” Johnson said.
Johnson has also stayed involved in Marian fine arts throughout her time in high school. She played roles in Marian’s productions of “Singin in the Rain”, “Hello, Dolly”, “Gone the Rainbow, Return the Dove” and “A Midsummer’s Nights Dream.” Along with musicals and plays, Johnson was a member of Marian’s show choir Momentum in their 2017-18 season and is currently playing in the bass in the Momentum band.