TACA Arts Insider with Karol Omlor

TACA Arts Insider with Karol Omlor

Which play or musical have you seen the most, and if you had to pick a favorite, which one stands out the most to you?

Lauren Embrey and Karol Omlor

Theater is my passion. In general, I like plays more than musicals though.

I could never name a favorite play. I have too many favorite plays. My favorite living playwright is David Hare, and of his plays the one I want to see every time I can is Skylight.

Les Misérables is the musical I have seen more than any other, so it truly must be my favorite. I first saw Les Mis shortly after it opened on Broadway in the late 1980’s. I think the original cast of any play or musical is likely to be the best. I can still hear Colm Wilkinson, who played Jean Valjean in the original cast, sing Bring Him Home in my mind.

When I was a teacher of English, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo was one of my favorite novels to teach. First hearing that the novel had been adapted into a musical, I was anxious to see it as soon as possible after it arrived the United States.

Do you have a preferred local playwright? If so, who is it and what about their work resonates with you?

I do not have a preferred local playwright, but there are three DFW playwrights that I enjoy following. I began to focus on playwrights in the DFW area back in 2012 when Jonathan Norton’s play homeschooled won one of the first TACA New Works grants. I have enjoyed getting to know Jonathan over the years and seeing all his plays produced in Dallas. I consider Jonathan a dear friend, and I am delighted that he has won other TACA New Works grants since 2012. He was recently named the Interim Artistic Director at the Dallas Theater Center. I believe that TACA validated Jonathan’s talent and his work when he received his first TACA New Works Grant.

Laura Einspanier, Karol Omlor and Melinda Johnson

A couple of years ago I met Erin Malone Turner when one of her plays Spaced Out was read in Undermain Theatre’s Whither Goest Thou America Festival. Erin was easy to engage in conversation about her play which made me want to see more of her work. Since then, I have seen her plays at various theaters around the DFW area, and I look forward to seeing Erin’s The Secret Keepers at Echo Theatre in the fall.

Shayma Nithiananda is a young playwright that I have recently discovered. I saw Feeding the Cat, Incorrectly, Several Times Over at Echo Theatre at the same time Shama was performing in Shape for Kitchen Dog Theater. About a month ago I saw Shama in Undermain Theatre’s production of The Persians. Shama is a multi-talented theater artist who I think has a great future ahead of her. I recently saw a reading of a one-act play of Shama’s at Bishop Arts Theatre.

One of the reasons that I am so passionate about theater is because I believe theater allows us to explore the full range of human experiences and perspectives. By understanding the stories of others, we gain insights that can enrich our own lives. The kind of play that resonates most with me is one that allows me to be more empathetic with the life situations of others. I believe that the art of theater can help us become more compassionate, understanding people.

You have been a dedicated supporter of TACA for quite some time. What motivates you to stay engaged and committed year after year?

After serving on TACA’s Board of Directors for about sixteen years, I know the importance of the grants TACA awards each year. I believe in TACA’s grants process, and I want to continue to support TACA to help enable the distribution of larger grants to worthy arts organizations.

Lifelong theater lover and cultural advocate, Karol Omlor has been a vital member of the North Texas arts community for over 40 years.  As a former TACA board member, she has board service within the Dallas arts community. Karol co-founded Women of WaterTower (WOW!), and in recognition of her contributions, the Studio Theatre at WaterTower Theatre is now named the Karol Omlor Studio Theatre.

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