April 21, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As perhaps Omaha’s reigning queen of comedy, actress Theresa Sindelar is renowned for her ability to evoke peels of laughter on stages all across the city. She understands exactly what to do when the lights dim and the curtain goes up. What is so very puzzling to her, on the other hand, is the rest of her life, and why people find her so darn funny in any setting.

“I’ll be working away [at Three Dog Bakery mixing and making doggie treats] and suddenly break into song for whatever reason,” Sindelar says, “and people think it’s downright hilarious. Or I talk to myself in crazy, stupid, silly ways, and people go nuts. I don’t get it. It’s not like I’m doing it for the effect. I’m not trying to be funny. I guess I just don’t know anything else,” she adds with a shrug.
“I’m just being…me.”

Sindelar may not “get it,” but critics and audiences definitely do.

Her endless list of Theatre Arts Guild, Omaha Community Playhouse, and Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards trophies is too lengthy to cite in any detail here, but her most treasured role, she says, might be the 2001 Omaha Community Playhouse Fonda-McGuire best actress nod for her work in the musical Mack and Mabel.

Other favorite, award-winning gigs include such memorably sidesplitting performances as Meredith Parker, who (spoiler alert) spawns the monstrous title character in Bat Boy: The Musical. Add to that Rona Lisa Peretti, the wistfully nostalgic moderator of the The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Paulette, the spunky beautician in Legally Blonde—all at the Omaha Community Playhouse, where she’s performed in “too many plays and musicals to count.”

Theatergoers already know Sindelar, who also appears with The Weisenheimers improv comedy group, as the go-to casting choice for any role calling for over-the-top, crazily campy antics, but this towering talent is also towering in stature. “I’m over 6-feet-tall,” she explains. “Sometimes I’m 6’ 2.” Other times I’m merely 6-1-ish. My height on any given day depends on my mood.”

Our interview with the admitted ice cream addict and animal aficionado took place in a Midtown ice cream shop at what she calls “my table.” Attempts to steer Sindelar’s thoughts back to the essence of comedy—the how and why of what makes her so organically amusing—went for naught. All it took to send the interview spiraling out of control and into a frenzy of rubber-faced giggles was the passing of a newborn pot-bellied pig—one that could have easily fit into her now-empty waffle bowl—walking its human companion on the adjoining sidewalk.

The actress’ signature snort peppered successive waves of guffaws that soon attracted the attention of noshers at adjoining tables and, now convulsed in shrieks and snickers, she wiped tears from her eyes before deciding that she had had quite enough for one day.

“Can’t you just run a page filled top-to-bottom,” she pleads, “with the words puppies, puppies, puppies [snort], ice cream, ice cream, ice cream [snort], glitter, glitter, glitter? Oh, and add pot-bellied pigs to that list. That pretty much sums me up, I think. There, that was easy! Interview over!”

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