Tag Archives: Noah Diaz

So Far to Go

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

At a mere 22 years old, he’s already one of Omaha’s most accomplished theatre talents, but Noah Diaz doesn’t have his sights set on a bigger stage.

“Broadway or something else would be cool,” Diaz says, “but it’s been important to me over the years to try to keep my head down and focused on what I’m doing now.

“If I don’t do that, I won’t be focused on the right things.”

With the fast start he’s had in his young life, no one would blame Diaz for looking beyond Omaha for his future.

After getting started in theatre as a fourth-grader in a Council Bluffs school production, Diaz has acted in more than 90 shows in the Omaha area and has also tried his hand at directing and writing—his personal favorite.

“I don’t think I was ever meant to be in theatre,” Diaz says. “I think I was meant to be a writer.”

Diaz’s prolific acting vitae, and anyone who has seen him on a local stage, might beg
to differ.

While filling up a trophy case with Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards and Theatre Arts Guild nods, Diaz has turned such notable performances as The Cat in the Hat at the Rose Theater, the Scarecrow in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s Wizard of Oz, and a high-school misfit in SNAP’s production of Speech and Debate into a career fit for someone much farther along in life.

Even as a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Diaz has kept up a blistering pace—acting in five to eight shows every year. Some local aficionados see him as “the next big thing” in Omaha theater.

“Acting is fun and challenging, but I think the thing I like most about the theater is the self-discovery,” says Diaz, who is on track to graduate from UNO in 2017 with a degree in special education and communication disorders. “Every production, I learn new things about myself—how my mind works and how I think.”

Diaz has done plenty of thinking about combining his passion for theater with his desire to serve the deaf community. He is focusing on American Sign Language at UNO and someday wants to work as an interpreter.

He performed in Chicago in a special adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo’s family is deaf and Diaz’s character interprets for the audience. In one of his most challenging roles, Tribes at the Omaha Playhouse, Diaz portrayed a deaf person, but not without struggling over whether to even take the part.

“Eighty percent of the audience the first night was deaf, and I about had an aneurysm I was so nervous,” he says. “But it was very well received, and a deaf friend of mine said afterwards he was glad someone with a heart for the deaf community did the part.”

Diaz isn’t slowing down any time soon. He completed a run in Beertown at the Omaha Playhouse in November. A play he wrote, The Motherhood Almanac, recently was staged as a workshop reading at The Shelterbelt Theatre, where Diaz serves on the board. And he will be directing The Feast at the Sheltebelt, which opens April 15.

“I feel as if I have so far to go—not in terms of success, but in terms of finding out who I am supposed to be,” he says. “So I want to keep pushing myself and bringing more to the work.”


Illuminating Young Minds

December 10, 2014 by

In my last column I wrote about the poor choice I made for my grandsons’ very first movie theater experience. Easton (5) and Barrett (3) were, it turns out, too young for the seemingly innocuous How to Train Your Dragon 2, it of the PG rating and all. I just plain blew that one.

But I like to think I’m now well on my way to redemption. Hold on. That’s taking too much credit, which should all go to—as is so often the case—my wife, Julie. It was her idea that has given me a shot at rehabilitating my tarnished reputation as a grandpa. And it’s a plan that revolves around a season subscription to The Rose.

A former life had me acting as a performing arts reviewer and I’ve sat in the dark scribbling notes hundreds of times over the last decade. Theater, opera, dance…you name it. But there was a part of me that flinched at the idea of more-more-more theater packed into my already impossible schedule.

Then again, I’ve always dreamed of the days to come when I would be able to introduce my grandkids to the arts. I pictured them joining me as we marveled at works from the likes of Shakespeare and Verdi. And I envisioned them one day learning from their grandpa the proper, cocked-eyebrow way to scrunch up their faces as we puzzled our way through such meatier, noggin’-scratchin’ fare as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Endgame.

Our most recent visit to the candy box that is The Rose had the boys mesmerized by their wonderful production of The Cat in the Hat. Before that we were awestruck by the vibrant, technicolor puppetry of another children’s classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Rose may be theater for young people, but the productions are top-notch at the venerated Omaha institution that is also known for its national touring troupe. Where else can you see an award-winning actor like Noah Diaz donning the iconic striped hat of Dr. Seuss’ whiskered wonder? Diaz is the kind of guy who knocked ‘em dead in an F-Troupe Collaborative staging of Edward Albee’s absurdist The Zoo Story a couple years ago, and now the young talent is “walking the boards” of The Rose, all of which speaks to the magnetic draw of one of the city’s most talented team of artists and staff—regardless of audience age.

Now we’re looking forward to the remainder of the season and such delights as The Brave Little Tailor and Bugsy Malone, Jr.

I like to think that Easton and Barrett will grow up at The Rose, whose programming and productions will take them all the way through to their college years.

The company’s Broken Mirror series will introduce them to complex issues that affect real girls in today’s real world. And the efforts of the Pride Players, which has received honors from such groups as The National Education Association and the American Alliance for Theater and Education, promise that they will be exposed to positive messages of inclusion that will foster respect and love for their friends who will one day come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Forget about my selfish desire for redemption. The Rose has programming and productions that will play an important role in the formative years of my grandkids and beyond.

And I’m glad that Julie and I will be there to share the experience when young minds are illuminated every time the lights dim at The Rose.