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Opening on May 31, Director Kimberly Faith Hickman and her cast of 37 volunteer actors have tirelessly been preparing to bring Ragtime to life at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Set in New York in the early 20th century, the plot explores the serious issues of class struggles between immigrants and suburbanites while touching on themes of family, immigration, and integration.

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Bringing this powerful play to life needed just the right cast to instill the audience with hope and love throughout the production despite its characters many struggles.

Working with a primarily adult cast, young Pieper Roeder (age 10) has had the opportunity to learn from seasoned talent and establish close relationships with her fellow castmates. She has been acting on stage since age six and has already been in several local productions, including Nutcracker Delights and Annie.

In the show Ragtime, Pieper plays a Latvian girl who speaks with a Yiddish accent, which has been a new and exciting challenge for her to learn. Appreciating the dynamic, Pieper said, “I probably learned that I am a better actress when I’m working with others, and not just working by myself.”

“It becomes like a family,” continued Brian Roeder, Pieper’s father. “It’s cool not only to see the same person again, but to see them play a whole different role, which is kind of cool.”

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According to Hickman, the musical talent in Omaha is palpable, but encouraging young actors to stay in Omaha is essential. “Talent is talent no matter where you are. Investment, I think, is really important … “I’m dazzled daily by the talent here,” said Hickman.

Lauren Roeder, Pieper’s mother, echoed Hickman’s sentiments, adding how positive the play has been for her family – both on and off the stage.

Ragtime tells a powerful and very serious story, which encourages discussion on the plot long after audiences have exited the theatre doors.

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“Even just in our family,” Lauren Roeder said. “It has opened the door for so many conversations that are hard … but important.”

“A show like Ragtime opens the door for a lot of conversations and opens the door for people to question what they think they know,” Hickman said, which is necessary for long-term success.

To further enhance the audience’s experience, the entire orchestra will be set atop the stage along with the actors. “I can’t wait to get all the instruments here,” said Hickman.

Pieper, too, is looking forward to having backup for the performance. Although she practices as much as possible with her family at home, Pieper mentioned, “sometimes, if I’m on stage in front of people, I feel less nervous than when I’m performing in front of an audience that is two feet away from me!”

Interested in seeing Pieper’s performance? Check out tickets and availability at www.omahaplayhouse.com.

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