I am currently experiencing a CRAZY sense of deja vu..
This week, I’m back on stage at Papillion-La Vista High School for the first time in 17 years, as a special guest in Monarch Theatre’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical.
The choir room in this picture.. the theater filled with maroon seats.. the green room where the cast gets ready each night.. it’s all SACRED GROUND to me. It was my home away from home while I was in high school, where I took part in plays and performances, formed my dearest friendships, and created art that I was so very proud to showcase to our community. There was something intoxicating about theater to me.. the thrill of seeing your name on a casting sheet, the adrenaline rush when the curtain goes up, the sheer GLEE of hearing the audience applaud at the end.
Many of my fellow ‘drama nerds’ channeled that love into our current careers: my friend Joe Rohacik now teaches at PLHS, where he is also the PA announcer for the entire district. My friend David Wenzel is now a motivational speaker booked around the country for events (CLICK HERE to read his incredible story!) My ‘green room’ is now the KETV newsroom, and my stage is 7 Burlington Station.
For others.. performing is simply what they were destined to do. My fellow classmates Audrey Billings and Leanne Hill-Carlson are now professional actresses in Chicago and here in Omaha. Monarch alumni Merle Dandridge and Abbie Cobb are now on national TV, starring in shows ranging from HBO to ABC.
Tyler Rambali is somewhere in between.. constantly learning new skills to teach future performers, while fine-tuning her own talents and seeking out opportunities to perform.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
“I love to sing and act!” Tyler told me recently, and backed that up with an impressive resume of work, including awards with her trio, Major minor 3.
“[We] competed in the Galaxy of Stars competition this last summer and the summer before,” said Tyler (CLICK HERE to link up to Major minor 3’s Facebook page to watch and listen to them sing!). The group won a slew of honors their first year and the Megastar Award last summer, earning a recording session as their prize. Tyler walked away with an additional bonus.
“That is where I met Chelsea Arnold (Miss Kool-Aid Days) and her mother, Paige, who first talked to me about competing in the Miss America system,” said Tyler.
Tyler was crowned Miss Chadron last fall, opening up the doors for more performance opportunities across the state… not that she needs them. She’s starred in Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense, Lettice and Lovageas, Defying Gravity, and currently, she’s the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Tyler takes on these roles in addition to classes at McCook Community College where she is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Phi Beta Lambda, the National Association for Music Educators and Not Your Average Theatre Group. Now as Miss Chadron, she’s also making appearances and often, trying to promote change with her personal platform ‘Reach Out and Read’.
“Reading has become one of the least important things to my generation,” said Tyler. “Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud [during] well-child visits. I am trying to expand on this by connecting it to Children’s Miracle Network: reading to the children there, giving them books and teaching them the importance as well. I also want to start a Reach Out and Read site in my hometown of McCook!”
It’s the part of pageants that doesn’t end up on reality TV, the service and networking opportunities that open up for these titleholders. THAT is part of what Tyler, a pageant newcomer, hopes to show with her new title.
Tyler painted this to symbolize her new adventure competing for Miss Nebraska.
“I wanted to try something new, and on top of that, I had a chance to make my voice heard, make a difference, and be apart of something really special,” said Tyler. “Miss America celebrates women and empowers them and their abilities and accomplishments. It’s purpose is to serve others, show your personal style and what you can bring to the table, provide scholarships, and help you to be successful, and that is what it has done for me!”
Tyler also stresses the friendships she’s already made, adding to circle of loved ones she describes as the most important in her life.
“I have a huge family (over 20 first cousins on one side!),” said Tyler. “Both of my parents served in the US Army (Dad for 20 and Mom for 7) and my brother leaves for basic training in the Navy in May, but I am so proud of him and his endeavors to be a Navy Air Rescue swimmer. My faith in God is the BIGGEST thing in my life, and it is the only way I will be able to let my brother go off to the military.”
Tyler adds that her mother is also one of her role models, teaching her at home from Kindergarten through her senior year.. a tie Tyler compares to ANOTHER of her role models, Miss Nebraska and then Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.
“She has so much in common with me,” said Tyler. “She loves to sing and act and she was home schooled. It gives me encouragement and I know that I can do anything I can set my mind to.”
For anyone at a Nebraska high school right now, dreaming of someday being on a big time stage or on that screen in front of millions.. just LOOK at the incredible talent coming out of our state. Omaha native Gabrielle Union. North Bend native Marg Helgenberger. Norfolk native Johnny Carson.
Tyler Rambali not only wants to follow their lead, she wants to be CAST as the lead in this incredible production called ‘life’.. and she’s ready to call Act I: ‘Becoming Miss Nebraska.’
“I feel that I am an extremely diverse person who can relate to so many people because I have so many different backgrounds: I am biracial, military, city girl, country girl, stage-fright-girl-turned-performer, and so much more!” said Tyler. “I have been placed where I am, in the position I am for a reason, and I will do my very best to not squander the opportunities that God has given me to be a light for HIM.”
Photo courtesy Chris Swasta
For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days Pageant, visit their FACEBOOK PAGE. For information on becoming a contestant, contact Directors Caitlin Rodiek and Sara Smith by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Caitlin Rodiek by phone at 308-207-0336.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!