If Evergreen had its own Tony Awards, the two O’Mearas certainly would be walking the red carpet and taking the stage to claim one or two apiece.
“She’s been singing and putting on shows since she could walk,” Bill said of his daughter, McKenna. “She would literally make up a show and sell tickets several times a week.”
McKenna agreed “I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was four. I played basketball and did gymnastics for a bit, but I’ve always come back to performing.”
Both O’Mearas are starring in musical comedy productions in Evergreen in the coming month: Bill as Seymour in the Evergreen Chorale production of Little Shop of Horrors, and McKenna as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at Evergreen High School.
Bill’s low-key demeanor and quirky sense of humor give him a natural edge in portraying Seymour Krelborn, a lowly employee in a Skid Row florist shop who is hopelessly in love with the glamourous Audrey.
He started singing in second grade and landed his first role in Oliver way back in fourth grade. Since then, Bill developed his vocal talents by pursuing a voice degree at CU and then singing with a men’s a capella group comprised mainly of CU professors and former Wiffenpoofs (a noted a capella group at Yale), with whom he sang for 10 years.
Bill is often a featured tenor soloist in the Evergreen Chorale’s choral concerts. “Musical theatre is a creative and fun outlet for me. The opportunity to be a part of high-quality productions with other amazing actors and musicians in my own home town is very special to me.”
About nine years ago he joined the Evergreen Chorale, and his first leading role was Sancho in Man of La Mancha. By that time, McKenna had already caught the bug. She accompanied her dad to rehearsals and became the assistant stage manager for the show at age eight.
“McKenna has loved seeing Broadway musicals from Day One,” said Bill, his fatherly pride showing. “And when she is on stage she has a commanding stage presence – people immediately sit up and take notice.” A junior at Evergreen High School, McKenna has been participating in singing and acting camps and classes as long as she can remember.
“It is funny, because I don’t like talking in front of the class – but when I can become a character for a stage production, I find the “good anxiety” that keeps me going.” Audiences who’ve seen her – as Penelope Pennywise in EHS’s production of Urinetown (2013) and Hodel in last year’s Fiddler on the Roof – will agree.
Both O’Mearas concurred that singing and performing are hard work – when rehearsing for a show, they each spend three to four hours a day singing and rehearsing, and that time increases as opening night draws near. “You have to keep singing, working, and studying every day so you can give your character the strength, personality and dimension he deserves.” McKenna agreed “Right now, I rehearse four hours a day, four days a week, but as we get closer to opening, I will probably double that many hours.”
The newest member of the family, Eduardo Inigo Montoya, has jumped right on the bandwagon. Eduardo is a Chihuahua whom they recently rescued. He will share the spotlight in Legally Blonde with McKenna and may even get a walk-on in Little Shop. Bill and McKenna have been bringing him to rehearsals to help him get over stage fright, and he loves all the extra attention he receives from cast members.
McKenna’s favorite Broadway memory is when she visited New York three years ago and saw How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe. “I was so excited and so happy – I just knew then that this is what I want to do. I want to be a professional actress – on Broadway or in another major city.”</pAsked what her dream role is, McKenna shared that her current role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is one she has always aspired to. “I think it is a great show with an important message.” She may get her break soon – McKenna has been invited to attend the National Honor Society musical theatre intensive at Lincoln Center in NYC this summer and also recently competed in a singing competition that could bring her national attention.
When McKenna makes it on Broadway, we can be the ones to say “we knew her when.”