GLT performer is passionate about theater

Nichole Henry started her theater career with the world as her stage and the movies she watched as her script.

“I would watch movies when I was little and act out the movies by myself and play all the parts,” she said.

Yet, her first official role was a “squawking bird” for the eighth-grade Pillow Academy production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“I milked it for everything it was worth,” she said.

Henry’s passion for theater took off after her 10th-grade performance in “Bullshot Crummond,” a detective comedy set in the pre-World War II era. After that show, she was hooked.

The 27-year-old Greenwood native has already performed in more than 30 school and amateur theater productions. One year at the Greenwood Little Theatre, she acted in every show that season, she said.

Out of all the plays she has acted in, her favorite has been “A Piece of My Heart.” The story involves six women, five nurses and a country singer who have been sent to Vietnam. Each woman’s story is told about her experience before, during and after the war.

“It was just really neat playing that part,” Henry said. “I am 27 years old, so I did not go through any of that.”

For her research for the role of LeeAnn, a half-Italian, half-Chinese nurse from New York, Henry spoke with several of her relatives who had fought in or lived through the Korean or Vietnam wars.

Henry said her relatives shared with her their stories about their own experiences.

“I think I take a little bit from every character that I play and apply that to my life,” Henry said. “I think I have gotten a lot of strength from that character.”

Yet, her preparation for every role varies depending on whom she is playing and what it means to be that person. For her role as LeeAnn, Henry focused on what it meant to be biracial during that time period and what it was like for those who returned from the war.

Outside of acting, Henry also enjoys other aspects of theater, such as directing.

“With the acting side, it’s really fun to dig into a character and figure out things about them, like why are they this way?” Henry said. “With the directing side, it’s really neat to see all your ideas come to life.”

Henry is directing next month her first Greenwood Little Theatre production, “No Exit,” and her third play overall. The drama involves four characters, three of whom die and are sent to hell. Henry said the interpretation of the play is “hell is other people.”

“Basically, it’s just three of us in this room with nothing but chairs. They think, ‘When are they going to start torturing us?’ And then they realize, they are here to torture each other.”

Henry performed in the show in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she lived while attending cosmetology school.

Henry  works at Mane Tamers beauty salon in Greenwood, and her experience as a cosmetologist has also given her the opportunity to use her skills in film. She  has done makeup for about eight films, most of them in Little Rock, she said.

She started doing makeup after friends in her sketch comedy group, Red Octopus, introduced her to directors who needed makeup artists.

Henry said she loves the Greenwood theater community and  doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.

“The South, really Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, is growing so much with film. I don’t see why I would need to (move),” Henry said.

The Greenwood Little Theatre Show “No Exit” will show from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8.

Alicia Dallas