No Sibling Rivalry Here

By Amanda Corazzi

For Austin and Nolan, playing brothers on stage requires little effort. Why? Because they have had years of practice.

Nolan (far left) and Austin (third from right) with the Herdmans 
Austin and Nolan Zdziarski are one of five sets of real siblings in the holiday production, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. They play two of the rowdy Herdman kids who bring trouble to the annual Christmas pageant. Austin, who plays Ralph, is a junior at Oak Creek High School and Nolan, who plays Leroy, is fifth grader at Carrolton Elementary. 

Both brothers have had lots of acting experience after starting when they were young.  Pageant is Austin’s sixth show with First Stage, he most recently performed in last season’s Big: The Musical.

Leroy Herdman (Nolan, far left) causes trouble at the Pageant. 
“I remember seeing a First Stage show when I was around six years old. After that, I pointed to the stage and told my mom, "I want to do that,” said Austin. “I’ve been performing ever since.”

The first show Nolan saw Austin in what Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business and Nolan was hooked on theater as well.  He loves taking classes at First Stage Theater Academy and is thrilled to be in his first show after years of waiting.  Now both brothers are taking over this year's Pageant as the rowdy Herdmans. They both say how fun it is being on stage together, especially playing brothers. Since this is Nolan’s first show, he is grateful Austin is there to show him the ropes.

Ralph Herdman (Austin, left) plays
 Joseph in the Pageant. 
“It’s funny how with us being brothers, it helps the bond of everyone playing the Herdmans,” said Austin. “Sometimes it feels like the Herdmans are my actual siblings now. One of my favorite parts of being in the shows is the cast. I still talk to people who were in other shows and I love the people in this show as well.”  

Nolan agrees, but he also loves how he can inspire people. “First Stage doesn’t just teach you how to act, it teaches you skills you can use everyday. That’s why I love it,” he said.  

Austin and Nolan are not the only siblings in the cast. The cast features five sets of siblings:  Jenn and Stephanie Jarecki, Zoe and Karly Francis, Mackenzie and Riley Swart, and Andrew and Thomas Kindler.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever runs through December 29.

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