For more than a decade our family has been living under the spell of a gifted theater director. The inexhaustible Ron Parker, whose Appleton North Theater Program recently was named the No. 1 high school theater program in the Midwest, consistently amazes us.
In retrospect, our initial astonishment seems humble. We attended North’s 2002 production of the Sound of Music and watched in shock as our freshman son, a 6-5 offensive lineman, picked up his size 16 shoes and danced.
That proved to be just the beginning. All four of our children blossomed under the genuinely talented tutelage of Ron Parker. From her first role as a freshman chorus member who spent most of her time singing offstage, our daughter Katherine capped off her senior year playing Alcyone and Eurydice in Metamorphoses, Mary Lennox in Secret Garden, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Scheherazade in Arabian Nights.
Fueled by Diet Mountain Dew and a genuine passion for his work, Ron Parker segues smoothly from One Act competition, to Improvedy, to theater seminar plays, to giant musical productions to sophisticated straight shows. Often, the day after one production closes, he auditions another.
Our children have performed in sand, in water, in the air and in the round. With them, we have been transported to Saigon, Greece, Egypt, France and Great Britain aboard sinking ships, fleeing helicopters and crashing chandeliers.
The production value never disappoints and, if you don’t believe me, a theater parent, ask Tony Kubek. The retired baseball star and analyst once left a message on our home phone complimenting an Appleton North production and comparing it to those he had seen in New York. That’s high praise from a man who, with his wife, spent off hours on Broadway during the nine years he played for the Yankees.
Beyond the shows, though, Ron Parker instills in his students — the actors, the techies and the fans — an appreciation for genuine talent, passion and the work ethic to pursue it, and the confidence to be kind.
Congratulations to Ron Parker and the Appleton North Theater program and thanks for singing us all those rainbows.