Whitehall grad stages comeback as theatre director

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 Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
 Dan Nash

Who says you can’t go home again?  

Whitehall Yearling High School 2002 graduate Dan Nash is doing just that.  On Aug. 9, the school board approved Nash to work part-time as a theatre director for the annual spring musical and fall play.  

He attended Ohio State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in theatre last December.  He needs one more year to obtain a teaching certificate, and will be working with assistant band director Chris Herrmann.  

Nash works full-time at Huntington Bank, and has plans to return to college in the near future to earn his teaching certificate, and hopes to be teaching full-time within five years.  

He said he’d love to be able to remain at his alma mater.

While a student at WYHS, he was in seven productions under the direction of Janice Plank, who retired from the district two years ago.  

"My little claim to fame was that I was the only freshman cast  member in the show," recalled Nash, who played Jeffrey in "Curious Savage."

He also played clarinet with the orchestra for musical productions, and was in the marching band.

At OSU he specialized in sound design, and designed two main stage shows, and was assistant designer for two others.  He acted in two shows, as well.  

Nash was a four-year member of the OSU marching band, and assistant drum major during his final two years.  

"In that time, I was one of the main facilitators for the Drum Major Training Program where I helped teach local and state high school students the art of drum majoring.  We had up to 30 kids twice a week," offered Nash.

Recently he was cast in "A New Brain" at Club Diversity in German Village.  His supervisor, along with some co-workers from Huntington, supported him by attending the production.

Nash cited his middle school theater director, Kevin Gerrity, high school band director Jeff Harriman and high school theatre director Jan Plank, teachers Serena Bradshaw and Valerie Acton as major inspirations.  

"I admire and respect them for the knowledge they passed down to me.  Harriman has been a true second father to me," he said.

Plank, who now lives in Los Angeles, said that she is thrilled that the district is giving her former student the position.   "Dan was a part of a group of students who helped me develop and build the program at the beginning of my tenure as director."  

She fondly recalled some of his roles in her productions.  

"Dan was one of six students from his graduating class who went on to acquire a post-secondary theatre degree.  There is no greater compliment to a high school theatre program than when its young thespians decide to pursue a career in the performing arts," said Plank.   

She concluded by saying, "I believe that Dan will provide the high quality of performances that the student body and community have been proud of in the past.  I encourage the citizens of Whitehall, school administration and faculty to support Dan and the program financially, with support services and by attending the shows."

Because of his work schedule, rehearsals will have to be scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m.  

Nash said that he does not want any student who participates in theatre to lose any momentum with academics.   He is setting up three study periods each week, which will be monitored with the help of other teachers.  There will be someone there to make sure they get their homework done, and offer help.  

He shared that during his freshman year at college his grade point average dropped from 4.0 to 2.5.   "I lost some focus, and I don’t want that to happen to my students.  I hope they learn from my mistake."

 He recalled how Plank would have a rehearsal just to discuss character development and basic character sketching.  

"It is my goal to teach that process of theatre to my students.  I also want to take theatre from the WYHS auditorium into the community.  The city produces several great events throughout the year, especially during the summer.  I really want to pursue the idea of putting together a community show in a location within Whitehall."  

He noted that in 2002 the theatre department received one of the highest honors from the International Thespian Society, and performed the full show during the state convention.  

Since that year the department has not been back to state convention.  His goal is to bring that opportunity back to the students and let them meet other passionate theatre students.  

 

He added, "Plank worked closely with Amalee Soteriades to develop a theatre scholarship in the name of her late husband, James ‘Herk’ Soteriades. I plan to make sure that students understand the importance of people like Mr. Soteriades.  I met him when I was a child, and he was a very kind and generous man.  I’m glad to be able to say that I met him."

From Aug. 13-27 Nash will be at WYHS band camp for the ninth year.  Since graduating, he has returned as a counselor and to coach the drum major.

There will be an informational staff meeting on Aug. 31 to choose the fall play, with auditions starting the following Wednesday.  The production is scheduled for the second week in November.  

 

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