As 35th production rolls around, HNHS’ director reflects on past

Photo provided.
Ruth Reed

Originally published April 14, 2016.

Huntington North High School Theater Director Ruth Reed is a successful theater director and role model to students. Now directing her 35th musical, “Hello Dolly,” she reflects back on all the work she’s done.

Reed started acting in plays when she was in third grade.  She began directing plays when she got to high school.

“My director said, ‘Ruth, you have talent. I’m going to let you direct,’” Reed says. “So she let me direct three one-act plays.”

Reed regards it as a “good experience.” When she graduated high school, she started studying theater at Manchester University. She graduated with a degree in speech and theater with a minor in English.

Reed has directed more than 5,000 different shows. She directs melodrama, one-act play festivals, straight play, the variety show and musicals all at Huntington North. In addition, she has directed performances for Community Theater, First Church of the Nazarene and the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival. She taught drama at Huntington North for 20 years during her 37-year teaching career.

Reed is passionate about theater because of the feeling she gets from “giving life” to a written play.

“I can take words on a page,” Reed says, “and develop character, costume, set and motion. So I can bring the written page to life.”

Reed also emphasizes the talent of her student actors. She says it excites her to see what her students are capable of.

“I see the potential in kids that they don’t see in themselves,” Reed says. “Very rarely do I have a student that doesn’t rise to my level of expectation. And I tell the kids, ‘I expect the best from you. If it’s mediocre, I’ll cancel the show.’ And I’ve never had to do that.”

Reed has about two dozen former students who have gone into theater professionally, and about three-dozen students who have gone into directing.
“I just found out that one of my former students told her mother, ‘I want to be a Mrs. Reed.’”  Reed says. “So she’s a theater major now.”

Reed says she loves the opportunity theater affords her to stretch kids’ opportunities and to show them what they are capable of.  She has had several students that have gone on to perform to critical acclaim.

“Jack Pickard, he goes to the University of Chicago,” Reed says. “And Jack actually took lessons at Second City in Chicago — where many of the Saturday Night Live stars got their start. And they were so impressed with him that they actually had him perform on three different occasions.”

Reed has also been involved with Super Summer Theater, which was a summer program put on by the Huntington County Community School Board to get students interested in performing arts.

Reed’s future plans are to get the Huntington Theatre Guild started again. The Theatre Guild was part of Huntington North’s adult education program, which has since been cancelled.

“I have former students who come back to me and say, ‘we really miss theater,’” Reed says. “So I started talking to several different people. So now we have established Huntington Theatre Guild Act II.”

Reed says she is excited about Theatre Guild Act II because it will give her something else to do after she retires from Huntington North. She says she will also continue directing performances for First Church of the Nazarene. She doesn’t plan on retiring from the performance arts any time soon.

“And then if I can continue extracurricular at the high school, I’ll probably stay there forever!” She says.

Reed is now directing her 35th high school musical, “Hello Dolly,” which will be showing on April 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Huntington North Auditorium.