Monthly Archives: May 2013

In The Heights- A Memorial Encore Performance

Early this morning we received permission from Rodgers and Hammerstein for a special Encore performance of In The Heights this Saturday evening, May 11th at 7:00pm.

This very special show will be dedicated to the memory of Dan Wheeless, so suddenly taken from us this past weekend.  Tickets are on sale, online, at ShowTix4U.  Just click that link to be taken to the ticket site.   Attending this performance will many of Dan’s friends and colleagues from his theater company, Ground Up Productions.  In addition, the Wagner Theater Parents Club has announced that all profits from refreshment and other sales that evening will be donated to FACES, the Fight Against Childhood Epilepsy and Seizures, NYU Langone Medical Center in recognition of his family’s wishes.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the show to join us in one more Carnaval! and to pay tribute to a truly wonderful person.

A Message from Another Theater Teacher

We received this beautiful email from a North Carolina theater teacher today, via this website.  It is meant to be shared with all who are part of our program.

I am a high school theater teacher in North Carolina. Although I did not know Dan personally, I’m very close to several Ground Up members and if they loved and worked with him, and I have a pretty good guess at the kind of person he was. And I too, like Dan, think that doing theater with high school students is a “dream job.” And because I have done that dream job for over twenty years, I also know how much a teacher who becomes a mentor can mean to certain students. Students who gravitate towards technical theater can sometimes be the kinds of kids who don’t particularly like all the adults they encounter in a high school setting. Regardless of your age or penchant for adults, when you find someone who gets the way you see the world, that person can become very special, even in the span of eight months.

I am writing to express my condolences to all of you, but most specifically, to share something with those students who thought the world of Dan. Something that maybe only I can reinforce for them. If you loved him and thought the world of him as a teacher, I guarantee he loved you back–even if you aren’t sure of it or the last time you spoke, he was chewing you out for being late for call. Every single student who does theater with me–I feel as bonded to them as they do to me–even if my role as an adult doesn’t allow me to express it with as much emotion and vigor as teenagers are afforded.

I promise you–If you will remember him, he would have remembered you. I don’t know if that reassurance helps any of you, but I thought it might. Again, I’m so sorry for your program and school at this loss.

Hope Hynes Love
East Chapel Hill High School

Dan Wheeless – In Memoriam

Dan Wheeless entered our lives just eight months ago as he embarked on a new job- an art and theater teacher here at Wagner High School.  He immediately became deeply involved helping backstage with Sing, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and our recent production of In The Heights.  He was simply amazed with our program and the school.  He would smile and say “this is my dream job.” Dan was humble, kind and generous with his time, talent and patience. He was a great addition to our theatre family and faculty.

 He wanted to know everything, to help anyone, and truly be part of our program.  He dove in, head first, to learn our lighting and sound systems, to help organize backstage,  and make our shows even more spectacular. Last fall he worked on his first Wagner Black Box  production,  and  within that first month or so of the school year, he brought up a close friend of his to assist us with lighting.   He shared his experiences, knowledge and passion with everyone he met.  As the past eight months went by, it was great to have another person to help.  Dan was always there.  There were no hours he wouldn’t put in to lend a hand.  To have someone of his knowledge, ability, strength, size, and eagerness to work was truly a great thing. Dan loved to plan, share and look to “what can we do next.”

 Yet, for as involved as he became in the production of In The Heights, and the program itself, he remained in awe of everything at Wagner.  From the sheer size of the school, to the relationship that so many teachers have with their students- one of respect, understanding, and fun. He was proud and thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Wagner experience. Sometimes we become too accustomed to what we have around us everyday.  As the new guy on the block, Dan reminded many of us how truly lucky we are everyday to work together with one another at  Wagner, where all subjects and activities get such great support from the entire school.

 As the set for In The Heights rose- mainly from set pieces from past shows- Dan couldn’t stop expressing his wonder, with a great smile on his face, of how such a set came from a seeming “pile of nothing.”   He loved being part of the “project and process,” adding personal touches, watching the students achieve success and sharing in the making of magic on stage.   Dan was doing what he loved.  He was a positive force in our everyday lives, our productions and our world.

The entire Wagner community expresses their deepest condolences to Dan’s family- his wife, Kate Middleton, his parents, Richard and Jeslyn Wheeless, his brother Ben, and his dozens and dozens of friends and other family members.

 Dan may have been part of the Wagner Theater program for far too short a time, but he’ll remain a part of the Wagner Theater family forever, and he will be missed. 

Diane Zerega
Chet Cutick

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