David O’Roark’s Education, Experience, and Continued Pursuit of Theatre Excellence Have High Impact on WC

By Laura Fitzpatrick, Contributing Writer

Christian author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” David O’Roark, Worthington Christian’s drama instructor and theatre manager, is a perfect example of such a leader.

O’Roark’s life in theatre began in high school, visiting churches in western Pennsylvania with Sunrise theatre.  He went on to major in Theatre at Huntington University and spent two summers touring the nation with Doc Rainbow’s Colorful All-Star Revue, an extension of the university.  After college he traveled the country performing with Adhana Ministries before moving to Columbus, Ohio, to act with Columbus Children’s theatre in 2001.

Eighteen years ago this fall, O’Roark began his teaching tenure here at WC as a drama instructor. Since that time, the theatre department has grown tremendously, expanding from casting one drama production a year to four high school productions and one middle school production each year. Having multiple productions each year makes it possible for students to participate in sports and theatre arts instead of having to choose one or the other. Two theatre arts classes are also offered each year; in these classes, students learn theatre as a creative and multi-disciplinary art form, are exposed to various theatrical genres and styles and have opportunities for practical experience on the stage as well as classroom instruction.

According to O’Roark, the talent level of students here at WC, in comparison to area schools with much larger populations, is top-notch. Many WC students are skilled singers and musicians. O’Roark explains that one reason WC has such exceptional musicians is that many of these students are involved in leading worship at their local churches. He also credits the music arts department at WC and its leader, Karen Rugg-Klapheke, with providing students comprehensive instruction including advanced music theory and performance skills.

There is so much talent that this year’s fall theatre production (Fools, running October 4-6) will be unlike any previous productions at WC–there are two full casts for the same show. One cast, comprised of current freshmen and sophomores, will perform the Thursday evening (October 4) and Saturday matinee (October 6). The second cast, comprised of juniors and seniors, will perform the Friday evening (October 5) and Saturday evening (October 6) shows.

Mr. O’Roark is not only a teacher of theatre, though, he is also a practitioner. In Maxwell’s words, he “goes the way, and shows the way” to his students. In addition to leading WC’s theatre department, he serves as the Director of Drama at Grace Polaris Church. He is also actively engaged in the theatre community here in Columbus as an actor himself.

In fact, this week (September 7-16) he is set to perform in a local production of The Fantasticks. The Fantasticks is considered the world’s longest-running off-Broadway musical and a true theatre classic. It’s an allegorical story of two neighboring fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy, who trick their son and daughter into falling in love by pretending to fight with each other. O’Roark will be playing the part of Hucklebee. WC Alumna Shelby Hamrick (Class of 2011) is also involved in this production as the stage manager. The Fantasticks is taking place at Northland Performing Arts Center in what was once the J.C. Penney department store inside of Northland Mall. This space has been renovated and is now used by several local theatre companies as an arts venue. This will be a unique opportunity for WC theatre students to see their instructor in action.

For more information on this production of The Fantasticks and to order tickets, click here.