Mary Lee DeWitt, a former Radio City Rockette and Broadway performer, has joined Westerville North High School as its new theater director.

"We are very excited to welcome Mrs. DeWitt to our team and look forward to the work she will do with our young people," said Kurt Yancey, North principal. "She has a wealth of knowledge that will be extremely valuable to our entire program and the students it serves."

DeWitt is a certified theater and dance educator with more than 18 years of experience in directing shows as a choreographer, musical director and tech director in middle school and high school settings, according to Yancey.

She said she was thrilled to relocate back to Ohio in 2018 after residing in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she taught various levels of drama and musical theater for four and a half years.

In addition to previously dancing with the Rockettes in New York City for 10 years, she was also the dance captain in the original Broadway production of "The Will Rogers Follies," and "Crazy For You."

"I am super passionate about working with young creative minds, watching the magic unfold, and super excited about joining the Westerville North family," DeWitt said.

As the new theater director at North, she said she envisions countless opportunities to inspire the next generation of live-theater fans, both on and off the stage, as well as behind the curtain where backstage techies are highly valued.

"I have always choreographed every show I have worked on and love the collaborative element," she said. "I can create movement, but as I teach and create the picture on stage, often the students' unique interpretation or a hilariously brilliant mistake end up becoming the 'new improved part' of the big dance number."

While musicals always have been her ultimate joy, DeWitt said, comedies and serious drama -- the stories and characters that may take your breath away or bring a tear -- make the playwright's work genuine for audiences, which was the writer's intent from the very start.

She presently is working a long-term substitute assignment at Heritage Middle School, teaching sixth-grade language arts through the middle of November.

DeWitt said she will be zooming across the lawn from the middle school to the high school daily. She has teaching credentials for both theater and dance in three other states.

While she's in the process of obtaining full-time Ohio credentials, DeWitt said, substitute-teaching credentials for Ohio offer her the flexibility to handle multiple campuses.

After November, she said, teaching as a substitute at North will hopefully provide for a more convenient schedule, and she's also hopeful the district will see the value in creating a full-time position for a theater-curriculum teacher at North in the near future.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla