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Drama teacher Dan White ready for his curtain call

Cathy Dobson Don’t be surprised an unusual amount of Kleenex is used at this weekend’s SCITS Alumni Revue.
Dan White sits in his “director’s” seat in the auditorium of Great Lakes Secondary School. His final SCITS Alumni Revue involves more than 100 former students. Reid Eyre photo
Cathy Dobson Don’t be surprised an unusual amount of Kleenex is used at this weekend’s SCITS Alumni Revue. The variety show is known for its comedy, music and fun but is likely to end on a tearful note as the man behind the SCITS Revue and Alumni Revue retires in a month. Teacher Dan White has taught at the Wellington Street school for 29 years and directed the SCITS Revue for 20 of them. He says he’s taken enormous pride in bringing students together to perform on the legendary school stage in an auditorium that turns 95 this year. Not only have drama students taken part in White’s annual variety show, but many others from the music department, English department, sports, shop and tech programs as well. On June 2 and 3, more than 100 Revue alumni will return to put together three almost completely different shows, two at 7 p.m. each night and billed as family friendly, and a third on Saturday at 9 p.m. that is for adults only. Alumni are returning from across the country. Some who can’t make it have sent in scripts for sketches. Others have contributed original artwork for a silent auction. There will be a few favourite skits resurrected from years past but most of the material is fresh, says White. When the curtain goes down Saturday evening, he’ll have directed close to 100 performances at the former SCITS, now Great Lakes Secondary. “Some alumni did 25 shows throughout their high school years because, at one point, I was doing five productions a year,” White said.  “We did plays, improvisation, Shakespeare, dinner theatre in the cafeteria and SCITS Revue.” Some of his students went on to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, becoming actors or lighting and sound technicians.  White points to several at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre as former students, including manager Brian Austin. Sarnia’s Emily MacDonald is on the production committee for this weekend’s SCITS Alumni Revue, which is called Forever Blue. She graduated in 2009 and participated in the SCITS Revue each year she was there. For her, this Alumni Revue is bittersweet. “The Revue always brought the SCITS community together,” MacDonald said. “It is a unique cultural event and something students could always look forward to. “This was Dan’s show and it took a lot of effort and passion to make it happen.”

On top of being long-time director for the annual SCITS Revue, White worked with the school's 75th anniversary committee to produce the first Alumni Revue in 1997. It was repeated 15 years later for the 90th. Last year, the third Alumni Revue was staged just as school board trustees were deciding which of Sarnia’s high schools to shut down.

Once retired, White plans to remain involved in community theatre. “I thrive on pressure so it’s highly unlikely I’ll disappear,” he said, adding the original SCITS Revue predated him by at least 70 years and his retirement doesn’t mark its end. He says other teachers have expressed interest in carrying on the tradition. This weekend’s Alumni Revue is a fundraiser for two local charities, St. Joseph’s Hospice and Rebound’s new initiative, The Hub youth centre.   IF YOU GO: WHAT: Forever Blue – SCITS Alumni Revue 2017 WHERE: Great Lakes School auditorium WHEN: June 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. (family friendly); June 3 at 9 p.m. (adults only). TICKETS: $15 each. At Refined Fool, Blackwater Coffee, and online at   MUSIC LINEUP FOR ARTWALK This weekend’s Artwalk boasts two stages downtown, each with a full roster of local and out-of-town musicians playing Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.  A total of 34 acts are performing either on the Main Stage in the Scotia Bank parking lot or on the Refined Fool Stage on Davis Street.

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