The stage has given a lot to John Kuether; a wife, a child, and a career that would be the envy of many in his industry. So, when Kuether was ready to begin the second act of his professional career, he found Alcuin, where he was put in charge of launching a fledgling performing arts program.
It was a chance to give back and begin teaching new generations of performers.
“That was an interesting challenge because though I had done some teaching at community schools, I had never been a full-time classroom teaching,” Kuether said. “I wanted to give students the chance to perform. I know that it can be a very formative experience to get up on stage. You learn so much about yourself and other people.”
Kuether was about the same age as the students he now teaches when his own theatre instructor, Mr. Bob Quint, introduced him to acting at St. John Cathedral High School in Milwaukee. Quint could see that Kuether had talent and encouraged him to join the Skylight Theatre, a small, professional company close to St. John’s. Kuether became so enamored with acting that he would do more than 60 productions with Skylight through his high school and collegiate years.
After graduating with a music degree from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Kuether landed a gig as a performer with the Santa Fe Opera while simultaneously attending the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1990.
Kuether was performing in Germany when Denny Berry, a colleague and dance supervisor for Phantom of the Opera, pushed Kuether to audition for the musical. It was a turning point in Kuether’s professional career – and his life.
In 1995, Kuether was hired to join the cast of Phantom in Basel, Switzerland, where he performed for the next two years and met fellow cast member, now wife, Kate. The pair moved to New York and performed in Phantom on Broadway for five years before joining the touring cast, visiting 50 different cities in the U.S. and Canada. The show became their life for 19 years until they became parents, at which point priorities began to shift.
“We needed a break, so we jumped at this chance to make a change,” said Kate, who also performed with the Phantom cast in London and spent nine years as rehearsal director and instructor at the Dallas Conservatory. “We needed to be stable.”
The couple had finally settled in North Texas and even joined the Alcuin community when they received an enticing invitation to rejoin Phantom for two years – in Germany. The pair reluctantly agreed and when it was over, they wasted no time re-planting their roots in Dallas.
Since his hiring at Alcuin in 2016, Kuether has developed the school’s theatre program into a highly desired opportunity for students to get involved in just about every aspect of producing a play – from
stage lighting to acting. His all-school productions have so far included Seussical (2017), The Lion King (2018), The Wizard of Oz (2019), Beauty and the Beast (2022), and Wonka (2023). Next up is Mary Poppins Jr. this spring.
Kuether admits his favorite moments are when his students realize there is nothing to fear about performing.
“We’re all pretending things all the time from when we were little,” Kuether said. “It was a lot easier then because as students get older, some are more self-conscious about it. So, we do a lot of theatre games just to try to loosen that up a bit and help kids stop editing so much and just take chances and go for it.”