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Passing the baton

Outgoing theater president plays goofy characters on the stage

Mark Kimzey will be stepping down as the president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Theatre Association but won’t be saying goodbye to performing. Kimzey is excited to continue being part of local productions. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
Mark Kimzey will be stepping down as the president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Theatre Association but won’t be saying goodbye to performing. Kimzey is excited to continue being part of local productions. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
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MT. PLEASANT — Just a single word can get Mark Kimzey, outgoing president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Theatre Association, to break into song.

As he described his experience playing LeFou in “Beauty and the Beast,” mid-sentence, his head began to sway as the melody of “Gaston” hummed out of his chest.

“No one’s slick as Gaston, no one’s quick as Gaston,” he sang, letting out a few bars, before transitioning seamlessly back to his story.

Kimzey, a funeral director by day, often finds himself playing goofy characters on stage at community theater productions on show nights. From the court jester in “Once Upon a Mattress,” to Patsy in “Spamalot,” he likes to show the community, through song and dance, that not all undertakers are “pale and stony-faced.”

“I call it type-casting myself,” he said about always playing the comedic relief.

Kimzey’s introduction to the stage began in school. He remembers singing as part of the chorus in “Oliver,” the first production he took part in as a high school freshman.

“When you come from a small town like I did, there wasn’t a whole lot else to do so you might as well,” he said.

Just four years later in 1981, the funeral director would find himself on stage with fellow Mt. Pleasant residents as he pursued a degree in music from Iowa Wesleyan.

“I very much enjoyed being on stage to music. It’s been so instrumental in my life. It just means a whole lot to me,” he said. Outside of community theater, Kimzey has been his church’s choir director for the last 13 years.

“I experience God in music … it’s a part of why I enjoy musical theater so much,” he added.

Looking back, Kimzey said one of his favorite roles so far has been being part of the barbershop quartet in “The Music Man.” Though learning harmonies was difficult, getting to sing in a style he loves was a treat.

“With each role, you find something you enjoy about it, and you learn you can do something you thought you couldn’t do,” he said.

Kimzey began serving as the community theater association’s president about four years ago when approached by fellow board member Joyce Dennison, about taking on the mantle. Though he won’t be returning as president of the association, Kimzey doesn’t intend to stop performing or being part of the group.

“It’s just fun — it really is. Sometimes the parties were some of the best stuff. And oftentimes musicals are during the winter, and it really helped the winter time pass quickly because you had rehearsals you have to get to,” he said.

For Kimzey, the best part of community theater is watching everyone pull together and contribute their unique skills to make a show happen.

“There’s unbelieve talent in the community. It just blew me away. From the set design to the costume to the music directors — we’re really lucky here in Mt. Pleasant,” he added.

As he hands the president’s title to Barb McRoy, Kimzey said he’s excited to see where she takes the association.

“She’s really involved and an incredibly talented director,” he said.