St. Ursula teacher from BG makes stage debut

By Jane Pfeiffer, Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

Long-time Bowling Green resident and St. Ursula Academy teacher Dennis Maas isn’t swapping his career in the classroom for a role on Broadway just yet — but the acting bug just might have bitten him.

In his 46 years of teaching at SUA in Toledo, Maas has been courted to do cameo roles in the school’s musical productions in the past, but he has always turned down the offer.

“I have very few singing, dancing and acting skills, so I never considered being in one of our musicals,” Maas said. “But our current musical director, Kirsten Hinshaw, a former student of mine, recently asked again if I would consider doing a cameo role in our current production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’

“Because I’m winding down my teaching career, and also because the show was ‘Phantom,’ I thought I would finally give it a try — sort of a bucket-list decision,” he said, “and it’s a lot of fun.”

Maas is playing the role of the auctioneer who opens the show by selling items from the famous opera to Parisians in 1905.

Maas moved to Bowling Green in 1969 to complete his college degree after living in several places around the globe. His family was originally from Bowling Green, but his father was in the Armed Forces and moved his family to different bases worldwide when his children were young.

Maas enjoyed occasional visits to BG in the 1950s and ’60s to see relatives.

“Most of the stores were still downtown then. I have fond memories of visiting a soda fountain, the City Park, Kaufman’s restaurant, the ‘five and dime’ store, the great old houses, Finders Record store, and the original Howard’s. I still enjoy walking around the downtown, remembering what use to occupy the current buildings,” he said.

These days, after an illustrious career teaching history, German and many other subjects at SUA, Maas still finds the fun in connecting with his students — as evidenced by his willingness to share the stage with them in this challenging and entertaining production.

“Our students are getting such a kick out of having Mr. Maas in our show. He’s such a great sport and is really embracing his role,” Hinshaw said.

“The Phantom of the Opera” opens Thursday at the Valentine Theatre in downtown Toledo.

St. Ursula Academy, founded in 1854, is Toledo’s oldest, fully accredited, all-female, Catholic college preparatory school serving grades six through 12. The school’s enrollment is 624 students with a 12:1 student-teacher ratio. SUA offers a full complement of honors and Advanced Placement classes, 13 varsity sports, and fine and performing arts programs.