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– Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Theatre & Dance

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/theatre/about/tedpaul/remembrances.html

REMEMBRANCES OF DOC


Doc and Rosemary McGuire, provided by Matt Kauffmann

DOC TALKS ABOUT DOC
Special thanks to Eric Paul, Ted's son, for a tape he made recounting his life. Below are a couple of audio files of what Doc said about himself, complete with little asides and self-deprecating humor. The first section is long (about 47 minutes); the second is shorter, the second side of the tape, that has a couple of corrections, enhancements and a good-bye.

His life

Some short additions

From E. J. Subkoviak, 1993

I've spent the last several weeks trying to think of a great memory of Dr. Paul to share, but in the end, I think I just want to express what a rewarding experience it was to work with him on Educating Rita during my freshman year (1988-89). From the day of the first read-thru at his house to closing night, I remember the whole process being as warm and relaxing as cracking nuts by the fireplace. It was a gift to get this taste of not only Dr. Paul's work, but of what true professionalism was, especially at that age, wherein studying theater arts basically meant heated discussions over whether or not Ophelia was a vegetarian, with the New Kids on the Block playing in the background. It was a warmth that returned every time I saw him in the hallway after all the MSU shows I performed in thereafter. Thank you, Dr. Paul. Yes, you were well retired when we met, but believe me, you were still teaching.

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From Sandy Hey, formerly Sandy Galloway, class of 1968, founder of Hey City Theater in Minneapolis

As a very green directing student with the likes of Lou Bellamy ( later Penumbra founder) in my class. Ted Paul was gentle with me. For a project Lou did Dylan Thomas (who knew what reader's theatre meant?) and I did a frothy Neil Simon with lots of laughs and quippy one liners.  I remember feeling in the presence of greatness
with Lou's work but Dr. Paul gave me great input and set me on my personal theatre journey. He was a funny, warm, kind man who tried to bring out the best you had to offer. What more could anyone ask for?

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From Lisa Nanni-Messegee

Ted Paul's remarkable life really is something to celebrate! What a full life filled with love, family and a lifelong career in the Arts. I recall having a conversation similar to this one, one night of my thesis show, Tracers:

LISA: "Ted Paul is in the house, you guys!"

ACTORS: "Ted Paul came to see our show? But it's a student show!" [Pause] "That's awesome!!!!!"

This dialogue ended with thoughtful remarks about how impressive it was that he would take the time to see a studio (i.e., "student") show. His support of our work empowered us all to give it our best. If we had someone like Ted Paul in the audience—we stepped up.

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From Andrea Gruber

The obituary information about Ted Paul is wonderful in describing his contributions to theatre at Minnesota State and the influence that he had on so many actors, directors, playwrights and other students throughout his very long career. I would like to address the Ted Paul I knew AFTER he retired.

Doc came into my life shortly after Katy’s untimely death. As I have been told by his sister-in-law, Margaret, Katy had encouraged Doc to continue to live a full life after she passed. I believe he honored her in doing just that. He began to date my mother, Rosemary McGuire, a former student (Class of 1956) and a long time friend of both Doc’s and Katy’s. Although my Mom and Dad were only in sporadic touch with the Paul’s, Christmas cards were exchanged and there were periodic dinners. My parents divorced in 1974 and in 1985 he called and asked my Mom out. Although Doc never knew this, my Mom was as giddy as a high school girl who has been asked out by the captain of the football team.  

Mom and Doc had a loving and bountiful relationship for 23 years. They never married in large part because Mom wouldn’t leave Minneapolis and Doc felt he couldn’t leave Mankato and all that he had built there. I also believe he just wanted to honor Katy by not remarrying.  He understood that he came into my life when I was 19 and did not try to take over as another paternal figure. I did begin calling him “Papa Doc” because we were both amused by the similarity of the name to Papa Doc Duvalier, the cruel leader of Haiti, whom Doc was not at all like! He stood in as a father figure whenever I needed him and was at my college and graduate degree graduations and made a beautiful couple with my Mom at my wedding. Papa Doc loved coming to see my Mom every weekend. They went to hundreds of movies over the years. They had season tickets to EVERY season of EVERY theater in the Twin Cities. In the summer, they would drive to Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare festival and flew to New York to see as many Broadway and off-Broadway show as they could cram into 72 hours! Papa Doc and Mom also traveled. They went to the British Isles and discovered cruise ships (it must have been the sailor in Doc!) going through the Panama Canal and a trip that Papa Doc desperately wanted to take: to sail throughout the Hawaiian  islands. They visited Doc’s brother John and his wife Margaret in Phoenix and Doc’s children and grandchildren throughout the Midwest. He took great delight in my kids, too.

He brought us all to Mankato to see the “Ted Paul Theatre.” They couldn’t believe it was so big. My 6 year old said, “It’s as big as a real theatre.” Doc loved that. They were very sad and tearful over his death and were surprised to hear that he actually wasn’t their grandfather. I guess they never realized that he didn’t live with Mom since he was always there when I would bring my kids home from Boston. My heart goes out to his family and all who had a chance to know him. I feel honored to have had him play such an important role in the lives of my Mom and me.

••••••••••••••••••••

From Sharon (Mitchell) King, Class of 1962
San Ramon, CA

When I was a senior at MSU (1962), Dr. Paul was directing the musical Guys and Dolls. I was a music major and played trumpet in the college bands.  When Dr. Owens asked me if I wanted to play in the "pit band" for the musical, I was very excited since I had never before been in a stage band.  I really enjoyed getting to know Dr. Paul at the rehearsals.  He was so passionate about his work and also had a great sense of humor.  In addition, he was just a "wonderful guy."  Being in this production was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my senior year.
 

Ted with Paul Hurley on April 21, 2007. Hurley was in Mankato 1978-82.

Paul notes that Doc's two most famous lines, in his opinion, were:

1. "Holy mother of pearl!!!" (usually yelled at someone).
2. "Come on folks, I need to get home to watch 'Highway Patrol!" (even though the show had been off the air for about 20 years).

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From Ann Ramstead Kendrick, Class of 1965

To the family, my deepest sympathy. He was a giant of a man and role model to so many. We all adored him and respected his ability and his heart. I will miss him forever.

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From Robin Stone, MFA 1991

I had the fortune to be directed by Ted during a Highland Summer Theatre season.  Ted trusted his actors and structured his rehearsals in a way that maximized our opportunities during a limited time frame.  I learned the importance of taking ownership of choices and the value of allowing actors to negotiate among themselves.  I still think of Ted whenever I direct comedies and utilize his strategy of many uninterrupted runs in order for actors to establish choices, to create consistent characters, and to discover effective timing.

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From Lois (Loeffler) Rose MSU 1970

As a former Theatre Arts student at MSU, I was greatly saddened to learn of Doctor Paul's passing on Monday. I have such vivid memories of Doc's rapid step, boundless energy, and ability to inspire all of his actors and theatre students on stage and in the classroom. I was truly privileged to greatly benefit from his guidance and direction in Bye Bye Birdie and The Misanthrope as he opened up endless creative possibilities to us all, and shared his unique views on the human condition with his wry wit. Farewell, Doctor Paul! We will never forget your zest for life and your love of theatre.

••••••••••••••••••••

From Bonnie Alm Chenevert '82, Pahrump, Nevada

I was so sorry to hear of Dr. Paul's passing, but I was reminded of  great memories of working with him in my time at Mankato State University.  As a student, I both loved and feared Doc.  He could be so very patient, kind and supportive when you were trying to find a character, but one knew better than to cross him!

My fondest memory was when he gave me a second chance to shine as a freshman at MSU.  I had auditioned in the spring for the fall show, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, but then discovered that my summer job would not allow me to return home in time for the first rehearsal.  As a courtesy, I called Doc before the cast list was posted and let him know, not really suspecting I had been cast.  He thanked me then said something like, "That's too bad."  I discovered later he had cast me as Mildred's sister-in-law.  Later that year, Doc was taking the show to the American College Theater Festival.  He called me and asked if I would take a small role as one of the cast members could not go on the trip.  I felt so honored that he had remembered me and was thoughtful enough to give me a chance.  
Nearly 20 years later, on a visit to Mankato, I ran into him at Barnes and Noble where he was reading and drinking coffee.  I approached him and introduced myself.  He remembered me and asked about my family.  I will always remember him as the consummate gentleman.

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From John Anderson, alumnus

I, too, am saddened to hear of Doc Paul's death. I had a bit part in Finian's Rainbow. At try-outs, I confessed that I could not sing
well or dance, but was their a small part for me?  He found one. At rehearsal, I recall that someone had broke the rule of no Coke bottles in the auditorium at Old Main.  Predictably, the bottle fell and rolled down the raked floor hitting every metal seat leg on the way.  Doc showed his athletic prowess by drop kicking the offending bottle over about 15 rows of seats. Later, in the Play
Direction class, he confessed that his temper displays were often staged. He said that there comes a time in a play where too many people have not memorized their lines. So quietly tell your student stage manager to lock up after everybody left, and then he said "show a controlled display of temper and walk out."   But he cautioned: "Never act half as angry as you might be."

From Robbin Derksen Walker, alumnus, 1974

I just received my  TODAY in the mail and discovered that Ted Paul had passed away this past summer.  I have just listened to the tapes that the various presenters shared at his memorial service and felt like it was just yesterday that I was a student of Doc Paul's (1970-1974).  There have been tears and smiles during this past 1 1/2 hours of walking down memory lane.  I feel terrible that I did not know about this ceremony so that I, too, could have paid my respects to this amazing man.  He touched my life so deeply!  After a wonderful career (most recently as an internal training consultant for Target Corporation, retiring Dec. 2007), not a single day went by that I was in front of a group of training participants that I did not think about the incredible experience I had as a theatre student at what was then called MSC.  It was that experience that trained me to create a very interactive learning environment and to always connect with my audience.  Despite graduating with a Speech and Theatre degree from MSC, I never worked in the actual theatre—althought in my heart, it felt like I did.  I am grateful that Doc Paul was one of many that taught me a great appreciation for really good theatre and I am thrilled to live in a city that has such a vibrant theatre scene that my husband and I so passionately enjoy—Minneapolis/St.Paul.  I feel so blessed to have crossed paths with such a terrific man.  Respectfully, Robbin Derksen Walker

From Jim MacRostie

I think it’s safe to say that without Ted Paul, I wouldn’t have had the career that I did. I have been a professional actor and technician, held tech theatre positions at several universities and retired in 2002 as Associate Director at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center. However, it took me 16½ years to earn a B.S. in theatre from MSU. To this day I don’t know if the records show me as part of the class of 1953 or 1970. It would not have been possible without Doc’s tough love and encouragement. Thanks to his involvement, I completed my masters in 1971.

When I enrolled as a freshman at Mankato State Teacher’s College in 1949, Theatre was part of Speech which was part of the English Department. Selma Melgrin, about to retire and Dr. Marcelline Ericson, just hired, constituted the entire faculty. Plays were produced by a student extra-curricular organization, The Mask and Dagger Society.

The following summer I intended to transfer to the University of Minnesota, but we were faced with the "Police Action" in Korea and the imminent draft. Then in September 1950, Congress debated deferring students already enrolled in college and I was still at Mankato when Doc Paul arrived.

It is said that theatre is “a group art form,” but Ted didn’t just say it, he did it and we learned. In those early days, Ted did everything. He was his own scenic designer, costumer and prop man. I liked this hands on approach to theatre.

Until Ted’s arrival there was no scene shop or costume show and no provision for academics in technical theatre. He started weekend scene shop on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons for everybody who wanted to help. He would send out for donuts and sweet rolls. We would make a big pot of coffee and work through the weekend. We had to be careful to use Old Main back entrance so that nobody knew we were working on the Sabbath.

Life with Father required a grand Victorian staircase and there was no place to build it. There were several old dilapidated houses belonging to the college. We all knew they were scheduled for demolition. So one dark night, a crew including me “borrowed” the staircase and put it on-stage. Ted asked no questions; he was glad to get the steps. However, the college decided to keep that house open for another year and discovered the missing stairs. It didn’t take the administration long to figure out where they were. Ted was summoned by the president. He apologized profusely, “We haven’t done it and we’ll never do it again.” The sheer effrontery of taking a whole staircase was beyond the comprehension of President Crawford, who was known for his total lack of humor. Fortunately, the administration decided to close the building after all and the stairs stayed on stage.

Acting in the first production Ted directed was an eye-opener like nothing in my late-adolescent experience. I was not his first choice as "Sgt. Ruff" in Angel Street, but that student dropped out of school and left [lucky me].

A typical Ted moment happened during rehearsals for Angel Street. There had been weeks of frustrating slow rehearsal. On this day, Ted had run the entrance of Sgt. Ruff four times. We all knew the words, but the scene had no life. We started again at Ted’s request and I thought of a bit of business to help establish the character: playing with my hat and umbrella while being introduced by Elizabeth the maid, I suddenly had a piece of a character that caused both of the other performers on stage to break into fits of stifled laughter. Ted was furious and bellowed, “Stop laughing, damn it! Somebody’s finally acting!” It was as if he had turned on a bright floodlight, and I suddenly knew at least part of what acting meant.

I also remember that acoustic nightmare, Old Main Auditorium, a learning experience in voice production. Doc used to stand under the front edge of the balcony at the point where all the sound turned to mashed potatoes and say, “I’m a deaf little old lady in the back row and I want to hear every word!”

I had the good fortune to play character roles in a number of productions, Our Town, Boy Meets Girl, High Tor and Life With Father. With Ted’s encouragement, I had my first summer stock experience in 1951 with Little Theater of the Rockies, Greeley, Colorado, where Ted had been a graduate student. That summer I played a character my own age for the first and last time before reaching the age of 50.

The following incident might give you some idea of the youthful enthusiasm Ted brought to his shows. When Androcles and the Lion was in rehearsal, we had some guests at the final tech. At that time, Doc was 36 and I was scarcely 20. Doc was, of course, directing, and I was his first student stage designer and technical director. We each had a clear aisle to get backstage, his stage left, mine stage right. As we were busily hopping between backstage and the audience, I was stopped by one of the guests, who asked, “Are you directing this play or is it that young man, over there?”
In the spring of 1969, Ted contacted me at Meadowbrook Theatre in Michigan, where I was working as production coordinator. He offered me the guest spot of scene designer for Highland Summer Theater. Later that summer, I found myself unexpectedly looking for September employment, Ted put together a package that made it possible to stay on and finish my degrees.

Ted and I stayed in touch with each other for the next 15 years. I returned to be in the alumni production of Woody Allen’s O God, for the naming of The Ted Paul Theatre. I was also invited to repeat my role in Angel Street twice more with Ted as director. The second was on his retirement and the third was for the 50th anniversary of the production. Fifty years of the same play, the same director and the same character earned a mention in the professional actors’ union newsletter, "Equity News."

Goodbye to a great friend and mentor.

Jim MacRostie, Amherst, Massachusetts, August 2008

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From George M. Roesler, BS 1973, MFA 1980

I have many memories of Doc as he was a great influence on my life and career in the theatre.  The first show of Doc’s I worked on was Plaza Suite in 1972 as the lighting technician.  I was sitting in the back of the theatre during a rehearsal close to opening when Doc started yelling at one of the actors on stage.  Now, if you have ever been in a rehearsal with him you know how intimidating this can be as he begins to pace back and forth through the audience projecting in that great actor’s voice of his.  Well, he finished exploding on this poor freshman and standing right in front of me turned to me and said, “I think that got his attention,” smiled and walked back to his seat.  He was the consummate actor whether demonstrating to a young actor how to do a love scene or motivating him to work harder for the good of the show.

After I received my MFA in Directing in 1980 I worked at the summer theatre in Brainerd directing two of the three shows. During that summer I was fortunate to secure a job as Theatre Director and Instructor at Inver Hills Community College.  In looking at the contract I realized I was six credits short from being in the forth column of the pay schedule.  This was a difference of several thousand dollars and as a young professor I was not going to let that go without doing something about it.  I called Doc to see what he thought and he immediately suggested an independent project in directing.  He would authorize the six credits for me directing the plays in Brainerd and would come up to see them.  It was great fun having him see the plays, going out to dinner and socializing with him as a mentor and now a colleague.  I got the six credits and the fourth column for my pay schedule.

I never forgot how he was so supportive of me and my career and, using Doc as an example, I hope I have done the same for my students.  Doc Paul has been a role model for me starting at that first meeting so many years ago.  He was a great man of the Theatre and will be missed but the memories of the thousands of students he has influenced will keep his memory alive for generations. Thanks Doc!!!!!!

George M. Roesler is Theatre Director/Instructor, Inver Hills Community College
Artistic Director, Shakespeare & Company

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From Peter Ellenstein

I was so sorry to hear of Ted's passing. He was a lovely man and a truly passionate advocate and appreciator of theatre.

When I was visiting the campus, trying to decide where to attend Grad School after a life and career in Los Angeles, I was taken to watch a production of "Much Ado About Nothing". I was seated next to an elderly man who was introduced to me. Having met many people that day, I don't think I really heard his name, but he heard mine. And asked me to repeat it. I did. Then he asked the most extraordinary question, "Are you related to Bob." I said, yes,, he was my father. I assumed he knew of my father's film and TV career. Instead, he said, "How is he?" I went to school with him at the University of Iowa in the 1940s and he was very close friends with my brother Kurt. "Wow!!" We then went on and had a lovely conversation throughout the rest of the evening. That surprising connection had much to do with my decision to come to Mankato.

Throughout my time in Makato, Ted was always a presence, inviting me to dinner (we waited out a hurricane warning under his stairwell, he insisted we bring our drinks!), coming to my shows, and even directing me in his 50th anniversary production of "Angel Street". His passion, kindness to everyone, boundless love of theatre, students and the campus are some of my fondest memories of my time at Mankato.

It was especially lovely when my father came to campus to visit and we were able to have dinner with Ted (they hadn't seen each other in over forty years.) Listening to two old theatre codgers catching up and pontificating is one of the great joys of life!

Ted was a wonderful human being and he leaves a rich legacy. I am so happy to have known him and am sad that we fell out of touch the last couple of years. Mankato and thousands of students, faculty patrons and theatre lovers are in his debt.

I will miss him.

Peter Ellenstein is the Artistic Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts, Independence, KS

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From Brad Theissen, BS Journ, Hist/PolSci 1972

I knew the Paul family from Church for over 10 years, and son Eric, the star Gymnast at Mankato High School.

I enjoyed spending three Spring Breaks (1971-72-73) in NYC with Dr. Paul and Dr. Fred Bock.  We 50 or so students would see five shows in three days, in between a raucous cross-country bus ride, that included some dialogue about what we saw and why.

We saw amazing shows, with past, present and future Broadway and movie stars: Grease, Pippin, A Little Night Music, Twigs, Sleuth, Two Gentlemen from Verona, and even an off-off-Broadway telling of Alice In Wonderland, to name the biggies.

As a then news announcer at KYSM-AM/FM, that trip also always gave me the opportunity to visit NBC at 30 Rock(efeller Plaza) and see the other end of the NBC Radio Network that I was a part of, as well as a TV game show or two.

The first show I ever saw at MSC (Old Main Theater) was Bye Bye Birdie, which I was surprised to not see on his list of accomplishments.  I was a young teenager, and it was a stunning visual first-time theater experience, for someone raised on B&W TV.

(Brad Theissen was involved with MSC Daily Reporter, KMSU-FM, KGMA-AM, Student Activities, Student Senate. He now lives in Hollywood, CA.)

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Willis Sautbine, 1960 (photo from the VA)

I'll try to keep this short, though since this my first letter to MSU, I have accumulated quite a bit to say since graduation in '60.

My name is Willis Sautbine, a late college starter at age 32 in '57, I majored in Industrial Arts & began a minor in speech. So my association with "Doc." For a little extra credit I decided to sign up to be in a play. It turned out to be "Inherit the Wind" in which I spent every rehearsal & the production sitting silently in the jury box. "Doc" never knew, but from that vantage point I had memorized every line of every cast member, especially the judge. I now remember absolutely none of those lines but it was a great experience for which I got a B.

Since Doc and I were only only nine years difference in age, I think we had a good rapport. It was in the early stereo days and I recall with some electronic background, installing a new stereo turntable in his combination radio-phono. I do remember also sneaking a peek at his evaluation when I graduated in '60. His statement says it all, "Willis will never set the world on fire, but he will be a good teacher." I did teach in Peterson, Waldorf, and last in Waterville, for a total of 11 years. While teaching I built and operated Shor-TEE golf course in Waterville until '94. I then discovered karaoke and became a karaoke junkie, doing gigs at area bars for a few years 'til my back wouldn't let me haul the equipment around, now I just sing for friends and other old people. ha.

However, in '06 I got brave and entered a Veterans arts competition. I have attached a copy of the VA press release that preceded the Festival Show in Rapid City. You might want to go to some of the pages in the VA website, it was an inspiring event. I moved to Staples, where I was born, after my wife, June's death in '01.

Thanks for the great tribute to Doc.