A familiar face returns to the stage


Taken by Celena DelPizzo-Howel

Scarlett Wheaton, Business Manager

Five years ago, Laguna Beach’s beloved drama teacher Mark Dressler retired. Dressler is returning to the Artists Theatre in a very special guest appearance for the LBHS fall play, Our Town. He will be portraying the Stage Manager and narrating the play as we follow the main characters, Emily and George, through Grover’s Corners.

“After a recent read-thru of the play, a couple of students expressed their idea that the Stage Manager is kind of like God. Ultimately, I think the Stage Manager is actually Thornton Wilder,” said Dressler, referencing the playwright.

About a month ago, Our Town’s director, LBHS alumnus and former Park Avenue Player Celena DelPizzo-Howell contacted Dressler and asked him if he’d consider coming back. Due to Dressler’s history with the program, he said yes.

“It feels GREAT to be back at LBHS, where I spent 25 years working with excellent young people and great teaching staff,” said Dressler.

Dressler was proud that when he returned he saw how Alexis Karol, Laguna’s current theater director, had kept the same values in the theatre department, excitement and love of the process.  

“The number one thing I miss about my old job is working with young people. So it’s exciting to get to know this group of students, whose work I have admired […] over the last four years. Many of the seniors I am working with had my last teaching assignment: the 7th-grade drama class at Thurston; so it’s fun to reacquaint myself with boys and girls who are now young men and women,” said Dressler. 

Among those young men and women is senior Luka Salib, who will be playing the part of Dr. Gibbs, husband of Julia Gibbs and father to George Gibbs. Salib, who’s performed in 10 productions throughout his time at LBHS (and hopes to participate in the musical in the spring as well), reminisced about his brief but fun time in seventh grade with Dressler.

“It’s so bizarre. I’ve never worked with him before outside seventh grade,” said Salib, who mentioned how interesting it is to be able to get to know Dressler in a new context as a fellow cast member. 

The last time Dressler worked as an actor was in the ‘80s, almost 40 years ago. As the role of Stage Manager is very intimidating and includes monologues that are literally pages long, Dressler stays positive and looks forward to the upcoming performances. 

“Getting back on stage as an actor after being away from that part of the process for so many years is more than exciting. It’s a real challenge!”