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‘Fiddler’ to be final curtain call for Kettering


XENIA — It began with a small part in “Cyrano de Bergerac” as a nine-year-old, and later blossomed during high school.

Now decades later, Ken Kettering is stepping away from theater to let someone else call the shots. The long-time drama director at Legacy Christian/Xenia Christian is leading his final performance this weekend as the school presents “The Fiddler on the Roof,” which began Thursday.

Kettering, who has been in charge of stage performances at the school for more than 20 years, directed “Our Miss Brooks” during the 1999-2000 school year and has directed multiple stage shows each school year since, with few exceptions.

That’s a lot of auditions, dress rehearsals, curtain calls, and late nights. And the former TV personality wouldn’t change a thing.

“Had a lot of fun, directed some tremendously talented kids, and developed some amazing relationships and memories with staff members and school parents,” Kettering said when asked to look back on his career. “Deeply appreciate the opportunity to work initially in the Dayton Christian School System, then at Xenia Christian, and now at Legacy Christian Academy. Always felt the love and support of the administration.”

Ironically, Kettering didn’t necessarily get the warm and fuzzies during that Cyrano performance at Pillsbury Bible College, where his parents were part of the faculty.

“I had fun but didn’t fall in love with theater then,” he said. “In high school, I was heavily involved in sports (primarily football) and choirs. My sophomore year at a school in Minnesota, my speech teacher gave me opportunities to do some acting and encouraged me to be in the high school play. When I transferred to John A. Johnson High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, I participated in one play and really loved the experience and getting to meet new kids outside of football. I was cast in another play my senior year, but because of church commitments had to drop out. I was pretty disappointed.”

In college, Kettering was able to perform in several productions while studying broadcasting and playing sports. He met his wife, Cristy, at Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga and came to Dayton in 1978 to help the Miami Valley Christian Broadcasting Association launch TV-26, a family/Christian television station, in Springfield.

He also spent more than 20 years at WDTN and WRGT as a reporter and anchor.

While directing young adult dramas at Patterson Park Church in the late 1990s, Xenia Christian Principal Alan Stock, also a member of the church, asked Kettering to join the staff and direct drama at XC. Christy was already a faculty member at Xenia Christian, which was a part of Dayton Christian’s system until splitting and rebranding as Legacy Christian several years ago.

And that turned into a decades-long tenure at the school.

“I guess the passion to serve Christ by creating a fun, creative, safe theater experience where the kids can learn and grow in so many ways (kept me going),” Kettering said. “God always teaches me things about Himself and myself as I produce and direct. I desire to inspire the kids to perform for an audience of one and serve Him with their time and talents. I am energized and humbled by the kids and all of my family and friends who help me do this ministry.”

Working with kids is another reason why Kettering stayed so long to build a legacy at the school (pun intended).

“One of my greatest joys of doing this work through the years has been including as many students as possible in the productions and seeing what they make of the opportunity God has given them and characters I am help them develop,” Kettering said. “Often parents and I are incredibly surprised when we see the end results on stage — what they end up doing and what comes out of them. Seems almost miraculous at times.”

It hasn’t all been perfect. There were about-faced animals, a near poultrygeist when a chicken flew into the orchestra pit, a flying shoe, and a goat that did something baaaaaaaad on the stage.

But hey, that’s theater right?

While Kettering jokingly said that he would like to forget those unforgettable moments, he will always treasure “Seeing the faithfulness of God in each production as He miraculously pulled shows together at the last minute, adding His blessing to our feeble efforts despite our challenges and difficulties, and using each performance to uniquely impact the cast members and audiences (or so they tell me).”

Perhaps appropriately the “tradition” now ends with Fiddler.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.