April 2023 Alumni Spotlight: Michael Nevitt (FC ’86) & Ed Goerlitz (NA Faculty 1957-91)

April 2023 Alumni Spotlight: Michael Nevitt (FC ’86) & Ed Goerlitz (NA Faculty 1957-91)

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April 2023

The recent accolades bestowed upon the Theatre Arts programs of both high schools put the names of our renowned directors on a special list. Tom Weatherston (Alumni Spotlight, May 2021), David Longest, (the late) Glenn Edwards, and Chris Bundy impacted a few dozen grads whose careers owe them much. Perhaps more important has been the richer education that thousands of alumni have enjoyed because of them. At the same time, there’s been a richness of the various components that make up “theatre behind the scenes”. These have also been greatly treasured by student thespians, crew and theatre-goers alike.

Two highly regarded Hall of Famers, Michael Nevitt from FCHS and Ed Goerlitz of NAHS… found these elements of the theatre to be the parts that suited them best. We think you’ll enjoy learning more about the reasons they were chosen by their respective Hall of Fame committees.

Introduction and profiles contributed by Rex Bickers, FCHS ‘70

Michael NevittDo you know people like this? You might. There are people who can trace their entire career back to their junior high school years. Michael Nevitt is one such person.

From his beginning at FC (seventh grade, 1980-81), Mike wanted to be involved in theatre… but the lighting crew appealed to him more than trying to land an acting part. It was Floyd Central’s final year to use its “cafetorium”, in the round. The following year, a new state-of-the-art stage opened. Michael took part in every single production, eighth grade through senior year in scenery and lighting.

It provided unprecedented preparation for his education at the University of Evansville, where he earned his degree in Theatrical Design, followed by graduate school at UCLA (MFA in Theatrical Lighting Design). He hit the ground running, with skills in both technical (production and control equipment design) and creative deployment… “choreographing” the lighting to help make the stage come alive.

His resume includes hundreds of live stage productions, television events and major motion pictures. That alone would be a solid record for 25 years in the lighting business. In Michael’s case, these accomplishments are more like the bedrock for an entire additional “uber-layer” of lighting for events… across the US, Europe, and Asia. Here’s a partial list: performances by Ringo Starr and Janet Jackson, FarmAid, the Super Bowl halftime show in 1995 and ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He’s put his creative stamp on the world of combat sports with Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and HBO, spanning 12 years. Coming soon will be similar involvement with Bare Knuckle Fighting.

For all the glamour of these entertainment spectacles, it may be that Michael’s ability to “give back” as a mentor at Floyd Central means just as much to him. He made a very big contribution to the highly sophisticated needs of The SpongeBob Musical (2021), Newsies (2017) and Les Miserables (2013) at FC.  Michael was inducted into the Floyd Central Hall of Fame in 2014. And for the past eight years, add this: the role of proud theatre dad to Connor (FC ’19) and Cassidy (FC ’23).

He is currently Principal Designer, President, and Senior Partner at Crossfade Designs LLC, located here in New Albany. One crazy twist about the three Crossfade business partners: each has had his hands in the lighting industry since their early teens.

ED GOERLITZBy the time Michael Nevitt was a seventh grader… Tom Weatherston and Ed Goerlitz had already been faculty at New Albany for a combined total of fifty years. Both Tom and Ed would go on to be inducted into the New Albany Hall of Fame. Tom knew how to form effective connections with the talents he found among his fellow faculty. For musicals, (the late) Robert Carter (also a Hall of Famer) was a crucial partner. He knew the choral students who might perform best in lead roles. They proved it in their auditions.

The two men were immersed in the performing arts as part of their primary teaching duties. Others had very demanding “day jobs”. Lucile Paris was Dean of Girls for over twenty years. Overseeing the wardrobe needs of the theatre program was entirely an extracurricular commitment that she fulfilled tirelessly. Ed Goerlitz followed in her footsteps after she retired in 1976. He had joined the faculty in 1957 and over his 34 years, he had full time responsibilities teaching history, world civilizations and usually two classrooms of English. Because he was located in the annex, it facilitated an affinity to what Tom was doing in “the theatre classroom” there. Ed didn’t have to be “roped in”.

He grew up in Boonville, Indiana. His great grandfather was a tailor; his mother taught him sewing and knitting. She nurtured his desire to learn about various fabrics. He was intrigued by the aesthetic process of designing and the use of color. He attended Evansville College for one year, then went on to earn degrees in education (BA 1952 and MA 1957) at IU Bloomington. Between 1952 and 1955, he served three years in the Army, including 16 months in Pusan, Korea.

After leaving the service, Ed began his sixty year adventure in marriage to (Margaret) “Marj” Thoss. They both enjoyed sewing, and each was as capable as the other. It meant that the theatre department got a “two-fer” in creating and managing costumes. Ed never sought recognition for his work as Wardrobe Master at NAHS, but his eyes light up as he recalls his favorite musicals, including 1776 and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ed was inducted into the New Albany Hall of Fame in 2018. In addition to their two children… Amy Goerlitz Deal (NAHS ’83) and (the late) David Goerlitz (NAHS ’79)… Ed and Marj were blessed with four grandchildren. He has been a widower since 2015 and now lives with his grandson Michael (NAHS ’01). Most Mondays, you can still find him up to his elbows in apparel at the “Clothes Closet” of St Marks’ Church.

Check out the complete April 2023 Legacy Ledger edition. 

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