Remembering the Work of Dianne Dye and Zack Lawson


St Ambrose University's Theatre Department has undergone many changes in the past year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall mainstage musical, First Date, was cancelled and replaced with the radio play, An Enemy of the People. Not as easily replaceable are staff members and long-time friends of the department, Dianne Dye and Zack Lawson ‘18, who were unfortunately let go due to budget cuts.

Dye got her start with the SAU Theatre Department in 1998 when her neighbor, Susan McDonald, suggested to Dr. Corinne Johnson that she should volunteer in the costume shop. At that time, Johnson would design and stitch the costumes while also directing the mainstage shows, and she needed help. As Dye had recently retired and had done a great deal of sewing and costuming for Davenport North High School, she decided to accept the offer.

The first show Dye helped with was Tartuffe, alongside guest designer and Emmy Award winner, Brian Hemesath '93. Eventually, Johnson asked her to organize the costume shop, which turned into her designing for the department. "My path went from volunteer, to part-time employee, to full-time employee, to feeling like the SAU Theatre Department was my family!" Dye said.

The project Dye was most proud of was the musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, produced by SAU in 2010. In fact, during this production, she successfully designed three separate wedding dresses that could be quick-changed in the middle of a song! Dye loved coming to work each day and catching up with her friends, colleagues, and students here at SAU.

Another fond memory is when Dye went along for the ride when SAU's production of Anton in Showbusiness went to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2002. It was her first time attending and she loved seeing the students perform!

While both of those memories are fun and cheerful, there is one SAU memory that will always hold a special place in Dye's heart.

"I'll always remember the incredible fundraiser that the Department hosted for me after my husband had passed away," said Dye. "Alumni came from far and wide to perform. It was very heart-warming."

At the end of the day, she absolutely loved meeting so many new and fantastic people and is very thankful for those who still keep in touch with her.

Dianne Dye and Zack Lawson

Staff members and long-time friends of the department, Dianne Dye and Zack Lawson '18, were unfortunately let go due to budget cuts.

Lawson, another wonderful asset to the SAU theatre department, started his journey with the department as a student when he transferred to SAU in the Spring of 2016. Lawson soon became the Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) for Hedda Gabler, and then, Noises Off. Additionally, Lawson worked in the scene shop, helped with light hangs, and immersed himself in as many theater classes and projects he could during the two short years he was a student. SAU's production of Cabaret in 2018 was Lawson's last show as a student, as well as one of his favorite productions at SAU.

"I remember at the end of the show, the audience had no idea how to react," said Lawson. "It was such a great moment leaving an audience in stunned silence."

Another of his favorite shows was The Tempest, which was the only show that he acted in at SAU. He was very grateful to work with a great cast and crew on the show, and the final product was phenomenal. Furthermore, Lawson still remembers a funny moment during the first dress rehearsal of The Tempest, when he wore his wig and glasses for the first time, and nobody knew who he was until he started talking!

Dye and Lawson have been greatly missed in the SAU Theatre Department this year, but their memories and legacy live on! The department was very fortunate to have them as part of our theatre family and everyone is so thankful for all the work they have done throughout the years.


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