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Lakewood Ranch High welcomes new theater director

Dave Springer will perform in Manatee Performing Arts Center's "Songs for a New World" as he starts teaching at Lakewood Ranch High.

Dave Springer will not only be taking on the new role of theater director at Lakewood Ranch High School but also a role in the Manatee Performing Arts Center's "Song for a New World."
Dave Springer will not only be taking on the new role of theater director at Lakewood Ranch High School but also a role in the Manatee Performing Arts Center's "Song for a New World."
Photo by Liz Ramos
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Lakewood Ranch’s Dave Springer uses almost every chance he has to listen to music from “Songs for a New World.”

He has no doubts the songs from the musical will be on his personal “Most listened to” playlist on Spotify by the end of the year. 

But the songs are for more than just enjoyment. He’s studying them to prepare for his role in Manatee Performing Arts Center's production of the musical Sept. 14-24. 

One song in particular, “She Cries,” has been his focus. He’s learning the words, the tone of the character, the emotions expressed, anything he can take away from the song about a man who thinks he knows everything about women realizing that he knows nothing at all. 

Springer’s understanding of the character will pay off as he brings the role to life on stage during the Manatee Performing Arts Center's production of “Songs for a New World." 

But unlike the other community theater productions he’s performed in, his audience could consist of a few Lakewood Ranch High School theater students.

Springer said his background as a theater teacher and director as well as his experience in community theater will help him as he has started as the new Lakewood Ranch High theater director. 

“It brings credibility to me that I’ve been on stage,” Springer said. “If students want to come see me, they’re welcome to come see me. It’s an opportunity to share something special with them and let them see me in a different light as well. … Maybe it can affect them because theater is something you could do the rest of your life. You don’t have to make it your career.”

Mike Nolan and Dave Springer, the new theater director at Lakewood Ranch High School, have some fun off stage before their performances in Manatee Performing Arts Center's "Titanic."
Courtesy photo

Springer never dreamt of being a Broadway star. He fell in love with theater at Royal Oak Shrine High School in Michigan where he made his theatrical debut as Conrad Birdie in “Bye Bye Birdie.” 

“(Conrad Birdie) is this Elvis-type character, so all the girls go crazy for him,” Springer said. “I was like: ‘I like this. I can hang out with this theater stuff, all these girls going crazy for me.’” 

Since then, he’s performed in more than 30 productions and became a theater teacher and director. 

After 27 years of teaching in Michigan, Springer decided to retire. Springer moved to Lakewood Ranch with his wife, Stephanie, and 15-year-old son Jackson five years ago. He served as a substitute teacher for the School District of Manatee County before being hired as the theater director at Lakewood Ranch High in early August. 

Springer always has loved that being a theater director has given him the time to develop relationships with his students because they are working together for several hours in rehearsal through the performances. 

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to see them grow,” he said. 

Jackson Springer’s decision to participate in Lakewood Ranch High’s theater program as a freshman last year gave Springer an insight into what the program has to offer students. 

“It looked like they were having fun and doing things that I can do,” Springer said. “I want to get as many kids involved and have a great experience with it. I want the kids to do something they’re proud of and be here to help put them in those positions where they can succeed.”

Springer loves that theater can often push people out of their comfort zone, especially when performing in a challenging play or portraying a character different than them. 

“In the musical “Songs for a New World” I play multiple characters, and one of them is just not a very nice guy,” he said. “I’ve never done that before, so it’s kind of neat to play someone different than yourself and explore humanity through that by digging into the characters. It’s fascinating when you’re able to do that.”

For him, his most challenging play is “Noises Off,” a play about people putting on a play. He not only performed in the production as Frederick Fellowes in 1994, but he directed the production as a high school teacher in 2012. The play took executing perfect timing with several moving parts and mastering physical comedy. 

He remembers his character having to hop up stairs with his pants around his ankles because he had glue on his hands. 

But now he’s onto a different role as both a teacher and performer. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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