‘Class Acts’ director is an original

Terry Walters, director of “Class Acts,” the teacher variety show, has been involved in the show since its inception 25 years ago. Photo by Rick Orndorf

Last year Terry Walters was the genial emcee, a Keillor-esque curator of “Class Acts,” the annual teacher variety show in School District 191.

Back in the day Walters once played King Tut, Steve Martin’s character in a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

“I’d sure like to find somebody that looked like me back then,” Walters said, recalling one of his most successful bits from the past quarter-century.

“Class Acts,” in which Burnsville-Eagan-Savage teachers take the stage to raise money for student scholarships, turns 25 this year. Walters — a triple threat as sketch writer, actor and director — has been there every dance step of the way, save for one year in the ’90s when he took sabbatical to teach at the University of Minnesota.

This year’s show, dubbed “Go BIG or GO HOME!”, opens Thursday, Feb. 28,  at 7:30 p.m. at Burnsville High School’s Mraz Center for the Performing Arts. Shows continue Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, at 7:30 p.m., along with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee. Tickets are $5.

Walters is directing for at least the 10th straight year, if time-blurred memory serves him.

“And I think I’ve got a couple more in me yet,” said Walters, a Burnsville High  English teacher and the school’s theater director.

“I never thought we would keep it together this long,” Walters said. “I’m really proud that not only have we managed to keep the program happening, but it has grown and it has received continuous community support.”

“Class Acts” has become a District 191 institution, raising a total of $222,000 in scholarship funds for graduating seniors at the district’s high school and  alternative high school. Last year, 10 scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded.

“We generally have one or two sold-out performances each year, and the and the staff deserves that,” Walters said.

Nearly 150 teachers are involved in this year’s production. Preparation begins in the fall.

“We don’t pretend that this is absolutely high art,”  Walters said. “However, there are some extremely talented people, extremely talented musicians and vocalists. I would begin to name them, but I wouldn’t want to leave anybody out.

“And students love it because they enjoy seeing their teachers in a unique environment outside the classroom. They enjoy seeing their teachers courageously make fools of themselves, and everyone has a good time.”

“Class Acts” is a staff morale-booster, bringing together teachers from across a large school district, Walters said.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Walters, who has also been busy directing the high school’s winter production of Shakespeare’s
“Taming of the Shrew.” He credits the “Class Acts” co-chairs — school psychologist Holly Schultz and Metcalf Junior High teacher Lucretia Jeffers — with doing much of the heavy lifting on this year’s show.

Teachers will sing, play instruments, act in skits, tell jokes and dance. A flash mob, a rapper and special effects are promised.

“The theme of ‘GO BIG or GO HOME!’ encapsulates the idea that for the 25th anniversary, we are pulling out all the stops for the biggest show yet,” Schultz said. “If we can’t go big, we better go home.”

Tickets are available 30 minutes before showtime. For more information, call the “Class Acts” hotline at (952) 707-3220.