Round of applause: Drama director Allan Hunt retires

Land ‘When he was directing something, you could tell that his heart was 100% in it.’

Often donning a white dress shirt, a uniquely-colored tie, and a kind smile, Allan Hunt, in his 21 years at Oak Park High School, may have most likely been found in the Pavilion, preparing for one of his 52 total drama productions with his majestic instruction and charismatic disposition. You may otherwise have found him in B-4, teaching students about film or advising National Honors Society and Drama Club. And on occasion, you could catch him on the big screen of your very own TV in movies and shows like ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.’

Hunt worked alongside choir teacher Heidi Cissell on close to 20 productions, including but not limited to “A Chorus Line,” “Evita,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hello Dolly,” “Grease,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hair,” “Les Miserables.” She recalls her favorite memories shared with Hunt.

“Mr. Hunt and I always used to dress up on campus for Halloween. One year he was Robin Hood and I was a damsel. We always were a kind of duo. We have so many wonderful memories and laughs throughout all of the productions that we worked on together,” Cissell said. “When I had the vocal rehearsals for the musicals, Mr. Hunt would always sit by me — by the piano — and turn pages for me. I think he just loved hearing the students sing and loved watching the process of everything coming together musically … [He] is one of the kindest, most patient [people] that I have had the privilege to work with in the arts.”

Hunt also worked on occasion with band director Zachary Borquez, who similarly praised the educator and director.

“Thinking back to my first year … and learning that he was an actor, there was a little bit of a fan aspect to it,” band director Zachary Borquez said in a speech during the OPUSD Retirement Reception. “I was like ‘Oh, that’s awesome — he’s Seaman Stu Riley in ‘Voyage’’ … [I even found] an … good website.”

It isn’t only staff who applaud Hunt, but students, too.

“I have worked with a lot of different directors in my experience with theater, and no one is as patient, kind, and thoughtful as Mr. Hunt,” said senior Dominic Land. “Every time you go up to him, he smiles and is ready to have a full conversation with you, no matter what.”

Land then jokes about how Hunt used to bring in sour dough pretzels to rehearsal, causing everyone to get mad at eachother for spending so much time getting them. Even alumni recall Hunt’s kind character.

“He was always patient and offered kind encouragement through every step of the process,” said OPHS alumnus Preston Green, who worked closely with Hunt on “Mamma Mia!” and “Chicago.” “You could always tell he truly loved what he was doing. I think that sort of visible passion inspired all of us in the cast.”

So what lies next in store for Hunt?

“I’ll probably go back to acting now, so you might have to see me on TV again,” Hunt said. Keep your eyes peeled, folks.