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Tribute to Mt. Pleasant theater director John Klak goes viral on TikTok

After 29 years of devoting his time to the Mt. Pleasant theater department, the community came together to celebrate the positive impact that director John Klak had on everyone who has walked through the auditorium doors.

“The idea came about a few months back when my friend Dominic Thrasher, who was one of the former students who participated in the tributes. He brought the idea of doing a tribute for my dad for his last show up to me and was like, do you want to, you know, make that happen? And I was like, Yeah, absolutely. I kind of knew that I was one of the only people who knew the extensive history of the shows my dad has done and who has been in them and what would be a good fit with my BFA in musical theater. So, I kind of like I took the idea and then I just kind of like wrangled all the materials together and got the people together,” said Mt. Pleasant High School alumnus David William Klak.

RELATED: Excellence in Education: John Klak from Mount Pleasant High School


Almost 40 alumni from the years of 1998 to 2023 came together to perform a medley thanking John Klak for his hard work over the last three decades.

“It was one of the few times I can say that my dad was absolutely speechless. He had very few words to say because he was about overwhelmed. And, you know, that was the goal. We were like, we’re going to take the words right out of him. And we managed to do that,” said David William Klak.

David William Klak created a TikTok of the tribute, which has blown up on social media.

“It meant a lot, obviously. You know, the medley was neat. It was it was neat to see. But probably what meant more to me was just the number of alumni who were there. And it was it was overwhelming. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was it was really touching,” said John Klak.


But how did they manage to pull off such an incredible performance in such little time with alumni scattered all over the country?

“Well, I live in New York City. This all happened in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. So, I was getting all these materials together. I was getting the sheet music, sending it to people. I had my amazing friend Jace McCloy put the music together into a full set of sheet music and a piano track for everyone to practice to and perform to. And the Friday before and the Saturday the day of, I had secret rehearsals in the basement of a realty firm and we just, like, ran it. And they came so prepared and ready to do the thing. So, I couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out,” David William Klak said.

A gesture this big exemplifies the impact John has made on the community.

“Just in my first cast of Oklahoma, I can name five people from that cast that went on to pursue it professionally. From television being one of the top, Irish dance, Irish steppers, teachers in improv with Second City, myself, another woman who is danced on Broadway. Just so many of us just went on and again, just from that very first musical. And as time went on, he told me, he said 50 to 60 students go on to pursue it professionally. And that’s a lot, especially when you think about Mount Pleasant, Michigan. It doesn’t matter how small your town is, but it’s about the heart that beats in the center. And that’s what John is. And that’s what John has done for 29 years here at Mount Pleasant,” said alumnus Dominic Thrasher.


So many memories were made over the past 29 years. And John Klak says there is one reason why he stuck around for so long.

“Just a whole slew of people that have gone on to do a performance in some way and they credit getting their start here. And that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of. I feel like that’s where I’ve made the impact. You can’t really make an impact on a building that people are going to remember or It’s going to carry on. It’s in the kids,” said John Klak.

And after 29 years, John Klak decided to embark on a new endeavor.

“People they’re like, why are you quitting? You know, And I’m not quitting theater. I just see it as sort of going in a different direction. I’ll probably do some playwriting, maybe produce some of those shows, maybe do some directing. I’ve thought about auditioning for professional roles. All of that is in my possibilities. But now, I have time to do it,” said John Klak.


But there’s no doubt that the community of Mt. Pleasant will miss him.

“You take someone like my dad, you know, they’re a dime a dozen. There’s so many people out there. But you always have that one teacher that, like, really makes the biggest impact. And they deserve to all be celebrated to the level that my dad was. They all deserve that no matter what they teach, whether they’re a math teacher, an English teacher, a history teacher, a choir teacher, a bandleader. They all deserve all the love in the world and all the admiration in the world. My dad just has the fortune of being a drama teacher. So therefore, there’s an actual stage to put him on,” said David William Klak.

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