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Published: Friday, 7/22/2011

Frank Glann, 1935-2011: Professor was central figure in playhouse

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

HURON, Ohio -- Frank Glann, a university professor and storehouse of theater knowledge who was a vital part of the Huron Playhouse for 45 of its 63 summers, died Monday in Firelands Regional Medical Center of an apparent heart attack. He was 75.

Mr. Glann, a Maumee native and the associate managing director of the playhouse, learned he had pancreatic cancer more than two months ago. Chemotherapy aside, he still went to the playhouse at McCormick School most days. He designed the first show of the current season, Beguiled Again -- The Songs of Rodgers and Hart.

"He was first of all a dedicated educator," said his wife, Jann Graham Glann, artistic and managing director. Those who take part in the playhouse are in residence for at least eight weeks. He believed that the playhouse is "a wonderful program in educating in the theater arts -- and in general living," his wife said. "We learn not only one craft, but a lot of crafts. It's something that gets in your blood. You just want to go back and back."

The couple met at the playhouse, and their sons Kerry and John return to Huron each summer for the playhouse experience.

"He saw the aspects of teamwork that go into theater production," said his son Kerry, an associate professor of music at Kent State University. "That's something the playhouse tries to engender. You can be a star on stage one night, and the next you're cleaning toilets."

Mr. Glann appeared on stage early on as a member of the company. Much of his time was behind the scenes, especially as a scenic designer.

He retired May 31 from Bowling Green State University as an associate professor of humanities. He started at BGSU Firelands in Huron in 1970 and was director of theater. In 2008, his accomplishments were recognized by the BGSU Faculty Senate with a commemorative plaque and a $1,000 cash award.

For the theater's 50th anniversary, he put together 50 Years At the Huron Playhouse, A Souvenir Album, and the video documentary, The Huron Playhouse Story, 50 Years of Theatre.

"He was so much a part of the history of it," son Kerry said. "He saw the value of it and watched it grow."

The university cut its affiliation and funding of the playhouse after last season. He and his wife agreed that the theater had to continue and worked with the community to establish a board and raise money.

The theater had survived rough patches in the 1980s. Mr. Glann was the playhouse alumni coordinator and stayed in touch with all who'd gone through the program. He also was a diplomat of sorts, working with school and city officials.

"The people, the chamber of commerce, the board of education, the city council -- everyone has been very supportive through the years," Mr. Glann told The Blade in 1988. "We take their furniture for props; we sometimes take their clothes, and we take their expertise."

He added that the playhouse on occasion borrowed their children for roles in plays.

"The playhouse simply would not have survived without Frank and his wife," said F. Lee Miesle, BGSU professor emeritus of speech communication. "They were central.

"I had the pleasure of teaching him through three different degrees, and I directed his master's thesis and his PhD dissertation."

He was born Dec. 15, 1935, to Arline and Clarence Glann on a farm in Maumee. He first worked at the playhouse as a Maumee High School graduate. He received two bachelor's degrees, a master's degree, and a doctorate from BGSU.

He taught for several years at Southeast Missouri State University early in his career. He also taught on the main BGSU campus.

He had a longtime enthusiasm for the distinctive voice of the late Ethel Merman, a longtime star of the musical stage. He also became friends with Edward Albee and arranged for the playwright to visit Huron several times.

"He had an encyclopedic memory, full of details," Mr. Miesle said. "When he started to talk about theater, there was no mistaking it was a central part of his life."

He was an Army veteran.

Surviving are his wife, Jann, who he married June 11, 1966; sons, Kerry and John Glann, and sisters, Enid Thompson and Patricia Herrit.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 4 in First Presbyterian Church, Huron, where he was an elder. Arrangements are by the Foster Funeral Home, Huron.

The family suggests tributes to the Huron Playhouse.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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