Ric Morales: Props with a whole lot of heart

Ric Morales: Props with a whole lot of heart

RTG Spotlight

Ric Morales has been seen on stage, but he truly enjoys working props. Born and raised in Racine, Ric found out early on that he loved theatre, but just as something to enjoy in the audience or help to teach. As a teacher for 35 years, he retired from Walden, teaching history and social studies. He also taught bilingual elementary classes and now teaches as a sub for art, Spanish and English.

“I love substitute teaching now,” Ric says. “I enjoy retirement, but then fill in where I’m needed, and I can spend time with the kids and still feel like I’m using my teaching skills.”

Ric earned his teaching degree from UW-Parkside and then went on to get a bilingual degree from UW-Milwaukee. He began teaching in 2007 at Dr. Jones elementary school, and found himself helping with drama clubs for fourth and fifth grades. That’s when he started getting the theatre bug.

“I absolutely loved the movie Stand and Deliver,” he says, “and then I saw a notice in the newspaper that the Racine Theatre Guild was doing it as a play in 2007. I had never been on stage before, but went to the audition and got cast as Jaime Escalante, the teacher. It was such an honor to play that role, though I had a lot of stage time and it took so much work. I thought I knew the lines from watching the movie, but it’s a whole different thing to have to memorize the whole thing and say it on stage!”

When the RTG produced Stand and Deliver again in 2023 Ric played the role of the principal, and he says he was so excited to be part of that story again. “Being a teacher, I loved how he inspired his students to go on to achieve more than they ever expected. And it’s a true story.”

Ric also appeared in You Can’t Take It With You in 2008 and A Bad Year for Tomatoes in 2010. “Much as I enjoy being on stage,” Ric says, “I found that I also love helping back stage, knowing I’m supporting the actors and the production in a different way. Phil and Sandy Lyden taught me all the basics of doing props, and I went on to be on the props crew for Honky Tonk Angels (2009), Guys on Ice (2022), Native Gardens (2022), Cemetery Club (2023) and Seasonal Allergies (2023). And I was Assistant Stage Manager for Perfect Wedding (2023).”

Ric says he is learning more and more with every show he works, and now, for the first time, he is chairing props. “The props for The Little Mermaid are mostly here from last year. I’m good at organizing, getting the props crew for each show, and making sure the right props are set in the right place at the right time. And since I’m retired now, I can work the daytime outreach shows.”

In thinking of his favorite memories on shows, Ric says he never worked so hard as he did to help create all the food for Seasonal Allergies. “I was back stage whipping up mashed potatoes and stuffing for every performance,” he says.

Ric enjoys being around the many artistic people who volunteer with the RTG.

“I’ve seen so much talent over the years,” he says. “This is a great way for me to volunteer my time now that I don’t teach full time. There is nothing like the excitement of opening night. Whether I’m in a show or on crew, I love the process of going from nothing, through the rehearsals, and watch it all come together. I continue with the RTG because I’ve met wonderful people who work together with such teamwork. Doug does so much behind the scenes to keep the RTG running smoothly, and since I’m on the board of directors this year, I’m seeing more of that. I’m also on the playreading committee this year, another big job.”

Ric hopes to continue to be part of the RTG, on stage or on crew, on the board or on committees. He loves to welcome new people, is grateful to be cast in any role big or small, and calls the RTG a bright spot in his life. And the RTG is lucky to have people like Ric, willing to volunteer in so many ways to keep the organization going.