TED KISTLER

Memorial Tributes & Thoughts

I miss Ted for lots of reasons: we are both diehard Cubs fans, and had the great good fortune to see our beloved also-rans overcome the dark gods to win the 2016 World Series. The New Vic's numerous productions of "The Bleacher Bums" just had to have helped the Cause.


I miss Ted's drollery, his dry wit, his michiefveness, his love of the madcap, the satirical, the outre.


I miss Ted's kindness, which was just one aspect of his love. 


But Jennifer and Jim, the rest of the family, and all of us who have loved the New Vic for half a century or so, carry on!

David Isaacson

A bright light has gone out here in Kalamazoo. The way he welcomed me not just into his theatre but also his family will never be forgotten. Much love Ted.

Sara Lynn Roddis

Legend, Trailblazer, Artist, Actor, Director, Musician, Producer, Businessman, Founder, Father, Husband, Grandfather ... Friend.

All our love to

James, Jennifer, Jocelyn, Jaclyn, and the entire family. You are surrounded by love - and the countless memories of Ted that will live with us all forever.

Well no matter where I wandered

I know I'll always find a welcome

At the end of every journey

There'll be friendly people waitin'

I'm going home, Lord, I'm going home

I’m going home


Love you Ted.

Michael P. Martin

The New Vic is a family and at the heart will always be Ted and Mary Jo. They built the foundation for a cast of characters to grow, laugh, and sing all while making memories that will forever be cherished.
Sending love and light to every heart that grew on the New Vic stage and in the audience. Thank you for everything, Ted.
It seems like I've been here before
I can't remember when
But I have this funny feeling
That we'll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life
And all my roads have bends
There's no clear-cut beginnings
And so far no dead-ends.

Angie Melvin

Ted was one of a kind. Funny, kindhearted, caring, a musical legend, and an all around good human being. It was a pleasure to have any interaction with him. I didn’t see him often but my day brightened when I did. Ted and Mary Jo were bright lights in Kalamazoo and are very much missed. Until we meet again......

Jan Modderman-Hui

Every so often, someone comes along and completely changes your life.

Ted Kistler was one of those people in my life.


I had been a theater critic for the four years I spent as an undergrad at Western Michigan University, and I always looked forward to going to the New Vic Theatre because the shows were always full of energy and vitality and creativity. Never did I dream, however, that I would set foot on its stage. Not until I was conned into doing an audition there for a story one of my entertainment writers was working on: We went to the New Vic for resident company auditions to interview hopefuls and wound up being put in the spotlight ourselves.


My only experience had been in junior high and high school theater, so I didn't take it seriously. I did a cold reading of a comic monologue and sang "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Barbra Streisand's YENTL because that was the only sheet music I had on hand. To me, it was a joke. But Ted did not laugh, He came to my office the next day and asked, "How serious was your audition yesterday?" I laughed and said, "How seriously did you take it?" Seriously enough that he wanted me to come back and read for THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, a mammoth, seven-and-a-half-hour epic the New Vic was doing in a few months. I tried to turn him down, but he was persistent. Finally, I agreed to come to the auditions: five solid hours of reading with wonderful actors like Arnold Johnston, Cathie Higgins Weir, Jim Bowers, James Furney, Jennifer Furney, Kim Gheen, Conny Loftus, Kristin Tyrrell and so many others. I hadn't a clue what I was doing and I was certain I was wasting my time and everyone else's. But then Jim Bowers called to say I was cast in the show -- and in a major role. Was this some kind of cruel joke? It was not. Ted insisted, "You're PERFECT for this." Insanity!


No one had ever cast me in a drama before; I had minimal theater training, and even most of that was in musical comedy or farce. But Ted and his incredible wife Mary Jo and the rest of the New Vic troupe made me feel like I was visiting royalty, some kind of "special guest star." I could never have asked for more supportive, encouraging people. No one laughed when I didn't know what "blocking" was. No one groaned when I blew my lines or missed my cues. Because of Ted's unassailable confidence in me, I felt compelled to keep going in that show, even when I was having panic attacks in private (and in public, I confess) and when friends were warning me, "You're going to make a fool of yourself -- you're out of your league."


Thanks to Ted and the New Vic family, I learned to trust myself and shut out the "well-meaning" friends. I've done dozens of shows since then, and I would never have done any of them if it had not been for Ted Kistler and his incredible mentoring. I had the privilege of doing A CHRISTMAS CAROL, SOME ENCHANTED MUSICALS and DRACULA on the New Vic stage in later years, and it always felt so wonderful to be back there.


Ted, your inspiration, humor, dedication and astonishing kindness and generosity will be with me until I take my final bow. As I write this, my heart is both shattered by the loss and yet warmed by the memories.

Bless you, Ted, for all you did for so many.

James Sanford

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