On Oct. 13, the College Players, USF’s student-run theatre company, celebrated Dave Pangaro at his retirement party. Pangaro is the College Players’ current advisor and has been working at USF for 35 years. Fitting with the College Players motto, “Then, Now, for Life,” alumni dating back to the 1980s attended to celebrate Pangaro’s place in the rich history of the College Players.
College Players, young and old, gathered in Presentation Theater to celebrate Pangaro, reconnect and share stories of their time at USF. Stories included pranks played on Public Safety officers and regaling tales of unforgettable parties. Former Players Executive Producer Rick Roberts, who hired Pangaro in 1983, served as the master of ceremonies. Pangaro’s band entertained the Players, performing rock hits throughout the decades with Pangaro singing.
By far the most emotional moment in the night came when Pangaro dedicated a song to two Players who passed away in a car accident in the summer of 1991. “They were on a road trip through Colorado looking for some work. The driver of a semi-truck fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into them head-on,” he told the crowd. Scattered heads nodded in solemn remembrance. “At the time, the most popular song on the radio was ‘Losing My Religion,’ by R.E.M., and I haven’t been able to listen to it since. But I knew we’d be performing here at my retirement party, so we learned it. I want to replace the bad memories this song gives me with my memory of today, this moment, with you all here,” he continued. The performance received a teary-eyed standing ovation from nearly everybody in the room.
After Pangaro’s band, Players had the opportunity to perform songs from musicals the College Players had performed during his tenure. Most notably, Joe Ledbetter, who performed with the Players from 1998 to 2004, performed the song “Amsterdam” from the musical “Jacque Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” which Pangaro directed in 2000.
When Pangaro was hired, the Players performed in the Gill Theater, located where the Kalmanovitz Amphitheater now stands. The club lost their home in 2005 when the university demolished it. Since then, the Players have split time between Presentation Theater in the Education Building and the Studio Theater on Lone Mountain.
Pangaro will formally retire at the end of this semester. At the College Players’ end-of-year event this past May, he was presented with a lifetime pass for free admission to every College Players performance and a personalized San Francisco Giants baseball jersey with the number 63 on the back — the Giants are Pangaro’s favorite team, and the College Players were founded in 1863.