Applause for a Family of Volunteers: The Ranowskys

Kathi & David Ranowsky

The original motive, in 2001, was to support a friend, Sara Bennett, who was in the PPF production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Kathi, David and Amanda Ranowsky sat on those hard cafeteria chairs at Frost Middle School, fell in love with community theater, became ardent PPF fans (groupies?), then became season ticket holders and donors.

Fast forward five or six years, when on a whim they asked another friend, Beth Harrison, to pass the word along to the cast and crew that the Ranowskys wanted to have a post-performance open house. “We wanted to show our appreciation for the great entertainment we had enjoyed by inviting folks to come to our house for drinks and snacks.” The general response behind the curtain was “Who are the Ranowskys?” But, like most theater folks, they didn’t want to miss a chance at some food, and to be appreciated by audience members! The Ranowskys turned out to be lovely hosts and, from their perspective, “… company members have since become dear friends. The after-show parties grew until our house couldn’t hold any more people but we have loved every minute.”

David Ranowsky with fellow members Lauren Sullivan, Bobby Welsh and Danine Welsh on the set build for Picnic.

Daughter Amanda Ranowsky, graduated from college, then volunteered to Assistant Stage Manage The Shadow Box, followed by a turn onstage in the PPF production of Play On. She had such fun that her parents decided to join in and became regular volunteers.

David has gone on to work on multiple shows doing set construction, stage crew, and assistant stage management. He got the acting bug and played roles in Snow White and the Family Dwarf, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Front Page. Most recently, he met the challenge of playing the role of a delusional retired General in And Then There Were None. 

Amanda as Carol in Oleanna.

Kathi avoided the power tools and donated her volunteer hours as a box office assistant, house manager, set decoration assistant (with particular pride in painting a car and creating cornstalks out of masking tape) as well as helping with props, costumes and set decoration. Her most recent achievement was learning the lingo and wrangling a large cast as stage manager for And Then There Were None.

David as General MacKenzie in And Then There Were None.

As for Amanda, over the ensuing years she has performed in Snow White & the Family Dwarf, Almost Maine, Casting Call (a NVTA one-act), Red Herring, Amadeus, The Phantom Tollbooth, and two versions of A Christmas Carol. Her most recent performance was in the first PPF PopUp production at the Italian Café in the two-person production, Oleanna.

Amanda in the 2018 production of A Christmas Carol.

Not only has Amanda acted, she has also worked tech crew, stage management (for Leaving Iowa and assisted for The Front Page), helped with publicity, assisted with hair and make-up and co-designed costumes. For her work with Julie Janson on To Kill a Mockingbird, she was honored with a WATCH award for best costume design. Most recently and unfortunately, had it not been for the pandemic, Amanda would have made her directing debut with her dream cast and crew on a production of Enchanted April.

Amanda as TickTock in  The Phantom Tollbooth with Talia Culter.

There are no words sufficient to describe how much PPF has meant to all of us.  Not only have we met talented and creative people who never would have crossed our paths otherwise, we have been blessed with dear friends who care about and care for us through

Kathi and fellow member Janet Kohler Dueweke at the 2019 holiday party.

the dark times as well as the fun times. We never cease to be impressed by PPF’s abundant energy and imagination (who would have thought anyone could do a zoom play) and the lack of prima donna egos that seem to exist in some other theater groups. PPF is a group of wonderful people who love theater and love each other. We are so grateful to be part of the company.

Those of us who have had the pleasure to work with this wonderful family feel the same way!