Notre Dame Academy 1996
2021 Academic Division: Arts
Wally Calderon is a proud member of the Notre Dame Academy graduating class of 1996. Music and the arts were always present in his family home, but it was his time at NDA that truly sparked his interest in musical theatre that would grow to become a passion he would ultimately pursue. Calderon went on to earn a B.F.A. in music theatre performance from Ohio Northern University in 2000, and immediately launched into the uncertain world of theatre. For 15 years, Calderon traveled the country as a freelance performer, director and choreographer. Notable residencies and stops included Hershey Park (Hershey, Pa.), The Palace Theatre (Manchester, N.H.), The Miracle Theatre (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) and the highly credited Stage Door Manor in upstate New York. Calderon also lived and worked out of New York City for five years.
In 2007, while performing on a national tour of "A Christmas Carol," Calderon met his future wife (then his dance partner), Andrea. This was a highlight because the tour made stops in Wisconsin, and he was able to perform for his family and friends at the Weidner Center, the theatre that was instrumental in his growing love for theatre as a high school student. Shortly after that, he began transitioning from performing into direction, choreographing, and teaching. At this time, he also found his way back to a relationship with Jesus, and rededicated his life to the Lord in 2010. He and Andrea married in 2010 and they lived and worked in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. In 2012, Calderon was offered a position with Sight Sound Theatres in Lancaster, Pa. The largest Christian theatre in the country, and the largest indoor stage in the country, Calderon was thrilled to spend five incredible years in multiple positions with the company. While there, he had the opportunity to serve as an actor, as production stage manager, as assistant director, as choreographer, and was honored to be able to direct productions of "Miracle of Christmas" (2016 Lancaster, Pa., and 2017 Branson, Mo.), as well as "Jonah" (2017 Lancaster, Pa.).
In 2017, Calderon felt led to part from Sight & Sound and accept the position of artistic director for Servant Stage Company, a position which he continues to hold. A non-profit theatre company in Lancaster, Pa., its mission is to make great theatre accessible to everyone within the community by offering all of their shows as pay-what-you will, so that everyone can attend them. Calderon has helped grow the company in many ways, including creating and continuing to grow youth education opportunities for students of all ages. Servant Stage currently performs for over 60,000 people each year, casts over 200 local performers each year, and involves over 300 students in theatre education and youth performances each year.
Calderon is humbled, overjoyed, and proud to be accepted into the company of incredible individuals who have done amazing things. Leadership is very hard, and often thankless, so to be recognized for his efforts is truly an honor.
“To my dad, Roberto, thank you for continuing to support me in my journey through life. Thanks to my 'big brother' Randy for years of support, guidance, and leadership. To Paul, thanks for being one of my best friends for over 35 years. To Don Richter, Andrea Hearden, and Teresa Schmidt, my amazing mentors while at NDA who are the reason I pursued and loved theatre. Rob, thank you for being my big brother, leading the way, and giving me an example to look up to. Ben, seeing you play Baby John in West Side Story at Notre Dame was the first time I said, 'I want to do that!'. To my wife, Andrea, and my amazing daughters Joyanna (8) and Juliet (3), you are my rock and my foundation. You give me the courage to keep doing what I do, to keep growing, and to keep learning, and to keep 'playing' for a living. And to Mom, my best friend ever. Thank you for filling our home with joy, laughter, music, and love. Thank you for teaching me to be tough and resilient while being sensitive and nurturing. Thank you for traveling all over the country to support me, and for introducing me to the arts. None of this would be possible without each of you, and I am forever grateful. Thanks to Notre Dame for this truly special recognition.” Psalms 149:3