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Photo courtesy of ACTORS and "Big: The Musical."
Courtesy: Athletics Communications

Iowa State’s Ronayne Continues Theater Passion

Release: 10/10/2008
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AMES, Iowa—Iowa State Director of Gymnastics Operations Mary Ronayne does not allow her demanding gymnastics schedule to come between her love for performing on stage.

The wife of head gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne has one of the lead roles in “Big: The Musical.” Ronayne plays Susan Lawrence, girlfriend of the lead character, Josh Baskin.

“Susan is a harsh character in the beginning of the show, she falls in love with Josh and that makes her a softer person,” said Ronayne. “Her character is fun to play because there is a lot of comedy in this show. I also sing eight or nine solos as well as a couple chorus songs.”

Her passion for theater and singing is not a recent hobby.

“I grew up in a singing family of 10 kids, seven girls and three boys,” she said. “All the girls sang and my parents were singers too. I sang all through high school, was in show choirs and had a lead in one of our musicals in high school. After high school, I got involved in community theater.”

Ronayne also sees her theater background and passion transferring into her gymnastics world.

“There is definitely a correlation of those two things,” she said. “My major in college was elementary education and I really see myself as a creative person. With the theater background, I think I put a lot of my ideas and energy into the creative background of gymnastics as far as what is going to go on the poster or how they are going to come out to start meets.”

Her love of singing and performing does more for Ronayne than just keep her creative juices flowing. She sees it as a wonderful chance to keep balance in her life that could easily become consumed with her gymnastics duties.

“Theater is my vent,” she said. “I get to be a completely different person on the stage and I really thrive on that. I’ve always said that singing is my way to relieve stress, so getting to do it in front of hundreds or thousands of people, that’s a thrill; it’s a ride for me. It’s a natural feeling for me to be up there.”

And while Jay Ronayne does not join her on stage, Mary says his support has always been encouraging.

“It’s tremendous how supportive he is,” she said. “Ever since I’ve met Jay he’s always said go do it. He really wants me to do things that I love.”

Ronayne is not the only cast member with ties to the Iowa State athletics department who can be seen on stage in “Big: The Musical.” Senior Associate Athletics Director for Sport Administration Calli Sanders’ son, Jack, plays the role of the young Josh Baskin. Ronayne also credits Sanders for encouraging her to pursue a role in the play.

Ronayne can be seen on stage tonight and Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.

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