Love that Lasts: U-High theater teachers married for over 50 years flawlessly execute show after show


2005 U-Highlights yearbook

ANYTHING BUT ROTTEN. For decades, theater teachers and married couple Mrs. and Mr. Ambrosini work together to execute show after show.

Skye Freeman, Reporter

A cacophony of voices and squeaking wheels on the bottom of set pieces ring out as the Sherry Lansing Theater is dragged out of the darkness by stage lights hanging overhead. The cast and crew’s rehearsal is about to begin. U-High students practice tap-dancing in the halls of Gordon Parks Arts Hall, and crew members haul paint buckets around the storage room as they prepare for the upcoming spring musical, “Something Rotten.”

Though the group has been preparing for the show since March, high school drama teachers Allen and Liucija Ambrosini have been waiting for the opening night since before the pandemic. The musical was scheduled for the spring of 2020, but due to COVID-19, was performed over Zoom. Itching for a second chance, Mr. and Mrs. Ambrosini decided to re-attempt the production this year. 

The two have been married for over 50 years, meeting in college, on the stage. Their passion for acting, directing and design allowed them to pursue a plethora of careers before finding a home at Lab. 

“I used to work with some opera groups and do shows with them. Concerts, singing concerts all over the place, and lots of different acting things with some particular smaller groups,” Mrs. Ambrosini said. “Theater combines and uses everything. So while I’ve studied history, and have a minor in that and a major in English literature, I found that theater actually uses everything that I wanted to learn.”

Mrs. Ambrosini has worked at Lab since 1970, and Mr. Ambrosini joined her 19 years ago. He specializes in set design and tech, guiding crew members with their work as he pushes the creative limits of what drama can achieve. 

“I love working with the community,” Mr. Ambrosini said. “Everyone becomes very close when they’re working on a show together. And when the show’s over, they may never see each other again, but while they are working together on a production, it’s just very satisfying.”

 Known to students as ‘Mr. and Mrs. A,’ the two are praised for their efficiency, as they put on fantastical productions while juggling with the infamously rigorous Lab schedule. The performances they direct, almost all modeled after famous plays and musicals, allow students to test their skills as they execute every aspect of the shows in their own way.

“The A’s are very direct and very good at explaining what they want, so we as crew and actors can do what they really need us to do,” senior Juan Chaides, stage manager and set master, said. “They don’t beat around the bush, and when it comes to deadlines, they are very serious because they have all this experience and have been leading U-High theater for so long. They understand what it takes for a production to happen and the work that it really requires for it to be done well.”

Despite being coworkers and married, they don’t let that relationship get in the way of their work. Even at home, they are always discussing upcoming opportunities and ways to improve their shows in the best ways. Their passion for the arts and their dedication to the craft is evident in the stunning productions they produce together. 

“It’s just really something we enjoy together,” Mrs. Ambrosini said. “We actually talk about it every week. We never end up having bad conversations about things. We just love to talk about it and then see how it evolves.”