I’m the dreamer, he’s the builder.
Those are the words of Nick Sargis, the Fox Valley Park District’s performing arts coordinator and technical director.
The “he” is Matt Greising, the guy who designs the sets, carves the wood, paints the props … “He does so many things behind the scenes,” Nick says, “that when Matt Greising’s work is done, he goes and does something else.”
The two go together like a tuxedo and bow tie.
They first met in 2009 on the set of Peter Pan at West Aurora High School, where Nick was a student alongside Matt’s youngest daughter, both aspiring thespians. Matt volunteered on the set during West High productions and eventually followed Nick along his career path, ultimately to the FVPD’s performing arts team, where Matt has been volunteering for more than a year.
“Matt has elevated our productions to the highest level they’ve ever been,” Nick says. “He knows what we do is for those in the show and for those who come to see them. He wants to put Broadway in our community.”
Take this year’s Winter Stage performance of Tarzan, which featured one of the biggest sets ever built by the FVPD. Matt led the design/build team, but …
“I get credit for the work of dozens of people,” Matt says. “It was like an ant colony in there, people going left and right. I do a little of the prep work, a little of the design. But all the construction – and the army of volunteers that shows up – really makes it happen.”
A former software engineer and project manager at a major consulting firm, Matt retired in 2017 and, today, “I’ve never been busier,” Matt says, proudly. And he doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon, for theater productions have become a part of his, well, makeup – and the excitement and elation from cast and crew provide him much satisfaction.
“Theater, particularly Park District theater, gives everybody a chance,” Matt says. “If you show up, you’ll get something to do and you’ll be part of this huge, glamorous operation. It’s a team sport, everybody has their part. House lights go down, stage lights come up and you’ve gotta do your part. That’s a great experience for the kids, even if they’re never part of another production the rest of their lives.”
Let’s exit stage right to Nick, the director:
“That’s the type of passion that makes the Park District a very special place,” he says. “Volunteers take ownership of a project and bring it to the community – and Matt’s a prime example.”