Katy Magazine News
April 7, 2019
By Jennifer Miko
The Katy-area theatre community mourns Gregory Magyar, a talented actor and director who lost his battle with a year-long illness last week.
Gregory Magyar, Executive Artistic Director of Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center (KVPAC)/Encore Arts, 49, passed away April 4. The talented actor and award-winning director introduced thousands of Katy-area families to live theatre.
In 2010, Magyar took the creative helm at KVPAC, the community theatre on the property of the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy. Before performances, audience members would hear his voice offer a genuine message: "Thank you for supporting Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center, and the arts in your children’s lives.”
Area Teachers Learned from Magyar
"I had the pleasure of working under his mentorship for many years at KVPAC. Gregory Magyar was a creative genius," said Elizabeth Mace, Assistant Theatre Director at Cypress Woods High School.
Heather Villano, now Assistant Theatre Director at Tays Junior High School, also worked with Magyar for years at KVPAC.
“He gave me countless opportunities to direct-to find out who I was as an artist,” Villano remembers. “He gave gentle nudges to help me find my style and my strengths. He never flat out gave advice. He answered questions with more questions and helped me find the answers - be it theatre or life on my own.”
Gregory Magyar on the stage at KVPAC.
Magyar's Commitment to the Arts
After Hurricane Harvey, FEMA directed KVPAC to relocate in 2017. Magyar was determined to keep the arts alive in the community and helped open Encore Arts in Fulshear. In March, 2018, he brought his love of the arts to a regional performing arts center in Wharton, TX. There, he served as the Executive Director of the Plaza Theatre.
During his career, Magyar was a member of the Texas Non-Profit Board of Governors and was Vice President of Strategic Planning. He won awards for directing productions that participated in QUADFest, TEXFest, Region VI Festival and the national AACTFest. He most recently received the award for Outstanding Costume Design at TEXFest 2019 for the Encore Arts production of “The Stronger.”
Students Remember Their Director
Magyar directed, coached and mentored young students who have pursued their love of theatre through high school and beyond.
Katy High School freshman, Emily Adams, enrolled at KVPAC when she was in the fifth grade. “KVPAC and Mr. Gregory helped prepare me for high school theatre by teaching me how to learn and know my limits, and how to push them in beneficial ways,” Adams said. “This skill helps me succeed in my daily life because I know that I can always find a new challenge, so I never stop growing.”
16-year-old Clatyon Mace has taken the lessons he learned from Magyar and applies them to his theatre performances at Tomkpins High School.
"Mr. Gregory was a huge inspiration to me as I was growing up," Clayton Mace said. "I will never forget the way he coached me through numerous auditions, roles, and performances. I will be forever grateful for the impact he made on my life."
Rachel Santos performed at KVPAC for seven years and fondly remembers Magyar. “He taught me to be passionate and committed about anything you do whether it’s theatre or real life.” The Katy High School junior added, “He always encouraged us to be confident on stage, to fill up the stage with our energy and just perform with your heart.”
Magyar Educated and Inspired
Magyar’s closest friends recalled that he believed in people like nobody else, although he didn’t give a lot of praise. “But after every show or challenge,” Villano said, “When we succeeded, he would say, ‘I’m not surprised, I knew you could do it, you’re the only one who didn’t know it.’”
"He was my mentor, director, actor, and friend. He always challenged me to bring my best as a director and theatre educator," said Elizabeth Mace. "He was an inspiration to many and will never be forgotten."
Services for Magyar
Friends and family can pay their respects at the Schmidt Funeral Home, 1344 West Grand Parkway South, Katy on Thursday, April 11. Visitation will be from 7:00 pm – 7:30 pm. A memorial theatre celebration will follow from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm. A church service will be held at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Old Katy; details are not available at this time.