End of the Show for Drama’s Mr. Olea

The curtains are closing on Mr. Randy Olea as he steps off the stage at VNHS.


By Lucas Shim and Stefanie Tyo

Teaching Honors English and Theater Arts classes since 2006, Mr. Randy Olea has been the Actors in Action for most of his teaching career, guiding students to success in many of the memorable plays and musicals from his first production “Midsummer Night’s Dream” to his final, “42nd Street.”

Now after more than a decade, Mr. Olea is retiring from teaching.

But, who was Mr. Olea before his time in Van Nuys?

Originally dreaming of becoming a policeman, he attended Pasadena City College and studied police science in the early 1970s.

Showing his early interest in the arts, he played the harmonica and sang in a blues band during his college years. He later performed with the band at Club Med resorts.  

After college, Mr. Olea volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War, which ultimately changed his interests.

“By the time I returned, I just decided I wanted a change of pace from combat to move away from that energy,” he said.

Returning from Vietnam was the pivotal moment that led to Mr. Olea’s interests towards activities that he had never done before. Acting happened to be one of those interests.

In the 1980s, the war-veteran landed acting roles in television shows and daytime soap operas, including the huge hits “Moonlighting,” “Dynasty” and “The Judge.”

Eventually, he was destined to seek a different path.

“I decided I wanted to do something else,” he said.

“So I was meditating one day, and ‘teacher’ came to me.”

He was intrigued by the school’s Performing Arts Magnet and its many different opportunities, such as putting on shows.

In his early teaching career, students and teachers would have never expected the different worlds that Mr. Olea had a hand in creating, including “Grease” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Many students are emotionally remembering a mentor that has had a huge impact on their education.

“To be completely honest, after doing 42nd Street and when he was there talking, I cried because this was it,” said Darian Calderon, who portrayed Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast.”

“This was the guy I looked up to for three years now, and now, I’m finally dealing with it,” Calderon continued. “I’m so heartbroken to see one of my mentors leave.”

What Mr. Olea says he will remember the most is rehearsal time—specifically the interactions between cast members and the way they developed into a second family.

“It was wonderful watching them get closer and closer as the years go by and as the rehearsal process went on,” Mr. Olea said.

Although many students are upset about his departure, students and teachers are excited to see what comes next for the Actors and Action—and to meet the new advisor, who hasn’t been announced yet.

The soon-to-be retiring teacher wants everyone who follows to ‘break a leg’—industry-speak for continued good fortune.

“I wish everyone here luck and success to all of the students,” he said.

“I’ve loved all of my time here and I am just grateful that I had the opportunity to work here.”