Longtin to exit stage right after 30 years at JSC

Longtin to exit stage right after 30 years at JSC

After four years of thinking about retiring, Professor of Performing Arts Russ Longtin has decided it is time, but it won’t be the last Johnson State sees of him.

Longtin was asked to come back to direct the fall show, and will also be available as an adjunct if JSC needs him to teach classes.

“I was supposed to be teaching at CCV for next fall in Winooski as well,” says Longtin, “but they got their budget cut. The arts were cut first. Barbara [Murphy] was asked why she was replacing me. Whoever interviewed her thought it was time for the theater program to just take a hike, and she said that she was doing it because she thought it was part of the culture of the campus, so kudos to her.”

Before taking the position at Johnson State, Longtin worked for 15 years at three other institutions, but decided to stay at Johnson because his daughter, who was 9 or 10 at the time he started, didn’t want to keep moving.

“Russ Longtin has been a steady and inspiring presence for theater at JSC,” said President Barbara Murphy.

“I have enjoyed watching him perform and direct for fourteen years and admire greatly his talent and dedication to the stage and the students.”

According to Longtin, he always puts family first, and then work.
“I feel like a father to most of the students in my classes too,” says Longtin. “In addition to everything else, they are having issues at home, they’re having issues with each other, they’re going through things all the time. They say, you know, people don’t know what we are all about. That would have to be the first thing I say about myself as well. People don’t understand me, which isolates me involuntarily.”

Longtin says the isolation has probably been his biggest problem at Johnson State. Not anyone specifically isolating him, but he digs in, does his work, and the rest is out of his control.

Longtin says the thing he will miss most about JSC are the students, and students say the same about him.

“I have been lucky enough to work with Russ on multiple shows,” says student Stephanie Zello. “Working with him as a stage manager and assistant director, I have noticed his ability to recognize where his students’ true talent lies, which we can all see in the amazing performances that he has put on in his years at JSC. He has helped me figure out that my true passion and talent lies in directing. He cares deeply about his students and we will all miss him dearly.”
Longtin hopes to leave behind a legacy of students that care about themselves and the theater program, and engage themselves in it as often as possible.

“The retirement of Russ Longtin is very surreal to me,” says Patrick Houle, part-time faculty in the performing arts. “He has been such a huge fixture of the Johnson State College Performing Arts Department for such a long time, and to think of him not being here next year is hard to wrap my head around.  Russ has had such a huge impact on his students over the years, myself included.  Before I was his colleague, I was his student and there are many lessons he taught me that really helped me in the acting world… It’s actually quite fitting that his legacy is built around the thing that was most important to him during his time here: his students. ”

According to Houle, Longtin has the adoration and respect of his students and students will still be able to tell you a story about something funny longtin said or something Longtin taught them during a rehearsal or a class. Houle says he still remembers things Longtin taught him in the classroom almost twenty years ago, and Longtin’s influence is still in every show Houle is in or directs.

“I owe Russ a lot,” says Houle.  “I owe him not just for the things he taught me in the classroom and on the stage, but for also helping me get my current position in the department.  While here at Johnson State College, I have really found my calling.  I can’t imagine a better job than working with the students I get to work with and creating these new worlds on stage.  Russ has been a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.  He will be missed, but his legacy proves that his time at JSC was well spent.”

Longtin has the first year of his retirement planned out, between shows and watching his four grandchildren grow up, and says he is not one to “sit around and eat chocolate.” He has to stay busy or go out of his mind. With his daughter and grandchildren living in the basement apartment of his house, he is ready to watch them become adults.

“Watching my grandkids grow up, and needing this or needing that just kept pulling me toward home,” says Longtin. “My daughter works like 50 to 60 hours a week with people needing her all the time, so it’s like I’m becoming a parent again. That’s what has happened.”