Mac Groves enjoyed a 40-year career as an educator and director. More recently, Mac had three of his plays produced in Flagstaff with one, The Mother Road, touring for two years in partnership with the National Park Service. Mac and his family moved to Flagstaff in 1994 and so began his theater education role at Northern Arizona University.
Mac is described by former students and colleagues as a passionate artist, focused on excellence, a dedicated teacher, and a caring soul. Despite his impressive list of accomplishments and advanced degrees, Mac is also described as a mentor who worked hard to help others enjoy the spotlight.
Mac helped to build NAU’s theater department, encouraged students and also imparted hard truths; he also engaged the Flagstaff community, reaching out to area schools and creating a student matinee program to expose Flagstaff’s youth to live theater.
Mas was Artistic Director for The Grand Canyon Shakespeare Festival (1996-1999) three of its four seasons in Flagstaff. The Festival, mostly funded by Northern Arizona University, was an Equity contract professional theatre that did three shows each season in Repertory, drawing large audiences from around Arizona and neighboring states.
As Mac’s widow, Rosemary, points out, Mac began his 25-year tenure at NAU by directing Neil Simon’s Rumors and ended his time in Flagstaff directing the same play at Theatrikos Theatre Company.
From former students:
“Even though my relationship with Mac was cut short, he will leave an impression to last a lifetime. He was one of the most interesting and engaging professors I’ve ever had, never ceasing to throw in sarcastic and witty comments, but never losing track of the task at hand. He could be your closest friend one minute and then push you further past your comfort zone than you’ve ever gone, and you appreciated every moment.
“From professor to director to colleague to friend, Mac was someone you wanted to have on your side. He knew the moments when he could be blunt with you and he always had a vision of what he wanted. I knew I could always come to him with questions or worries or just go sit on his couch and hide in his office for a few minutes before class. He was pretty much everyone’s cool dad that let you goof off but was never afraid to call you out when you needed it.
Mac was well known and loved throughout the NAU Theater Department, from students he had taught to those he had worked on productions with. I hope the passion and fun that Mac brought to all things theater lives on through everyone he taught, directed, joked with and inspired. I know he’s forever inspired me, thank you Mac.”
“Like everyone else, I will miss Mac Groves’ sass, humor, and kindness. The memories I keep coming back to are from having the honor of designing for On New Beginnings. Even though it was his baby, Mac stayed easy going and patient through the whole process. I loved every second of discussing what music fit regionally and what didn’t. He gave me the best constructive criticism I have ever received on anything. Delving into music genres I had next to no knowledge on was a challenge, but he was quick to tell me when something wasn’t working. This is too country, that’s too bluegrass, but it has to have some twang. Just as important, if not more so, he told me when I got it perfect. During a time in my life where I was full of self-doubt and really questioning if I was good enough for this kind of career, this was everything. You kept me in theatre, you influenced my taste in music, you helped me way more than you’ll ever know. We’ll never get to go see the Wailin Jenny’s in concert like we joked about, but I’ll sure be listening to them for the rest of my life.”