The perfect duo: On and off stage


Wen Dian Wang '23

Ms. Mac and Johnny have fun as they discuss possible set arrangements for the upcoming school musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.”

It’s been 23 years since Ms. Jane McEneaney (Ms. Mac), FSH Theatre Teacher, and Mr. John Burton (Johnny), FSH Theatre Technical Director/Stagecraft Teacher, first started creating shows together. Even after all this time, looking back at their first encounter, Ms. Mac still can’t stop smiling.

“We met at the theatre. I had my own theatre company at the time and I had written and directed a piece. [Johnny’s] roommate was in the show and at the time Johnny was working at a corn maze,” Ms. Mac said.

Ms. Mac wanted to visit the corn maze, so she called Johnny. Unfortunately, he did not answer. But upon hearing his voicemail, Ms. Mac immediately developed a crush on him. Soon after, Johnny fell in love with Ms. Mac after producing a play titled, “StoryPeople.”

Right off the bat, the couple developed a strong attraction to one another, constantly expressing their love in the form of gift-giving.

“He would make things out of wire hangers. He would twist them into flowers for me, so he’d show up for a date with my favorite flower, an iris. And I still have it, twisted out of a hanger,” Ms. Mac said. In turn, Ms. Mac would pack Johnny lunch, with every piece of food perfectly cut.

Beyond gift-giving, their love is deeply rooted in support for one another.

“[Earlier in her career] she was trying to run this theatre company by herself and her day job. And so I just offered to help return some things for her,” Johnny said.

According to Ms. Mac, no one else had ever done a gesture for her that nice. They’ve now done over a hundred shows together, with Ms. Mac providing the vision and message, and Johnny managing all the designs and props.

“It’s awesome [to work with someone you love] … because you have someone who understands you, you don’t have to explain yourself. And in an art-based world that I live in, that’s really important,” Ms. Mac said.

Ms. Mac and Johnny have continued their artistic endeavors at FSH, where they have played a monumental role in shaping FSH’s theatre department curriculum.

“Any two faculty could work at this school together. But Ms. Mac and I literally get to create curricula together and we get to build on each other’s things,” Johnny said. “I can’t think of another subject other than art where you could even conceivably really do that. It’s not just that we work at the same school, we share the subject matter.”

Ms. Mac and Johnny don’t just work together, but they have the same mind when it comes to all things creative.

“[We] understand each other artistically. At the same time, we’re very different people, so we balance each other out,” Ms. Mac said. “I’m a lot more fiery to his water. He’s very considerate of things, and I’m just a bulldozer.”

Because of this, it’s alright that they aren’t doing anything special for this year’s Valentine’s Day.

“Here’s the advantage,” Johnny said. “We do theatre for a living, so it’s constantly making ceremonies and presentations. Whereas other people who work separately and live separately, maybe [Valentine’s Day] is a good occasion to come back together and celebrate.” 

Ms. Mac agrees. Valentine’s Day is a nice opportunity to sit back and relax — and maybe have a bit of chocolate too.

“We don’t really do Valentine’s because, you know, we kind of forget that it’s happening. But if you (Johnny) want to give me the little heart-shaped milk chocolate with the red foil on them, I’d like that,” Ms. Mac said.

“Message received,” Johnny replied.