Ohio organization honors theater stalwart John Lee

PARKERSBURG – John Lee, a Parkersburg native and longtime supporter and teacher of the theater arts in Parkersburg, was recognized Sunday by the Ohio Community Theater Association during its annual conference in Dayton, Ohio.

Lee was inducted Sunday into the association’s Hall of Fame in recognition of his years of involvement in theater.

After spending several years in New York City pursuing an acting career, Lee returned to Parkersburg and spent 13 years in the 1960s and 1970s as drama teacher at Parkersburg High School – his alma mater – before leaving to pursue other interests.

He returned to Parkersburg several years ago and has been active in local theater through the Smoot Theatre and the Parkersburg Actors Guild, among others.

Lee said the assocaition induction was based on his years of service to theater, especially on behalf of young students. It covered his work in New York and Parkersburg, “basically a lifetime spent doing theater,” he said Monday.

“I feel deeply honored,” Lee said of his hall of fame induction and recognition. “I was dumbstruck. I was in awe and I’m very, very proud.”

Lee remains active in community theater and is directing the opening production of the Guild’s 2013-2014 season. “Dracula” will open Sept. 27 and run for the next three weekends.

Other members of the guild also fared well.

Robin White, editor of the Actors Guild newsletter, “Backstage,” received awards for outstanding writing, outstanding use of graphics and photography and outstanding layout and overall quality.

Heather Hepburn received a Merit in Dramatic Musical Moment for her portrayal of B.J. Steele in the Mid-Ohio Valley Players’ “A Piece of My Heart.”

The association has been active in Ohio since 1953, providing support to community theaters through workshops, through the annual regional OCTAFests showcasing community theater productions and through its three-day annual conference, which concluded Monday.

The association serves more than 100 member theaters in five Ohio state regions, along with theaters in Kentucky and West Virginia, through newsletters, a script lending library, speakers and resource information.