MARIETTA - Susan Boyer had two goals when she retired as a judge in the Washington County Common Pleas Court.
She wanted time to visit relatives who live in the area and to devote more time to community arts and theater and she has met that goal. In fact, she has been heavily involved with the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre since about 1993, doing everything from directing, working the lights, painting, building sets and even working with the MOVP Junior Players.
"I started with running the lights," Boyer said. "From there, I began to build sets and do whatever needed to be done for the adult productions and the youth theater productions."
Photo by Phil Foreman
Susan Boyer stands at the entrance of the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre, where she spends many hours a week volunteering in a variety of roles — lighting, set-building, painting, directing, costuming, acting and work with the MOVP Junior Players.
Boyer wrote the version of "A Christmas Carol," used by the Junior Players. She is heavily involved as a director and assistant director. She and two co-directors, J.R. Wells and Carla Nichols, have worked on youth productions for about five years.
For the Junior Players, "she's a positive role model," Wells said. "She shows them a way you work together and cooperate, knowing everyone has a difficult time, but you can work together and produce an amazing show."
Wells, 45, of Lewisville, coordinator of gifted services for the Switzerland of Ohio Local school district in Monroe County, has worked on about six youth productions and three adult productions in the seven years since they started working together.
Boyer said, for this year, the Junior Players will stage a production of "The Hobbit." They did the same production about a decade ago. Boyer is sewing all the capes needed for that production. The plan is to bring "A Christmas Carol" back in 2014.
For the production of "Little Women" in 2013, "I made the costumes - 23 skirts and I don't know how many tops," Boyer said.
She said she tries to use the costumes already stored in the theater whenever possible, she said.
Her favorite role was a 94-year-old woman in the play, "Grace and Glory," and the challenge was that it was a two-person show.
"It was very terrifying with only one other person to help," Boyer said. "If you both forget where you are, there's nobody else to help."
MOVP colleague and show director Jena Lane Blair said she marvels at the patience Boyer has with the youth theater because not everybody can have the patience to work with teenagers as she does.
"Susan has been a wonderful asset to the theater," Blair said. "She has done so many things. Her work with the youth theater has been a devotion of hers for many years."
Blair, who has been with the theater for 44 years, said if someone did not support her when she started, as Boyer does with the youth theater, she might not be involved today.
While she enjoys all the work she does at the MOVP Theatre, Boyer warns that working with in the arts is quite time-consuming, with all the casting, rehearsals, set building and painting and technical works, such as lighting. The players spend four nights per week in rehearsals and building sets on weekends.
"You have to pace yourself or you get tired and cranky," she said. "That's not good when you're directing teenagers."
Wells said Boyer is a hard-working, well-rounded individual who can direct, act and supervise set construction.
"If I am the director, she has been one of my actors, and she builds sets," Wells said. "If I need help, Susan is always there to help."
The most difficult part of her work in the theater is casting, Boyer said.
"It's very difficult if you know you are going to disappoint some people," she said. "That's hard to do."