By: Lauren Speirs
Laurie Heaver first moved to Naples in 1994 from Bordman, Ohio to be the primary caregiver for her parents. She cherishes every moment of the 13 years she shared with them. After they passed away, she was looking to help out in her community and make friends.
Four years ago, Laurie discovered The Naples Players (TNP) in her search for meaningful volunteer work. “I didn’t know anything about it until I took a tour. The staff gives you a paper with all the possible jobs and I checked off all of these things I could do. I’ve sewn all of my life since I was a child so I volunteer in the costume shop.”
Laurie runs the catering for Preview Nights, providing hospitality for TNP volunteers for a special viewing of a show the night before it opens. She also serves as an usher. Laurie says that the best part about volunteering with The Naples Players is that she gets to see the shows! “I see 10-13 shows every production. It’s wonderful and it’s not something you get from a movie – far more exciting to see something in real life and it makes you so happy.”
Laurie says her life long passion for theater started in elementary school. Growing up, her parents would let her use their tickets to see the Kenley Players. She remembers seeing Mickey Rooney in a performance where, “the back of the stage had to rise up 3 feet higher than the front because the woman who played opposite him was so much taller!”
Even as a lifelong fan of theater and performance, Laurie didn’t realize how much went into each production before she started volunteering with TNP. “I never knew how that all worked- how much work goes into the show and how all the preparations start months in advance.” At The Naples Players, “It’s such a team effort and everyone is so nice. If one person doesn’t know the answer, they can take you to find someone who does.”
A memorable production for Laurie was Silent Sky where she volunteered in the prop and costume departments. “I steamed all the clothes for that show. It was great because I could sit in the back and follow along – I think I knew the whole play by the end!” She jokes, “The cast would say to me sometimes, ‘if we forget our lines, just let us know!’”
Before relocating from Ohio, Laurie was an elementary school teacher and a school administrator. With a passion for education, she enjoys telling people how much her community theater has to offer. “This is not just a theater – it’s your theater! It belongs to the people here whether they’re volunteering, coming to performances, or donating. You can learn so much for free here. Lighting, sound, costume shop, scene shop…This is a free education center. I make sure it’s in my condo’s newsletter to get the word out to more people in my own community.”
As far as the future goes, Laurie is excited to get the word out about the theater and organize more social activities for the volunteers at TNP. She points out that, “we hardly get to see each other because we’re always volunteering so we’re hoping to work together to create more social gatherings that would also promote the theater.”
To find out more about how you can join our volunteer family at The Naples Players contact Pamela Larkin Caruso at email@example.com or call (239) 434-7340 extension 104.