Susan Mathison-Young, of Lake Shore, is props director for Pequot Lakes Community Theater’s (PLCT) “Oliver!” The musical opens Nov. 15. Her work with the performing arts, though, includes years of leading children on the stage.
Mathison-Young has been a 4-H leader for 14 years, though her involvement in the club goes back further. She got involved when her son, Tyler, now 25, became a 4-Her in third or fourth grade.
Mathison-Young said that skits have always been a part of being involved in 4-H, so her involvement in performing arts was a natural progression from the beginning.
“Clubs always did skits so it was a normal part of our year,” she said. “The kids have such a blast.”
As a leader, Mathison-Young must have taken to the activity, because her 4-H group, the Pequot Lakes Eagles, has gone to the State Fair for skits five times. They’ve won judges’ choice all but once.
She said her favorite part of 4-H is watching children develop into leaders. If you lead correctly, children don’t even realize they’re being led, she said, noting she often soon sees them becoming leaders themselves.
“It’s a fun program to watch kids excel,” she said.
Kids are able to pick their own parts in the play, Mathison-Young said, so kids only play parts they’re comfortable playing. She thinks it’s good for kids to start performing early.
“If you don’t start young, when’s that spark going to happen?” she said. “Maybe things don’t go perfectly, but they learn to deal with that.”
Leading performing arts activities in 4-H led Mathison-Young to start a summertime Young Performers’ Day Camp through Pequot Lakes Community Education for three days in the summer. Her family helps with the camp, and she’s also had high school students help.
The class runs for grades 1 to 8 and groups are broken up by age. All students perform a skit, and older students write their own and then perform it. Mathison-Young said that way the students see the whole process from start to finish.
Her husband is a part of the day camp, her son has helped in the past and her daughter, Rylie, 13, plans to help next year.
Being a part of performing arts for so long, Mathison-Young said the transition to community theater was an easy one — she already had experience and connections for gathering props.
All these activities keep her busy. Mathison-Young also has a full-time job as a nurse practitioner at the Brainerd VA Hospital, and she’s a Pequot Lakes School Board member.
Mathison-Young said the entire cast and crew of “Oliver,” more than 50 people, has worked very hard to prepare for performances. Audience members will recognize many of the classic songs in the production. Coming to the play is a great way for the community to show its support for young performers, she said.
“Oliver!” show times are Nov. 15-17 and 22-24. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for youth. Call 218-568-9200 for tickets or purchase tickets at the door starting one hour before show time.