In 2000, Doylene Daniels saw an ad in the newspaper calling for auditions for a Monroe Actors Stage Company production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Daniels had a penchant for theater that began in childhood and decided to try out for one of the lead roles.
Eighteen years later, as she contemplates how much longer she will stay involved, the 81-year-old Waterloo woman recalls her first role as one of main character Mortimer Brewster’s aunts — in an absurdist comedy about the Brewster family — with a sense of joy.
“I tried out in everything I could after that and got at least one role every season,” she cheerfully recollected.
Having joined the group in the early years, Daniels saw MASC grow from renting out different facilities in the community for plays to owning a facility.
“They did a few small things before (‘Arsenic and Old Lace’) from what I understand. Then they had a chance to get the (Capitol Theatre) in Waterloo, and the grand opening was ‘Harvey,’ which I also had a lead role in,” she said.
Daniels’ involvement increased through the years as she took on the role of volunteer extraordinaire. In 2005, she joined the board of directors, taking over as secretary in 2008.
She also served as an assistant director in the 2007 production of “The Flood,” which was based on the 1993 flood in old Valmeyer. For a period of five years, she was the head of MASC’s Gala committee.
“I did anything I could to stay involved,” Daniels explained.
Longtime MASC member Mark Tullis described such commitment as essential to the organization’s success.
“She is a ‘behind-the-scenes’ person and does an enormous amount of work for MASC. She’s an amazing lady,” he said. “We would never be able to do what we do as a theater company without her.”
That said, Daniels has been most at home when taking the stage, having starred in many roles over the years – including Judge Julius in “Welfarewell” or as Perkins in “Hound of the Baskervilles.”
“I have just always enjoyed doing that. I’m the person who does the reading for the church cantata,” she elaborated.
Of her many performances, the most memorable was in 2011 when she again nabbed the role of one of Mortimer Brewster’s aunts in a second showing of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Daniels won the Patron’s Choice Award for Actress in a Lead Role based on that portrayal.
Reflecting on that and other achievements in MASC, Daniels is now pondering how soon she will let the curtain fall on her volunteering days.
“It’s getting harder because of my age,” she said of her ability to continue acting.
Daniels doesn’t appear on stage in “Dark of the Moon,” the MASC play currently featured at the Capitol Theatre. But she keeps plenty busy taking reservations and manning the box office.
The drama — which features witches, a conjur man and conjur woman, and mountain folk — has performances 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. “Dark of the Moon” is a fantasy folk tale set in the Appalachian Mountains.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 939-7469.