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The Beat of Laurel: A person who wears many hats

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Posted on: March 9, 2023

By Bob Reilly

Laurel resident Bob Reilly is enjoying a second career as an author and writer.

During many introductory conversations, questions typically arise, such as “What do you do for a living?’’ “Where do you work?” — or some variation to better understand the person and steer the conversation in the direction of the response. Well, when it comes to someone like Maureen Rogers, a more appropriate conversational door opener might be, “Maureen, what don’t you do?” 

Before sitting down with Rogers recently in the Main Street office of The Laurel Board of Trade, I had already done some research on this industrious and gifted woman. We’d crossed paths before. 

My first introduction to Rogers was several years earlier. My band was interested in performing at the annual Main Street Festival. As it turned out, Rogers was (and continues to be) the primary point person for vendors, event volunteers and coordinator of activities for this popular community gathering. (This year’s festival is scheduled for May 20)

Although Rogers and I were planning to meet face-to-face at some point in February, our first meeting was actually a stroke of serendipity.

I had just parked my vehicle behind the PNC Bank on Main Street and was headed to a meeting at the Ragamuffins Coffee House, which is next door to The Laurel Board of Trade office at 383 Main St. Guess who was unlocking the office door just as I walked by? 

I approached the entrance as Rogers was checking the mailbox. 

“Hi, are you Maureen? My name is Bob Reilly; I’m with The Laurel Independent.” 

She stopped, looked at me, and smiled. “Yes Bob, come inside, let’s talk for a few minutes,” she said

Rogers invited me to sit down next to her desk as she took care of a few items in opening the office up for a new day of business. Within minutes, we began the interview. 

I was curious about The Laurel Board of Trade, its purpose in the community, and her role within the organization. Since I was already familiar with the Laurel Main Street Festival, we started there.

Rogers said, “Although I am the point person for the annual festival, the event is a massive undertaking involving many players. Volunteers, Laurel Police Department, parks and recreation, public works, fire department, the directors and great team at The Laurel Board of Trade.”  

The Laurel Board of Trade, a nonprofit organization, has been building merchant relationships since the 1960s. In partnership with the city of Laurel, Prince George’s County and the State of Maryland , the organization has over 100 small-business members who share the goal of keeping Laurel a hub of commerce. 

Another successful community event under Rogers’ area of responsibility as administrative coordinator for The Laurel Board of Trade is the annual Riverfest,  which is held on the last Sunday in September. First held in 1996, Riverfest continues to grow in popularity. 

I then switched gears and inquired about Rogers’ upbringing.

Rogers was born in Fort Wayne, Ind. Her father was in the U. S. Air Force, and she moved around quite a bit, as is often the case with so-called military brats. She even lived in Japan at one point in her life. 

She married Marvin Rogers and was a working mother of three girls, including a set of twins. Her life was quite busy. Well, as fate would have it, Rogers landed in Laurel, a sort of Our Town to many of us who live here.

Not the play “Our Town,” by Thornton Wilder, of course, but that does lead me to my next discovery about Rogers.

You see, Rogers Is not only the artistic director, one of the producers and publicity point person for the Laurel Mill Playhouse, a community nonprofit organization, but she is also a talented actress.

“I started in my 40s, and I knew this was something I loved. My first part was in the stage production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical ’Oklahoma.’ I auditioned with the Laurel Community Theatre for the part, and I got it,” Rogers said. “Shortly thereafter, one of my daughters wanted to audition with the Burtonsville Players. They were preparing for their production of ‘Anne of Green Gables.’  When we showed up for the audition, my daughter got the part and was asked if I was also going to audition. ‘Mommy do it!’ was her response. So, I did. I ended up doing two roles in the play, and I was absolutely hooked on acting.“

The Burtonsville Players acquired the Laurel Mill Playhouse theater, at 508 Main Street, in 2003, and the rest is theatrical history. 

Rogers teamed up with Audrey Barnes, director of communications for the city of Laurel, and Joyce Jackson, assistant director of communications, with Laurel TV. Together they do “Curtain Call,” a show featuring interviews with actors, directors, producers and others associated with new plays and events at the Laurel Mill Playhouse. 

In February, my wife, Pam, and I attended the final performance of Agatha Christie’s play, “Towards Zero.” Rogers was the play’s producer, and she also played the role of Lady Tressilian. She and the cast were superb, and the production was very entertaining.

In a word, “Bravo!”



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