A Brief History
The Charlotte Players had its first organizational meeting on October 16, 1961 at the North Port Community Center. The group was formed under the direction of Mrs. Dorothy Robbins, who was a teacher of dramatics and public speaking at Port Charlotte “U”. The idea of the group was to maintain and promote the interest of actors and actresses of the area.
The first production was “Now Is The Time.” It opened at the Charlotte Lanes Bowling Auditorium on May 24, 1962. The tickets sold for a 50 cent donation. It was a big success. They gave 2 sold out performances.
In January 1963, the Players adopted By-Laws and had a membership of nearly 30 people. Then in November 1965, a Port Charlotte man offered an empty store to be used as their permanent home. The joy was short lived when they found out that there were other plans made for the building. This created a problem of where to store the furniture, stage sets and props. The problem was solved when General Development Corporation gave their permission to store everything at the old Truss Plant on the outskirts of Port Charlotte. Productions were staged at the Elks’ Club in Punta Gorda, the Punta Gorda Women’s Club, the American Legion Hall and the Charlotte High School Auditorium.
In mid-March 1966 when clouds looked blackest, Vasco Peeples offered the free use of the former Elks’ meeting hall on Marion Avenue in Punta Gorda until he could rent it. The Players moved in, converted it to a little theater and remained there for three and a half years.
The group moved its performances to the much larger Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte soon after its dedication in January 1968, but continued to rehearse, build stage sets and scenery plus hold meetings in the Punta Gorda building. The first show at the Cultural Center was “Never Too Late” and it played to a standing room only audience. Phil Brandon was the director. He directed for the Charlotte Players from 1968-1980.
In September 1969, the Charlotte Players purchased the White Elephant Trading Post on Bayshore Drive in Charlotte Harbor and the adjacent parcel of land. This building was built in 1924 as a General Store.
John Lund began directing for the Players in 1982. After directing for a year, he was hired as permanent Artistic Director. The quality of our performances and sets reached new levels of excellence under his guidance. With John as director, the Players produced our first musical, “Pajama Game,” at the end of the 1984-1985 season. It was our largest cast to that point with over 20 cast members. John continued as Artistic Director until 1992.
In 1993 then President, Janet Castro, hired an executive director, Judy Malbuisson, to take care of the daily business of the organization. Judy worked for the Players from 1993-2001. At that time rehearsal/set building was located on Paulson Dr. in Port Charlotte. Then shortly thereafter the office and set building/storage moved to Whidden Industrial Park in Charlotte Harbor. In 2006, then President, Lynne Ziegler, hired Sherrie Moody as executive director. Sherrie has remained in that position to the present date. During this time the Players combined rehearsal space/set building/office space, and moved to Charlotte Trade Center off of 41 and 776. In 2008 the Players moved to our present location at 1182 Market Circle, Port Charlotte.
Named after long-time Charlotte Players’ benefactor Helen Langdon, this building houses the offices of the Charlotte Players as well as a 104 seat intimate theater, rehearsal space, set building facilities plus storage space for costumes and props. Currently we produce 8 major productions and 5 special productions per season in the Langdon Playhouse.
Kids Onstage began in 2007 as acting classes for children held on Saturdays at the Port Charlotte Public Library on Forrest Nelson. In 2008, we started holding the Summer Workshops at Deep Creek Elementary School and the Cultural Center, where children were able to experience all facets of a production. In addition to the Summer Camps, Kids Onstage produced several full length musical productions during this time. In 2009 Kids Onstage moved the Summer Workshops to Charlotte Performing Arts Center (CPAC) in Punta Gorda where it has remained except for the 2019/2020 Season and 2020/2021 Season. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Workshops were held at the Community Life Center Church and Langdon Playhouse. We hope to be able to return to CPAC for the 2021/2022 Season.
Charlotte County Imagination Library
The Charlotte Players is a co-sponsor of Dolly Parton’s Tennessee based program that serves more than 1.5 million children across the United States as well as internationally. The program was launched here in Charlotte County in 2011 by local salon business owner Shawn Gilstad, who joined forces with Sherrie Moody and the Charlotte Players.
“We share Shawn’s vision of bringing the gift of literacy to Charlotte County children,” said Moody, “and we encourage the parents of all children under the age of five to enroll in this program!” To date 122,000 books have been provided to pre-school children of Charlotte County!
Cookbook Project 2006
Compiled by: Vandi Valliere, Sharon Kozenko & Marie LaBrosse
from recipes by Charlotte Players members.
Selby Foundation Grants
The Selby Foundation Grants have provided much needed funds to insulate the building at 1182 Market Circle, replace multiple HVAC systems as well as funds for repaving our parking lot.
The Patterson Foundation
Charlotte Players would like to thank and recognize the generous contributions made to our organization by the Patterson Foundation for improvements to the Langdon Playhouse. This enables us to further pursue our Mission to provide and promote quality theater arts programs to educate, entertain and enrich the Southwest Florida community.
Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce
North Port Area Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce
Englewood Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte County Community Foundation
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Florida Cultural Alliance
American Association of Community Theatre and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Charlotte players would like to recognize the generous contributions made to our organization by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Charlotte County Community Foundation for the Langdon Playhouse.
Presidents of Board of Directors Through the Years
1962 – Peggy Cummins
1969 – Marie Mast Ballou
1979 – Cy Harader
1991 – Mark Weiser
1993 – Janet Castro
1996 – Bill Gorvine
1997 – Janet Castro
1998 – Tom Balfour
2000 – Ernestine Zipoy
2002 – Tom Balfour
2003 – Hal Williams
2005 – Lynne Ziegler
2008 – Lora Resignato
2009 – Gene Callan
2011 – Lynne Ziegler
2013 – Steve Pignataro
2015 – Marie LaBrosse
2016 – Rick Ilmberger
2016 – Sean Doherty
2019 – Jerry Jones
2021 – Jenni Elliot